American Morning

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July 8th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

We Listen – Your comments 7/8/09

Editor's Note: Wednesday’s American Morning audience voiced frustration at the state of the economy, believing that neither political party had the right answers.  Some blamed the Bush Administration for the poor economy, and others suggested giving money to the people, wondering “how can I stimulate the economy without money.”

  • William:  It seems the two political parties have no answer for the economy.   I think it is time to turn to the third party moderates. I think the typical CNN pitting of the left and the right in a standoff over the issues is no longer worthwhile.   It is time to get away from the extremes of the two party system.
  • Linda:  It took 8 years of Republican rule to put the "finishing" touches in our economy. Yet, the MSM will keep pounding the right wing talking points of "where are the jobs"!! How idiotic do they think we are?? President Obama is expected to "fix" all our massive problems in 6 months. Also, speaking of idiotic, despite Sarah Palin’s demonstration of incoherence and incompetence, she is still being touted as a viable candidate!! Mark Sanford is merely "censured" for dereliction of duty, (in addition to his disastrous press conferences explaining his sexual and spiritual infidelity), when they voted to impeach Bill Clinton for much less. At least Clinton didn't disappear for a week, and call Monica his "soul-mate"!! All this stuff is merely another demonstration of how the media is still being controlled by the Republican party. Hopefully, the next important elections will show that the electorate has finally wised up to this nonsense, and give Obama and our Democratic congress a fair chance to fix the mess these people have gotten us into.  By the way, we notice that "Gonzo" finally got a job. With a little "help from his friends" in Texas.
  • Carl:  I'm sorry, what was the Republican response to the recession they initiated? Was it let the free market correct the problem. Every time they criticize the Obama Administration by mincing words from top officials within the administration they show that they still have no plan to help the American public. Except Chuck Grassle who thinks his health insurance is above the American publics, and if we want the same insurance we should get a government job. You guys need to call these do-nothing, philosophical elitists on there plans for the problems our country faces when they step in front of your microphones and complain instead of offer ideas of their own.

How do you feel about the state of the economy?  Is the stimulus working for you?  What has President Obama and Congress done well regarding the economy?  What would you like to see them do differently?


Filed under: American Morning
July 8th, 2009
08:25 AM ET

Inspiring foster kid's "dash" for college

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Dasheen's dark past motivates him to strive for his dreams."]

From CNN Producer Ben Tinker

Dasheen Ellis’ mother abandoned him, along with his brother, before he was old enough to form a memory of her.

“She left us on one of her friend’s steps and never came back,” he recounts. Dasheen was just five years old, his brother eight. “She was a drug addict and she had sex for drugs. She was always high and experimenting with different drugs. It was not a positive environment for us. I mean, me and my brother would have to just sometimes be in the house alone. He was the one protecting me. She was never there.”

Dasheen was sent to live with his godmother, which turned into another bad situation. “The environment wasn’t a positive thing for me,” he says. “There was a lot of drugs and sex and things around me that were uncomfortable, so I decided to tell my social worker that I wanted to leave.”

From there, he was placed into his first foster home; then, into the care of the Jewish Child Care Association. Andrea Fink, his former social worker, knows all that it took for Dasheen to get here.

“The Dasheen that you see today is pretty much the Dasheen you saw when he was 13,” she remembers. “He came in quiet, peaceful, very self-assured. But underneath it, very, very scared and worried about what was going to be his future.”

Dasheen recently returned to the Pleasantville Cottage School to offer the current residents something few others can: empathy.

“I wanted to come and talk to you guys about my experiences in life,” he tells them, “because most of them have been kind of similar to what you guys have gone through.”

Talking, Fink says, is the most important thing an at-risk youth can do. “Talk about your feelings. Find somebody who you trust and talk it out, not matter how difficult it is.”

When he was a resident, Dasheen played an integral role in crafting a unique peer mentoring program. “I figured it would be best for residents to help other residents,” he explains,” because you can relate more to someone who’s your peer rather than someone who’s above you.”


Filed under: Education
July 8th, 2009
08:05 AM ET

2009: A different kind of Gary

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="(Getty Images) The marquee at the decaying Palace Theater advertises the Jackson Five July 7, 2009 in Gary, Indiana."]

By Stephen Samaniego – Producer, CNN's American Morning

After spending a few days in Gary, Indiana one thing is clear:  this is not the same town Michael Jackson grew up in. When Michael was born back in 1958, Gary was a thriving steel town with a population of almost 180,000 people.

When I was speaking with Gladys Johnson, the former principal of Garnett Elementary School where Michael attended, she spoke of a place where new schools were being constructed, people were buying land and building new homes, and people had good paying jobs that afforded them a decent life.

Today, things are different. Jackson’s elementary school has been torn down, most of the houses built are now crumbling and the unemployment rate is in the double digits.

Driving through the streets of Gary, I could see the shell of what it once was. Gordon Keith, the former owner of Steeltown Records, told me about the exploding music scene that Gary hosted. While driving around with Gordon, he would point out an abandoned building, a pile of rubble or even an empty lot that used to be a music club or watering hole that would showcase local talent.

I stopped by Mr. Lucky's, the bar where the Jackson Five performed when they first formed. It was shuttered and appeared to have bullet holes through the front door and part of the roof had collapsed into the front of the former bar.

It is clear that Gary, Indiana has seen better days but the people that remember its glory days are still there and remember what it used to be.

Filed under: American Morning • Entertainment
July 8th, 2009
07:25 AM ET

Bomb parts smuggled into 10 federal buildings during test

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="A GAO report cites lax security in federal buildings after investigators got bomb compenents past guards."]

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Plainclothes investigators sent to test security at federal buildings in four U.S. cities were successful in smuggling bomb components through guard posts at all 10 of the sites they visited, according to a government report.

The investigators then assembled the bombs in restrooms and freely entered numerous government offices while carrying the devices in briefcases, the report said.

The buildings contained offices of several federal lawmakers as well as agencies within the departments of State, Justice and Homeland Security, which is responsible for safeguarding federal office buildings.

CNN obtained the report late Tuesday, ahead of its expected release Wednesday at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, conducted the tests to check on the effectiveness of the Federal Protective Service .The FPS protects federal buildings by having about 1,200 federal law enforcement officers oversee an army of 13,000 private security guards.

In a videotape obtained by CNN, a covert GAO inspector places a bag containing bomb components on an X-ray machine conveyor belt and then walks through a magnetometer at an unidentified federal building. Unlike some covert tests that use simulated explosives, the GAO used actual bomb components in the test and publicly available information "to identify a type of device that a terrorist could use" to damage a building.

Keep reading this story »

Filed under: American Morning • Controversy
July 8th, 2009
07:04 AM ET

Wal-Mart making its debut in India

(Getty Images) Managing Director of India's Bharti Enterprises Rajan Bharti Mittal (L) shakes hands with President of US Wal-Mart's operations in India, Raj Jain during a press conference in New Delhi, 06 August 2007.
(Getty Images) Managing Director of India's Bharti Enterprises Rajan Bharti Mittal (L) shakes hands with President of US Wal-Mart's operations in India, Raj Jain during a press conference in New Delhi, 06 August 2007.

In the Holy City of the Golden Temple an American retail giant is hoping to strike gold.

Walmart has finally made its way to India, in a joint venture with one of the country's best-known companies: Bharti Enterprises. But not everyone can shop here. This is a wholesale store aptly named "Best Price Modern Wholesale."  Here only licensed business people, hotels or institutions are allowed in.

India's strict business rules forbid foreign companies from direct retail for fear multinational corporations will wipe out the little guy. For some businesses…it can mean visiting up to 25 different places everyday just to stock the shelves. The store also appeals to Sundar Singh, who owns a small store in a nearby village. He says, "I travel 40 kilometers, but I save a lot of money and get good quality of products. I visit this place four to five times a week."

But not everyone is excited about the new store in the Punjab's Amritsar. Small distributor Pawan Sharma is worried. He says his business has dropped by 15-percent in the month Wal-Mart has been open. But the Bharti-Walmart partnership says with more than one-billion people to serve, there's room for everyone to do good business here.

Bharti-Walmart is planning to open 15 stores across India within the next few years.

Filed under: American Morning
July 8th, 2009
06:39 AM ET

Food rehab: Why we can't eat just one

All of us crave certain foods, chewy chocolate chip cookies, pizza, or a comfort food like mac and cheese. Or in my case all of the above. But why do we crave them? Why are they so irresistible? Even addictive?

Remember the Lay’s potato chip commercial, “Betcha can’t eat just one”? Turns out there’s scientific evidence our brains are being hijacked by food and we may be helpless. But there’s hope.  Dr. David Kessler, Former FDA Commissioner, has written a book, “The End of Overeating”, detailing why we are so addicted to food.and how to overcome this addiction, a sort of Food Rehabilitation.

Dr. Kessler told me food makers stimulate our desire to eat even when we’re full by combining fat,sugar, and salt in all kinds of different ways. He says, “add flavor, add texture, add temperature, add color and what do we end up with? One of the great public health epidemics of our time.” And there are other factors that go into why we can’t resist.

He goes on, “back 20 years ago, the average bite had about 20 chews. Today food goes down in one or two chews.It’s a wash. We get stimulated and we reach for more and more.”

In other words we just can’t help ourselves. Just ask four star chef Daniel Boulud, chef and owner of “Daniel” restaurant in New York City. He treated us to a tasting menu—a bite sized symphony of sweet, salty and fatty foods:


Filed under: Health
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