September 9th, 2010
10:36 PM ET

Obama to announce major economic appointment

President Obama will announce as early as Friday  morning that he will
tap Austan Goolsbee to be chairman of the White House Council of Economic
Advisers, according to two senior administration officials familiar with the
announcement.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics
September 9th, 2010
10:30 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

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

Book says Paris Hilton hid drugs inside her body: A tell-all book by a former "Girls Gone Wild" photographer alleges that Paris Hilton once smuggled illegal drugs into Europe using a cigarette box hidden inside her body.

Pastor 'rethinking' canceled Quran burning: A Florida pastor who called off a Quran burning is "rethinking" his position after confusion arises over the event's ties to proposed Islamic center near New York's ground zero.

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Filed under: Christian • Paris Hilton • Religion • Showbiz • Sports
September 9th, 2010
10:29 PM ET

Dozen homes engulfed in California explosion

Firefighters were battling a gas line or gas-fueled blaze Thursday evening that engulfed about a dozen homes and sent bright flames and huge plumes of smoke shooting hundreds of feet into the air in a neighborhood in San Bruno, California, California Emergency Management said.

Church of Highland Staff Pastor Leigh Bishop told CNN he witnessed a
"devastating explosion" that caused the fire.

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Filed under: California
September 9th, 2010
10:12 PM ET

Officials: Juarez slaying victim may be U.S. citizen

The slaying of a man in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, is being investigated by the U.S. consulate because the man might have been a U.S. citizen, consular officials told CNN Thursday.

Saul de La Rosa, 27, was kidnapped on August 28 while visiting relatives in Juarez, officials said. He was found dead Thursday.

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Filed under: Juarez
September 9th, 2010
09:42 PM ET

Federal court: 'Don't ask, don't tell' is unconstitutional

A federal court in Riverside,  California, ruled Thursday that the
military's "don't ask, don't tell"  policy - which bars lesbians and gay men
from serving openly in the military -  is unconstitutional.

Virginia A. Phillips, U.S. district judge in Southern California, has ruled
that the policy violates the Fifth and First amendments, and issued a permanent injunction barring its enforcement.

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Filed under: Courts • Military
September 9th, 2010
09:39 PM ET

Treasury yields jump on 'glimmer of good news'

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

Stocks end higher after light trading day 
 
Stocks posted tepid gains, down slightly from their earlier rally Thursday as investors weighed better-than-expected reports on the U.S. trade deficit and weekly jobless claims.

At the closing bell, the  S&P 500 was up 5 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,104, the Nasdaq Composite climbed 7 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,236, and the Dow Jones industrial average rose 28 points, or 0.3 percent, to 10,415, according to early tallies.

Earlier in the session, the Dow had risen by as much as 51 points.

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Filed under: Economy
September 9th, 2010
08:28 PM ET

Saints beat Vikings in NFL kickoff

[Updated, 11:39 p.m.] Revenge will have to wait for another time.

The New Orleans Saints beat the Minnesota Vikings 14-9 Thursday night in the NFL season's opening game, which also was a rematch of last season's NFC championship game, also won by the Saints.

The defending Super Bowl champion Saints took the lead quickly with a 29-yard pass from Drew Brees to Devery Henderson in the game's first few minutes. The Vikings struck back in the second quarter with a field goal and a 20-yard Brett Favre touchdown pass to Visanthe Shiancoe (the extra point was blocked), giving Minnesota a 9-7 halftime lead.

Saints running back Pierre Thomas finished the scoring with a third-quarter touchdown run. Brees (26 for 36) threw for 236 yards, and Favre, who was intercepted once, threw for 171 yards (15 for 27).

Check out more on the game at SI.com.

[Updated, 8:58 p.m.] So, that's how the 2010 season got under way. Most of the rest of the NFL's teams will kick off their seasons Sunday. It's a new year, hope is renewed, and every team has a 0-0 record. For the next three hours, anyway.

Check back later for the final score.

[Updated, 8:51 p.m.] Speaking of the Vikings' 40-year-old signal-caller - who started his 286th consecutive regular-season game tonight - his offense has taken the field ... and they're already off. They've punted to the Saints, who have the ball back with more than 10 minutes left in the first.

[Updated, 8:50 p.m.] A nearly perfect start for the Saints in this season kickoff game, which features two teams that will offer some of the league's intriguing storylines this season. Can the Saints repeat? Will the Vikings' Adrian Peterson, one of the NFL's premier running backs, bounce back after ending last season with a nightmarish, multi-fumble game? How will the surgically repaired ankle of the Vikings' quarterback Brett Favre hold up?

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Filed under: Sports
September 9th, 2010
08:19 PM ET

Medal of Honor to go to Afghan vet killed in 2008

President Obama will award the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller for "conspicuous gallantry" and "heroic actions" in Afghanistan in January 2008, the White House announced Thursday.

Miller will receive the rare honor posthumously for displaying "immeasurable courage and uncommon valor - eventually sacrificing his own life to save the lives of his teammates and 15 Afghanistan National Army soldiers," according to a White House statement.

Miller's mother and father will join the Obama at the White House on October 6 "to commemorate their son's selfless service and sacrifice," the White House said.

FULL STORY

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Filed under: Medal of Honor • Military
September 9th, 2010
08:13 PM ET

Parents try to recover runaway teen in Brazil

The parents of a 15-year-old American girl are seeking to get their daughter back after she ran away with her boyfriend to Brazil, where authorities handed her over to the boyfriend's family.

The Brazilian authorities' decision to give custody of Samantha Hernandez to her boyfriend's uncle, while a legal action against her goes through the system, has left her family and U.S. officials scratching their heads.

"If this was a senator's daughter, if this was a congressman's daughter, somebody would've gotten her back already," said Samantha's father, Robert Hernandez of Florida.

On August 29, Samantha and her boyfriend, whom she had met online less than a year ago, boarded a flight from Boston, Massachusetts, to Belo Horizonte, Brazil, with Samantha using a fake passport, police said.

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Filed under: Brazil • Runaway
September 9th, 2010
08:09 PM ET

Iran to release 1 of 3 jailed Americans, official says

Sarah Shourd, one of three American hikers held in Iran for more than a year, will be released Saturday, Iranian officials said Thursday.

An official at Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance said earlier Thursday that one of the three would be freed this weekend, after the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, without specifying which one. But Bak Sahraei, a representative for the Iranian mission to the United Nations, told CNN that Shourd was designated for release "very soon."

The Culture Ministry official said one of Iran's vice presidents will be present when the hiker is released at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Shourd, along with Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, were detained July 31, 2009, after they allegedly strayed across an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region. Tehran has said the three hikers were spies, and Iran's intelligence minister has hinted the country may consider releasing them in exchange for the release of Iranian prisoners, according to state news outlets.

FULL STORY

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Filed under: Hikers • Iran
September 9th, 2010
07:47 PM ET

Get ready to leave, some Boulder residents told

Authorities in Boulder, Colorado, warned some residents to prepare to evacuate Thursday as winds gusting as high as 50 mph threatened to drive a raging wildfire out of the hills and into city limits.

The Fourmile Canyon fire already had charred nearly 6,400 acres of countryside and destroyed 169 homes west of Boulder by mid-morning Thursday.

High winds that could whip the fire toward the city were expected to kick up Thursday evening and last throughout the night, forecasters predicted.

FULL STORY


Filed under: Uncategorized
September 9th, 2010
07:11 PM ET

3D illusion in street tries to change drivers' attitudes

The 2D decal becomes a 3D illusion as drivers approach it.

What would happen if you saw a 3D illusion of a young girl chasing a ball across the street near a school? 

A Canadian safety group hopes you'd slow down and think twice about speeding through a school zone. Critics of the image say it might scare drivers and lead to accidents. 

Either way, she's got your attention, which is the point, said a spokesman for Preventable, a British Columbia-based safety awareness group behind the stunt. 

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Filed under: Canada • Child safety
September 9th, 2010
05:25 PM ET

Trump makes offer on Islamic center site

Real estate mogul Donald Trump has offered to buy the lower Manhattan
site where a Muslim group plans to build an Islamic community center for 25
percent more than the current owners paid for it.

A letter obtained by CNN obtained from Donald Trump confirms his offer to purchase the site at 45 Park Place.

FULL STORY


Filed under: Uncategorized
September 9th, 2010
03:34 PM ET

Quran burning reaction pours in from around the world

[Updated 4:59 p.m.] Increasingly earnest reaction poured in at home and around the world Thursday to a pastor's plans to burn copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, on Saturday. The Rev. Terry Jones, the head of a small church in Gainesville, said he will go ahead with plans to burn Qurans on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks. The statements in reaction received so far are as follows:

The statements in reaction received so far are as follows:

– Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said, "While I
will defend any American's First Amendment rights, our generals in the field
tell us that the men and women defending those rights would be endangered as a  result of this stunt. If this group insists on going forward, I would hope that members of the media will not reward them with what they crave most: news coverage."

– Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who said he has been in touch with the
church, said, "I think common decency would dictate that this would not occur  and that we would be respectful and are a respectful people of all religions."  He said there was little he could do to stop the burning because of the First Amendment.

– United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday he is "deeply disturbed" by reports about the plan. "Such actions cannot be condoned by any religion," he said. "They contradict the efforts of the United Nations, and many people around the world, to promote tolerance, intercultural understanding and mutual respect between cultures and religions. ... I sincerely hope that they will not take such unacceptable actions."

– A spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan tells CNN: "If in Florida they were to burn the Quran, we will target any Christians, even if they are innocent, because the Quran is our holy book and we do not want someone to burnour holy book."

– A senior Iranian Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpayegani, condemned the plan to burn the Quran and calling for the arrest of Jones, head of the Dove World Outreach Center, according to Iran's semi-official Fars news agency. Should such an "inhumane incident take place in America, the U.S. government and President [Barack] Obama will be held responsible," he said, according to the report.

– Interpol, the international police organization, warned of "tragic consequences" that "may well claim the lives of many innocent people" if the burning goes ahead. Secretary General Ronald Noble said September 11 should be a day to fight terrorism, not a day to "engage in provocative acts that will give terrorists propaganda" to recruit others to their cause.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Islam • Religion
September 9th, 2010
03:28 PM ET

Source: Iran to release U.S. hiker Sarah Shourd 'very soon'

Officials have said Sarah Shourd will be the one hiker released Saturday.

[Updated at 3:28 p.m.] Iran will be releasing Sarah Shourd "very soon", a spokesperson from the Iranian Mission to the United Nations tells CNN.

[Posted at 12:12 p.m.] Iran says it will release one of the three American hikers detained for more than a year on Saturday, a day after the conclusion of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, according to an official at the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance.

The source would not disclose which of the three -  Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd– would be released.

The three were detained July 31, 2009, after they allegedly strayed across an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region. Tehran has accused the three hikers of being spies, which they deny.

The official said one of Iran's vice presidents will be present when the hiker is released at 9 a.m. Saturday.

President Barack Obama has called for their release, saying "their unjust detention has nothing to do with the issues that continue to divide the United States and the international community from the Iranian government."

The hikers' mothers were allowed to visit them in May in Tehran. The mothers said that at the time, their children told them they had not been questioned for several months.

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Filed under: Iran • World
September 9th, 2010
02:15 PM ET

Poll: Bin Laden will never be caught, most Americans say

Nearly nine years after the September 11 terror attacks, a record number of Americans believe the United States is unlikely to ever capture or kill Osama bin Laden, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday reveals that only 36 percent think the country is safer from terrorism than it was before the 2001 attacks.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans, however, are not personally worried about becoming a victim of terrorism. And most say they are prepared to deal with an attack if the worst should happen.

FULL STORY

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • National security • Terrorism
September 9th, 2010
01:58 PM ET

Schwarzenegger signs California's 'Chelsea's Law'

Anyone convicted of a violent sex offense against a child in California will get life in prison without parole starting Thursday, after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed "Chelsea's Law."

The law was named for 17-year-old Chelsea King, who was murdered earlier this year by a registered sex offender who also admitted killing 14-year-old Amber Dubois.

"Because of Chelsea, California children will be safer," Schwarzenegger said. "Because of Chelsea, this never has to happen again."

FULL STORY

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Filed under: California • Crime • U.S.
September 9th, 2010
01:10 PM ET

Obama: Quran-burning plan is 'recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda'

A plan by a small Florida church to burn Qurans on September 11, which has triggered worldwide controversy, is a "recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda," President Obama said Thursday.

"You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan" as a result of the proposal by the Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center, Obama said on ABC's "Good Morning America." "This could increase the recruitment of individuals who'd be willing to blow themselves up in American cities, or European cities."

The Rev. Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove Center, has said he will proceed with the plan Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, despite increased pressure to abandon the proposal and warnings that going ahead could endanger U.S. troops and Americans worldwide.

FULL STORY

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Filed under: Florida • Islam • Religion • U.S.
September 9th, 2010
01:03 PM ET

Firefighters fear fresh winds in battling Boulder wildfire

The weather has helped firefighters make progress against a raging wildfire in the mountains west of Boulder, Colorado, but high winds forecast for Thursday could whip up the blaze again, authorities said.

The fire had destroyed 169 homes and three other buildings by Thursday morning, but cloud cover, lower temperatures and a bit of rain helped firefighters contain about 30 percent of the fire, sheriff's deputies and emergency management officials announced. There have been no deaths or injuries, and four people who had been listed as unaccounted for earlier Thursday have been contacted and are unhurt, Boulder County Sheriff's Cmdr. Rick Brough said.

But firefighters warned that forecast gusts of up to 20 mph Thursday and 30 mph Friday could spread the nearly 6,400-acre blaze in the Fourmile Canyon area west of Boulder.

FULL STORY

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Filed under: Colorado • U.S.
September 9th, 2010
11:34 AM ET

FIBA championships, Vikings take on Saints in opener

Drew Brees, Reggie Bush and the defending champion New Orleans Saints hope to score a win in their first regular season game against the Minnesota Vikings tonight.

After generally coasting to the quarterfinals, Team USA will face more of a challenge in their match-up against Russian’s physically imposing squad at the FIBA World Championships today. The two teams are squaring off on the 38-year anniversary of Russian’s controversial victory against the United States at the 1972 Olympics.

But if Team TUA is going to avoid history repeating itself, they’re going to have to step up their free throw game, prep for Russia’s 2-3 zone and brace for a face-off with some really big boys. "Their average height is 6-8," USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "They'll be the biggest team that we've played against.

While Kevin Durant, Eric Gordon and Chauncey Billups have all had success shooting from behind the line, Russia has only allowed 28 percent shooting from the three-point range, posing a problem for Team USA. SI.com’s Chris Mannix thinks that in order for the U.S. to fend off Russia, it’ll need to re-orient itself to a climate not conducive to dropping threes on the opposition.

After Team USA’s 11 am game, there is plenty to keep your sports palates whet heading into this evening:

Vikings vs. Saints (8:30 p.m., ET, NBC)
Regular season football has arrived as the Vikings and Saints will go head-to-head in the Superdome, pitting the 2009 Super Bowl champs against a team whose preseason was marked by Brett Favre speculation.

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