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May 13th, 2009
03:46 PM ET

Police Officer/Hero: Alvin Robinson

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This week, we've asked you to tell us about police officers you admire.

Well, Mr. Alvin Robinson, you've got a pretty big fan.

Bill Wilson left a comment on our blog about Officer Robinson, who serves with the Reading (PA) Police Department.

In addition to his regular duties, he does a lot of work to help kids. First in the "D.A.R.E." anti-drug program, and now in "G.R.E.A.T." - gang resistance, education, and training.

In Bill's words: "Officer Robinson is an exceptional public servant, both in and out of uniform."

We honor him as part of our special coverage of National Police Week.

Filed under: Kyra Phillips • Police Officer/Hero
May 13th, 2009
12:58 PM ET

"Please do not fire me."

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Dan Choi came out as gay in March. If he weren't a member of the U.S. military, it wouldn't have been a big deal. But he is, so IT is.

Here are some excerpts from his open letter to President Obama and members of Congress

Have a look, then tell us what you think:

I have learned many lessons in the ten years since I first raised my right hand at the United States Military Academy at West Point and committed to fighting for my country. The lessons of courage, integrity, honesty and selfless service are some of the most important.

At West Point, I recited the Cadet Prayer every Sunday. It taught us to “choose the harder right over the easier wrong” and to “never be content with a half truth when the whole can be won.” The Cadet Honor Code demanded truthfulness and honesty. It imposed a zero-tolerance policy against deception, or hiding behind comfort.

Following the Honor Code never bowed to comfortable timing or popularity. Honor and integrity are 24-hour values. That is why I refuse to lie about my identity.

I have personally served for a decade under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: an immoral law and policy that forces American soldiers to deceive and lie about their sexual orientation. Worse, it forces others to tolerate deception and lying. These values are completely opposed to anything I learned at West Point. Deception and lies poison a unit and cripple a fighting force.

As an infantry officer, an Iraq combat veteran and a West Point graduate with a degree in Arabic, I refuse to lie to my commanders. I refuse to lie to my peers. I refuse to lie to my subordinates. I demand honesty and courage from my soldiers. They should demand the same from me ...
The Department of the Army sent a letter discharging me on April 23rd. I will not lie to you; the letter is a slap in the face. It is a slap in the face to me. It is a slap in the face to my soldiers, peers and leaders who have demonstrated that an infantry unit can be professional enough to accept diversity, to accept capable leaders, to accept skilled soldiers.

My subordinates know I’m gay. They don’t care. They are professional.

Further, they are respectable infantrymen who work as a team. Many told me that they respect me even more because I trusted them enough to let them know the truth. Trust is the foundation of unit cohesion.

After I publicly announced that I am gay, I reported for training and led rifle marksmanship. I ordered hundreds of soldiers to fire live rounds and qualify on their weapons. I qualified on my own weapon. I showered after training and slept in an open bay with 40 other infantrymen. I cannot understand the claim that I “negatively affected good order and discipline in the New York Army National Guard.” I refuse to accept this statement as true.

Please do not wait to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Please do not fire me.

Very Respectfully,
Daniel W. Choi
New York Army National Guard

Filed under: Kyra Phillips
May 13th, 2009
12:23 PM ET

FDA vs. Cheerios

General Mills calls it a language issue, but the Food and Drug Administration says Cheerios is an unapproved drug. Why? Well, Cheerios claims on its box that it can cut cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease. The FDA says, wait one minute, only drugs it approves can make that claim. As a consumer, all that matters is whether or not it works.

Is the FDA making a mountain out of a molehill on this issue or do they have a point? What do you think?

Post your comments below

Filed under: Heidi Collins
May 13th, 2009
09:51 AM ET

We Control the Chaos

By Roger Strauss
Director, “CNN Newsroom with Tony Harris”

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Roger Strauss, Director, CNN Newsroom with Tony Harris."] It’s 10:59AM. There is one minute until the show starts. During the next two hours, we are scheduled to bring you 24 live shots.

Right now, none of them are ready, and three of them run in the first five minutes of the show. There are now thirty seconds until we start. I look down my line of monitors and see this: an empty shot from the White House lawn where there should be a correspondent, color bars where I should see a reporter in Afghanistan, and an empty chair in New York where a guest is supposed to be. Am I about to experience a TV director’s worst nightmare? No, I’ve had much worse.

One of the goals of “CNN Newsroom with Tony Harris” is to bring you as many live reporters, guests and events as possible while Tony is in the anchor chair.

We average around 25 live hits in the two-hour show. Once commercial time is taken into consideration, we have about 88 minutes of air time to fill. If you do the math, that’s a live shot every 3.5 minutes. It’s a lot of stuff to keep track of and in the controlled chaos that we call live television, we usually get it right. When we don’t, it winds up on a blooper reel or on YouTube!

When we get it right, how do you like the show? Leave your comments—we read them all. This is your chance to talk directly to the show’s director. (Directly to a director, get it?) Believe me, you will never get a chance like this at any other network!

So what became of the show where nobody was ready just before we started? Did it become the latest viral video on YouTube? The White House reporter walked into her shot. The color bars from Afghanistan dropped and there was our correspondent. The New York guest sat down in her chair just before we rolled our open. No worries, no problems.

But wait, we’ve got breaking news and we have to go to it. That means a new set of worries and a new set of problems. All in a day’s work in the CNN Newsroom.

Filed under: Tony Harris
May 13th, 2009
09:07 AM ET

Rx: Social Security

 Almost everyone can agree the system needs to be fixed.  What do you think is the best way? 

* Increase payroll taxes

* Reduce benefits

* Allow private savings accounts

* Raise the retirement age

* Base benefits on income

* Base benefits on inflation

Filed under: Nicole Lapin • Tony Harris