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November 17th, 2009
03:49 PM ET

1 in 6 Americans goes hungry as Thanksgiving nears?

Nearly 50 million Americans or 1 in 6 struggled to get enough to eat last year.

Nearly 50 million Americans or 1 in 6 struggled to get enough to eat last year.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty

When you're sitting around your Thanksgiving table next week, here's something to think about:

Nearly 50 million Americans or 1 in 6 struggled to get enough to eat last year. That includes almost 1 in 4 children.

The Agriculture Department is out with a shocking report showing the highest number of hungry Americans since the government started tracking this in 1995.

It shows food shortages are especially bad among women raising children alone - with more than 1 in 3 single mothers saying they struggled for food. And, African-Americans and Latinos were more than twice as likely as whites to say that food was scarce in their home.

Experts say these numbers are even worse than what they expected... The president of a group called "Feeding America" says "This is unthinkable. It's like we are living in a Third World country".

President Obama calls the report "unsettling"... and says more needs to be done. He points to steps his administration has taken... like additional spending on food stamps, food banks and school lunch programs.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says it's a "wake-up call" to get very serious about food security, hunger, and nutrition. Vilsack says the main cause is the rise in unemployment, now above 10% and acknowledges the number of Americans going hungry could be even worse this year.

SO HERE'S THE QUESTION:
With Thanksgiving coming up, what does it say when 1 in 6 Americans goes hungry?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?
FULL POST


Filed under: Thanksgiving
November 16th, 2009
02:32 PM ET

Tired of waiting for Pres. Obama to decide on Afghanistan?

U.S. army in Afghanistan.

U.S. army in Afghanistan.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Still no decision from Pres. Obama on Afghanistan, despite eight formal meetings that have consumed more than 20 hours.

A lot of people are asking what's taking the president so long. His own press corps used the first question on his Asia trip to ask "what piece of information" he's still waiting for to make the call on this war, now in its ninth year.

The president got a little testy and said the people involved in Afghanistan "recognize the gravity of the situation and recognize the importance of us getting this right." He says the decision will come "soon."

The issue is making the president look weak and indecisive. Former V.P. Cheney has accused Pres. Obama of "dithering”. Mitt Romney says Mr. Obama "can't make up his mind".

Meanwhile, with record violence in Afghanistan, the Army says morale among the troops has fallen... with a lot of soldiers struggling with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. There is a shortage of mental health workers; there were only 43 in Afghanistan at the time of the Army survey.

And most sadly, the Army says the number of suicides among active-duty troops is on track to reach a new high this year.

Is all of this lost on the Commander in Chief?

Here's the question: When it comes to Afghanistan, are you tired of waiting for a decision from President Obama?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?
FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan
November 16th, 2009
02:31 PM ET

Trying 9/11 suspects in New York City?

 Lights near Ground Zero to memorialize September 11.

Lights near Ground Zero to memorialize September 11.

FROM CNN's JACK CAFFERTY:

A heated debate is following the Obama administration's decision to bring some of the 9-11 suspects to trial in New York City.

Democrats are praising the decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the attacks, and four others in a civil court here in the U.S. They say it shows what a strong justice system we have.

But Republicans are calling it a bad idea and asking why alleged terrorists should get full judicial rights of U.S. citizens. Former New York City Major Rudy Giuliani says these terror suspects should face military tribunals... Giuliani says the trials will put New York City residents at unnecessary risk.

A new CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 64% of those polled say Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should be tried by a military court, while only 34% say he should be tried by a civilian court. But, the poll shows 60% of those surveyed agree Mohammed should be tried here in the U.S.

Nonetheless, a lot of people here in New York don't think this is such a good idea. Mike Lupica writes in the New York Daily News that a fair trial for Mohammed in New York won't change the worst day the city has ever had:

"This is a trial that will dominate the city and hold it hostage and bring back the day and none of the dead. This bum will get the stage he wants and tell the city it is a target all over again."

Here's the question: How do you feel about trying five of the 9/11 suspects in New York City?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?
FULL POST


Filed under: September 11
November 16th, 2009
02:30 PM ET

What would you ask Sarah Palin?

Palin's book 'Going Rogue' releases on Tuesday.

Palin's book 'Going Rogue' releases on Tuesday.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There's no shortage of publicity for Sarah Palin on the eve of the release of her new book.

The cover of this week's Newsweek asks quote, "How do you solve a problem like Sarah"? It says she's bad news for the GOP and for everybody else too. This is not the kind of publicity that will cause her to be taken more seriously – not that there's any great risk of that anyway.

Sarah Palin is all over TV, talking with Oprah and doing a 5-part series of interviews with Barbara Walters.

But, she's very picky when it comes to what kinds of situations she exposes herself to. On her book tour, she's skipping many of the nation's largest cities that authors almost always hit – places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York. Instead, she's opting for smaller, and in many cases more conservative cities.

You're probably already hearing more details about Sarah Palin than you want to know – about her personal life, her family, her children, her daughter's pregnancy... about the campaign, her spat with John McCain aides, what she thinks about Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson.

Sarah Palin says she wasn't surprised when she was asked to be on the presidential ticket... she says she felt "quite confident" in her abilities. Well, turns out she's one of the few who does. A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows only 28% of Americans say Palin is qualified to be president, 70% say she's not.

So here's my question: If you were interviewing Sarah Palin, what would you ask her?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Sarah Palin
November 11th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

How confident are you the government can prevent a swine flu epidemic?

ALT TEXT

A three-year-old girl receives an H1N1 vaccination in San Pablo, California. (PHOTO CREDIT: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With the swine flu now widespread in 48 states, Americans are starting to lose confidence in the government's ability to prevent an epidemic.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows only 51-percent of those surveyed are confident the government can stop a nationwide epidemic of the h1n1 virus. That number is down from 59-percent in August.

49-percent say they're not sure the government can prevent an epidemic; and that's up from 40-percent this summer.

The poll also shows only a little more than half of those surveyed think the government and private industry can provide enough swine flu vaccine for everyone who wants it. That number is virtually unchanged in the last few months.

Meanwhile mothers with children younger than 18 are especially skeptical about the government's abilities here. Perhaps not surprising when you consider that children are some of the hardest hit by this virus; and a lot of people still can't get their hands on the vaccine.

Health officials say there are more than 41 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine available.

Here’s my question to you: How confident are you the government can prevent a swine flu epidemic?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Government • Health
November 11th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Will Congress ever pass a Constitutional amendment imposing term limits?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's an idea that's long past due and it will probably never happen...

A group of Republican senators is proposing a Constitutional amendment to set congressional term limits - 12 years for the Senate and six years for the House.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)

Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina says real change will never happen in Washington until there's an end to the era of permanent politicians. DeMint says lawmakers have been re-elected about 90 percent of the time over the last 20 years - because the system favors incumbents.

We all know the drill: Some spend decades in Washington, get into bed with the special interest groups that feed their campaign coffers and forget all about the people they're supposed to represent.

And we've heard this before... Republicans who gained control of the House in 1994 promised to pass congressional term limits, but once they were in power, they failed to deliver. The Supreme Court later ruled term limits were unconstitutional - which is why this group of senators is trying to change the Constitution.

In order to pass, two-thirds of the House and Senate would have to approve the amendment - along with three-fourths of the 50 states.

As for the power hungry politicians, they say they don't like to mess with the Constitution; and that Americans should be able to vote for whoever they want.

But I would be willing to bet if this idea was put to a vote of the people it would win going away.

Here’s my question to you: What are the chances Congress would ever pass a Constitutional amendment imposing term limits?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress
November 11th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Should U.S. military Muslims be forced to fight other Muslims?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The suspect in the Fort Hood shootings - that left 13 dead and wounded 42 others - had asked the military to let Muslims claim conscientious objector status when it comes to going to war against other Muslims.

Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan

Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan

The Washington Post first reported on a slide presentation Army Major Nidal Hasan, who is Muslim, made as a psychiatric resident at Walter Reed back in 2007.

It was supposed to be about a medical topic, but instead Hasan lectured about Islam, suicide bombers and threats the military could face from Muslims conflicted about fighting Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan:

"It's getting harder and harder for Muslims in the service to morally justify being in a military that seems constantly engaged against fellow Muslims."

Hasan was set to leave soon for Afghanistan, and a relative says he had asked not to be deployed.

But the Washington Post is now reporting that's not true - an Army official says Hasan never formally requested to leave the military as a conscientious objector or for any other reason.

Meanwhile there is no exact count of how many Muslims are in the U.S. military. The Pentagon lists about 3,500 Muslims out of 1.4 million service members. But officials say that number is probably low since disclosure is voluntary.

Nonetheless, this seems to be a real issue that might continue to present itself with U.S. troops still in Iraq; and potentially tens of thousands of additional troops being sent to Afghanistan.

Here’s my question to you: Should Muslim members of the U.S. military be forced to fight against other Muslims?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Middle East • U.S. Army • US Military
November 10th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Should Congressman William Jefferson get 33 years in prison?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When the feds found $90,000 in Congressman William Jefferson's freezer - you had to figure something wasn't kosher. And sure enough... this slime ball had turned bribery, fraud and money laundering into a fine art.

Congressman William Jefferson (D-LA)

Congressman William Jefferson (D-LA)

The former Democratic congressman from Louisiana was convicted in August on 11 federal corruption counts - including bribing a Nigerian vice president on a telecom contract.

Federal prosecutors now want Jefferson locked up for as long as 33 years - which would be the harshest prison sentence ever for a member of Congress.

The Justice Department insists that his "stunning betrayal of public trust" is deserving of what could be a life sentence for this 62-year-old. And they want him to start serving his sentence immediately after Friday's hearing. He's now free on bond.

Of course, Jefferson's lawyers argue he should get a prison term of less than 10 years. After all, what's eleven federal convictions among dirty congressmen?

They say the government's recommendation is out-of-line with previous sentences for congressional corruption; and that it doesn't take into account the positive side of Jefferson's life and career. Wonder what that is.

Former Congressman Duke Cunningham, Republican of California, was given an eightyear sentence in 2006 for taking more than $2 million in bribes - along with tax evasion and fraud.

Maybe if the system began to come down harder on jerks like Jefferson who violate the trust placed in them by the people, future would-be scoundrels would think twice about filling their freezers with ill-gotten lettuce.

Here’s my question to you: Should 62-year-old convicted Congressman William Jefferson get 33 years in prison?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • Law Enforcement • prisons
November 10th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Can Bill Clinton save health care reform?

ALT TEXT

Bill Clinton is accompanied by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) (L) as he heads into the Senate Democratic Caucus luncheon in Washington, DC. Clinton was on the Hill to talk to lawmakers about passing health care reform legislation through the Senate. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Democrats are sending in the big guns to try and make health care reform a reality.

Former President Bill Clinton told Senate Democrats earlier today that there's no perfect bill and that the worst thing to do is nothing, adding: "It's important to act, to move, to start the ball rolling."

After the closed-door meeting, Clinton said he told the senators that the U.S. economy won't be able to survive much longer without health care reform.

If one person knows what's at stake for President Obama and the Democrats, it's Bill Clinton. His administration's failure to pass health care reform back in the early 90s is seen as one of the big reasons for the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994.

And now that the House has passed its bill, there's no question the Senate Democrats will need to find some consensus when it comes to things like the public option and abortion funding.

Meanwhile a new poll suggests it's not just members of Congress who need some persuading here.

The Gallup poll shows 41 percent of Americans say a new health care bill would make the U.S. health care system better in the long run; but 40 percent say it would make things worse. The poll suggests people are even more negative about reform when it comes to their personal situation.

What we don't know yet is how much the public's opinion matters. The insurance companies, large pharmaceutical companies and other powerful forces have a vested interest in defeating this legislation. And if the vote was taken today, they would probably win.

Here’s my question to you: Can Bill Clinton save health care reform?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Bill Clinton • Health care
November 10th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

White House vs. CBS on Afghanistan troop increase?

Call it CBS News versus the White House.

CBS reports that President Obama intends to give General Stanley McChrystal most - if not all - of the 40,000 troops he's asking for in Afghanistan. They say the president has tentatively decided to send four combat brigades plus thousands of more support troops.

General Stanley McChrystal is the U.S. Military commander in Afghanistan.

General Stanley McChrystal is the U.S. Military commander in Afghanistan.

According to CBS, the troop buildup would last for about four years - until the Afghan military doubles in size. This surge would mean the number of U.S. troops would grow from the current 68,000 to about 100,000 by the end of the president's first term.

But the White House insists the CBS story is false. They call reports that the president has made a decision about Afghanistan "absolutely false." They say Mr. Obama still hasn't received or reviewed "final options" with his national security team.

So - who's telling the truth here? It comes down to the word of the Obama White House against the network of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite.

Of course... CBS News also saw Dan Rather step down in 2005 after apologizing for a report that questioned President George W. Bush's National Guard service. Rather said the report was based on false documents.

Meanwhile the Associated Press seems to support the CBS story, saying President Obama is nearing a decision to add tens of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan - but not the 40,000 that McChrystal wants.

Some officials dub that likely troop increase McChrystal Light since it would fall short of the general's request.

Here’s my question to you: CBS News says nearly 40,000 additional troops will be sent to Afghanistan. The White House says the story is false. Whom do you believe?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • US Military • White House
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