September 28th, 2010
07:18 PM ET

Assistant Michigan AG targets openly gay college student

Editor's Note: Watch Anderson's interview with Andrew Shirvell

Martina Stewart
AC360° Digital Producer

(CNN) – Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox wants to make something crystal clear: no one should mistake the opinions of Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general in Cox’s office, for being those of the Michigan Attorney General’s office itself.

For nearly six months, Shirvell has used his blog “Chris Armstrong Watch,” to shine an online spotlight on college student Chris Armstrong, the openly gay president of the student governmental body at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Using the online moniker “Concerned Michigan Alumnus,” Shirvell launched his blog in late April.

“Welcome to ‘Chris Armstrong Watch,’” Shirvell wrote in his inaugural blog post. “This is a site for concerned University of Michigan alumni, students, and others who oppose the recent election of Chris Armstrong – a RADICAL HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST, RACIST, ELITIST, & LIAR – as the new head of student government.”

Among other things, Shirvell has published blog posts that accuse Armstrong of going back on a campaign promise he made to minority students; engaging in “flagrant sexual promiscuity” with another male member of the student government; sexually seducing and influencing “a previously conservative [male] student” so much so that the student, according to Shirvell, “morphed into a proponent of the radical homosexual agenda;” hosting a gay orgy in his dorm room in October 2009; and trying to recruit incoming first year students “to join the homosexual ‘lifestyle.’”

In a statement provided to CNN Tuesday evening, Michigan’s top lawyer sought to put some daylight between his office and Shirvell's online behavior.

“Mr. Shirvell's personal opinions are his and his alone and do not reflect the views of the Michigan Department of Attorney General,” Cox said in the written statement provided by his office. “But his immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear."

Contacted recently by CNN, Armstrong declined to comment on the record about Shirvell’s actions and would only say that he did not want to dignify Shirvell’s comments with a response and that he was pursuing legal action against Shirvell.

In previous interviews, Shirvell has made no apologies for his blog postings.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Bullying • Gay & Lesbian Issues • Martina Stewart
September 7th, 2010
09:32 PM ET

Controversial pastor sends mixed messages about Islam, 9/11

Martina Stewart
AC360° Digital Producer

(CNN) – The Florida pastor who has stoked national and international controversy by announcing a plan to burn Qurans on the upcoming anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks sent mixed message Tuesday in an interview set to air on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°.

After word of Pastor Terry Jones’ plan spread earlier this week, Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said the burning of Islam's holy books "could cause significant problems" for American troops overseas. "It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan," Petreus said in a statement issued Monday.

Asked about Petraeus’ remarks, Jones told Cooper, “We are taking his concerns very seriously.”

Earlier: Pastor weighing plans to burn Quarans

Then Jones quickly turned the conversation to suggest that his church’s plan to burn Islam’s holy book is intended as a message of defiance directed at the more radical elements of the religious faith.

“We just also have the concerns: How far do we go as Americans? When do we back down? When do we decide to stand up? How long do we bow to fears and threats? Or when does actually a time come that we speak to radical Islam and say tell them: No more, no longer. We will not be pushed around, and we will not bow to threats.”

Filed under: 360° Radar • Islam • Martina Stewart
September 1st, 2010
09:42 AM ET

TN mosque rep says project’s opponent is an 'extremist'

Martina Stewart
AC360° Digital Producer

(CNN) – Just days after the FBI suggested a suspicious fire at the future site of a Tennessee Islamic center had been set deliberately, a spokeswoman for the center used the religiously charged term “extremist” to hit back at an opponent of the project.

In a taped interview that aired Tuesday on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°, Laurie Cardoza-Moore said she opposes the construction of an Islamic center in Murfreesboro, because an online posting by one of the center’s board members suggested a radical agenda and raised broader questions about the judgment and the ties of the center’s leadership.

“There has to be some due diligence done on the associations and the ties of the leaders,” Cardoza-Moore said. “That is what we are calling into question. We’ve done the research and now we’re asking questions.”

Cardoza-Moore specifically pointed to a posting on the MySpace page of one of the center’s board members and to ties between the imam of the Murfreesboro mosque and another mosque in Texas.

“That’s it?,” CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Cardoza-Moore.

“That’s enough. That is enough,” she responded. “It’s not about their religion. It never has been. It’s about stopping the advancement of radical Islam in the United States of America and in our community.”

In a live interview that followed Cardoza-Moore’s sit-down with Cooper, a representative of the Tennessee mosque sought to turn the tables on Cardoza-Moore.

“To me, it seems like she is the extremist at this point,” said Camie Ayash, spokeswoman for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. “She’s the one going around the United States lobbying against Islamic centers throughout all of the United States. It’s not just the ones in Murfreesboro. So, she’s the one who’s terrorizing our community. She’s trying to plant doubt and fear within our community.”

Filed under: Islam • Martina Stewart
August 24th, 2010
06:12 PM ET

Sherrod insists White House was behind her ouster

Martina Stewart
AC360° Digital Producer

(CNN) – Former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod insists that the White House was behind the rush decision in July to ask her to resign after a conservative web publisher released an edited video clip that seemed to show her recounting racist behavior on her part. But she left open the possibility that the request for her resignation might not have come from “others working for the president” rather than directly from President Obama.

After a meeting with Sherrod Tuesday morning, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack repeated his previous assertions that he did not speak with anyone at the White House before deciding to force Sherrod to step down.

Related: Sherrod turns down job offer from Vilsack

"This was my responsibility," he said. "I disappointed the president (and) the country. ... I have to live with that."

But, in an interview set to air Tuesday on Anderson Cooper 360° Sherrod said “I stand by that” when asked about her past assertions that the White House had been involved in the loss of her job.

“I was told that it was the White House and even though – I mean he [Vilsack] did the correct thing. He took the blame. That’s what he’s supposed to do as Secretary of Agriculture but I know what I was told: The White House wanted me to resign. Now whether that came directly from the president or others working for the president, I can’t say. But I know I was told, on July 19, it was the White House.”

In the interview, CNN’s John Roberts also asked Sherrod about Andrew Breitbart, the web publisher who posted the heavily edited video.

Watch more of the interview Tuesday night on Anderson Cooper 360°.

Filed under: Martina Stewart • Shirley Sherrod
October 12th, 2009
04:34 PM ET

WH aide: Fox News operates like an arm of the GOP

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://images.politico.com/global/news/090430_dunn_ap_297.jpg caption="WH Communications Director Anita Dunn tells CNN's Howard Kurtz that Fox News Network is basically an arm of the GOP."]
Martina Stewart
CNN Associate Producer

Far from backing away from its recent slam at 24-hours cable news outlet Fox News, the White House is stepping up its criticism of the cable news network.

“The reality of it is that Fox often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party,” White House Communications Director Anita Dunn said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”

Dunn said that Obama had recently chosen not to appear on Fox because of the administration’s belief that Fox is ideologically predisposed against Obama and his agenda.

But Dunn pointed out that during his presidential campaign and since being elected, Obama has been interviewed by Fox News, and will be again in the future.

“He’ll go on Fox because he engages with ideological opponents,” Dunn told CNN’s Howard Kurtz. “He has done that before and he’ll do it again.”

Click here to keep reading and view the clip...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Barack Obama • Martina Stewart
May 6th, 2009
04:24 PM ET

'Learn from my example,' says Bristol Palin

Martina Stewart
CNN Associate Producer

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/06/art.bristol0506.gi.jpg]

Teen mom Bristol Palin had a simple message for teens on Wednesday, the 8th Annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

The daughter of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin – the 2008 vice presidential nominee – said in an interview on NBC's Today Show that she wanted other teens to "learn from my example."

"If you're going to have sex, I think you should have safe sex," the unwed, teenage mother said as she held her infant son, Tripp. "And, regardless of what I did or anything like that, I think that abstinence is the only 100 percent foolproof way of preventing teen pregnancy."


Filed under: Martina Stewart • Sarah Palin • Women's Issues
August 5th, 2008
05:44 PM ET

Don't go Congress, there's still work to do

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/05/art.dontgosite0805.dgm.jpg caption="Online activists on the right launched a new Web site Tuesday."]
Martina Stewart
CNN Associate Producer

A group of conservative online activists launched a new Web site Tuesday to support a call by House Republicans to reconvene Congress and vote on an energy bill.

The site, dontgomovement.com, is intended to be a clearinghouse for information about a protest House Republicans began Friday soon after Congress adjourned for its August recess. Instead of heading home to their districts, some House Republicans have remained in Washington and taken to the floor of the House to protest Congress' failure to act on an energy bill.

“They provided the spark but we were the energy that was already out there,” Patrick Ruffini, a founding editor of the conservative Web site thenextright.com, said on a conference call with fellow online activists Tuesday afternoon.

More than 1100 people have signed up for an e-mail distribution list associated with the site since a preliminary splash page for it went up on the Internet Monday, according to Eric Odom, one of the organizers behind dontgomovement.com.


Filed under: Energy • Martina Stewart • Raw Politics
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