January 13th, 2010
01:45 PM ET

Should U.S. lead international response to Haiti earthquake?


Haitians pass destroyed buildings in Port-au-Prince. (PHOTO CREDIT: THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With Haiti facing a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions - the U.S. is in the crosshairs of a massive relief effort.

President Obama says the U.S. government will lead a "swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives" following the deadly earthquake.

He says the U.S. has already mobilized military flights over the country to assess the damage... and that civilian disaster assistance teams are on their way.

The president points to the "heart-wrenching" images from Haiti and adds that the tragedy "seems especially cruel and incomprehensible" in a country that's already accustomed to hardships.

Mr. Obama says Haiti will have the unwavering support of the U.S.; although he hasn't pledged a specific amount of aid. Officials say they're still trying to figure out what is needed. Meanwhile the president is also calling on Americans to help and to donate money. He says the Haitians are our neighbors; and that Americans need to be there for them "in their hour of need."

Of course it's not just the U.S. helping here. Aid agencies and governments from around the world are springing into action - mobilizing search and rescue teams and sending money, aid and food.

The scope of the death and destruction isn't known yet - but it's clear that Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, has been devastated. Some officials fear the death toll could reach 500,000 - with millions of others displaced.

Haiti needs a lot of help.

Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. lead the international response to the Haiti earthquake?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm 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: Global matters • Haiti earthquake
January 13th, 2010
01:42 PM ET

How much were banks to blame for the financial collapse?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Congress is trying to get to the bottom of the financial meltdown that practically brought the country to its knees.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/13/art.lloyd.sachs.jpg caption="Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein testifies during the first public hearing of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission on Capitol Hill."]
There were some tense exchanges on Capitol Hill today... with a bipartisan commission grilling the heads of Wall Street's top banks about who was to blame for the biggest downturn since the Great Depression.

The bank chiefs testified under oath about their institutions' mistakes that led to the crisis... things like the housing bubble, "new and poorly underwritten mortgage products" and "excessive speculation."

These banks bundled mortgages and sold them as investments. But when people began to default on the mortgages because they couldn't afford them in the first place, the bottom fell out.

At one point - Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein compared parts of the financial crisis to an earthquake and similar acts of God. Nice try. The commission's chairman - Democrat Phil Angelides - immediately pointed out: "These were acts of men and women."

The heads of three other big banks - JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America - also testified. They all tried to walk the fine line of owning up to what happened... while pushing back against potential government reforms that they think would go too far.

There's a lot of anger out there directed at Wall Street. Since the start of the downturn, seven million Americans have lost their jobs and more than two million families have lost their homes to foreclosure.

But the banks were given hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money to keep them afloat, and to this day they continue to pay out record bonuses. And they are making profits like they've never made before.

Here’s my question to you: How much were the banks to blame for the financial collapse?

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: Bailout • Goldman Sachs • Homeownership • Spending • US Economy • US Government Bailouts
January 13th, 2010
12:37 PM ET

Has this winter affected your belief in global warming?


Cold temperatures have endangered Florida's citrus crops. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As the debate continues about global warming, the month of December was the 14th coldest in 115 years in the United States... and some scientists insist the earth is entering a cooling trend.

  • Wind chills brought temperatures in the Dakotas to 50 degrees below zero, while record cold in parts of Florida is damaging some of the orange crops, and South Carolina called an early end to shrimping season.
  • Parts of Canada have seen actual temperatures of 30 below zero... And freezing temperatures and record snowfalls are pounding parts of Asia and Europe too.
  • Britain has experienced the worst snowfalls in half a century.
  • In India - it's estimated at least 100 people have died due to the cold temperatures... with dozens more killed in Bangladesh.
  • In China and South Korea, heavy snow and unusually cold weather have brought chaos to travelers - blocking roads and trains, canceling flights. After one recent blizzard in Beijing - officials had more than 300-thousand people clearing the streets.

Meanwhile some of the world's top climate scientists suggest this winter is only the start of a worldwide trend toward cooler weather, which could last for 20 to 30 years. They base their predictions on changes in water temperatures in the oceans.

The scientists say much of the global warming in the last century was actually caused by these oceanic cycles when they were in a "warm mode"... as opposed to the current "cold mode." They suggest there will be cooler summers ahead too.

It's the kind of research that could undermine lots of what we've been told about the warming of the Earth being caused only by man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

Here’s my question to you: How has this winter affected your belief in global warming?

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: Global Warming