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August 17th, 2009
10:28 PM ET

Hamdi: The BackStory

Team Kyra's launching a new weekly segment, in conjunction with our friends at CNN International. Every Friday, the anchor of CNNI's BackStory, Michael Holmes, will join Kyra with his pick of the week's "BS" pieces. (I swear... that's THEIR abbreviation for the show, not mine!) The show's mission: to show you some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into CNN's reporting.

We've kicked things off with a special BackStory segment, on a special day, about a special guy.

Meet Hamdi: one minute, a CNN Baghdad security consultant... the next, a stranger in a strange land. He's just moved to the States with his family after gaining refugee status.



If you want to watch the full piece BackStory ran on Hamdi's journey, you can find it here. And as Kyra said - keep an eye out for Hamdi's :30 Pitch - we hope to make it happen this Thursday!


August 17th, 2009
10:04 PM ET

Doctor shops for health insurance

When we heard about Dr. Will Nicholson's experiment, we knew we wanted to bring you his story.

He's wading through the maze of health insurance options out there in an effort to find coverage for himself and to be better able to help his own patients get insurance.

Watch Kyra's interview with him updating his search.

August 17th, 2009
06:53 PM ET

A Veteran's Take On Pres. Obama's VFW Speech

"It’s simple enough. Cut the waste. Save taxpayer dollars. Support the troops."

Those sentiments drew hearty applause from the crowd, when President Obama addressed the VFW's national convention today in Phoenix. But Mr. Obama's comments on some other topics - apparently earning just "polite" claps. After he wrapped up, Kyra brought in veterans advocate Steve Robinson for some reaction.



August 17th, 2009
02:05 PM ET

"Your Uncle Charles is Dead."

From CNN Senior Producer Annika Young:

Ten. That's how many stab wounds my uncle had in his chest. He was killed January 18, 2008. He died being the kind of man we knew him to be, a hero. His three sisters and five nieces were heartbroken but not surprised to learn he died trying to stop a man from beating his girlfriend. That was Charles.

I'll always remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard my grandmother's voice on the other end of the phone.

"Your Uncle Charles is dead."

I had the impossible task of breaking the news to my mother and sister. Nothing in the human experience prepares you for the trauma of losing a loved one suddenly and violently. It's a pain that paralyzes the body in such a unique way. It's hard to breathe.

The confusion of what you're hearing and what you're feeling are competing for control. It's physically unbearable.

We live with the uncertainty of life every day, but most of us expect to kiss, hug and talk to our loved ones just one more day than the one before. Never mind the fact that tomorrow isn't guaranteed. It's just how we think.

Ronald and Annette Nance-Holt, Kermit DeLashment Sr. and Michele DeLashment, Tommie and Pamela Bosley, and Maria Ramirez will never get to see their sons get married, have children, raise families, or accomplish the impossible because the unthinkable happened. Their sons were murdered.

None of them were the intended targets of an assassin's bullet. They were caught in the crossfire.

Don Lemon and I recently went to Chicago to report on this heartbreaking story. I met the parents of teenagers killed by gun violence. I sat in a corner, quietly listening with my notebook in lap, like always. Five minutes into "roll tape" I realized I didn't need a notebook. I remember ever story, ever tear, every emotion.

I watched mothers and fathers relive the phone call, the "little room" where chaplains are posted and doctors are delivering news no parent ever wants to hear. "I'm sorry. Your son has passed away."

Before my emotions could recover from what I'd experienced listening to grieving parents, we got word a 15-year-old girl was shot in a drive-by. Our cameras were barely powered down from an interview with a Chicago city official, a man charged with coming up with solutions to an out-of-control problem.

"Where in the hell am I?" I asked myself. Really, what hell on Earth can I file this under? When did a major U.S. city turn into a war zone? Why are children being cut down in rapid succession? Why is this the norm? Where are the guns coming from? Why have more than 260 people been shot dead this year alone in Chicago? Who dropped the ball? Why is life so meaningless to the very generation we hoped would help us preserve it?

I'm not naïve. I know shootings happen Everywhere, USA. But I'll start in Chicago, where no place is sacred, where people can be gunned down outside a church. We'll start where local basketball star, Kermit DeLashment Jr., made front-page news. Not for his jump shot, but for being the city of Chicago's 500th murder in 2008. We have to start there.

Too many cowards shoot and run, some never face justice, all of them need rehabilitating. I believe firmly that if you can change a mind, you can change the man. My hope is that by exposing the dark reality in Chicago and cities like it, we can shine a light on the underbelly of society, forcing them out of hiding.

I hope to implore parents to parent, for community leaders to lead, for brothers to be keepers. It's a lot of work but I think we can do it…one story at a time.

Editor Note: iReport Assignment
What's behind the gangs, shootings and murders in Chicago? As violence continues to spiral out of control, we want to hear your stories.

Have you been a victim of crime in Chicago? Do you have a solution?

Share your stories, pictures and video and they could be featured on a CNN Special Report. Don Lemon takes us to the heart of the problem - "Chicago's Deadly Streets" on Saturday, August 22, at 10 p.m.

Filed under: Chicago's Deadly Streets • Don Lemon
August 17th, 2009
01:39 PM ET

Health Care Reform: Sticking Points, Rumors & Race

CNN's Don Lemon tackles the health care reform debate in depth: First, discussing the most contentious issues with two congressmen from both parties; next, dispelling some rumors and clarifying some key points with a guest from; and finally, analyzing whether race is a hidden part of the agenda in some of the more vocal opposition to the president's initiative.

Filed under: Don Lemon
August 17th, 2009
08:00 AM ET

Is the Stimulus Working?

The Obama administration’s economic stimulus plan is turning 6-months-old.

There’s good news out there: The S & P 500 is up 50% since March. Americans lost fewer jobs last month than analysts expected.

But consumer spending is weak and the overall unemployment rate is still high.

Our question for you: Do you think the stimulus is working?

Post your comments here.

Filed under: Heidi Collins