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September 3rd, 2008
05:36 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: Your view

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

A big THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to comment on yesterday’s News Note. This is a fiery, divisive, important topic and I appreciate you furthering the discussion. We’ll have more in the coming days on Sarah Palin, the so-called “work/life balance”, and whether these are fair questions to raise. Keep the comments coming!

We’ll carry Gov. Palin’s speech live tonight on CNN, part of the best convention coverage on TV – don’t miss it!
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One major goal for any politician is to prove he or she is in touch with the average American. Let’s go beyond the diner photo-ops and manufacturing plant visits – how about a check of the local news making headlines? I’m sure the stories below have people in the area talking.

A man described by his mother as “desperately mentally ill” is now in custody, accused of killing six people in Washington today. Among the victims, a sheriff’s deputy who tried to help the 28-year-old man and his family.
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FULL POST


Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
September 2nd, 2008
05:16 PM ET

Erica's News Note: The messy politics of parenting

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/02/art.palin.baby.jpg caption="This undated photo provided by the Heath family shows Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin with her daughter Piper in Wasilla, Alaska." width=292 height=320]

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

The McCain campaign is running on a simple motto, a seemingly simple concept: Country First. For John McCain, those words are more than a campaign slogan; they’re also the foundation for McCain’s personal journey. Just after returning from Vietnam, McCain wrote about his time as a POW. “I had a lot of time to think over there, and came to the conclusion that one of the most important things in life - along with a man’s family – is to make some contribution to his country.”

Country and family. For many Americans, if you add God to that list, you’d complete the list of things they hold most dear. But which of those very important parts of your life truly comes first? That is the uncomfortable question many voters are now posing, and there is no easy answer.

The life of a working mom has never been – and likely will never be – easy. Full disclosure: I am a working mother. I am also far from perfect.

This is not to say the life of a working father is easy; it’s not. But let’s be realistic, men and women deal with situations differently. We feel different pressures. Some are very real, others certainly seem that way. We also feel differently. No matter how far we have come, we are judged differently because we are different.

When Gov. Sarah Palin was announced as John McCain’s running mate on Friday, the reality of working moms and dads - their responsibilities, their loyalties, their daily struggles - was suddenly a hot topic… again. She’s not just a working mom; she is the working mother of five with a job that doesn’t come with many days or hours off. Her youngest, Trig, is still an infant. How do you juggle a baby and the #2 elected job in the US? That question has ignited the blogs, especially the Mommy blogs.
FULL POST


Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note • Sarah Palin
September 1st, 2008
06:14 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: On this Labor Day…

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

As we follow the situation along the Gulf Coast, it’s impossible not to think of the millions of flooding victims in India. I wrote about the devastating situation there last week; entire villages under water, thousands left homeless, and many more may still be stranded, weeks after the waters took everything away. The government now estimates three million people have been affected by the flooding in Bihar state, one of India’s poorest regions.  

This is the perfect opportunity to remind you of CNN’s Impact Your World  initiative. We’ve assembled an online portal of charity and aid organizations working to help people in crisis around the globe. CNN does not endorse any organization, but so many of you have asked us over the years how you can help, that we wanted to give you as many tools as possible to follow your heart and give back to those in need.

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Boston is jumping on the hybrid train – or cab, as the case may be. Mayor Thomas Menino says the city’s entire fleet will be hybrids in seven years. The folks who own and drive the cabs aren’t quite as enthusiastic.

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Mission Complete in Las Vegas… and a whole lotta Trekkies are not happy about it! Back in my TechTV days, we did a show from the Star Trek Experience in Sin City. What an experience it was! I was never an avid viewer; my knowledge of the show is fairly basic – a “Beam me up, Scotty!” here, a Vulcan salute there. Our time there was very cool and a bit eerie. The actors definitely did their job; the characters seemed a little too real.

Alas, soon they’ll hang up their costumes, close up shop, and hand the wedding duties back over to Elvis. It’s the end of an era, one that leaves even a non-fan (but not a hater!) a bit nostalgic.


Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
August 28th, 2008
03:09 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: The very bad and the very, very good

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

In four decades, just three public school districts in the US have lost their accreditation. The dubious honor of that number three spot now belongs to Georgia’s Clayton County.

During the five years I spent in Atlanta, I heard a lot about Atlanta public schools, much of it negative. Parents and teachers, however, were working extra hard to change that. The school district we lived in had a great elementary school; it would have been a fantastic place for my son to begin his education. Sadly, our neighbors in Clayton County can’t say the same.

FULL POST


Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
August 27th, 2008
02:59 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: Down & Up

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

Gustav has me worried. The storm may only be a topical depression as I type this, but the latest forecast has Gustav heading into the Gulf of Mexico this weekend as a Category 3 hurricane. Friday is the third anniversary of Katrina. Shell Oil is already evacuating some Gulf staff. I am a firm believer in “better safe than sorry," and I am not an alarmist…but I am a little worried. I’ll be keeping a close eye on Gustav and will stay tuned to the CNN Weather Center.

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One million people’s personal security now compromised for a mere $64. A computer loaded with account numbers, passwords, cell numbers and signatures of customers at Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and American Express was sold for that tiny sum, causing an enormous amount of concern. Wow. Seems a bit irresponsible, no?

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I don’t want to be Debbie Downer today, so how about a CNN Hero to end on a high note? Anne Mahlum runs most days at 5 a.m. – that’s an inspiration in itself! But she took that love of running and turned it into so much more.


Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
August 26th, 2008
03:56 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: Reduce, reuse, re-think

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

A tray seems like an essential part of the cafeteria equation. Even if all you’re grabbing is one plate, a drink and a fork, attempting to balance all of that – especially at the register – could easily turn into disaster. When you’re a natural klutz like moi, the chances of ending up on the floor with spaghetti in your hair are multiplied exponentially. Lucky for me, my days at the mess hall are pretty much over, having long said goodbye to the campus cafeteria.

For tens of thousands of students across the country, however, the challenge is just beginning. Luckily, it’s for a good cause. Getting rid of all those trays means less water – especially important in drought-plagued regions of the US. At the University of Florida, home to 50,000 students, the school expects to save 470,000 gallons of water a year. For the University of Maine at Farmington, which has just 2,000 students, the savings is some 288,000 gallons.
FULL POST


Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
August 25th, 2008
03:30 PM ET

Erica's News Note: The Other Stuff

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

We’re all focused on the conventions for the next couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean we’re blind to the other news happening in the world. Today’s offering is lighter fare to ease you into the last official week of summer. Enjoy!

A newborn boy – just hours old – is abandoned in near-freezing temperatures. The infant would have died if it weren’t for a quick-thinking mother who happened to be nearby. She somehow scooped the baby up and added him to her brood of six… six puppies, that is.

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A beauty pageant for nuns. No, that’s not a typo. It’s time for the Sisters to strut their stuff, and prove there’s more to these gals than a habit. Turns out, the world has some misconceptions about nuns, and one Italian priest is taking it upon himself to change them. Before you get ahead of yourself, the answer to the swimsuit question is “no.”

"We are not going to parade nuns in bathing suits," said the priest behind the pageant. "But being ugly is not a requirement for becoming a nun. External beauty is gift from God, and we mustn't hide it."

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It’s no Miss Sister 2008, but American Idol has plenty of pageantry… and now a new cast member. Admit it; it’s your guilty pleasure, too!

A fourth judge is being added to the mix this year. After seven seasons, the producers were ready to mix it up.  Seems like this could be judge overload…though maybe a less predictable assessment of each performance is just what we need. I wonder if she’ll be as honest as Simon?


Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
August 22nd, 2008
06:31 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: VP schmeep

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

This waiting game puts the CrackBerry addiction in an entirely new category. The most minor buzz from our BBs (sign of a new message) sends us all reeling; it’s getting to be a bit much. In fact, it’s a bit cruel. Just tell us already!

Also in the “getting to be a bit much category”: the growing list of non-terrorists on the terror watch list. From toddlers to retired attorney general to Drew Griffin to a veteran who could lose his job as a pilot because he’s on the list, when you hear the stories it makes you wonder how the list could work, when it seems to have so many members who don’t fit the bill.

How great would it be to recharge your BlackBerry/cell phone/laptop without plugging it in? Talk about making life easier on the road! Your phone is wireless, your internet connection, so why not your electricity?

This is a system I’d like to get in on. A Wisconsin couple won $1.4 million dollars using the same numbers on four separate lottery tickets. They bought each one in a different town, but all were for the same drawing. Clearly it paid off – or out, as the case may be. After taxes, they’re looking at $955,000. Not bad. How’d they do it? Not the luck o’ the Irish. Think fancy math and patents. For some reason I feel like the Lottery Commission may not be a huge fan…


Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
August 21st, 2008
05:42 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: Updates

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

YES! They got him.

Police arrested a man they say confessed to mugging an 85 year old woman in an elevator last week, though not before putting her in a choke-hold so he could grab her money. Cornelius Abson was out on parole. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said Abson has 11 prior arrests and has been convicted of similar crimes in the past. Nothing like preying on the elderly.

“A joke that got out of hand.” That’s how the two guys who paraded their photos of Bigfoot describe the recent hoax. They also tell CNN affiliate WSB that the hairy beast was more than a Sasquatch costume; it was a Sasquatch costume (bought online) stuffed with possum roadkill and slaughterhouse leftovers. Hmmm, I wonder why so few people are laughing.

Rick Dyer says everyone should have known it was a hoax from the beginning. "Well, we told 10 different stories," he said. "Everyone knew we were lying." That obvious lie has now cost the other man his police job, and the deceptive duo has hired a lawyer.

“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” And the USPS isn’t bluffing. Turns out, reporters aren’t the only ones braving Fay to do their jobs, postal carriers are slogging through their routes, too.


Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
August 20th, 2008
05:56 PM ET

Erica's News Note: Rude Awakening

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

Nothing like some shock and awe to get the day going.

Before my coffee even finished brewing, I was jolted awake, courtesy of this tidbit: more than 200,000 children were spanked or paddled in US schools last year. That’s according to a joint report from Human Rights Watch and the ACLU.

My initial reaction? “You’ve got to be kidding me! Who would PADDLE a kid, especially in this day and age, and in a school?!” I think my lower lip hit my chin.

I can’t remember ever seeing a paddle in any of the schools I attended. I don’t recall ever seeing a classmate spanked, either. I do remember my Dad’s horror stories of the French teacher who would grind her spiked heel into the foot of her students, and the ruler slaps on “Little House,” but I thought that was all in the past.

Corporal punishment in schools isn’t legal where I grew up, but in 21 states, it is. Wow.

Here are a few more stories that made my mouse stop in its tracks: FULL POST


Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
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