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August 31st, 2010
05:55 PM ET

Time for Catholic Church to ordain women as priests?

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FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

"Pope Benedict - Ordain women now."

That's the message that will be plastered on London buses when the pontiff heads to England's capital in a couple of weeks.

A group called Catholic Women's Ordination is spending more than $15,000 for 15 buses to carry posters with this message for a month.

The group says they don't want to be disruptive, but "the church has got to change or it will not survive." And they say they're hopeful since the church is in "disarray" right now.

But one top British Catholic is pushing back - Father Stephen Wang says women are not barred from the priesthood because of sexism, rather because they can't fulfill a basic function which is "standing in the place of Jesus."

Wang says that Jesus chose 12 men, and no women, to be his apostles. He adds that men and women are equal in Christianity, but that gender still matters. Wang compares the role of a priest to an actor, saying no one would be surprised if he wanted a male actor to play King Arthur. He then admits this analogy is "weak."

No kidding.

In addition to the bus campaign - the women's group plans to hold a vigil the day before the pope's visit; and they plan to demonstrate outside the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In 1994, then Pope John Paul II declared the Church has no authority to ordain women; and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is now pope, agreed with him.

Here’s my question to you: Is it time for the Catholic Church to ordain women as priests?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Benedict
August 31st, 2010
05:00 PM ET

How concerned should Dems be about losing the House?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When it comes to November's midterm elections, the writing on the wall is not looking good for Democrats.

A new Gallup poll shows Republicans with an unprecedented 10-point lead over Democrats - 51 percent to 41 percent - on the generic ballot question. That's the Republicans' largest lead in the 68 years Gallup has taken the generic ballot poll.

Then there's this: Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats - 50 percent to 25 percent - to say they're "very" enthusiastic about voting.

Gallup suggests all this could mean a major "wave" election - where Republicans win enough seats to take back control of the House. To do that, they would need to win 39 seats.

Some think it could be even worse for the Democrats. A political science professor at the State University of New York - who has a good record of predicting presidential elections - says the Democrats could lose about 51 seats in November.

Even a growing number of Democrats now say in private they think the House is already lost. As one Democratic strategist tells Politico - the Democrats are out there talking about Iraq and President Bush, while Americans are worried about the economy and their jobs.

Some Democrats are also frustrated that the White House has been focusing on the wars and issues like the mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero... instead of the economy.

But other Democrats - including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - insist they'll hold onto their majority. Gallup points out that Democrats did lead in the generic ballot earlier this summer; and there's always the chance that could change again before Election Day.

Here’s my question to you: How concerned should the Democrats be about losing the House in November?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: 2010 Election • Democrats • Elections
August 30th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

CIA making secret payments to members of Afghanistan's govt?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

While the U.S. publicly criticizes corruption in the Afghan government... privately the CIA is making secret payments to "multiple members" of President Karzai's administration.

Afghan Pres. Hamid Karzai speaks after meeting with U.S. Sen. John Kerry at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on August 20.

Afghan Pres. Hamid Karzai speaks after meeting with U.S. Sen. John Kerry at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on August 20.

The Washington Post has an explosive report on these payments, which in some cases have been going on for a long time. They're meant to help the agency keep many allies within the presidential palace... and to provide a flow of information, since Karzai doesn't always know what members of his own government are doing.

These revelations surface at a time when one of Karzai's top national security advisers - also allegedly on the CIA's payroll - is under investigation for corruption, as first reported by the New York Times. Yet, some defend the payments, even if they're going to corrupt officials, saying they help achieve U.S. goals there. As one American official says, "If you want intelligence in a war zone, you're not going to get it from Mother Teresa or Mary Poppins."

The CIA disputes that there are several Afghan officials on the payroll, calling speculation about who can help the U.S. in Afghanistan "dangerous and counterproductive."

President Karzai calls these U.S. media reports "irresponsible allegations" saying they are part of an effort to divert attention away from the fight against terrorism.

Meanwhile - as public support here at home for the war in Afghanistan weakens, the U.S. is trying to show progress there before December - when the White House will re-evaluate its mission. Corruption is one of the biggest problems U.S. officials cite with the Afghan government; but it's tough to be critical if some Afghan officials are being bought by the CIA.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if the CIA is making secret payments to members of the Karzai government in Afghanistan?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan
August 30th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

1 in 6 Americans taking government aid?

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Traditional food stamps like the ones pictured here are no longer distributed. All 50 states now provide debit-style EBT cards. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In case you think times aren't tough... a record one in six Americans is getting aid from the government. One in six.

USA Today reports on the stunning growth of programs like Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance and welfare.

Some numbers: more than 50 million Americans are on medicaid - that's up 17 percent since the recession started.

President Obama's new health care law will add another 16 million people to the health care system. Experts say doctors are already indicating "that they're at their limit."

More than 40 million people get food stamps - an increase of almost 50 percent during the recession. The food stamp program has grown steadily for the last three years.

Almost 10 million people are collecting unemployment insurance, which is about four times as many people that got unemployment in 2007.

Congress has extended unemployment benefits eight times, which now means the unemployed can collect a check for up to 99 weeks... almost two years.

And there are almost four and half million people collecting welfare - an increase of 18 percent during the recession.

Critics worry that it will be hard to cut back on all these programs once the economy recovers. While supporters say the government should be there to help people in bad economic times.

But just remember: we, the American taxpayers, are the ones footing the bill for all of these government programs. And as caseloads continue to increase... the soaring costs will be tacked on to our already skyrocketing deficits. The cost of the food stamp program alone is up 80 percent... and jobless benefits are costing us four times as much as they used to.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean when 1 in 6 Americans takes government aid?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government • Hunger
August 26th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Should govt. track you with GPS but without a warrant?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Don't look now, but Big Brother may be watching you and apparently there is nothing you can do about it.

Time Magazine reports that in California and eight other western states the government can sneak onto your property, plant a GPS device on the bottom of your car, and track everywhere you go.

And it's all perfectly legal. An appeals court has ruled that the government can monitor you like this almost anytime it wants - and without a search warrant.

The case started in 2007, when government agents decided to monitor an Oregon resident they thought was growing marijuana. They snuck onto his driveway in the middle of the night and attached a GPS tracking device to the bottom of his Jeep. When the man challenged the government's actions, the Ninth Circuit ruled twice that what the government did was okay.

This kind of activity has more in common with the KGB than with a free country like ours. Whatever happened to a citizen's reasonable expectation of privacy? Well, the court ruled the man's driveway isn't private since strangers or delivery people can access it. This also means that rich people - with gated driveways, fences and security gates - often have larger areas of "privacy."

But there is a glimmer of hope in all this. Another appeals court in the District of Columbia recently ruled that tracking for an extended time with GPS is an invasion of privacy and it requires a warrant. All this will likely wind up in the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, one conservative judge who's against this kind of spying put it this way, "1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it's here at last."

Here’s my question to you: Should the government be able to track you using a GPS but without a warrant?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government
August 26th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

5 years after Katrina, what to learn from New Orleans?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

This weekend marks five years since Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast and all but destroyed the city of New Orleans.

The horrible images that came in the days and weeks following Katrina are unforgettable - a major American city literally underwater. People stranded on rooftops and in the Superdome, wading in floodwater with their belongings and families in tow in the sweltering heat.

The dismal response from the Bush administration only made matters worse - and left many wondering what was wrong with our federal government.

Five years later, despite the death and destruction, in some ways New Orleans is better than ever. There are more hotels and restaurants there than before Katrina... and much of the city's major infrastructure has new or rebuilt facilities. Lots of federal money has also poured into the schools, which were dysfunctional before Katrina and the public health system is also getting better.

As for the levees and water control systems, work still continues - but they're improving. Nonetheless, some worry that even the best levees won't be enough to withstand another storm like Katrina. Also, crime remains a huge problem. Several police officers are on trial for shooting unarmed civilians in the days following Katrina and allegedly covering it up.

Housing is a major concern too - especially in the poor neighborhoods where many lots remain empty.

As for what Katrina and the fate of New Orleans means for the rest of us, a new Pew poll shows 57 percent of Americans say the nation is no better prepared for hurricanes and other natural disasters than it was five years ago.

Here’s my question to you: Five years after Katrina, what can the rest of us learn from New Orleans?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: New Orleans
August 25th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Is too much technology a bad thing?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Multitasking is a way of life for millions Americans... and to many, it seems like the more technology we can squeeze into every waking moment, the better.

Maybe not.

The New York Times reports that digital devices and distractions - from cell phones, to laptops, iPods, e-mail and mobile games - could deprive our brains of necessary downtime.

People use phones and other electronic devices to get work done almost anywhere these days - from the gym, to the grocery store checkout line, the bus stop or a stoplight. Many see it as a way to make even the smallest window of time productive - or entertaining.

But researchers say that downtime is essential - it's a way to let the brain go over experiences it's had and turn them into long-term memories. And you can't do that if your nose is always stuck in some electronic device.

Scientists also say that even though people like multi-tasking - they might in fact be taxing their brains and tiring themselves out. Some people say they feel stressed out by the pressure to constantly stay in contact.

Meanwhile, there's a new study out that shows teens are becoming addicted to texting - with the average teen sending 3,000 texts a month.

3,000.

Experts say the same part of the brain is stimulated with both texting and using drugs, like heroin. Signs of being addicted to texting include: losing track of time, not eating or sleeping, ignoring other people or lying because of texting and always needing to receive more texts.

Here’s my question to you: Is too much technology a bad thing?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: On Jack's radar • Technology
August 25th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Striking similarities between Great Depression & today?

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In this photo from the 1930s, a group of boys on a residential street run after their homemade go-kart.  (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

While the White House insists this is a "recovery summer," others say it looks a lot more like the Great Depression.

CNBC reports that economist David Rosenberg says like today, the Great Depression also had its high points - including big stock market gains and a series of positive GDP reports. Yet in both cases, these signs of recovery were unsustainable and gave people a false sense of stability.

According to Rosenberg, the U.S. economy is in "a depression, and not just some garden-variety recession." He compares how both during the 1930s and today people have a "euphoric response" to any glimmer of good economic news.

He says in the 1929-1933 depression, there were six quarterly bounces in GDP. So far, we've had four this time around.

Several top analysts have slashed their GDP projections for 2010... down to the 1.5 and two percent range.

The president of the Chicago federal reserve says that the risk of a double dip recession is growing, adding that the government programs meant to help homeowners aren't working.

Existing home sales plunged more than 27 percent last month - twice as much as analysts expected. And new home sales also fell by more than 12 percent to their slowest pace ever.

Economists warn that a double-dip in housing prices is also just around the corner - which could slow the recovery even more.

Add in the fact that there are no jobs, unemployment remains stuck near 10 percent, and the outlook is dark.

To top it off, Morgan Stanley says a global debt crisis is just beginning, and the bond market tussle we saw in Europe this past spring is just the beginning.

Here’s my question to you: What might it mean that there are striking similarities between the Great Depression and today's economy?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy • Unemployment • Unemployment / Economy • United States
August 24th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Does the president's religion really matter?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama is Christian, yet somehow it's a fact that seems up for debate these days - with a growing number of Americans saying he's Muslim.

It's a false rumor that the president has been battling since he was a candidate, yet for many the issue is murkier than ever:

A new Pew Poll shows nearly one in five Americans believe Mr. Obama is a Muslim. That's up from one in 10 who felt that way last year.

Most of those who believe the president is Muslim are Republicans; but the number of Independents who think this way has grown significantly from last year. The number of people who are unsure about the president's religion is also higher - even among his supporters. Fewer than half of Democrats and African-Americans say that President Obama is Christian.

Part of the reason for this misinformation just may be comments like these: The Rev. Franklin Graham - son of the evangelist Billy Graham - told CNN, "I think the president's problem is that he was born a Muslim." Graham says "the seed of Islam" was passed through Mr. Obama's father; and although the president says he's accepted Jesus Christ, the Islamic world sees him as one of theirs.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also weighed in with this quote: "The president says he's a Christian. I take him at his word."

Critics argue a remark like this suggests the debate over the president's religion is legitimate.

The White House says that the president is Christian and he prays daily. They point out Mr. Obama has spoken extensively about his faith in the past; but making sure Americans know he's a devout Christian isn't his top priority. And they have a point - it's not like there's a shortage of serious problems facing this country.

Here’s my question to you: Does the president's religion really matter?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: President Obama • Religion
August 24th, 2010
04:45 PM ET

How confident are you that the food you eat is safe?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Hungry? You won't be after you hear this.

The massive, nationwide egg recall is only one reason to question the safety of our food supply.

550 million eggs have been recalled in 22 states... and the government says the related salmonella outbreak has made about 1,300 people sick.

Still hungry? There's also a nationwide meat recall.

Zemco industries in Buffalo, New York has recalled about 380,000 pounds of deli meat - which was distributed to Walmarts across the country. The meat may be contaminated with listeria - which can potentially kill you.

Next up: Fish. Officials in Louisiana say that as many as 15,000 dead fish and other marine animals were found at the mouth of the Mississippi River outlet into the Gulf of Mexico.

They say the fish kill doesn't appear to be directly related to the BP oil leak. But there are lingering questions about the effect of those millions of barrels of oil on all sorts of seafood, including shrimp, in the Gulf.

When it comes to farming, there are ongoing concerns about the use of use of fertilizers, pesticides, and growth hormones.

This is an area where the government is supposed to protect us. The United States Senate has been sitting on a food safety bill that was passed by the House for more than a year.

The present food safety law is 70 years old and is so weak that the food and drug administration can't even authorize recalls... instead the government has to wait on companies to do it themselves.

The pending law would give the FDA recall authority; and would create stricter rules for mandatory inspections. Both are sorely needed… but senate majority leader Harry Reid apparently doesn't agree.

Here’s my question to you: How confident are you that the food you eat is safe?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Food
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