American Morning

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September 1st, 2009
04:00 PM ET

We Listen – Your comments 9/1/2009

Editor's Note: SATs remained the hot topic for Tuesday’s "American Morning" viewers, who did not anticipate such testing to end. Others did not believe testing was an indicator of future success.

  • Joshua: I have been a full-time SAT professional for 10 years, having spent years with a cooperate company and years as a high-end Los Angeles tutor. I am thankful that CNN is taking a serious look at the test; however, there was a fair amount of misinformation and error by omission in today's broadcast. First of all, the ACT is poised to overtake the SAT nationally in number of test takers this year. The differences go WELL beyond region, and students should know that every 4-year school in America accepts either test. And while I see the commercial appeal of shedding light on the seedy underbelly of the test prep world, cuts in high school budgets, which often have devastating impacts on college counseling offices, are leaving students SERIOUSLY unprepared for the testing process, which, while hardly perfect, is not going anywhere anytime soon... and telling students that 800 schools are SAT optional is, sadly but truly, misleading. I'm looking forward to the rest of your story... I am a loyal CNN watcher and would be happy to share the high-end tutor prospective with my favorite news network. Thanks again.
  • Stephanie: Why does our media focus only on the higher education process in the USA? We are loosing an international battle over the education of our young and future leaders. Over seas children are subjected to more intense tests in preparation for higher education and spend more per capita on studying for tests than we do in the USA. Why are we looking to soften our countries standards and weaken our children, by making testing organizations out as enemies and suggesting to adults and children that stress and hard work studying are not virtues we as americans treasure?

How do you feel about ending SATs as a measure for entrance into a university or college? Is there a better indicator for success? What do you think: considering the College Board (the organization that develops the test) is a non-profit organization, are senior executives earning salaries appropriate or excessive?

Filed under: We Listen
September 1st, 2009
12:13 PM ET

Families of hikers held in Iran await news

(CNN) - Relatives of three American hikers detained in Iran are still waiting for news about their loved ones.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sarah Shourd, seen in a family photo, is one of three American hikers detained in Iran."]

More than a month has passed since Iranian authorities detained Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal after they strayed into Iran - by accident, a friend and relatives say - while hiking in northern Iraq.

Their relatives in the United States have heard nothing about their fate, they said Tuesday on CNN's "American Morning."

"We know they're being detained in Iran. Beyond that, we haven't heard anything from them," said Nora Shourd, the mother of Sarah Shourd.

The waiting takes a toll.

"It's just very difficult," said Alex Fattal, Josh Fattal's brother. "Each day feels like a month.

"It's a long time - each hour, each day - to not know under what conditions Josh, Shane and Sarah are being held and if they're OK."

The hikers' relatives said they hope the Iranian government lets Swiss diplomats visit the hikers. The Swiss government represents U.S. interests in Iran. The U.S. and Iran have not had diplomatic relations since the American hostage crisis of 1979.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Iran
September 1st, 2009
11:17 AM ET

Nationwide ban on texting while driving?

Recent studies have shown that texting and driving can be a dangerous – even deadly – mix. Now a highway safety group has done a "180" and joined the growing chorus for a nationwide ban on texting while driving. CNN's Jason Carroll reports.

Filed under: Transportation
September 1st, 2009
11:08 AM ET

Garrido investigated for more kidnappings

Police in two San Francisco Bay-area cities are investigating whether other disappearances can be linked to the man suspected of keeping Jaycee Dugard captive behind his house for 18 years. One involves Michaela Garecht, who disappeared in 1988 when she was just 9-years-old. Her mother, Sharon Murch, spoke to John Roberts on "American Morning" Tuesday.

Full story: California police look at other disappearances

Filed under: Crime
September 1st, 2009
10:52 AM ET

Ridge: Terror alert never used to manipulate public

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge says he was not second-guessing his colleagues."]

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge became the very first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security after the attacks of 9/11. And in his new book, "Test of our Times: America Under Siege… And How We Can Be Safe Again," he opens up about the Bush White House.

The book is generating a lot of heat these days over implications that politics may have played a role in a proposal to raise the terror alert level before the 2004 presidential election.

Tom Ridge joined John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday. Below is an edited transcript of the interview.

John Roberts: The particular area in the book that's generating a lot of controversy, a lot of conversation, is the part where you talk about in the days after Bin Laden released that videotape, just before the election of 2004, I guess it was five days before, you wrote of that – and this was the discussion of whether or not to raise the terror alert level – you say, “Ashcroft strongly urged an increase in the threat level and was supported by Rumsfeld. There was absolutely no support for that position within our department. None. I wondered, ‘Is this about security or politics?’” Walk us through your thought process when you wrote the book. Why did you even raise the issue of is this about politics or security?

Tom Ridge: Obviously, I'm musing in the book. I'm not speculating about my colleagues' motives, but this is a dramatic weekend. It is a weekend before a national election. This is the only time I really discuss a process that we used throughout my entire time as secretary when we decided…

Roberts: But why did you think it might be about politics?

Ridge: Well, at that time, as the individual who is responsible for the overseeing if we went up in the general threat level, I'm just saying in there, we were universally opposed to raising it in the department. And I'm kind of musing and scratching my head and I've got two people whose opinions I respect immensely, I’m not second guessing them, but I just say in the book, “Is it politics?” Perhaps the sentence should have been in a paragraph later – we wouldn’t be having a conversation. But I just want to make it very clear, I'm not second-guessing my colleagues, because I worked with them every single day.


Filed under: Controversy • Politics
September 1st, 2009
06:15 AM ET

What’s on Tap – Tuesday September 1st, 2009

U.S. Forest Service firefighters monitor a back fire August 31, 2009 in La Crescenta, California.  (Getty Images)
U.S. Forest Service firefighters monitor a back fire August 31, 2009 in La Crescenta, California. (Getty Images)

Here are the big stories on the agenda today:

  • Jaycee Lee Dugard is in a secret location with her family this morning.  Psychologists are now helping her and her children begin the process of adjusting to a new life after 18 years in captivity.  Police are opening up their investigation into the man who allegedly stole her childhood – Phillip Garrido.  A bone fragment's been found near the convicted sex offender's house.  Are there even more victims?  Authorities are now looking into a possible connection between Garrido and at least two other kidnapping cases.  We’ll talk to a woman who hasn’t seen her child since 1988, who thinks Garrido may have some 20-year-old answers.
  • An out-of-control wildfire closing in on L.A.  Triple-digit temperatures and bone-dry conditions are only feeding the flames that have now burned an area the size of San Antonio, Texas.  Authorities say five people who ignored evacuation orders are now trapped.  We're live from the front lines in southern California.
  • Did the Bush Administration use the politics of fear?  We’ll ask America’s first Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge about questions he asks in his new book, out today, including a push to raise the nation's terror alert before the 2004 election.
  • For the first time since his arrest and conviction for assaulting pop star Rihanna, Chris Brown is breaking his silence.  The R&B star told Larry King he's ashamed of what he did to her.  We’ll have a sneak peak of the exclusive interview.

Filed under: What's On Tap