San Quentin inmates mount rescue after boating accident
San Quentin Prison staffers and inmates helped pull two boaters to shore near the facility early Wednesday.
April 20th, 2011
10:40 PM ET

San Quentin inmates mount rescue after boating accident

Inmates at California's San Quentin prison helped rescue two boaters - one of whom later died - who had fallen into frigid San Francisco Bay early Wednesday, authorities said.

A San Quentin officer alerted the prison's inmate-staffed, in-house fire department around 1 a.m. after hearing faint calls for help and seeing a man and a woman in the water near the facility's shoreline, prison spokesman Lt. Sam Robinson said.

Prison staffers and 10 fire department inmates went into the water and grabbed the man, who was without a life jacket, and lifted him over a retaining wall to get him on land, Robinson said. San Rafael Fire Department personnel arrived and helped rescue the woman, who was wearing a life jacket.

The man, who was breathing but apparently unconscious when he was rescued, went into cardiac arrest on shore, Robinson said.

FULL STORY
Post by:
Filed under: California
Major League Baseball taking control of Dodgers
April 20th, 2011
09:57 PM ET

Major League Baseball taking control of Dodgers

[Updated at 9:57 p.m. ET] Major League Baseball on Wednesday said it was appointing a representative to oversee the operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers, whose financial struggles have been highlighted during a divorce battle between the team's husband-and-wife co-owners.

"I have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the club, its great fans and all of Major League Baseball," MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said Wednesday. "My office will continue its thorough investigation into the operations and finances of the Dodgers and related entities during the period of Mr. (Frank) McCourt's ownership. I will announce the name of my representative in the next several days.

"The Dodgers have been one of the most prestigious franchises in all of sports, and we owe it to their legion of loyal fans to ensure that this club is being operated properly now and will be guided appropriately in the future."

FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: Baseball • California • Sports
Two journalists killed in Libya; two others wounded
Journalists Tim Hetherington, left, and Chris Hondros, right, were killed in Libya on Wednesday.
April 20th, 2011
07:20 PM ET

Two journalists killed in Libya; two others wounded

[Updated at 7:20 p.m. ET] Acclaimed photojournalist Chris Hondros has died of wounds he suffered in an incident in Libya that killed a second Western journalist and wounded two other journalists, Getty Images said Wednesday evening.

The other journalist who died was Tim Hetherington, an Oscar nominee for a gritty and harrowing documentary about the Afghan war, the president of the agency that represented him said Wednesday.

"The only thing we know is that he was hit by a [rocket propelled grenade] with the other guys," CSPR agency president Cathy Saypol said about Hetherington.

Hetherington's last Twitter entry appears to have been made on Tuesday: "In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO."

FULL STORY

[Initial post, 1:30 p.m. ET] A Western journalist has been killed and another wounded in the Libyan city of Misrata, journalists in the city said on Wednesday.

CNN is not identifying them by name at this time because their families have not yet been notified. Cathy L. Saypol, president of the agency that represents the deceased photojournalist and the Panos Pictures photo agency who employed the victim, also confirmed the death. The circumstances of death and injury are not yet clear.

Before these casualties were reported, the Committee to Protect Journalists documented more than 80 attacks on the press in Libya since political unrest erupted. Its website has a running list of attacks on media people since February 16. "They include two fatalities, a gunshot injury, 49 detentions, 11 assaults, two attacks on news facilities, the jamming of Al-Jazeera and Al-Hurra transmissions, at least four instances of obstruction, the expulsion of two international journalists, and the interruption of Internet service. At least six local journalists are missing amid speculation they are in the custody of security forces. One international journalist and two media support workers are also unaccounted for," CPJ said. In one well-publicized incident, four New York Times journalists were abducted and freed last month.

They described "beatings and abuse while in captivity."

The Times' journalists are Beirut Bureau Chief Anthony Shadid, reporter Stephen Farrell, and photographers Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario. The team's driver, identified by the Times as Mohamed Shaglouf, is unaccounted for," CPJ said.

Post by:
Filed under: Libya
Overheard on CNN.com: New alcoholic drink targets kids?
Rapper Snoop Dogg has lent his name to Blast, a new fruity drink with twice the amount of alcohol found in Colt 45.
April 20th, 2011
04:31 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: New alcoholic drink targets kids?

Comment of the day: "If your kid is influenced by what Snoop is saying or doing, you didn't raise them right." –mathew85

About to Blast

Blast, a new fruity drink with twice the amount of alcohol found in Colt 45, resembles soda in color and packaging and is drawing outrage from politicians and advocacy groups. Marketing for the drink, including an endorsement by Rapper Snoop Dogg, is adding fuel to the fire.

The story drew plenty of comments from readers the subjects of which ranged widely, from identifying the real target audience to a debate about which music genre, country music or hip hop, mentions alcohol the most.

bweeta said, "Grow up...they're marketing to women, not children. I've tended bar for 13 years and girls like sweet stuff. That's why in the last 10 years we've gone from having hard lemonade and Smirnoff Ice to about 25 different flavored malt beverages and every different sweet and tropical flavored vodka and rum they could think of, from mango to bubble gum to whipped cream. Women, not children."

chariega said, "Ya know the whole 'let's bash hip hop because it's promoting alcohol' argument is really old; last I checked COUNTRY MUSIC has its share of artists endorsing alcohol and tunes about alcohol...'I'm a lil drunk and I need you now' - wasn't that the chorus of a #1 COUNTRY song on the pop charts?"

codygaynor said, "Look, I don't drink fruity energy malt liquor, but there are legal adults who inexplicably like it. You can't tell a business not to exploit a niche because it’s likely to be criminally abused. Mike's Hard Lemonade has literally no taste of alcohol, but it’s as alcoholic as a beer."

JazzyLee said, "Kids don’t need any help encouraging them to drink. Trust me. Curious kids are going to drink regardless. And FYI – Stop blaming celebrities for "promoting" stuff."

redeemed1 said, "I hate how some black celebrities are willing to endorse products that contribute to the already existing problems that plague inner city communities where primarily black and Hispanic people live. Now that’s what I call 'sellin' out."

avoidsheep said, "These arguments are so silly...you could make booze taste like canola oil and package it in a any type of nondescript container and kids will still want to drink. Kids wanted to drink 60 years ago, 50 years and so on."

Don’t believe in the Bible? Read it anyway

Kristin Swenson, Ph.D., an associate professor of Religious Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time, says there are good, non-religious reasons to read the Bible - for example, the Bible's long history of development that reflects many voices and the influence it continues to have in our societies. Of course, you’ll have to read it first to understand those implications and influences.

Some CNN.com readers agreed, while others said they'd pass:

Eric said, "I can think of lots of other books that would give you a much better understanding of the world around you than the bible." Mark said, "The Bible: A grim fairy tale. No thanks! As Mark Twain said, 'Faith is believing in what you know ain't so.'" KinNYC said, "It should have been called a guide book so you can make your own decision. Not the bible or Law. Makes too many people crazy in its interpretation."

Vanessa said, "Great write! I agree with you that to even understand the culture we are living in we ought to do our part to understand our cultural history. The bible is alluded to in almost all of the great works of Western literature and if you don't know anything about the bible you have a limited understanding of the literary greats as well." Laura said, "I agree. I recently started reading the bible just so I could know what it said for myself instead of relying on what others say is in there."

Steve (the real one) said, "I am torn by this article. If one reads the Bible without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, there will be no spiritual understanding. Reading the Bible is a good thing but again no understanding comes if the Holy Spirit is not involved." T3chsupport said, "Might want to be careful with that... the more I read the bible, the less I believed any of it. Now I'm not a Christian at all, and it's mostly because I read the bible."

Rev. Rick said, "While I believe Dr. Swenson has a point in suggesting that we should read the Bible in order to actually know what it says, I also believe she should have gone a step further and suggested that one should also read other religious texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, and perhaps some of the Pali Canon."

No more orange or yellow-level threats

A new terrorism warning system will provide the public with information on specific threats, replacing the color-coded alerts put in place after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the new system will take effect April 26 and has only two levels, compared to the previous system's five. CNN.com readers clearly had little faith in the previous system and are skeptical of anything new, too:

Frank456 said, "Without color coding threats, how are they going to scare the voters at election time?" random12345 said, "Great. Now I need to learn to ignore a new system." Jeryous said, "The color-coded alerts were the stupidest idea ever. I still don't know what it means, and it makes no difference to me. I always get 'randomly' selected to be frisked at airports regardless if it is green or blue or yellow or purple." And Ogrefab said, "Are they sure we Americans are ready to graduate from colors yet? Hopefully they still keep it simple, I'm thinking shapes are the next logical step."

Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Gotta Watch: Gas prices jump
April 20th, 2011
01:41 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Gas prices jump

Chances are like everyone else you're starting to see resentment at the pump. A gallon of gas is already almost $5 in Connecticut and the summer's not even here yet. While gas prices now border on the ridiculous, having the price raised while you're in the middle of filling up takes the cake.

Gas price jumped during pump – Motorist Robert Levulis got a huge shock when the pump stopped and the price changed while he was getting gas.


FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: Economy • Energy • Gotta Watch • U.S.
Controversial Arizona sheriff starts 'Mugshot of the Day' contest
Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, says the photos could drum up leads for investigations.
April 20th, 2011
12:38 PM ET

Controversial Arizona sheriff starts 'Mugshot of the Day' contest

The Arizona law enforcement official known as "America's toughest sheriff" has come up with a new way to demonstrate his authority.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has begun posting online mug shots of people who are arrested, asking people to vote for the photo they find most amusing. He says that putting the mug shots online and inviting a mass audience to view them is a way to drum up leads for investigations. "I want people to turn to see if their neighbor's been arrested," he said.

Some people have said it's unfair, arguing that not everyone arrested is guilty and that putting the images online in that forum, to exist forever in cyberspace, could result in unfair discrimination for innocent people pictured for years to come.

Arpaio is not the first to come up with the concept of posting mug shots online. Thesmokinggun.com and newspaper Web sites have been doing it for years, and the public is responding with clicks.

Arpaio is used to a great amount of attention. He's famous for his tough treatment of those convicted in his Arizona jurisdiction. He has fed inmates green bologna and made them wear pink underwear. His unconventional approach to law enforcement has drummed up many headlines over the years.

Last week, an investigation into alleged misconduct by Arpaio's subordinates ended with a 1,022-page report delivered to the sheriff. The investigation was led by Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, and a letter to him from Arpaio said privacy limits prevent disclosure of the report until those named can appeal its findings.

Post by:
Filed under: Arizona • Joe Arpaio
Wednesday's intriguing people
Pia Toscano, formerly of "American Idol," will reportedly appear on "Dancing with the Stars."
April 20th, 2011
11:57 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Pia Toscano

Viewers were shocked when the American Idol prospect was ousted from the top 10 last month. Last night, it was announced that the singer will appear on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” on Tuesday.
FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: Dance • Most Intriguing People • Music • Showbiz
Swarming bees kill elderly Texas couple
The species of bee involved in a fatal attack on an elderly couple has not been identified, a Texas paper reports.
April 20th, 2011
10:57 AM ET

Swarming bees kill elderly Texas couple

An elderly Texas couple were killed by bees this week after they apparently tried to remove the insects from a fireplace in a house on a remote ranch, the Valley Morning Star reported Wednesday.

William Steele, 90, died Monday in the house on a ranch outside Hebbronville, Texas, about 100 miles west of Corpus Christi. His wife, Myrtle Steele, 92, died Tuesday after she was flown to a Corpus Christi hospital, the couple's daughter-in-law, Judy Steele, told the newspaper.

Judy Steele told the paper that the bees swarmed when her father-in-law sprayed a hive the insects had built in the small home's fireplace.

Her husband, Richard Steele, was with his parents when the attack occurred, Judy Steele, told the Morning Star. He was also stung but was able to drive several miles to the nearest phone to call emergency services, she said. There is no cell phone service in the remote area, she said.

Jim Hogg County sheriff's deputies responded and told the paper they were able to get Myrtle Steele out of the house.

“We were getting stung in the process, but we were able to place a blanket over her and take her to an awaiting ambulance - we did what we could,” the paper quoted Deputy Reyes Espinoza as saying. William Steele died inside, Espinoza said.

Judy Steele said her mother-in-law was stung more than 300 times.

Espinoza told the paper the species of bee involved in the attack had not been identified and the hive had yet to be removed from the house.

Post by:
Filed under: Animals • Bees • Texas
Government implements new terror alert system
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will announce implementation of the new terror threat levels on Wednesday.
April 20th, 2011
09:06 AM ET

Government implements new terror alert system

The federal government on Wednesday implements a new terror alert system that will replace the color-coded terror alerts put in place after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"The National Terrorism Advisory System, which was developed in close collaboration with our federal, state, local, tribal and private sector partners, will provide the American public with information about credible threats so that they can better protect themselves, their families, and their communities," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement.

While the color-coded system had five levels of alerts, the new NTAS will have only two - "elevated threat," which "warns of a credible terrorist threat" to the U.S., and "imminent threat,"  which "warns of a credible, specific and impending terrorist threat," according to a Department of Homeland Security statement.

FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: National security • Security • Terrorism
April 20th, 2011
07:32 AM ET

Wednesday's live video events

President Obama pays a visit to Facebook headquarters today for a town hall meeting, and CNN.com Live will be there for all your coverage.

Today's programming highlights...

12:30 pm ET - U.N. briefing on Libya - The United Nations humanitarian chief will speak with reporters on her trip to strife-torn Libya.

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama • Budget • California • Dollars & Sense • Economy • Facebook • Gulf Coast Oil Spill • Gulf Coast Oil Spill politics • Libya • Louisiana • New York • On CNN.com today • Politics • Technology • U.S. • United Nations • War • World
On the Radar: Robot pitcher, Obama at Facebook, air travel rules, more storms
A robot will precede Phillies ace Cliff Lee to the mound Wednesday in Philadelphia.
April 20th, 2011
06:39 AM ET

On the Radar: Robot pitcher, Obama at Facebook, air travel rules, more storms

It may not be able to break into what many consider the best pitching rotation in baseball, but PhillieBot will certainly be a major-league phenom when it throws out the first pitch at Wednesday afternoon's Philadelphia Phillies game.

PhillieBot, a combination Segway, robotic arm and jai-alai-like scoop is the brainchild of the director of Philadelphia's city science festival and the handiwork of a group of University of Pennsylvania engineers, according to a report on philly.com.

Science festival director Gerri Trooskin came up with the idea for the robot to headline Science Day at the ballpark. She pitched her idea to Penn's General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory, where engineers Jordan Brindza, Jamie Gewirtz and Christian Moore designed, built and programmed the robot.

PhillieBot will be firing to home plate at 30 to 40 mph on Wednesday, well below the what the guys who'll take the mound later can throw. But philly.com reports  "the robot's computer brain can be infinitely tweaked to change pitch velocity and trajectory."

No word on whether a water tank for a spitter could be an accessory.

Obama at Facebook: President Barack Obama visits Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California, on Wednesday, for the second of three town hall-style meetings on the economy.

During his first event Tuesday in Virginia, Obama emphasized what he called a balanced approach that both cut spending and increased revenue by ending tax cuts for the wealthy; maintained or increased spending in education, research and infrastructure development; and continued reforms launched in last year's health care bill of the Medicare and Medicaid government-run health systems for senior citizens and the poor and disabled.

Obama will also include four political fundraisers during his stop in the Bay Area, the San Franciso Chronicle reports.

New rules for airlines: The Department of Transportation issues new rules Wednesday to address a litany of airline passenger gripes, including requiring full disclosure of additional fees; limiting tarmac delays; reimbursing bag fees if luggage is lost; and increasing compensation for bumping.

Severe weather threat: The threat of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes continued Wednesday to hang over portions of the Midwest and South, after another round of violent weather pummeled parts of both regions the day before, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather service early Wednesday placed portions of eastern Kentucky, southeast Ohio, southwest Virginia and West Virginia under a tornado watch until 9:00 a.m. Wednesday.

Parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee remain under a tornado watch until 10:00 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

So far there have been no reports of injuries or deaths from the latest round of storms, according to emergency management officials and law enforcement.

Post by: ,
Filed under: Air travel • Barack Obama • Baseball • Politics • Science • Segway • Sports • Technology • Travel • Weather
Crews protect Texas observatory with fire of their own
A picture taken Sunday at Texas' McDonald Observatory shows both a wildfire and a controlled burn meant to protect the facility.
April 20th, 2011
01:41 AM ET

Crews protect Texas observatory with fire of their own

The McDonald Observatory in West Texas' remote Davis Mountains is home to one of the world's largest optical telescopes and the StarDate radio program. It's also a residence for about 80 staff and family members, some of whom remained as fire crews defended the property from one of the wildfires that have devastated the state this month.

As the wildfire crept up a canyon perhaps 1 mile from the center late Saturday, a regional disaster team set a controlled fire on a nearby peak, aiming to consume the brush that otherwise could have led the wildfire to the observatory, staff member Frank Cianciolo said.

The controlled burn seems to have worked, and the wildfire - though not contained - is burning elsewhere, he said in a telephone interview Tuesday night.

Cianciolo - a senior program coordinator at the visitor center for the University of Texas-run observatory - has stayed on the property for most of the time since the wildfire reached nearby Fort Davis on April 9, taking the pictures you see in this post and several others.

FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: Texas