June 9, 2009

Map of North Korea prison camps

Posted: 05:44 AM ET

Anderson Cooper's blog originally posted this map. It shows the location of prison camps around North Korea. The map was published by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

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June 8, 2009

Speed sensors could be a factor in Air France crash

Posted: 07:55 AM ET

From Political Correspondent Richard Lui and Writer Lauren

As investigators work to unravel the cause of the Air France flight 447 crash, they've identified the plane's speed sensors as a potential cause of the fatal malfunction.

Investigators in Paris say Air France didn't replace a part that monitors the plane's speed after the plane's manufacturer, Airbus, recommended the replacement.

Airbus tells CNN that replacing the part was not mandatory to flight safety, but airbus now replacing speed sensors on all of its bigger planes.

So, how might damaged speed sensors have affected the plane?

Industry officials told the Wall Street Journal that damaged speed sensors shouldn't have cause the plane to crash because modern planes have backup systems to monitor speed.

However, the Air France plane sent 24 automated error messages, lasting about four minutes. Officials say those messages suggest that the plane may have been flying either too fast or too slow through severe thunderstorms, before it crashed.

Stay tuned to Morning Express, and we'll have more details for you on Air France flight 447 as they emerge.

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May 29, 2009

Celebrities raise thousands for health on Twitter

Posted: 10:08 AM ET

News Correspondent Richard Lui

Eric De La Cruz is just one of the more than 100,000 people waiting to get an organ. According to the government, 18 of them will die today waiting. This number has only grown in recent decades as donors and funding remain low.

Do you twitter? Impressed that it's now a healthcare tool?
Do you twitter? Impressed that it's now a healthcare tool?

Eric was already in need of a heart. Three IV’s are keeping him stable. Despite his dire condition, he can’t get on the national donor list.

He has two options to get on the list.

His first option is through his state’s program. But because he has Nevada Medicaid and Nevada has no transplant centers, he has been turned down from getting on the list.

His second option to get on the list is to go to another state like California where there are transplant centers. He would have to move his case there with support under the federal Medicare Disability program. He was rejected twice, and his next appeal hearing is in a year. The family says he doesn’t have that kind of time.

Another issue, Eric’s family says they’re required to have $150,000 in the bank as a down payment to get on the list. The operation is estimated to cost at least $800,000. Eric’s family had managed to raise only $6,000 as of two weeks ago.

So, as daunting as his situation sounds, his family, understandably, is not giving up. They have gone public to try to put a solution together. His sister Veronica De La Cruz, a former employee of CNN, has ignited a grassroots effort through her Twitter account at @VeronicaDLCruz.

The Twitter conversation has raised not only local interest with reports from KNTV and KLAS in Nevada, but celebrities are also taking notice, including Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor. Reznor posted a request on the band’s website to give special backstage access if they donate to Eric’s fund. <a href=" In five hours, it raised some $220,000 according to Eric’s sister.

One week later, over $850,000 was raised. Reznor says there was so much interest, he had to stop his offer of VIP access at North American concerts because there was no more room. With that amount, part of the family’s dream could now be answered with enough money to pay for the operation.

Reznor is not the only Hollywood name to lend his support on Eric’s sister’s Twitter account. There’s also Collective Soul, Demi Moore, Kelly Clarkson, Star Jones, Al Roker, and Alyssa Milano.

This case has brought attention to the national health care debate, as well as local attention, as Eric’s family pushes U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), Nevada’s governor, and other politicians, to try to help cobble together a solution for Eric and so many others who are caught in a similar situation across the country.

What do you think the solution is? What does this say about health care red tape? Should it be up to each family to raise these funds in such cases? And where does Twitter fit in all of this—should the national donor list incorporate more alternative awareness tools such as social media to gain support for the numerous “Erics” that are out there?

Join in the conversation; leave your comments below.

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May 19, 2009

Tough new fuel standards on the way

Posted: 09:10 AM ET

President Obama will announce tough new fuel standards today, and they may end up costing you more money.

According to administration officials, Obama's proposed changes, along with the cost of already enacted fuel economy standards, will add about $1,300 to the cost of a vehicle by the year 2016.

However, the fuel efficiency regulations could make up for the cost in the money you'll save on gas.

Writer Lauren was kind enough to do the math for us.

- 10,0000 miles per year divided by 27.5 miles per gallon = 363.6

- Multiply that times today's average cost for gallon of gas: $2.31 x 363.6 = $840
gas per year.

- 10,0000 miles per year divided by new standard of 39 gallons = 256

- Multiply that times today's cost for a gallon of gas: $2.31 x 256 = $592

Under Obama's plan, in a passenger car that gets 39 miles per gallon, you'd get a 30% savings on the cost of gas for your car.

Is it worth it to you to spend a bit more on the initial cost of the car if you cut back on gas costs over time?

Let us know what you think in the comments field below!

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May 15, 2009

Hometowns brace for change as dealerships close

Posted: 06:31 AM ET

Political Correspondent Richard Lui

They are the fixtures in Everytown, USA. They are the family businesses that have survived generations of economic hardship, but now they are closing en masse.

Chrysler hopes to close about 1,100 small car dealerships.
Chrysler hopes to close about 1,100 small car dealerships.

GM and Chrysler are starting to hand out pink slips to dealerships around the country. Chrysler is asking a court to let it drop more than 1,000 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealers - about a quarter of its network - as part of its bankruptcy restructuring.

GM wants to close 42% of its 6,250 dealer locations, which employ hundreds of thousands of workers.

They're spread out between urban centers and small towns. What’s different this time around is dealer owners will not get treated like the Oldsmobile dealerships that closed before. They received some $2 billion in compensation for shuttering their doors. This time it will be simple handshakes and goodbyes because of Chapter 11 procedures, which allow the automakers to bypass franchise laws.

Chrysler and GM need to cut capacity though. Currently their dealer network can handle double the volume both carmakers currently have ready to sell. By reducing the number of dealers, they are reducing costs and the need to send cars to underperforming dealerships, some of which have not invested in their facilities in years because of lack of profits.

Dealer owners aren’t taking this sitting down. Yesterday, more than 100 of them met with House and Senate members who are on the President’s auto task force. They want them to step in and slow the reduction, so communities can gradually absorb the jobs being cut.

So how is this affecting your town?

What does it mean to see the family businesses that have around for decades succumb to the bad times?

Certainly it will mean the end of their sponsorships for little league teams, charities and churches and their leadership on local chambers of commerce. And bottom line, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be gone, and that’s not good for the country.

Tell us what you think here, and we’ll get your comment on air on Morning Express.

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April 8, 2009

While you were gone – evaluating Obama's trip

Posted: 07:30 AM ET

Political Correspondent Richard Lui

Eight days have come and gone, and now President Obama is back home.

So, much like when we finish a business trip, we start looking through our business cards, filling out expense sheets, and meeting with the home team to see what happened while we were gone … so President Obama must do the same now to determine how productive the trip was. He hasn’t asked for our opinions yet, but let’s give it a go.

The expectations were higher on some issues, lower on others. When it comes to the G-20 and coordinating economic strategy on a global scale, expectations were high. With the major economies of the U.S., Japan, China, and in the EU waning, people and politicians wanted action.

On the flipside, there was criticism of the U.S. and its possible role in the global recession. Did President Obama balance these perspectives on the world stage?

Then there was the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which the U.S. helped form in 1949 after World War II. President Obama met with the 60 year-old organization to try to get support for his administration’s push in Afghanistan. Do you think Obama was able to form a coalition of the willing on that issue?

Add in an unannounced stop to Iraq to visit the troops and meet with leaders there, Obama-mania at many stops, and his statements of how he would like the U.S. to be perceived globally. So what do you think of his first overseas trip? Did he make the contacts the U.S. needs? Was it worth the time spent - given what is happening at home?

Blog your thoughts, and we may show them on TV.

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October 30, 2008

The next president’s inner circle

Posted: 05:51 AM ET

Political Correspondent Richard Lui

Very shortly, if you haven't done so already, many of you will be casting your vote for not only President and VP, but also indirectly a group of top advisers that will drive the President’s decision making. Issues of national security and the economy will be defined and recommended by his cabinet and strategists that inhabit the white house.

Chief of Staff, Secretary of State, and Treasury Secretary are just some of the positions he must fill come January. We look into the process and decisions the president undertakes to fill his staff; as well as some names that have been discussed that McCain or Obama might select. Former eBay president Meg Whitman, Warren Buffet and others are discussed in these reports

These choices might affect who you vote for. You might like some of them, dislike others. Take a look and let us know how if at all, a President McCain’s or President Obama’s potential choices change the way you think.

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September 12, 2008

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.


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 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. 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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