American Morning

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February 19th, 2010
08:00 AM ET

Gay conservatives sponsor CPAC event

CPAC is under way in Washington right now. It's the conservative event of the year.

The economic, foreign policy and social conservatives have turned out in force. But this year, gay conservatives also have a voice. And as our Brianna Keilar tells us, it's getting a mixed response.

Related: Conservatives blast Obama, chart future

Filed under: Politics
February 19th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

'Magic happened' after she gave ex-cons a chance at new lives

By Kathleen Toner, CNN

Los Angeles, California (CNN) - At the bus terminal in downtown Los Angeles, they're easy to spot. Dressed in blue jeans, they carry boxes, bags or large envelopes with their name and a number on it. They are ex-offenders, just released from California's prison system. When they step off the bus with $200 in "gate money" in their pockets, many have hopes of making a fresh start.

But in this seedy area just blocks from Skid Row, the new arrivals are easy targets for pimps and drug dealers. For some, the temptation is too much. While not everyone succumbs to the streets so quickly, nearly 60 percent return to prison within three years, according to California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

It's a cycle that Susan Burton is striving to break through her reentry program. Having served six prison terms for drug offenses in the 1980s and '90s, Burton knows from experience how hard it can be.

"Every time I was released, I swore I wasn't going back," said Burton, 57. "But I know now that without the resources and support, it's next to impossible. ... If you don't have a new door to walk through, the only thing is the old door."

Do you know a hero? Nominations are open for 2010 CNN Heroes

Filed under: CNN Heroes
February 19th, 2010
06:30 AM ET

Meeting Oscar de la Renta

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Designer Oscar de la Renta."]

By Dashira Harris, CNN

I have admired Oscar de la Renta ever since my mother ripped a picture of one of his beautiful designs out of Vogue. I asked her, could she make a replica for my prom? She said yes, so – along with my grandmother – she went searching for the perfect materials - the beading, sequins, tulle – in order to create my perfect dress. And she did. Beautifully.

So imagine my excitement when six years later I’m standing before the man himself, Oscar de la Renta, and telling him the story. I brought along the magazine tear sheet (yes, I saved it for 6 years!) and a photo of my prom dress. He oooohed and aaaahed at the replica and smiled as I relived the story of my de la Renta-inspired creation. I might add, he insisted on "Oscar" instead of "Mr. De la Renta.”

While we were there producing a story how designers create fragrances, Oscar told our correspondent, Alina Cho, that he believes fragrance is an "invisible dress" and that smell evokes memories dating back to childhood, a more personal way to dress a woman.

The final piece of the story was a shoot at his runway show, where he revealed color and fur for his Fall 2010 collection. Seats were hard to come by, but when I told Oscar’s team the story of my prom dress, they secured a spot for me… and my mother. What a thrill. To see the models swoop down the runway, to see the iconic designer again in person, was truly a dream come true.

Filed under: Fashion
February 19th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Witness becomes rescuer in Austin plane crash

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=""]

(CNN) - Robin Dehaven usually replaces windows. On Thursday morning, after a small plane crashed into an Austin, Texas, office building, he was breaking them, having rushed into the burning structure to help people escape.

Dehaven, an Army veteran who works for a glass company, was driving to a job when he witnessed the plane crash. With the building in flames and emergency personnel still minutes away, Dehaven drove his truck to the parking lot.

People in the building were trapped, screaming for help.

"[Other people who'd gathered] said they needed my ladders on my truck, because there were people stuck on the second floor," Dehaven told CNN's "The Situation Room."

He took a ladder off his truck and put it up to a window of a smoke-filled area where five people were trapped.

"The people were kind of in a panic, wanting to get out quickly, of course, so I climbed up into the building with them," Dehaven said. He then broke a nearby window under which the ladder could have better footing, and he helped the five escape, he said. FULL STORY

See iReport photos and videos from the scene

Filed under: Crime
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