October 25th, 2010
11:59 PM ET

Dirty Politics: Opening Pandora's cash box

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Editor's note:
Watch AC360°'s special investigation into "Dirty Politics" this week and get Tom Foreman's take on the dirtiest ads, the dirtiest races, and the dirtiest campaign trail moments of this midterm election cycle.

Washington (CNN) - To hear big Democrats tell it, the Republicans have assembled a secret army of check writing ninjas sneaking millions of untraceable dollars into the election, even now creeping through the political night to wreak havoc.

Big Republicans have a different take: The Democrats are a bunch of sore losers.

And if you ask independent analysts, they’ll give you a third read: Both parties are obeying the law, yet hiding the hypocrisy behind what some consider the single dirtiest trick of this election.

First some background. The issue of anonymous donors using outside groups to push voters to or away from any given candidate has been heating up for years. It works kind of like this: If Candidate A decides to run for Congress because he’s really had it with the influence of big oil companies, those same companies can spend millions to attack his positions and suggest Candidate B is a better choice, and if they do it through the right type of perfectly legal group, the company never needs to risk public knowledge that it was behind the effort. Actually a much noted Supreme Court ruling earlier this year said such companies and individuals could also take such actions quite openly, but that’s another part of the story. There is some fine print, but not much.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Raw Politics • Tom Foreman
October 25th, 2010
09:48 PM ET

O'Donnell Double-Standard: Join the Live Chat

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

Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell says she's the victim of a double standard – the victim of sexism. Targeted, she says, because she is a conservative christian woman. Does she have a case or is she actually the one whose been using a double standard? We're Keeping Them Honest.

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 25th, 2010
09:43 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Haiti's Preventable Deaths

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

At least 259 people have died in a cholera outbreak in Haiti and the U.N. fears "tens of thousands" could become infected. These are deaths that didn't have to happen. Actor/activist Sean Penn has sounded the alarm for months. We'll talk to him about the outbreak. And, what about all the money pledged to help rebuild after January's earthquake? We're Keeping Them Honest.

Also tonight, what it feels like to be in the middle of a tornado and live to tell the story. Anderson will talk with Navarro County Texas Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Meyers, who shot the incredible video of a twister hitting his area last night.

And, she first made headlines as the 'hiccup girl' in 2007 when she couldn't stop hiccuping and was searching for a cure. Tonight she has much bigger problems. She's accused of first-degree murder. Details in our Crime and Punishment report.

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

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
October 25th, 2010
08:45 PM ET

Penn on dealing with cholera in Haiti: 'Water, water, water'

Martina Stewart
AC360° Digital Producer

(CNN) – Actor and activist Sean Penn says one of the key aspects to gaining control of the fast-moving cholera outbreak in Haiti is the simplest of human necessities.

Related: Health organizations worry that Haiti's cholera outbreak could spread

“One of the things that people have to understand,” Penn tells CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “ - they say, well, don’t use the water; the water is contaminated. The only way that people will pay attention to that is if clean water is provided. So, whether that’s through filtration systems or trucked in water, this is going to be the essential element – water, water, water.”

Penn, a co-founder of Haitian relief organization J/P HRO, visited Haiti over the weekend, just days after news broke about the cholera outbreak in the earthquake-ravaged country.

“It’s bad,” Penn says of the conditions in the Caribbean nation, devastated by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on January 12. Nearly a quarter million people died and more than 1.6 million were left homeless as tens of thousands of homes and commercial buildings, as well as basic infrastructure, were destroyed.

“What we know about it at this point,” Penn says of the outbreak, “is that it is affecting a very regional area, in particular the epicenter of it, but it’s spreading very fast.”

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Haiti • Martina Stewart
October 25th, 2010
05:13 PM ET

Beat 360° 10/25/10

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:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends a signing ceremony for an agreement to reduce poverty through economic growth in Jordan at the State Department in Washington, DC on October 25, 2010. (Photo credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/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:

Bradley Gallo
“Hillary Clinton just saw the cover of New York Magazine: Sarah Palin for President”


Rob Beck, Palmdale, CA
"Hillary poses with the next Democratic Congress post mid terms!!"

___________________________________________________________________________Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
October 25th, 2010
04:15 PM ET

'Hiccup Girl' charged with murder after allegedly luring man into trap

Catherine E. Shoichet

(CNN) - A Florida teenager made famous for her extensive bout with hiccups faces first-degree murder charges after meeting a man online and allegedly luring him to a vacant home, where he was robbed of between $50 and $60 and killed, police said.

Jennifer Mee, 19, was arrested and charged Sunday - as were two men, Laron Raiford and Lamont Newton - hours after Shannon Griffin was found dead. He had been shot several times.

The victim "friended" Mee on a social networking site last week and the two exchanged messages in subsequent days, according to St. Petersburg, Florida, police. Authorities do not believe Mee or Griffin, a Wal-Mart employee who had recently moved to Florida from the Gulf Coast, knew each other prior to their online encounter.

After telling family members around 10 p.m. that he was heading out to meet a woman, Griffin rode his scooter to a vacant home where he had his first face-to-face encounter with Mee, police said. Mee led Griffin around to the back, where Raiford and Newton were armed and waiting, according to police.

Griffin was shot with .38-caliber revolver while struggling in what the three murder suspects described to police as a "robbery gone awry."

"All three suspects admitted to their involvement and were charged with 1st degree felony murder," St. Petersburg Police Sgt. T.A. Skinner said in a statement.

Mee will face the same murder charge as the two men, even though she didn't actually shoot Griffin, police said.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar
October 25th, 2010
01:15 PM ET

Christine O'Donnell says her influences include God and Gloria Steinem

Shannan Adler

(CNN) – In a recent interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Christine O'Donnell listed both God and Gloria Steinem as sources of inspiration and influence when times get tough on the campaign trail.

The interview was conducted by CBN's The Brody File on Friday at Wesley College in Dover, Delaware and is posted on CBN's website.

O'Donnell cited a double standard she believes is being applied to women, specifically conservative women who choose to run for office. "I don't feel it because I don't watch the news. (Laughs) No. I do feel it. There's certainly a double standard and I don't often quote Gloria Steinem but she said you can look at a double standard if they wouldn't attack the male opponent that way and there's no doubt that they wouldn't say the things they're saying about me, they wouldn't do the things that they're doing if I weren't a woman. I'm not whining but there certainly is a double standard especially when it comes to conservative woman."

Full story on the CNN Political Ticker

Filed under: 360° Radar
October 25th, 2010
10:36 AM ET

Health organizations worry that Haiti's cholera outbreak could spread

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/10/25/haiti.cholera/t1larg.haiti.hospital.cnn.jpg caption="Cholera outbreak kills more than 250 Haitians." width=300 height=169]

CNN Wire Staff

Editor's note: Actor-activist Sean Penn talks about the cholera outbreak and other problems affecting Haiti on CNN's "AC360°" at 10 p.m. ET Monday.

Port-Au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) - Calling Haiti's cholera outbreak "an extremely serious situation," a United Nations official expressed concern Monday that the infectious disease that has already killed more than 250 people could spread and grow to "tens of thousands of cases."

"It would be irresponsible to plan for anything but a considerably wider outbreak," said Nigel Fisher, U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Haiti.

Officials with the Pan American Health Organization expressed similar concerns about the disease spreading to the Domincan Republic.

"There is a very high risk that cholera will move to the other side of the island," said Dr. Jon K. Andrus, referring to the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. "There should be an island-wide approach on how to address cholera."

The Pan American organization had "expected these cases," said Andrus, and "put in an early-warning system to watch out for these consequences, since the earthquake on January 12."

Full story

Udpated: 6:15 p.m.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Haiti • T1
October 25th, 2010
10:15 AM ET

Obama can take endorsement and 'shove it,' says Dem

Alexander Mooney
CNN Ticker Producer

(CNN) – President Obama is making a campaign stop in Rhode Island Monday but he’s not getting a particularly warm welcome from the state’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

Amid news Obama is refraining from endorsing Democrat Frank Caprio during his swing through the state, Caprio told a local radio station Monday that the president can “take his endorsement and really shove it.”

"We had one of the worst floods in the history of the United States a few months back and President Obama didn't even do a flyover of Rhode Island like President Bush did when New Orleans had their problems. He ignored us and now he's coming into Rhode Island and treating us like an ATM machine,” Caprio, the state’s treasurer, also told WPRO’s John Depetro.

Caprio is neck-and-neck in the polls with former Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, running as an independent. Chafee, the only Republican to vote against the authorization of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, lost his Senate reelection bid in 2006 and later left the GOP.

Full story on the CNN Political Ticker

Filed under: 360° Radar
October 25th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #644 'Being stand-offish'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama continues trying to rally voters to his party’s side for the midterm election. But it is hard for anyone to stand close to big time political players on either side of the aisle.

Dear Mr. President,

I’m starting this week off a little frayed around the edges having traveled back and forth about ten hours for a friend’s wedding near New York this weekend. It was a lovely ceremony, the reception was beautiful, and they are a charming couple. There is something reassuring and inspiring about young people beginning the process of beginning a family.

You should have been there, and I’m not just saying that.

With all the absurdity and antagonism swirling around this midterm election I think it would do any pol good to spend some quality time among normal Americans doing normal American things. I don’t mean a campaign stop in a diner. I mean they should spend some real time in real settings aimed at producing real understanding, not press releases. Like maybe they should do a version of that “Undercover Boss” thing, you know?

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