American Morning

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July 30th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

We Listen – Your Comments 7/30/09

Editor's Note: Thursday’s American Morning audience scolded those texing while driving, and praised CNN for the coverage, remarking “your report will help save lives.” However, most recognized the difficulty faced by police to enforce such laws and believed greater access to cell phone records would allow more convictions. Others suggested a complete ban on cell phones and texting.

  • Anonymous in FL: I admit that I have texted while driving many times. NOW, after seeing your thorough reports on the subject, I have a new view on the sensibility of this dangerous practice. From now on, NO MORE TEXTING while driving. Thanks CNN...your report will save lives!
  • Millie: Last week, my car was almost hit twice by persons driving while talking on a cell phone. Each time the driver came out of a side street and wasn't looking at oncoming traffic on the main street. Came within inches of a wreck each time. I favor a ban in cell phone usage and texting while driving.
  • Orland: There are a lot of accidents caused by cell phone usage, but in some states the police can't access that info from companies to prove that was the cause. The laws need to be changed.
  • Lorene: Sure, create national legislation to ban texting. Hands on cell phone use is illegal already here in NJ. Ask me how many times I see people doing it. And, ask me how many times I've had someone on a phone do something that makes it clear they are oblivious to my or any other driver's presence. These laws are not enforced. But, then, neither are the laws about stopping at stop signs – what I would bet is the single most cause of local automobile collisions. Moreover, there is a culture of aggressive driving all over this country that was once reserved for NYC hacks. We need to examine our behavior behind the wheel in general.
  • Rick: Texting while driving. That's just idiotic and should not require taxpayer expense to make laws on it. Surely existing impaired or dangerous driving etc laws are sufficient! Only thing we can hope, is that the criminals who do it, only wipe themselves out before they procreate and protect the gene pool.

What do you think should be done about those found texting while driving? Have you ever done this? Does the CNN report change your thinking and understanding of the dangers of texting while driving? What do you think about the law enforcement issue? Are there better ways to solve this problem than simply adding news laws (that are already difficult to enforce) on the books?


Filed under: We Listen
July 30th, 2009
02:11 PM ET

President's beer summit

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sweet says a teachable moment of the beer summit would be one doesn't 'have to be trapped in an endless soundbite.'"]

Thursday President Obama will have Professor Gates and the man who arrested him Police Sergeant James Crowley, over to the white house for beers. He hopes the meeting will be a national "teachable moment.” The racially-charged debate's been a learning experience for the president, who helped create the rift with his response to this question at last week's news conference.

The reporter who asked the question, Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times spoke with CNN’s Carol Costello about the controversy.

Filed under: Controversy
July 30th, 2009
12:18 PM ET

Distracted driving: Senate to ban texting at the wheel

Laws against texting and driving could become as common as seat belt laws. A new bill in the Senate would require states to ban the habit, or risk losing federal highway money. Drivers are 23 times more likely to crash when they're texting. For the past ten years researchers at the University of Utah have been studying the affects of driving while using cell phones. Bottom line is whether texting, or talking hands free, you are increasing your chances of crashing. CNN’s Jason Carroll shows you this phenomenon.

Filed under: Controversy • Crime
July 30th, 2009
12:12 PM ET

Obama's former doc doesn't like health plan

September is the earliest lawmakers would be agreeing on health care reform. Doctors are gathering on Capitol Hill today to see if they can influence the outcome. The President's former doctor from Chicago is among them. You might be surprised by whose side he's on. CNN's Jim Acosta met with him and he's not holding back.

Filed under: Health
July 30th, 2009
08:38 AM ET

A child driving NYC Subway Train? Rider says 'It's shocking'

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Cattie says he hopes his findings makes the system a little bit safer."]

New Yorkers will tell you they've seen strange things underground on the subway. This past weekend a subway rider saw a child 8 or 9 years old in the train operator’s cab and said it appeared she was teaching the boy how to run the train. He snapped a picture with his cell phone before getting on train.

The subway rider, Jules Cattie, spoke with CNN’s Carol Costello Thursday.

Carol Costello: The story is so unbelievable.

Jules Cattie: Even in New York, it’s shocking.

Costello: You said you snapped the picture because you didn't think anybody would believe you.

Cattie: In New York people say crazy things all the time and you tell friends and people say ‘no, that couldn't happen.’ Well, this actually happened.

Costello: You're sitting on the train. When does this first come to your attention that a child might be in the driver's seat of this subway train?

Cattie: Well I left work, was going home to watch a U.S. soccer game and I heard someone kind of yelling instructions. But it didn't sound like a co-worker to co-worker, like training an MTA employee, it sounded like a mother and a child. The tone was like that.

Costello: So what was she saying to the boy?

Cattie: The words, I heard: ‘green, go, yellow, slow down’ and things like that which I thought that was kind of - the MTA has to have better instructed people if they don't know that green means go.

Costello: And at this time, the train was actually moving?

Cattie: Yes. Yes.

Costello: So was he doing a pretty good job?

Cattie: It’s a rail so I don’t know. It was going and then we eventually - the train stopped at UNION SQUARE and the train was delayed a little bit and all of a sudden the young boy came out, popped the door open and announced why the train was delayed.

Costello: The little boy popped out and said why the train was delayed, the same kid that was driving the train?

Cattie: At this point, I didn't know that. He popped out and made the announcement. Everybody on the train kind of nervously looked around and giggled like ‘did that really just happen?’ And it's kind of shocking and he went back in. At that point I went up to the cab to kind of investigate and see what was going on.

Costello: You went up to the cab to investigate and what did they tell you?


Filed under: You Have to See This
July 30th, 2009
07:34 AM ET

'Jungle monkey' e-mail jeopardizes Boston officer's job

(CNN) - A Boston, Massachusetts, police officer who sent a mass e-mail in which he referred to Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. as "banana-eating" and a "bumbling jungle monkey" has been placed on administrative leave and faces losing his job.

Officer Justin Barrett, 36, who is also an active member of the National Guard, sent an e-mail to some fellow Guard members, as well as the Boston Globe, in which he vented his displeasure with a July 22 Globe column about Gates' controversial arrest.

The columnist, Yvonne Abraham, supported Gates' actions, asking readers, "Would you stand for this kind of treatment, in your own home, by a police officer who by now clearly has no right to be there?"

In his e-mail, which was posted on a local Boston television station's Web site, Barrett declared that if he had "been the officer he verbally assaulted like a banana-eating jungle monkey, I would have sprayed him in the face with OC [oleoresin capsicum, or pepper spray] deserving of his belligerent noncompliance."

Barrett used the "jungle monkey" phrase four times, three times referring to Gates and once referring to Abraham's writing as "jungle monkey gibberish."

He also declared he was "not a racist but I am prejudice [sic] towards people who are stupid and pretend to stand up and preach for something they say is freedom but it is merely attention because you do not get enough of it in your little fear-dwelling circle of on-the-bandwagon followers."

According to a statement from Boston police, Commissioner Edward Davis took action immediately upon learning of Barrett's remarks, stripping the officer of his gun and badge. Barrett is "on administrative leave pending the outcome of a termination hearing."

CNN has been unable to reach Barrett for comment.

Davis wants Barrett, a two-year veteran of the Boston police force, fired, a source close to the investigation said. But Barrett will continue to be paid while on administrative leave, and no date has been set for his termination hearing.

Keep reading this story »

Filed under: Controversy
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