February 14th, 2012
09:14 PM ET

Is it time for America to act in Syria?

Today we saw two astonishing videos that capture the horror and heroism of Syria’s fight against a dictator’s brutal force.

In the first, a young boy – we don’t know his name or age – is trapped in the crossfire between rebels and troops until a man, risking his own life, rushes in, picks up the boy, and carries him to safety.

In the second video it appears a group of people are being used as human shields for Bashar al-Assad’s tanks as soldiers chant: “With our blood, with our souls, we defend you Bashar.”

The Syrian uprising has already claimed almost 6,000 lives.

And there are reports that 400 children have been killed in Syria since late January. FULL POST

Filed under: OutFront Exclusive
February 14th, 2012
08:48 PM ET

OutFront: Whitney Houston's Pastor Joe E. Carter

CNN's Erin Burnett talks to Whitney Houston's pastor Joe E. Carter about his plans to commemorate the late pop singer. He says the funeral will be uplifting and musical.

Filed under: Uncategorized
February 14th, 2012
05:03 PM ET

Von Furstenberg challenges Santorum's views on feminism

On a Sunday morning talk show, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum was asked about a passage in his 2005 book, "It Takes a Family."

The passage reads:
"The radical feminists succeeded in undermining the traditional family and convincing women that professional accomplishments are the key to happiness."

Santorum defended his comments.

"My wife is a working, working woman. We had children and she decided to, to take a career, take off time in her career and raise children. And I can tell you this section was written in large part in cooperation with her as a mother, who as a lawyer and neonatal intensive nurse, someone with a great amount of professional experience, who felt very much like society and those radical feminists that, that I was referring to, were not affirming her choice," said Santorum on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Diane von Furstenberg, a fashion pioneer and the creator of the wrap dress – a symbol of women's liberation in the 1970s, came OutFront to discuss her idea and how she's using it to empower women around the world.

During her appearance on the show, she discussed Rick Santorum's comments with CNN's Erin Burnett.

"I believe that all women should have children. I think women are made to have children and to be mothers." She added, "I also think women have to have an identity outside the home," said von Furstenberg.

Obama stresses economic roles with China's expected new leader

Von Furstenberg has been designing clothes for over forty years and is now betting heavily on China's emerging market.  She said the U.S. shouldn't be afraid China. According to CLSA Asia Pacific Markets in 2011, China accounted for 21% of the $263 billion global luxury goods market.

"I don’t think we should always look at the Chinese like they taking jobs. They are also bring us more and more jobs. Because, they are the biggest growing consumer. I think what is going on in China is exciting," said Von Furstenberg.

Von Furstenberg added that the wife of China's Vice President Xi Jingping who is in the U.S. meeting with President Barack Obama was a big fan of her clothing line.

Tune into tonight at 7pm ET for more of Erin's interview with Diane von Furstenberg.


The DVF Awards recognize and support women who are using their resources, commitment and visibility to transform the lives of other women. These are women who have had the courage to fight, the power to survive and the leadership to inspire. Each year, five awards are given to women who have demonstrated leadership, strength and courage in their commitment to women's causes. The People's Voice Award is chosen by popular vote from four nominees presented at dvfawards.com.

The public is invited to vote online and the award is granted to the woman who receives the most votes.

CLICK HERE to vote!

Filed under: I.D.E.A.
February 14th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Who is China's leader-in-waiting?

China's vice president Xi Jinping will meet with President Obama today. The man considered China's leader-in-waiting is the son of a Mao-era revolutionary hero who rose to prominence and has played a key role in developing China's economic reforms. Former U.S. ambassador to China–and former Republican presidential candidate–Jon Huntsman told CNN's Erin Burnett Xi is "a very, very adroid political operator" who is rising into "the forefront of China's leadership structure."

Xi, the former governor of Fujian province–and the husband of a popular Chinese folk singer–could come to power alongside an entire new generation of Chinese leadership this fall, which Huntsman describes as "the most sweeping change I can remember in recent history."

Can President Obama strike a bond with Xi? Fei-Ling Wang, a professor of international affairs at Georgia Institute of Technology, says Xi's visits to the U.S. may be key:

The world will be watching Xi closely to see how he will govern China and navigate U.S.-China relations. Over a quarter century ago, Xi visited America as a young cadre managing agriculture for an obscure county. This time, as the next leader of a great country, he may remember fondly how ordinary Americans received Chinese visitors with open arms back then and how much the two countries have gone through together ever since. Let's hope that he will open up to America on what he envisions as a mutually beneficial partnership between the two countries in the coming years.

Filed under: National Security • Politics
February 14th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Column: Stop playing politics with women’s access to contraception

Editor's Note: Rev. Debra Haffner is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, and is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Religious Institute, a multifaith organization advocating for sexuality education, sexual health, and sexual justice in America’s faith communities and society.

By Rev. Debra Haffner, special to Erin Burnett OutFront

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ decision to reject the White House compromise on birth control access in health insurance is further evidence that their concern is not religious liberty, but playing politics with women’s lives. Under the White House plan, Catholic institutions do not have to financially support contraceptive care; no woman has to use it. The Bishops’ cloaking their anti-women’s sexuality view in religious liberty arguments is nothing more than their trying to do with health insurance reform what they have not been able to do from the pulpit: deny women access to modern contraceptives.

Secular leaders on the right, like Penny Nance from Concerned Women for America, distort the debate, incorrectly stating that women have access to birth control without insurance, or that some birth control methods work by causing abortions. Many women are unable to pay for contraceptive care out of pocket and many do without; this is part of the reason why half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. And no modern method of birth control works by causing women to spontaneously miscarry a pregnancy.

The Roman Catholic Bishops do not speak for religion on contraception; they do not even speak for American Catholics who by in large ignore their teaching on sexuality issues, from premarital sex to contraception to LGBT equality. As of today, twenty-nine major national mainstream religious leaders have endorsed a statement supporting the White House decision that contraceptive services must be covered by insurance policies without deductibles or co-pays, and only purely sectarian organizations – churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples – will be exempt from this requirement. The signers of this letter come from 27 national organizations that represent millions of religious leaders and people of faith across the country.

There is nothing new about religious organizations supporting the provision of contraception and women’s moral agency to decide when, whether, and if to use birth control. More than 20 denominations have policies affirming birth control, passed as early as 1959. More than 4000 religious leaders have endorsed the Religious Declaration, including a faith-based commitment to voluntary contraception.

There is an authentic, historically ground religious Jewish and Christian perspective that supports access to birth control. It is precisely because of the religious belief that life is sacred, that mainstream religious leaders for decades have been committed to assuring access to contraceptive services so that all pregnancies are intended. Religious leaders from distinct traditions affirm that individuals’ must have the moral agency to make decisions about their sexuality and reproductive health without governmental interference or legal restrictions.
Our belief in religious liberty and the separation of church and state means that we understand that no single religious voice should speak for all faith traditions on contraception or any other sexuality issues, and that the government should never take sides on religious differences. Just as Jehovah Witnesses who run secular institutions must cover blood transfusions for their employees, and Christian Scientists who run secular institutions must offer health insurance for their employees, there is no religious conflict for Roman Catholic affiliated hospitals and universities to allow their employees access to health insurance that includes contraception.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Filed under: Opinion • Politics