AC360° Senior Producer
The efforts by President Obama and Congress to rescue the economy have been book-ended by two major, heart-wrenching events that have the power to pull people together. And I'm not talking about House and Senate votes.
I'm talking about plane crashes. One of which, the "Miracle on the Hudson" on Jan. 16, wasn't actually a crash, but a "ditching," but only because of Sully's cool-headed landing skills.
I've covered a number of plane crashes, talked with family members of passengers who've died, and survived, and people in neighborhoods who might've been killed, but instead have been awed by the horror that fell near them. I've talked with pilots and investigators and seen a few things you don't really want to see.
And I've noticed one effect of a plane crash on many people is a pulling together. People often realize for a few hours, or days or years, what it's all about. People open up to others, they talk about their feelings, they think about what's really important to them. Some have told me they see things in a different way, with more heart, a deeper feel for pain and joy, or for other human beings.
CNN Senior White House Correspondent
Fresh off an apparent victory on President Obama's signature $787 billion economic recovery plan, several top White House aides say they're planning an ambitious agenda for the rest of February focused on addressing the housing crisis, cleaning up the banking mess and laying the groundwork for reform of the health care system and entitlement programs like Medicare.
Mister Obama's economic stimulus plan, which top aides say will be signed into law as early as Monday at the White House, received no Republican votes in the House and just three in the Senate despite his heavy emphasis on drawing bipartisan support. There have also been several Cabinet miscues in the early days, but top White House aides are confident the President has gotten off to a strong start.
"Does the road to change have some bumps? Sure," said one senior White House aide. "But we're feeling good."
Several White House aides noted that in addition to the stimulus win, the President has signed into law an equal pay act and legislation expanding a childrens' health insurance program for an extra four million kids.
"There's an enormity to what's happened so far," said one of the White House aides. "It's hard work, but it's worth it. We're sprinting."
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Tonight, there are new details on the Continental Connection crash near Buffalo, New York. NTSB investigators say the cockpit voice recorders show the crew noticed significant ice buildup on the planes windshield and wings just before it began pitching and rolling violently. Moments later, 49 people on board were killed and one person in the house that the plane hit. Amazingly, two people in the house survived. You'll hear from one of them tonight on AC360°.
Is the ice to blame for the crash? We'll talk it over with a former pilot.
We'll also have breaking developments tonight from Capitol Hill on the $787 billion stimulus plan. The final vote will be happening around 10:30pm ET. See if Democrats have enough votes for passage.
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President Barack Obama on Friday praised Beverly Eckert, the widow of a 9/11 victim and prominent post-9/11 activist, who was one of the passengers who died in a plane crash outside Buffalo, New York.
"Beverly lost her husband on 9/11," Obama said, "and became a tireless advocate for the families whose lives were forever changed on that September day."
A resident of Stamford, Connecticut, Eckert was the widow of Buffalo native Sean Rooney, who died at the World Trade Center.
Obama's words underscored the shock and grief from friends, family and acquaintances over the news that Eckert was aboard the Continental Connection Flight 3407 that crashed, killing all 49 aboard and one on the ground.
Dr. Gail Saltz
Practically on the heels of the triumphant success of the US Airways flight ‘splash landing’ in the Hudson River, comes the tragically opposite outcome of the plane crash near Buffalo, NY last night. As if the fragility of life needs to be underscored any further right now, many Americans are struggling with various fears about the precariousness of their situations. They are hoping that this new President will find a way to provide protection and solutions. This crash is a sad reminder that life contains inherent risk and that try, as we all might, sometimes bad stuff happens anyway.
It is tragic that 50 innocent people have lost their lives….but what we all need to remember is that this is truly a fluke. This is the first fatal crash since 2006. Airplane crashes are actually rare, much more unusual than fatal car crashes. Yet plane crashes play on our most instinctual fears. People are often afraid of heights and the idea of being high in the sky in a heavy piece of metal leaves us all feeling scared and amazed that this doesn’t happen more often.
Suzanne Kelly Simons
CNN Executive Producer, Author
Something had to give. Some 17 months after a deadly shooting involving its contractors in Baghdad's Nisoor Square in which at least 14 Iraqis were killed, private security contractor Blackwater is no more. Company President Gary Jackson put rumor to rest by announcing that the companies falling under the Blackwater umbrella are now being called "Xe". (Pronounced "Z").
The former Blackwater Lodge and Training Center has already been renamed on the company's website. It's now called the "U.S. Training Center" but still uses the old Blackwater bear paw log. Similarly, Blackwater Airships is now Guardian Flight Systems, and Blackwater Target Systems will now be called GSD Manufacturing.