January 7th, 2011
11:59 PM ET

Reporter’s Notebook: Reflections on the JonBenet Ramsey case

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://www.cnn.com/video/crime/2010/10/15/ac.ramsey.murder.panel.cnn.640×360.jpg caption="The murder of John and Patsy Ramsey's daughter JonBenet was primarily a local news item at the start, during that cold winter in 1996" width=300 height=169]

Editor's note: As part of AC360°'s month long cold cases series, Tom Foreman reports on the investigation into the murder of JonBenet Ramsey.

Tom Foreman
AC360° Correspondent

(CNN) - Although many people don’t seem to recall it now, the murder of JonBenet Ramsey became a national sensation through a collision of events - not because of the story in and of itself.

It was primarily a local news item at the start, during that cold winter in 1996. So small, that just days after the killing on Christmas, even though I was based in Denver for ABC News, I was dispatched to Las Vegas for a New Year’s story about construction.

“Don’t you think we ought to look into this murder up in Boulder?” my producer asked our bosses on the phone from New York. “No. Go to Vegas.”

Then John and Patsy Ramsey appeared on CNN talking about a “killer on the loose.” Between tears, Patsy said, “I don’t know if it’s a she or a he, but if I were a resident of Boulder, I would tell my friends to keep…keep your babies close to you. There’s someone out there.”

The holidays are traditionally slow news times and the distraught parents - wealthy, attractive, and crushed by a Christmas calamity - were tailor made for public interest. The mystery was tantalizing. Then the pageant pictures came out, and the news hurricane roared to life.

My bosses from New York called me on the Vegas Strip in a panic. “Get to Boulder as fast as you can!”

Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment • Tom Foreman
January 7th, 2011
09:52 PM ET

"One Person Death Panel" - Join the Live Chat

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

She's being called a one-person death panel. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and her budget-cutting decision that leaves nearly a hundred people who need organ transplants high and dry. A number that's shrinking because people are dying. Critics call her a one person death panel. She's defending her decision and we're keeping her 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
January 7th, 2011
09:07 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Jailed Sisters Freed for Kidney Donation

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/CRIME/12/30/mississippi.sisters.prison.release/story.kidney.mississippi.mdoc.jpg caption="Gladys and Jamie Scott were released from a Mississippi prison Friday." width=300 height=169]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight on 360°, you'll hear from the two sisters who spent 16 years behind bars in Mississippi for an armed robbery that netted as little as $11. They were released today with the unusual stipulation that one must donate a kidney to the other.

Gladys Scott, 36, and Jamie Scott, 38, were serving a life sentence for leading two men into an ambush in Scott County in 1993, where the men were robbed by three teenagers who took their wallets.

According to The Clarion-Ledger, in Jackson, Mississippi, the sisters were convicted of armed robbery the next year, while the three accomplices received lesser sentences and were released from jail years ago. The Scott sisters have denied any role in the crime. However, their convictions were upheld in 1996 by the Mississippi Court of Appeals.

The sisters were freed today because Gov. Haley Barbour suspended their sentences, saying that one must donate a kidney to the other. He cited the expensive cost of dialysis for Jamie. According to a corrections official that price tag is $190,000 a year.

The Scott sisters attorney said they still want a pardon from the state.

"We're not going to lay down the guns. We are going to keep fighting in order to get them totally exonerated," said Chokwe Lumumba.

Although, the main focus right now is getting Jamie a new kidney.

Lumumba said she’s in "bad shape" and needs a transplant right away.

However, tests need to be done to see if Gladys' kidney is a compatible match for Jamie.

"I want to give my sister... a chance to walk out that prison door and I want to give her a chance now because the fight is not over. We have to fight for this pardon and I want her healthy," said Gladys Scott at today's news conference when they were released from prison.

Soledad O'Brien talked with both women just a couple of hours ago. Don't miss that interview tonight on the program. We'll also dig into the ethical questions about the governor's deal. There are laws in place to prevent coercion and rewards for organ donations.

Also tonight, the mail scare at a D.C. postal facility. A package sent to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano ignited this afternoon. No one was hurt. Police said it was "similar in nature" to devices that ignited Thursday at two Maryland state offices.

Who is behind these packages? We'll have the latest on the investigation.

And our cold case series continues with a look at the JonBenet Ramsey murder. The six-year-old girl’s death on Christmas night in 1996 created a media firestorm. A lot of people pointed fingers at her parents. We'll have the latest on the case.

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

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
January 7th, 2011
07:49 PM ET

At least 1 envelope ignites in DC postal facility

CNN Wire Staff

Washington (CNN) - An envelope that ignited Friday at a Washington postal sorting facility was addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a department official confirmed.

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier would not comment on markings on the package, or if it contained a note, but she said it was "similar in nature" to devices that ignited Thursday in two Maryland state offices.

Those devices carried messages apparently decrying road signs that ask motorists to report suspicious activity, a government official said.

At least one device was found, police said.

U.S. Postal Inspector Pete Rendina said inspectors were screening mail at facilities in the Washington metro area.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar
January 7th, 2011
07:32 PM ET

Beat 360° 1/7/11

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:

Roseanne Barr promotes her book "Roseannearchy" at Borders Columbus Circle on January 6, 2011 in New York City. (Photo credit: Andrew H. Walker/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:

Lakshmi Gandhi
“Oh look! It’s the girl who played the first Becky.”


Terry Marr Evandale, New Brunswick, Canada
“As the new leader of North Korea, Rosanne summons Ted Nugent for an impromptu photo op.”

___________________________________________________________________________Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
January 7th, 2011
05:30 PM ET

Jailed Mississippi sisters freed for kidney donation

Editor's note: Tune in to see Soledad O'Brien's interview with the Scott sisters on AC360° Friday beginning at 10pm ET.

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - After 16 years behind bars in Mississippi, two sisters were released Friday on the condition that one donate a kidney to the other.

Gov. Haley Barbour suspended the sentences of Gladys Scott, 36, and Jamie Scott, 38, who were serving life sentences for armed robbery. Gladys agreed to donate a kidney to her sister, who according to their lawyer, is gravely ill.

"I haven't woke up. It's still a dream. It's still a dream to me," said Jamie. "It's been a long, hard road, but we made it."

The freed sisters spoke to reporters in Jackson, Mississippi at a press conference that felt more like a celebration. Cheers erupted as they entered the room and their voices and eyes swelled with emotion as the sisters spoke.

They are heading to Pensacola, Florida, where their mother lives, to remain under the supervision of the Florida Department of Corrections parole office, said Suzanne Singletary, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar
January 7th, 2011
05:05 PM ET

Editor's Note

Editor's Note: In connection with the January 5, 2011 broadcast of the 9pm ET AC360 special program, references were made by a CNN guest to certain named products. These statements were made during a speculative dialogue about why the birds died in Arkansas and do not reflect CNN's reporting.

Filed under: 360º Follow
January 7th, 2011
02:30 PM ET

Arizona cuts in transplant coverage spark outrage

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Two people have already died in Arizona and another 96 are waiting for a life-saving transplant they may no longer be able to afford after the state slashed money reserved for the procedures.

One lawmaker said Arizona is now home to "death panels." And those whose names were on the list, those who will surely die without a transplant, found themselves in a state of disbelief.

"It's a shock to me," said Randall Shepherd, who thought he would receive Medicaid funding for the heart transplant he needs.

"There's a bit of a personal loss and the realization that this could be me in time if something's not changed here," Shepherd said, referring to the two who have died. "Until I get a new heart, my life is in a holding pattern."

Shepherd, like many others outraged by the state decision to slash $1.2 million from the state's Medicaid funding, said he believes the cuts could have come from elsewhere. Nonetheless, he said he understands the reasoning behind the decision.

"It's obvious. If the state's broke, it is broke," he said. "I can kick and scream all I want, and if there's no money for a transplant, it is just not going to happen.

"I really feel bad for the governor, for the legislators, those who had to make this decision," he said. "I certainly wouldn't want to be in their shoes and making the call that results in somebody else living or dying."

Arizona's Senate Minority Leader-elect David Schapira, a Democrat from Tempe, said he will seek emergency restoration of Medicaid coverage for certain kinds of transplants.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Health Care
January 7th, 2011
11:45 AM ET

Letters to the President: #718 'Hey, Chief!'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama has selected a new Chief of Staff. I’d do the same, but of course I’d have to get a staff first. Instead I’ll just post today’s letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations on your new Chief of Staff! Went with a Daley, did you? I suppose that’s a safe bet in Chicago politics, but we’ll see how it flies here in D.C. To borrow a basketball analogy: It seems pretty clear that you didn’t pick him for his strong play on the left side of the court, but rather for his ability to pound it out in the paint. The very thing your liberal-leaning friends have feared now seems assured - your White House is moving to Middlesville.

I imagine that is something you’d rather not say openly, because there is no need to make them any unhappier. A lot of them had high hopes that you and your party (when it controlled both houses of Congress…doesn’t that seem like a long time ago now?) would bring sweeping liberal reforms. And that’s not exactly what you gave them despite how much the righties think so.

So they are no doubt a tad dismayed with this choice. William Daley, based on his track record, is the kind of guy who is all about brokering those moderate, middle deals. He can patch up some of your scrapes and bruises with the business community. He can do the backroom cajoling and arm-twisting it will take to fashion bipartisan coalitions. He can engineer the legislative wins you’ll need if you want to have anything to show for your efforts in the next couple of years. And again, he will almost certainly lead your policies decidedly away from the left.

January 7th, 2011
11:34 AM ET

Health care repeal's cost: $230 billion to deficit

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/01/07/t1larg.capitol.dome.jpg caption="It's one of the promises on which House Republicans campaigned: If elected, we will repeal health care reform." width=300 height=169]

Charles Riley
CNNMoney Staff Reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - It's one of the promises on which House Republicans campaigned: If elected, we will repeal health care reform.

One problem: Rolling back the law would probably increase federal budget deficits by a total of about $230 billion by 2021, according to a preliminary estimate released Thursday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The long-run outlook isn't any better. The CBO warns that long-term projections are highly uncertain, but said a repeal would increase federal deficits in the decade after 2019 by around 0.5% of GDP.

And that's a major problem for Republicans - who also say they want to reduce the deficit and roll back federal spending to 2008 levels.

However, it's not a complete shock that the CBO's estimate predicts a debt increase if Republicans succeed in repealing the law. After all, the original legislation was predicted to lower the deficit, a key selling point for Democrats.

Full story on CNNMoney.com

Filed under: 360° Radar • Charles Riley • Health Care • Raw Politics
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