September 22nd, 2010
09:50 PM ET

Home Invasion Horror: Join the Live Chat

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/02/liveblogfinal.copy.jpg]

Tonight on 360°, a home invasion that ended in the murder of a mom and her two daughters. The trial is ongoing. Today in testimony new evidence was offered, along with insight on an alleged motive. Plus, Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell refusing to answer direct questions from us, but insisting reporters are twisting her words. We're keeping her honest.

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. 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 $#&*)

Filed under: Live Blog
September 22nd, 2010
07:50 PM ET

Beat 360° 9/22/10

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:

Singers Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, musician Randy Jackson and host Ryan Seacrest appear onstage at a press conference to officially announce the season 10 "American Idol" judges panel at The Forum on September 22, 2010 in Inglewood, California. (Photo credit: Kevin Winter/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.

Update: Beat 360° Winners:

Eli Lazar
“Has been
Never really was
Never will be


"Jennifer Lopez: 'Wow, the dude really DOES look like a lady!'"

___________________________________________________________________________Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
September 22nd, 2010
06:25 PM ET

House GOP's 'Pledge to America'

Deirdre Walsh
CNN Congressional Producer

Washington (CNN) – House Republican Leaders will unveil a 21 page "Pledge to America" on Thursday morning. CNN obtained a copy of the document Wednesday, which lays out a "governing agenda" for what Republicans would do if they won control of Congress.

The document focuses primarily on issues of jobs and the economy, with a short reference in the "preamble" section referencing the party's position on social issues. In terms of specific proposals, Republicans propose to permanently extend all the tax cuts due to expire at the end of this year, give small businesses a tax deduction equal to 20% of their income, require Congress to review any new federal regulations that add to the deficit. The plan also calls for federal spending to be rolled back to pre stimulus levels, which the GOP says will save $100 billion in the first year.

Full story on the CNN Political Ticker

Filed under: 360° Radar
September 22nd, 2010
06:15 PM ET

Detective: Home invasion suspect was 'desperate for money'

CNN Wire Staff

New Haven, Connecticut (CNN) - A man accused of killing three members of a Connecticut family and setting their home ablaze in a 2007 home invasion told police after his arrest that he was "desperate for money," the officer who interviewed him testified Wednesday.

Steven Hayes is charged with capital murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, burglary and arson in the July 2007 deaths of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Hayley Petit, 17, and Michaela Petit, 11.

Hayes and co-defendant Joshua Komisarjevsky - who will be tried separately - also are accused of beating and tying up Dr. William Petit and leaving him in the basement while they attacked Hawke-Petit and Michaela Petit, ransacked the home and set it afire.

Hayes, who has pleaded not guilty, could face the death penalty if convicted. Public defender Thomas Ullmann conceded in the defense's opening statement that Hayes killed Hawke-Petit but said that, otherwise, much of what happened is unclear.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar
September 22nd, 2010
06:11 PM ET

CNN/Time poll: Coons up 16 over O'Donnell

(CNN) – A new poll suggests that Delaware Republicans might have blown their chance to win back a Senate seat long held the by the Democrats.

According to a CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Wednesday, 55 percent of likely voters in Delaware say that they are backing Democratic Senate nominee Chris Coons, with 39 percent saying they support GOP nominee Christine O'Donnell. Among the wider pool of registered voters, Coons' leads O'Donnell by 25 points.

Last week O'Donnell upset longtime moderate Republican Rep. and former Gov. Mike Castle in the state's primary. O'Donnell, a conservative commentator who launched unsuccessful Senate bids in 2006 and 2008, was supported and helped by Tea Party activists and by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

But the survey indicates that if Castle had won the primary, he would be leading Coon's 55 to 37 percent in the general election matchup.

Full story on the CNN Political Ticker

Filed under: 360° Radar
September 22nd, 2010
03:27 PM ET

Update: Murkowski not stripped of committee leadership position

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/08/art.murkowski.0608.gi.jpg caption="Senate Republicans have decided not to strip Sen. Lisa Murkowski of her leadership position on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee." width=300 height=169]

Dana Bash and Ted Barrett

Washington (CNN) – In a surprise move, Senate Republicans decided not to remove Sen. Lisa Murkowski from her top position on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Wednesday, according to several Republican senators who refused to explain their decision.

Republicans had indicated as recently as Tuesday she was likely to lose her seniority on the committee as penalty for her write-in candidacy in Alaska.

A GOP source in the room tells CNN, despite anger towards Murkowski, the conference decided not to even take up the question of the Senate Energy Committee post because "there was a sense that she's resigned her leadership post, she lost her primary, she will probably lose her race, and she'll be gone. She will not be ranking [Republican] because she will not be here."

Full story on the CNN Political Ticker

Filed under: 360° Radar
September 22nd, 2010
01:23 PM ET

Letters to the President: #611 'The real Tea Party goal: Legitimacy'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama asked for advice a long time ago from ordinary citizens. He and the rest of the Dems got some this week from a citizen, who is anything but ordinary.

Dear Mr. President,

Did you see it? There was your old buddy former President Bill Clinton saying precisely what I told you a few days ago: It would be a huge mistake for the Democrats to dismiss the Tea Party movement as merely a problem for Republicans.

Related: Don't underestimate Tea Party, Clinton tells Dems

Has he been hanging around the Oval Office lately, maybe nosing through your mail? Or maybe Madam Secretary? Just wondering.

The funny thing is, no matter how the midterm election turns out, I suspect a lot of Tea Party folks already feel as if they have won. Six months ago they were being dismissed by both political parties as a flash in the pan, and now they are part of virtually every discussion on how the votes will be divvied up this fall.

September 22nd, 2010
12:47 PM ET

Woman’s muscles began to grow out of control

MaryAnne Fox
AC360° Producer

(CNN) - As a wife and mother to five children, Sally Massagee had always led an active lifestyle. She ran her own successful CPA firm in her hometown of Hendersonville, North Carolina and loved to cook and play tennis with friends. But, then in her late forties, that all changed. Massagee’s muscles began growing out of control.

“Everyone assumed that I spent a whole lot of time in the gym,” says Massagee. “One doctor said how many hours a day do you spend in the gym?”

But Massagee didn’t work out at the gym nor was she taking steroids. As her muscles continued to grow, they also started to harden, like rocks underneath her skin causing excruciating pain. Long gone were the days of running and playing tennis. Even basic activities like walking and standing soon became unbearable.

“I couldn’t reach up to fold over the turtleneck on my sweater,” recalls Massagee. “I couldn’t reach my ears to put on earrings.”

Full story

Related: Elite medical unit is last hope for patients with mystery illnesses

Programming note: This week, you will see an elite team of doctors, specialists and researchers at the UDP come together and try to solve the mystery and save Sally’s life. Tune into “Doctor Detectives” on AC360° at 10 p.m. EST.

Filed under: 360° Radar
September 22nd, 2010
12:00 PM ET

First lady to campaign for Democrats

Mark Preston and Becky Brittain

Washington (CNN) – First lady Michelle Obama is hitting the campaign trail to headline events for at least nine Democratic candidates and two Democratic committees in the closing weeks of the midterm election.

The first lady will visit five different states starting on Oct. 13 with events in Milwaukee and Chicago for Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, Illinois Senate nominee Alex Giannoulias, Illinois Rep. Debbie Halvorson, Illinois Rep. Bill Foster, Illinois congressional candidate Dan Seals and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Obama's schedule has her wrapping up this national barnstorming tour on Oct. 27 in Los Angeles to attend events for California Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Katie McCormick Lelyveld, the first lady's spokeswoman, noted that the schedule is fluid and more stops could be added in the coming weeks.

A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows that 62 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the first lady, while only 25 percent have an unfavorable view of her. Digging deeper into that data, 58 percent of independents and 69 percent of women have a favorable opinion of Obama, making her a valuable asset on the campaign trail.

Full story on the CNN Political Ticker

Filed under: 360° Radar
September 22nd, 2010
11:42 AM ET

Political Theater: Telling tales about the 17th Amendment

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

(CNN) - Sometimes it seems as if nothing makes a campaign staff happier than an ill-considered, or misstated position by the opponent, no matter how quickly it is retracted. And such appears to be the case with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s latest commercial against the Colorado Republican Senate nominee, Ken Buck.

In an effort to paint him as an out of control radical, the DSCC has rolled out thirty seconds of ominous music and even more frightening words.

“For nearly one hundred years, we the people have picked our Senators. But Ken Buck proposed a radically different idea. Buck said he wanted to rewrite the Constitution to let state legislators pick our Senators instead of voters. That’s right. Ken Buck actually proposed ending our right to vote for our own Senators. Rewriting the constitution? Ending our right to vote? Ken Buck's just too extreme for Colorado."

Their claim stems from an answer Buck gave at the Pikes Peak Economic Club in the summer of 2009, when he was asked about repealing the 17th Amendment.

Now, before we go any further, let’s remind ourselves what the 17th Amendment is all about. Originally the Constitution called for senators to be selected and sent to Washington by state legislators. The idea was that this would make state level lawmakers feel more politically connected to Washington, and keep U.S. senators above the daily fray of popular politics so they could vote their conscience.

Filed under: Raw Politics • Tom Foreman
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