Editor's Note: Health care reform was the primary topic for Monday’s American Morning audience. RNC Chairman Michael Steele and the Republicans were accused of “abandoning all logic and common sense in their bipartisan attempt to quash health care reform.” Some believed he lacked credibility by using “scare tactics.”
How do you feel about the Republican approach to health care reform?
By Jason Carroll
Say what you want about "Avatar." Here's what you need to know about James Cameron. When he decides to tell a story, he's one hundred percent committed. He proved that when we showed up to interview him about "Avatar."
Cameron told me it's a classic adventure much in the mold of "Lawrence of Arabia." That may sound odd for a science fiction tale, but that’s how Cameron describes "Avatar."
"I want to take people to another world, I want to take them out of their daily lives on a fantasy journey," Cameron said. "This is an experiential journey, it's highly immersive and you're gonna see things that you probably haven’t seen other than in your own dreams."
"Avatar" is an expensive dream, costing $237 million so far and counting. It could end up being the most expensive film ever made. Does Cameron feel the pressure? You bet. "I think pressure's good for filmmakers. It makes us think about our audiences and what the audience wants. It makes us in a sense beholden to the audience."
And that is where the commitment comes in. When we met up with Cameron he was still tweaking "Avatar," (in fact, he still is by this posting) still adjusting sound and making edits to the film, which opens December 18th.
He gave us behind-the-scenes access, allowing CNN's cameras into an editing session where I watched Cameron do his thing. At one point, Cameron telling the editors how he wanted an explosion to sound. "... if you use explosions with a longer attack and decay, like a BOOOOOM kind of sound, then they all merge in to on big BOOM BOOM BOOM."
The question is, will "Avatar" be a bomb? Some bloggers who have seen the film's trailer say Cameron's giant visioned Avatar's look more like Smurfs. I asked Cameron if that made him nervous. "I think if everybody was embracing the film before the fact the film could never live up to that expectation."
The fight over health care reform is getting personal today.
Republicans have released a new ad targeting a handful of moderate Senate Democrats, accusing some of them of being "sell-outs" because they voted in favor of continuing the debate on their party's health care reform bill.
RNC Chairman Michael Steele spoke to Kiran Chetry on Monday's American Morning, saying the Democrats are overstepping their reach on health care reform.
Catherine "Cady" Coleman, Ph.D. is a NASA astronaut – a veteran of two space missions, who has logged over 500 hours in space. She is assigned to the Expedition 26 crew and is scheduled to fly to the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz 25 in late 2010. Below is a blog written by Cady exclusively for CNN via NASA's Astronaut Office.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/23/shuttle.atlantis.gi.art.jpg caption="The space shuttle Atlantis STS-129 lifts off November 16, 2009 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida."]
By Cady Coleman
Special to CNN
Nothing beats watching a space shuttle launch – except being able to see it with your 9-year-old. Jamey knows that I am an astronaut, but watching a launch together helps him realize that his mom has really done THAT twice, and is getting ready to go a third time on the Russian Soyuz.
I was home in Massachusetts when STS-129 launched last Monday, and I watched the lift-off with Jamey and the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders at Buckland-Shelburne Elementary. Because I am often working during a launch, Jamey and I have never gotten to see one together, and I was pretty thrilled to have been home in Massachusetts for this one. With the upcoming retirement of the shuttle, it’s strange to realize that there aren’t likely to be any shuttle launches when I get back from my flight to the space station.
I loved seeing the launch through the kids’ eyes. We were watching the countdown, and one of them asked me to rewind the tape so that we could watch the beanie cap retract again. It took a little explaining for them to realize that this was LIVE. Those 6 astronauts are strapped into the shuttle this very minute – and that we can’t rewind! They were so excited that they kept starting the countdown early! Patience comes hard at this age, so I filled the time before launch with explanations about the engines, the tank and the boosters, and I showed them the little window on the shuttle that was mine for my first launch.
Don't Miss: Follow Cady on Twitter @Astro_Cady
Finally, came the “5-4-3-2-1 Liftoff!” that they’d been waiting for. The looks on their faces were priceless. Eyes so big – mouths wide open, and lots of great verbal expressions that I wouldn’t expect from 8-12 year-olds! The camera view from the external tank showing the Earth in the background made it clear that the shuttle was headed for space – and fast! I think it is still hard for Jamey to realize that I’ve really been there and done that!
“What was it like for you to watch a launch?” asked one of the teachers. Hmmm. I’m usually too busy at launch time to be emotionally engaged – until the very last moments before liftoff. That’s when it hits me. The realization that something very big, very significant is happening, and there is nothing I can do to change the results. It is a big deal to launch people into space on a vehicle as complicated as the space shuttle, no matter how many times it has happened in the past. I can only watch and know that the people who get the shuttle ready for launch are doing their best to get everything right. I trust them to do that. They know that somebody like me will be sitting on that shuttle, betting my life on the quality of their work. However, none of that changes how I feel when the clock counts down to T 0.
“Do you ever wonder if your shuttle is going to blow up?” asks one of Jamey’s classmates. Whew. There’s a tough question. I’ve answered it at schools before, but never when my son was in the audience. Fortunately, Jamey already understands that I think the NASA mission is so important that it is worth the risks that we take when we go to space. As I explain, I see Jamey nodding wisely in the back of the room.
The other questions were easier. “What does it feel like to be floating?” “How do you eat?” “How do you sleep?” And, of course, they asked the inevitable “How do you go to the bathroom in space?” I like to explain that we use suction to make everything go neatly where it is supposed to go, with the clear instruction that regular vacuum cleaners are not to be used to try this at home!
My friends on the STS-129 crew are working in space even as I write. They’ve docked with the International Space Station and are transferring supplies and doing space walks to store the spare parts that we might need as the space station gets older. Although they are working hard, I’m sure they are having a great time up there – floating – eating – sleeping – and all those other fun things that the kids at Buckland Shelburne are now experts on!
Goodnight from Houston!
Program Note: Watch CNN's American Morning as we follow Cady on her year-long mission to space, and check back here for blogs, photos and video updates from Cady as she documents the behind-the-scenes life of an astronaut.
By Stephen Samaniego
Ida Petkus may be in the middle of her sixth month on unemployment, but she says she hasn't looked for a job since the summer. She's already got work – a job she created working for herself. "I thought I'd still be working for someone else and working in a company," says Petkus. "I never thought I would be an employer myself."
After being laid off as a domestic violence advocate this past March, Ida started her own domestic violence agency with a little help from Uncle Sam. It’s called the Self Employment Assistance Program, S.E.A. for short, and it trains people receiving unemployment benefits to start and run their own business.
When Ida heard about the program, it seemed like a no-brainer. She had tried looking for a job but had no luck. Petkus says, "There’s just nothing out there to be an advocate in this economy. So I signed up for it, thinking, "Well, I can brush up on my marketing skills, why not?'"
"Small businesses tend to fail," says Michael Glass who is director of New Jersey’s S.E.A. "Often because they don't have a written business plan, a marketing plan, and they're not financially ready to do it, so what we try to do is ease that process," adds Glass. He has been with the program since it started in the state 13 years ago and has seen close to 8,000 businesses created through S.E.A.