September 8th, 2010
10:41 PM ET

Imam says religion, Islamic center should not be 'politicized'

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the religious leader behind plans to erect an Islamic center and mosque a few blocks from New York's ground zero, said Wednesday night that moving it to another location would embolden Islamic radicals and help them incite violence against Americans.

"If we move from that location, the story will be the radicals have taken over the discourse," Rauf told CNN's Soledad O'Brien on "Larry King Live."

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Filed under: Islam • New York • Religion • U.S.
September 8th, 2010
10:19 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

The five most popular stories on CNN.com in the past 24 hours, according to NewsPulse.

Asteroids narrowly miss Earth: Two small asteroids passed within the moon's distance from the Earth about 12 hours apart on Wednesday, NASA confirmed.

Google unveils Google Instant search: The search giant introduced Google Instant, which will give users suggested results before they're even done typing.

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Filed under: Animals • Crime • Earth • Google • Showbiz • Space • Technology • Uncategorized
September 8th, 2010
10:00 PM ET

Gov. Schwarzenegger to sign 'Chelsea's Law' on Thursday

The parents of a California teen who was raped and murdered by a sex offender this year will join Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday as he signs into law a bill that increases penalties for certain sex offenses.

Named after 17-year-old Chelsea King, "Chelsea's Law" increases penalties for forcible sex acts against minors and mandates lifetime parole for certain sex offenders.

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Filed under: Crime
September 8th, 2010
08:54 PM ET

Live blog: Imam behind NYC Islamic center speaks

Editor's note: The imam who plans to build an Islamic center and mosque a few blocks from New York's ground zero spoke to CNN's Soledad O'Brien on "Larry King Live" Wednesday night. The following is a running log of what Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf discussed.

[Updated, 10:04 p.m.] O'Brien's last question was whether Rauf could unequivocally say that the center would be built at the currently planned location, a few blocks from ground zero.

"We certainly hope to build a Cordoba House vision of a multifaith center that will build relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims," he said.

[Updated, 9:59 p.m.] Rauf was asked about the pastor in Florida who plans to burn Qurans this weekend, on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

"I would plead with him to seriously consider what he is doing. It is going to feed into the radicals in the Muslim world," Rauf said.

He noted that U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus has warned that the burning would endanger U.S. troops overseas.

"It's something which is not right to do on [those] grounds," Rauf said.

"We have freedom of speech, but with freedom comes responsibility. ... This is dangerous for our national security, but also it is the un-Christian thing to do," he added.

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Filed under: Islam • New York • Religion
September 8th, 2010
08:49 PM ET

Reporter's notebook: Now I've seen a tornado

This is the first tornado CNN's Ed Lavandera has seen.

Usually reporters spend a good chunk of their careers chasing tornadoes and never see one.  I was one of those guys until today.

But I didn’t chase the tornado that blew right past my office window in downtown Dallas.  Watching the tornado pass within two miles of our building was a surreal sight.

The tornado looked like it was trying to become a bigger storm and gain strength.  It spun violently and whipped up debris. I could see powerline transformers explode.

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Filed under: Tornadoes • Weather
September 8th, 2010
08:24 PM ET

Tornadoes touch down in Dallas

At least four tornadoes spawned by Tropical Depression Hermine touched down in and around Dallas, Texas, on Wednesday evening, sending up debris and swirling around buildings.

Sirens went off in downtown Dallas as one funnel cloud was spotted in Cockrell Hill southwest of downtown, according to CNN affiliate WFAA.

One tornado was reported in Ellis County and three in Dallas County, according to CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward.

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Filed under: Texas • Tropical weather • Weather
September 8th, 2010
07:36 PM ET

Imam behind NYC Islamic center on CNN tonight

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf will talk with CNN's Soledad O'Brien on Wednesday night about his decision to move ahead with plans to build a community center and mosque within blocks of New York's ground zero.

The interview, which will be shown at 9 p.m. ET, comes after he wrote an New York Times editorial addressing the controversy about the plan. Opponents of the plan say the center would be too close to the site of the 2001 terror attacks and is an affront to the memory of those who died in the al Qaeda strike.

Below is a round-up of CNN's other coverage on the issue published in the past 24 hours:

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Filed under: New York • Religion
September 8th, 2010
07:26 PM ET

Stocks end higher after Obama speech

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

Stocks end higher after Obama speech
 
Stocks ended Wednesday higher as investors shifted their focus from worries about European banks to President Obama's $350 billion jobs recovery plan.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 47 points, or 0.45 percent, to 10,387 the S&P 500 gained 7 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,099 and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 20 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,229 according to early tallies.

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Filed under: Economy
September 8th, 2010
07:25 PM ET

Tornado spawned by Hermine touches down in Texas

At least one tornado spawned by Tropical Depression Hermine touched down in Dallas, Texas, on Wednesday evening, sending up debris and spinning around buildings in a populated area of the city.

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Filed under: Texas • Weather
September 8th, 2010
03:08 PM ET

Highlights of the BP report on causes of the Gulf oil disaster

[Updated at 3:08 p.m.] BP released the findings of its internal investigation Wednesday into the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. Some highlights from the report and reaction to it:

NEW

- Cement contractor Halliburton said in a statement that it has noticed "a number of substantial omissions and inaccuracies" in the BP report.

– "Halliburton remains confident that all the work it performed with respect to the Macondo well was completed in accordance with BP's specifications for its well construction plan and instructions, and that it is fully indemnified under its contract for any of the allegations contained in the report." the company said.

– "Deepwater operations are inherently complex and a number of contractors are involved which routinely make recommendations to a single point of contact, the well owner." Halliburton said. "The well owner is responsible for designing the well program and any testing related to the well. Contractors do not specify well design or make decisions regarding testing procedures as that responsibility lies with the well owner."

REACTION

– "I wouldn't want to comment on the timing or what the intent was of the BP report," said retired Adm. Thad Allen, the government's point man for the response to the disaster. "I would just say the more we know about this event in general, the better off we are." He said the report will add to a larger body of evidence that won't be complete until the joint investigation by the Interior Department and other investigations are finished, "but it's not the end-all be-all that's going to have to be done to address the issues associated with this event, why it happened and what needs to happen in the future."

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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
September 8th, 2010
02:20 PM ET

New Google Instant shows search results as you type

Tired of waiting the tenths of a second it takes to get Google search results?

Google promises it'll get faster.

The search giant on Wednesday introduced Google Instant, which will give users suggested results before they're even done typing.

"It's not quite psychic, but it is very clever," said Othar Hansson, a senior software engineer at Google.

Using the new system, as a query is typed, the search box immediately jumps to the top of the search page, and a constantly changing list of suggested pages appears. If the user finds the right site, they don't need to finish typing or hit "enter."

Google Instant will begin rolling out on most browsers to users in the United States on Wednesday and be introduced afterward in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and other countries.

If someone doesn't like the feature, they can disable it from the search page.

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Filed under: Google • Technology
September 8th, 2010
02:02 PM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and Pastor Terry Jones

Two spiritual leaders plan to go ahead with actions that have sparked worldwide debate. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf will talk with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien on Wednesday evening about his decision to move ahead with the controversial Cordoba House, a community center and mosque to be built within blocks of New York’s ground zero. Meanwhile, Pastor Terry Jones told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night that his congregation will probably continue with its plan to burn copies of the Quran on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Both men have faced fierce criticism for their decisions. Rauf’s efforts have resulted in protests on the streets of New York and media attention on a global scale. Jones has reported death threats and has been told that Gen. David Petraeus believes the action at the 50-member Dove World Outreach Church in Gainesville, Florida, could cause harm to U.S. troops overseas. On Tuesday, protesters in Afghanistan reportedly burned an effigy of Jones.

In an opinion piece in the New York Times on Wednesday morning, Rauf described the center as a recreational facility with prayer spaces for not only Muslims but Christians and Jews as well. The name comes from a Spanish city where Muslims, Christians and Jews thrived culturally during the Middle Ages, he explained. “Our initiative is intended to cultivate understanding among all religions and cultures,” he said.

Jones told Anderson Cooper that his church is weighing its options, but he is inclined to follow through with the Quran-burning. “We are simply burning a book,” Jones said. “General [Petraeus] needs to point his finger to radical Islam and tell them to shut up, tell them to stop, tell them that we will not bow our knees to them.”

In May 2009, 15 Afghan citizens were killed and many more injured after Newsweek magazine reported that U.S. military interrogators flushed a Quran down a toilet. The report was later retracted.

CNN: Pastor weighing plans to burn Qurans amid U.S. warnings

NY Times: Building on faith

FULL POST

September 8th, 2010
01:34 PM ET

Ryder cup reaction, Federer and Soderling square off

The captain’s picks are in – and, for once, Tiger Woods isn’t the biggest story.

Tonight Roger Federer looks to beat the Robin Soderling, the man who knocked him out of the French Open this year.

United States Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin announced yesterday his final four selections for the 2010 team, causing a bit of an uproar in the gallery, but not amongst the experts at Golf.com. Tiger Woods was obvious. Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson were experienced favorites. And Rickie Fowler was, well, a bit unexpected.

"It came down to a feeling," Pavin explained yesterday in a press conference at the New York Stock Exchange. "I have a good gut feeling about Rickie."

The four chosen ones will join the eight automatic bids at Celtic Manor, Wales when the U.S. takes on the European side on Oct. 1-3. The quartet has combined for just one win this season – Johnson’s first-place finish at the Crowne Plaza Invitational – and will likely be what the Americans’ success hinges on. Fowler, 21, is a PGA Tour rookie and ranked 32nd in the world. If the Ryder Cup itself wasn’t enough, he’ll have some extra motivation in showing people why Pavin picked him over Anthony Kim (16th) and others.

With the tournament still weeks away, let’s narrow our focus to the immediate future. Here’s what is going on today in the sporting world (all times Eastern):

Roger Federer (2) vs. Robin Soderling (5), U.S. Open quarterfinals (7 p.m., ESPN)
Federer looks to avenge his French Open quarterfinals loss to Soderling earlier this year, when the Swede upset Federer’s streak of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals.

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September 8th, 2010
01:33 PM ET

Vatican: Quran burning 'outrageous'

Burning the Quran would an "outrageous and grave gesture," the Vatican said Wednesday, joining a chorus of voices pleading with a small Florida church not to burn Islam's holy book on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The Vatican body responsible for dialogue with other religions said expressed "great concern" about the plan by Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it would be a "disrespectful, disgraceful act." She was speaking Tuesday night at a State Department dinner in honor of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Her statement came a day after the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, warned that the plan "could cause significant problems" for American troops overseas.

But the pastor of the Florida church, Terry Jones, has rebuffed pleas to call off the event, saying radical Islamists are the target of his message.

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Filed under: Christian • Islam • Religion • Vatican
September 8th, 2010
12:17 PM ET

Ontario nurse slain; cops hunt killer

Police are searching for who killed nurse Sonia Varaschin.

A pediatric nurse from Ontario has been murdered and police are asking the public Wednesday for their help finding her killer. 

Sonia Varaschin was reported missing August 30 when the 42-year-old didn't show up for her morning hospital shift, said Constable Jonathan Beckett.  That same morning, someone called police about a white Toyota Corolla parked on their street in the city of Orangeville, less than a mile from Varaschin's townhouse.  

Investigators noticed blood on the outside of the car, ran its tag and determined it was the nurse's car, Beckett said. Police then went to her townhouse, where they found a "significant" amount of blood inside the home and in its doorway. For more than a week, her family told local reporters that they were hoping she would be found alive, but police prepared them for the worst, Beckett said. 

On Sunday, a dog walker discovered Varaschin's remains in a rural area northwest of Toronto. Investigators are looking for a beige, blood-soaked fitted sheet and comforter that they suspect were taken from Varaschin's residence, according to CNN affiliate CTV. 

Beckett said it's likely Varaschin knew her killer or killers, but it is possible she did not. He declined to answer any further questions about the condition of the house or the car. 

"A forensic identity team has conducted a detailed analysis of the car and Sonia's residence, and where the remains were found," said Beckett. 

A Facebook page has been created to help find Varaschin's killer. 

"Orangeville is a small place - only 30,000 people - so this has shaken many here," said Beckett. 

Police are urging anyone who may have seen Varaschin to immediately contact the dedicated tip line at 519-941-2522, ext. 2211. Tips can also be called in to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS, or emailed to police from the OPP Criminal Investigation Branch website for unsolved cases at http://www.opp.ca.

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Filed under: Canada
September 8th, 2010
11:54 AM ET

Amish accident victim gives birth, dies

An Amish woman in Geauga County, Ohio, died Sunday, four days after she gave birth following a collision between her horse-drawn buggy and an SUV.

Barbara Kauffman, 31, was riding in rural Parkman Township, 50 miles east of Cleveland, with her husband and six children on September 1 when the buggy was struck from behind by an SUV, according to CNN affiliate WJW.

Kauffman was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Cleveland, where she delivered the baby that night. She remained in critical condition for several days before dying on Sunday, WJW reported. The baby is in fair condition.

Two of Kauffman's other children, an 8-year-old and a 9-year-old, are in fair condition, according to CNN affiliate WEWS.

The SUV driver, Julie M. Pirtz, 31, was cited for operating a vehicle under the influence, and may face additional charges related to Kauffman's death, prosecutors told WJW.

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Filed under: Crime • Ohio • U.S.
September 8th, 2010
11:50 AM ET

Sheriff: Eight people missing, 54 homes destroyed in wildfire

At least 54 homes have been destroyed by a wildfire burning west of Boulder, Colorado, and eight people are unaccounted for, Boulder County Sheriff's Office Commander Rick Brough said Wednesday.

Authorities initially had 20 missing people reported, Brough said. Twelve of them have been located. Of those remaining, "many of those were people who did not evacuate," he said. Police were contacting their relatives and were also conducting welfare checks at their homes, Brough said.

The list of 54 homes was posted online Tuesday night. The list will be added to as authorities continue to assess damage left by the blaze.

"These addresses were determined from only 5 to 10 percent of the burned area, as that is the only area that could be safely surveyed on Tuesday," the list said.

An infrared flight allowed authorities to better map the fire, and its acreage has shrunk from the 7,100 acres reported earlier to 6,168 acres, said Laura McConnell with the Boulder County Incident Management Team. Twenty-four engines and 200 firefighters were on scene Wednesday, and several aircraft were also being used to battle the blaze, she said.

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Filed under: Colorado
September 8th, 2010
11:30 AM ET

Baseball player's options: Win gold or go serve

Shin-Soo Choo and the South Korean team will be going for gold at the Asian Games.

For Cleveland Indians player Shin-Soo Choo it is literally win big or go home - and serve.

Choo, like any male from South Korea, has an obligation to serve in his country's military for two years by the end of the year they turn 30. And at 28, Choo's running out of time.

But he may be able to stave off his service. Choo was just named to his country's final 24-man roster for November's Asian games.

MLB.com reports that if Choo's team captures the gold medal in the Games, he would likely get an exception from the South Korean military. He missed the chance to earn the top medal for his country at the Olympics because Major League Baseball doesn't allow its players to compete.

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Filed under: Baseball • Sports
September 8th, 2010
10:54 AM ET

Jolie's plea on Pakistan floods: 'We have to support them'

For Angelina Jolie, the scale and impact of the floods that have devastated Pakistan are apparent on the faces of those she meets.

She saw it in the eyes of a couple in their 70s a husband who served twice in the military and built his house by himself for his family, one they've lived in for nearly 40 years.

"The man spoke to the fact that he never felt in his lifetime he is ever going to be able to recuperate what he lost," Jolie told Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent. "That he would never have again nice things. He would never have a nice bed, a nice house. And she they lived in this place since 1972. And raised their children and their grandchildren there. In a moment, a few hours, it was completely gone."

Jolie spoke to Gupta during her fourth trip to Pakistan as a spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency to help bring awareness to the country in the wake of devastating floods that have affected 21 million people.

It's a scene Jolie said may be hard for some to understand especially because of how far away it is. If people saw the eyes of the children pleading for help, perhaps they'd understand the Pakistanis' will to live, she said.

"If they met all these children [who are] so resilient and are still children and so full of life and love and hope," Jolie said that she thinks people would grasp the situation better.

"I think it is this part of the world, they are resilient people. Think of all that they have been hit with. They continue to move on, to rebuild."

FULL POST

September 8th, 2010
10:02 AM ET

Asteroid narrowly misses Earth

A small asteroid passed within the moon's distance from the Earth on Wednesday morning, and another will do likewise later in the day, space watchers say.

The objects don't pose a threat to Earth, and they will not be visible to the naked eye, said Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near Earth Program, which tracks potentially hazardous asteroids and comets within 28 million miles of Earth.

Near-Earth asteroid 2010 RX30, which is estimated to be 32 to 65 feet in diameter, passed within 154,000 miles of Earth at 5:51 a.m. ET Wednesday, the website PopFi.com confirmed.

The second object, 2010 RF12, estimated to be 20 to 46 feet in diameter, will pass within 49,088 miles of Earth at 5:12 pm ET.

READ MORE ABOUT THE CLOSE ENCOUNTERS HERE.

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Filed under: Earth • Science • Space
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