Attorney: Casey Anthony's family believes 'she's not innocent'
Casey Anthony is charged with first-degree murder in her daughter's death and could face the death penalty if found guilty.
June 22nd, 2011
11:43 PM ET

Attorney: Casey Anthony's family believes 'she's not innocent'

An attorney for Casey Anthony's parents told CNN Wednesday that the Anthonys do not believe their daughter is innocent.

The parents, however, do not want their daughter to receive the death penalty for the killing, said lawyer Mark Lippman.

Casey Anthony, 25, is charged with seven counts in her daughter's death, including first-degree murder. If convicted, she could face the death penalty.

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Filed under: Casey Anthony • Crime
Obama announces Afghanistan troop withdrawal plan
The 33,000 additional troops ordered to Afghanistan in 2009 will be coming home within 15 months, the president says.
June 22nd, 2011
08:28 PM ET

Obama announces Afghanistan troop withdrawal plan

President Barack Obama announced Wednesday night that all of the 33,000 additional U.S. forces he ordered to Afghanistan in December 2009 would be home within the next 15 months.

In a nationally televised address from the East Room of the White House, Obama said 10,000 of the so-called "surge" forces would withdraw by the end of this year, and the other 23,000 would leave Afghanistan by September 2012.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Politics • War
June 22nd, 2011
07:56 PM ET

Magnitude-6.7 quake rattles northern Japan

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.7 struck off the Pacific Coast of northern Japan early Thursday, Japanese and U.S. seismologists reported.

The Japan Meteorological Agency warned that a tsunami could be generated by the temblor, but canceled the warning less than an hour after the quake.

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Filed under: Earthquake • Japan • Tsunami
June 22nd, 2011
07:51 PM ET

North Carolina hearing explores forced sterilization history

"A social worker convinced my mom to sign for me to undergo an operation that would prevent me from getting pregnant, not knowing all the while that I was being set up to be sterilized like I was some kind of animal."

Deborah Chesson spoke through tears Wednesday as she addressed a North Carolina task force on behalf of her mother.

Dozens of North Carolina citizens spoke at the public hearing against the state's five-decade forced sterilization program.

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Filed under: North Carolina
Police say man sent Facebook updates during 16-hour standoff
Police say Jason Valdez made posts to his Facebook wall while he was in an armed standoff with them.
June 22nd, 2011
07:18 PM ET

Police say man sent Facebook updates during 16-hour standoff

The Ogden, Utah, Police Department says an armed man posted Facebook status updates from his phone while engaged in a 16-hour standoff with them over the weekend.

Jason Valdez, 36, issued six status updates, added 15 friends and responded to numerous comments posted by worried family and friends while police were engaged in a siege at an Ogden motel Saturday morning. Police say the person in the standoff and the person making those updates was Valdez.

"I'm currently in a stand off wit these shady [expletive] from old, kinda ugly but ready for whatever, I love u guyz and if I don't make it out of here alive that I'm in a better place and u were all great friends," Valdez posted at 1:23 a.m. via an Android phone.

The incident started when police officers attempted to serve a felony warrant for failure to appear in court on a drug-related charge and Valdez barricaded himself in the motel room, Ogden police Lt. Danielle Croyle said.

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Filed under: Crime • Hostages • Utah
Dishwashers have fungi, study says
A new study confirms what some fear: Your kitchen could be little more than a decorated petri dish.
June 22nd, 2011
07:04 PM ET

Dishwashers have fungi, study says

The fungus is among us.

So says a new report published in the British Mycological Society journal Fungal Biology about gunk found in household appliances such as dishwashers.

Sixty-two percent of dishwashers were found to contain fungi, according to the study, which was conducted on six continents in nearly 200 homes, with more than half being in Slovenia.

The way the research's summary describes it, "Habitats in human households may accommodate microorganisms outside the common spectrum of ubiquitous saprobes."

That's  a fancy way of saying there's some feisty microbes around the underbelly of your kitchen.

Species such as CandidaPenicillium and Rhodotorula and - heavens! - the black yeasts Exophiala dermatitidis and Exophiala phaeomuriformis were consistently identified, the report said.

"This is such a new thing that we have few tips," Nina Gunde-Cimerman, a professor at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia and an author in the study, told CNET.

Think of your dishwasher:  Searing heat, vapors akin to Dante, how can anything survive - and thrive - in those conditions? And better yet, what can a homeowner do?

"A thorough heating at high temperatures would probably be beneficial, although it would not permanently remove or destroy them," Gunde-Cimerman said, according to CNET.

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Filed under: Nature • Science • World
Self-help guru James Ray convicted in sweat lodge deaths
James Arthur Ray was acquitted of manslaughter charges in the deaths of three followers in 2009.
June 22nd, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Self-help guru James Ray convicted in sweat lodge deaths

An Arizona jury has found James Ray guilty of negligent homicide in the deaths of Kirby Brown, James Shore and Lizbeth Marie Neuman. With its decision, the jury acquitted the self-help guru of manslaughter charges.

Prosecutors claimed Ray's recklessness in operating the sweat lodge caused the deaths of Brown, 38, of Westtown, New York; Shore, 40, of Milwaukee; and Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minnesota.They died after participating in a sweat lodge ceremony organized and led by Ray in 2009.

At least 15 others who took part in the sweat lodge ceremony became ill. More than 40 others were uninjured.

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Filed under: Arizona • Courts • Crime
Westboro Baptist Church plans to protest Dunn's funeral
"Jackass" star Ryan Dunn, 34, famous for his pranks and dangerous stunts, died in a car wreck in Pennsylvania on Monday.
June 22nd, 2011
05:40 PM ET

Westboro Baptist Church plans to protest Dunn's funeral

A controversial church in Topeka, Kansas, plans to send parishioners to Pennsylvania to protest the funeral of “Jackass” star Ryan Dunn, the congregation announced in a press release.

Westboro Baptist Church "will picket any public memorial/funeral held for Dunn, warning all not to make a mock of sin, & to fear and obey God!” the release said.

Westboro was started by the Rev. Fred Phelps in 1955. The church's parishioners, made up mostly of Phelps relatives, stage protests with signs that say such things as "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for dead soldiers."

The funeral director for DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith & Boyd Funeral Home in West Chester said Wednesday afternoon that a family-only private memorial for Dunn was in progress - and there was no problem.

Because it was a private memorial, Joseph DellaVecchia said, he didn't expect any disturbances, although he'd heard of Westboro's plans.

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Filed under: Pennsylvania • Protest • U.S.
Overheard on CNN.com: Panda dogs: Cruel or cute?
In China, a dog is painted to look like a baby giant panda.
June 22nd, 2011
05:09 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Panda dogs: Cruel or cute?

Comment of the day:

“Think I'll paint my black long-haired cat to look like a skunk! That should shake up the neighborhood.” - JosefBleaux

Pup looks like a panda

In many parts of Asia, attitudes toward dogs have come a long way. Ten years ago in Taiwan, they were still eaten in public places, but in China, a growing pet-pampering trend has come to this: dyeing dogs to look like pandas and other wild animals.

CNN.com readers had plenty to say about the turnaround.

Grannie said, “If you did that in the USofA, you'd get arrested for animal abuse!” Dana said, “No, it happens all the time, and there are dyes safe for animals.” Tommas said, “Last time I checked people are still cutting the tails of their dogs and declawing their cats. Painting is not that big of a deal.”

Angela said, “How are the Chinese always so absentmindedly cruel to domestic animals? I know this occurs in the U.S. and Western culture as well, but only the Chinese would create a fashion obsession out of dying one's pets.”

Wootings said, “...what about dying their fur is cruel? Unless you have some information that demonstrates that the pet incurs some kind of pain from the dying process, I don't see that there's any animal rights issue here. As noted in the article, at least they're not eating them anymore.”

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Water tops Minot, N.D., dikes as residents seem resigned to major flooding
Minot's Troy Erickson and his neighbors have built a dike around their homes and plan to ride out the flood, he says.
June 22nd, 2011
02:25 PM ET

Water tops Minot, N.D., dikes as residents seem resigned to major flooding

[Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET] Sirens were sounding Wednesday in Minot, North Dakota, urging residents to evacuate in the face of major flooding.

The sirens came on the heels of news that water had begun flowing over the city's dikes, which are leaking in some places.

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Pulitzer Prize winner: I'm an illegal immigrant
Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas came to the United States from the Philippines when he was 12.
June 22nd, 2011
01:29 PM ET

Pulitzer Prize winner: I'm an illegal immigrant

[Update 9:45 p.m. ET] - Turns out the New York Times only got the story after Jose Antonio Vargas' former employer, the Washington Post, turned it down. The Times, already set to go to print, "tore up the book" to get the story in, a Times blog post reports.

Jose Antonio Vargas has written many pieces that have put him in the spotlight - including  ones on the Virginia Tech shooting that made him a Pulitzer Prize winner. But perhaps his biggest piece yet may be the one that could put him in the most precarious position - his New York Times Magazine piece in which he explains and documents his life as an illegal immigrant.

"I’m done running. I’m exhausted. I don’t want that life anymore," he writes in the personal essay. "So I’ve decided to come forward, own up to what I’ve done, and tell my story to the best of my recollection. I’ve reached out to former bosses­ and employers and apologized for misleading them — a mix of humiliation and liberation coming with each disclosure."

He acknowledges what happens now is up in the air - he could end up being deported.

"I don’t know what the consequences will be of telling my story," he writes.

The article has sparked a discussion online about the decision for someone to come forward so publicly and say they were an illegal immigrant.

"We were delighted to run the piece, which we believe is an extremely provocative and well-written piece of journalism," a spokeswoman for the New York Times told CNN.

Vargas is telling his story as he ramps up an effort with the advocacy group he founded called Define American, which says "It's time to have a real conversation about immigration in our country."

And perhaps there is no way more real to begin that conversation than with Vargas detailing his own story and struggles along the way.

Vargas, who came from the Philippines when he was 12-years-old, has spent most of his life flying under the radar: Using false documents and Social Security numbers to try to make it by. He even once gave the Secret Service an illegally obtained Social Security number so he could attend a White House dinner.

Though he may be a Pulitzer Prize winner, his tale is similar to that of illegal immigrants of every stature in this country, one of living in fear of being found out at any time.

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Chess as a piece-keeping mission
June 22nd, 2011
01:27 PM ET

Ex-soldier's chess sets: Twin Tower rooks, putting Taliban in checkmate

Chess was originally brought to Europe via Spain from the Arab world. Now, a Canadian veteran is sending Chess sets back to the Middle East – with kings modeled after President Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden.

Jeff Train, who had been in the Canadian military until 1989, was working as a military contractor in Afghanistan when he noticed soldiers buying chess sets from local vendors. Train said he was concerned those vendors, in transporting their wares from Pakistan, were actually aiding the enemy.

“They have to drive through Taliban country and they have to pay the toll,” Train said. “So basically the soldiers were funding the insurgency.”

Train, 48, who lives in the Philippines, said he wanted to develop an alternative product for soldiers, one that would document the history they have lived. In 2009, he began making and selling sets of Canadian and American soldiers that played opposite Taliban chessmen under the company name Hobby Leisure Manufacturing. Then he began getting requests from soldiers from other countries and now manufactures British, Finnish, Norwegian, German and Australian soldiers as well. He also makes a set of Iraqi soldiers that fight Americans.

As Americans anticipate Obama’s impending announcement of troop withdrawals, Train is thinking ahead to how the soldiers will remember and represent their experiences in the Middle East. He said he wants them to be able to use the game to demonstrate actual events of the past decade.

“When a soldier gets older, he can sit down with his kids and his wife, who really don’t understand what’s going on, use the board and say, ‘The world went to war against this guy and these people,’ ” Train said.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Canada • Germany • Iraq • Osama bin Laden • Taliban • U.S. • United Kingdom
June 22nd, 2011
11:32 AM ET

Gore: Obama has 'failed'

Former vice president and environmental advocate Al Gore sharply criticized President Obama's "failed" approach to global warming Wednesday.

"President Obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change," Gore wrote in a "Rolling Stone" article published online.

Although he acknowledged the political difficulty in taking a stand on the issue, Gore said the president has facts to back up his opinions.

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Filed under: Al Gore • Barack Obama • Climate change • Politics
China releases dissident artist Ai Weiwei, report says
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been released on bail after being taken into custody in April, according to a state-run Chinese media report.
June 22nd, 2011
10:54 AM ET

China releases dissident artist Ai Weiwei, report says

China has released dissident artist Ai Weiwei on bail, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday.

Ai, one of China's most successful and renowned artists, was on his way to Hong Kong in April when he was taken into custody amid a crackdown on dissidents, activists and religious groups across China.

Ai's Beijing studio was raided, and his wife and eight assistants were taken into custody for questioning.

Though Ai is widely regarded as a political prisoner, Beijing police told Xinhua last month — more than a month after taking him into custody - that Ai evaded a "huge amount" of taxes and that his company intentionally destroyed accounting documents.

Most famous for designing the Bird's Nest stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he later called for a boycott of the games because he said China was using them as propaganda.

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Filed under: Art • China • Civil Rights • Human rights • World
Gotta Watch: Kiddy car chases
A little girl narrowly escapes injury when a car lands on a pole in front of a store.
June 22nd, 2011
09:50 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Kiddy car chases

Kids. One minute they're crawling and the next they're driving - all before the tender age of 10. That's right. Today's Gotta Watch is all about kiddies and cars. Whether they're leading police on a high-speed chase, steering the wheel to save grandma or narrowly avoiding car crashes, these videos of children and their vehicular exploits are a must-see.
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Filed under: Crime • Gotta Watch • Race • Runaway • U.S.
June 22nd, 2011
09:26 AM ET

Suspected al Qaeda militants escape from Yemeni jail

Dozens of suspected al Qaeda militants escaped from a jail in the Yemeni city of Mukalla Wednesday, according to a senior security official.

CNN could not independently verify that the escapees were members of al Qaeda.

A soldier and a prisoner were killed and two soldiers were injured in the incident, said the security official who asked to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

Armed militants began attacking the prison at about 8 a.m. Wednesday, witnesses said. They fired heavy artillery before the escape.

Recent clashes in the southern province of Abyan killed seven Yemeni soldiers and 17 militants. The fighting was mainly concentrated in the cities of Zinjibar and Jaar.

Government troops have been battling both anti-government tribal forces and Islamic militants, including al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

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On the Radar: Afghanistan speech, U.S. role in Libya, flooding, fires, Anthony trial
President Barack Obama plans to withdraw 30,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, an administration official says.
June 22nd, 2011
08:27 AM ET

On the Radar: Afghanistan speech, U.S. role in Libya, flooding, fires, Anthony trial

Afghan troop withdrawal – President Barack Obama will deliver a highly anticipated speech on the U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday. He is expected to announce that 30,000 U.S. "surge" forces will be fully withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, an administration official said. Obama has been mulling how many troops should be withdrawn this summer and by the end of the year. The president is expected to stress the importance of preserving flexibility in force levels on the ground so commanders can adjust as conditions warrant, the official said.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Air travel • Australia • Casey Anthony • Fire • Flooding • Libya • On the Radar • Politics • Volcano
June 22nd, 2011
01:37 AM ET

Severe weather causes flight delays in Chicago

Severe weather is causing travel problems in the Chicago area.

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Filed under: Illinois