American Morning

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February 26th, 2010
08:00 AM ET

Haiti emergency over?

Six weeks after the earthquake in Haiti, thousands are still starving and living in tent cities. Thousands of the dead still don't have their own graves. But the government there has declared the emergency over.

That decision is stopping even more people from getting the food, water and medicine they need; people who clearly don't agree that things are back to normal. Our Soledad O'Brien has the story from Port-au-Prince.

Full coverage: Haiti Earthquake

Filed under: Haiti
February 26th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

Avlon: Blame poisonous politics for broken government

Editor’s note: John P. Avlon is a senior political columnist for The Daily Beast and author of "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America." Previously, he served as chief speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="CNN independent analyst John Avlon says any hope of changing the partisan culture of Washington is a long way away."]

By John Avlon, Special to CNN

Government seems broken. Congress is more polarized than at any time in recent history. Patriotism is confused with partisanship.

How did we get here? It requires a look at the past year to see how wingnuts hijacked our politics.

“I hope he fails.” With those four words, Rush Limbaugh coined what would become Republican strategy. It’s a telling sign of the times when professional polarizers in talk radio give talking points to party leadership, instead of vice versa.

But of course, it takes two to have bipartisanship and neither party has a monopoly on virtue or vice. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi deserves her share of the blame. After President Obama delegated what would become the $787 billion stimulus bill, Republicans were shut out of the negotiating process, undercutting President Obama’s claims to represent bipartisanship. She ultimately gained no Republican votes and lost the support of eleven centrist Democrats.

As Blue Dog Congressman Jim Cooper from Tennessee said at the time, while summing up the perspective of the liberal House leadership aligned with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying, “They don’t mind the partisan fighting ‘cause that’s what they are used to. In fact, they’re really good at it. And they’re a little bit worried about what a post-partisan future might look like.” The Progressive Change Campaign Committee started running attack ads against centrist Democrats who voted with their districts rather than with the party line.


February 26th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Teaching kids to read from the back of a burro

By Ebonne Ruffins, CNN

Magdalena, Colombia (CNN) - To the unaccustomed eye, a man toting 120 books while riding a stubborn donkey would seem nothing short of a circus spectacle. But for hundreds of children in the rural villages of Colombia, Luis Soriano is far from a clown. He is a man with a mission to save rural children from illiteracy.

"There was a time when many people thought that I was going crazy," said Soriano, a native of La Gloria, Colombia. "They'd yell, 'Carnival season is over.' ... Now I've overcome that."

Soriano, 38, is a primary school teacher who spends his free time operating a "biblioburro," a mobile library on donkeys that offers reading education for hundreds of children living in what he describes as "abandoned regions" in the Colombian state of Magdalena.

"In [rural] regions, a child must walk or ride a donkey for up to 40 minutes to reach the closest schools," Soriano said. "The children have very few opportunities to go to secondary school. ...There are [few] teachers that would like to teach in the countryside."

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

Filed under: CNN Heroes
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