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September 19, 2008

Fixing the market crisis: Send us your iReports!

Posted: 10:09 AM ET
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We want to know how the financial crisis is affecting American families.

How is the financial crisis impacting your life? What do you want to hear from the presidential candidates about the situation on Wall Street? We want to hear from you!

Go to CNN.com/Robin and scroll down to the Election Connection section of the page to send in your iReports. It's simple ... you can even videotape your thoughts using a cell phone, or have a friend or family member help out, and send it our way!

We'll show some of your iReports on the air on "Morning Express."

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Filed under: Your Money


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Morning Sunshine! And hello from the baby contingent

Posted: 06:55 AM ET

TV/Web Producer Kate Taylor

Everyone knows that babies keep odd hours. They're often inspired to wake up – and stay up – at the darndest times, they love to pack in those midnight snacks and subsequent burpings and diaper changes, and heck, sometimes they just want to hang out with mom and dad, leaving the parents feeling like they've accomplished a full day's works before the morning sun has even kissed the sky.

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Little Gabriel Dolan wakes up bright and early to catch Morning Express.

So it was no surprise when both of this week's Morning Sunshine iReports came from parents of infants, who watch the show in the wee hours of the morning, probably hoping to fall back asleep as everyone else wakes up.

Viewer and iReporter Marian Dolan was nice enough to share photos of her 2-day-old son, Gabriel! Mom and Gabriel watched Morning Express together in the hospital during Gabe's morning feedings at Keesler Air Force Base Medical Center in Biloxi, Mississippi. We're happy to report that Mom and son are doing well and have returned home.

Traci DeSpain of Lanesville, Indiana, shared photos of her four-and-a-half month-old daughter Emma Rose watching Morning Express. DeSpain reports that Emma Rose has caught the show so many times that now she recognizes Robin's voice, and lifts her head up for a view when she hears Robin start to talk.

Do you make it a point to watch Morning Express as often as possible? We'd love to see where you are and what you do while you watch. Share your Morning Sunshine iReport!

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September 17, 2008

New Music from Eric Benet

Posted: 10:30 AM ET

Copy Editor Felicia

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Eric Benet is back with his new, long-awaited, fourth CD.

After his failed marriage with actress Halle Berry, singer Eric Benet is back with a new, long-awaited fourth CD, “Love & Life.” What’s unique about Benet’s CD is that his 16-year-old daughter, India, is singing backup for him.

On his Web site, the R&B singer says he went back to his Milwaukee roots to make the soulful album. He boasts this CD may be the cause of another baby boom. Critics seem to agree. Billboard Magazine has given it a positive review, calling it pure Eric Benet, which pretty much means pure old-school R&B. Billboard says the 12-track CD is a healthy mix of gospel, jazz, and latin rhythms.

If you want to take a listen to Benet’s a cappella version of “You’re the Only One” with his daughter on Youtube.com, click here.

And remember to tune into "Morning Express with Robin Meade" every Tuesday for the latest CD releases.

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Filed under: New Music Tuesday


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September 16, 2008

McCain and Obama: Two plans to fix Wall Street

Posted: 05:26 AM ET

News Correspondent Richard Lui

Have we hit the bottom? That is the question every homeowner, investment banker, and business professional is asking. With yesterday’s drop of 500 points on the Dow - what was close to a 5 percent drubbing - the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel looks to be even farther away than we thought. And McCain and Obama took notice.

Sunday set the panic button when Lehman filed chapter 11 bankruptcy after last minute dealing to find a white night corporate buyer or get a government bailout fell through. Added to that, Bank of America bought Merrell Lynch in a distress sale for some $50 billion.

These two Wall Street firms are household names to many, but we don’t necessarily know why, practically, they should cause voters and the market stress. In short, these firms borrowed money to bet on a growing housing market. When the housing marked tanked, these banks couldn’t get back what they put in; on the order of 30 to 60 cents to a dollar.

When one of these banks goes bankrupt, a garage sale of grand proportion happens. And if one bank starts selling its stuff at 30 to 60 percent of original price, everybody else will have to do the same to stay competitive, pulling other weak players down with them. All financial institutions then get scared—and that’s just part of the story.

Regardless, the question on voters’ minds now is ‘how can this be fixed, and who is the right leader to do that?’ Most papers have said both McCain and Obama have offered few specifics to fixing this problem, this as more big names like insurance giant AIG hit the headlines.

In short, here is the response in the last 24 hours from each of the candidates.

McCain Suggests
• More regulation of Wall Street firms
• No taxpayer money bailout
• Financial institutions should have more cash buffers to withstand rainy days
• Tax cuts to high income taxpayers and corporations will stimulate economy

Obama suggests
• More regulation of Wall Street firms
• Regulate Wall Street banks like commercial banks (New York Times)
• No taxpayer money bailout
• Eight years of GOP mismanagement caused problem

In March, Senator Obama also gave a six point plan to fix the financial regulatory system which included steps to increase the Federal Reserves authority over all financial institutions, streamline different regulatory agencies, and increase transparency in reporting among other steps. He also proposed tougher measures to crackdown on financial institutions that tried to manipulate the market.

So what do you think—are these responses specific enough to fix today’s heightened crisis on Wall Street? Which of the two candidates is set to make a difference to this problem given their experience and skills? Neither have particular strong economic bona fides on their CV, but now have to focus acutely in the next 50 days on how they can solve a problem that some say is only in the sixth inning.

Pipe in and often here. We will be taking this discussion to Morning Express all morning.

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Filed under: Election Connection • Your Turn


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September 15, 2008

And as for appropriate workplace behavior …

Posted: 10:56 AM ET

Writer Keith

Who the heck steals an iced tea???

Those of us in the work-force know one fact that will always remain true: you could write an entire book on the quirks, habits, and antics of the people in your office.

Almost all offices are a mish-mash of people with unique personalities and sometimes (much like the Morning Express team) it is a combination of cultures from people all across the country and the world. Despite this odd brew, most co-workers mesh, work together, and get the job done. Sometimes, however, there are people who don’t get it.

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"Stealing iced tea!? You're fired."

When is seems like your office team is playing chess while the game is actually Hungry Hungry Hippo, you’ve got a problem. Now people get fired every day, usually for similar things: poor performance, constant tardiness, lousy attitude, photocopying their butts on days that aren’t the Holiday Party ... I’ve seen it.

But why should we stop there? Why can’t we make things that just tick us off grounds for termination? I mean I don’t want to see people on the dole, but there some office behavior just says a lot about a person’s character. Below are just a few.

Stealing People’s Food From The Fridge

Now I am not talking about borrowing a little bit of half & half for your coffee. I am talking about full-fledged thievery; like what happened to me this week. I brought in two of the giant cans of diet iced tea/lemonade that I buy on the way to work and save for a little pick-me-up during the day. I walked into the CNN Center at midnight, and by 3 am, one of them was missing.

Now I wasn’t so mad about being out a buck, but it’s the principle of the situation. I’ve heard about one person here who had a sandwich stolen. Not a big deal, except the sandwich was stolen from their lunch bag, which also contained a bag of chips and an apple. Do you really want someone on the payroll that shakes co-workers down like a bully on the playground?

People Who Use Their Cell Phones In The Bathroom

This is just plain foul. Earlier this month, I went to use the facilities and heard someone in a stall talking. At first I thought maybe they were schizophrenic and were just having a conference call. Not the case. The person had one of those two-way walkie-talkie phones. Here’s how the conversation went

Guy in bathroom: –beep- “Go ahead”

Guy on other line: –beep—“Yeah where can I find you right now?”

Guy in Bathroom: (pause) (pause) (pause) –beep—“Uh, I am on the other side of the building.”

I’m sorry, but anyone who talks to you on the phone while they are in the bathroom is someone you should not associate with, let alone hire! Now the guy that leaves the sports section in the stall for the next person to read ... that guy should be CEO.

People Who Bring In Foul-Smelling Food In For Lunch

We all know someone who is guilty of this. You head to the break room to get something to eat and it is like walking into hot death. Chuck from accounting has just heated up his “halibut, curry, burnt popcorn, gorgonzola, chili casserole.” It’s not so much the initial smell … it’s the fact that it will stick around all day. Much like bill collectors, cockroaches, and Dane Cook … no matter how much you want it to leave, it just won’t go away. A nice turkey sandwich has never offended anyone. So see ya later Chuck. Go stink up your own kitchen. (Note: I don’t know anyone named Chuck in the accounting department).

So those are just a few. What do you think? What are some of the things in your office you wish were fireable offences?

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Filed under: Behind the Scenes • Your Turn


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September 12, 2008

What does it take to be a Great American Country star?

Posted: 11:54 AM ET

Anchor Robin Meade

I’m still patting down my hair and brushing of the glitter from my trip to Nashvegas! I hosted the “Next Great American Country Star” competition this week in Nashville, for the GAC network. We took our Headline News cameras along, so you’ll have to check out the podcast for answers to such questions as “What does it take to win?” "Who are the judges?" and “How much work does that kind of production require?”

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One very important aspect of any country music competition is wardrobe.

But let’s discuss what’s on my mind now: I’m wondering if it's appropriate to have soloists compete against bands on these shows.

I ask because the winners of the Next GAC Star … were a band. So if you think of it in terms of math … they had four guys. Four guys with four different groups of family members, four different social networks, etc. Four times the potential for voters who already know them, and likely voted for them, regardless of whether or not their performance was the strongest.

The runner up was a solo artist, whom the judges widely predicted would win.

Does being a group give you an unfair advantage? (Just about all the contestants in the finals I emceed were good enough for a record deal, so there won’t be a problem there.)

Personally I love these shows and the stamina, perseverance and talent level of anyone who competes. Bravo to all of them. Bravo!

Why do you think we, as a viewing nation, love the talent shows so much?

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Filed under: Behind the Scenes


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Candidates Attack on the Airwaves and E-waves

Posted: 05:45 AM ET

Political Correspondent Richard Lui

The Democratic National Convention ended. The Republican National Convention ended. Then the floodgates opened.

ALT TEXT

Senators John McCain and Barack Obama breifly stopped their war of words to share a moment of silence for the victims of the September 11 attacks.

Attacks have been flying this week on the airwaves and online as Senators McCain and Obama took to the road, along with their running mates and surrogates. Both sides did have a day of détente—no politicking and no airing of attack ads for the seventh anniversary of September 11, 2001. They even came together to meet at Ground Zero in New York City and held a joint discussion on National Service. No sooner had those events faded, when two new attack ads were launched, one from each side.

McCain’s Latest Ad

The McCain Campaign moves into Friday with a new ad called “Lashed Out.” This ad criticizes the Obama campaign of making desperate attacks on Palin because the Obama camp is struggling. The ad resurrects the “World’s biggest celebrity” line from an earlier McCain ad, which compared Obama’s star power with that of Paris Hilton. This latest ad says “[Obama’s] star is fading.”

We thought we’d take a closer look at this ad and found a breakdown by factcheck.org that says the quotes used by McCain’s campaign are distorted to make their point:

* The ad says "they said she was doing 'what she was told.' " But the Obama adviser who's being quoted didn't accuse Palin of following orders. He actually said she made a false claim about Obama's legislative record, adding, "maybe that's what she was told."

* The ad says "they lashed out at Sarah Palin; dismissed her as 'good looking,' " Obama, who is pictured in the ad, didn't say that. The ad quotes Joe Biden, who offered the remark as a compliment. Biden said the "obvious" difference between Palin and himself is "she's good looking."

Obama’s Latest Ad

Meanwhile there is a new ad out today from the Obama Campaign that attacks Senator McCain’s voting record on education and spending proposals. The ad called “What Kind,” says Barack Obama will put education first, but John McCain will cut education spending while giving money to special interest groups.

Factcheck.org looked at this ad and said it “misleads:”

* The ad says McCain "voted to cut education funding" and lists five votes. But one was a vote for increased education funding, although for fewer dollars than what Democrats may have wanted. And three others were votes against additional funding, not votes for funding cuts.

* The ad says "McCain's economic plan gives $200 billion more to special interests while taking money away from public schools." Actually, McCain proposed a one-year freeze on discretionary spending in general. A freeze would mean that funds would not keep pace with inflation and population growth, but no dollars would be "taken away." The $200 billion for "special interests" refers to the cost of McCain's proposal to reduce the tax rate for all business corporations, not a few "special" ones.

Some 50 days left until the vote

Those are the latest ads and it would seem an indication of what is to come. The race is tight and the polls show that, even in battleground states, it’s not going to be a runaway for either of the two candidates. So all the stops will be pulled for these campaigns. The gentleman’s campaign that both talked about running months ago during the primaries seems long gone.

Gov. Sarah Palin has not been soft in her attacks on Obama, criticizing his work as a community organizer from the start. And the Obama camp is now gearing up today to attack back with ads, a speech in NH and surrogates standing up for the democrat and his economic plans.

Many voters ask if these ads and attacks are helpful or hurtful to the process. Just this week we were hearing about lipstick, pigs, Palin internet rumors, sex education to kindergartners and more.

Is there enough discussion about issues and the major and minor policy differences between the candidates? As for the coverage — is the media focusing too much on the swings and swipes and not enough on the candidates’ platform content — or is the balance okay? November is close, but maybe not close enough for some.

So let us know what you think — comment below and we’ll share your thoughts on Morning Express on this first week of campaigning after two hectic weeks of conventions.

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September 11, 2008

What's a text message worth?

Posted: 07:54 AM ET

Business Correspondent Jennifer Westhoven

Cellphone companies are sharply raising the price of sending text-messages.

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Senator Herb Kohl wants to know why some cell phone companies have doubled the price of text messages.

Well, not so fast, says one senator.

Herb Kohl of Wisconsin wants Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile "to justify" the higher fees. Companies have raised rates from about 10 cents to 20 cents per message in the last few years.

And, text messages files are quite small and don't use nearly as much space on the network as a phone call!

Do you the price-hike is fair, if it's not costing the networks any more? Do you think the government should interfere with the industry?

Email us at CNN.com/robin with your opinion, or leave a comment below.

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Tell Robin what you think about TV talent competitions

Posted: 06:02 AM ET

From Morning Express Anchor Robin Meade

Hello!

As I mention in this morning’s newsletter, you haven’t seen me for a few days because I’ve been hosting the TV talent search show, “The Next Great American Country Star!” It got me thinking about how singers become stars.

Can someone still make in the music biz the old fashion way, climbing the ranks and getting your name out there? Or have televised singing competitions forever changed that route? Are we a nation obsessed with televised competitions? Are you ready to watch more of these shows?

Personally, I'd like CNN to come back with it's own employee talent show. We used to have one … no kidding! The winner got a boatload of money. I was a finalist one year, but a guy singing about the teleprompter won. Humph!

Let me know what you think. Leave your comments below.

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Filed under: Extras • Your Turn


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September 10, 2008

Headline News and Travel + Leisure reveal “America's Favorite Cities”

Posted: 06:19 AM ET
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Be sure and cast your vote for your favorite American city.

It's time for Travel + Leisure to reveal, after months of polling, which cities Americans love the most and why. The survey takes a look at everything from the style and intelligence of a city's population, to the caliber of it's nightlife, to traffic and the availability of outdoor activities.

What's that … you didn't get a chance to vote for the city you love? Well, no worries! There is one final category left to vote on: America¹s Favorite City overall.

For the next four weeks, TravelandLeisure.com is hosting a tournament-style competition in which the 25 cities will go head-to-head against one another. Each week, cities will be eliminated until America's #1 Favorite City is the only one left standing.

Be sure and cast your vote. The fate of your city depends on you!

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About this blog

It's Morning Express like you've never seen it before! Hear from Robin Meade and the rest of the show crew for our thoughts on everything from politics to sports... to those bizarre stories that have us buzzing behind the scenes. Plus, plenty of material you might not see on the air. Don't miss OUR TAKE on what's happening in the world. Then tell us YOURS!

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Robin Meade
Delivering your dose of morning news, to get you out of bed and off to work.
Robin Meade
Bob Van Dillen
From tracking storms to airport delays, Bob is your weather and travel expert.
Bob Van Dillen
Jennifer Westhoven
Jennifer has the tips you need to take action on stories affecting your wallet.
Jennifer Westhoven
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