The families of two U.S. journalists detained in North Korea made public pleas for their release as their trial and the threat of years in labor camps loom. The women, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, are to go on trial Thursday on spying charges. Throughout the world, journalists face detainment, kidnapping and even execution for their work. Family members of the two journalists will be on tonight.
Do you have questions for them? Let us know!
Send us a text message with your question to 94553, and you might hear it on air!
The message MUST start with the letters AC, and then a space, then your name and question. If you do not include AC first with a space, we will not receive your text.
CNN Senior Editor Mideast Affairs
As President Obama begins his landmark Middle East trip aimed at reaching out to Muslims and Arabs, the world was exposed to a competing message from Osama bin Laden, through an audio message the Arabic-language network Al-Jazeera released purporting to be from the al Qaeda leader.
On the tape, the hateful al Qaeda propaganda targets President Obama and his policies, describing them as "building enmity against Muslims."
The message focuses on recent military operations in Swat Valley, the Pakistani border region with Afghanistan where many al Qaeda and Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding. The U.S. has been pressing Pakistan to take action against militants and the Pakistani military has launched an all out offensive on the Taliban in Swat.
"Obama and his administration put new seeds of hatred and revenge against America” said the man believed to be bin Laden. However, the tape does not mention Mr. Obama's trip or the highly advertised and much anticipated speech to Muslims he plans to deliver from Egypt, the third such message since he took office.
The families of two U.S. journalists detained in North Korea made public pleas for their release as their trial and the threat of years in labor camps loom.
The women, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, are to go on trial Thursday on spying charges.
"Our families have been quiet because the situation is very sensitive and we've been really trying to allow diplomacy to take its course," Lisa Ling, Laura's sister, said on CNN's "Larry King Live" on Monday night. "But you know, you'd have to be hiding under a rock not to see what's going on in the Korean Peninsula.
"I mean tensions are so heated," she continued, "and the girls are essentially in the midst of this nuclear standoff."
Late last month, North Korea conducted nuclear and missile tests, drawing the condemnation of the U.N. Security Council.
"We just felt like it was time for us to talk publicly and try and encourage our two governments to try to communicate, to try and bring our situation to a resolution on humanitarian grounds - to separate the issues," said Ling, who is a special correspondent with CNN.
Laura Ling and Lee are reporters for California-based Current TV, the media venture of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
CNN Deputy Political Director
Shortly before President Obama departs for a trip to the Middle East, a new national poll suggests that one in five Americans has a favorable view of Muslim countries.
President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visit an Istanbul mosque in April.
That view compares with 46 percent of the people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey who say they have an unfavorable opinion of Muslim countries. That's up 5 percentage points from 2002, when 41 percent indicated that they had an unfavorable view.
Meanwhile, three in 10 say they have a neutral opinion of Muslim countries.
CNN Financial News Producer
The job market is showing signs of improvement. Two reports out this morning indicate that the pace of job losses - while still fairly strong - may be letting up.
Payroll-processing firm ADP said private-sector employers cut 532,000 jobs in May, a 2.4% improvement from the revised 545,000 drop in April.
Separately, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported that the number of job cuts announced in May fell for the fourth straight month. Challenger said job cut announcements by U.S. employers totaled 111,182 in May, an improvement of 16% from April's 132,590 cuts.
We’ll get the government’s official take on the job situation on Friday when the Labor Dept. releases the employment report for May.
Bernanke: Recovery will be slow
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says the economic contraction may be slowing, but the economy is hardly out of the woods.
Back in 1972, on an episode of "All in the Family," Gloria posed the following riddle to Archie and Meathead.
Father and son go driving. There's an accident. The father is killed instantly, the son is rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. The surgeon walks in, takes one look at the patient and says, "I can't operate on this boy. He's my son."
The answer to the apparent paradox eluded Archie, Meathead and the guys down at Kelsey's bar for the balance of the half hour. They floated theories involving stepfathers, sons-in-law, priests, adoptions and returns from the dead. All of which Archie apparently found more believable than the true answer which was, of course, that the surgeon was the boy's mother. "If that's the answer," he spouted, "that's the dumbest riddle I ever hoid!"
Thirty-seven years later it is, perhaps, difficult to appreciate why this riddle ever was a riddle, how so apparent an answer could have stymied Archie, Meathead and, I would wager, the vast majority of the viewing audience.
The riddle speaks volumes not just about how the world has changed in four decades, but also about how unconscious expectations can blind us to the obvious. In 1972, one expected a man when one heard the word "surgeon."
Much as, in 2009, one expects a white kid when one hears the word "scholar."
People will deny this, will say all the right and politic things. But the disclaimers will be as thin and transparent as Saran Wrap. Black, white and otherwise, we are all socialized by the same forces and all carry, by and large, the same unconscious assumptions. One of which is that a certain level of achievement is black and another is white.
This is what you are hearing when a black kid speaks standard English and another black kid chides him for "talking white." This is what George W. Bush was alluding to when he decried "the soft bigotry of low expectations." And this is what we need to address forthrightly if we ever hope to close the so-called achievement gap that looms between black kids and white ones.
Thomas L. Friedman
The New York Times
During a telephone interview Tuesday with President Obama about his speech to Arabs and Muslims in Cairo on Thursday, I got to tell the president my favorite Middle East joke. It gave him a good laugh. It goes like this:
There is this very pious Jew named Goldberg who always dreamed of winning the lottery. Every Sabbath, he’d go to synagogue and pray: “God, I have been such a pious Jew all my life. What would be so bad if I won the lottery?” But the lottery would come and Goldberg wouldn’t win. Week after week, Goldberg would pray to win the lottery, but the lottery would come and Goldberg wouldn’t win. Finally, one Sabbath, Goldberg wails to the heavens and says: “God, I have been so pious for so long, what do I have to do to win the lottery?”
And the heavens parted and the voice of God came down: “Goldberg, give me a chance! Buy a ticket!”
I told the president that joke because in reading the Arab and Israeli press this week, everyone seemed to be telling him what he needed to do and say in Cairo, but nobody was indicating how they were going to step up and do something different. Everyone wants peace, but nobody wants to buy a ticket.
Interfaith Youth Core
The Washington Post
President Obama is making his long-awaited speech to the Muslim world tomorrow morning in Cairo. Everyone is talking about what message he should send to the Muslim world. But the truth is, it isn't just citizens of Muslim majority countries that will be tuning in.
Obama will be addressing the 930 million Hindus in India, and the 5 million Jews in Israel, and the 38 million Catholics in Spain, and the 500,000 Muslims in his own city of Chicago.
Tomorrow, Obama does more than discuss how the United States will relate to the Muslim world. He sets the precedent for how diverse peoples and nations should interact in the 21st century. I have no doubt that Cairo was chosen as the stage for this message because of its history of religious pluralism, a history it shares with America and with Islam.
I wasn’t sure what to expect as I waited outside the employee parking lot of Grady Memorial Hospital Monday morning. My assignment for the day? Produce a story on Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s life outside of CNN — his life as a trauma neurosurgeon. For the past three years I’ve been producing stories for him – but this time he was my story.
He greeted our crew a little before 5 a.m. with a familiar smile and diet soda in hand. Wasting no time with chit-chat, he scurried into the hospital, quickly changed into scrubs, then was off to his “home away from home,” O.R. 14. He had three cases scheduled by the time we arrived – a brain surgery and two spinal fusions.
First up – clipping a ruptured brain aneurysm. Watch the video from inside his operating room by clicking here.
My heart raced as I stood on pins and needles watching a critical part of the operation, during which the patient had an interoperative brain bleed. “I always like to tell people we spend 99 percent of our preparation on the 1 percent of things that happen.” Sanjay’s team didn’t flinch. They knew she’d be losing a liter of blood in just seconds and to prevent disaster, they raced to stop the bleed. Mission accomplished. It was a scary 90 seconds for a bystander like myself watching it all go down, so what really struck me was how calm and focused his team was the entire time.
CNN Senior Political Analyst
After initially waiting a few nanoseconds to call Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor a racist - not to mention advising that she just ought to withdraw from consideration - Newt Gingrich has had a sudden change of heart.
Or at least vocabulary.
In the conservative magazine Human Events, he writes on Wednesday: "My initial reaction was strong and direct - perhaps too strong and too direct. ... Since then, some who want to have an open and honest consideration of Judge Sotomayor's fitness to serve on the nation's highest court have been critical of my word choice. ... The word 'racist' should not have been applied to Judge Sotomayor as a person, even if her words themselves are unacceptable."
An apology from Newt? And one that contains a string of thoughts too long to Twitter? How can that be?
It seems as if poor Gingrich found himself the target of his own Republican Party. Some of the more serious folks in the Senate had been trying to figure out what kind of a jurist Sotomayor might be, when Newt and Rush Limbaugh decided to morph into Thelma and Louise.
Their favorite topic? Sotomayor's now infamous statement that, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." Foolish, yes. Self-serving, sure.
But Gingrich and Co. just couldn't leave it at that. Personal name-calling is just so much more fun - and attention-getting. So she became a racist (even a reverse racist), in their words.