The day's most popular stories
The elimination of front-runner Pia Toscano on "American Idol" sent shockwaves through the viewing public.
April 8th, 2011
10:29 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

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

Weeklong budget extension possible, source says: Budget negotiators are working on a proposal to keep the federal government open for another week while Democratic and Republican leaders put together a broader deal, a senior Republican close to the talks told CNN Friday night.

10 things that could ruin your day if the government shuts down: The list of collateral effects of a potential government shutdown keeps growing and people are none too pleased about it. Here are just a few of the negative impacts that could arise if Congress and the White House fail to reach an agreement on the budget.

'Do you know who I am?' Iverson asks police: Former NBA star Allen Iverson launched an expletive-ridden tirade against police when a car belonging to him was pulled over for a traffic violation last week, at one point telling the officer, "Take the vehicle, I have 10 more," according to a police report.

Budget showdown live blog: The latest developments in Washington as the deadline looms for a government shutdown.

Did female voters send Pia home on 'Idol?' It would be so easy to blame the teenage girls. The "American Idol" studio audience was full of them. They rushed the stage Wednesday night after contestant Scotty McCreery sang an Elvis Presley song to hug him and tug on his clothes. But were the teen female fans, with their faster-than-lightning voting fingers, to blame for the shockingly early ouster of front-runner Pia Toscano on Thursday night?

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Boosted approval ratings and back pay: Lessons learned from past shutdowns
April 8th, 2011
09:32 PM ET

Boosted approval ratings and back pay: Lessons learned from past shutdowns

There's no question that the country can make it through a government shutdown. We've done it before - 17 times since 1977, CNNMoney.com reports. What have we learned from previous shutdowns?

The last two shutdowns occurred on President Bill Clinton's watch, when House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Republicans controlling the Senate clashed with the president over the federal budget.

Most political strategists agree that the Clinton-era shutdowns politically benefited the sitting president, who was able to paint Republicans as obstructionist. According to Gallup, his handling of the shutdown boosted his popularity.

"In the wake of the government shutdown in early 1996, Clinton's approval rating moved permanently above the 50% level, and never fell below 52% after that," Gallup reported in 2001, upon his exit from office.

The same warnings are being echoed by prominent Republicans such as Karl Rove. In his weekly polling memo, the former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush cautioned that a shutdown could boost President Barack Obama's approval ratings, citing the Clinton effect.

"The shutdowns helped improve Clinton's political standing, boosting both his approval rating and perceptions of him as a strong leader," Rove wrote. "At the time, poll watchers noted that, 'the only time Clinton's ratings have improved substantially the past year as a result of his actions has been when he adopted a strategy of confrontation.' "

There are other parallels. Like today, the government in 1995 had not settled on a spending measure that would cover the whole fiscal year. Republicans this year were pushing for a deal that would cut spending by $61 billion, but Democrats have wanted only a fraction of that.

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Read more about lessons learned on CNNMoney.com
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At 'The Rock,' getting in might be tougher than getting out
Government-run monuments such as Alcatraz Island could close Saturday if a budget agreement isn't reached.
April 8th, 2011
07:50 PM ET

At 'The Rock,' getting in might be tougher than getting out

The difficulty at one of America’s most infamous prisons this weekend might be trying to get on the inside.

Alcatraz Island, in San Francisco Bay, will be closed to visitors if there is a government shutdown because it is run by the National Park Service.

Before it became a popular tourist destination, the federal prison at Alcatraz was home to the likes of criminals such as Al Capone, Robert "Birdman of Alcatraz" Stroud and George "Machine Gun" Kelly.

As of Thursday night, 3,000 people had booked tickets through Alcatraz Cruises, according to the ferry operator that transports people to the prison know as “The Rock.”

National parks could lose $32 million a day

“We typically sell out on the weekend with 5,000 tickets a day at this time of year,” says Denise Rasmussen, director of sales and marketing for Alcatraz Cruises.

“We will be refunding tickets each day that the government is shutdown.”

Rasmussen says that the company is working on an alternative cruise plan around San Francisco Bay beginning Saturday if the prison grounds are shut down.

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Filed under: Budget • California
Overheard on CNN.com: How important is Planned Parenthood?
April 8th, 2011
05:29 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: How important is Planned Parenthood?

Comment of the day: "Ever seen a successful bar run by a preacher? Ain’t no way to be religious and a politician at the same time."–johnnyhouse

Reid, Boehner bicker over cause of budget standoff

As the federal government moves toward a shutdown, negotiations are apparently stalled over funding for Planned Parenthood. Thousands commented on this and other related stories. CNN.com readers argued over the role of Planned Parenthood in society and as a budget issue.

andiepie said, "The war on Planned Parenthood and other programs of that nature is pretty disgusting. I use Planned Parenthood for all my preventive care. I don't have insurance and can get a Pap smear and birth control for a reasonable price."

zeluha said, "When I had no insurance and all I needed was an OB annual, I was so scared to go to Planned Parenthood because of the protesters. People need to realize PP does a lot of good for the lower-income groups that can't afford to get insurance, see a normal OB/GYN, or afford contraceptives. Give it a break, Bible thumpers. Angry that you pay for these services? I'm angry that a very profitable theme park in Orlando is tax exempt because it's a Christian-themed park."

borismkv said it’s all about the economy: "Stupid social programs like Planned Parenthood should be the first to be cut loose from the government teat. The defense of Planned Parenthood is an attempt to make Republicans look heartless. They're not being heartless; they're being smart."

bbare89 replied, "Do you know how much Planned Parenthood costs the taxpayers? It isn't even material."

PatriciaJ316 was more concerned about abortions. "We all know that our money doesn't go to abortion but what it does do is free up donations and other money that Planned Parenthood receives to use it for abortion. That is why abortion is an issue right now even though tax money doesn't go directly to abortion."

Frenchlobste said, "Even Pres. Bush said, in declining to pull the plug on Planned Parenthood, that he is not going to buck what the majority of American people want him to do. The Tea Party is not in the majority; they only behave like they are."

YoYall said, "It's win-win for Republicans. We either take a shutdown or their social agenda items. They would take either because 'no more government' is their line."

FULL POST

Manny Ramirez to retire, MLB says
April 8th, 2011
04:43 PM ET

Manny Ramirez to retire, MLB says

Manny Ramirez is calling it quits after being informed of an issue under Major League Baseball's drug treatment program, Major League Baseball said Friday.

"Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Rather than continue with the process under the Program, Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player. If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the Drug Program will be completed," the statement said.

SI.com: Sad ending to once-great career Ramirez's new legacy

Ramirez finishes his career as a lifetime .312 hitter with 555 career home runs and 1,329 RBIs. Ramirez was a 12-time All-Star selection and the 2004 World Series MVP.

Gallery: Manny being Manny

In 2009, Ramirez was suspended for 50 games after violating the league's drug policy.

FULL STORY
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Get out of town: Shutdown talk spooks passport-seekers
Martin Cummins and Shannon Sauceda shared a spot in line Friday at the Los Angeles passport agency.
April 8th, 2011
04:32 PM ET

Get out of town: Shutdown talk spooks passport-seekers

The prospect of a federal government shutdown had would-be travelers scrambling to passport offices Friday.

About 50 people were waiting outside the Los Angeles passport agency, one of the nation's busiest, when it opened at 7 a.m., said Howard Joseph, customer service manager there.

Los Angeles resident Martin Cummins was trying to get a replacement passport for a trip to Singapore next week to visit his sister and her family.

"It didn't dawn on me until two days ago that (a government shutdown) could affect me," Cummins said. "I realized I had misplaced my passport, so I turned my house upside down. Now I'm a little nervous about this, but I'm here. Let's hope for the best."

FULL POST

How government shutdown would hurt Americans
A government shutdown could sink Cami Stewart's dream of building a restaurant on this land in Justin, Texas.
April 8th, 2011
03:44 PM ET

How government shutdown would hurt Americans

Cami Stewart's dream of becoming the "Taco Queen" of Justin, Texas, could crumble if the federal government shuts down.

Stewart has spent 16 months developing a business plan and preparing paperwork for a million-dollar loan that needs approval from the Small Business Administration. She's building a Taco Mayo restaurant, a small, regional fast-food chain, from the ground up on a small parcel of undeveloped land.

If there's a shutdown, the SBA would suspend loan approvals, threatening Stewart's plan.

"I've been working and doing a lot of research trying to figure this out," she said.

Even a short shutdown could spoil Stewart's first efforts. She has until the end of April to close the real estate deal. She said other developers are also interested in the land and would swoop in and buy it if her loan doesn't come through in time.

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'Naked' penguins have scientists perplexed
A worker puts a wetsuit on a featherless penguin to keep it warm earlier this week at the Jurong Bird Park in Singapore.
April 8th, 2011
03:40 PM ET

'Naked' penguins have scientists perplexed

A mysterious ailment is causing penguins to lose their feathers, according to researchers at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The condition, called feather-loss disorder, has been seen in penguin chicks in both sides of the Atlantic Ocean the past few years and is featured in a recent edition of the journal "Waterbirds," the conservation society said in a press release.

While scientists don't know what could cause a penguin to go "naked," possible culprits include genetics, nutrient imbalances, thyroid disorders or pathogens.

“We need to conduct further study to determine the cause of the disorder and if this is in fact spreading to other penguin species,” Dee Boersma, who has studied Magellanic penguins, said in the release.

Feather loss in pet birds has long been a common ailment seen by pet stores and private owners, but researchers studying the penguins in the Atlantic said this is something different.

“The recent emergence of feather-loss disorder in wild bird populations suggests that the disorder is something new,” Mariana Varese, acting director of the society’s Latin America and Caribbean program, is quoted as saying in the release. “More study of this malady can help identify the root cause, which in turn will help illuminate possible solutions,” she said.

While the illness does not appear to be fatal, the sick birds, unlike their feathered counterparts, linger in the sun instead of seeking refuge from the midday heat.  That behavior has led to several deaths, according to the release.

Disease is not the only recent peril that Atlantic penguins have faced.

A few weeks ago, volunteers from Nightingale Island, a British territory that is part of the Tristan da Cunha archipelago, mobilized to save tens of thousands of Northern Rockhopper penguins threatened by an oil spill.

It has been a surreal year in animal deaths. In January, tens of thousands of birds and fish were found dead in countries around the world.

Recently dolphins, some with oil inside them, have turned up dead in the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists don’t know why.

Sensitivity surrounding marine life in the area is particularly high after the BP oil disaster that sent millions of barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico nearly a year ago.

"Even though they have oil on them, it may not be the cause of death," Blair Mase, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's marine mammal investigations coordinator, told CNN. "We want to look at the gamut of all the possibilities."

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Cleveland airport terminal, planes evacuated after screening glitch
All four concourses of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport had to be evacuated and searched Friday.
April 8th, 2011
01:47 PM ET

Cleveland airport terminal, planes evacuated after screening glitch

A malfunctioning carry-on baggage X-ray machine forced security officials to take passengers off planes and evacuate the terminal during the Friday morning rush at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Ohio, the Transportation Security Administration confirmed.

TSA officers could not determine who had been properly screened and who had not, so all passengers and carry-ons were removed from planes and the terminal for re-screening, airport spokeswoman Jackie Mayo told CNN affiliate WOIO.

“Literally a dump of the terminal,” she told CNN affiliate WEWS.

Officers and a bomb-sniffing dog checked all four concourses of the terminal while passengers waited outside in the rain, WEWS reported. The terminal reopened less than 45 minutes after the problem was discovered, Mayo said.

The action was taken "out of an abundance of caution," a TSA statement said.

“That 4:30 to 6, 7 o’clock in the morning is a really busy time,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of people in here who are taking those early-morning flights, those weekend warriors who are going home. So it was a little bit of an inconvenience, but as a precautionary measure it’s what we do, and what airports across the country do. It’s all about security, which is our highest priority.”

The schedule had returned to normal by late morning.

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Filed under: Air travel • Ohio • Security • Transportation Security Administration • Travel • U.S.
Government shutdown: The upside
Protesters call for cuts in federal spending Wednesday on the steps of Capitol Hill.
April 8th, 2011
12:50 PM ET

Government shutdown: The upside

We posted an item here on Thursday on 10 things that could ruin your day if the government shuts down.

Which got us wondering: Is there a silver lining to a shutdown?

Consider:

– Less traffic. Roads around federal office epicenters in every city would see a noticeable drop in motorists. That’s a good thing. A new study by the Environmental Health Perspectives highlights the link between traffic pollution and brain damage.

– You won’t get audited. While the tax filing deadline is still April 18, a federal shutdown means you can stave off the bean counters – people whose sole purpose is to get you to explain how that monthly Netflix subscription helps your home-based business - at least for a while.

FULL POST

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Friday's intriguing people
Japanese pro golfer Ryo Ishikawa promises to donate all his Tour earnings this year.
April 8th, 2011
11:24 AM ET

Friday's intriguing people

Ryo Ishikawa

The 19-year-old native of Japan says he will donate all the money he wins on the PGA Tour this year, including this weekend's Masters, to his earthquake- and tsunami-ravaged homeland.

Ishikawa, who shot a 1-under-par 71 in the first round of the Masters, won $2 million last year, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. He said he hopes to inspire his country by playing well.

"I understand that people, especially in Sendai, they are living in hell, and I would love to show the energy and power of what golf can bring to those people."

Ron Thatcher

The "non-essential" government worker is one of 800,000 who will not get paid if the government shuts down. The Montana resident works for the U.S. Forest Service and doesn't consider the work he does "non-essential," since some of the work he does includes protecting the U.S.-Canadian border. Thatcher tells CNNMoney.com, "I've worked with the Forest Service over 30 years and I'm damn proud to be a Forest Service employee."

Sandy Almon

The baseball player at Mount Pisgah, a small private school in Johns Creek, Georgia, is turning heads as a relief pitcher with a reported 85-mph fastball.

But it's not the fastball that has people talking. It's the fact that Sandy is a girl, one of just a few across the country playing high school baseball.

"I've seen and coached with a lot of boy pitchers the same age, and she has got just as much or more talent than half of them," Joey Hamilton, a former major-league pitcher and one of Sandy's private coaches, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"I love baseball; it's my favorite sport and always has been," Almon told the paper. "I don't know how to explain it other to say that baseball just comes natural to me. Other sports, like basketball, are work. Baseball is not that way."

Casey Robbins

The Sacramento, California, high school senior has achieved an honor few of her peers can match: A school in Liberia has been named for her.

Robbins founded Textbooks for Liberia when she was in eighth grade. The organization has sent more than 10,000 books to the West African nation, CNN affiliate KXTV reports.

In gratitude for her work, officials named a new school in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, for her.

"The school is taking enrollment now and it should be starting in the fall. It's the Casey Robbins International School," said Robbins, who visited the site in February. "It's definitely a cool thing for me. I got to have a picture with the sign for my school."

Robbins said she plans to continue and possibly expand the program while attending Stanford University after graduation.

Gotta Watch: Saddam statue falls; Arthur Ashe's announcement; FLDS raid
April 8th, 2011
10:30 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Saddam statue falls; Arthur Ashe's announcement; FLDS raid

The end of Saddam's regime – The video is a look back at the day the Iraqi people pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein.  It happened on April 9, 2003.  You can see people cheering and waving flags as they carry bits and pieces of the statue around central Baghdad.  Someone even shouts "Goodbye Saddam" as you watch him fall. This symbolized the end of the Iraqi leader's regime.  

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On the Radar: Budget showdown, Trump, Bonds trial, Libya, Japan
Federal employees demonstrate against a possible government shutdown outside a federal building Thursday in Chicago.
April 8th, 2011
09:15 AM ET

On the Radar: Budget showdown, Trump, Bonds trial, Libya, Japan

Looming government shutdown - Congressional leaders of both parties are searching for common ground on a federal budget, working against a deadline of midnight ET Friday. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and their aides spent another long night negotiating, including a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House. If an agreement is not reached in time, many federal government facilities - including national parks - and some services will shut down until funding can be re-established.

Trump - Recent "birther" convert and potential presidential candidate Donald Trump is set to meet Friday with an Arizona state lawmaker who is sponsoring a bill to require any presidential candidate to prove he or she was born in the United States. Trump, a real-estate mogul and reality TV star, told NBC that he has dispatched a team of investigators to Hawaii to establish whether Obama was born there. CNN has debunked allegations surrounding the president's birthplace.

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Filed under: Budget • Ivory Coast • Japan • Libya • NATO • On the Radar
Friday's live video events
April 8th, 2011
07:42 AM ET

Friday's live video events

The battle over a federal budget continues in Washington, and a partial government shutdown could occur if a deal cannot be reached by the end of the day.  Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage on this developing story.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - Casey Anthony hearing - Another hearing takes place in the case of the Florida woman accused of killing her young daughter.  Today, attorneys will present final arguments on scientific evidence that may be presented at trial.

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Filed under: Budget • Casey Anthony • Congress • Crime • District of Columbia • Economy • Florida • Hillary Clinton • On CNN.com today • Politics • U.S.
Japan eases restrictions on milk, spinach near nuclear plant
The Japanese government had ordered a halt to shipments of certain foods following abnormal radiation levels in products near the nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture.
April 8th, 2011
05:39 AM ET

Japan eases restrictions on milk, spinach near nuclear plant

Japan's government has lifted restrictions on vegetables and milk from some parts of the country's north after inspections found radiation levels below legal limits for three straight weeks, a top government official announced Friday.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Japan