December 21st, 2010
09:56 PM ET

9/11 first responders left waiting: Join the Live Chat

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

Tonight, the lawmaker known as Doctor No, Senator Tom Coburn may end up single-handedly saying no to thousands of 9/11 first responders. We're Keeping him Honest. The author of a how-to guide for pedophiles, previously sold on Amazon, is in jail tonight and he's speaking out. And, in Crime and Punishment, the mysterious and tragic death of a toddler, a cold case solved.

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
December 21st, 2010
08:30 PM ET

American gets nearly 20 years for sexually abusing Haitian boys

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/WORLD/americas/12/21/haiti.abuse/story.haiti.perlitz.cnn.jpg caption="Douglas Perlitz was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison Tuesday in New Haven, Connecticut." width=300 height=169]

Vladimir Duthiers and Hannah Yi

(CNN) - An American school founder who young Haitian men once hailed as a savior was sentenced Tuesday to nearly 20 years in prison for sexually abusing them.

Douglas Perlitz, 40, was sentenced in federal court in New Haven, Connecticut, to 19 years and 7 months behind bars for abusing the Haitian men when they were boys under his care, said Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston.

"We're very pleased with the sentence," he said. "He was brought to justice and I hope it sends a strong message to people who are doing that or who are even thinking about doing that."

Judge Janet Bond Arterton imposed the sentence, which includes 10 years of supervised release.

Perlitz arrived in the northern Haitian city of Cap-Haitien in 1997. There, he opened a charitable school called the Project Pierre Toussaint (PPT). He got homeless boys off the streets and gave them shelter, food and education.

"When I met Mr. Douglas, he appeared to us like Jesus Christ himself come to rescue us," said Francilien Jean-Charles, who was only 12 when he was plucked by Perlitz and brought to the school.

Over the years, PPT grew into a 10-acre compound with dorms, classrooms and a soccer field.

Perlitz frequently flew back to Fairfield, Connecticut, to raise money. According to court documents, from 2002 to 2008, donors gave more than $2 million to help care for the kids. Perlitz's alma mater, Fairfield University, awarded him an honorary degree in 2002 for helping homeless boys in Haiti.

But Perlitz was hardly the man he appeared to be.

Full story

Filed under: Haiti • Hannah Yi • Vladimir Duthiers
December 21st, 2010
07:30 PM ET

9/11 first responders urge passage of health benefits bill

CNN Wire Staff

Washington (CNN) - A group of 9/11 first responders joined lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday to urge the Senate passage of a health care bill meant to provide free medical treatment to those suffering from the health effects of working in and near ground zero following the 2001 attacks.

"Fourteen of our guys died that day and we continue to see our friends die on a day-to-day basis," said Glen Klein, a New York police officer who said he is sick with lung disease. "We're asking for the right to live."

In the years following the attacks, health experts have noted respiratory and mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, in those who engaged in ground zero rescue and cleanup efforts.

"Apparently we have some senators who would like to believe that when 343 fire officers and firefighters [and thousands of civilians and police officers] died on 9-11...that was the end of it," said Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

"If that were true, we could move on."

The bill has been in legislative limbo since Thursday, when Senate Democrats failed to win a procedural vote to open debate on it.

But on Sunday, Democrats said they were hopeful they had pulled off "a Christmas miracle" by changing the bill enough to garner Republican support.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
December 21st, 2010
06:06 PM ET

Beat 360° 12/21/10

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-California, reacts after signing the legislation repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy at the U.S. Capitol December 21, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Win McNamee/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:

Sam Meyer
“Funny, I was expecting jazz hands…"


Marcos Loera
"I once caught a lame duck this big."

___________________________________________________________________________Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
December 21st, 2010
02:00 PM ET

Author of pedophile book says Florida arrest is entrapment

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - A man who wrote a controversial book considered a "how-to" guide for pedophiles was booked into a Florida jail Tuesday after defending his book to reporters.

Phillip Greaves, who was arrested Monday in Colorado, said "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover's Code of Conduct" can be used as a guide to rehabilitating pedophiles, and - instead of teaching them how to avoid arrest - teaches them to avoid illegal actions.

Asked if he is a pedophile, Greaves said, "I only have sex with grown-ups." He said he has no children and "I don't keep children around my house."

Polk County, Florida, Sheriff Grady Judd has said his detectives were able to establish jurisdiction in the case by conducting an undercover operation, buying the book through the mail.

Greaves protested Tuesday he is the target of entrapment, but Judd disagreed.

"He wrote this book, he published this book, he put it on Amazon to sell," Judd told reporters as Greaves was booked into the Polk County Jail, "and he freely responded to our desire to purchase it."

Greaves and his book gained national attention this year after Amazon.com defended selling the book despite angry comments and threats of boycotts. The book was removed from the website in November.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
December 21st, 2010
11:45 AM ET

Letters to the President: #701 'Goodnight moon'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The White House has a nice yard, so even with the city lights you would think it might be nice for some stargazing. That’s what today’s letter is about.

Dear Mr. President,

Not sure what happened in your house last night, but in mine everyone crawled out of bed around 2:20 am to watch the lunar eclipse. First one to come on the solstice in more than 300 years. Pretty cool stuff. We were fortunate because it was visible through a big window in our house, so we didn’t have to stand out in the cold to see.

When I was a child, my father and I arose in the middle of the night to watch a lunar eclipse deep in one winter. I can’t recall if it was before Christmas, but it seems to me it was after the holiday. At the time we lived in an old farm house that we were renting from a very nice farming family, the Shumans, who remain family friends to this day and are some of the finest people we’ve ever known.

The old house was built back in the days when insulation was at best a distant rumor, so it was impossible to heat, and when the cold of January and February came calling it didn’t merely beat at the doors and windows; it came right into the kitchen and pulled up a chair. Nonetheless, on that night the house was a veritable furnace compared to the yard. A brutal storm had swept through a few days earlier and everything was coated with a thick layer of hard, clear ice. Each blade of grass seemed as thick as a finger, and the air bit into every piece of exposed skin like a cup of instant frostbite.

Still, my father and I crawled from our beds at some unholy hour of morning, pulled on as much warm clothing as we could find in the dark without waking the whole family, and stepped out into the back yard; walking out between the house, the old white barn, and the chicken house; clear of the trees, surrounded by the vast fields of corn stubble from last autumn’s harvest, and we looked up. There, between billowy clouds of our breath, we watched the shiny white moon being eaten away by the shadow of earth. The cold enhanced the experience in a strange way, because it seemed to bespeak the unfathomable temperatures and hostility of space itself. We were thrilled.

December 21st, 2010
11:33 AM ET

Opinion: We must pay our debt to 9/11 heroes

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/12/21/gillibrand.wtc.responders.bill/t1larg.gillibrand.senate.jpg caption="Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand argues for passage of the 9/11 responders bill, accompanied by first responder Capt. John Gallagher, left." width=300 height=169]

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Special to CNN

Editor's note: Kirsten E. Gillibrand was sworn in as U.S. senator for New York in January 2009, filling the seat of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Before her appointment, she served in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing New York's 20th Congressional District.

(CNN) - On September 11, 2001, when thousands of innocent men and women lost their lives, tens of thousands more came to their assistance.

We as a nation saw greater acts of heroism than we could have imagined: First responders from all over New York and all over the country came to ground zero to save lives, provide proper burial for lives that were lost and assist in the enormous effort to clean up and recover from that devastating attack on our nation.

Tragically, in the nine years since the attack, more than 30,000 responders and survivors from across the country have had to be medically treated because of their exposure to ground zero toxins. They are waiting for Congress to pass legislation to ensure that they can continue to get the care they need.

Our 9/11 heroes didn't think twice that day. Bound by duty, a love of our nation and their fellow Americans, they joined hand in hand with heroes from every corner of America to come to our rescue.

Now, it's long past time we came to theirs. Nine years ago, no one could have imagined that our nation would ignore our duty to the 9/11 heroes. Nine years ago, no one could have imagined that our country would leave these heroes behind.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act would finally provide monitoring and treatment for World Trade Center responders and community members who are suffering, and for those who traveled to ground zero from all across America.

Read more

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Opinion
December 21st, 2010
11:15 AM ET
December 21st, 2010
11:00 AM ET
December 21st, 2010
10:45 AM ET
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