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October 30th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

How would your life be different without the Internet?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Happy Birthday to the Internet.

The system that has revolutionized almost every part of our lives turned 40 years old this week. October 29, 1969 was the first time people sent a computer-to-computer message. It was in California that UCLA Professor Leonard Kleinrock successfully connected the school's host computer to one at Stanford University.

The project had started a few years earlier: After Russia successfully launched Sputnik in the late 1950s, U.S. leaders stepped up funding to enter a technology race with their Cold War rival.

Fast forward 40 years - and It's pretty hard to imagine society without everything we're used to about the Internet:

E-mail, online shopping, video games, Google, bloggers, YouTube, and more recently social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. The list goes on and on...

Of course there's also a dark side to the Internet - computer worms, viruses, the annoying e-mail spam, identity theft, online scams and fraud, child predators and pornography - not to mention the fact that the word privacy may never have the same meaning again.

At a 40th birthday party for the Internet, Kleinrock - who sent that first message - talked how it's a "democratizing element" and that everyone can have an equal voice. But he also says there's no way back at this point, and that "we can't turn it off."

Kleinrock says in the future, the Internet will be "present everywhere."

Kinda feels like it already is.

Here’s my question to you: How would your life be different without the Internet?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Internet
October 30th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Why hasn't Obama had a greater impact on race relations?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Race relations have not improved as much in the U.S. as many hoped they would with the election of our first African-American president. When Barack Obama was elected, we heard a lot of talk about all the good it might do for racial tensions.

Barack Obama and his family arrive on stage for his election night victory rally at Grant Park in Chicago on November 4, 2008.

Barack Obama and his family arrive on stage for his election night victory rally at Grant Park in Chicago on November 4, 2008.

Well, maybe not... Consider this: 56 percent of Americans think a solution to this country's race relations problem will eventually be worked out. But that's exactly the same percentage of people who felt this way when Gallup first asked this question 46 years ago in December of 1963. So despite all the progress we've presumably made in the last half century - much has not changed.

Gallup conducted a one-night poll on November 5 of last year - right after President Obama won. At that point, 67 percent of those surveyed thought race relations would get better. They haven't.

Not surprisingly, blacks are much more pessimistic about this question than whites. Among blacks, optimism has decreased since last summer from 50 percent to 42 percent.

Gallup also found that 79 percent of Americans say blacks have equal employment opportunities to whites. That number is up since last summer. But - here again - blacks are overwhelmingly more pessimistic about equal job chances.

Lastly, the poll shows 51 percent of those surveyed agree that there's widespread racism against blacks in the U.S.

Here’s my question to you: Why hasn't the nation's first African-American president had a greater impact on race relations?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

October 30th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

64 pages to create Social Security, why 2,000 to reform health care?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats unveiling their 1,990 page health care reform bill - it made us wonder about other landmark pieces of legislation in U.S. history and how long they were.

 House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) is pictured behind a printout of the 2,000 page health care reform bill during a news conference on Capitol Hill yesterday.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) is pictured behind a printout of the 2,000 page health care reform bill during a news conference on Capitol Hill yesterday.
  • The original draft of the 1935 Economic Security Act, which established the Social Security Administration was 64 pages
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 - forbidding discrimination based on race and sex: 8 pages
  • The 19th amendment to the Constitution, giving Women the right to vote in 1920: 1 page
  • The Emancipation Proclamation, with which Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in 1863: 5 pages
  • Or, if you really want to get back to basics: The Declaration of independence came in at 1 page in 1776
  • And the Constitution: 4 pages long in 1787
  • Health care reform, Pelosi version - almost 2,000 pages.

The Democrats say they'll post the final version online for lawmakers and the public to read 72 hours before a vote. Good luck reading 2,000 pages in 72 hours.

Meanwhile although the Democrats keep talking about openness and transparency in this process, there are reports that they blocked the public from attending the unveiling ceremony for their health care bill outside of the Capitol yesterday. Videos online show people - not on a pre-approved guest list - being turned away.

Note to Nancy Pelosi: You people don't own the Capitol - we do.

Here’s my question to you: If it took 64 pages to create Social Security, why does it take 2,000 pages to reform health care?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Health care • Social Security
October 29th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

What are Sarah Palin's chances in 2012?

As Sarah Palin prepares to release her memoir next month, it seems like so much of her life is already an open book. Palin - who quit as Governor of Alaska in the middle of her first term - has been having a nasty public battle with the father of her grandson.

Levi Johnston - the former boyfriend of Palin's daughter, Bristol - says Sarah Palin describes her son Trig, who has Down syndrome, as "retarded." Johnston also claims to know a lot more about what went on in the Palin household - so presumably, there is more tabloid trash to come.

Sarah Palin is pushing back - calling Johnston's claim "inflammatory," and saying Trig is their "blessed little angel" who knows it and is lovingly called that every day of his life.

Palin also suggests that Johnston - who is preparing for a photo shoot with Playgirl Magazine - is desperate for publicity. Sort of like Sarah Palin is.

Meanwhile - a new poll suggests Palin may have run her course with the American public. Only 29-percent of Americans think she's qualified to be president. 71 percent - including nearly half of all Republicans - say she's not.

And, 51-percent of Americans have a negative view of her.

Here’s my question to you: What are Sarah Palin's chances in 2012?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Sarah Palin
October 29th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Should people who witness a crime face jail for failing to report it?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

California police now say as many as 20 people were present at the gang rape of a 15-year-old girl outside a high school homecoming dance last weekend. 10 people were involved in an assault in a back alley at the school that went on for more than two-and-a-half hours. 10 people stood around and watched without calling 9-1-1 to report it. Police say some witnesses took photos, while others laughed.

Police say a student at Richmond High School was gang raped outside during a homecoming dance.

Police say a student at Richmond High School was gang raped outside during a homecoming dance.

California law makes it illegal not to report a crime against a child, but the cutoff is 14-years-old. Since the victim in this case is 15, cops say they can't arrest the spectators. The law needs to be changed immediately.

Meanwhile this horrific rape of a young girl follows that brutal beating death caught on video of a 16-year-old honor student in Chicago.

That case has been hampered by the refusal of witnesses to come forward. These kids in Chicago also stood by and watched this teenager murdered - beaten to death in broad daylight - and did nothing.

Experts say the reason crimes aren't reported could be a social phenomenon known as "the bystander effect" that means the larger the number of people involved in any situation, the less will get done...

One famous case happened in New York in the 1960s - where people watched or heard a serial killer rape, rob and murder a woman named Kitty Genovese. At the time, one witness said: "I didn't want to be involved."

Here’s my question to you: Should people who witness a crime, like the gang rape of a 15-year-old California girl, face jail for failing to report it?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Crime and Punishment
October 29th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

What exactly are we doing in Afghanistan?

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An Afghan opium farmer stands next to his poppy field in southwest Afghanistan. U.S. Marines based there are battling a Taliban insurgency funded in large part by the drug export trade. (PHOTO CREDIT: John Moore/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As U.S. troops suffer the deadliest month so far in the war in Afghanistan, it seems worth asking exactly what our strategy is.

Turns out the U.S. is now set to pay Taliban fighters to switch sides and stop killing our troops. Supporters say the buyout idea is meant to separate local Taliban from their leaders,which is similar to a program used to win over insurgents in Iraq.

Many of these fighters owe no particular allegiance to the Taliban, but rather support them for a paycheck and because there is no other way for them to support their families.

But experts say that although the program may have some success, the U.S. is ultimately buying a "very temporary allegiance." You don't have to be an expert to figure that out.

Speaking of payments, The New York Times reported yesterday that the brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai is a suspected major player in the country's drug trade - and has been on the CIA payroll for eight years.

This makes no sense. U.S. officials talk about how Afghanistan's opium trade threatens the stability of the country, pays for the Taliban fighters' war effort against us, and corrupts government officials.

Ahmed Wali Karzai denies that he has anything to do with drug trade, and says he doesn't take payments from the CIA. I think I will choose to believe The New York Times.

Officials also say there's evidence that the president's brother helped create hundreds of thousands of phony ballots and set up dozens of so-called ghost polling stations for the August election.

If it's true, no wonder Harmid Karzai won; and if this stuff doesn't make you scratch your head, it should.

Here’s my question to you: What exactly are we doing in Afghanistan?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan
October 28th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Special White House access for big Democratic contributors?

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President Obama is pictured golfing on Martha's Vineyard back in August. (PHOTO CREDIT: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama promised to be different - but he's not.

The Washington Times reports that the president has been giving top Democratic contributors special access to the White House. Internal Democratic National Committee documents show this includes everything from private briefings with top administration officials - to invitations to big speeches and town hall meetings - to golfing with the president in Martha's Vineyard - to birthday visits to the Oval Office... plus bowling and movies at the White House.

Remember the hell President Clinton caught when we found out he was letting contributors sleep in the Lincoln bedroom?

Handing out goodies to big money contributors just ahead of the midterm elections flies in the face of all of that high-minded rhetoric about reform, lobbyists, transparency etc. that we heard during the campaign. You can buy access to this president for $30,400 as an individual or for bundling $300,000.

The White House insists President Obama has set the "toughest ethics standards in history" and they say many of these guests weren't only fundraisers, but personal friends of the president. Whatever they are - it smacks of selling access to the highest office in the land in exchange for political donations, and it stinks.

Democratic Party officials say there's "absolutely no correlation" between fundraising and attending White House events, and insist Mr. Obama's efforts to reward major donors are on a far smaller scale than other recent presidents.

Here’s my question to you: Should big Democratic contributors be given special access to the White House?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Democrats • White House
October 28th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

How should health care reform handle abortion?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When it comes to health care reform - there are few issues that are more explosive than abortion. Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak of Michigan says he wants to make sure that taxpayer dollars do not pay for abortions. Stupak says some of his fellow Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are not happy with his public campaign to change the bill.

He says he's been working with party leaders on a compromise, but so far nothing... The congressman says if there's no vote on abortion funding - as many as 40 Democrats could vote against the health care bill in its entirety.

Over in the Senate - the Finance Committee bill contains provisions that Democrats say would keep federal money from covering abortions. But Republicans and other critics say these measures don't go far enough.

President Obama has vowed that "no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions." And, that's been the law of the land for decades. The 1976 Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions through Medicaid - except in cases of rape, incest, or medical necessity.

Meanwhile - one 2003 study found that 46 percent of insured workers had coverage for abortions. Supporters of abortion rights say that if the government bans plans that offer abortions - it would mean millions of women could lose the benefit they currently get.

One thing is for sure: Until abortion is resolved as an issue in health care reform, there won't be any.

Here’s my question to you: How should health care reform handle the issue of abortion?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Abortion • Health care
October 27th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Where has the Obama 'magic' gone?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Some Democrats are calling it the "Obama hangover."

Even with President Obama on the campaign trail, at fund-raising events and taping TV ads for many state and local candidates - it seems like the electricity of the 2008 campaign is a distant memory.

The Los Angeles Times reports how much tougher it is to get people fired up to volunteer and vote Democrat this time around. And, as President Obama tries to address health care, the economy and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - some of his decisions may not sit well with voters at the local level.

A lot of eyes are on the races for governor in New Jersey and Virginia; and a congressional race in upstate New York's 23rd district.

With election day a week away - things aren't looking so hot for Democrat Creigh Deeds in Virginia... One new poll shows him trailing Republican Bob McConnell by 11 points. Meanwhile - White House officials have been complaining about the quality of Deeds' campaign... gee, think they're trying to distance themselves from him?

In New Jersey - polls show Democrat incumbent Jon Corzine leading his Republican challenger Chris Christie... but one survey finds 73 percent say a campaign appearance by the president wouldn't affect their vote.

Meanwhile - Pollsters say it's conservatives who are most energized this time around. And Republicans are already describing any victories in these elections as a referendum on President Obama... claiming it could be a sign of things to come in next year's midterms.

Here’s my question to you: When it comes to upcoming state and local elections, where has the Obama "magic" gone?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: President Barack Obama
October 27th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Concerned about possible cell phone health risks?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

An international study is expected to show that people who use cell phones frequently face a higher risk of getting brain tumors. The British Newspaper "The Daily Telegraph" reports on a decade-long study of nearly 13,000 people in 13 countries - overseen by the World Health Organization.

According to the paper, the report says a definitive link couldn't be proven; but several of the studies conducted seemed to show an increase in various kinds of brain cancers.

The report is due out before the end of the year, but lawmakers here in the U.S. have already been focusing in on the issue. Democratic Senator Tom Harkin has said he's concerned no one has been able to prove cell phones don't cause cancer, and promises his committee will take a look at that question. Harkin says it reminds him of the nation's experience with cigarettes - and how it took decades to prove that they caused lung cancer.

If the lobby for the wireless phone companies is as powerful as the tobacco lobby, it could be a long debate. And cellphones are much more widely used than cigarettes.

It's estimated 275 million people use them in the U.S... and four billion worldwide.

But so far, research hasn't established a definitive link between cell phones and different kinds of cancer, including brain tumors. But the Telegraph says this study contains evidence there is a link.

Here’s my question to you: Are you concerned about possible health risks associated with cell phone use?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Health
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