Some highlights from the day's business news:
Stocks little changed as oil rises again
U.S. stocks ended Thursday's session mostly flat, erasing earlier losses as commodities and energy stocks climbed higher. The gains in oil - it went over $108 a barrel – offset weakness in the banking and technology sectors.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14 points, or 0.1%, to 12,285. The Dow was down as many as 107 points earlier in the session.
The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a budget deal worked out last week to keep the government funded for the rest of the fiscal year while cutting $38.5 billion.
The measure, which the House passed earlier in the day, now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.FULL STORY
"Even with the best birth control, women become inadvertently pregnant. Pro-lifers will tell that young woman she must have that baby, then ignore the suffering of the unwanted child who lives in abject poverty for life. I wonder how many conservatives have spoken out against a national health care system to provide medical care for the children of single mothers."–Aginghippy
Arizona recently banned public funding to train physicians to perform abortions; the state also banned tax credits for donations to Planned Parenthood. Kansas joined Nebraska in banning abortions after 21 weeks because of “fetal pain.” Many CNN.com readers said the new laws showed church entanglement with state policies.
pfriedkin said, "The push for these laws are purely the work of Christian extremists. Their "social" agenda is really a religious agenda and an attempt for force everyone to do what they say." Jilli asked, "Can burkhas be far behind?"
AngryDeuce said, "This is why churches should not get tax-free status: the money they claim is going to help the needy is going to lobbyist groups and perverting our political system with their beliefs. You want tax-exempt status, you show me the soup kitchen or homeless shelter it is funding. One penny goes to politics, and you lose your tax-free card for 5 years. That's how it ought to be."
Many questioned why states would withhold funding for abortions when society might have to pay for the future problems that might cause. casselli said, "Is the GOP going to support all of these unwanted babies? What is going to happen when some of these women that will not take care of these babies start having them instead of having that procedure?"
Guest said, "I'd rather my tax money pay for an abortion than for the child's maintenance for 21 years."
Thrillhouse said, "Legalized and accessible abortion has shown a strong correlation with reduced crime rates. Right or wrong, there are very real consequences of forcing individuals to have unwanted children."
But others were more concerned about who pays the bill now. When enalunar said, "Keep your politics out of my uterus!" TK1957 answered, "Keep my tax dollars out of your uterus too." And frespech said, "Keep your mind in control of your uterus."
FREEDOM4 said, "You want birth control? Pay for it yourself. You want an abortion? Pay for it yourself. The taxpayers are maxxed out. We're willing to pay to care for the elderly, the sick and the disabled, but that's it. If you're an able-bodied person, pay for your own sex life."
After 16 days of testimony and deliberations, the Barry Bonds trial saga ended in the most anticlimactic of ways, with no clear winner emerging from the courtroom. Assigned to determined whether the legendary ball player had lied before the BALCO grand jury in 2003 and had given false testimony, jurors were unable to reach a conclusion, deadlocking Wednesday on three perjury counts.
The jury did find Bonds guilty of one count of obstruction of justice, a charge that alleged he avoided answering certain questions. But was this small victory for the prosecution - one that may not require jail time for the eight-time Golden Glove winner - enough to justify spending millions of taxpayer dollars? Was the prospect of key prosecution witness Greg Anderson refusing to testify insignificant enough to pursue the charges against Bonds anyway? SI.com's George Dohrmann isn't so sure:
Following on the heels of the discovery of a new dinosaur species, another interesting piece of research has come out about these prehistoric monsters: Many carnivorous species were nocturnal.
The study, published in the journal Science, casts doubt upon the idea that hundreds millions of years ago (up until about 65 million years ago), most dinosaurs were active only during the day, leading mammals to hide from them in the shade. In fact, several carnivorous dinosaur species were probably sleeping during the day, and would hunt at night, new research suggests.
"It gives us a new view of how to reconstruct the dinosaur era and how the environment in the Mesozoic, the dinosaur era, was actually used," said Lars Schmitz, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Evolution and Ecology at the University of California, Davis, and co-author of the study. "That's a totally new component of paleontology."
A “time stop.” That’s what photographer Athit Perawongmetha found when he entered the Fukushima evacuation zone to document the ghost town left behind in the wake of the nuclear crisis in Japan. The traffic lights were still on and air conditioners were running, but there were no people. “The city is untouchable. Everything I see is like a dream,” he said.
Perawongmetha documented the scene with his camera, taking photos of the destruction from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which knocked out the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant's cooling systems, leaving operators with no way to keep the three operational reactors from overheating after they shut down.
He came back with photos of empty streets, abandoned houses left open, cats and dogs forsaken by their owners, and shoes left in a doorway, waiting for their owners’ return – but no people.
On April 6, the first day of his journey into Fukushima, Perawongmetha did not see a single person.
Using only a mask as protection from the radiation, he and his travel companions used GPS to explore the area within the 30-kilometer (18.6-mile) evacuation zone. On the second day inside the zone, April 7, they did not realize how close they were to the plant. When they looked at a map later that night, they realized they were five kilometers (three miles) from the nuclear plant.
The next day, Perawongmetha went with his friends to a radiation screening center to be tested. Their levels were within the acceptable range despite how close they came to the plant. After learning that his radiation levels were OK, Perawongmetha said he wanted to return.
On Monday, Perawongmetha went inside the evacuation zone for the third time. This time he was not taking any chances; he wore a full protective suit and mask. He went within 1.5 kilometers (one mile) of the plant, closer than he had ever been.
Perawongmetha said he decided to go “to see something inside because all the press didn’t go inside before.”
He said the crisis has given him a great respect for the Japanese.
“I thought that the Japanese people kept very calm ... and (didn't) panic with the thing that happened,” he said. “They keep their feelings inside; they try to stay very quiet and wait for some help.”
Perawongmetha is from Bangkok, Thailand. He arrived in Japan on March 21. It was his first time in Japan and his first assignment covering an earthquake or tsunami.
“It is quite sad about these things happening in Japan,” Perawongmetha said. “This is a real big crisis for Japan. I hope that Japan will come back soon, like they came back after World War II."
New census data confirm that some major metropolitan areas flipped from majority white to majority populations of minorities during the past decade.
White people are now in the minority in 46 of the nation's 366 metro areas, including New York, Washington, San Diego, Las Vegas and Memphis, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.
That number is up from 32 in 2000, 10 in 1990 and nine in 1980, Frey said.
The changes are a result of relatively slow growth among the white population, white people moving outside metropolitan areas, and huge increases in minority populations, especially Hispanic and Asian, he said.
Recent analysis also showed white children are in the minority in 10 states.
"[The 2010 Census figures] show we’re becoming a more diverse nation, especially in our metropolitan areas, and it's filtering out from there," Frey said.
The Census Bureau previously released the data for cities, counties and states, but data calculated for metropolitan areas and regions might give people a more accurate understanding of where they live, Frey said.
For example, while the population of the city of Atlanta grew by about 3,500, the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta metro area, as the Census Bureau calls it, grew by more than 1 million. The Houston and Dallas areas also had growth of more than 1 million, while the Phoenix and Riverside, California, areas both added more than 900,000.
"As we become much more of a suburban nation, the kind of glue that puts the community together is the idea of the metropolitan community," he said.
Looking at metro areas also can offer a deeper view of how people live in different areas. Frey has used statistics about metropolitan areas to calculate the most segregated areas in the country. In terms of white and black, the most segregated areas were around Milwaukee, New York, Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland.
In 2006, she was at the center of a national scandal when she falsely accused three Duke University Lacrosse players of raping her. Last week, Mangum, 32, was arrested and accused of assault after she reportedly stabbed her 46-year-old boyfriend during a domestic dispute, WRAL.com reports. Reginald Daye died Wednesday as a result of his injuries, and now, police say they are considering upgrading the charge against Mangum. She is being held on $300,000 bail in a Durham, North Carolina, jail. Last year, Mangum faced numerous charges, including assault, child abuse, resisting arrest and a dismissed charge of arson, WRAL reported.
The retired co-host of the PBS News Hour will return to the program for the first time in 10 years Monday, offering a six-part report on autism. "Autism Today" will debut with a story about MacNeil's daughter and her 6-year-old son, who was diagnosed about four years ago. The remainder of the series will address the prevalence of autism (one and 110 children are diagnosed with the disorder, MacNeil said); causes; treatment; and public policy issues. Treatment falls mainly on the public education system, which is required to offer free services to autistic children, MacNeil said in a recent interview. That demand is very burdensome now, but what's going to happen when "a huge cohort of American teenagers with autism" hits the social services system? MacNeil asked. "I've learned how amazingly complex this issue is, and how, despite the surge in research and a lot of fascinating things that have been found, science is grappling with, and coming up with, pieces of answers but no simple answer."
When he was a ballet dancer in the 1970s, Li made international headlines by defecting to the U.S. and losing his Chinese citizenship in the process. Now retired and working as a stockbroker in Australia, Li is in the U.S. on a speaking tour, and he's promoting the DVD release of the 2009 film that dramatized his life. "Mao's Last Dancer," directed by Bruce Beresford, had a small release in theaters in the U.S. in 2009, but it's one of the highest-grossing films in Australia, and pirated copies are selling quickly on China's black market. In an interview with The Washington Times, Li said he still travels to China on business and has noticed a decrease in personal and artistic freedom, particularly since the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. "I think in recent years, it's fair to say that the control has become tighter ... not only in the film industry ... but also in overall media," he said.
From a bat christened "Yoda" to frogs with inflating noses dubbed "Pinocchio," Conservation International's Rapid Assessment Program has discovered many bizarre new species in the world's most remote regions. The group aims to promote and protect biodiversity.
To celebrate two decades of the program, Conservation International is publishing "Still Counting..." a book charting its history and showcasing several of its greatest finds. The program has completed 80 surveys in 27 countries, scouring land, sea and freshwater sites in search of new species.
Louise Emmons is an adjunct scientist at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. She traveled on 14 Rapid Assessment Program expeditions between 1990 and 1998. "Our first expedition was to Madidi in Bolivia, and that was immediately made into a huge national park, one of the largest in South America," she said. "And after that, an even greater biodiversity was discovered in the mountains that were linked to part of it."
Two U.S. soldiers will receive posthumous Medals of Honor for their actions during the Korean War, the White House announced Wednesday.
Relatives of Pfc. Anthony T. Kaho’ohanohano and Pfc. Henry Svehla will receive the medals from President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony on May 2.
In light of Vice President Joe Biden's recent napping episode caught on cam here, we thought we'd dig up some of our best naptime videos featuring your favorite sleepy politicians.
Napping greatest hits - Our very own Jeanne Moos highlights political napping that goes back to the Reagan administration, when the president nodded off in front of Pope John Paul II, and Dick Cheney taking a snooze at a briefing.
The Federal Aviation Administration official in charge of operating the air traffic control system has resigned amid revelations that several controllers have fallen asleep on the job this year, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said Thursday.
The resignation comes after the latest reported incident of an air traffic controller falling asleep on duty. According to the FAA, "a controller fell asleep while a medical flight carrying an ill patient was trying to land" Wednesday morning at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada.
It would be the sixth incident this year involving a sleeping controller that the FAA has disclosed. One occurred at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, another at McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Tennessee, and three incidents involving the same person occurred at Boeing Field/King County International Airport in Seattle.
The FAA said it also suspended two controllers in Lubbock, Texas, for an incident in the early hours of March 29 in which they failed to hand off control of a departing flight to the Fort Worth Air Traffic Control Center, and responded only after several attempts by the same center to hand them control of an arriving flight.
The FAA statement did not indicate whether the Lubbock controllers were thought to have been asleep.
A man who police say was recently stabbed by the accuser in the 2006 Duke University lacrosse scandal has died, the Durham County, North Carolina, medical examiner's office confirmed Thursday.
Reginald Daye, 46, died Wednesday at Duke University Hospital as a result of the stabbing earlier this month, Durham police said.
Crystal Mangum, whose accusation of rape against three Duke athletes generated national attention and sparked debate over class and race, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflicting serious injury in the stabbing of Daye.FULL STORY
Revelers in Thailand celebrated the Thai New Year on Wednesday by dousing each with water, in one case in record numbers.
Bangkok's Central World Shopping Plaza and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration claimed the Guinness World Record for a water-pistol fight, with 3,471 participants spraying each other for 10 minutes, according to a report in The Nation. The old record was 2,671 squirters for five minutes in Spain in 2007, the report said.
The Thai New Year, known as Songkran, begins on April 13 and last three days, although local celebrations can begin sooner and end later. Thais offer Buddhist prayers and city dwellers visit their hometowns during the holiday, but the joy of drenching each other is the holiday highlight. Take a look at water fights around the country from the Bangkok Post.
And Myanmar has its own New Year water celebration, specifically motorists getting doused on a Yangon road. Watch the iReport here.
The budget battle doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon in Washington. Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage on this developing story.
Today's programming highlights...
10:00 am ET - House to vote on budget deal - A spending plan for the rest of this fiscal year was reached late last week, but the House is expected to vote on said plan today following final debate.
NATO meetings: Foreign ministers from NATO's 28 member nations begin a two-day meeting in Berlin, Germany on Thursday with the alliance's military operations over Libya expected to be the first topic of discussions.
The 28 member states and six partner countries are enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for protection of civilians in the war between Libyan rebels and the regime of Moammar Gadhafi. NATO is enforcing a no-fly zone and arms embargo on Libya while conducting airstrikes on Gadhafi's forces.
Next on NATO's agenda will be discussions on Afghanistan, where NATO leads the International Security Assistance Force. Talks will focus on the alliance's role in Afghanistan after combat operations end, currently planned for 2014.
On Friday, NATO ministers plan sessions on partnerships and relations with the European Union, Georgia, Ukraine and Russia.
Severe weather: It could be a rough day for weather across the country Thursday. Severe thunderstorms are forecast for areas of the south central U.S. Thursday and could bring strong tornadoes to parts of Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama by Friday, the National Weather Service reports.
Meanwhile, the fire threat remains high in the central and southern Rockies and the High Plains, forecasters say. Fires destroyed 100 homes and buildings in Texas earlier this week.
Flood warnings were in effect for parts of Montana, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
L.A. Dodgers security: The Los Angeles Dodgers return to Dodger Stadium on Thursday to play the St. Louis Cardinals in their first home game with new security measures enacted after the beating of a San Francisco Giants fan on March 31.
"On Thursday the fans and the community will see a significant change in terms of the security profile at Dodger Stadium," Andrew Neiman, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, told ESPN.
The Dodgers are paying for additional police at the stadium and adding lighting in parking areas. A press conference with officials from the Dodgers and LAPD is planned for 4 p.m. PT Thursday to discuss security measuares.
On Wednesday, the team announced it will not go through with a half-price alcohol promotion planned for six games this season, ESPN reported.
College basketball standout and BYU senior Jimmer Fredette certainly has star power, collecting player-of-the-year awards after leading the nation in scoring this past season. And if his father is to be believed, he became too popular on his own campus to attend class.
Al Fredette, Jimmer's father, told the Glens Falls (New York) Post-Star that Jimmer (pictured) resorted to doing all his Brigham Young University schoolwork online because requests for autographs and photographs were getting out of hand.
"It was getting too disruptive," Al Fredette said, according to the Post-Star. "He can't go anywhere in Provo (Utah) without being recognized."
As the report notes, missing class wouldn't be unusual for a NBA-bound player after the college season ends, and working outside of class isn't odd for any well-traveled collegiate athlete. But the elder Fredette said the school asked Jimmer to stop appearing in class, according to the paper.
That's not the case, BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins told CNN Wednesday.