September 29th, 2010
09:57 PM ET

Should Mich. Asst. AG Be Fired?: Join the Live Chat

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Tonight, that law enforcement official who's targeting a college student in his spare time - singling him out for a campaign of vitriol and online attacks. New developments tonight, and the same question people keep asking us:  Why hasn't his boss fired him? We'll put that question to his boss - the Attorney General of Michigan. We're  keeping them honest. Plus, tonight's other headlines.

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 29th, 2010
09:49 PM ET

Evening Buzz: The Boss of Mich. Asst. AG Talks to 360°

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

We're continuing to keep them honest in Michigan where the Assistant Attorney General is under fire for a blog he has written that takes aim at the gay student body president at the University of Michigan.

Some say the Assistant AG Andrew Shirvell is obsessed with Chris Armstrong. The first posting on Shirvell's blog called "Chris Armstrong Watch" has a photo of Armstrong with the word "resign" over his face, along with a swastika and rainbow flag.

Last night on 360°, Shirvell defended his actions saying he does it during off-hours away from work and he says he's protected under the First Amendment. But today, many people are calling for him to be fired. There's one person who can make that decision, his boss, Attorney General Mike Cox. You'll hear from Cox tonight on the program.

And, up close tonight, actor Michael J. Fox on his fight against Parkinson's disease. He devotes much of his time to the charity he created to find a cure. He sat down with 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta to talk about his life today and why he believes a cure will be found.

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

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
September 29th, 2010
08:36 PM ET

Michigan AG: I was 'shocked' by employee's blog

Martina Stewart
AC360° Digital Producer

(CNN) - Michigan's top lawyer is standing his ground - and fleshing out his legal position - when it comes to the controversial off-hours online behavior of one of his employees.

For months, Assistant Michigan Attorney General Andrew Shirvell has published "Chris Armstrong Watch," a personal blog that seeks to spotlight the comings-and-goings of Chris Armstrong, the first openly gay president of the University of Michigan student assembly.

In an interview Tuesday on AC360°, Shirvell defended his behavior, saying he is a concerned alum of the university who is invoking his constitutional right to speak out against what he views as Armstrong's agenda as the head of the school's student government.

Related: Assistant attorney general blogs against gay student body president

"I'm a Christian citizen exercising my First Amendment rights," Shirvell told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "I have no problem with the fact that Chris is a homosexual. I have a problem with the fact that he's advancing a radical homosexual agenda."

In an interview that airs Wednesday on AC360°, Shirvell's boss expressed distaste for his employee's behavior but insisted it was legally protected absent changed circumstances.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox told Cooper that after receiving complaints at his office, he read portions of "Chris Armstrong Watch."

"As I expected you did," Cox told Cooper, "I found it a bit of rambling of a slightly immature adult. And I was a bit shocked by it."

Shirvell's "actions are offensive," Cox also said. But the top Michigan lawyer also maintained that Shirvell's personal blogging is a form of free speech protected by Michigan law and by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Bullying • Gay & Lesbian Issues
September 29th, 2010
06:34 PM ET

Beat 360° 9/29/10

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:

House Minority Leader John Boehner speaks during a news conference September 29, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Alex Wong/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
“Five reasons why I’ll be the next Speaker? How about five letters … O-B-A-M-A."


Santiago Melli-Huber, New Brunswick, NJ
"For the last time, it's pronounced 'BAIN-er!'"—

___________________________________________________________________________Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
September 29th, 2010
05:55 PM ET

Political Theater: Dem takes on Vitter for 'Forgotten Crimes'

In today's installment of AC360°'s Political Theater, Tom Foreman is looking at an ad from Louisiana Democratic Rep. Charlie Melancon who is challenging Sen. David Vitter, a Republican seeking re-election.

Here’s the script for Melancon's "Forgotten Crimes":

Charlie Melancon: "I’m Charlie Melancon, and I approve this message."

"This time on 'Forgotten Crimes,' caught up with prostitution scandals in Washington, D.C., and New Orleans, a Louisiana politician has been let off the hook. Today we explore the case of the senator and the madame in 'Lawmaker, law breaker.'"

Filed under: 360° Radar
September 29th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Michael J. Fox on Parkinson's and life

Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

(CNN) - When I went to Michael J. Fox’s neighborhood this morning, I had no idea what time we would start our interview. “He has to time his medications,” I was told. “When his medications kick in, he will be ready.” As far as I could tell, Fox’s medications kicked in right away, and for the next 90 minutes, we talked about everything.

Fox spoke about the hard shoes he has to wear first thing in the morning, because his feet and legs are so stiff. He humorously added that he just puts his toothbrush in his mouth, and lets the movement of his head do the rest of the work. As a neurosurgeon, it was fascinating to hear Michael describe his own brain surgery with such great clarity and his fears about doing it again. “Well, it is brain surgery…" he said with flourish.

Full story on The Chart

Filed under: 360° Radar • Sanjay Gupta
September 29th, 2010
04:04 PM ET

Reporter's Notebook: My death row interview

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Deb Feyerick

(CNN) - The trip to the Varner Correctional Facility in Grady, Arkansas is about an hour’s drive south of Little Rock, past cotton fields and wide-open sky. We arrive two hours early for our 9 a.m. interview. Armed guards on horseback keep watch over the “hoe teams,” newly arrived prisoners lined up shoulder-to-shoulder tending the grounds outside the electrified prison fence.

Damien Echols is housed in the high security “super max” wing on death row along with about 40 other men. He tells me he is in solitary confinement, alone in his cell virtually 24/7. The lights are turned off at 10:30 p.m. and he wakes four hours later at 2:30 a.m. when the lights come back on. He gets one hour of “outdoor” time every day in an enclosed pen that one prison official describes as a “dog run” – concrete on three sides, a tin-roof above and a chain link door in the front. Echols says he can’t really see the sky from there and, besides, the air smells bad, he says, because of the cell’s location. He says he has very little contact with the other death row inmates – the only regular noise he hears is the screams of one of the men that he says has psychiatric problems.

When we arrive for what is supposed to be an hour long visit, Echols is waiting for us in a thin corridor with small cells on each side. Prisoners sit on one side and visitors on the other, separated by what looks like a thick plastic window. He is surrounded by prison guards who hold his arms, though there seems to be no place for him to run even if he wanted. His hands and feet are shackled, connected by a leather leash. As a prison official opens the corridor, Echols begins a slow steady walk for our camera. Having done this many times before, he’s well aware we’re rolling and walks slowly and steadily, gazing straight ahead. He enters the cell, framed by blue bars, and sits on a small counter touching the plastic window. He smiles at me and says “Hi.”

Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime • Deborah Feyerick
September 29th, 2010
03:30 PM ET

Vitter prostitution scandal highlighted in Louisiana race

(CNN) – Rep. Charlie Melancon, the Democratic Senate nominee in Louisiana, plans to run a two-minute television ad as early as Wednesday night addressing his GOP opponent's 2007 prostitution scandal, a spokesman for Melancon's campaign said.

The ad, an abridged version of a Melancon campaign film called "Forgotten Crimes," features an audio recording of a "French Quarter prostitute," who describes her experience with Sen. David Vitter.

"He went in, took a shower, spoke very little to me at first," she says. "He did his thing. He wasn't there 15, 20 minutes at that."

Recent polls have shown Melancon trailing Vitter.

The new ad also includes statements by various unidentified Louisiana residents.

Full story on the CNN Political Ticker

Filed under: 360° Radar
September 29th, 2010
02:11 PM ET

Echols of West Memphis 3 talks about appeal, death row

Deborah Feyerick and Stephanie Chen

Grady, Arkansas (CNN) - Some things about Damien Echols remain unchanged since he was sentenced to death in 1994 at the age of 19 after being convicted of murdering three 8-year-old boys.

At 35, his favorite holiday is still Halloween. To celebrate, friends say, he sends them hand-made jack-o'-lantern cards. He longs for contact with the outside world.

"I miss the things that most people take for granted, things people don't want, like rain," Echols told CNN in a face-to-face interview airing on tonight's "AC360°."

"To go out and touch it and get wet, or to feel snow. I loved snow my entire life, and I haven't had that in almost 20 years now."

From the Varner Unit of the Arkansas prison system, Echols maintains his innocence 16 years after he and two other teens were convicted of murdering three Cub Scouts - Michael Moore, Christopher Byers and Steven Branch. On May 6, 1993, police in the rural community of West Memphis, Arkansas, found their bodies bruised and mutilated, their arms and legs hogtied with their own shoelaces.

Echols, along with 16-year-old Jason Baldwin and 17-year-old Jessie Misskelley, were found guilty a year later. Echols received a death sentence, while Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life in prison. The three teens became known as the West Memphis 3.

Echols is asking the Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday to grant him a new trial. His lawyers want to present DNA evidence not available at the time of the trial, as well as testimony that supports arguments that Echols and the two others did not commit the crime.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime • Deborah Feyerick
September 29th, 2010
01:35 PM ET

Letters to the President: #618 'The danger of name calling'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama is storming the country and calling down storms on the Republicans. Ok, they may deserve it, but I’m wondering if that kind of rainmaking might leave him soaked too.

Dear Mr. President,

I’ve had conversations with people around the country over the past couple of days, and I have to say I am now convinced that telling voters that the Republicans will do worse is just not going to cut it this fall. I’m sorry, but it seems to be true.

The failures of the GOP to meet public expectations have been widely publicized, readily grasped, and you’re preaching to the choir in a lot of places. Sure, Republicans have risen a little bit in the polls, but just a little. The main problem is that your party and the GOP are collectively so far down in public esteem.

Time and again the folks I was talking to sighed, told me how much they believed in you two years ago, and how disappointed they have been since. Now, in fairness, some made a point of saying they don’t think it’s all your fault. They still believe you are dedicated to doing a good job and helping the nation dig out of this hole. But even they found such profound fault with both parties that I just can’t see you winning them over by laying into the Republicans so hard.

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