Four planets will cluster together next week
Jupiter (seen here) will hang low in the sky, along with Venus, Mars and Mercury, on Tuesday.
May 6th, 2011
07:24 PM ET

Four planets will cluster together next week

Four planets will huddle close together, visible to the naked eye, in the predawn sky next week, according to the editors of StarDate magazine.

"The best view is from the southern states because the path the planets follow across the sky (the ecliptic) stands at a little higher angle relative to the horizon," the magazine's editors said.

"Peak streak" time arrives for meteor showers

Venus and Jupiter will be easy to spot hanging low in the east as dawn brightens on May 10. They are the brightest objects in the night sky after the Moon. Venus, the brighter of the two, will be to the right of Jupiter.

Mercury will be visible to the lower right of Venus, about the same distance from Venus to Jupiter. It won't be as bright but its proximity to Venus will help you find it. To the lower left of Jupiter you'll find Mars, which may be too low and faint to see without the aid of binoculars.

StarDate magazine is a bi-monthly publication of The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory, which houses many telescopes responsible for a wide range of astronomical research. McDonald Observatory is also pioneering the next generation of astronomical research as a founding partner of the Giant Magellan Telescope.

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Filed under: Mercury • Space
Overheard on CNN.com: Birth of 'deathers'
"Osama bin Laden and al Qaida were constructs of the CIA," Cindy Sheehan writes on her blog.
May 6th, 2011
05:39 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Birth of 'deathers'

Comments of the Day:

“McCain is on Obama’s side.
The Navy SEALS are on his side.
Rudolph Giuliani is on his side.
President Bush acknowledges his accomplishment; so does Clinton.
High-ranking officials are on Obama’s side.
NEWS BREAK!
He must be telling the freaking truth.”–MRmailman

“A photo won't change people’s minds. There are thousands of photos documenting the Holocaust, and there are still those who deny it ever happened.”–Haemisch

'Deathers' take over where 'birthers' left off

Al Qaeda, in Web message, confirms bin Laden's death

Poll shows 3 percent now thinks Obama born abroad

Al Qaeda issued a statement Friday on jihadist forums confirming the death of its leader, Osama bin Laden, according to SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant messages. Meanwhile, “deathers” those who don’t believe it have largely replaced “birthers” on some forums.

CNN.com readers shared their views on recent events and their validity. Guest said, “Osama Bin Laden- coming to a beach near you!!!" CW2329 said, “The news will shut up idiots who doubt Osama is dead. Now they will come up with other idiotic comments. It will never end!!!”

jcvarvella said, “I wonder if Bush had killed bin Laden if there would be all this hullaballoo. Oh that's right, Bush is white! The Tea Party would have believed him, no doubt. Deathers, birthers, Tea Party: they are all the same!! History years from now will reflect on this period with wonder and humor!”

FULL POST

'Peak streak' time for meteor shower
The Eta Aquariids meteor shower comes from cosmic material emanating from Halley's comet, shown here in 1986.
May 6th, 2011
05:29 PM ET

'Peak streak' time for meteor shower

The greatest show on Earth is in the skies this weekend as the Eta Aquariids meteor shower enters peak streak time.

The shower was at its spectacular best early Friday morning, but the wee hours of Saturday also hold promise, pending clear skies.

If you live in the northern United States, the stream of celestial glitter and unicorns that you’re envisioning may be a bit off the mark though.

Can you see them? Send us your images!

Those who live closer to the equator will get the greatest spectacle - upward of 60 meteors per hour - but in North America, you could see about half that, according to Space.com.

Why the name Eta Aquariids? It's named for the radiant, the point in the sky where the meteors appear to originate, which is the Aquarius constellation, according to Space.com.

“Each Eta Aquarid meteoroid is a piece of Halley’s Comet doing a kamikaze death dive into the atmosphere,” said NASA astronomer Bill Cooke, quoted in Spacedex.com. “Many people have never seen this famous comet, but on the morning of May 6th they can watch bits of it leave fiery trails across the sky.”

The trails are caused by pieces of the comet burning up in our atmosphere, creating cool streaks of light.

But fear not, Americans, while it may not seem quite like a shower, the radiant will be “fairly low,” according to NASA, creating awesome “Earth grazers,” which are the long iridescent hazes you probably envision. But there still won’t be unicorns.

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Plan would replace controversial grave markers
On gravestones taken from the Negro Hill Cemetery, the word “Negro” has been replaced with a racial epithet.
May 6th, 2011
03:30 PM ET

Plan would replace controversial grave markers

[Updated 6:52 a.m. ET]

After more than a half-century, gravestones etched with racial epithets in a California cemetery may be replaced, thanks to a plan by the California Prison Industry Authority.

The graves, in Mormon Island Cemetery in El Dorado Hills, were transferred from a cemetery in a town called Negro Hill to make way for the construction of Folsom Dam.

On the gravestones, the word “Negro” has been replaced with a racial epithet.

On Thursday, the California Prison Industry Authority offered to replace the gravestones free of charge.

“That graveyard is right around the corner from our offices, and it’s pretty easy to know that that’s the right thing to do,” Charles Pattillo, general manager of the authority, said Friday.

"If we can help the Army Corps of Engineers and the county and restore some honor and dignity to the people that are buried there, then that’s what we’ll do,” Pattillo said.

The El Dorado County Administrator's Office supports the plan, but the process, like many things in government, may be slowed by bureaucratic red tape.

"The prison authority's offer was a great offer and unexpected," said Mike Applegarth, a spokesman for El Dorado County. "We all want to see this project make it through, but it may take some time, a few weeks or so," he said.

Although the offensive term has riled members of the community for years, and many have tried to get the markers replaced, according to CNN affiliate KXTV, no one knew when the word had appeared on the markers - until now.

This week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released 1950s-era records on the construction of Folsom Dam. Also included were documents related to the relocation of  several cemeteries, including Negro Hill. The epithet is repeatedly used in the documents.

In the 1950s, the Army Corps of Engineers completed the relocation of the gravesites, "transferring all original markers where we found them," Lt. Col. Andrew B. Kiger wrote in a letter on the Corps of Engineers website. "Finding none at Negro Hill, we marked the graves with new ones, noting the name of the original cemetery by another, deeply offensive slur," he said.

"We don’t know why, when in so many other instances the cemetery was called Negro Hill, the new gravestones and our records use the more offensive word. Our records contain no documentation of its original designation. Yet this word appears throughout these records; in contracts, in project maps, in legal affidavits, signed by local, state, and, of course, federal officials," Kiger wrote.

“We can only say with certainty that it is reflective of a shameful period in American history when racial intolerance was commonplace,” he said.

Last month, county officials met to discuss the issue but took no action, according to CNN affiliate KCRA.

"To see this is unacceptable," Ralph White of the Stockton Black Leadership Council was quoted by KCRA as saying at the time. "That word won't be there another year. Either God's going to remove it, or Satan will know what to do about it," White said.

The California Prison Industry Authority plan awaits approval from the El Dorado County Board.

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May 6th, 2011
01:05 PM ET

21 killed in Syria after forces fire on civilians, human rights group says

At least 21 people died in two Syrian cities when security forces fired on civilians Friday, a human rights activist told CNN.

At least 15 people were killed in Homs and six were killed in Hama, according to Ammar Qurabi, chairman of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria.

FULL STORY
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Pakistan arrests dozens in connection with bin Laden compound
Pakistani Police guard the sealed main gate of the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan on Tuesday, May 3, 2011.
May 6th, 2011
11:45 AM ET

Pakistan arrests dozens in connection with bin Laden compound

Dozens of people in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad have been arrested because of their suspected connections to the compound where Osama bin Laden was shot and killed, a Pakistani intelligence official said Friday.

Some of the individuals were arrested around the compound and investigators still need to determine if any of the people arrested have any connection with al Qaeda.

This story is developing. We'll bring you the latest information as soon as we get it.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Terrorism
Gotta Watch: Dogs of war
Jacko is honored for his military service.
May 6th, 2011
11:43 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Dogs of war

The recent mission to capture and kill Osama bin Laden has only underscored the need for military canine units. It was recently revealed that part of the SEAL team included a dog , who was choppered in to help identify possible threats to his team. These videos highlight stories of heroic military dogs during times of peace and war.

Deployed canines honored - A dog who survives six IED explosions surely deserves a war monument. Jacko is just one of many dogs to be honored at the F. Walton working dog memorial.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Animals • Dogs • Gotta Watch • Military • TV-American Morning • Uncategorized • Veterans
Donated prom dresses give young storm victims glimmer of hope
Renarda Archie stands on the steps of the destroyed Pratt City home where she and her family rode out the deadly storm.
May 6th, 2011
11:32 AM ET

Donated prom dresses give young storm victims glimmer of hope

Prom night is fast approaching, and the halls of P.D Jackson-Olin High School are filled with excitement.

"Been trying on dresses for days, haven't found one that fits," said Brandi Johnson, 18, a senior at the school in Birmingham, Alabama.

Rooms are overflowing with dresses and shoes. An office is being used as a dressing room. The girls stream in and out, trying to find the right dress.

"Not even at the prom shop did I have this many choices," Johnson said while trying on her 10th dress, still looking for that perfect one.

The school wasn't damaged by the tornadoes that tore across the region last week, but some of its students' homes were destroyed, and some lost everything.

In neighboring Shelby County, a room is filled with racks and racks of donated prom dresses that have been arriving around the clock from as far away as Texas.

"They're just looking for a way to help, and this is a tangible way. A lot of people have said, 'I can do that; I have dresses hanging in my closet,' " said Cindy Warner of the Shelby County School District.

Warner says that in the days after the violent storms, she received a request from a local school that needed 30 prom dresses for students who had lost everything. Word got out through local and social media. The response was overwhelming: In less than a week, more than 1,000 have shown up.

FULL POST

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Analysis: Jobs matter, unemployment rate doesn't
May 6th, 2011
10:55 AM ET

Analysis: Jobs matter, unemployment rate doesn't

Ignore the unemployment rate, and ignore anything you read that highlights the fact that it increased from 8.8% in March to 9% in April.  It doesn't matter.  It's an irrelevant number.  There are so many long-term unemployed in this country, that the unemployment rate would actually be much higher if all of them were counted– more like 16% or 17%.

In fact, this uptick to 9% actually suggests more people are returning to the work force, because people who have given up looking for work are not counted in the official unemployment rate. 113,000 people who weren't counted as unemployed in March jumped back into the labor force in April.

The only number that matters is the number of jobs created - 244K in April; a LOT more than even the most optimistic economists were predicting, and within striking distance of the number (300k) of the jobs the economy needs to be creating per month to get back down to the 5% unemployment rate we had before the recession.

We also saw the jobs-created numbers for February and March revised higher. April's gains aren't some kind of blip– they are spread across a broad range of industries: retail, business and professional services, health care, manufacturing. The only major sector that saw job declines was the government, and that's a trend we've been seeing for a while as states and local governments cut workers amid budget struggles.

Bottom line: April's jobs report is a good, solid one. The job gains still may not be enough to lower the unemployment rate, especially as we see more people try to find jobs. But it shows the economy is moving in the right direction, and hiring is picking up steam.

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Filed under: Economy • Finance • Jobs
Friday's most intriguing people
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld has launched his own website, where he'll showcase bits of his standup from over the years.
May 6th, 2011
10:34 AM ET

Friday's most intriguing people

Jerry Seinfeld

 The comedian went digital Friday with the launch of his own website featuring his standup routines. JerrySeinfeld.com will be the home for video of nearly every recorded comedy performance given by Seinfeld - more than 1,000 clips. He told The New York Times that being able to relay original ideas to an audience is one advantage of putting his content on the Web. "Why would I talk to a TV executive at this point, and ask them what they think? If I have this idea for a TV show, I can just put it up on the internet."

William Harvey

The Hampton University president and his wife are donating $1 million of their own money to the school in order to raise salaries for its teaching staff. The raise will be effective at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year. The money will be used as an incentive for faculty members who receive grants, publish research articles or provide significant service to the university.

FULL POST

May 6th, 2011
10:24 AM ET

Latest updates: How the raid against Osama bin Laden went down

Below is the most current account of the origins and execution of an early Monday morning raid that resulted in the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and four others. These details are from U.S. officials, unless otherwise noted.

– Four years ago, U.S. officials uncover the identity of a trusted bin Laden courier - later identified as a Kuwaiti named Abu Ahmad - whom they believed may have been living with and protecting the al Qaeda leader. Two years later, investigators identify parts of Pakistan where the courier and his brother lived.

– In late 2010, U.S. authorities hone in on a housing compound in Abbottabad, which is 30 to 35 miles north of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital.

– The compound is placed under constant U.S. surveillance, and the CIA gets reports of repeated sightings on a tall man doing "prison yard walks" around the compound yard. They don't definitively identify this man as bin Laden beforehand, but President Barack Obama orders the go-ahead for the raid on April 29 after concluding there's enough evidence suggesting the al Qaeda leader is there.

– The assault is code-named "Operation Neptune Spear," a U.S. official said Thursday. On Monday, a senior Obama administration official said that "Geronimo" was code for the act of capturing or killing bin Laden, not the man himself.

– The CIA and U.S. military decide to move in overnight Sunday in part due to good weather, maximum darkness in the area and a worry that potential targets might move to other locations.

– The raid locale is a compound with outer walls up to 18 feet tall topped with barbed wire, with two security gates and a series of internal walls that sectioned off different portions of the compound. The main structure is a three-story building with few windows facing the outside of the compound, and a third-floor terrace had a 7-foot privacy wall, they said.

– Two families lived at the compound, along with that of bin Laden. One resided on the main house's first floor, while the other was in another building.

– The entire mission is coordinated by Adm. William McRaven, the head of the Joint Special Operations Command, which oversees covert operations involving Navy SEALs. He does so from a base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

FULL POST

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Al Qaeda confirms bin Laden's death, group says
May 6th, 2011
10:02 AM ET

Al Qaeda confirms bin Laden's death, group says

[Updated at 10:02 a.m. ET] Read the full statement.

[Updated at 8:51 a.m. ET ] The statement, translated by SITE, lauded the late militant, threatened to take action against the United States, and urged Pakistanis to "rise up and revolt."

Bin Laden's death will serve as a "curse that chases the Americans and their agents, and goes after them inside and outside their countries," the message said.

"Soon - with help from Allah - their happiness will turn into sorrow, and their blood will be mixed with their tears," it said.

The statement said al Qaeda will "continue on the path of jihad, the path walked upon by our leaders, and on top of them" bin Laden "without hesitation or reluctance.

Bin Laden and other militants used the internet to post messages to their followers before and after al Qaeda's September, 11, 2001 attack on the United States.

[Updated at 8:40 a.m. ET] CNN has seen the statement posted on the jihadist forum regarding Osama bin Laden's death and is working to translate it. We'll bring you any information from it as soon as we get it.

[Posted at 8:28 a.m. ET] Al Qaeda released a statement on jihadist forums confirming the death of its leader, Osama bin Laden, according to SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant messages.

CNN could not immediately confirm the statement.

Bin Laden was killed early Monday in a raid conducted by the U.S. at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

FULL STORY
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Full statement from al Qaeda on Osama bin Laden's death
May 6th, 2011
09:59 AM ET

Full statement from al Qaeda on Osama bin Laden's death

Al Qaeda released a statement on jihadist forums confirming the death of its leader, Osama bin Laden, according to SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant messages.

The statement was issued by the al Qaeda organization - General Command on Tuesday May 3, 2011. Read in Arabic here (PDF) or the translation below:

Al-Qaeda statement calls the day " a historic day of the days of the great Islamic umma (nation) and in a noble stand of one of its great men and heroes across its blessed age and on the path taken by the will of all the mighty predecessors and those who will follow them, the Sheikh, the Mujahid & the Commander, the pious migrant fighter, Abu Abdullah Osama bin Muhammad bin Laden, may God have mercy on him was killed in a place where truth shines and where sincerity for good deeds and the call for truthfulness exist. Bin Laden was killed so he can follow the mighty caravan of the umma (the nation) with the great leaders, the loyal soldiers, and the honest knights who refused to abandon their faith for the mundane lives and to hand over the command to those who will be humiliate them and be humiliated and that's why they confronted the weaponry with weaponry, force with force and accepted to challenge the arrogant masses that came out to fight with their killing machines, equipments, aircrafts and forces boastfully so they can be seen as men, and still this didn’t weaken their resolve and didn’t drain their strength, but instead he stood up for them face to face, a mighty mountain, a proud mountain and he was still in the midst of the battle that many got used to and his eyes were used to its sceneries but after that, he was yet to be excused and delivered his message and then he was shot bullets of betrayal and blasphemy delivering his soul to its maker while repeating: 'Who sacrifice the blessed soul for his Lord to fight off the falsehood CANNOT ever be blamed'."

"Congratulations to the Islamic Nation on the martyrdom of their devoted son Osama,

Even when the Americans managed to kill Osama, they managed to do ONLY that by disgrace and betrayal. Men and heroes only should be confronted in the battlefields but at the end, that’s God’s fate. Still we ask, will the Americans be able thru their media outlets, their agents, their instruments, soldiers, intelligence services and their might be able to kill what Sheikh Osama lived for and was killed for? How far! How impossible! Sheikh Osama didn’t build an organization that will vanish with his death or fades away with his departure.

In this context, we in al Qaeda Jihad organization promise God Almighty and we ask Him for help, support and steadfastness to continue on the path of jihad that our leaders, led by Sheikh Osama chose, and that we will not be reluctant, and will not deviate from that honorable path until God be the final judge between us and our enemy.

FULL POST

U.S. adds jobs amid hike in percentage of unemployed
The U.S. added 244,000 jobs in April, for a total of 768,000 so far this year.
May 6th, 2011
08:36 AM ET

U.S. adds jobs amid hike in percentage of unemployed

The jobs recovery picked up speed in April, as business payrolls swelled and the unemployment rate rose as more people returned to the workforce.

The economy added 244,000 jobs in the month, the Labor Department reported Friday. That's up from the 235,000 jobs gained in March. Economists surveyed by CNNMoney were expecting a slight slowdown to a gain of just 185,000 jobs.

Job growth has been strong since the beginning of the year, with 768,000 jobs added since January. And Friday's report also showed that 46,000 more jobs were added in February and March than previously thought.

FULL CNNMONEY.COM STORY
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May 6th, 2011
07:44 AM ET

Friday's live video events

Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage on reaction and fallout to the death of Osama bin Laden.

Today's programming highlights...

9:30 am ET - Employment numbers hearing - We will learn this morning what April's employment numbers are.  The Joint Economic Committee will meet to discuss those numbers and the country's jobs situation.

FULL POST


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