December 22nd, 2010
09:57 PM ET

Intel Lapse?: Join the Live Chat

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

Tonight, is the director of national intelligence being left in the dark? Is he getting the briefings he needs to keep you and your family, and all Americans, safe this holiday season? We're Keeping them honest. Plus, tonight's other headlines.

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 22nd, 2010
07:26 PM ET

Reporter’s Notebook: Picking 'All the Best, All the Worst of 2010'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Editor's note: Watch “All the Best, All the Worst of 2010” at 5pm and 8pm ET on Christmas Eve on CNN.

Washington (CNN) - Day 45 of our captivity. The final graphics are going in. Katie, the producer, is answering aloud the voices in her head. Ross and Dave, the editors, are huddled in the corner with canned goods. Me? I’m calm. Collected. Even happy. After all, who knew such a nice ledge was just outside my window?

So maybe I’m being a shade overdramatic, but our annual struggle to produce our opus compendium of the year, “All the Best, All the Worst,” is enough to drive even normally implacable TV types, who eat stress like popcorn, into twitching fits.

How do you pick the best, worst, funniest, saddest, weirdest, meanest, coolest, craziest, scariest, sexiest, seamiest stories of the year from everything that happened? As best I can tell, one at a time.

Katie and I begin assembling the list right after New Year’s. We note each major development in the key fields of news: politics, breaking stories, the economy, the arts, sports, technology, science, and pop culture to name a few. We also jot down countless little things - small developments which might not mean much in April, for example, but could be a big deal by October.

We create long, rambling lists of quotes, statistics, and video clips. We weight them constantly against each other, like a cook checking the bubbling broth for just the right mix of pepper, salt, oregano, and all the other spices. We argue over what matters and what doesn’t. We debate where to draw the line: Which celebrities are interesting and inspired, and which are just tasteless and crude?

We talk about music and movies. We run back and forth to each other’s computers to watch clips (I must have seen the Bed Intruder Guy about fifty times.) And as the year draws to a close, we assemble our panel of experts.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Tom Foreman
December 22nd, 2010
06:53 PM ET

Beat 360° 12/22/10

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:

President Barack Obama gestures as he arrives to sign the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 into law at the Department of the Interior in Washington, DC, on December 22, 2010. (Photo credit: Jewel Samad/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:

Steve Brusk
“There! Those are the shorts Ed Henry is wearing!"


"You can now take a Christmas vacation!!"

___________________________________________________________________________Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
December 22nd, 2010
03:00 PM ET

Headlines aside, 'don't ask, don't tell' stays in place

Larry Shaughnessy
CNN Pentagon Producer

Washington (CNN) - When President Obama signed the bill repealing the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" policy, it did not immediately end the military's 17-year ban on gays serving openly.

In fact, it will take a series of actions to make that happen, and no one at the Pentagon seems to know when the actual end date might be.

"I don't think anybody has any idea how long this will take," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters Monday.

Even gays currently serving, albeit quietly, had muted reactions to the Senate's vote to end the ban. Three such service members, speaking to CNN on the condition we wouldn't use their real names, all used the word "relief" when asked about the repeal.

Before the ban is completely lifted, the president, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will have to certify that the repeal can move ahead without negatively affecting unit cohesion and military readiness.

And before that can happen, the Department of Defense will have to go through countless regulations and rules to see if they need to be changed to reflect the end of the ban. Clifford Stanley, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, will oversee that part of the process, with input from the individual services. He and his staff will be "reviewing and revising policies, directives, establishing the education and training materials, developing communication plans on how we are going to communicate with the force."

That's where the mystery begins as far as the timing.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Gay & Lesbian Issues
December 22nd, 2010
02:08 PM ET

Update: Congress passes revised 9/11 first-responders health benefits bill

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/12/22/911.bill/t1larg.1340.sept11.wtc.gi.jpg caption="In the years since 9/11, respiratory and mental health issues have been a concern for firefighters and others." width=300 height=169]

Ted Barrett and Dana Bash

Washington (CNN) - A compromise bill to provide free medical treatment and compensation to first responders of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack won final approval Wednesday from the House and Senate, sending it to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

The bill passed on a voice vote in the Senate, and then passed on a 206-60 vote in the House on the final day of the lame-duck session of Congress.

Jubilant Democrats hailed the last-minute approval as a triumph for firefighters, police officers and other emergency personnel who put themselves in harm's way to help others in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attack.

Full story

Updated: 6:05 pm

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Dana Bash • Raw Politics • Ted Barrett
December 22nd, 2010
12:30 PM ET

O Magazine: Meet John of God

Susan Casey
O, The Oprah Magazine

In a remote corner of Brazil, the man known as John of God is changing people's lives in astonishing ways. Can belief cure illness? Can energy heal? Susan Casey took the journey to find out.

Down the dusty main street of Abadiânia, a scrap of a town in central Brazil, come hundreds of people dressed in white. They're wearing white button-down shirts and embroidered white skirts and rumpled white sweaters, flowing white dresses and tight white leotards. White caftans, white shawls, white golf shorts. Shiny white tracksuits. Kicky white capri pants. Crisp white jeans with bejeweled white sandals. Many white scarves. Some people sit in wheelchairs; some hobble on crutches or walking sticks or leg braces. They're young and they're old. They come from a block away and from the other side of the world and from every place in between. They are all here for one reason: to see João Teixeira de Faria, a 68-year-old man widely known as John of God.

Here at the end of the Avenida Francisca Teixeira Damas, just before the pavement turns to rich red dirt and the road dips down into a valley of mango and avocado trees, in an immaculate compound of open-air buildings called the Casa de Dom Inácio de Loyola—John of God has attended millions of people, including many who have heard their doctors say these chilling words: "There is nothing more we can do." And somehow, after visits to the Casa and audiences with this man, after following the spiritual prescriptions they received here, some of these people managed to do the unexpected: They lived. Fully healed.

For 52 years and counting, miracles of this sort have been happening around this unassuming Brazilian, who takes no credit for them. "I have never healed anybody. It is God who heals," he often says. Born poor in the state of Goiás, often hungry in his youth, João attended school only briefly and never learned to read or write, setting to work as a tailor at an early age. The first big glimpse of his gift occurred at age 9, when, as the story goes, he predicted that a sudden, savage storm would destroy houses in Nova Ponte, a nearby village. It was a lovely day at the time, and people dismissed his prophecy. When 50 houses were damaged by tornado-force winds, no one had a logical explanation. The extent of his ability became even more apparent at age 16 when João, tired, famished, and looking for a place to wash up, had an overwhelming vision of a beautiful woman down by a river. She gave him the address of a spiritual center and told him to go there. He went, and promptly fainted. When he awoke, several hours later, an astonished crowd had gathered. They told João he had performed healings all afternoon. He came to believe that the woman who'd guided him was Saint Rita of Cascia, and that while he was unconscious, the spirit of King Solomon had taken up residence in his body and done the healing work.

Read more on Oprah.com

Filed under: 360° Radar
December 22nd, 2010
12:15 PM ET

UK terror sweep was news to U.S. intelligence director

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/12/22/clapper.terror.arrests.interview/story.james.clapper.gi.jpg caption="James R. Clapper Jr., the U.S. director of national intelligence, was late in hearing about terror-related arrests in the UK." width=300 height=169]

CNN Wire Staff

Washington (CNN) - News of 12 terror-related arrests in Britain sped across the 24/7 cycle Monday. But the U.S. director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., somehow missed it.

In an interview that aired Tuesday but was taped on Monday, ABC's Diane Sawyer chatted with Clapper, Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano, and John Brennan, the president's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism.

She asked Clapper about the incident.

"First of all, London," Sawyer said. "How serious is it? Any implication that it was coming here? ... Director Clapper?"

Clapper was initially bewildered and Brennan jumped in to acknowledge the arrests.

Sawyer said to Clapper she was "a little surprised" that he "didn't know about London."

He replied "I'm sorry, I didn't."

His spokeswoman, Jamie Smith, on Wednesday said Clapper hadn't been briefed about the arrests, but should have been.

"Steps have been taken to ensure that he is (briefed) in the future," she said in a statement. "The intelligence community as a whole was fully aware of this development and tracking it closely."

Smith said Clapper hadn't been "immediately briefed" because the event "didn't appear to have a homeland nexus and there was no immediate action by the DNI required."

She also said the "DNI was working throughout the day on important intelligence matters, including monitoring military and political developments on the Korean Peninsula, providing answers to questions concerning the ratification of the START nuclear treaty, and other classified issues."

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • Terrorism
December 22nd, 2010
11:30 AM ET

Letters to the President: #702 “My favorite Christmas tune … uh … this year'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The White House probably has a good sound system. I mean, wouldn’t you think?

Dear Mr. President,

It occurs to me that while South Korean karaoke may be a lot of fun, in North Korea I suspect it is a little less jolly since every singer no doubt starts by saying, “Oh yes, I too would like to sing Hail to Our Glorious Leader!” Probably gets a little monotonous.

I mention it because I am a music lover, and at this time of year I find myself particularly aware of all the melodic possibilities. You know about my wide-ranging collection of most excellent and avant garde Christmas tunes, but each time the month of mistletoe arises, I just loved reeling through some of my favorites.

December 22nd, 2010
11:12 AM ET

Obama signs repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' policy

CNN Wire Staff

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama brought the long political struggle over the military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy to a close Wednesday, signing legislation that will bring an end of the ban on openly gay men and women serving in the armed forces.

The president signed the bill repealing the 17-year ban in front an jubilant crowd of supporters at the Department of Interior. Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, were among those in attendance.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen was also present for the occasion.

The repeal "will strengthen our national security and uphold (America's) ideals," Obama said. "No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie."

"I believe this is the right thing to do for our military," he added. "It's the right thing to do, period."

This is a moment "more than two centuries in the making," the president said. Over the course of U.S. history, "gay Americans fought just as hard (and) gave just as much to protect" the country as anyone else. "We are a nation that believes all men and women are created equal."

Passage of the repeal was a major political victory for Obama and congressional Democrats. Obama promised to repeal the ban during the 2008 presidential election.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Raw Politics
December 22nd, 2010
11:10 AM ET

Best of KTH: Arkansas school board member officially resigns over anti-gay post

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - A school district member in Arkansas who came under fire for an anti-gay post on a social networking site formally submitted his resignation to the school board Monday, according to the Midland School District superintendent.

The board unanimously voted at a specially called meeting to accept Clint McCance's resignation, Superintendent Dean Stanley said.

McCance, then vice president of the school district in Pleasant Plains, wrote on his personal Facebook page that he wanted gay people to commit suicide, according to The Advocate, a newspaper focusing on gay news.

McCance used the terms "queer" and "fag" repeatedly, promised to disown his own children if they are gay and stated that he enjoys "the fact that [gay people] give each other AIDS and die."

In his typed, one-paragraph resignation letter, McCance said that he "did not represent my school or my position well in my statements on line" and that he was "sorry for all the trouble it has caused the school district and those people that I love in this school system."

"I hope this resignation will help things get back to normal for you," he wrote. "At no time did I want anyone to hurt themselves. I do not support bullying. I do not wish harm on anyone. I always learn from my mistakes and I hope that all of you learned something from this experience.

"I am a better person today than I was a week ago, I promise you. I wish nothing but the best for you all, and may God bless this school district."

Full story

« older posts