Tonight on 360°, we're looking for answers in the suicide of a Massachusetts high school student. Prosecutors say bullies drove Phoebe Prince to take her own life. Some are saying the school completely missed the trouble. You'll hear from the principal. We're keeping them honest. Plus, Pres. Obama's new plan for offshore drilling. Is he flip-flopping from comments he made on the campaign trail and we continue our week-long series 'Scientology: A History of Violence".
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Note to readers and viewers: The Anderson Cooper 360 series "Scientology: A History of Violence," which reported competing claims and denials about violence at the top of the Church of Scientology has attracted a number of complaints from senior members of the Church of Scientology (including Mr. Miscavige) and the Church of Scientology itself.
The series is now the subject of a letter of legal complaint in the United Kingdom. The complainants strongly dispute the allegations and the assertions made against them and covered in the course of the series by former members of the Church of Scientology.
Anderson Cooper and Ismael Estrada
If you believe Marty Rathbun, people in the top ranks of the Church of Scientology have used physical intimidation and outright beatings as a means of discipline.
Scientology's current leaders, including Rathbun's ex-wife, call him a liar and an "apostate." They say the only beatings were those inflicted by Rathbun and a small number of others, all of whom have left Scientology.
But both sides appear to agree that periodic beatings occurred among the highest echelons of the church for some period of time, though they disagree on who was behind them - and none of those involved ever filed a police report.
Church leaders say the issues were taken care of privately.
"We have our own internal methods of handling somebody," said Norman Starkey, a senior leader in the church and a former close associate of Scientology's late founder, L. Ron Hubbard. "If someone acts a bit irrationally, it was reported. It was reported internally."
But Rathbun said no one would report the beatings because they came from the top, and sometimes they were inflicted by his immediate superior, church leader David Miscavige.
"In late '03, there was a beating every day," Rathbun said. "And if it wasn't from him doing it, it was from him inciting others to do it to others."
The Church of Scientology emphatically denies any allegation that Miscavige, who became Scientology's leader after Hubbard's death in 1986, either beat his lieutenants in the church or fostered a management culture that encouraged physical abuse. In fact, in sworn affidavits, a number of church members point to more than a dozen instances in which Rathbun assaulted colleagues over the years.
Rathbun was behind "a very carefully calculated campaign to engage in individual acts of bullying, and sometimes, you know, of a very forceful nature, in isolation," church spokesman Tommy Davis told CNN.
Author of 'Queen Bees and Wannabes'
When should I start talking to you about the impact of technology on your daughter’s world? After a lot of debate (i.e., should it be in the gossip section, the talking-behind-your-back section, the flirting section?), I finally realized that the best place to put it is right here, at the beginning. Because to truly understand a girl growing up in today’s world, you have to have a basic comprehension of the technology she uses to connect and live in it. After this 101 course, you’ll have the keys to unlock the confusing electronic and digital issues that crop up throughout the rest of this book and in your daughter’s everyday life.
It amazes me how much technology has changed my work since I first wrote Queen Bees. Google, Facebook, YouTube, and ten-year-olds with cell phones didn’t exist. The only things my students used to communicate with each other were e-mails.
Now e-mail is the most antiquated form of virtual communication they use. Every day children and teens contact me through various social networking sites. It is part of every presentation I do in almost every class. It enables me to reach children and help them in a way that was impossible a decade ago. But no matter what your age, it can also be used as a weapon of mass destruction.
CNN Financial News Producer
In the words of every crabby kid wedged in the backseat of a station wagon between a suitcase and his little sister, “Are we there yet?”
Bad news buddy… Dad’s lost and the GPS is busted.
Wall Street this week is a study in hits, misses and rare twists in timing. Readings on income and spending, consumer confidence, housing and a spate of job reports dot the economic calendar, but a clear picture of the economy has yet to emerge.
Consumer confidence, for example, bounced back sharply this month – but only to a level that shows people are just less pessimistic about the economy and the job market.
Those numbers came on the heels of a separate report showing personal spending rose for a fifth straight month in February. As consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, this should be good news, right? Yes, but the increase was so small (0.3%) that’s it’s hardly worth celebrating.
Then we got the latest snapshot of the housing market, which essentially dashed any hopes for a sustained early recovery.
After a five-month run-up in home prices starting last spring, prices have now fallen for four consecutive months, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Prices in January were down 0.4% compared with December and have fallen 0.7% from a year ago.
And today, the first of several employment reports hit the wires.
Payroll-processing firm ADP said private-sector employers cut payrolls by 23,000 jobs in March. That was far less than the gain of 40,000 jobs that was expected - although it was the smallest monthly decline since February 2008.
This comes just two days ahead of the government’s official jobs report for March, which is due out Friday morning. The expectation there is for a gain of about 190.000 jobs, which would be the biggest gain in three years.
Friday is also Good Friday and the stock market will be closed, so investors will have to wait until the opening bell Monday to react to the Labor Department’s numbers.
Housing aid on the way for 5 more states
Five more states will receive federal funding to help troubled homeowners avoid foreclosure, the White House announced earlier this week.
Last month, President Obama unveiled the Hardest Hit Fund, which pumped $1.5 billion into state housing agencies in California, Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Michigan. These five were originally identified because they had been hardest hit by the housing bust, with prices declining more than 20%.
Now, an additional $600 million is being doled out to the five states that have the largest number of counties suffering unemployment rates above 12%: North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island and South Carolina.
The program, which is funded with money from the TARP bank bailout, allows each of the states' agencies to propose foreclosure solutions that address local conditions.
You owe the IRS 99 days of hard work
This year, it's going to take the average American 99 days to earn enough money to pay the IRS. That's one day longer than last year.
"Tax Freedom Day" marks the date that most Americans have earned enough money to pay their federal, state and local taxes, and this year that day arrives on April 9, according to the Tax Foundation's annual calculation, which is based on government tax and income data.
Tax Freedom Day arriving one day later than it did last year means most Americans will have to work that much harder - for more than three months - just to pay their 2010 taxes.
Follow the money… on Twitter: @AndrewTorganCNN
Several environmentalists expressed disappointment and dismay Wednesday over President Obama's decision to open key Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico waters to oil and gas drilling.
"I'm extremely disappointed," said David Rauschkolb, a Florida restaurant owner who organized anti-drilling rallies last month at several Gulf Coast beaches.
"Florida's legacy is clean water, clean beaches, sunshine and tourism. Every oil rig is a threat to tourism and coastal well-being. ... All it takes is one spill."
One leading critic of offshore drilling, New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, vowed to fight Obama's plan.
Last Saturday, black humvees suddenly appeared in Clayton, Mich. By Sunday evening, helicopters were hovering over the small village, a 90-minute drive southwest of Detroit. "It was weird, like in a movie," recalls Dale Robinson, 59, a displaced autoworker and one of Clayton's 300 or so inhabitants. During the previous week, there had been a rumor — no one knew who started it — that residents should keep their doors and windows locked. Some residents figured an inmate might have escaped from the nearby state prison. It turns out all the commotion was over a group whose alleged leader lived in a double-wide trailer that sits down the gravel road from the local wiring plant where he worked.
That would be David B. Stone Sr., who federal authorities say is the leader of a Christian militia group called the Hutaree, which they accuse of plotting to kill law-enforcement officers in an attempt to spark a broad revolt against the U.S. government. Including raids in Ohio and Indiana over the same weekend, the authorities would arrest nine people, including Stone, his wife Tina and his son David Jr., 19. Another son, Joshua, 21, was apprehended late on Monday. The alleged Hutaree members have been charged with sedition and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction. Says Emily Robinson, 27, who works as a custodian in Clayton: "You never expect to see something so big happen in a small town like this." (See the top 10 news stories of 2009.)
Very few locals, however, were even aware of who David B. Stone Sr. was, even if they had heard of militia activity in the area. But Stone grew up in Clayton. About two decades ago, he had apparently been a member of the Michigan militia, a paramilitary group that was active in the late 1990s. He'd always been into guns. Penny Delaney recalled that when she dated Stone about 18 years ago, they would often practice shooting "by swinging the tire [and firing at its opening], to make sure you kept shooting on target." Back then, she said, "he didn't believe in killing things — at least not unless he was going to eat it."
Oil prices were on track to post a new 2010 high Wednesday morning, but then fell after a higher-than-expected inventory report and the news that President Obama wants to open new areas to offshore drilling.
What prices are doing: Crude oil prices for May delivery rose $1.03 to $83.40 a barrel - higher than the 2010 peak of $83.18 - in morning trading.
But then the Department of Energy released a report showing higher-than-expected crude and gasoline supplies, and the market pared back earlier gains. Just after Obama's speech at 11:45 a.m. ET, prices were up only 57 cents to $82.92 a barrel.
On January 12, a catastrophic earthquake of 7.0 magnitude struck Haiti. We continue to follow what is happening now in its aftermath and Haiti's ongoing reconstruction.
Take a look at this photo gallery and learn more about the situation unfolding in Haiti.
Residents go about life amid earthquake-damaged buildings March 30, 2010 in the Peguy Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Jenny Cazo (R) holds her daughter, Rosy, as her sister Miclide Cazo prepares dinner March 30, 2010 in the Peguy Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Workers pour a cement foundation at a school construction site March 30, 2010 in the Bel Air section of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Workers hired by the Haitian government clear debris from earthquake-damaged homes March 30, 2010 in the Bel Air section of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Residents make their way down a path a debris strewn with debris March 30, 2010 in the Bel Air section of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Many Haitians are still living in tent cities after the 7.0 earthquake leveled large parts of Port-au-Prince and other towns in January.
A girl hangs laundry to dry March 30, 2010 in the Peguy Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
A woman lights a fire March 30, 2010 in the badly earthquake-damaged Peguy Ville neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
A trader at the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) signals offers in the S&P 500 stock index options pit in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
Beat 360° Winners:
“Yes. Two burritos. One for me, and one for Lyle Lovett here.”
Adam, Chicago, IL
"I've got Dick Cheney on Line 2 who wants a million on Halliburton."