September 4th, 2009, by

The Associated Press released a photo Friday of Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, moments after he was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade on Aug. 14, in Afghanistan. Bernard later died from his wounds.

Some newspapers published the photo with the accompanying AP story, but the Los Angeles Times, Houston Chronicle, The New York Times and The Washington Post did not include the photo with the story.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has called the AP’s decision “appalling.”

But the AP defends its decision, saying that “journalists document world events every day. Afghanistan is no exception. We feel it is our journalistic duty to show the reality of the war there, however unpleasant and brutal that sometimes is.”

What do you think?

Was the AP wrong to publish the photo of a dying soldier? Was the news agency being insensitive to the soldier’s family?

Or does Secretary Gates have it wrong? Do the American people need to see the harsh realities of war? Are American papers too sanitized?

Share your thoughts.

August 26th, 2009, by

Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy lost his battle with brain cancer Tuesday. His Senate career spanned nearly 50 years, and he is credited with continuing a legacy begun by his brothers John and Robert.

The outpouring of messages from both Republicans and Democrats speaks to Kennedy’s negotiating skills and knack for bipartisan coalition-building—expertise that Republican Sen. John McCain said are missing on the current healthcare overhaul.

Watch Vice President Joe Biden’s heartfelt words about his friend and colleague, and share your thoughts on Kennedy’s life and legacy.


August 21st, 2009, by
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck Florida and the Gulf Coast, breached New Orleans’ levees in multiple locations and flooded 80% of the city. More than 1,800 people lost their lives in the hurricane and floods, and damage estimates hover around $80 billion, making it one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.

Four years later rebuilding continues.

1) On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the federal government’s latest pledge of $32 million to replace four buildings at New Orleans’ Southern University. The pledge is part of a larger pot of infrastructure funds that the Obama administration has set aside for Louisiana.

2) On Thursday, FEMA urged New Orleans residents, particularly those still living in temporary trailers, to prepare a family disaster plan for the current hurricane season.

(Yes, nearly 1,800 temporary trailers remain in Louisiana four years after Hurricane Katrina.)

3) On Thursday and Friday, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) held the House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity’s hearings on “access to and maintenance of quality housing in New Orleans four years after Hurricane Katrina.”

During the hearings, Waters said: “It is high time to get serious and get beyond just talking about doing something to help these people: four years after Hurricane Katrina we still have individuals living in trailers, seeking additional benefits, dispersed throughout the country in unfamiliar cities, and disconnected from their families, friends, and their hometown.”

Waters’ remarks and the government’s recent actions raise an important question: Have we done enough to help the Gulf Coast region and New Orleans rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina?

Share your thoughts with us below. Check out Tavis’ conversations with journalist Dan Baum, who chronicled New Orleans’ response to Hurricane Katrina for The New Yorker, and with Alden McDonald, the president of a New Orleans bank damaged by the storm. And visit our post-Katrina special feature page, “Right to Return.”

August 13th, 2009, by

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger thinks they should.

When California high school students return to school this month they will have access to free digital science and math textbooks that meet state standards as part of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Digital Textbooks Initiative.

Ten online textbooks meet state standards, and proponents say California school districts will save money by using the state-approved digital books. Critics say that switching to online textbooks will require additional training and resources. The plan is to expand the program to include all grades.

Are digital textbooks a step in the right direction? Share your thoughts.

August 8th, 2009, by

Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in as the U.S. Supreme Court’s 111th justice on Saturday. It’s the first time that the ceremony has been televised. Share your thoughts on the court’s first Latina and third woman justice.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

August 6th, 2009, by

The U.S. Supreme Court has its first Hispanic (and third woman) justice. In a 68-31 vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the lifetime appointment. She will be sworn in on Saturday, in a ceremony that will be televised for the first time in the court’s history.

Share your thoughts on Sotomayor’s confirmation below.

July 22nd, 2009, by

People are not digging his “mom jeans,” and polls show (see Washington Post-ABC News and USA Today-Gallup) that President Obama’s approval rating has slipped some, particularly when it comes to healthcare policy.

He addresses that issue in a primetime news conference Wednesday night calling on lawmakers to move quickly on overhauling healthcare even as hope fades that Congress will pass reform bills by the time it breaks for August recess.

But what do you think about President Obama’s work so far? How about his progress on healthcare policy? Is he doing a good job? Share your thoughts below.

July 21st, 2009, by

This is shaping up to be an interesting week around the universe.

The Moon, Sky, Mars and Google: President Obama marked the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing by vowing (with no specifics) to uphold NASA’s mission. Google, which is already being accused of trying to take over the Milky Way, marked the anniversary by adding the Moon to the destinations that users can explore on Google Earth (also see Sky and Mars).

Jupiter: An Australian amateur astronomer, who keeps his eye on Jupiter in his spare time, discovered an Earth-sized scar on the solar system’s largest planet. The last time scientists saw something like this on Jupiter was 15 years ago, when the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet hit the planet.

International Space Station: Astronauts on a 16-day mission aboard the space shuttle Endeavor are tweeting and answering questions posted on YouTube (with help from colleagues on Earth).

The Sun: And last but not least, Wednesday, Asia will experience the longest total solar eclipse expected this century. The eclipse is expected to last more than six minutes.

July 10th, 2009, by

Triple negative breast cancer recently claimed the life of longtime executive producer of The Tavis Smiley Show on Public Radio International—Sheryl Flowers. Flowers was 42.

But you’ve probably never heard of triple negative breast cancer. It is an aggressive form of breast cancer that is so named because the three receptors that successful breast cancer treatment targets—estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and  human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)—are not found in women with this breast cancer subtype.

If you want to learn more about triple negative and other types of breast cancer, check out these resources.

1) Watch tonight’s show (see clip below). Tavis devotes the entire show to a discussion of breast cancer. He talks to one of the leading authorities on cancer risk assessment, Dr. Olufunmilayo Olopade and breast cancer survivors Diahann Carroll and television writer Jessica Queller.

2) Visit the Web site for the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, which has set up a memorial fund in Flowers’ memory.

3) Learn more about the disease and find support at You can also get help detecting breast cancer by joining the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s early detection plan.

4) Also check out Tavis’ heartfelt video blog about his friend and colleague.

July 3rd, 2009, by

Are you firing up the grill? Watching a fireworks show? (Hopefully not producing your own fireworks show.) Loading up the family and going on a roadtrip?

Well, don’t forget to also have an eco-friendly holiday weekend. Check out the video below and these tips for adding some “green” to your red, white and blue. And share your “green” 4th of July tips with us.

And for your reading pleasure, be sure to honor the day by reading the full text of The Declaration of Independence. Be safe!

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