May 21st, 2010
09:19 PM ET

Miss USA says 'American' is her preferred label

"Religion does not identify me," Miss USA Rima Fakih tells CNN.

Rima Fakih's beauty pageant sash declares that she is Miss USA, but journalists want to find other labels for her.

Questions about Fakih's ethnic and religious identity have been nearly as frequent as questions about photos of her dancing against a stripper's pole.

"I'd like to say I'm American first, and I am an Arab-American," Fakih said. "I am Lebanese-American, and I am Muslim-American."

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Filed under: Lebanon • Showbiz • U.S.
May 21st, 2010
08:00 PM ET

Euro rebounds amid speculation over intervention

A look at highlights from the day's business news:

Stocks stage advance

Stocks ended higher Friday, finding momentum at the end of a choppy session in which concerns over global growth vied with investor willingness to scoop up shares beaten down in the recent sell-off.

Selling earlier this week left major gauges lower for the week, with the Dow and S&P 500 both down around 4 percent and the Nasdaq off around 5 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 125 points or 1.3 percent, after falling as much as 150 points earlier in the session. The S&P 500 index gained 16 points or 1.5 percent and the Nasdaq composite gained 25 points or 1.1 percent after having been on both sides of breakeven throughout the session.

The CBOE Volatility index, the VIX, Wall Street's fear gauge, fell 12 percent to 39.88 as investor anxiety lessened. The VIX had fallen substantially in the early afternoon after spiking on Thursday to a 14-month high of 45.48.

Oil falls to $70 
 
Oil prices fell around $70 a barrel as investors remained wary that Europe's debt crisis and growing oil stockpiles will cut demand for fuel.

Crude for July delivery, which becomes the active contract Friday, slipped 76 cents, or 1.07 percent, to settle at $70.04 a barrel. The day before, the June futures contract settled at $68.01 when it expired. Gasoline prices fell for the 15th consecutive day, slipping to $2.827 a gallon from $2.840 the day before, according to a survey by motorist group AAA.

U.S. equities posted modest gains in the afternoon after a choppy morning. Investors have pulled out of oil amid volatile stock market, seeking safe-havens like Treasurys or the dollar. Traders have been worried that economic instability in Europe may cut demand for fuel. Oil prices, as a result, have fallen about $15 per barrel in a month.

Euro continues rebound

The euro continued bouncing off four-year lows seen earlier this week, as investors unwound bets against the shared currency on speculation that the European Central Bank will intervene in the market.

The European currency rose 0.7 percent on the dollar to $1.2573 after touching a four-year low versus the dollar earlier this week. The dollar fell 0.7 percent versus the British pound to $1.4461 and was up 0.4 percent against the Japanese yen at ¥90.01. Despite Friday's losses the dollar is up more than 6 percent against the euro over the month, as shared currency has taken a hit on debt concerns. 

The euro's drop over the past month has fueled speculation about if and how European officials will intervene for the first time in 10 years.

Treasury yields bounce back

Treasurys fell Friday, erasing earlier session gains that had pushed the 10-year yield to a one-year low.

The benchmark 10-year note fell 5/32 to 102-9/32, pushing the yield up to to 3.23 percent from 3.22 percent on Thursday. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions. 

Earlier in the day, the 10-year note's yield fell to 3.10 percent, the lowest since May 18, 2009. The last time benchmark's yield fell below 3 percent was around the height of the credit crisis in November 2008. The 30-year bond lost 4/32 to 104-25/32 and yielded 4.10 percent, while the 5-year note shed 4/32 to 102-9/32, yielding 2.02 percent. The 2-year note edged down 3/32 to 100-15/32, yielding 0.77 percent.

Earlier in the session, worries about European debt and its impact on the global economic recovery continued to drive demand for the safety of U.S. government debt, triggering a sell-off in stocks.

CNNMoney.com reporters Annalyn Censky, Julianna Pepitone, Alexandra Twin and Hibah Yousuf contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Economy
May 21st, 2010
06:53 PM ET

Man surprised to read his own obituary

Paul Schlegelmilch's neighbor in Rockville Centre, New York, had some good news and bad news for the World War II veteran. "You're in the paper, but you're in the obituary section of the paper."

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May 21st, 2010
02:00 PM ET

ETA members get 1,040 years each for Madrid bombing

[Updated at 2:00 p.m.] Spain's highest court has sentenced three members of the Basque separatist group ETA to more than 1,000 years in prison for a terrorist attack against one of the nation's busiest airports in 2006, officials said Friday.

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May 21st, 2010
01:35 PM ET

Elizabeth Smart captor sentenced to 15 years

Wanda Barzee was sentenced to 15 years in prison for her role in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart.

Wanda Eileen Barzee, who pleaded guilty to kidnapping Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart in 2002, was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison, with credit for several years that she has served, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney in Utah said.

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Filed under: Justice
May 21st, 2010
01:31 PM ET

Car bomb kills 22 in Iraq

[Updated at 1:31 p.m.] A car bombing outside a coffee shop killed 22 people and wounded 53 Friday in central Iraq, police officials said.

The bomb detonated in an outdoor market, just outside the coffee shop, around 7 p.m. in the town of Khalis, about 47 miles (75 km) north of Baghdad.

Additional details were not immediately available.

[Posted at 1:24 p.m.] A car bombing outside a coffee shop killed 17 people and wounded 38 others Friday in Khalis, Iraq, police officials said.

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Filed under: Iraq
May 21st, 2010
12:55 PM ET

Two detained Iranians freed in Iraq

Two Iranians detained for years in Iraq by U.S. troops have been freed and are headed home, officials at the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad told CNN on Friday.

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May 21st, 2010
12:39 PM ET

Man arrested in Pakistan in connection with Times Square case

[Updated at 1:39 p.m.] Pakistani authorities have arrested the son of a prominent catering company owner in connection with the attempted Times Square bombing case, U.S. and Pakistani officials told CNN Friday.

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Filed under: Pakistan • Terrorism
May 21st, 2010
12:28 PM ET

Man accused of smuggling 15 pounds of cocaine in candy

Officials say Robert Lopera tried to smuggle 15 pounds of cocaine in these chocolate candies and in pistachios.

Being a drug mule isn't usually such a sweet deal.

But authorities say it was sweet for Robert Lopera, who is accused of trying to smuggle in 15 pounds of cocaine concealed in chocolate candies and pistachios - until he was arrested at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on May 11.

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Filed under: Colombia • New York • U.S. • World
May 21st, 2010
12:05 PM ET

Sports Update: Route to NBA, Champions League finals

Pau Gasol's vow to get stronger has helped put his team ahead two games in the playoffs.

‚ÄúAfter the Lakers fell to the Celtics in the NBA Finals two years ago, and Pau Gasol finished his exit interview back at the team's headquarters, he walked down to the weight room that he so often ignored, and told the trainers he was committed to getting stronger,‚ÄĚ writes SI.com‚Äôs Lee Jenkins. ‚ÄúIf he ever saw Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins in a similar situation again, he had to be ready. Gasol will not admit it, but he can see them coming right now.‚ÄĚ

It sure looks that way. The Celtics are up 2-0 on the Magic, the Lakers are up 2-0 on the Suns, and this weekend will go a long in determining whether the teams will once again meet in the NBA Finals, as they did in 2008. The NBA playoffs are part of a sports-packed weekend (all times Eastern) that includes first U.S. network telecast of the European Champions League final.

-Champions League Final: Bayern Munich vs. Inter Milan (Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Fox)
Plenty of stars on the field in Madrid including the managers ‚Äď Inter coach Jose Mourinho and Bayern Munich head man Louis van Gaal. The German squad is led by Dutch winger Arjen Robben, and midfielder Mark van Bommel and German national team stars Philipp Lahm and midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. The Inter duo of Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti did not make Argentina‚Äôs World Cup squad but are a club force, leading Inter to a fifth consecutive Series A title. Check out SI.com‚Äôs Jonathan Wilson's preview.

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May 21st, 2010
11:32 AM ET

Lawyer: 'Suge' Knight innocent of weapons charge

The lawyer for Marion "Suge" Knight insists the rap music mogul did not point a gun at a man Wednesday night in the Los Angeles area.

"He's innocent, 100 percent," Marc Brumer told CNN in a phone interview. "Suge Knight is a businessman. He is not a person who would carry a gun or flash a gun at anybody. That's not Suge Knight."

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Filed under: Justice • Showbiz
May 21st, 2010
09:56 AM ET

Israel: 2 Palestinians killed after crossing border

Two Palestinians were shot dead Friday after they crossed into Israel from Gaza, the Israeli Defense Forces reported.

Palestinians infiltrated into Israel near Kibbutz Nirim, prompting an exchange of gunfire, the IDF said. No Israeli soldiers were injured in the skirmish.

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May 21st, 2010
09:40 AM ET

On the Radar: Oil spill, Clinton and North Korea, 'Lost'

Gulf oil spill - How bad is the environmental damage from the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? How will it affect plant and animal life - and for how long? Those are among the questions to be discussed at a congressional hearing scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET Friday.

Meanwhile, a BP official says a gusher of oil pouring from its damaged Gulf of Mexico well could be shut off as early as next week. BP Managing Director Bob Dudley said Thursday night the company will pump fluids into the well this weekend in the beginning of a process that - if successful - could lead to the leak finally being closed off in a matter of days. CNN's Ed Lavandera reports there is still some controversy over the cleanup - including BP's effort to use other substances to disperse the oil gushing from their pipes - and the fact that much of the dispersant remains sitting in an industrial park.

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May 21st, 2010
09:01 AM ET

Friday's intriguing people

Craig Venter

Scientists have turned inanimate chemicals into a living organism in an experiment that raises profound questions about the essence of life. Venter, the U.S. genomics pioneer, announced Thursday that scientists at his laboratories in Maryland and California had succeeded in their 15-year project to make the world's first "synthetic cells" - bacteria called Mycoplasma mycoides.

The bacteria's genes were all constructed in the laboratory "from four bottles of chemicals on a chemical synthesizer, starting with information on a computer," Venter told the Financial Times. The research - published online by the journal Science - was hailed as a landmark by many independent scientists and philosophers.

CNN: Scientists create a living organism

Financial Times: Scientists create synthetic life form with a computer and four bottles of chemicals

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May 21st, 2010
08:44 AM ET

Crash kills trucker, closes 26 miles of N.J. Turnpike

Thousands of motorists were scrambling to find alternate routes during rush hour Friday morning after a crash killed one person and closed 26 miles of the New Jersey Turnpike, authorities said.

Three trucks collided, killing one driver and causing about 1,000 gallons of kerosene  to spill, said Joe Orlando, a spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

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May 21st, 2010
08:11 AM ET

Friday's live video events

9:00 am ET - House floor in session - House lawmakers meet to discuss the issues of the day.

9:30 am ET - NYSE opening bell - The New York Stock Exchange begins its trading day.

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Filed under: On CNN.com today
May 21st, 2010
05:54 AM ET

Clinton to N. Korea: 'Actions have consequences'

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday that North Korea must face consequences after a report that it fired a torpedo that sank a South Korean warship in March.

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May 21st, 2010
05:29 AM ET

World update: North Korea threatens to exit pact

An update from London on some of the international stories we expect to develop on Friday:

N. Korea accuses Seoul: Tensions between North Korea and South Korea escalated Friday, a day after Seoul blamed the North for sinking one of its warships in March. Full story

Thailand works to restore order after clashes: Police "rapid-response" teams comb the streets of Bangkok to prevent further disruption following clashes between anti-government protesters and troops. Full story

BA announces record losses: British Airways has posted a pre-tax loss of $765 million. It does not take into account losses incurred from the travel disruption caused by the volcanic ash cloud or strike action taken by some workers. Full story

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May 21st, 2010
01:48 AM ET

ACLU: School violated privacy in 'sexting' case

A 19-year-old Pennsylvania woman sued her former high school Thursday, claiming school officials invaded her privacy and violated her free-speech rights when they confiscated her cell phone, found semi-nude photos stored inside and turned the phone over to authorities.

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