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May 19th, 2011
05:43 PM ET

Stephen Hawking calls heaven a "fairy story." Do you agree?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: THINKSTOCK)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

If you believe the signs you see in a bus station or on a billboard, you're probably trying to pack a lot into the next few days.

According to a well-publicized campaign by a man named Harold Camping and his group, Family Radio, this Saturday is Judgment Day. On that day, about 200 million people, or just 3% of the world's population, will be taken to heaven, Camping believes. The rest of us will live in a world of chaos and catastrophe before the world comes to a complete end in October. Have a nice weekend.

Most people aren't buying Camping's claims, whether or not they believe in God or the second coming of Jesus or the afterlife. After all, Camping, an 89-year-old retired civil engineer, first predicted the world would end in 1994. Wrong. Now he's saying Saturday.

World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking is one person who probably isn't too worried about doomsday predictions. Hawking said in an interview this week that he doesn't believe in an afterlife, and he said the notion of heaven is a "fairy story."

He told the British newspaper, The Guardian: "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers."

Hawking has had a lot of time to contemplate life, death and this whole idea of heaven. At 21, he was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. It's a terminal illness that causes loss of mobility, and it severely impairs speech. He wasn't expected to live much past the diagnosis, but 49 years later, he's still here, writing books and going on speaking tours.

Here’s my question to you: British scientist Stephen Hawking says heaven is a “fairy story.” Do you agree?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Religion
May 19th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Is now the time to increase aid to the Middle East?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama had a message for Middle East nations in his much-hyped speech today at the State Department: If you promote reform and choose democracy, we'll help you out financially. That's great. We can borrow some more money from China and give it away to the Middle East. Brilliant.

In a sweeping speech that applauded reforms and condemned the use of force by Middle East leaders against protesters, the president said this is not just about hand-outs but about encouraging democracy. This, in a part of the world where they can't even spell democracy. He also said, "It's important to focus on trade, not just aid; and investment, not just assistance."

The president announced the United States will give economic aid to Middle Eastern and North African countries that transition to democracy. He also said the U.S. will encourage investment in these regions.

President Obama also said the U.S. will relieve Egypt of up to $1 billion dollars in debt and that we'll help that country regain access to markets, as a democracy, by guaranteeing $1 billion in borrowing. Egypt has an unemployment rate of about 30 percent... and the majority of the population there is under the age of 30.

It's a noble gesture but we've got our own economic problems is this country. High unemployment… mounting debt… the inability of Congress to agree on anything. There are people here in the United States who could use some help.

Here’s my question to you: Is now the time to increase aid to the Middle East?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Middle East
May 18th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Would you want to know how long you will live?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: THINKSTOCK)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, the only certain things in life are death and taxes. Of course, one has always been a little easier to calculate than the other… until now perhaps.

A Spanish company has developed a blood test that it claims can give you a pretty good idea of how long you'll live.

The test, called Life Length, can allegedly convert your life expectancy to numbers, and will reportedly be available in Britain later this year according to the UK paper The Independent.

The simple blood test measures something on your chromosomes called telomeres which scientists say can help determine your biological age rather than chronological age. The shorter the telomeres are, the closer you are to death.

Researchers say the test can provide valuable information including a person's risk of illnesses such as heart disease, Alzheimer's and cancer.

Some scientists and medical ethicists have raised concerns that people who take the test will take on a fatalistic attitude and stray from healthy practices like eating right, exercising and quitting smoking. Critics also worry the information could be used by insurance companies as well as companies that could make and market fake anti-aging drugs and treatments.

But you can bet people will line up for the Life Length test as soon as it comes out. It will be sold over-the-counter in Britain for the equivalent of $700 U.S. dollars

Here’s my question to you: Would you want to know how long you will live?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Longevity • On Jack's radar
May 18th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Should tenure for teachers be done away with?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Teacher tenure, the union-backed safety net that protects teachers from being fired after a certain number of years of service, is coming under fire in states from New York to Tennessee and Illinois.

Tenure provides experienced teachers job security in a tight labor market, at a time when cash-strapped states and municipalities are trying to make cuts everywhere they possibly can. Critics say the policy can harm students more than it protects teachers because new teachers with fresh ideas often lose their jobs while older teachers - some of whom are just going through the motions until their pensions kick in - can't be touched.

That's because when a district announces layoffs, the "last in, first out" union rule generally takes over. That often means the least-experienced teachers with fewer years of service must lose their jobs before older, more senior teachers do, no matter how well they do their job, or how well their students perform.

But change is coming. States such as Arizona, Georgia, Colorado and Utah have passed bills to end "last-in, first-out" layoff policies in the past year. Now a handful of other states are trying to make changes to tenure, too. But supporters are up in arms and say tenure is an important policy that attracts talent to a profession that offers relatively low starting pay.

Here’s my question to you: Should tenure for teachers be done away with?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Education
May 17th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Should U.S. high schools require students speak English to graduate?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There's new requirement for earning a high school diploma at one high school in Connecticut. It's not calculus or biochemistry or learning a foreign language even. It's learning this country's language, English.

The city of New London's board of education has approved a measure stating that, starting with next year's incoming freshman class, students will have to prove they can speak, read and write "American English" - and do it well - in order to earn their diploma. Apparently those are skills many high schoolers in New London lack. Only 16 percent of sophomores at New London High School scored well in English on standardized tests last year, and only 55 percent were deemed "proficient."

The New London student body is made up of immigrants from at least 28 countries. It's an indication how much of a challenge English is in the town that the school district website is translated into 52 languages.

New London is the first district in the state of Connecticut to pass such a rule. Students at New London High will have several testing options to demonstrate their command of English, and will have until age 21 to meet the requirement.

Here’s my question to you: Should U.S. high schools require students to speak English in order to graduate?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Education
May 17th, 2011
04:45 PM ET

Who'll fill void left by Trump and Huckabee in '12 GOP race?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Republicans may have the keys to victory in 2012 in their grasp, but it's a question of getting the horses out of the barn, onto the track and into the race.

So far, the Republican presidential field is awful. It's no wonder President Barack Obama is smiling. And it's not just getting bin Laden that has him grinning. The economy is starting to recover. And the Republicans resemble “The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and billionaire real estate developer-turned-reality TV star Donald Trump have both said they're out. Huckabee and Trump had shown more promise in the polls than some of the other names running or considering a run.

So, who will fill the void?

There is Mitt Romney - already lost. Newt Gingrich - not happening. Sarah Palin - please, get serious. There is Ron Paul, a man with great ideas about how to solve our problems, but serious questions about electability. Then there's Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann, both with potential to score big with evangelicals, but neither seem to be scoring points with the rest of the electorate.

That brings us to Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, who almost everyone agrees would be a formidable challenger to Obama. And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Christie says he's not "ready to run for president," despite the fact that Republicans all over the country are begging him to get in the race. And Daniels, who says he hasn't made up his mind yet. Daniels also says he could beat Obama…and he might be right.

It's pretty much a lead-pipe cinch the rest of the Republicans mentioned can't, except maybe for Christie.

Here’s my question to you: Who is likely to fill the void left by Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee in the 2012 GOP field?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: 2012 Election • Donald Trump • GOP • GOP Ticket • Mike Huckabee • Republican Party • Republicans
May 16th, 2011
04:27 PM ET

Should Congress vote to raise the debt ceiling?

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Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner speaks during a press conference. Geithner announced that the Social Security Board of Trustees estimates that the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust funds will be exhausted by 2036. (PHOTO CREDIT: SAUL LOEB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The U.S. government officially hit its $14.3 trillion debt ceiling today, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Congress. It comes as no surprise of course. Geithner pointed to this date months ago. But here we are, and lawmakers don't appear to be any closer to any sort of agreement on raising the limit the U.S. government can borrow.

The U.S. spends on average $118 billion more each month than it takes in. Geithner says he can keep things going until early August. After that, all bets are off. If Congress doesn't agree to raise the debt ceiling by then, the United States could default on its debt obligations. That could have devastating effects on our still-shaky economy and markets worldwide.

Many Republicans and some Democrats are refusing to vote in favor of such a move without a promise to make meaningful spending cuts. And while critics have warned against tying the two issues together, lawmakers are more concerned about how all this talk of debt ceilings and deficit reduction will play out with voters. Some Republicans believe if they vote for raising the debt ceiling, voters - particularly those in the highly vocal, newly powerful and very conservative Tea Party - will see it as a fiscally irresponsible.

A new Gallup poll shows 47% of Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling. Only 19% are in favor of it. But more than one-third say they don't know enough about the topic to say one way or the other. And that's a big part of the problem.

Here’s my question to you: Should Congress vote to raise the debt ceiling?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Congress • National debt
May 16th, 2011
04:25 PM ET

Would terror attack on U.S. make you more or less likely to vote for Pres. Obama?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was in Pakistan today meeting with government and military leaders there in an effort to mend relations between the two nations.

John Kerry listens to Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik prior to a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Islamabad.

John Kerry listens to Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik prior to a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Islamabad.

Tensions remain high three weeks after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. But Kerry says the U.S. and Pakistan have agreed to cooperate on future terror targets, and Pakistani officials have committed to finding new ways fight terror within that nation's borders.

We'll see about that.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will also travel to Pakistan in the coming weeks.

It is part of the Obama Administration's careful balancing act - keep up foreign relations while staying tough on terror; especially as the president's campaign for re-election in 2012 kicks into a higher gear.

President Obama enjoyed a much-needed boost in his approval ratings after the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 1, but according to the latest Gallup poll, his approval ratings have dropped back down to 46 percent - which is where they were prior to the bin Laden raid, and right around the lowest levels of his presidency.

Being tough on terror might be a good strategy for winning over American voters. But it took us ten years to find bin Laden. And what if there is another attack between now and the 2012 election?

Here’s my question to you: Would a terror attack on the U.S. make you more or less likely to vote to re-elect President Obama?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

May 11th, 2011
02:05 PM ET

Should Obama use bin Laden's death as part of reelection campaign?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Despite insisting we shouldn't quote "spike the football" when it comes to the killing of Osama bin Laden, President Obama has apparently decided to include the death of the terrorist leader in the narrative for his reelection campaign. Last night at a fundraising event in Austin, Texas, President Obama talked about his usual campaign topics - the economy, health care, new energy sources - but spent some of his speech talking about killing Osama bin Laden in Pakistan 10 days ago.

This was the president's first political speech since bin Laden's death... An audience member at one point shouted out, "Thank you for getting bin Laden."

Political analysts believe bin Laden's death will give the president a fundraising boost. Just as his approval ratings have gotten a nice bounce. But will the magic wear off? And is campaigning about it the right thing to do?

The Obama reelection campaign could point to the bin Laden raid over and over again to promote the president's foreign policy and national security credentials, the very ones that many people had questioned less than two weeks ago. But the president has got to tread lightly here.

In yesterday's speech, he carefully credited the troops and intelligence officers for catching bin Laden. Still, critics of the president say he's taken too much credit for the killing.

Here’s our question: Should President Obama use the death of Osama bin Laden as part of his reelection campaign message?

Here’s my question to you: Should President Obama use the death of Osama bin Laden as part of his reelection campaign message?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Uncategorized
May 10th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Should U.S. continue raids to capture or kill terrorists in Pakistan?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

We now know that the United States had contingency plans in place for military action against Pakistani forces if they had tried to stop the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound last week that resulted in his killing.

Just another indication that despite the billions we've given Pakistan over the past decade to help combat terrorism, we didn't fully trust their commitment to finding bin Laden or any other high profile terrorist who might be living and plotting and scheming within their borders.

The relationship between the United States and Pakistan is deeply strained now. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has warned the United States that his country's military will respond to any future U.S. raid.

Gilani said in a speech Monday, "Any attack against Pakistan's strategic assets, whether overt or covert, will find a matching response."

Fighting words.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democrat from California and chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee is now questioning the U.S.-Pakistani relationship and the amount of aid we send that country, $20 billion over the last eight years. She says that relationship makes "less and less sense."

But two other top leaders from the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sens. John Kerry, Democrat from Massachusetts, and Dick Lugar, Republican from Indiana, are defending U.S. aid to Pakistan.

Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Trying to figure out what to do about our relationship with them isn't easy.

Here’s my question to you: Should U.S. continue raids to capture or kill terrorists inside Pakistan?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Pakistan
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