Editor's note: Traci is covering the aftermath of the flooding in Pakistan with correspondent Kaj Larsen. Watch their reports on AMERICAN MORNING at 6:00AM Eastern.
By Traci Tamura, Senior Producer
(CNN) - It’s been almost two weeks since I arrived in Pakistan and everyday has been a new adventure. Whether it's meeting local Pakistanis as we travel from story to story, or visiting remote towns and villages where I learned about Pakistani culture and customs—it has all been an educational journey.
One thing that continues to fascinate me is how differently they use transportation. Maybe it's because I’m from California and the idea of carpooling is still a bit foreign. Pakistanis seem to have mastered the art of efficiency in terms of using every bit of available space in and on any mode of transportation they are using.
When I first arrived in Pakistan, I remember driving through the busy, crowded streets, and unlike the U.S., you don't see an SUV on every corner with just one passenger in it.
In Pakistan, less is more. Most people drive around in small compact cars and it is commonplace to see 6 or 7 people packed into the car, with kids sitting on an adult’s lap. No child seats required. Back home, my kids never seem to have enough space, even in a vehicle that seats seven people – and there are only five of us!
Some Pakistanis also favor riding motorcycles. When I say ride, I mean whole families up to five or even six people all seated on the back of the motorcycle, sans helmets, casually hanging on for the ride.
What is amazing to me is the ease and comfort with which they can fit an entire family onto a motorcycle, babies and all. On top of that, the women sit sidesaddle to accommodate their attire, sometimes even holding their babies while riding on the back of a motorbike. I can't remember the last time I sat on the back of a motorcycle, but I can assure you I was white knuckled and holding on for dear life.
In the U.S., we are inundated with helmet laws, seatbelt laws, baby seat laws and booster chair requirements. In Pakistan, they simply understand the need and demand for transportation in their country and give people the freedom to ride. No rules and regulations necessary.
Pakistani owners of taxi vans and transportation trucks take great pride in their rides. Each vehicle has a personality of its own. Most are custom-designed and hand-painted with vibrant colors. Vans are usually stuffed full of passengers and it's normal to see some riders standing or hanging on the back — even sitting on top of the vehicle as they travel for miles down the open road.
Back home in Los Angeles, my 5-year-old daughter is on her own new journey. Last week she started her first day of kindergarten. While I'm in Pakistan learning and observing in another country, she is busy meeting new friends and learning about her new school. As she starts her educational career, my journey continues.
(CNN) – President Obama says he needs Republicans to support his plan to extend the Bush tax cuts for Americans making less than $250,000 a year. He has accused the GOP of holding the middle class hostage in order to also get tax cuts extended for the wealthiest Americans. But there is resistance coming from within his party. Thirty-one Democrats have broken ranks, signing a letter in support of renewing tax cuts for the wealthy. Among them is Michigan congressman Gary Peters. He joined us on Thursday’s American Morning to explain.
(CNN) – American hiker Sarah Shourd is free, but her fiancé, Shane Bauer, and friend, Josh Fattal, are still being held in an Iranian prison. The three Americans were detained after they allegedly strayed across an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region in July 2009. Iran accused the three of spying, a charge the United States and the hikers have denied. An Iranian prosecutor said Wednesday a trial will commence soon. Journalist Roxana Saberi spent 100 days in the same, notorious prison before she was finally released last year. She joined us on Thursday’s American Morning to help us understand what the three Americans are going through.
(CNN) – Republican candidate Carl Paladino plans to bring his bat to Albany if elected governor of New York in November. He says he is “mad as hell” and “not going to take it anymore.” However, the millionaire developer has come under fire for his controversial stance on issues, leading many to claim that he is unfit to lead. One politician even compared him to Hitler. Carl Paladino joined us on Thursday’s American Morning to respond to those charges.
By Bob Ruff and Carol Costello, CNN
(CNN) - If the title makes you want to scratch you head, well, go ahead and scratch.
Catholicism, that's the Roman kind, has reserved its seats of power to men and men alone ever since Christ told Peter: "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church."
Every Catholic leader from the Pope to the village priest is male. Women are permitted to be sisters, teach Catholicism in schools, and even assist in the Sunday Mass. But they can't actually preside over the Mass. Nor can they administer over most of the sacraments, which are reserved for priests and bishops.
Today, many Catholics are asking why? At a time when the church desperately needs more priests, why not allow women to preside over mass?
Some Catholic women aren't waiting for an answer from the Vatican - they say they've figured out a way around the traditional church and are leading Catholic congregations.
Gloria Carpeneto is one of them. She says she was ordained, thanks to an unnamed male bishop who secretly ordained the first female priests and bishops in 2002. Those women then ordained other women like Carpeneto, who says she is now able to hold mass every Sunday, in priestly robes, in front of small, but loyal congregations in Maryland.
"It struck me that I did not want to go to another faith tradition to be ordained," said Carpeneto. "It felt as though I had to leave my family to fulfill a call that I felt from God. And that didn’t feel right. And so the notion of being in the Roman Catholic Church within the Roman Catholic tradition meant a lot to me."
According to canon lawyers though, it is impossible for Carpeneto to be a priest. The "secret Bishop" was automatically excommunicated - or banned from participating in the Church - because he knowingly violated church law. And certainly the Vatican made that clear when it re-stated recently that ordaining women as priests was a grave offense – a crime on the same level as pedophilia.
It's something Carpeneto finds horrifying. "I thought to myself, I didn't like the notion of suddenly I'm in the swimming pool with people who had been accused of sexual abuse, crimes against children."
Father Joseph Tobin, appointed last month by Pope Benedict to oversee religious work worldwide, says the comparison was inadvertent and wrong. But, he added, the ordination of women is still a serious crime.
"The Catholic Church," he says, "has traditionally not arrived at a point where it believes it is the will of God. I have to accept that."
Despite that, the movement to ordain women priests is growing. That first group of seven women ordained in 2002 has grown. There are now five bishops, 47 priests, 10 deacons, and 16 candidates for formation to priesthood in the United States.
Andrea Johnson, who considers herself a Catholic bishop, is thrilled by the numbers and undaunted by the fact the Catholic Church considers these women - illegitimate.
"It's Catholicism that needs us," she said. "We need the voices of men and women. We need everyone to work together in community, and I think the more we do of that the healthier the Church will be."
Those who attend services at Carpeneto's church agree. Most are women, who want something more from their Catholic faith. They feel the Church should welcome divorced people and gays, too.
But, Madeleine Rothe, from Baltimore, doubts Pope Benedict will ever bend.
"I don't think he's open and that's a huge roadblock."
It's a kind of spiritual roadblock that Gloria Carpeneto is trying to remove and the Catholic Church is resisting. Watch
Editor's Note: Welcome to American Morning's LIVE Blog where you can discuss the "most news in the morning" with us each week day. Join the live chat during the show by adding your comments below. It's your chance to share your thoughts on the day's headlines. You have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules: 1) Keep it brief 2) No writing in ALL CAPS 3) Use your real name (first name only is fine) 4) No links 5) Watch your language (that includes $#&*) 6) Stay relevant to the topic.
Senate to end debate, vote on small-business aid bill
(CNN) - The Senate is scheduled to vote Thursday on ending a debate on a bill that it says will aid small businesses and result in the creation of 500,000 jobs.
Lawmakers will then vote on its final approval, said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.
According to a summary of the Senate bill, the measure would also authorize the creation of a $30 billion fund run by the Treasury Department that would deliver ultra-cheap capital to banks with less than $10 billion in assets.
The idea is that community banks do the lion's share of lending to small businesses, and pumping capital into them will get money in the hands of Main Street businesses.
On Wednesday, President Obama slammed GOP congressional leaders for trying to block the bill. Full Story
Craigslist says no plans to resume sex ads in the United States
(CNN) - Craigslist has "no plans" to resume running adult services ads that contribute to child sex trafficking in the United States, an official with the online advertising site told a House panel Wednesday.
However, the erotic services ads remain available to Americans on the company's foreign sites, including its Canadian site, acknowledged William "Clint" Powell, the director of customer service and law enforcement relations at Craigslist.
Powell's remarks to a House Judiciary subcommittee responded to testimony that the internet has greatly expanded child prostitution and child sex trafficking. In particular, witnesses cited online advertising sites such as Craigslist and backpage.com as facilitating the ability of people to hire child prostitutes.
In late August, attorneys general in 17 U.S. states banded together to urge Craigslist to discontinue its adult services. Full Story
Sound off: We want to hear from you this morning. Add your comments to the LIVE Blog below and we'll read some of them on the show.