May 6, 2005 | 7:04 p.m. ET

Happy mom's day (Connected Staff)

It's mother's day weekend and the 'Connected' staff would like to remind you to greet your moms, and the mother of your children (if you have any).

Below, are some messages to our moms:

One of the things that makes my mom so special is that she is my friend. Without even realizing it, I find myself calling her to tell her things that only a good friend would care about.  She is my rock, and a role model of the kind of person I aim to be; patient, kind and loving.  Happy Mother's Day to her, and all the other wonderful moms out there!
--Sarah Danik, Production Assistant

My mother is the funniest person I know.  I think the most important lesson she taught me was to laugh at myself.  It's my greatest defense and always will be.
--Tony Maciulis, Senior Producer

Mom....thanks for the fried corn and mac & cheese... Happy mother's day!
--Stefanie Cargill, Senior Producer

I remember my mother gave me a memorable piece of advice when I was a little kid . 
Somehow the topic of choking came up, and I remember my mother enforcing one simple rule ... that still managed to confuse me. I nodded, and as she walked away, confident that she had just saved her child from death at the hands of Jif or Skippy, it dawned on me.

"You mean..." I began, still trying to take it in, "... you mean, alone like alone by MYSELF ... or alone, like, alone by ITSELF ... straight out of the jar?"

I could almost see the scenario playing through her head as she came up with answer.
The police outlining my corpse with chalk ... a peanut butter jar and spoon lying by my cold dead hand.

"What happened here?" The detecive asks. "Was it a case of him eating the peanut butter alone, all by himself ... or alone, straight out of the jar?"

"I'm afraid it's a worst case scenario," an officer answers ... "both."

"Good God.  Didn't his mother ever tell him ...?"

"Neither," my Mom snapped out of the daze. "Neither ... never eat it alone either way."

So while I may not be able to make it home this year for Mother's Day, I'll be sure to eat a peanut butter sandwich ... WITH jelly ... in a room full of people ... just for you, Mom.
--Pete Breen, Producer

My mom is coolest. We talk about everything, especially boys and fashion. We were the original Gilmore Girls even before they existed. She's pretty and pretty hot (and I know she'll just love me more for saying that). Happy Mother's Day mom!
--Jesamyn Go, Web Producer

The most useful thing my mom ever taught me was to always speak my mind, be independent, and never hide my true feelings.  And most importantly...when in doubt, scream like a cross between a chihuahua and pterodactyl.  
--Michelle Protzmann-Tejada, Tape Producer

As a single, working mom raising two kids, I'm still not sure how you pulled it off. You kept your cool when I cut my hair, pierced my eyebrow, and came-back from junior-year abroad wearing all-black. You're strength, determination and grace wrapped up in a one fabulous package. Love the hair, love the shoes, love you.
--Kara Kearns, Segment Producer

It's funny how Mother's Day takes on a whole new meaning when you have kids of your own.  (And not just because of those priceless macaroni and construction paper cards).  Having children makes you appreciate your own mom all the more.

And my mom, Frances Reid, is amazing. Four children in five years. And not one of us in prison. Yet.  

So every day, I try to remember her advice. "You'll never know until you try."  

And I keep trying. Trying to be as good a mom to my boys Zach and Jeremy— as she has been to me.

Happy Mother's Day to moms everywhere!   
--Sharon Newman, Executive Producer

Citizen Journalists share the best advice their moms gave them. Click here to read some of the e-mails they sent us .

May 6, 2005 | 6:28 p.m. ET

Creationism and vacating the Age of Reason (Ron Reagan)

The state of Kansas is poised to vacate the Age of Reason. If all goes according to brain-addled plan, the Kansas school board will soon vote to water down the state’s public school science curriculum, minimizing Darwinian evolution and giving credence to a half-baked, non-scientific notion variously called “creationism” or “intelligent design.”

Video: Evolution debate We dealt with the issue recently on our show and I got a little steamed, as I’m prone to do when faced with shameless lies told at the expense of innocent children. Evolution, of course, has mountains of evidence on its side—the fossil record; genetics; observations of rapidly mutating species in nature in the lab, as well as some compelling new computer models. I challenged our creationist guest to provide similar evidence for his point of view. He couldn’t... because there isn’t any. But it got me thinking: education that ignores the facts could be a lot more fun.

For instance, generations of school kids have been taught that George Washington and his troops defeated the British after crossing the Delaware River in wooden rowboats. Plenty of scholarship backs that up. But we don’t have any of the actual boats, do we? Who’s to say that Washington didn’t ditch the watercraft and instead cross the river on the backs of specially trained dinosaurs?  No evidence for that - but in Kansas, we don’t need no stinkin’ evidence.

How about math? The diameter of a circle equals twice the radius? Nah, in my new new math, the diameter of a circle equals time to order out for pizza. Doesn’t sound like mathematical science to you? Yeah... and what’s your point?

All that’s necessary for ignorance to triumph is that people who know better step aside and get out of its way. We might want to consider that as we sit back twiddling our thumbs and playing politics while Kansas spirals into the Dark Ages, dragging its unwitting children with it.

Here were your e-mails about the segment when it aired on 'Connected' earlier this week.

E-mail RReagan@MSNBC.com

May 6, 2005 | 5:36 p.m. ET

Chaste away?

Video: Was Jennifer Wilbanks chaste away? There's some new insight into why Jennifer Wilbanks became the runaway bride. People magazine is reporting that part of the reason Wilbanks fled may have been due to— well—sexual frustration. The magazine claims husband-to-be John Mason became a born-again virgin, giving up premarital sex, after pledging himself to his Baptist faith.

Friends say that may have led Wilbanks to flee from the altar. And while their wedding is still up in the air, mason’s pledge to save himself for the right woman sounds like a throwback to a different era.

Your e-mails

You've got to be kidding me. The greatest mistake I ever made was not having intimate relations with the one woman I married - Even as a dedicated believer I would NEVER do it again! Try before you buy! It was the worst mistake I ever made.
--David Lawrencee, Columbus, Ga.

It's interesting to listen to a women talk like a horney 20-year-old young man and a man talk like a sexually educated female, I'm curious if Chelsea found true love in her horizontal lifestyle? I truely think she needs to see Dr. Kerner professionally.
--Tammye, Amity, Pa.

I think that sex before marriage is wrong according to the Bible. But everyone has a choice in life. Sex is not everything in a marriage. If you and your spouse are both virgins then you can work on what feels good to you  both and there isn't anyone to compare each other to. Men always get a pat on the back for how many, and women usually get a bad name.
--TJ, Anonymous

I think waiting until marriage to have sex is important; sex IS very intimate and it will only help the marriage if the couple waits. Sex can be beautiful and pleasurable for both people and you do NOT have to "try it out" before marriage to have a successful, loving and passionate sexual life.
--Ashley Bergman

Dude. Their wedding was in 5 days. 5 days. She'd have to wait almost a week to have sex, so she hopped a bus to Vegas? How does this story even make enough sense to dignify with a discussion?
--Roger, White Plains, N.Y.

I just finished my first year of college and the pressure to have sex is very high.  I have chosen not to have sex until I get married.  I know that it is everyone's personal choice, but I find Chelsea's comments very offensive and degrading for women and also find her rather unintelligent.  Thanks, Monica for stumping her with the "getting the cow for free" comment.
--Anonymous

May 6, 2005 | 12:45 p.m. ET

The Kingdom of Heaven controversy (Monica Crowley)

Ridley Scott's “Kingdom of Heaven” is an epic saga detailing the Muslim and Christian war for Medieval Jerusalem.

But considering the uneasy times we live in today— this movie has been drawing comparisons to some present-day religious and cultural tensions.

It seems like an uneasy choice. A big-screen battle between Christians and Muslims, packaged for movie-goers living in a post-9/11 world. It's a time when even the word “crusade” can inflame passion. There was uproar, when early on, President Bush used the word to describe the U.S. campaign against al-Qaeda. There was sharp criticism from Arab-Americans who contended that the president was evoking images of a religious war against all Muslims. The president later apologized. 

So when production started on “Kingdom of Heaven,” director Ridley Scott was said to have carefully considered the consequences of the subject. Scott says he consulted Muslim scholars—to help him create an accurate portrait of the 12th century war for Jerusalem. But the American-Arab anti-discrimination league calls it an accurate portrayal of Muslim warriors.

Approval from this and other organizations has so far  spared “Kingdom of Heaven” the kind of controversy that surrounded “The Passion of the Christ” and its alleged anti-semetic overtones. Yet there are those who say this film goes too far, actually trading accuracy for extreme political correctness.

Cambridge university professor Jonathan Riley-Smith says as a result, the movie ends up demonizing Christians, putting Muslims on a pedestal.

He says: "It's Osama bin Laden's version of history."

Your e-mails

Why are we so hung up on how HISTORY is portrayed in a movie?  It's HISTORY and it can't be changed.  We should really worry about ourselves if we are so concerned about hurting people's feelings that we try to alter the sequence of events that lead us to where we are now.  We are all products of our past, and we have all evolved from something.  Rather than trying to sugar coat history to make it more acceptable to us now, we should applaud our ability, as intelligent human beings, to learn from the past and evolve from the medieval ways of those who came before.  Get over it America!  Worry about something more important!
--Suzanne, Bohemia, N.Y.

I think that worrying about whether "The Kingdom of Heaven" is accurate is an exercise in futility.  No one knows the whole truth about what happened that long ago and people who claim to be experts are fools.  The best information we have are partial records written by people who put their own slant on events when records were written.
--Lelia Benson, Red Bluff, Calif.

Seeing your discussion of the film The Kingdom of Heaven it's obvious that it is presented through the usual European and Western prism.  Apparently the Latinization of Orthodox Christian Jerusalem is totally ignored in this film.  I think that I'll pass on this film.
--Mark, Lackawaxen, Pa.

I understand that this movie was made with the intention of showing Christian and Muslim in the light of history and truth, let the truth be heard, good or bad.
As an American Arab, I am just wanting to see truth in film regarding Arabs. I can't see how the truth can harm anyone without a personal agenda.
--Dana, San Diego Calif.

Once again the entertainment industry has shown its cultural illiteracy and Christians of the religous right, have shown their religious intolerance (they are intolerant group of people normally).  During the Crusades, the Christians were the aggressors.  Under the Muslim realm, the people (Jews, Christians and Muslims) of Jerusalem had religious freedom and western Christians just couldn't stand the fact that non-Christians were in dominion of the Holy Land.  The Quran tells us that if you believe in God, it does not matter if you are Muslim, Christian or Jews, you will know no sorror or grief.  I as a intelligent Christian, embrace this concept.  We all are Abraham's children and let us just get along.
--Donna A. Reuter, Bremerton, Wash.

May 5, 2005 | 5:46 p.m. ET

Reefer madness?

When you think of the drugs that are a serious threat to our country, you probably think of heroine, crack or crystal meth. But when it comes to who's getting busted for drug use these days— marijuana arrests are apparently topping them all.

A Washington D.C.-based think tank the “Sentencing Project”  has been studying FBI drug arrest data. The group found what some might call some pretty lopsided priorities.

Heroin and cocaine cases went from 55 percent of all arrests in 1992 to just 30 percent of all arrests today.

But here's what caught our attention: marijuana arrests rose from 28 percent in 1992 to 45 percent today.

And here's another statistic to consider: The U.S. spends 35 billion every year on the war on drugs. Four billion of that is spent on arresting and prosecuting marijuana crime.

Your e-mails

I have used marijuana for many years. I have many friends my age that also use it.  We're in our 50's and have never needed anything else.  I have no desire to use even alchohol.  True, it's not good for kids but neither is alchohol.  More kids get killed from drinking and driving.  Check the stats.  Treat it like alchohol and only allow adults to consume it.
--Rob Gonzalez, San Antonio, Texas

As a recovering opiate addict, I 100 percent agree with Ron.  I'm lucky to be alive today. And through tons of rehab and education on Narcotics, most knowledgeable drug counselors will tell you that Marijuana is not a gateway drug.  If alcohol and tobacco are legal then so should be pot.  You should compare the number of drunk driving and lung cancer deaths to the number of deaths due to too much pot smoking.  I'm sure you'd be stunned to see the lopsided results.
--Jeff, Phoenix, Ariz.

...we have nearly a million of our citizens in prison for drug offenses. Housed with murderer and rapists for doing nothing more than smoking pot...its a travesty. At $40 Billion a year, I know we can find something better to do with our money.  Remember: There has never been a death attributed solely to the use of marijuana. Start taking alcohol off the market and tens of thousands of people will not have to die on our highways and streets from drunk drivers.
--Joel G., Las Vegas, Nev.

Marijuana is not near the “gateway drug” that alcohol is. Statistics will bare that out if you had ever actually checked the statistics. Alcohol is much more destructive and harmful than marijuana has ever been. Any drug counselor, that actually deals with drugs on a daily basis, will tell you the exact same thing.
--Larry Parker

May 5, 2005 | 1:03 p.m. ET

What you wish the Runaway Bride would say...

I really should have talked to my family. I am sorry for all the people I have hurt and will face all charges that are put on to me.
--Joe Lenz, Sunset Beach, N.C.

I accept full responsibility for my actions and the consequences that may occur.
--Anonymous, Clovis, Calif.

I am so confused!  Like many Americans I chose the easy path that I thought could take care of my fear. How wrong I was. I should have faced fear and not hurt the people I love the most!
--Dave Wyssmann, Overland Park, Ky.

Please forgive me.  I got into something that I could not handle, and the pressure became to much.  I found no way out. I am weak and sometimes put in situations that I cannot handle.
Again, please forgive me.
--Wayne Wallace, Merced, Calif.

I'm sorry. What can I do to re-pay the community? I will leave it to the courts. Thank you, good bye.
--Hector Acuna, Phoenix Arizona

The organizers of the National Prayer Day seem to reflect the attitudes of the  religious right who want prayer back in school but specifically they want Christian prayer. What they don't understand is that all major religions teach the same things about love and peace and treating others.  What does the word 'National' mean?
--Rob Gonzalez, San Antonio, Tex.

She should also apologise for not taking her finance to Vegas, and not getting married there. And she should especially apologize to the media, and Bush for taking their concentration
off far more important things, such as Iraqnam.  The Georgia legislature should pass the Wilbanks Proclamation, not allowing her to get married in the state of Georgia, and the CIA should interrogate her, for possble involveement in world terror plots. The American Puppets will not tolerate such brazen mis-representation of the sanctity of marriage, as shown by this horrific violation, called "Cold Feet",  that should be the name of a rock band.
--Anonymous

Before it was evident that I simply ran out on my upcoming marriage, my family offered $100,000 for my safe return. My family has decided to give that portion of money to the organizations involved in my search and my return. In addition, I humbly offer 100 hours of my personal time as a community services voluteer. I am remorseful for my actions, and i need to make my friends, family and community aware of it. Sniff Sniff.
--Bill, Spring City, Pa.

I apologize to my family, friends and the city of Deluth, Ga. for being inconsiderate and only thinking about myself when I ran away. I realize I can never fully pay back the time and money spent searching for me much less take back the days that my family, friends and fellow citizens spent looking for me. Nonetheless, I would like to volunteer to do some type of community service to show my appreciation and try to make retribution to the police and my fellow citizens. I need to reach out to the city of Deluth as they reached out to me.
--Shirley Jackson, Dublin, Ohio

May 5, 2005 | 12:10 p.m. ET

Prayer day diversity

Today marks the 53rd annual “National Day of Prayer.”

The day was established as an annual event in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. And this morning, President Bush used the occasion to discuss the importance of prayer.

While the president took pains to include multiple faiths in his comments—people who organize the National Day of prayer don't seem to be as accommodating. On the official website for the “National Day of Prayer,” organizers say their expression of the day is specifically limited to Judeo-Christians.

The site goes on to say:  “National Day of Prayer is not a function of the government and, therefore, a particular expression of it can be defined by those who choose to organize it.”

Your e-mails

This is a perfect example of why the separation of church and state is so important in this country.  The exclusion of many faithful on this day is disturbing because there is a deliberate and mean spirited attitude toward all people other than Judeo/Christians.  The one true GOD?  The fanatics of this world come from all faiths, like the ones who flew planes into the World Trade Center.
--Rae Ann Turcer, Fremont, Calif.

I recently have had two friends become "born again." And just like the pastor from Kansas, their arrogance affiliated with their beliefs offend me.  All Americans should be welcome on this day.  Even those who don't believe in Christ as the savior like Ron and me.  By the way, today is my 35th birthday.  It's a true sign that I'm getting old, when I'm not out celebrating Cinco De Mayo. 
--Jeff, Phoenix, Ariz.

I'm disheartened to hear you wasting air time on the topic of "National Prayer Day," a day that ought never to have been installed and will never be able to be ereased.  Practical thinking pragmatic citizens are well aware that "praying " is a simplistic form of pagan "wishing."  Done by people that can't achieve their goals and wish that some magic entity in the sky will get it done for them. I hate to stop here, but I must go place a tooth under my pillow...
--Bob Schmitz, Belleview, Fla.

Then why not call National Prayer day, National Jesus Day?
--Joe

May 4, 2005 | 6:18 p.m. ET

Long overdue (Monica Crowley)

MSNBC TV
Back in February, 1981, Joel Schlesinger was thinking about taking a camping trip. Wanting the most enjoyable camping experience possible, Joel decided to do a bit of research.  So, he headed to the Orchard Park Public Library in Western New Work and, after perusing the sundry titles, settled on “The Joy of Camping.”  He checked it out, took it home, flipped through it, then went on his trip.

That was 24 years ago. Until last week, he still had the book.

Now that's really overdue!

Back in 1981, the fine for an overdue book was 10 cents per day, times 7 days a week, to a maximum of $10.

The fine has since increased to a whopping 25 cents per day to a maximum of fifteen dollars. Then Joel stumbled upon the book in his attic, he called the library to see what the fine was. When told that it was only $15 bucks, he told the librarian, “I'd like to pay for the whole thing,” meaning the entire 24 years it was overdue. The librarian was understandably shocked. “When I got off the phone,” she said, “I said, I don't know if this was a crank call or not. I didn't know if he was for real.”

Oh, he was for real all right. He went back to the library, returned “The Joy of Camping,” and gave them a check for $2,190. Joel Schlesinger could have just kept the book, returned it anonymously, or paid the 15 bucks and called it day. Instead, he went above and beyond what was right.  And in the process, he helped a community, showed us what real character is— and oh, yeah— put “The Joy of Camping” back on the shelves for the rest of us to enjoy.

MCrowley@MSNBC.com

May 4, 2005 | 5:33 p.m. ET

Reality bites

Remember, back in the 50s? Television was rocked by a series of scandals involving popular quiz shows.  The most notorious involved the show “21.”

Contestant Charles Van Doren became a household name with a lengthy winning streak—even appearing on the cover of “Time” magazine. Turns out that streak was fixed— producers were feeding him the correct  answers. 

Van Doren was probably the best known cheat.

But in a series of Congressional hearings— other quiz show cheaters were uncovered. As a result, Congress amended the Communications act in 1960.  Now it's illegal to fix the outcomes of any televised contests of skill or knowledge.

ABDUL
Fox
Paula Abdul
Fast forward to today: where Reality TV dominates the ratings. But just how real is it? Consider this:  “Joe Millionaire” took a hit when it was discovered two of the show's finalists were professional actresses.  On “Survivor,” body doubles are often used to reshoot some scenes. That revelation coming after a former contestant's 1991 lawsuit claimed the show's outcome was rigged.

And now “American Idol.” A former contestant was apparently coached by one of the judges, among other things .

But should we care about reality TV? Viewer Scott Capodice from Hampton, Va. points out that as much fluff as we have in entertainment, news is no different. He writes, "There are so many things that are so much more important that these stories should take the backseat to. I agree with your one guest that said we should still be talking about the press conference and what is going on in Congress with that."

Here are more of your e-mails below:

Monica - I think you hit the nail on the head. We frequently discuss Idol at work and everyone seems to think it's fixed - but we all keep watching it.  As long as everyone knows it's fake then no harm done.
--Gary, Zohar

The very basis of democracy is an informed public.  When journalists feed entertainment, they are failing their public and their country.  Remember, there are two serious journalists from the N.Y. Times and  Time Magazine about to go to jail for protecting their sources. Why aren't you covering that?  Not sexy enough?
--MLP, Tiskilwa, Ill.

Unfortunately, there are many psychiatrists on  news shows advising TV viewers not to watch more than an hour of TV news a day, saying it will depress them to watch more. Perhaps that is why people watch "reality" (and I use the term loosely) TV shows like Idol.
--Betsy, N.Y.

Reality TV isn't really 'reality.' Its still staged in a sense. You want reality, go to starving country and sit your behind on a street corner. Then maybe you'll be enlightened (and sickened) as to what reality is.
--Zohar, Savannah, Ga.

Finally someone said it. I'm so tired of the junk food diet of so called "news". I feel so much of my time is wasted listening to stories that are of little to no importance in the grand scheme of things. Leave this garbage to the entertainment shows. When I watch the "news" I want to get information that effects me and my family, my country or the world. The "news" is not the place for this frivolous trivia.
--Sher Grotts, Colton, Calif.

May 4, 2005 | 3:30 p.m. ET

Weird science? (Ron Reagan)

The fight to teach evolution is back in the courtroom. On Thursday, the Kansas board of education begins three days of hearings to clarify just what children should be taught about the origins of life. 

On one side, science and education groups advocating scientifically-backed, Darwinian  evolution. And on the other, an organization that argues Earth was created through intentional, intelligent design... not through the evolution of organisms via natural selection.

They contend that things like DNA are best attributed to an “intelligent” creator, because they are simply too complicated to have occurred naturally. They say it's important to give students a choice.

But the scientific community is virtually unanimous in supporting  evolution as solidly based in reason and evidence. Intelligent design and creationism, they say, are unscientific notions that belong in a religion class.

It was a heated debate on air, and we received a lot of e-mails from you:

The debate between the adherents of creationism and evolution is comical to me. Those who advocate creationism unfortunately read scripture literally and refuse to see that God's word is often written in hidden and allegorical ways.  One should plumb scripture for theological truth, not necessarily for empirically scientific fact. Evolution on the other hand , is the best we have right now--it demonstrates how the creator carried out and sustains creation. Why do creationists reject such a marvelous unfolding of God's plan?
--Fred Chavez, La Mesa Calif.

Any teachings of human existance in local school systems, other than evolution, is purely religous brain washing of children. Radical right wing Christan leaders have no right to cram their ideas down the throats of children in public  school paid for with tax dollars of non-Christans. 
--Robert Allen, Lewis Center Ohio

Your evolution/creationism program generated the normal amount of heat and reached the standard conclusion because the religious right doesn't understand the difference between "testability/falsifiability" and a "leap of faith."   As a retired practicing scientist and a professing Christian I fear for the future of good science if creationism or the more devious "intelligent design" ideas become not only widely taught, but also even acknowledged in passing, in the public schools. If the deviousness of the Republican Congressional right = Christian far right = George Bush/Karl Rove = the "because I say it is so, it must be so" attitude is/are successful in getting the scientifically deviant creationist ideas into public schools, "scientists" of the future will be ruined because they will have never learned what good science really is.
--Robert Sauer, (Ph.D. Organic Chemistry, Univ. of Illinois, 1962), Granville, Ohio

I do have one question of the pastor who is your guest.  Would he be willing to let evolution be taught as a viable explanation of creation in his church's Sunday school?  I doubt it.  Why not? Because Sunday school is not the appropriate venue for science.  Likewise, schools are not an appropriate venue for religion.
--Michelle Duncan, OKC, Okla.

A theory is not simply an idea, an educated guess. In order for a theory to BE a bonafide theory, there has to be scientific evidence to give it weight. There is data and scientific evidence to support the theory of evolution. Creationism, or intelligent design, is an IDEA based on hopeful theology, rather than a theory based on scientific evidence. If our schools are going to teach creationism (and misrepresent it as a scientific theory) then they should also teach Hindu creationism, Native American creationism, Voodoo, Buddhist, Babylonian, Egyptian, Shinto, Hebrew, etc. Pink flying horses, elephants and great turtles carrying the universe, serpents in the Garden of Eden. If we teach one, we should teach them all.  
--Jacki Gansch, Columbus, Ohio

The difference between real science and creationism is the word "BELIEVE." Creationism is a belief; science is what is known.
--Bev Kendall, Port Clinton, Ohio

I think that Ron needs to let people speak their minds and make their points instead of "trying" to refute their ideas. (i.e. the evolution discussion; pastor) We live in a world that constantly attempts to get farther and farther away from God. Evolution is NOT a scientific fact and cannot be proven. Yes, creation cannot be proven either, but much of evolution can and is refuted and discredited.
--Mike, Jessup, Pa.

May 4, 2005 | 12:22 p.m. ET

Al Qaeda no. 3 captured

The man thought to be al-Qaida's operations commander, and who might know where Osama bin Laden is hiding, has been arrested in Pakistan, the government announced Wednesday. Click here to read more on this story .

Your e-mails about this, and the attacks in Iraq today

This capture will make little difference. Since they released a photo and name of the suspect information will be time sensitive.  All information this person has will not be worth much for long.  I am sure Bin Laden has been moved since his capture. They should keep this information quiet until which time it would not make much difference.
--Barb, Crystal, MN

As is to be expected, the Bush administration manages to come up with more convenient distractions, such as the so-called Zarqawi letter, in order to distract from a far bigger story, namely the Blair memo, which gives ample proof to the long-suspected belief that we were lied into the war in Iraq.
--Dan Goulder, Westlake, Ohio

I wonder why we aren't talking about the Iraq War Memo leaked, then released, in the UK over the weekend!  The US news agencies have become a joke, doing anything to hide the information that exposes plans for a war in Iraq immediately following 9/11.
--Anonymous

Is it any wonder that most Americans think that Iraq is a distraction and a mistake when the media declines to report even one tenth of the positive things that are going on there?  Its a good thing this generation of journalists was not reporting the news during World War II -- we would most certainly have lost that conflict.
--Delia Emmons

You keep reporting that we captured THE man in AL QAEDA...more  important than Bin Laden...hurrah. But I have to ask WHY we never heard this man's name before IF he is THE man in al Qaeda? And another thing that is bothering me is the timing yet again of a spectacular WIN in the war on terror at the exact same time the presidents poll numbers are once again tanking.
--Anonymous

Finally someone said it. I'm so tired of the junk food diet of so called "news". I feel so much of my time is wasted listening to stories that are of little to no importance in the grand scheme of things. Leave this garbage to the entertainment shows. When I watch the "news" I want to get information that effects me and my family, my country or the world. The "news" is not the place for this frivolous
trivia.
--Sher Grotts, Colton, Ca.

May 3, 2005 | 6:11 p.m. ET

15-lbs burger (Ron Reagan)

America has just taken another lumbering step on the path to becoming a nation of human dirigibles.

Denny's Beer Barrel Pub has regained its dubious status as purveyor of the world's largest burger , unseating a usurper to the lardy throne called “Zeus” by its creators, after the Greek God of elastic waist pants.

The new king, dubbed with clever alliteration the “Beer Barrel Belly Buster,” weighs in at a mid-riff expanding 15 lbs. No you're not hallucinating, that's 15 lbs— 10 and a half pounds of ground beef, 25 slices of what we'll charitably refer to as cheese, a full head of lettuce, just three tomatoes and two onions (‘cause we wouldn't want to go over board on the vegetables), and a cup and a half each of mayonnaise, relish, ketchup, mustard and banana peppers and, oh yeah, the bun—which, from the sound of things, must be roughly the size of a circus tent.

“It can feed a family of ten”, say Denny Leigey Sr., the restaurant's owner. I suppose so. It could also feed an entire Third World nation...for several weeks.

Inevitably, someone had to go solo on the Belly Buster. Kate Stelnick, a 100-lbs. college student from New Jersey, polished it off in under three hours, winning a special certificate and a T-shirt. Leigey himself picked up the $23.95 tab for the burger— no word as to whether he also paid for Ms. Stelnick to have her stomach pumped in the local ER.

Bigger men have failed: “It's like trying to eat half a cow,” said Steve Hepburn after his failed attempt. No, no, Steve, it's like eating the whole cow.

And while we're on the subject, why not? Let's just give folks buckets of condiments, a couple of slices of wonder bread and turn them loose amongst the herd. They can wash down their cow with a dumpster full of soda and top it off with a desert of cupcakes the size of nuclear reactors.

Whatever. Makes me hungry for a cookie.

E-mail RReagan@MSNBC.com.

May 3, 2005 | 5:35 p.m. ET

How far will military recruiters go? (Ron Reagan)

General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responded not long ago to a classified Congressional report in this morning's New York Times.

According to the paper, the document alleges the U.S. military would not be capable of winning a new war because of strained resources and manpower. The general does not agree, but the numbers may tell a different story. Army recruitment is down again, for the third month in a row.

Last month, the army fell short of its monthly goal by 6600 recruits. In March, there was 32 percent shortfall. And February, the army missed its goal by some 27 percent.

So how far will army recruiters go to get those numbers up?

One Colorado high school honors student wanted to find out. 17-year-old David McSwane says he told a recruiting officer  he was a high-school drop out.  No problem!  He says he was told to print out a fake-diploma. Then he told them he had a problem with marijuana. McSwane says the recruiter suggested he purchase a detox kit.

Not quite a shining example of the military's motto of “Duty, honor, and country.”

May 3, 2005 | 1:22 p.m. ET

PBS – Pretty Biased Station? (Monica Crowley)

MSNBC TV
These days, it seems like PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, is going against public opinion and leaning more and more to the Left.

Consider the recent scandal on public TV airways:  An episode from “Postcards from Buster,” where a cartoon bunny visits a lesbian couple and their kids in Vermont prompted the Education Secretary to ask PBS to pull the show.

According to the New York Times, Kenneth Tomlinson, the chairman of the “Corporation for Public Broadcasting,” is pressuring PBS to correct what he and others consider to be  “liberal bias” on many PBS shows.  And while Tomlinson doesn't hide the fact that he is a Republican, he says the move is not an effort to sway things one way or another, just to balance them out.

What do you think?

It's viewer-supported television. If you want yourRright wing views imposed on everyone then pony up, like you do during the election process, then you will have the voice you are longing for.
--Chuck, Seattle, Wa.

I sure hope PBS/NPR have a liberal bias.  Conservatives have the Sinclair Group, Salem Communications, The Wall Street Journal, Clear Channel, ABC/Disney, GE/NBC and News Corp and all it's papers as well as Fox News.  The thing about conservatives is, they cannot tolerate to see or hear anything but their own views. 
--Richard, Los Angeles, Calif.

PBS is a bastion of civility and respectful discourse. On Bill Moyer's show he showed respect and restraint when he was interveiwing someone from a different ideological background. Sure he poked and prodded them to get answers but on the but that is very different from the behavior from conservative talk and cable "news" shows. PBS is chalk full of quality programs that may not be entirely marketable. Charlie Rose, Sesame Street, Rick Steves Travel, are programs developed around an unmarketable commodity, RESPECT.
--Jason, Moscow, Idaho

I see I'm in the minority of voters who support the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to check to see if PBS has a liberal bias. I strongly feel PBS has a liberal slant, from the Jim Lehrer NewsHour to the programs PBS airs during so-called "gay pride month" during which they air programs espousing the aberrant lifestyle of homosexual men and women. If PBS were a network with paid advertisements, then it wouldn't matter (though I still would not watch). But PBS and the CPB are funded by taxpayers - that's you and me, folks - and we should not have to pay for something of which we do not approve.
--Rosemary E. Lloyd, Elberon, N.J.

How absurd to think that PBS, the station that has brought Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers and Zoom, all of which have brought enriched educational entertainment to children for generations. To say that you would just withdraw funding is idiocy.  In the same rational you could withdraw funding to public education, libraries, police and fire stations.  I don't agree with the return dates on the books from the library. The fact of the matter is, if you don't like it don't watch.  If you don't think it appeals to you then don't donate during the telethons. There is no balance when you keep trying to tip the pendulum in your idea of fair. This country is made up of many opinions, many faces and many ideas of what is fair.
--Saya Boyd

May 3, 2005 | 12:21 p.m. ET

Waking from a coma

After 15 years in a coma, 41-year-old Terri Schiavo died in a Florida hospice. Many doctors said recovery was an impossibility.

Then again, these people weren't supposed to regain consciousness either: There's Terry Wallis, an Arkansas mechanic who awoke 18 years after the car accident.

Sarah Scantlin snapped out of her car-crash induced coma after an astounding 19 years.

And 44-year-old Buffalo firefighter Donald Herbert was injured in 1995, after a burning roof collapse. He was deprived of oxygen for six minutes. When he regained consciousness a year later, he was virtually silent and nearly blind.This past Saturday, a miracle after almost a decade: Herbert did something remarkable.  He spoke to his wife and started recognizing people after 9 and a half years.

It was a surprising and unexpected recovery that proves maybe there's still a lot we don't know about brain injuries.

Your e-mails

I would not want to be kept alive on life support for 20 years to find out if by some miracle I may recover some function.  I would not put my family through that financial hardship.
--Barb, Crystal, Minn.

Regarding recovery of brain-damaged fireman et al, makes you re-think what we've been told—try to remember to be kind to the patient and their relatives, regardless of your own view. They have to suffer the entire process.
--Gillette Durkee, Pownal, Vt.

You could've waited ten or a hundred years, Terri S would never have spoken again, based on the severity of her brain damage.
--Jeff Caldwell, Hoboken, N.J.

May 2, 2005 | 5:53 p.m. ET

In fear of copied cats (Ron Reagan)

This just in from the frontier of cloning (frpm where else, but in California?): Assemblyman Lloyd Levine of Van Nuys has introduced a bill that would render illegal the cloning of those four-legged feline bundles of delight and bedevilment—domestic cats.

That's right, a ban on kitty cloning.

This is bad news for the company reputed to be the only pet cloning outfit in America, Genetic Savings and Clone as well as upstart Allerca which has been planning to clone and market hypoallergenic cats.

Levine's concern? A disaster such as befell us when we crossed African and European bees and accidentally created “killer bees.” He may have a point.

Even now, the only thing keeping cats from world domination is their inability to open those little cans of food.A bit of misapplied genetic tweaking and cats could gain opposable thumbs and forefingers. That would be the end of civilization as we know it. Humans would be reduced to a race of mouse breeders and mackerel farmers. Cat worship a la Ancient Egypt would become mandatory. Kitty inquisitions would force us to renounce dogs:The days of the week would be scrambled and Christmas would be moved to July; no particular reason— cats are just perverse that way.

Of course, there are less paranoid reasons to frown on cloned cats: Cats that, by the way, will run you some $32,000.

Take a drive down to your local animal shelter. There, for the nominal cost of spaying or neutering, you'll be able to adopt a real live, all-natural kitty. You'll save a life. You'll make a new friend. And you just might preserve civilization as we know it.

E-mail RReagan@MSNBC.com.

May 2, 2005 | 12:35 p.m. ET

Runaway bride: A case of cold feet?

By now we all know the story: After a family and town conducts an exhaustive search for Jennifer Wilbanks, the missing bride-to-be calls from a pay phone in Albuquerque saying she was kidnapped. Then, she quickly admitted she made the story up: Her disappearance was a case of apparent cold feet.

Now, in addition to the relief that she's all right and the embarrassment surrounding her disappearance, there are some who argue that she and her family should pay for the whole investigation.  Perhaps with that $100,000 dollar reward they were offering for information?

Your e-mails

Now, in addition to the relief that she's all right and the embarrassment surrounding her disappearance, there are some who argue that she and her family should pay for the whole investigation.  Perhaps with that 100-thousand dollar reward they were offering for information?

The run away bride is in her thirties-she's not 16.  If that guy marries her, he's nuts, too.
--L. Beld, Mich.

Everyone has the right to disappear if they want but they do not have the right to lie to federal investigaters.  Ummm - didn't someone just get out of prison for doing just that?   This woman should have to do some community service at the very least and perhaps help people who really have problems other than being scared to go through with a big, expensive wedding (the poor dear - couldn't she just say "I'm not ready yet?") She put her family and community through hell. And, oh by the way, since the runaway bride is reported as saying the wedding not off, it's just postponed, I think she should have to wear one of those tracking devices until this wedding goes down! How appropriate that would be for her.
--Jeanne Walker, New York

It appears Ms. Wilbanks had an intent to take off.  If that is the case, then by all means she should be charged with whatever the DA find her to be in violation of.
--Rob Gonzalez,  San Antonio, Texas

Think about it, how many people have second thoughts every day about marriage thousands,but they do not orchestrate and nation wide missing nightmare.
If any of us where driving 90 miles an hour and said to the officer , "Oh I was driving so fast because of my wedding plans," Yea right, your getting a ticket period. So now let's weigh it out: She changes appearance, leaves the state, lies to the FBI, lies to local police.... would you get released if you did this without legal things to face?
--Richie

Aren't we a supposed Judeo-Christian nation? For all of those who profess to be Christians, we sure aren't acting like it. Aren't we supposed to forgive and forget? This woman didn't murder anyone. It's almost as if people are mad that she was safe and not in a ditch somewhere. Did anyone ever think she was not in love with this guy, but her friends and family were? Maybe she felt she had no one she could turn to to express those feelings. While what she did was irrational and immature, it certainly wasn't illegal.
--Lorraine, Belle Vernon, Pa.

I believe the runaway bride should be charged with filling a false police report. She should also have to pay for all the fees that state incurred while looking for her. Does she realize that there are actually real people missing? Children are being reported missing everyday it seems, and her she is running away and having all those people looking for someone who is missing at all. Charge her and make her pay. Others will follow if something is not done.
--Monica, Slidell, La.

It would be interesting to know who was pushing for a wedding with 600 guests.  Whoever that is should pay for the overtime that the city spent in her search.
--Lisa Amos, Charlottesville, Va.

I think the poor disillusioned boyfriend ought to head for the hills as quickly as posible! Money should be paid to the people that spent time and resources looking for this spoiled brat. And where was she?  I guess, "What happens in Vegas,stays in Vegas!"
--Meredith Peters, Round Pond, Maine 

April 29, 2005 | 6:02 p.m. ET

Remembering Vietnam

Video: Vietnam remembered Trouble abroad, and trouble at home. Moving images of war and destruction ignited a firestorm of protest. A nation was polarized as students, draft dodgers, future leaders and musicians defined a decade of outcry and resistance.

Demonstrators took on Capitol Hill and the Pentagon. Cities became sit-ins. Words became weapons. And violence tarnished a movement of peace and brotherhood. When it was all over, more than 58,000 American lives were lost... and the innocence of a generation was gone forever.

Your e-mails

I find it appalling, that no one in the Nixon administration particulary, Robert McNamara, has ever been held accountable for the many American lives lost in Vietnam that resulted from the admitted lies regarding our progress in the conflict and casualties. Mr. McNamara and others, knowingly and deliberately misled the American public at the expense of American soldiers lives. Their deception impuned the reputations of those opposed to the war even to this day, as demonstrated by the disgraceful treatment of John Kerry during the presidential election.
--Kristin Moretto

I am a Vietnam veteran. It meant to me that we had no more war and my brothers and sisters (americans) would be coming home. We need to end the other vietnam (Iraq)
--Joseph Englert, North Babylon, N.Y.

I had marched myself silly, trying to force my views down others throats.  And today, it seems that we haven't learned "lesson 1" from the past and on that I am dismayed.
--Christine Mantey, Kent, Wa.

Monica, you were right about us Vietnam Vets getting spat upon. I got called "baby Killer" my first day home!
--Chuck, Disabled Vietnam vet, Southwest Va.

Reflecting on the fact that we did not fight for our country,it was a political war and a nightmare for the American people.
--Vano Pecchio, Ormond Beach, Fla.

It brings back memories that seems to never go away. I went to Vietnam in 1969. I volunteered for the Army to support are country. I was wounded  May 28th 1970 and evacuated to Chu LI. I was assigned to B. Co 1st 6th Inf 198th LIB 23 inf. Americal Div. At that time Gen Swartzcoft (excuse the spelling) who was my BN commander was are Col (The Bear nickname). I never officially received my purple heart for the leg wounds I received from scrapnel that day. I served my country for twenty years and will never forget those friends of mine who didn't come home. God Bless you all!
--William G. Rice, Hinesville, Ga.

For me, it brings about a tragic end to a bloody conflict. One which could have been easliy won if it were for the crazy hippies or congress who handcuffed our soldiers in the field.
--Robert, Stevens Point, Wis.

Vietnam was a colossal political screw up. If the military had been allowed to conduct the war instead of being micro managed by Washington politicians the outcome would have been much different. Vietnam Veterans are truly heroes. They sacrificed themselves in a war that our own government wouldn't let them win. Vietnam Veterans that were against the war, protested because they knew it couldn't be won by the way it was being conducted.  If the politicians wouldn't let us win then it was best to get out before more lives were sacrificed.
--Warren

April 29, 2005 | 12:40 p.m. ET

Last night's scorecard

Instead of negotiating for a bipartisan compromise on his plan for private accounts, the President continued to lobby for them during last night's news conference. Will this primetime push make a difference?

Your e-mails

Judging from his speech last night, it appears that the President rightly thinks that the Dobson religious test for politics and judicial appointments is a lot of hot air. -- Dr. Terrence Lauerman, De Pere, Wis.

Last evening was another attempt to script instead of interact with people. All of the "town hall meetings" the President has had on social security only included Republicans. No one could ask questions he didn't already have answers for or disagree with him. It is amazing he is in a cocoon isolated from real people. --J. Meredith, San Jose, Calif.

Politicians feel a need to attempt to divide and conquer by using rich vs. poor. If we take the benefit away from those earning more by giving it to those who don't have as much Where is the incentive to go farther? People will just be taking what you have earned. --Anonymous

I have been unable to throw my complete support behind the President's social security private accounts. The questions I have is if private accounts fail, will those folks involved then come to the federal government for help? I do however like the fact that any money in the private accounts would be passed on to survivors of the owner of these accounts. As social security is now, a man or a woman can pay into their entire working lives, forty years or more, and die before receiving their first check, and that money is lost to the family. --Jeff, Wis.

It has always been my impression that Social Security meant to be— All for one, and one for all. Americans take care of each other. Now it seems like— It's every man for himself. I paid into Social Security without complaints, and I saved on the side for a rainy day. I expect my children to do the same. -- Christine Sellitto, Brooklyn, NY

Over the years the government has used Social Security funds too balance the budget. Pay that back, and rebalance Social Security. Social Security was not meant to be a dipping box for any reason. -- Paul Williams, Argillite, Ky.

Many Americans don't work for a company that offer a 401K plan, so why are the Democrats so against hard working Americans having a choice where their Social Security money goes? The ability to decide when you want to retire and how much you need to live on during retirement should be the decision of the American people, NOT the federal government. I'm curious how many Democrats who are opposed to private accounts for Americans, have a retirement plan of their own? --Mike King

April 28, 2005 | 5:32 p.m. ET

Meet the prez (Ron Reagan)

Presidential press conferences have been a regular— if not always successful—  feature of presidential press relations. It's hard to imagine a day when a president didn't feel the need to answer questions from the media.

In 1955, President Eisenhower began the first president to hold live televised press conferences and that's when things really began to get interesting.

JFK was the first president to understand and harness the power of television. But even he pales in comparison to a certain man who was an actor before becoming president.

Ronald Reagan was a master at working the press, though there some questions that raised his ire. Though he often gave as good as he got... learning how to not directly answer a question has become almost as important as answering it.

Some questions have taken a president by surprise, perhaps like President Bush being asked whether or not he regretted any decision in his term so far.

And in the modern TV age, sometimes the people asking the questions are just as famous as the men who answer them. Though ask too easy a question and people might just wonder who you are and what your motives are.... as Jeff Gannon soon learned.

But if you could pose a question to President Bush during tonight's news conference—what would you ask?

Click here to read some of the questions you've sent us .

Our very own Tony Maciulis was on TV today and this is his page on 'Connected'! Click here for the links to the pages he referred to .

April 28, 2005 | 12:36 p.m. ET

Too far to the Right?

Five months after re-election, the president's been trying to spend his political capital.
And the response from Congress? "Your credit's no good here."

Democrats have abandoned talk of building bi-partisan unity. Instead, they are now rallying against his conservative second-term agenda on issues like Social Security, judicial nominees, and and U.N. ambassador pick John Bolton.

And now there's opposition from moderate Republicans who are finding themselves out of sync with the president's priorities. Is this leading to political defections in the GOP?

Democratic Leadership Council Senior Fellow Marshall Whitman explains it this way: “Many of the moderates feel that the party has moved too far to the Right and that the conservatives have too much influence within the high council of the party.”

Your e-mails

The President needs to stop pushing HIS agenda and start looking at the Nations agenda; terrorism and rising costs of energy... Let's get it done! As for terrorism, unfortunately, it will always be an ongoing battle to control the radical extremist of the world from the evils they seek to unleash. --Joshua B.

The President not only has spent all his alleged "capital" (if that's what you get when 49% of the voters in your country don't want you), he is spiraling downward in debt.  The "war on terror" has brought more terrorists, death and destruction around the world than ever before.  Our invasion of a non-threatening country has resulted in almost 1600 dead Americans, over 12,000 injured (many severely— they will need care and support for the rest of their lives), and tens of thousands of Iraqi's killed, few of whom were terrorists. It's only costing our country $300 billion to date!   Money that our President would never have put towards improving health care for the 45,000,000 Americans without insurance, or properly funding education for the future health of the US, or fixing environmental disasters both current and coming in the future...
--Heidi Hadley

The word compromise is not in Mr. Bush's vocabulary. Also he seems to be unable to change his mind or admit an error. Example, he has finally admitted no WMD in Iraq, but has not said if henew that before the war, he would not have attacked.
--Mart

Will Bush ever learn that there is a difference between "spending" capital and "bullying" capital.  There are many more important issues than Social Security to be dealt with...and his legacy is not one of them.
--A Kraft, Naples, Fla.

April 27, 2005 | 5:52 p.m. ET

Dangerous addiction sweeping the nation (Ron Reagan)

America and the world are facing a new and insidious threat. According to a recent study commissioned by Hewlett-Packard, our IQs are under assault, our ability to concentrate is being compromised, and personal relationships are suffering.

Lethargy, loss of productivity, and general muddle-headedness are overtaking more and more people. And it's addicting.

Worse, the threat is seemingly inescapable— it invades our homes; it waits for us at work; it even lurks in our children's schools.

Says Glenn Wilson, the psychiatrist from London University who carried out the study, “This is a very real and widespread phenomenon.” According to Wilson, the average IQ loss was measured at 10 points. That's more than double the loss found in heavy cannabis users.

What is this menace? Some new kind of crack? Another methamphetamine? A tastier chocolate or epidemic of spring fever? No, it's e-mail.

Apparently, all that compulsive checking for and responding to e-mail is rotting our brains. And eroding public civility—which, let's face it, was already a bit shaky. While 9 out of 10 people agreed that e-mailing during face to face meetings was rude, a third of them nonetheless felt that this was quote, “a sign of diligence and efficiency.”

Dr. Wilson disagrees and urges a change in our work habits. “Companies”, he says, “should encourage a more balanced and appropriate way of working.”

Right. You'll excuse me if I don't hold my breath.

The good doctor is no doubt well-intentioned, but he misses the mark. It's clear what is needed here. A new government department headed by an “e-mail czar.”  Then, the launch of a “war on e-mail” complete with color-coded threat levels - fuscia, you're safe; paisley, your in-box is full. Three strikes and you're shipped to a friendly dictatorship where you can be tortured with impunity.

This is no time to go soft! The threat is here. The threat is now. 

E-mail RReagan@MSNBC.com

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