Severe weather spawns tornadoes
A 6-year-old died when a tree fell on his home as storms rolled through Bald Knob, Arkansas, on Thursday.
April 15th, 2011
10:25 PM ET

Severe weather spawns tornadoes

[10:25 p.m. ET, 9:25 CT] Mississippi Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant has ordered a state of emergency in 14 counties from Friday's storms. The city of Clinton suffered "extensive damage" when a tornado touched down earlier Friday, according to Mississippi's Emergency Management Agency. In Jackson, numerous power poles were snapped along one storm's path, leaving more than 23,400 customers without power, utility company Entergy Mississippi said.

[10:14 p.m. ET, 9:14 CT] Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has declared a state of emergency for 26 counties following severe weather. Storms killed two people in the town of Tushka, where authorities say a tornado touched down Thursday night.

[9:47 p.m. ET, 8:47 CT] Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has declared a state of emergency for all counties as a result of severe weather. Tornadoes were reported Friday near Livingston, near Melvin, and near Linden.

[8:11 p.m. ET] A tornado warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for northwest metro Atlanta. Affected areas include eastern Cobb County, northern Dekalb County and northeastern Fulton County.

[5:55 p.m. ET] A tornado watch has been issued by the National Weather Service for western and norther Georgia, including the metro Atlanta area, until 12 a.m. Saturday.  Hail up to 2 inches in diameter and wind gusts up to 70 mph are possible, forecasters say.

[4:55 p.m. ET, 3:55 p.m. CT] A tornado was reported on the ground in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, near McFarland Mall at 3:44, the National Weather Service said.

[2:55 p.m. ET, 1:55 p.m. CT] The city of Clinton, Mississippi, suffered "extensive damage" from a tornado that struck Friday, the state Emergency Management Agency said.

[2:48 p.m. ET, 1:48 p.m. CT] A tornado emergency has been issued for towns of Geiger, Panola, New West Green, and Pleasant Ridge in Alabama. At 1:34 pm CDT, storm spotters were tracking a large and extremely dangerous tornado that was mile wide, the National Weather Service said. The tornado was located 23 miles northwest of Livingston moving east at 45 mph.

[1:24 p.m. ET, 12:24 p.m. CT] A tornado has touched down southeast of Linden, Alabama, the National Weather Service said. Tornadoes have also been reported in Melvin, Alabama, and in or near the cities of Loper, Madden, Mt. Sterling, Ludlow, Clinton and Jackson in Mississippi, according to authorities.

[12:49 p.m. ET, 11:49 a.m. CT] A tornado touched down near State Line, Mississippi, at 11:45 am CDT on Friday morning. The tornado was reported by emergency management officials, the National Weather Service said. There are no reports of injuries or damage at this time.

[12:44 p.m. ET, 11:44 a.m. CT] A 34-year-old woman and a 7-year-old child have been discovered dead inside a Little Rock, Arkansas, home after being struck by a falling tree during severe storms Thursday, the state Department of Emergency Management confirmed. The deaths bring to nine the number of people killed by storms in Arkansas and Oklahoma Thursday.

[12:37 p.m. ET, 11:37 a.m. ET] A tornado was reported on the ground 2 miles east-southeast of Melvin, Alabama, by emergency management officials Friday afternoon, the National Weather Service said. Damage to the Hunt Oil Refinery was reported.

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Filed under: Tornadoes • U.S. • Weather
Vegan magazine in a stew over meaty stock photos
Vegan blog quarrygirl.com accused VegNews.com of using photos of meat from iStockphoto to depict vegan dishes.
April 15th, 2011
10:19 PM ET

Vegan magazine in a stew over meaty stock photos

Many salivate over the mere image of a juicy hamburger or a glistening rack of ribs, but vegetarians aren't usually among them.

But apparently, that's what the readers of VegNews, the nation's leading vegan magazine, have been doing for years without their knowledge.

With the help of an anonymous reader tip, the author of the vegan blog, quarrygirl.com, accused VegNews of using food images of meat in its magazine and website and passing them off as meatless. The allegation prompted the San Francisco-based publication to confess that it had, "from time to time," used stock images that turned out not to be totally animal-free.

"The pictures we've been drooling over for years are actually of MEAT!" she charged.

To support the allegation, the irate post compared pictures of recipes on VegNews.com with photographs from royalty-free image service, iStockphoto. One example shows an image of a "veganized" Brunswick stew recipe from VegNews.com and an identical image from iStockphoto titled "chicken breast-soup-stew-pepper."

"Get your barf bags ready!" quarrygirl.com editorialized.

In perhaps the most egregious example, the post compared pictures of "Vegan Spare Ribs" and "Barbecue Ribs Dinner," pointing out where the bones were apparently edited out of the image.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Food
Overheard on CNN.com: Arizona 'birther bill' about racism?
April 15th, 2011
05:51 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Arizona 'birther bill' about racism?

Exchange of the Day: "All Obama has to do to make this all go away is produce a birth certificate. It shouldn't be that tough. Why hasn't he?"– TRoublerunt

"The Health Department of the State of Hawaii (and then Republican governor) certified that he was born there. What exactly do you want as proof? The long-form birth certificate that Hawaii and several other states don't issue?"– LivinginVA

Arizona passes bill that makes presidential hopefuls prove citizenship

Federal law requires that presidential candidates be natural-born American citizens. For Arizona legislators, however, this is not enough. They have passed a bill requiring that all presidential candidates - including President Obama - prove their citizenship before they are placed on that state's ballot. The measure has not yet been signed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican. Many CNN.com readers said the bill was really about racism.

Suhgarim said, "The only politician I've ever seen proof of being born in the US is Barack Obama; perhaps we should kick all the others out until they can prove where they were born. I am white and I am sick, sick, sick of this racism! Because that's just what it is. I've never seen a white candidate go through this. A plague and a curse on America for our stupidity! And a double plague and curse on conservatives and Republicans!"

kathyrants said, "In my entire lifetime, I have never known of a president who had to go through so much just to prove he is eligible for the presidency. I have also not seen so much disrespect for the president. Let's get with it America. Let's worry about more important things. Let our President do what he needs to do to get us back on track. I too am white and very tired of hearing about this. He is black; he is the president, so shut up, sit down and have another beer!"

Some readers questioned the use of taxpayer money to push the bill. Ghurst said, "So why did Carl Seel introduce a bill for a law that already exists? As a public servant, shouldn't he be mindful of how he spends his time and the people's money? If my boss caught me wasting my time and his money on something that is not needed, I would get fired."

BigOtto said, "We have truly become the laughing stock of the world."
FULL POST

Obama signs 2011 budget deal into law
April 15th, 2011
05:15 PM ET

Obama signs 2011 budget deal into law

President Barack Obama has signed the budget agreement covering federal spending for the remainder of the current fiscal year, according to an administration official, bringing an end to any remaining fears of a government shutdown.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Budget • Economy • U.S.
Humpback whales changing their tunes, study finds
A humpback whale breaches off Australia.
April 15th, 2011
01:34 PM ET

Humpback whales changing their tunes, study finds

Whether to keep up with keep up the coolest tunes or to stand out from the crowd, male humpback whales change their songs over time, researchers in Australia report.

Researchers had known that male humpbacks sing as part of courtship and mating behaviors. Now they think the whales may be mixing up their playlist to show off.

“We believe the song is continually changing because the males wish to be novel or slightly different to the male singing next to them," Ellen Garland, a doctoral student at the University of Queensland, said in a news release.

Other times, the whales may be picking up a tune they've heard before, sort of a sub-Pacific top 40.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Animals • Australia • Nature • Whales
DRC gorillas increase despite war, census finds
Grauer's, or eastern lowland, gorillas have weathered years of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
April 15th, 2011
01:14 PM ET

DRC gorillas increase despite war, census finds

Despite years of chaotic warfare in and around their habitat in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the population of a group of Grauer's gorillas has grown, researchers say.

Researchers from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society ventured into the DRC's Kahuzi-Biega National Park recently to take a census of the Grauer's population for the first time since 2004, the organization reported on its website.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Animals • Democratic Republic of Congo • Gorillas • Nature • New York • War
Abortion, immigration and 'birthers': Do politicians, or voters, have answers?
Planned Parenthood supporters rally last week on Capitol Hill.
April 15th, 2011
12:40 PM ET

Abortion, immigration and 'birthers': Do politicians, or voters, have answers?

With the first 2012 presidential primaries and caucuses less than nine months away, three issues are stoking political fires this week: immigration, abortion and presidential birthplaces.

Immigration and abortion have long been front and center in political debate, but the "birther" issue emerged in the 2008 election, as opponents of President Barack Obama questioned whether he was born in Hawaii. The Constitution stipulates that a president must be a U.S. citizen by birth.

Stoking that debate, Arizona's Legislature on Thursday night passed a bill requiring presidential candidates to prove they meet the birth requirement before their names can be placed on the state's ballot. Thursday's vote was 40-16 in the state House. The bill goes to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer for her signature.

The "birther" allegations against Obama have been repeatedly discredited in investigations by CNN and other organizations.

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Filed under: Abortion • Barack Obama • Elections • Immigration • Politics
Friday's intriguing people
Vintage American cars are a common sight in Cuba, but that could change under reforms by Raul Castro.
April 15th, 2011
12:05 PM ET

Friday's intriguing people

Raul Castro

For the first time since 1997, Cuba's Communist Party Congress will meet this weekend, marking the official debut of Fidel Castro's brother as its leader.

As NPR reports, Raul Castro is expected to propose radical reform measures. One, which may launch a real estate boom, will allow Cubans to buy and sell homes.

Also, the party is likely to lift the ban on the sale of automobiles made after 1959.  Such a move could trigger culture shock in a country where hulking American-made sedans from the 1950s are an everyday sight.

"These cars are part of our national identity - like beans, rice and pork," mechanic Jorge Prats told NPR. "We take care of these old American cars as if they were a member of our family."

FULL POST

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Filed under: Cuba • Most Intriguing People
Gotta Watch: Serial killers up close
Investigators collect evidence possibly connected to the killings of several Long Island women.
April 15th, 2011
11:27 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Serial killers up close

All eyes are on the suspected Long Island serial killings. Generally, this type of crime seems to stir more intrigue than others. Serial killings are a whole different breed of crime because of the "it-could-happen-to-anyone" factor and the loose ends that can often drag out for years. These videos profile several high-profile serial murders and gives us an up-close look at who the killers really are.

'This is a game' – Here, a former investigator explains how he helped catch the notorious "Son of Sam."  For those of you who don't remember, David Berkowitz, also known as the "Son of Sam," confessed to killing six people in New York City in the 1970's.

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2011/04/15/am.carroll.li.serial.killer.cnn"%5D

FULL POST


Filed under: Gotta Watch • Justice
Croatian generals convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity
People watch former Gen. Ante Gotovina's verdict on live TV Friday in the central square of Zagreb, Croatia.
April 15th, 2011
10:07 AM ET

Croatian generals convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity

The International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia announced Friday that it had convicted two Croatian generals of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ante Gotovina, who commanded Croatia's Split military district during the mid-1990s war that led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia, was sentenced to 24 years in prison.

Mladen Markac, who headed the Interior Ministry's Special Police, received an 18-year prison term.

A third general, Ivan Cermak, was acquitted of all charges and ordered released as soon as possible.

Gotovina and Markac participated in an ethnic cleansing operation in Croatia's Krajina region between July and September 1995, the court found. Under the leadership of Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, the generals and others attempted to clear the Krajina of ethnic Serbs and repopulate it with Croats, the court said.

Tudjman, who died in 1999, never was officially charged with any crime.

The trial in The Hague, Netherlands, started in March 2008 and involved 145 witnesses and 4,819 evidence exhibits, the court said.

The verdict was greeted by boos and hisses from crowds gathered in the central square of Croatia's capital, Zagreb, the BBC reported. The generals are regarded by some as national heroes.

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Croatia • Human rights • Justice • Military • Netherlands
U.S. government allowing families to return to Japan
Military families arrive at Travis Air Force Base in California after leaving Japan last month.
April 15th, 2011
09:27 AM ET

U.S. government allowing families to return to Japan

The U.S. State Department is lifting the voluntary departure order issued for dependents of U.S. government employees in Japan, allowing families to return to the country.

The departures were authorized after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility and led to releases of radiation from damaged nuclear reactors.

In a travel alert posted on its website, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said that while the situation at the Fukushima nuclear facility "remains serious and dynamic," the radiation dangers outside a 50-mile radius evacuation zone are low and "do not pose significant risks to U.S. citizens."

"Based on the much reduced rate of heat generation in the reactor fuel after one month of cooling and the corresponding decay of short-lived radioactive isotopes, even in the event of an unexpected disruption at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, harmful exposures to people beyond the 50-mile evacuation zone are highly unlikely," the embassy statement said.

Travel inside the evacuation zone is still not recommended. Major U.S. government and military facilities are outside the 50-mile zone.

The families of military personnel who left Japan for "safe havens" in the U.S. are awaiting Pentagon orders authorizing their return, Stars and Stripes reported.

“Family members will soon receive instructions on how to obtain return flights and proceed from their selected locations,” Stripes quotes a statement from U.S. Forces Japan as saying.

The U.S. Embassy statement said the American government is using the same safety standard in allowing the return of dependents as it would if such an event occurred in the United States.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Earthquake • Japan • Military
Mollusks watch with eyes of rock
A lined chiton near Whidbey Island, Washington, was photographed about 50 feet below the surface.
April 15th, 2011
08:30 AM ET

Mollusks watch with eyes of rock

In the past month, we've seen eagle rays and mako sharks jumping aboard boats. Now it turns out mollusks may be watching us ... with eyes made of rock.

Daniel Speiser, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara, collected chitons, 3-inch-long mollusks, from the Florida Keys and gave them vision tests during his graduate studies at Duke University in North Carolina.

Scientists had long known that chitons had primitive eyes, but it was thought they could only detect changes in light.

"Turns out they can see objects, though probably not well," Speiser said in a news release from the Santa Barbara school. FULL POST

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Filed under: Animals • Nature
Friday's live video events
April 15th, 2011
07:31 AM ET

Friday's live video events

Severe storms have already caused havoc in Oklahoma and other states, and they're now headed toward the Eastern United States.  Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage on this developing story.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - House debates 2012 GOP budget - Congress recently approved a budget for this fiscal year, and lawmakers are getting ready to take a two-week break.  But first, the House must consider GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's proposed budget for 2012.

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama • Budget • Casey Anthony • Congress • Crime • District of Columbia • Dollars & Sense • Economy • Elections • Florida • On CNN.com today • Politics • Tim Pawlenty • U.S. • Weather
On the Radar: Tax Day reprieve, tornado worries, budget signing
Pedestrians walk past a tax preparation office in San Francisco, California, on Thursday.
April 15th, 2011
06:42 AM ET

On the Radar: Tax Day reprieve, tornado worries, budget signing

Taxes can wait: It is April 15, the usual deadline to file federal tax returns. But if you haven't filed your return for 2010 yet, don't stress it today.

You have until Monday to get your return in.

CNNMoney reports that the later deadline comes because tomorrow is Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C. But as the holiday falls on a Saturday, it is being celebrated today. And because tax filing deadlines can't be on holidays or weekends, taxpayers get the extra filing time.

The holiday celebrates the freeing of the slaves in the nation's capital.

More tornadoes possible: Severe weather, including tornadoes, will be a possibility across northern Mississippi and Alabama and into central Tennessee on Friday afternoon.

The storm system will then press forward into Georgia and the Carolinas overnight Friday and into Saturday morning. The forecast from the National Weather Service says the primary threat in those states will be damaging thunderstorm winds, but there also will be the possibility of isolated tornadoes.

Two deaths were reported overnight in the southeast Oklahoma town of Tushka, where the state Department of Emergency Management said a "relatively large" tornado sliced through the area. Two other fatalities were reported in western Garland County in Arkansas early Friday after a tree fell on a house, the sheriff's office said.

Budget deal: President Barack Obama on Friday is expected to sign the budget deal reached last week to avert a government shutdown.

The measure cuts $38.5 billion in spending while funding the government for the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends September 30.

The House and Senate passed the deal on Thursday.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • On the Radar • Politics • Taxes • Tornadoes • Weather