September 28th, 2010
10:14 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Asst. AG Targets Gay Student

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight on 360­°, you'll hear from Michigan's Assistant Attorney General who is raging an online war against an openly gay college student.

Andrew Shirvell is in charge of taking on serious criminals and upholding the law. But in his spare time, he's running a controversial blog called "Chris Armstrong Watch."

Chris Armstrong is the student body president at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. He's also openly gay. Shirvell targets Armstrong in his blog saying he has a 'radical homosexual agenda." The first posting has a photo of Armstrong with the word "resign" over his face, along with a swastika and rainbow flag.

Shirvell graduated from University of Michigan in 2002, where he was active in the pro-life community.

Shirvell's boss, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, released this statement:

"Mr. Shirvell's personal opinions are his and his alone and do not reflect the views of the Michigan Department of Attorney General. But his immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear."

Shirvell claims he’s exercising his First Amendment right of free speech. But critics say he’s gone too far and say his tactics amount to cyber-bullying.

Anderson talked with Shirvell just moments ago about his blog. Hear what he has to say for himself tonight on the program.

Also on our radar tonight, the home invasion case in Connecticut. Testimony has ended in the trial of Steven Hayes, who's accused of killing a mother and her two daughters in 2007. Closing arguments are slated for Friday. We'll talk about today's developments in court with Beth Karas, a correspondent for "In Session" on our sister network truTV. She was in court today. We'll also talk with CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET on CNN. See you then.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
September 28th, 2010
09:29 PM ET

New Terror Threat: Join the Live Chat

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

Tonight we have breaking news on the growing concerns about an Al Qaeda commando attack, with gunmen on city streets, storming hotels, mowing down anyone in their path. If you remember the attacks on Mumbai this would be the sequel. We've got the latest on where officials fear it could happen, and where the killers could be coming from.

Want more details on what covering? Read EVENING BUZZ

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 28th, 2010
07:18 PM ET

Assistant Michigan AG targets openly gay college student

Editor's Note: Watch Anderson's interview with Andrew Shirvell

Martina Stewart
AC360° Digital Producer

(CNN) – Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox wants to make something crystal clear: no one should mistake the opinions of Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general in Cox’s office, for being those of the Michigan Attorney General’s office itself.

For nearly six months, Shirvell has used his blog “Chris Armstrong Watch,” to shine an online spotlight on college student Chris Armstrong, the openly gay president of the student governmental body at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Using the online moniker “Concerned Michigan Alumnus,” Shirvell launched his blog in late April.

“Welcome to ‘Chris Armstrong Watch,’” Shirvell wrote in his inaugural blog post. “This is a site for concerned University of Michigan alumni, students, and others who oppose the recent election of Chris Armstrong – a RADICAL HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST, RACIST, ELITIST, & LIAR – as the new head of student government.”

Among other things, Shirvell has published blog posts that accuse Armstrong of going back on a campaign promise he made to minority students; engaging in “flagrant sexual promiscuity” with another male member of the student government; sexually seducing and influencing “a previously conservative [male] student” so much so that the student, according to Shirvell, “morphed into a proponent of the radical homosexual agenda;” hosting a gay orgy in his dorm room in October 2009; and trying to recruit incoming first year students “to join the homosexual ‘lifestyle.’”

In a statement provided to CNN Tuesday evening, Michigan’s top lawyer sought to put some daylight between his office and Shirvell's online behavior.

“Mr. Shirvell's personal opinions are his and his alone and do not reflect the views of the Michigan Department of Attorney General,” Cox said in the written statement provided by his office. “But his immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear."

Contacted recently by CNN, Armstrong declined to comment on the record about Shirvell’s actions and would only say that he did not want to dignify Shirvell’s comments with a response and that he was pursuing legal action against Shirvell.

In previous interviews, Shirvell has made no apologies for his blog postings.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Bullying • Gay & Lesbian Issues • Martina Stewart
September 28th, 2010
05:06 PM ET

Republicans accuse Democratic ethics chairwoman of stalling Rangel and Waters trials

Dana Bash
CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent

Washington (CNN) – In a highly unusual move, every Republican member of the House ethics committee issued a statement Tuesday blasting the Democratic chairwoman for "stalling" on making a decision on whether to hold trials for New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel and California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters before November's election.

"Members of the Committee have repeatedly expressed their willingness and desire to move forward with public trials of these matters and have repeatedly made themselves available to the Chairwoman for October settings. In past Congresses, Committee Members have returned to Washington during a recess in an effort to conclude pressing Ethics matters," said the statement, signed by ranking Republican Jo Bonner and the four other GOP lawmakers on the committee.

The committee – officially the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct – has investigated Rangel on allegations of multiple ethics violations, including failure to report income and financial assets, and using his influence to solicit donations for a policy center bearing his name.

Waters is accused of helping a bank in which her husband owned stock.

Both Rangel and Waters have called on the committee to hold their trails before November.

Full story on the CNN Political Ticker

Filed under: 360° Radar
September 28th, 2010
04:45 PM ET

Beat 360° 9/28/10

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:

Actor Tom Cruise and actress Cameron Diaz attend the Japanese Premiere of "Knight and Day'" at Roppongi Hills on September 28, 2010 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo credit: Kiyoshi Ota/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:

Sean Yates
“'Do you really think we’d be here if the movie had been a blockbuster in the U.S.? Next question.'”


Brad Macpherson, Wilbraham, MA
“The difference in our heights is Knight and Day."

___________________________________________________________________________Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
September 28th, 2010
03:30 PM ET

ProPublica: Gulf spill paymaster says he has eliminated claims backlog – while claimants disagree

(ProPublica) - Five weeks after taking over the oil spill damage claims from BP, and after widespread criticism of delays in processing applications, claims czar Kenneth Feinberg said his operation had eliminated the backlog of older claims that had been sitting in the system unpaid.

“There is virtually now no backlog,” Feinberg told us this morning. “We are now current with any of the older claims.”

The latest statistics from his operation indicate that nearly 39,000 claims have been paid or approved, another roughly 27,000 have been flagged for inadequate documentation, and almost 8,700 are under review. “The only backlog we have now in the system," Feinberg said, "is claims that have come in over the last few days,” as well as the large number of insufficiently documented claims that he said his organization is unable to process.

However, some applicants in our BP Claims Project said that their claims are still waiting in limbo even though they filed with Feinberg’s operation more than a month ago.

More on ProPublica's site

Filed under: Gulf Oil Spill
September 28th, 2010
11:56 AM ET

Letters to the President: #617 "Can the youth vote be rallied?”

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama held a conference call with student journalists and talked to them about the upcoming vote in November; and that’s the subject of my daily letter to the White House; after all, I was once a student journalist too!

Dear Mr. President,

I read about your appeal to college age voters, asking them to get involved in the midterm elections, and that seems like a good idea. Of course, a lot of calls to the college crowd seem like a good idea at the time. “Hey Bob, Chuck, Davey, we found a hornets’ nest behind the frat house. Want to come help drive them off with a leaf blower?”

Still, if it had not been for the youth vote, you would not be president right now. No way. And I suspect they may offer one of the best (and maybe last) defenses your party has against a thumping in November.

September 28th, 2010
09:33 AM ET

Florida candidate challenges opponent's political ad

Rebecca Sinderbrand
AC360° Political Producer

Washington (CNN) - The challenger in a hotly contested race for a U.S. House seat in central Florida accused Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson on Monday of using misleading edits in a campaign ad to distort his comments.

Former Florida state Rep. Dan Webster said the new ad by Grayson's re-election campaign doesn't accurately portray what the GOP candidate said.

"Religious fanatics try to take away our freedom - in Afghanistan, in Iran and right here in Central Florida," says the narrator in the 30-second Grayson spot, which is cast on a background of Afghan women in burqas, militants with machine guns, and maps of Iran and Afghanistan.

The ad which began airing over the weekend shows Webster telling a Christian group: "Wives, submit yourself to your own husband" and "she should submit to me."

But video of Webster's full comment, provided to CNN by his campaign from a 2009 address in Nashville, Tennessee, seems to show a different picture of the candidate's intent.

"So, write a journal. Second, find a verse. I have a verse for my wife. I have verses for my wife," Webster goes onto say. "Don't pick the ones that say, 'she should submit to me.' It's in the Bible, but pick the ones that you're supposed to do.

"So instead, 'Love your wife, even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it,' as opposed to, 'Wives submit yourselves to your husband.' She can pray that if she wants to, but don't you pray it."

The Grayson campaign dismissed questions Monday over whether their editing had distorted the meaning of Webster's comments.

Full story

Filed under: 360º Follow • Keeping Them Honest • Raw Politics
September 28th, 2010
09:30 AM ET

Testimony resumes in Connecticut home invasion case

Swetha Iyengar
In Session

(CNN) - Testimony resumes Tuesday in the trial of Steven Hayes, the man accused of killing three members of a Connecticut family in a 2007 home invasion.

Hayes, 47, who has entered a plea of not guilty, is currently on trial in New Haven, Connecticut, for the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters.

The killings took place in the New Haven suburb of Cheshire in the early hours of July 23, 2007.

The home of Dr. William Petit, his wife Jennifer Hawke-Petit and two daughters was invaded in the middle of the night by Hayes and co-defendant Joshua Komisarjevsky, prosecutors say.

Connecticut State Police Det. Anthony Buglione, who interviewed Hayes following the incident, testified the duo beat Petit bloody and left him in the basement.

The two men then went upstairs and found Hawke-Petit and 11-year old Michaela Petit asleep in the master bedroom.

After tying Hawke-Petit to her bed, they led the girl to her room, tied her to her bed and put a pillowcase over her head, Hayes told Buglione.

They then found 17-year old Hayley Petit in her room and did the same, he said.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar
September 28th, 2010
09:25 AM ET
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