April 21st, 2009
09:58 PM ET

Notes from the Craigslist murders

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/04/21/mass.killing.craigslist/art.craigslist.arraignment.jpg caption="Medical student Philip Markoff, 22, appears in court Tuesday in Boston, Massachusetts."]

Alyssa Caplan
AC360 Associate Producer

Here's a little behind the scenes on Philip Markoff that I took in from working the story today:

– I read on Markoff’s wedding website last night that he was member of Phi Delta Epsilon while an undergrad student at SUNY-Albany. A student who said she was a Phi Delta Epsilon sophomore when Markoff was a senior. Says she’d only met Markoff a couple times, but had never heard anything bad about him.

– Its mission statement says “Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity creates physicians of integrity with a life-long commitment to our guiding principles of philanthropy, deity, and education through fellowship, service, mentoring, and formal training in leadership, science, and ethics.” http://www.phide.org/about.cfm

– The manager at the Community Center in Sherrill NY where Markoff grew up said Markoff spent a good deal of time bowling with a few buddies, and remembers him as being friendly.


Filed under: 360° Radar
April 21st, 2009
09:46 PM ET

Live Blog from the Anchor Desk 04/21/09

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Tonight on AC360°, we continue our special series 'Secrets to a Long Life.' We'll take you back to a tiny Greek island and give you new insight that could help you live healthier.

Don't miss Erica Hill's webcast on living longer during the commercials. Watch our WEBCAST

Want to know what else we're covering tonight? Read EVENING BUZZ

Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)

And take a look at our live web camera from the 360° studio. Watch the WEBCAM

Filed under: Live Blog
April 21st, 2009
09:22 PM ET

I wrestled with pythons

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/03/30/python.patrol/art.bigsnake.cnn.jpg caption="Members of the Python Patrol show off a giant snake that stretched more than 20 feet."]
John Zarrella
CNN Correspondent

You may find this hard to believe but it’s true. I’ve got a friend who actually goes out to the Everglades and catches pythons for fun. Turns out, it’s not that difficult, particularly in the winter months when they come out to bask in the sun.

As strange as it may sound, pythons, those big old snakes that lay in wait and then bite and wrap themselves around and squeeze their prey to kill it, have become a real concern in South Florida. They’ve been found under houses, in backyards, in chicken coops. I’m not talking here about a little garden type snake either. These snakes are eight to 12 feet long. Sometimes even larger.

And they’re not just getting fat on rodents. They’ve eaten pets. Wildlife biologists say that in the stomach of one python they found a five-foot alligator. In the stomach of another they found a full grown deer.

Pythons have very quickly moved to the top of the animal food chain here. The Florida Alligator is the only threat. And even gators may not be a match for the larger snakes. One famous picture taken inside Everglades National Park shows the aftermath of a battle between a python and an alligator. Both are dead. The gator’s legs and tail are sticking out from the belly of the python.

Twenty years ago, there wasn’t a single python spotted in the Everglades. Now, biologists estimate there are at least 30,000. That’s right, that’s not a misprint. Last year, more than three hundred were caught and destroyed.

This mess got started, experts say, when pet owners woke up one morning, looked at their pythons and went ‘Oh My Gosh,’ realizing the creatures had grown too big to handle safely. Thinking they were doing the humane thing, they dumped the pythons in the Everglades rather than kill them.


Filed under: John Zarrella
April 21st, 2009
08:39 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Prosecution for 'Torture Memos?'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/21/obama.memos/art.obama.afp.gi.jpg caption="Pres. Obama leaves door open to prosecute former Bush officials' who crafted 'torture memos'."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight on AC360°, a dramatic change at the White House.  President Obama is now leaving it up to his  Attorney General to decide whether to prosecute Bush administration officials who drew up policies allowing alleged torture of terror suspects.

Pres. Obama still doesn't think CIA officers should be prosecuted for using the interrogation techniques he has since banned.

But he worries about the debate turning political.

"I think it's very important for the American people to feel as if this is not being dealt with to provide one side or another political advantage, but rather is being done in order to learn some lessons so that we move forward in an effective way." said Pres. Obama today.

Obama's comments come five days after his administration released four Bush-era memos detailing interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, which stimulates drowning.

As Tom Foreman reported last night on AC360°, CIA officers used waterboarding at least 266 times on two top al Qaeda suspects. Pres. Obama considers waterboarding torture.

Do you think the lawyers or others who wrote the legal guidelines should be prosecuted?
Share your thought below.

We'll have more on this story tonight.

We're also getting new information on the medical student accused of being the so-called 'Craigslist killer.' Philip Markoff was in court today, where a not guilty plea was entered in his behalf. Police say he killed a woman and attacked and robbed another - after finding them through Craigslist. His fiance says police have the "wrong man."

Join us for these stories and more starting at 10pm ET.
See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
April 21st, 2009
08:18 PM ET

Human cost, not the system

The Globe and Mail

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Quebec's government is overreacting to some reasonable questions raised by CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, about the time it took to get actor Natasha Richardson to a facility that could treat the serious head injuries she suffered because of her fall at Mont Tremblant.

Dr. Gupta is not in the same class as the U.S. neo-cons who are despicably using the tragedy to attack Canada's public health-care system and to defend their own, a system that has its own stark deficiencies. In his blog item “calculating the risks of skiing in Quebec,” Dr. Gupta – himself a neurosurgeon – simply sets out that, with injuries such as Ms. Richardson's, “speed matters.”

This does not, as International Relations Minister Pierre Arcand's reaction implies, amount to an attack on Quebec's health-care system. Dr. Gupta goes out of his way to call the health care provided in this country “world-class.” Though he doesn't come out and say so, he must recognize that there are more obstacles to quick assessment at a neurotrauma centre in the U.S. than mere availability of a helicopter.


Filed under: Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Medical News
April 21st, 2009
08:04 PM ET

Craigslist killer's wedding web site?

A 22-year-old medical student suspected of killing a woman he may have met through a Craigslist online ad was arraigned Tuesday and will be held without bail.

Philip Markoff, a second-year student at Boston University's School of Medicine, listened intently but did not speak during the hearing in Boston Municipal Court. Dressed in a blue-striped shirt and slacks, Markoff was
handcuffed and wearing leg irons.

His attorney, John Salsberg, told reporters after the hearing that Markoff is "not guilty of the charges. He has his family's support. I have not received any document or report or piece of evidence other than what I heard in the courtroom. All I have at the moment are words - no proof of anything."

A woman identifying herself as Markoff's fiancee also maintained his innocence in an e-mail sent to ABC News. Megan McAllister said Markoff "is the wrong man" and "was set up."

"Unfortunately, you were given wrong information as was the public," McAllister wrote. "All I have to say to you is Philip is a beautiful person inside and out and could not hurt a fly!"

Markoff and McAllister were maintaining a web site in advance of their wedding. The site, www.megan-philip.com, is now down. Below are screengrabs saved by AC360.com before the web site was pulled.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment
April 21st, 2009
08:03 PM ET

Staggering stats on suicide

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Editor’s Note: The Trevor Project, which runs the only nationwide, around-the-clock suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth, gathered the statistics below. If you or someone you know needs help from The Trevor Project, call their helpline at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386) or visit their website at http://www.thetrevorproject.org]

-In America, more than 32,000 people commit suicide each year (2005 Center for Disease Control).

-Suicide is one of the top three causes of death among 15 to 24-year-olds; only accidents and homicide occur more frequently (2006 National Adolescent Health Information).

– Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college campuses (2008 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

– For every completed suicide by a young person, it is estimated that 100 to 200 attempts are made

(2003 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey).

– Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers (Massachusetts 2006 Youth Risk Survey).

-Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth who come from a rejecting family are up to nine times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers (2007 San Francisco State University Chavez Center Institute).

Suicide Warning Signs

-A tendency toward isolation and social withdrawal
-Increasing substance abuse
-Expression of negative attitude toward self
-Expression of helplessness or hopelessness
-Loss of interest in usual sorts of pleasure
-Giving away valued possessions
-Expression of a lack of future orientation (i.e. “It won’t matter soon anyway”).

A person who has been extremely depressed in the past may be at an increased risk for suicide if the depression begins to cease, as they may now have the psychological energy to follow through on a suicidal ideation.

Filed under: 360º Follow
April 21st, 2009
05:09 PM ET
April 21st, 2009
04:29 PM ET

Bittersweet news

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/04/20/pulitzer.prizes.winners/art.pulitzer.jon.leachman.gi.jpg caption="Writer Jon Meacham won a Pulitzer Prize in biography for "American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House.""]

Jami Floyd
In Session

The Pulitzer Prize winners have been announced — for fiction and nonfiction, poetry and dramatic writing. But in our world — the world of news — a Pulitzer is the most prestigious award of all.

The New York Times won five, including one for breaking the Eliot Spitzer story. The Detroit Free Press won for uncovering those sexually explicit text messages that brought down that city’s mayor. It was not only reporting on political corruption, however, that won this year. The Las Vegas Sun won for exposing a high death rate among workers on the Las Vegas Strip. The East Valley Tribune of Mesa, Arizona won for its reporting on a local sheriff whose focus on immigration enforcement was compromising investigations of other crimes.


Filed under: Jami Floyd • The Buzz
April 21st, 2009
04:28 PM ET

Beat 360° 4/21/09

Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture – and 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:

US President Barack Obama looks at an autographed football helmet given to him by the US Naval Academy football team as he presents the team with the Commander in Chief’s trophy in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 21, 2009.

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.

UPDATE: Check out our Beat 360° Winners!

Beat 360° Challenge But wait!… There’s more! When you win ‘Beat 360°’ not only do you get on-air prime-time name recognition (complete with bragging rights over all your friends, family, and jealous competitors), but you get a “I Won the Beat 360° Challenge” T-shirt!

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
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