October 5th, 2010
09:45 PM ET

Ellen DeGeneres on the Battle Against Bullying: Join the Live Chat

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Tonight, truth in advertising. You deserve no less from the people seeking your vote. But you may not be getting it. Plus, kids and bullying. My talk with students and a special conversation with Ellen DeGeneres, who is passionate about the problem.

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
October 5th, 2010
09:21 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Seeking the Truth in Campaign Ads

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

You've likely noticed all the political ads hitting the airwaves with Election Day one month away. But how truthful are those ads?

Tonight on 360°, we're seeking the truth in a political battle in central Florida where Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson is seeking re-election. His campaign recently released a 30-second spot where he compares his GOP opponent, former Florida Rep. Daniel Webster, to the Taliban.

"Wives submit yourself to your own husband" and "she should submit to me," Webster is heard saying in the ad.

But we obtained Webster's full comments from a speech he gave in Tennessee last year, which shows a different message.

"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."

Last week, the Grayson campaign dismissed questions about whether it edited Webster's comments. Tonight you'll hear from Grayson. Anderson will ask him about this questionable ad and another accusing Webster of dodging the draft during the Vietnam War. We're keeping them honest.

We're also looking into a string of teen suicides linked to anti-gay bullying at Anoka High School, in Minnesota. The most recent was Justin Aaberg, 15, who hanged himself in his bedroom.

Since Justin's death in July, his mother has been speaking out against LGBT bullying. "I've been talking to kids all over the country that have come to me, and feel they are not alone now," Tammy Aaberg told CNN's Larry King last night.

The President of the Minnesota Family Council says harassment of a student or any student for homosexuality or any other reason is unacceptable and needs to be swiftly dealt with.

But Tom Prichard also wrote on the organization's blog: "Youth who embrace homosexuality are at greater risk, because they've embraced an unhealthy sexual identity and lifestyle."

"Even if the reason a student's harassment is his or her homosexuality that does not justify "anti-homophobia" indoctrination of the entire student body and faculty," he added.

Does he still stand by those comments? You'll hear from him tonight, along with Rosalind Wiseman, author of "Queen Bees and Wannabees".  We'll also have Anderson's talk with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres about bullying.

There's also a verdict in the Connecticut home invasion trial. We'll have these stories and much more at 10 p.m. ET. See you then.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
October 5th, 2010
04:39 PM ET

Man convicted of capital murder in Connecticut home invasion case

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - After deliberating for about four hours over two days, a jury Tuesday convicted a 47-year-old man of capital murder in the deaths of three members of a Connecticut family in a 2007 home invasion.

Steven Hayes was convicted on 16 of the 17 charges against him in connection with the deaths of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, including nine counts of murder and capital murder and four counts of kidnapping. The jurors acquitted him of an arson charge in the burning of the family's home.

As the verdicts were read, Hayes stood at the defense table, looking down. Some members of the Petit family embraced, while others seemed close to tears.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
October 5th, 2010
04:25 PM ET

Beat 360° 10/5/10

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:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, attends the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit at Mandarin Oriental Hotel on October 4, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.)

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:

Sam Meyer
“Christine O’Donnell says she’s not a witch. In a related story, I have something to announce.”


Catherine, New Orleans, LA
"Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is dismayed to find herself in a red state."

___________________________________________________________________________Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
October 5th, 2010
04:10 PM ET

A Christian response to anti-gay bullying

Warren Throckmorton
Special to CNN

Editor's Note: Warren Throckmorton, PhD is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Grove City College. Along with Michael Frey, he leads the Golden Rule Pledge and blogs at warrenthrockmorton.com. Don't miss an "AC360°" special report in collaboration with PEOPLE Magazine, "Bullying: No Escape," all this week at 10 p.m. ET on CNN.

The nation is mourning the recent suicides of three young teens, Billy Lucas, Asher Brown and Seth Walsh. Although each situation was a little different, a common denominator was that a central feature of the harassment the boys experienced was anti-gay name-calling.

Sadly, these boys join a string of other suicide victims who'd been subjected to anti-gay bias.

The tragedies have heightened the attention of the public on an already contentious debate about how to prevent anti-gay harassment. While everyone agrees that such bullying is harmful and must be addressed, not all agree about the means to that end.

Gay groups want to enact legislation which specifically includes prohibitions on bullying based on bias toward gays or those perceived to be gay.

Some Christian conservatives believe such laws communicate approval of homosexuality and thus disapproval of traditional Christian teaching on sexuality.

My view is that evangelicals need to put ideological worries aside and become part of the solution.

Addressing anti-gay bias doesn't require anyone to change religious beliefs about sexuality.

Current laws forbid bias on account of religion and yet I do not believe these laws promote my religion or any religion. Since religious bias is sometimes at the root of aggression toward others, laws set the boundaries of behavior in an explicit manner.

In the same way, it seems reasonable for schools to make clear that the boundaries of appropriate behavior exclude name-calling and harassment involving perceptions about sexual orientation.

Addressing such bias strikes me as an application of the Golden Rule – do to others as you would have them do to you.

More on the Belief blog

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Bullying • Gay & Lesbian Issues • Opinion
October 5th, 2010
04:00 PM ET
October 5th, 2010
02:15 PM ET

CNN Hero: 'Who needs sleep when you’ve just been told that you’re a Top 10 CNN Hero? '

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Programming Note: CNN Heroes received more than ten thousand nominations from 100 countries. A Blue Ribbon Panel selected the Top 10 CNN Heroes for the year. Voting for the CNN Hero of the Year continues through November 18th (6am ET) at CNNHeroes.com

Editor's Note: Harmon Parker is using his masonry skills to save lives. Since 1997, he’s built 45 footbridges over Kenya's perilous rivers, protecting people from flash floods and predatory animals. The bridges also connect isolated communities with valuable resources.

I was in a grass roof Banda in West Pokot [Kenya] where I’d been working on a new bridge project. I was staring at a bat hanging from the ceiling and listening to a rat run around on the floor trying to fall asleep.

It was at that moment, 10:18PM, when my cell phone rang. It’s very interesting because I normally do not have cell phone reception in this area…I thought it might be my wife, so I answered the phone.

I was surprised to hear a man’s voice. He introduced himself and said he wanted to share some news with me, so I said, “fire away.” …He then told me he was happy to say that the CNN Blue Ribbon panel had selected me, to be one of the top Ten CNN Heroes for 2010!

To say I was excited doesn’t begin to describe my first reaction; my heart was pumping hard from the adrenaline rush and I found myself repeating, “You have to be kidding, you have to be kidding!”

Filed under: CNN Heroes
October 5th, 2010
12:33 PM ET

Bullying victim: 'I believed that I did not deserve to live'

Chuck Hadad
AC360° Producer

(CNN) - For Joey Kemmerling, it was his decision to reveal his sexual orientation that triggered relentless bullying at school.

"I came out of the closet as gay in eighth grade and ever since I've been bullied. I was, for lack of a better word, and still am, the school faggot," the 16-year-old Joey recently told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

The Pennsylvania native said his decision to come out to classmates not only evoked a firestorm of vicious taunts but also led to a threat on his life.

"There was a point where a kid had a knife on school premises and said, 'I'm going to kill him. I want that faggot dead.' And I had to transfer schools," Joey said.

The bullying persisted outside of school, both online and on the street. His mother, Joyce Mundy, said beyond her son being bullied online, she had to file a police report after two boys followed Joey on his walk home, making threatening comments the entire way.

Joey and seven other teens recently spoke to Cooper about the harsh realities of bullying. All eight youngsters said they were not surprised by the recent rash of headlines about suicides of apparent bullying victims.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Bullying • Chuck Hadad
October 5th, 2010
12:16 PM ET

Dr. Phil: Bullied to death

Dr. Phil McGraw
Special to CNN

If you think cyberbullying isn’t really that big of a deal, or just kids being kids, let me throw a few facts at you: More than 40 percent of kids in this country say they’ve been bullied on the internet, and 35 percent say they have received online threats. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, cyberbullying victims are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide compared to those who have not endured such bullying. Since 2003, at least a dozen young people between the ages of 11 and 18 have killed themselves after some form of cyberbullying.

The Dr. Phil show has been inundated with letters and calls from kids desperate to escape these keyboard bullies - omnipresent, electronic stalkers who go after them day and night, destroy their reputations, if not their lives, and then log off their computers and disappear. For every sickening cyberbully incident you read about — such as the suicide of Rutgers University college student Tyler Clementi, after he learned a roommate had allegedly videotaped his sexual encounter with another young man and streamed it live online — there are at least a half dozen more that never make headlines.

It’s flabbergasting. When I was young, bullies intimidated with their physical size and words. Now, they have Facebook, MySpace, e-mail, texting, message boards, comment fields, blocked calls, instant messaging and chat rooms. And what these keyboard cowards can accomplish with those weapons is exponentially greater than what the old-school bully was once able to do on a playground or in the school cafeteria.

Under the cloak of anonymity, a cyber bully can wage an emotional and psychological war with a few keystrokes — disclosing personal photos, sending group e-mails with the intent of humiliating an individual, sending threatening e-mails, posting embarrassing or mean messages for others to comment on or share. By using false identities, a cyber bully also can make his victim feel that legions of other kids despise him or her.

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Bullying • Dr. Phil • Opinion
October 5th, 2010
11:13 AM ET

Letters to the President: #624 'The bully pulpit'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama, like any president, has a lot of people listening when he speaks. And I hope he’ll speak up a little more on this subject of bullying.

Dear Mr. President,

You may have noticed that we are doing a lot of stories on bullying lately. Almost everyone I knew in school was bullied to some degree, but certainly there were a few who were hassled endlessly. They were teased about their looks, their clothing, their ways, and even their families. Even then I knew it was wrong. So in these days of considerably more information about the effects of such things, I can’t help but wonder why it persists. But I have an idea.

In the past few weeks, I have been made aware of people accusing each other of being liars, perverts, idiots, and thieves. I’ve seen humiliating videos posted on the web for all the world. I have read about the most bitter and caustic insults being tossed around with no regard for the injury they may cause, or whether or not they are true. I have seen people demonstrate utter disregard for the basic principles of civil behavior and decent manners.

And that’s all been in the political ads I’ve watched. I’m not joking. While young people can dream up horrors enough of their own, too often the adults in our world reinforce the idea that how you treat someone doesn’t matter as long as you come out on top in the end. Sure, we all shake our heads and “tsk” when bullying leads to a terrible headline about a young life lost, but I think we don’t often enough demonstrate to young people that there are basic rules in how people should treat each other.

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