October 9th, 2008
07:13 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: The Latest

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

I love learning more about my family’s safety in the skies, yet the news never seems to be as reassuring as I’d like. Like the fact that the US is operating on a World War II-era air traffic network that sends us on longer, more circuitous routes wasting not only time, but billions in fuel. I wonder if this is also the reason our recent flight from Atlanta to LaGuardia took us for a scenic aerial tour of Connecticut before finally landing. Normally, the pilot gets on the horn to let you know the tower needs the plane to circle. On this flight, however, nada…just a bird’s eye view of the yachts which may or may not be there come spring.

There is a newer, more accurate system available. It has a $35 billion dollar price tag (hmmm…not far from AIG’s second bailout amount) and snazzy GPS, which I hear is all the rage with the kids these days. Backers say the system would triple air traffic capacity, improve safety, curb greenhouse emissions and – I hope you’re sitting down – reduce delays by at least half. WOW. So why aren’t we making the switch?


Contraceptives will now be made available at the Massachusetts high school known for a reported “pregnancy pact” between 17 of its students. The Gloucester school board voted unanimously to make contraceptives available with parental consent; they’ll be distributed at the school health clinic.


He left his nine children, ages 1 to 17, at an Omaha hospital, reportedly under the state’s safe haven law. Now this man says he wants to see the kids he dumped at the hospital. His case is just one of the instances where parents have left their children at Nebraska hospitals under this new law. The problem? The law is intended to apply to infants – it lets parents leave the babies in a safe place, the hospital, without being charged for abanding their child. The one difference between this law and those on the books in other states: it doesn’t specify an age, so kids far beyond infancy are being left at hospitals. This man left NINE of his children.


More than 50 years later, a thief is making good, with a letter to the mayor and two $5 bills. A man who identified himself only as “Bill” says he stole a 35 cent toy car in 1943 or 1944. He’s hoping that by owning up to it now and paying for the car, he can clear his conscience. I love this story.

Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Mari in NW Indiana

    To Erica Hill...........please forward to her (you can post on blog also if you want to)....

    Erica..........your "costume" of AC and the way you played it off so cool was hysterical.........thanks for a good laugh – actually, a GREAT laugh!!!

    It would be nice if you got more air time.........you're an excellent reporter and you could help a lot of especialy the women in America understand what's going on and how it will affect their households. Some ony listen to Sarah Palin and that's it. If you had, say, a 15-20 minute call-in segment every night (or e-mail segment) where you answer questions from women across America, I think you'd do great!

    I wish CNN would allow you to do this......kind of an "Ask Erica Hill Show – for Women, by Women and answering the concerns of Women in America". You really would do great.

    October 10, 2008 at 7:00 pm |
  2. Valerie Meade

    It sounds like the system would pay for it self faster than the bailout and actually help the economy. Isn't travel and tourism an important percentage of our economy? Too bad they didn't sneak it into the bailout.

    I am also curious to learn more about the amount of radiation one recieves while on an airplane. On my last flight from Helsinki to Paris a Canadian Nuclear Power Plant regulator told me that one recieves as much radiation as if they had just had an x-ray on a typical 4 hour flight. He said there are laws requiring all workers – except for airline employees to wear ratiation absorbant shield patches – when exposed to that much radiation consistently. ????

    Loved the bit with the gray wig, great reporting with comedy, that is why I love AC360.


    Valerie Meade

    October 10, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  3. Jo Ann Schloe


    I only wish our politicians would come as clean as the guy that stole the toy car. Lessons learned here!!

    October 10, 2008 at 11:03 am |
  4. Michelle ,fonthill,ont, canada

    Hi Erica
    The story of flying the freindly skies makes me nervous.I hate the idea of being in the air longwer than you have to be.Flying is supposed to be convienant but this is crazy ,longer dealys and being up in the air longer it's bad enough to fly it's just nerve wracking for me fear of flying !

    October 10, 2008 at 9:42 am |
  5. Kim

    Those were cool stories but that wig was off the charts ! Oh my great day that was funny ! Thank-you for the stories and the laugh following election 08 !

    October 10, 2008 at 2:40 am |
  6. Sandy Francisco

    The "friends-sometimes-have-the-same-look" gag tonight left me doubled over, nearly rolling onto the floor of my media room. Very clever. Well-executed by Erica. Keep it up, AC 360.

    October 10, 2008 at 2:02 am |
  7. Alan

    Hello Erica,
    All we need to know is alittle honesty, not lies. The people need to know that McCain and Obama can only make empty promises because no one person can change the problems of our country. The politicians are bought and sold like cheap used cars with oil leaks. Maybe it's time for a new car!

    October 9, 2008 at 10:44 pm |
  8. Annie Kate


    You find the best stories. The one about the new system for air traffic is intriguing. I wish its implementation could get some priority since it would save us not only time and fuel costs, but probably lives as well.

    The man who left his 9 children at the hospital under the safe haven rule – I'm sure this was a terrible decision for him and that he did it (I hope) in the best interests of the children who he probably could not afford in this economic climate. We may see a lot more of this sort of thing before our economy recovers. If the main reason was economic to cause the man to leave his children at the hospital I hope social services would work with him after determining if he is a good father or not and help him get in the position to rear his children himself.

    Good for the man who confessed to lifting the toy car – glad to know that there are still people with consciences like this out in our society.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    October 9, 2008 at 9:21 pm |
  9. Rose From Calif

    Hi Ercia...hope you are
    having a good day.

    This man who left his nine kids, for one thing I thought that the safe haven law was for new born?
    Here in California it is, and why did he leave them there in the first place? Plus where is the mother?

    October 9, 2008 at 8:53 pm |
  10. Jennifer - Michigan

    Hi Erica,
    WOW, what a funny story about the man writing a letter to the Mayor for forgivness for a petty crime 50 yrs ago. Can you imagine carrying that guilt so long? Makes you wonder; how many nights did he lay there awake at night thinking about that incident? Hopefully, he can rest easy now that it has been addressed. Have a nice night, see you later.

    October 9, 2008 at 8:37 pm |
  11. Heather,Ca

    Hello Erica,

    Im not going to even bother commenting on the first story, you took my words.

    I actually commented on the second story about the family yesterday.

    I'm Jewish and there is nothing usually like Jewish guilt. If I even thought of stealing a toy much less anything else just knowing how my family would have reacted would have been punishment enough. To think this cute elderly gentleman went to the trouble after 50 years to write a letter explaining himself is just so nice. Sometime's it isnt the big stuff that eats at someone, its the small stuff that really affects a person so much so that that in this case he felt he had to write a letter.
    I think the money is totally not important. The simple act of taking the time to write a letter that has allowed him to have a clear head and no more guilt. He teaches all of us a good lesson,its not how much or how big you steal, the guilt you feel is the same and if you think you can forget, think again. He tried and 50 years was enough he had to come clean.

    October 9, 2008 at 8:26 pm |
  12. Don, WA

    That was a great story about the man who paid for the 1940's toy car – the story should be reqired reading for a lot of todays CEO's and former CEO's.

    October 9, 2008 at 8:12 pm |
  13. Lilibeth

    NextGen…sounds like a good deal to me. It costs $35 billion, but saves airlines $10 billion annually in fuel costs and pays for itself in seven years…so what are we waiting for? It’s always frustrating when technology like this is available, but inaction and lack of sense of urgency keep it from happening.

    That man in Kansas is to be commended for coming forward. The money will be put to good use. I hope he lets go of the guilt and feel good that a kid will have a new toy because of what he did.

    Take care,

    Edmonds, Washington

    October 9, 2008 at 8:07 pm |
  14. Clarence Albuquerque

    I hope the law would be specific about the visitation rights of parents who "abandon" their children.... What if the children don't want to see their father again.... are they protected?

    October 9, 2008 at 7:25 pm |