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Dear Viewers,

We had a "near miss" Wednesday night.

My usual stage manager was sick last night so we had a back up one who, of course, is not used to the way we do our show. She did a great job — but we did have one "near miss" which is to be expected. Each show has its own way of doing things and so each stage manager who subs walks into the unknown. Here is an example of what can happen and did happen:

At the end of last night's show, when I got a cue to END the show, there was a miscommunication between the stage manager and the director in New York as to exactly what the cue meant. Just before Adam Housley finished his report from Thailand, the stage manager held up a cue card which read "30." With my usual stage manager, that means, "30 seconds before I BEGIN the good bye for the show." For the stage manager, who had a miscommunication from the New York director, she meant, "30 seconds before the show ENDS." In other words, I thought I had 30 seconds more than I did.

So, taking her "30 second cue," I asked Adam Housley (search) one last question so that I could use the 30 seconds I mistakenly thought I had. I could tell Adam was talking very, very, very fast ... so I suddenly figured that he knew, in Thailand, that there was at timing problem! Adam does not usually rush like he seemed to be rushing to answer my question. I suspect now, from his pace in answering that last question, that he knew that we did NOT have 30 seconds to talk and that I should already be saying good night to the viewers! (Adam has a producer with him in Thailand giving him time cues.)

Suspecting some problem, but not knowing what it might be, I looked up at the clock in the studio. In a half a second upon seeing the wall clock, I realized the problem — but still uncertain — let Adam finish, and then said good-bye to you like I had been drinking three gallons of coffee before the show. It was so fast, I practically slurred my good-bye to you. Luck was on my side — sort of — in that I got out of the show before the computer cut me off, but it was a bit rushed. I felt sloppy, but, as you all know, this is LIVE news — you never know what is going to happen.

On a more serious note, if you missed the interview of Dan Walker, the father of that missing 12-year-old Swedish boy who was thought to have been kidnapped from a hospital in Southeast Asia, click on the video link above. We have streamed the video so that you can listen to it.

Believe it or not, these interviews — with very distressed parents — are the hardest to do. My heart (like everyone's) breaks for them. I feel so bad for them — I just don't know what to say. I can never think how to start the interviews. I hate to start with, "How are you?" You know how they are — they are torn apart, in complete grief. It feels like a very dumb question. How would I be under the same circumstance? I would be falling apart. But, on the other hand, do I just jump into the interview? That seems cold — very cold. There really seems no right way to do it — yet there is significant value to the family to get the word out to try and help find this child.

If you have any advice for me on how to start these heart wrenching interviews, send it my way — I would love some advice.

Here are some e-mails from viewers:

E-mail No. 1

Hi Greta,
I watch your show in Israel on a regular basis. I was just wondering what is happening in the Hacking case, and did they find out if his wife was pregnant?
Netivot, Israel

ANSWER: He is awaiting trial. He has a spring trial date. By the way, I love that you watch from Israel.

E-mail No. 2

Dear Greta and staff,
I am an American citizen on Koh Samui, Thailand; and I happened to catch your January 4th show today. On the show, a Canadian woman named "Rhonda" voiced concern about her brother who last emailed her on December 23 from Bangkok. This e-mail is to help put her mind at ease. I invite you to pass it along to her.
I have been living in Thailand for two and a half years. Every 30 days, in order to keep my Thai visa current, I have to leave and re-enter the country. Consequently, I have been to the northern and southern border crossings into Burma a dozen times or more.
Kindly share with Rhonda that, in order to enter Burma on anything more than a one-day pass, one MUST FLY TO YANGON (Rangoon). Flying to Yangon to stay in Burma for more than one day is the ONLY REASON why a person would have to get a Burmese visa in the first place.
If one enters Burma overland (via the border crossing stations in the North or the South), two major features apply:
1. You don't need a visa;
2. You cannot stay in Burma for more than one day.
Thus, if Rhonda's brother was in Bangkok getting a visa to visit Burma, the reason he would be applying for a visa in the first place would be to fly into Yangon from Bangkok and to stay for more than one day — not to head North or South to enter Burma overland. Overland entries (on more than a one-day pass) are prohibited.
Based on the information that Rhonda has at this time, I suggest that most likely her brother is perfectly safe and already in Burma. Should he have arrived in Burma prior to December 26, he may not even be aware of the disasters that recently took place in Thailand, much less have a way of contacting family members. Burma is e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y Third World and technologically deficient.
I know it's easy to say, "Don't worry." But, from my point of reference on this side of the world, I am prompted to assure Rhonda and her family that they probably have little to be concerned about.
Kindly pass this on-the-scene report along to them. I certainly hope it helps.
Thank you.
Dr. ZZ

E-mail No. 3

Greta, I can't believe you'd even ask the question regarding Senator Frist going to Asia? Why would we not want someone of his experience going and being our eyes and ears in this devastated area? He is a medical doctor with international experience in medicine. He has got to have a grasp on this terrible situation that many in the Senate don't have but could learn from. I say go, make it non-partisan and make a difference. Those that gripe are making it political for their agenda ... not for those millions in such great need.
Sally Nelson

E-mail No. 4

When will rich senators stop using my money for vacation trips? Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's intention to visit the tsunami disaster area is just a reason to spend my money. If the senator wants to know what happen watch the 24/7 news about it. Instead let’s send the senator to Iraq on a mission to test body armor or the armor on our military equipment in battle.

E-mail No. 5

I don't know why you single out Frist? What about the other congresspersons that have been going or are planning to go to Iraq? I feel that all members of Congress should stay home. The Bums waste enough money in the U.S.
Sam Rizzo
Church Creek, MD

E-mail No. 6

Excellent poll though I think that you could have condensed selections 2-4 down to one word — "Boondoggle", which it really is. The unfortunate part about this is, Mr. Frist is getting the press and from the tone of your poll, the heat for not staying in Washington, D.C., to do his job. However, I believe that far to many of our senators and congressmen use these types of situations to provide themselves and their staffs with "tax-payer paid" trips around the world. It's expensive and I believe in most cases, totally unnecessary. However, it has been going on for a long, long time and I suspect it will continue.
To be totally honest; this is just another area the press has found to "ding" a Republican leader in an effort to put the Republican Party in a bad light. As I said it has been going on for a hundred years or more and I suspect Democrats have abused this far more than Republicans, but of course you hear nothing about that.
Thomas D. Moore

E-mail No. 7

RE: Your question about Senator Frist visiting Asia to see the damage. I’m reminded of a cartoon by Bill Malden. It's a picture of a bunch of officers crowding around a sedan, where a general is obviously about to get out. In the foreground is a cook leaning against his mess tent. He says, "Another damn mouth to feed."
It's nice that Senator Frist and (sent by the president) Secretary Powell and Jeb Bush are going there. But they weren't needed.

E-mail No. 8

This question is incomplete, he is going as a doctor as well. I think this should be mentioned.
Mt. Clemens, MI

ANSWER: The poll question seemed like a good one. President Bush sent his brother — Gov. Bush — and Secretary of State Colin Powell. That is hugely symbolic to the world how important this is to the president. I read yesterday that now a Maryland congressman is going and others will no doubt be going, too. The question is: Do these others need to go? Should they go? Is there value to their going? Is it enough that the president has already sent his brother and the secretary of state? Just because we put a question in a poll does not mean we are promoting some agenda. We are merely asking your view. And yes, Senator Frist is a doctor. I did not see the need to add that to the poll since I mistakenly thought people knew that.

E-mail No. 9 — this e-mail was sent in response to our blog Wednesday with the picture of Mr. Greta. The header to the e-mail was "I feel your pain."

My last name is Garth. Everywhere I go, they always ask me if I'm related to Garth Brooks. Some people just don't think, I guess.
Al Garth

E-mail No. 10

What ever happened to the missing couple that sold their sailboat? I must have missed it but think of them often. Maybe on a slow news night you could do a show on how these missing stories turned out.

ANSWER: I check on this case every day — or almost every day — and there is nothing new. The man who bought their yacht was arrested and charged with drug related charges but not with the disappearance of the couple. I will continue to follow this for you and let you know when some news breaks on it.

E-mail No. 11

I second “Mpechiney from Cincinnati, OH” on the comments about Bill Clinton. I am learning that I can be fair, open-minded and give others a second chance! :~) I, too, think I am starting to like him a bit. Never thought I could say that. Besides the fact that I have always been a Republican, I have strongly disliked former President Clinton for many years. It would appear, though, that ever since his recent health issues he has changed. Perhaps his scandalous life being displayed before all the world has played a role in his transformation. Or perhaps he was always cool and I just didn’t know it. Doubtful. Nevertheless, he seems to be more humble, compassionate and thoughtful.
I love the show and all that you do. But, I hope you will slow down a bit and take care of yourself. When I read your daily blog I get exhausted hearing about your schedule, travels and constant work. I am a single mother with two children and work full time but you have me beat! None of my business — just compassion from one woman to another.
Go Packers!
Folsom, CA


E-mail No. 12

Hi Greta,
I keep reading stories online about certain celebrities donating money to aid the Tsunami victims. BIG FREAKIN' DEAL! We, the movie theater ticket buyers, are the ones that gave these media hungry celebrities the money to do so in the first place by attending their films and renting their movies. And now we have to watch George Clooney and a bunch of other "I only do good when it makes me look good" stars try to milk more donations from us! I donated money online on the Red Cross Web site and not because some stupid actor told me to! If each one of these actors, actresses, or music stars donated 1/100th of their yearly salary to the cause each and every one of the Tsunami victims would be set for the rest of their lives. Instead of having an element of compassion, it turns the entire situation into a competition. This isn't a contest and donations should be made because there are humans suffering, not because a bunch of celebrities tooting their own horns asked you to do so. What are your thoughts, Greta?
San Antonio, TX


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