U.S. Navy frees ship from suspected pirates
The USS Bulkeley helped rescue an oil tanker in the Indian Ocean from suspected pirates on Saturday.
March 6th, 2011
10:37 PM ET

U.S. Navy frees ship from suspected pirates

A U.S. Navy ship came to the rescue of an oil tanker in the Indian Ocean over the weekend after four suspected pirates climbed aboard.

The Japanese-owned MV Guanabara reported it was under attack Friday afternoon 328 nautical miles southeast of Oman, the Navy said. The Guanabara had 24 crew members aboard.

The warship USS Bulkeley, assigned to the Combined Maritime Forces' CTF-151 counter-piracy mission, was directed to intercept the Guanabara, supported by the Turkish warship TCG Giresun of NATO's counter-piracy task force.

After Guanabara's master confirmed to the Bulkeley that his crew had taken refuge in the ship's citadel room, or secure compartment, the Bulkeley's specialist boarding team climbed aboard Saturday, detained the four men and secured the vessel, the Navy said.

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Filed under: Military • Pirates • U.S. Navy
Violence, protests in Libyan cities
Libyans who support Moammer Gadhafi fought against those who are protesting for him to step down as Libya's leader.
March 6th, 2011
09:45 PM ET

Violence, protests in Libyan cities

Below is the latest on where things stand in various Libyan cities, based on CNN reporting, witnesses and government claims. See a full story on the weeks-old crisis.

BENGHAZI: Long a stronghold of the opposition, Benghazi appears to remain under opposition control. The National Transitional Council, a group with 31 opposition representatives for most of the regions in Libya, met in the eastern port city Saturday.

On Sunday, a group of British special forces who were briefly detained in Benghazi were let go and they returned to Europe, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement. They had been sent there to "initiate contacts with the opposition."

BIN JAWAD: Fighting was under way Sunday for control of Bin Jawad. Medical sources told CNN five people have been killed in the city so far. CNN could hear steady booms in the area Sunday evening. It was unclear whether the sounds came from aerial bombardment or heavy artillery.

MISRATA: A witness says the opposition managed to repel government forces Sunday after they converged on a courthouse the opposition was using as a base of operations in the city. The witness described jubilation afterward as people celebrated success over the heavily armed forces. The witness spoke to CNN even as pro-Gadhafi demonstrators in Tripoli declared that the government had taken back Misrata.

A doctor at Central Misrata Hospital said 42 people were killed - 17 from the opposition and 25 from pro-Gadhafi forces - and 85 were wounded, most of them in civilian clothing, in the fighting Sunday. The youngest victim, 3 years old, was killed by direct fire, the doctor said.

U.N. emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos, in a statement, urged Libyan authorities to "provide access without delay to aid workers to save lives," describing conditions there as dire.

RAS LANUF: A government official proclaimed Sunday that the government has taken back Ras Lanuf. But CNN's Ben Wedeman, who was in the Ras Lanuf area, reported that that claim is "patently false." The city appeared to be under the control of rebels, according to the CNN crew there. And on Saturday, the opposition announced that it had prevented the government from capturing Ras Lanuf.

TOBRUK: Libyan state TV claimed that the government had gained control of the eastern port city. "Morning victory, oh people of Libya. Victory city of Tobruk from terrorist gangs," the station said.

However, witnesses there said the city remained under opposition control.

TRIPOLI: Another large pro-Gadhafi demonstration was held Sunday in the Libyan capital. A witness said police were searching cars to try to prevent anti-Gadhafi protesters from coming out on the streets.

ZAWIYA: A Libyan government official proclaimed Sunday that the government has taken back Zawiya. But CNN was not allowed into the city to verify that independently. CNN also was unable to call people in Zawiya on Sunday; reports said communications had been cut off. On Saturday, the opposition announced that it had prevented pro-government forces from taking Zawiya.

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Libyan crisis sends gas prices up 33 cents in two weeks
March 6th, 2011
09:40 PM ET

Libyan crisis sends gas prices up 33 cents in two weeks

U.S. gasoline prices increased nearly 33 cents in two weeks, the second-biggest two-week jump in the history of the gasoline market, according to a new survey of filling stations.

The latest Lundberg Survey of cities in the continental United States was conducted Friday. It showed the national average for a price of self-serve unleaded gasoline at $3.51, an increase of 32.7 cents from the last survey two weeks earlier, survey publisher Trilby Lundberg said.

"This time around, the spike comes not from nature, but from people," Lundberg said. "The armed struggle in Libya has shocked international oil markets and here it is at the pump."

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Filed under: Dollars & Sense • Economy • Energy • Libya
Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days
March 6th, 2011
08:02 PM ET

Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days

As an uprising in Libya approaches the start of its fourth week, the stage appears set for more bloody battles as pro-government and opposition forces grapple for key cities along the Mediterranean Sea. Here is a look at this and some of the other stories CNN plans to follow this week:

Libyan government and opposition in battle for territory, minds

Sunday - a day of heavy fighting in some areas of Libya - witnessed a bizarre clash of claims from both sides, with the opposition saying it had repelled attacks from pro-government troops in places such as the key north-central Libyan city of Misrata, where 42 were said to have been killed in fighting on Sunday, while a pro-government rally in Tripoli celebrated what participants said were government victories in the same cities.

Opposition forces, said to be bolstered by weapon caches previously under the Libyan government's control, are seeking the ouster of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi after his nearly 42-year rule. It's the kind of revolution that was seen in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, but unlike in those countries, the uprising has turned into warfare. Death toll estimates range from more than 1,000 to as many as 2,000, and the international community has been pondering strategies on how to end the violence and remove the Gadhafi regime. Meanwhile, a council in Libya's second-largest city, opposition-held Benghazi, says it is the country's sole legitimate representative and will stay in Benghazi until Tripoli is out of Gadhafi's grasp.

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Tennessee bill would make it a crime to practice Sharia law
Men pray on the street before the start of the American Muslim Day Parade last year in New York.
March 6th, 2011
01:59 PM ET

Tennessee bill would make it a crime to practice Sharia law

Editor's Note: CNN’s Soledad O’Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door," airs March 27 at 8 p.m. ET.

Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has been the epicenter of a months-long battle over the construction of a new mosque in the Nashville suburb. It's one example of many concerning Muslims in America, and how cities and communities are responding to efforts to build Islamic places of worship.

That battle got fiercer when two state lawmakers, one representing Murfreesboro, introduced legislation that would make it a felony to practice Sharia law, which includes lessons found in the Quran, the holy book of Islam, and which can inform how Muslims live their everyday lives, including prayer rituals. Many Muslims consider Sharia law to outline basic tenets of living a moral life. What is Sharia law?

State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, who are backing the same bill in the Senate and House, describe Sharia law as dangerous to U.S. national security, according to the Tennessean newspaper. The bill grants Tennessee's attorney general the power to investigate complaints about anyone who might be practicing Sharia law.

The possible punishment for practicing Sharia law is 15 years behind bars.

Last year, construction equipment on the site of a planned mosque in Murfreesboro was torched, and police suspect arson. Signs on the mosque property were vandalized with spray paint reading, "Not welcome." Two other proposed Islamic centers in Tennessee stoked much controversy last year.  A Crusaders' cross was spray-painted on the side of a Nashville mosque, next to the words, "Muslims go home." In Williamson County, not far from Murfreesboro, plans to build a mosque were quashed after residents complained a turn lane into the building would be too costly. The debate over a mosque near ground zero in New York is still raging. The U.S. Justice Department supports the Murfreesboro mosque.

Tennessee isn't the first state to consider anti-Sharia law legislation. Oklahoma passed a similar bill last year. This month Missouri House Speaker Steve Tilley said he would support a bill that "maintains that U.S. law shall take precedence in U.S. courts," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Tilley referenced a case, frequently cited in the debate concerning the Oklahoma law, in which a New Jersey judge relied on Islamic law to rule in a case involving domestic violence.

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Filed under: Missouri • Oklahoma • Politics • St. Louis • Tennessee • U.S.
Japan's foreign minister resigns amid scandal
Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara announces his resignation Sunday in Tokyo.
March 6th, 2011
09:28 AM ET

Japan's foreign minister resigns amid scandal

Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara announced his resignation Sunday, apologizing for a political scandal in which he's become embroiled.

"I'm apologizing to the people of Japan for this political uneasiness," Maehara said at a Tokyo news conference.

The foreign minister had been under scrutiny for a political contribution he received from a South Korean  in Japan. Under Japanese law, politicians cannot accept any money from foreigners. The money given to Maehara - 50,000 yen ($600) - came from a lifelong friend.

Maehara met with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan to alert him of his decision and had the leader's consent to do so, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Maehera had been in office for six months. He was appointed in September after the prime minister reshuffled his Cabinet to consolidate his power base after a landslide win to lead his party.

Maehara formerly was the minister for land, infrastructure, transport and tourism.

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March 6th, 2011
08:47 AM ET

Chile shaken by 6.2 magnitude earthquake

A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck northern Chile early Sunday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The epicenter was in Chile's Tarapaca region, near the borders with Peru and Bolivia. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The quake hit at a depth of nearly 88 kilometers (55 miles), according to USGS. It was closest to the city of Tacna, Peru, which is about 93 kilometers (58 miles) from the epicenter. The Chilean city of Arica is about 110 kilometers (68 miles) from where the quake hit.

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Alexander McQueen design team denies it's making Kate Middleton's wedding dress
Officials with Alexander McQueen's design team deny reports that they are making Kate Middleton's wedding dress.
March 6th, 2011
08:39 AM ET

Alexander McQueen design team denies it's making Kate Middleton's wedding dress

The Alexander McQueen fashion house in Paris, France, is denying a London Times newspaper report that it is designing Kate Middleton's wedding dress. She's marrying Britain's Prince William next month.

Two representatives of the high-profile design house flatly denied the story on Sunday. "This is not true," spokeswoman Myriam Coudoux said when CNN asked if McQueen creative director Sarah Burton was designing the dress. Hongyi Huang, the head of press for McQ, the house's contemporary clothing line, also denied the report. Burton and McQueen chief executive Jonathan Akeroyd denied the story as well.

Prince William's office told CNN: "We're saying nothing."

"We're not commenting on the specific designer for the dress because Catherine Middleton wishes to keep the designer a secret until the wedding day," Clarence House said Sunday.
Prince William, the second in line to the British throne, is marrying his college girlfriend at Westminster Abbey on April 29. Who is Kate Middleton?

The Sunday Times says Middleton will wear a dress designed by Sarah Burton, the creative director of Alexander McQueen.

The Times says Middleton was impressed by a wedding dress Burton designed for the daughter of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, the wife of Prince Charles. The article does not cite any sources.

William is the older son of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth's oldest son and the heir to the throne.
Alexander McQueen was one of Britain's hottest fashion designers. He committed suicide last year. Learn more about McQueen's legacy.

For earlier coverage of the impending nuptials, including Middleton's fashion influence, here's everything William and Kate. Will they write their own vows? Does their web site offer a clue?