September 15th, 2010
12:15 PM ET

Letters to the President: #604 'The gaming of the shrew'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: Republicans are reassessing their position following the last primary voting before the fall’s general elections. But I’m wondering in today’s letter to the White House, if Democrats are yet considering all the potential pitfalls ahead…

Dear Mr. President,

The shrew is an astonishing animal. It is tiny; about the size of a mouse, although not related. Soft, grayish-brown fur. It has a pointy little snout; generally eats bugs, seeds, nuts, fruits, and other things like that. And I mean a lot of things like that. Up to three times its body weight in a day. (I had a friend in college who once did that with Domino’s pizza.)

Because it is small and can be found tunneling through your yard if you live in the right place, it is easy for people to confuse it with a mole or a small, harmless rodent of some type. But that is not a mistake you’ll make more than once.

Shrews are to cuddly little critters, what Chucky was to the Cabbage Patch Kids. They are vicious enough to challenge critters that absolutely tower over them. Mean enough to sink their needle teeth into the hand, foot, or paw of any perceived enemy with no apparent regard for whether that foe will then crush them to a tiny pulp.

And at the moment I can’t help but think of them as I watch the election results.

September 15th, 2010
11:44 AM ET

Former Fordham softball player stabbed to death in New Jersey


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/09/15/ayers.vert.fordham.jpg caption="Nicole Ayres was a pitcher at the university and was named rookie of the year in 2007, the school said. (Photo credit: Fordham University/www.fordham.edu)" width=292 height=320]

(CNN) - A former star athlete for Fordham University's softball team was stabbed to death near an athletic field in Southampton, New Jersey, and a man has been charged with murder, authorities said.

The body of Nicole Ayres, 22, of Westville, New Jersey, was found Monday morning, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office. Investigators said she was stabbed multiple times in the head, neck and back.

Stephen Headley, 28, who was charged with murder, is being treated at a hospital after being hit by a truck shortly before his arrest, investigators said.

"This is a shocking and terrible loss," Fordham University President Joseph M. McShane said in a written statement. "I cannot imagine the grief Nicole's family must be feeling today, a grief intensified by the death of someone so young. Today the university community's hearts and prayers are with Nicole's family, friends and loved ones."

Ayres was a pitcher at the university and was named rookie of the year in 2007, the school said. Fordham said she attended the university for two years after having been a standout athlete at Deptford High School in New Jersey.

Authorities would not disclose a possible motive or discuss any details about the investigation, including whether the suspect knew the victim.

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Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
September 15th, 2010
10:44 AM ET

Online sex ads complicate crackdowns on teen trafficking

Steve Turnham and Amber Lyon
CNN Special Investigations Unit

(CNN) - Behind every adult service ad on the internet is a story.

Sometimes it's a story of a grown woman who has chosen prostitution as a path to a better life. More often, it's a story of a woman being forced to sell her body by a pimp.

And then there are the children, and the mothers that miss them.

"They told me to look on Craigslist and it almost blew my mind," the mother of one missing 12-year-old told CNN. "She was there with a wig on. She was there in a purple negligee.

"She's a normal 12-year-old - Hannah Montana, the Jonas Brothers, they're her favorite," the mother said. "She's always screaming and hollering and singing. She's a great young lady."

The same day the woman spoke to CNN, her daughter was rescued by police at a seedy hotel near Washington where she was being sold for sex. And she's not alone.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • Amber Lyon
September 15th, 2010
10:09 AM ET

Tea Party favorites win GOP primaries in Delaware, New York

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - The Tea Party movement basked in the glow of victory Wednesday after its favorites won primary elections in Delaware and New York the night before over more mainstream Republicans, demonstrating again the clout of the political right.

Now the question is whether the right-wing candidates can also defeat Democratic rivals in November's congressional elections, when the stakes are higher and the full electorate is deciding.

Candidates backed by the Tea Party have won at least eight major GOP nomination fights across the country this year, in Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania and Utah. Tea Party candidates have also shown significant strength in numerous other state and local contests.

The results in Delaware and New York highlighted the last major day of primary voting before the upcoming election in just under seven weeks.

Full story

Filed under: 360º Follow • Raw Politics
September 15th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

Analysis: Final act begins in 2010 election

Mark Preston
CNN Senior Political Editor

Washington (CNN) - The curtain slammed down on the 2010 primaries Tuesday night crushing centrist Republican Rep. Mike Castle and handing the Tea Party movement a final victory in its battle with the GOP establishment.

Castle's upset loss to Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell was the exclamation point on a bitter and bruising primary season that saw seven incumbents lose re-election and angry political bases turn deaf ears to national leaders.

Full story

Filed under: 360º Follow • Raw Politics
September 15th, 2010
09:30 AM ET
September 15th, 2010
09:00 AM ET
September 15th, 2010
08:55 AM ET

Governor: State's tracking of protesters 'absolutely ludicrous'

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell says he is appalled that the state's Office of Homeland Security, unbeknownst to him, had been compiling and circulating information about protesters at peaceful gatherings.

Banging his fist on the podium Tuesday evening, a visibly angry Rendell called the practice "absolutely ludicrous."

"Let me make this as clear as I can make it. Protesting against an idea, a principle, a process, is not a real threat against infrastructure," he said at a news conference. "Protesting is a God-given American right, a right that is in our Constitution, a right that is fundamental to all we believe in as Americans."

The governor said he only recently learned that the state homeland security office had been paying a Pennsylvania firm to compile lists of rallies - which were then passed to law enforcement agencies and other entities as possible security threats. The contract cost the state $125,000 and will not be renewed, he said.

"Good Lord, and to think that we spent $125,000 on this at a time when every penny is dire for us is a further embarrassment," he said.

Among the rallies that were mentioned in the lists were a candle light vigil against the oil company BP, a gay pride festival and protests against natural gas drilling.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar
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