American Morning

Tune in at 6am Eastern for all the news you need to start your day.
March 31st, 2009
04:00 PM ET

We listen!

Here’s your daily recap of the best feedback we got from YOU on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, Email. Continue the conversation below. And remember, keep it brief, and keep it clean. Thanks!

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American Morning viewers overwhelmingly scolded Congress for spending time on the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) playoff issues:

  • “I can't believe that Congress is actually wasting time whining about college football. Congress is fiddling while Wall Street and Main Street burn. Fix the economy, stupid!”

Others thought it was a good idea:

  • “Just as an FYI, Theodore Roosevelt helped to set up the NCAA back in 1905 or 1906 with the intention of making football safer for college kids, so there is a bit of precedent with a President "meddling" with college football.”
  • FULL POST


Filed under: We Listen
March 31st, 2009
03:04 PM ET

Caterpillar calls for release of execs held hostage in France

Caterpillar's French staff say they are angry about a lack of negotiations over layoffs.

Caterpillar's French staff say they are angry about a lack of negotiations over layoffs.

From Producer Beth Rotatori and CNN Wire

Caterpillar officials are calling for the release of a group of company executives being held hostage at a plant in Grenoble, France, by hundreds of workers angry about proposed lay-offs.

“The actions that are taking place today, led by a small minority of individuals, are not helping as we work for a positive resolution of this situation,” Chris Schena, Caterpillar vice president with responsibility for manufacturing operations in Europe, said in the statement released by the company Tuesday afternoon.

Caterpillar, a U.S.-based construction equipment company, would not provide the names or nationalities of the executives being held in Grenoble.

Jim Dugan, the company’s chief corporate spokesperson, told CNN that a “handful” of employees were being detained at the plant.

Police arrived at the scene two hours after the incident began on Tuesday but had not succeeded in getting the situation under control.

FULL POST


Filed under: Crime • France
March 31st, 2009
01:07 PM ET

Model Ford?

A talented fan, Mario Della Casa, sent Kiran this painting.

A talented fan, Mario Della Casa, sent Kiran this painting.

Hi Everyone,

Have you driven a Ford lately?

Mark Fields sure hopes you do. He's the EVP of Ford Motor Company and I spoke with him this morning. Ford is the only "big 3" Detroit automaker who isn't getting bailout money from Americans to stay afloat. As we've been reporting, the Obama Administration has ousted GM's CEO and given the company an ultimatum, "show us you're viable in 60 days or no more money." Chrysler's been told, "merge with Fiat and we want your plan to stay afloat in 30 days or else." Read more

So how did Ford manage to stay afloat in the worst year for the company in its 105 year history? And how will Fields continue to operate? Because he says his company is still passing on taxpayer money. Watch

So, as the 3 companies pledge to do what they can to stay above water, there are still huge questions that remain about their future. Where does the U.S. government draw the line on how involved it gets in the decisions of these private companies? And to what extent can the U.S. government back the warranties, and guide and finance the futures of the once mighty automakers? President Obama has said "These companies – and this industry – must ultimately stand on their own". So maybe 2009 will be a better year for them. But in the end, people have to want to buy their cars. And they need credit to finance them in many cases. And they certainly want guarantees that they are buying cars from companies that won't go under in 6 months.

So Ford is hanging tough for now and in the end may be the last man standing in the Motor City.

As always we want to hear from you. Follow us on Twitter: @kiranchetrycnn and @amfix

Cheers,

Kiran


Filed under: Roundup
March 31st, 2009
11:00 AM ET
March 31st, 2009
10:00 AM ET

Cuba travel ban to be lifted?

CNN's Jim Acosta reports some senators are moving to lift the ban on travel to Cuba.
CNN's Jim Acosta reports some senators are moving to lift the ban on travel to Cuba.

One of the stories I’ve tried to follow through most of my career is Cuba. My dad came to the U.S. just two weeks before the Cuban Missile Crisis. So, I’m drawn to just about any story on the island. With so much attention on the financial crisis these days, it may have slipped past a good number of Americans that U.S. policy toward Cuba may be changing right before our eyes.

A key bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators is pushing a bill in Congress that would lift the ban on travel to Cuba. Travel agents in Miami, who specialize in trips to Cuba, are already laying the groundwork for what would be a flood of mojito-thirsty Americans.

But before you pack your bags, the “Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act” still faces stiff opposition from Cuban-Americans in Congress. And the President has yet to say what he thinks of the idea. Vice President Joe Biden recently said in Chile that U.S. policy on Cuba is in transition.

One interesting sidebar to note: America’s 47 year old embargo on the island is still in place. So if the travel ban is lifted, Cuba expert Dan Erikson cautions, Americans may have to settle on driving in Chinese buses and staying in Spanish owned hotels. In other words, there would be no Marriotts or Hiltons to speak of.


Filed under: Cuba • Politics
March 31st, 2009
09:05 AM ET

Drug testing for benefits

Lawmakers want food stamps and unemployment recipients to take random drug tests. CNN's Christine Romans reports.
Lawmakers want food stamps and unemployment recipients to take random drug tests. CNN's Christine Romans reports.

Everyone has heard about a random drug test to get your job.

How about a drug test to get an unemployment check?

A urine test for food stamps?

The number of Americans collecting jobless checks is at a record, and lawmakers in a number of states want to tie some strings to those benefits.

WATCH

What do you think? Is this a good idea?


Filed under: Business
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