July 26th, 2011
11:59 PM ET

Warren Jeffs seeks to control polygamist sect from jail

Editor’s Note: CNN’s Gary Tuchman explores the latest developments in the saga of polygamist Warren Jeffs, the jailed leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Part 2 of a special report on Wednesday’s “AC 360” and for CNN Presents, airing Sunday, July 31, at 8 p.m. ET.

El Dorado, Texas (CNN) – Fundamentalist Mormon leader Warren Jeffs has been held in a tiny jail in this west Texas town for roughly three years. According to his jailers, he has spent his time doing one thing above all else: talking on the phone..

Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran told CNN that in one month, Jeffs has spent roughly $3,000 on phone cards.

And while Jeffs was recently held in another Texas jail roughly 50 miles away, he spent close to $10,000 in phone cards in three months.

Reagan County Sheriff James Garner, who oversees that jail, told CNN that no inmate there has ever spent that much money on phone cards.

Authorities say Jeffs has received money from loyal followers and that he uses much of it to buy phone time to deliver lengthy sermons to acolytes in Texas, Utah and Arizona.

Some Jeffs experts say the calls are proof that he’s running his church from behind bars.

And officially, Jeffs still leads the breakaway sect called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), which firmly believes in polygamy.

Leaders of the mainstream Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have repeatedly disavowed Jeffs and say his group of roughly 10,000 followers in no way represents their religion.

The official LDS church banned polygamy more than a century ago.

Jury selection for Jeff’s sexual assault trial began in Texas on Monday. He is charged with two counts of sexual assault on a child and one count of bigamy.

Jeffs has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

FULL STORY on the CNN Belief Blog
Boehner Plan Back to Drawing Board: Join the Live Chat
Tea party groups have been making their feelings known in Washington
July 26th, 2011
09:43 PM ET

Boehner Plan Back to Drawing Board: Join the Live Chat

House Speaker John Boehner will be tweaking his deficit reduction plan after the Congressional Budget Office said its pledge to cut spending didn't add up. The vote on that plan has been pushed to Thursday. We'll have the breaking news. Plus, the jury is selected in Warren Jeffs' sexual assault case. We'll show you how the leader of a polygamist sect still has control in prison. Plus, a RidicuList classic.

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
Manifesto suggests massacre suspect troubled, not insane, experts say
Several experts agreed that Anders Behring Breivik seems to have more in common with mass killers than with many typical extremists.
July 26th, 2011
07:45 PM ET

Manifesto suggests massacre suspect troubled, not insane, experts say

(CNN) - Norwegian massacre suspect Anders Behring Breivik's purported 1,500-page manifesto paints a picture of a deliberative, driven killer - not a rambling crazy person, criminologists said Tuesday.

Speaking to CNN after Breivik's attorney said his client "may be" insane, Brian Levin, a criminologist with California State University, San Bernardino, rejected the suggestion. Based on what is known at this point, "he's not crazy," Levin said; he is a "sociopath," but "not crazy."

Criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University echoed those sentiments. "The behavior is crazy, but not necessarily the state of mind of the person committing it," he said. "Mass murderers rarely are psychotic. They know what they're doing. They don't hear voices in an empty room. They're mad, but (mad) in terms of bitter and resentful - not how we often use 'mad' to describe mental illness," he said.

Both said a "crazy" person can be commonly understood as someone who cannot tell the difference between right and wrong and does not understand the nature and consequences of his actions.

Breivik, 32, has acknowledged carrying out a bombing and a shooting rampage Friday, a judge said Monday. Authorities say eight people were killed in the bombing of an Oslo building that houses Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's offices, and 68 were killed at a youth summer camp run by his ruling Labour Party. Breivik said the attacks were necessary to prevent the "colonization" of the country by Muslims, the judge said.

Experts - who have not met Breivik but have examined materials purported to be from him - had different takes Tuesday on whether the manifesto suggests he was motivated more by ideology or by a desire for infamy. But several agreed that he seems to have more in common with mass killers, from "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski to Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho, than with many terrorists and typical right-wing extremists.


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
Beat 360° 7/26/11
Sen. David Vitter, R-LA, speaks during a news conference July 26, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. A number of Senate and House Republicans held the news conference to introduce the "Ensuring the Full Faith and Credit of the United States and Protecting America's Soldiers and Seniors Act" legislation. (Photo credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
July 26th, 2011
07:30 PM ET

Beat 360° 7/26/11

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!

Devna Shukla
“Finally – caught red-handed."


Travis Horn
“Hey guys, look I’m a bug on a windshield.”

Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360°
The 'big headache': Boehner backed into corner by tea party, Obama
Tea party groups have been making their feelings known in Washington.
July 26th, 2011
04:45 PM ET

The 'big headache': Boehner backed into corner by tea party, Obama

Washington (CNN) - House Speaker John Boehner is in a tough position: between a rock and a hard place, wedged squarely into a corner.

On one side, he has President Obama painting him as a stubborn teenager who is unwilling to meet halfway on the debt ceiling.

On the other side, he has the small but powerful tea party freshman class in the House, many of whom are unapologetic in their desire not to give an inch on tax increases and are quite willing to push the negotiations to - and possibly over - the edge.

Then, he has his No. 2, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who has been at his side through the crisis but has also been seen as the aggressive, rising leader of the new, young, conservative minority in Congress.

And then there are his constituents in Ohio and fans across the country, many of whom are flooding his office with calls of support, overwhelming the number of calls against the congressman.

"It comes down to the willingness (of Republicans) to stand together," Boehner said. "This is the path to victory for the American people."

Boehner, meanwhile, is trying to get his party through this crisis politically intact, corralling a group of House Republicans and tamping down criticism from tea party groups squarely opposed to his proposal to tackle the country's debt crisis.

His plan - roughly $3 trillion in cuts and raises to the debt ceiling in two stages - is being attacked from the right by Republicans who don't think it goes far enough in reforming government spending. And he has been unable to secure enough support from Democrats by sweetening the bill with enough of what they want to offset the tea party conservatives he's sure to lose.

He needs 217 votes to pass the bill. According to congressional watchers, he doesn't have it.

"The debt limit vote sucks," Cantor said during a House GOP conference meeting Tuesday, according to two sources behind the closed doors.

The measure is expected to come up for a vote Wednesday.

The nearly 100 House tea party caucus members - including many of the 87 Republican freshmen - have seemingly painted Boehner into a corner. Any deal, they say, must include nearly $4 trillion in spending and absolutely no tax increases, something Obama has publicly advocated.


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
Kris Jenner: My job is to extend my family's fame
July 26th, 2011
02:30 PM ET

Kris Jenner: My job is to extend my family's fame

(CNN) - When Kris Jenner tied the knot with her second husband, Olympic champion Bruce, he was $500,000 in debt and was living in a one room apartment. But as the two merged their families, with Kris' four kids becoming siblings with Bruce's four from two prior marriages, Kris Jenner was undeterred.

"I wasn't scared. I said, 'Let's pump some air into this flat tire,'" she tells More magazine. "When I married Bruce, it was sort of hit the ground running. I married a guy who was really talented and had been doing motivational speeches for Fortune 500 companies – and this is a guy who didn’t have a business card or a press kit. People who were in his business had all these marketing tools, and Bruce was just winging it. I knew he could be much bigger.”

And she had the same inkling about her brood, who now star in the popular reality show, "Keeping Up with the Kardashians."

Kris Jenner says she's been working at this for 20 years, having spun her previous duties as a mom – Brownie troop leader, soccer coach, car pool driver – into the gig of "momager," taking 10 percent off the top from the deals she lands her family members, including her son-in-law, basketball player Lamar Odom.

But, she insists, "Managing isn’t a magic show. You don’t work with somebody and instill talent in them," she tells More. "I am so blessed to have these children who have the most amazing work ethic. I have a 13-year old and a 15-year old who were at a meeting at 8:30 this morning with Ryan Seacrest Productions to talk about their careers."

FULL STORY on the CNN Marquee blog

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
July 26th, 2011
01:38 AM ET

Letters to the President: #918 'Songs to make deals by'

Reporter's Note: President Obama keeps updating the nation on the debt ceiling talks, which I appreciate…although I must say it seems a little pointless at the moment.

Dear Mr. President,

I’m sitting in my office listening to an old Jackson Browne song on Pandora as I write this, and just at the edge of my desk is one of those digital picture frames scrolling great pics of my family. So I’m feeling pretty mellowed out, which is something I suspect most of us could use more of in D.C. these days.

Which made me start thinking: Why are your political pals, Dems and Repubs alike, having such a hard time getting along in these debt ceiling talks? Maybe it’s because you don’t have the right playlist! Perhaps if you had the right lineup of tunes on the old Oval Office stereo you could get them in the mood for making a deal.

So here are a few suggestions.

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Filed under: Letters to the President • Opinion • President Barack Obama • T1
July 26th, 2011
12:24 AM ET

The RidicuList: Home Shopping Network

Editor's note: After Mariah Carey's memorable visit to the Home Shopping Network, Anderson Cooper adds the channel to The RidicuList.

Related on the CNN Marquee blog: Mariah Carey returns with wacky HSN appearance

July 26th, 2011
12:12 AM ET

Video: Dr. Drew on celebrities and addiction

Editor's note: HLN's Dr. Drew Pinsky speaks to Anderson Cooper about Amy Winehouse and how celebrities struggle with addiction.

Related: Autopsy not conclusive on Amy Winehouse death

Filed under: 360° Radar • Dr. Drew Pinsky
July 26th, 2011
12:06 AM ET

Crime & Punishment: Strauss-Kahn accuser speaks out

Editor's note: Anderson Cooper discusses the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case with CNN's Jeffrey Toobin and Newsweek's Christopher Dickey.

Related: 'I want justice,' says Strauss-Kahn accuser

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Crime & Punishment
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