American Morning

Tune in at 6am Eastern for all the news you need to start your day.
April 20th, 2009
07:45 AM ET

Vote! Lift trade embargo against Cuba?

Should the United States lift the trade embargo against Cuba?

US policy on Cuba has remained largely unchanged since 1962, when the US government imposed a trade embargo. President Obama reached out to the Cuban government before the Summit of the Americas by lifting all restrictions on U.S. citizens wishing to visit or send remittances to relatives in Cuba.

Cuba was not represented at the summit, but Obama noted that the leaders of other countries highlighted Cuba's program that sends "thousands of doctors" throughout the hemisphere. A number of countries depend heavily on Cuba's medical assistance program.

"It's a reminder ... that if our only interaction with many of these countries is drug interdiction - if our only interaction is military - then we may not be developing the connections that can over time increase our influence and have a beneficial effect," he said.

Obama called Cuban President Raul Castro's recent indication of a willingness to discuss human rights issues "a sign of progress." But he said the Cuban government could send a much clearer, more positive signal by releasing political prisoners or reducing fees charged on remittances that Americans send to relatives in the country.

Change in Cuba will not come quickly, but it is good for other countries to see that "we are not dug in into policies that were formulated before I was born," Obama said.

What do you think? Should the U.S. lift the trade embargo against Cuba?

Filed under: Cuba
April 20th, 2009
07:10 AM ET

Vote! Should overweight passengers pay for 2 seats on airplanes?

Do you agree with the decision by United Airlines to charge overweight passengers for two seats if they can not fit into one with the arm rest down?

Overweight passengers might soon have to buy two tickets to fly on United Airlines. The company says “for the comfort and well-being” of all their customers, they have a new policy for passengers who:

– Can’t fit into a single seat
– Can’t properly buckle the seat belt using an extender
– Can’t put the seat’s armrests down when seated

If there are extra seats available, the passenger will be
moved next to an empty seat at no charge. But if the
flight is full, they either have to buy an upgrade to
business or first class where the seats are bigger or
change to another flight and buy a second seat.

What do you think?

Filed under: Controversy
April 20th, 2009
06:56 AM ET

Fast Forward

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Here are some of the stories that will be making news later today:

Congress gets back to business today after a two-week spring recess. The Senate will convene at 2pm ET. Before leaving town, both the House and Senate passed versions of the president's proposed budget. Now lawmakers must work out a final version.

Throughout the day in Colorado, vigils will be held for victims of the Columbine shootings. It was 10 years ago today that 13 people were killed when two students went on a shooting rampage before killing themselves.

At 9am ET, a suit brought by Hurricane Katrina flooding victims will finally go to trial. The four-week trial won't have a jury. A federal court judge will decide whether the Army Corps of Engineers should be held liable for failed levees that caused catastrophic flooding in New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish. Billions of dollars in damages are at stake.

Filed under: Fast Forward
April 20th, 2009
06:00 AM ET

What’s on Tap – Monday April 20th, 2009

Here are the big stories on the agenda today.

  • Breaking now: A hostage crisis on the runway.  Police are surrounding a Canadian jet in Jamaica.  Officials say the final two passengers have been released, but an armed suspect is still holding the crew, and we’re waiting to hear his demands.
  • Tornadoes in the dead of night – Severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings throughout the southeast overnight.  There are reports that a tornado touched down in Alabama.  One person killed.  Another critical.
  • The “torture” memo fallout.  Just days after his administration released the four Bush-administration memos on interrogation methods, President Obama visits CIA headquarters to meet with Director Leon Panetta and other CIA officials.
  • Former CIA Director Michael Hayden is criticizing the Obama administration for the release of the memos, saying that they have made the CIA’s job more difficult. He also said that four former CIA-heads as well as current Director Panetta had opposed the release.
  • Obama’s cost cutting challenge.  The president returned to Washington Sunday night with his eye back on his domestic agenda and a plan to save government money. Today, he’ll gather his full Cabinet together for the first time as president and challenge them to cut a total of 100 million dollars in the next 90 days, two senior administration officials said.
  • Payback time?  The bailout money seems to be working.  Short-lived or not, banks do appear to be turning things around.  Citigroup reports a first-quarter profit of $1.6 billion, the company's first quarterly profit since the fall of 2007.  Is this a sign that the rescue plan is working, and at whose expense?
  • Craigslist murder.  A gorgeous New York model who advertised massage services on Craigslist was shot dead at a posh Boston hotel.  And cops think the suspect struck again.
  • Madonna takes a tumble.  The material girl is thrown from a horse in the Hamptons, her second scare on the saddle.  And man is “Madge” having a bad year.  Divorce, adoption rejection and now this!

Filed under: What's On Tap
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