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April 21st, 2009
05:34 PM ET

Should Israel attack Iran's nuclear sites?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Iran is warning Israel not to attack its nuclear facilities - with one top official saying if Israel attacks, "Iran will respond in a way that they will not be able to sleep easy anymore." This warning comes a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad raised tensions between the two countries, calling Israel the "most cruel and repressive racist regime" at a UN conference in Geneva.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is pictured at the UN review conference on racism in Geneva. EU delegates walked out of the conference after Ahmadinejad launched a verbal onslaught against 'cruel' Israel.

Israel, which is now being led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hardline government, says Iran is developing nuclear weapons that could threaten its very existence. Last week Israeli President Shimon Peres dismissed the idea that Israel is planning any kind of attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

But The London Times reports the Israeli military is getting ready to do just that. They say Israeli forces have acquired special aircraft that would be required for the strikes, and are practicing missions to simulate an attack. The newspaper also reports there will be two nationwide drills to help the public prepare for any potential retaliation.

One senior defense official tells the Times that Israel wants to know they could strike Iran within a matter of days or "even hours" if given the green light. It's believed Israel would need to hit more than a dozen targets, including moving convoys.

The same official adds that it's unlikely Israel would bomb Iran's facilities without getting at least tacit approval from the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden recently told CNN that Israel would be "ill-advised" to attack Iran.

Here’s my question to you: Israel is reportedly getting ready to attack Iran's nuclear sites. Should they?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Iran • Israel
April 21st, 2009
05:00 PM ET

How would you regulate the credit card industry?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Something else to add to President Obama's ever-expanding to-do list: regulating the credit card industry. The president and his chief economic adviser, Larry Summers will meet tomorrow with executives from some of the top credit card issuers. The administration has vowed to crack down on high interest rates and predatory lending practices it says contributed to the economic crisis.

New measure would call for clearer labels on credit card offers - similar to food nutrition information labels.

Many lenders have raised credit card interest rates significantly as the recession drags on; which means defaults and delinquencies have shot up. Consumer groups are especially critical of companies who raised rates on existing card holders while they were getting federal bailout money.

Meanwhile the House Financial Services Committee is looking at a bill that would call for clearer labels on credit card offers - almost like what's used for food. In the Senate, Chris Dodd is calling for stricter federal oversight that would say when lenders can raise rates and would prevent rate hikes in certain instances.

The Federal Reserve passed new rules that limit some credit card rate increases this winter, but they won't go into effect until July 2010.

It's no surprise that the banking industry is pushing back; they want the White House and Congress to wait until the Fed's new rules go into effect before taking any other action. And that's more than a year away. Lobbyists for the credit card industry argue that if the measures are too tough they could end up restricting the flow of credit to consumers and blocking the economic recovery.

Here’s my question to you: How would you regulate the credit card industry?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy
April 21st, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Waterboarding 2 members of al Qaeda 266 times constitute a crime?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Those hotly debated Bush era interrogation memos include this little nugget: CIA officials waterboarded two al Qaeda suspects 266 times. Interrogators waterboarded Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August of 2002; and they used the tactic against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the 9/11 attacks, 183 times in March of 2003. That's about six times a day.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, seen in a December sketch, was waterboarded 183 times in a month, a memo says.

These memos show waterboarding was used more frequently and with a greater volume of water than CIA rules allowed. Time magazine suggests the use of the tactic seemed to "occasionally get out of control." Don't you wonder what they learned from Khalid Sheik Mohammed the 183rd time they waterboarded him that they didn't know after waterboarding him 182 times?

In an about-face today, President Obama opened the door to the possibility of criminal prosecution for former Bush officials who authorized this stuff. He says it will be up to the attorney general to decide whether or not to prosecute them. Up until now, the president insisted there would be no investigation of those who ordered the torture, or those who carried it out.

The president's reversal comes a day after Senator Dianne Feinstein - whose Intelligence Committee has started a closed-door investigation into all of this - urged him to stop making public promises not to launch criminal prosecutions related to the interrogation program.

There is also pressure coming from the United Nations, which says the U.S. has signed the international Convention Against Torture and is therefore required to investigate and prosecute any credible allegations of same.

Here’s my question to you: Does waterboarding two members of al Qaeda 266 times constitute a crime?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Al Qaeda
April 20th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Why are some in GOP calling for support of gay marriage?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As gay marriage legislation continues to pick up steam in several states, some Republicans are now calling on their party to get behind the movement. A top adviser to John McCain's presidential campaign warns that the GOP will keep losing young voters and the Northeast as long as they oppose same-sex marriages.

Meghan McCain (left) and Steve Schmidt (right) agree that it is harmful to the GOP for candidates to be perceived as anti-gay.

Steve Schmidt told a meeting of a gay rights group called the Log Cabin Republicans that it's harmful for GOP candidates to be seen as anti-gay in places like California, Washington and New York. Schmidt - who has a lesbian sister - called heterosexual marriage "a tradition, not a creed," and dismissed arguments from conservatives that allowing gay marriage would weaken the institution or that it could turn the GOP into a "sectarian party." Nonetheless, he acknowledged that he's unlikely to find support from many in his party in the near future.

One Republican who does agree is John McCain's daughter, Meghan. She addressed the same group over the weekend, saying there's "a war brewing in the Republican party" between the past and the future. Meghan McCain says that embracing new technology - like Twitter or Facebook - won't solve the party's problems; instead, the party needs to break free from "obsolete positions." Her dad must be loving this.

Earlier last week, John McCain's daughter had written an opinion piece called 'Memo to the GOP: Go Gay' urging Republicans to "get past our anti-gay rhetoric" if they want to gain significant support from younger voters. At a time when only one in four voters identifies themselves as a Republican, some are suggesting the perceived intolerance of the party on issues like gay marriage is costing them dearly.

Here’s my question to you: Why are some Republicans calling on their party to support same-sex marriage?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Gay Marriage • GOP
April 20th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Pres. Obama's appearance with Chavez 'irresponsible'?

ALT TEXT

Venezuelan Pres. Hugo Chavez gives Pres. Obama a book entitled 'The Open Veins of Latin America' during a multilateral meeting to begin during the Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad. (PHOTO CREDIT: JIM WATSON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It was "irresponsible" for President Barack Obama to be seen "laughing and joking" with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez - so says Republican Senator John Ensign.

The Nevada lawmaker describes Chavez as a brutal dictator who violates human rights; and is one of the most anti-American leaders in the world. Chavez once called President George Bush the "devil" and last month dismissed President Obama as an "ignoramus."

Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar defended the president, saying all he did was shake hands like President Bush did; and that Mr. Obama is reaching out effectively to a wide range of countries.

At the Summit of Americas, President Obama and Chavez were photographed smiling and shaking hands. The Venezuelan president also gave Mr. Obama a copy of a book that talks about imperialism in the region.

President Obama says it's unlikely that by shaking hands or having a polite conversation with Chavez that "we are endangering the strategic interests" of the U.S. Our president says we have nothing to fear from Venezuela, whose defense budget is probably 1/600 that of the U.S.

And he went even further, suggesting that the presidential campaign proved that Americans want the president to engage with other world leaders - whether they're friends or enemies. He says Americans don't view a willingness to talk to other countries as a weakness.

Meanwhile Chavez now seems open to re-evaluating his nation's ties with the U.S. He's considering appointing an ambassador to Washington. Both the U.S. and Venezuela had kicked out each other's ambassadors last year.

Here's my question to you: One GOP senator calls Pres. Obama's appearance with Hugo Chavez "irresponsible". Do you agree?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: President Barack Obama
April 20th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Pres. Obama moving too fast on foreign policy?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama has "gone abroad and gored an ox," according to an AP analysis that examines how the president is challenging the deeply held belief that the U.S. doesn't make mistakes in dealing with other nations. In just 3 short months in office, Mr. Obama has been very vocal to our friends and foes about where the U.S. has gone wrong.

Pres. Obama is pictured during a press conference yesterday following the 5th Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

That includes:

Admitting to Europe that America deserves at least part of the blame for the world's financial crisis.

– Telling Russia he wants to reset relations that deteriorated to Cold War levels under President Bush.

Asking NATO for more troops in Afghanistan; and then not throwing a tantrum when he didn't get much help.

Lifting restrictions on Cuban Americans traveling home and sending money to relatives.

Saying America's hunger for illegal drugs, poor control over guns, and money flowing into Mexico were partly to blame for the drug cartel violence south of the border.

Shaking hands with and accepting a book from anti-American Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The AP compares President Obama's rather hard core efforts to change America's image abroad to former Soviet leader Michael Gorbachev, who pretty much scrambled non-stop to break the communist empire's image before it ran itself into the ground.

President Obama says he's committed to telling the world that the U.S. is a powerful and wealthy nation - but just one among many that needs to respect other cultures and perspectives. Critics worry that the new president might be making the U.S. too vulnerable by readily admitting mistakes and being willing to talk to opponents.

Here’s my question to you: When it comes to dealing with foreign countries, is President Obama moving too fast?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

April 17th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Why does Palin make people reach for their wallets?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

She's been mostly out of the national spotlight since John McCain lost in November; but Sarah Palin was back in a big way last night. The Alaska Governor spoke to a sold out crowd of 3,000 at a Right to Life fundraising dinner in Indiana.

Organizers even set up a paid closed-circuit broadcast at an auditorium and officials had to close down streets nearby. People taking pictures and seeking autographs mobbed Palin.

At the dinner, the Republican governor criticized President Obama's position on abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Palin surprisingly told the crowd that when she learned she was a pregnant with a Down Syndrome baby, she "just for a fleeting moment" considered getting an abortion.

Politico reports that even though Palin hasn't been doing a lot of fundraising - that hasn't stopped many from using her name, her image. etc. to raise some big bucks, often without her approval.

Groups on both sides of the abortion issue, environmental groups and political committees from both parties have gotten in on the act.
Politico describes her as "an almost unparalleled fund raising force."

Meanwhile Palin's big appearance in Indiana came at the end of a rough week for the Governor back in Alaska. Her controversial nominee for state attorney general was rejected by the Republican-controlled legislature after damaging confirmation hearings. As it turns out - Wayne Ross had previously defended a KKK statute, characterized gays as "degenerates," and in 1991 reportedly said, "If a guy can't rape his wife, who's he gonna rape?" Ross denies he said it.

Nice pick, Governor.

The legislature also made clear it won't accept Palin's effort to turn down more than $400 million in federal stimulus money.

Here’s my question to you: What is it about Sarah Palin that makes people reach for their wallets?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Sarah Palin
April 17th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Should U.S. end sanctions & restore full relations with Cuba?

ALT TEXT

Raul Castro says Cuba is ready to talk about "everything, everything, everything" that the U.S. wants to discuss. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the U.S. is ready to talk with Cuba; just as President Obama heads to a 34 nation Summit of the Americas that excludes Cuba.

The U.S. is under increasing pressure from Caribbean leaders to end its policy of isolating the communist state. Critics say the policy, which goes back nearly half a century, has failed to bring about change in Cuba and has instead isolated the U.S. in the region.

Secretary Clinton has made it clear that Washington wants Havana to take certain steps to help improve relations - things like opening up its society, releasing political prisoners, and opening up to outside opinions and media. There is some concern that leaders at the summit will be "distracted" by the issue of Cuba, instead of focusing on the global economic crisis.

Meanwhile the desire to talk is apparently mutual. The Cuban government says it's prepared to meet with the Obama administration. Raul Castro says they're ready to discuss human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners: "everything, everything, everything" that the U.S. wants to discuss.

A New CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows the majority of Americans back the Obama administration on this. 64 percent of those surveyed think the U.S. should lift the ban on travel to Cuba and 71 percent say the U.S. should re-establish diplomatic relations with the island nation. Earlier this week, President Obama lifted all restrictions on the ability of U.S. citizens to visit relatives in Cuba and send money there.

Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. end the sanctions and restore full relations with Cuba?


Filed under: Foreign Policy
April 17th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Mistake to release Bush era interrogation memos?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama is being criticized for his decision to release those Bush-era memos about CIA interrogation techniques. Conservatives say releasing them damages our national security by telling the terrorists what we do.

Michael Hayden (right) directed the CIA under President George W. Bush.

Michael Hayden - who led the CIA under President Bush - says CIA officers will now be more timid and our allies will be less likely to share sensitive intelligence. Human rights groups aren't happy that the president promised the CIA that officers who conducted interrogations won't be prosecuted if they used techniques that were authorized at the time.

The president insists there's nothing to gain by "spending our time and energy laying blame for the past." President Obama spent a month deciding whether or not to release the memos and consulted numerous officials. He reportedly weighed the "sanctity of covert operations" and what impact this could have on national security against the law and his belief in transparency. In the end transparency won.

The documents themselves are quite revealing... They show the CIA used waterboarding, sleep deprivation, slapping, keeping detainees naked and in some cases in a diaper, putting detainees on a liquid diet, and using a plastic neck collar to slam detainees into walls. The memos also authorized keeping suspected al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah, who was apparently afraid of bugs, in a dark, confined space - and then putting a harmless insect in the box with him, while telling him it's a stinging insect.

President Obama banned the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques - what some call torture - soon after he took office; and has pledged to make sure the actions described in these memos "never take place again."

Here’s my question to you: Is the release of the Bush era interrogation memos a mistake?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Bush Administration
April 16th, 2009
04:53 PM ET

Should obese passengers pay for 2 seats on airplanes?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Obese passengers might soon have to buy two tickets to fly on United Airlines. The company says "for the comfort and well-being" of all their customers, they have a new policy for passengers who:

Can't fit into a single seat
Can't properly buckle the seat belt using an extender
Can't put the seat's armrests down when seated

If there are extra seats available, the passenger will be moved next to an empty seat at no charge. But if the flight is full, they either have to buy an upgrade to business or first class where the seats are bigger or change to another flight and buy a second seat.

United says they decided to adopt the policy after getting more than 700 complaints last year from passengers who didn't have a comfortable flight because the person next to them quote "infringed on their seat."

Some wonder how the airline can enforce such measures fairly. The spokesman for the Obesity Action Coalition says the policy "perpetuates that negative stigma that's already associated with obesity" and that airline seats already "could use a few extra inches of room on all sides."

But United isn't the first to charge extra for overweight passengers... in fact, now they're on the same page as the other five biggest U.S. carriers. This is something that presumably could affect millions of people when you consider that about one-third of Americans are obese - that's double the rate from 30 years ago.

Here’s my question to you: Should obese passengers have to pay for two seats when they fly?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Airlines • Obesity
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