New York Senate approves same-sex marriage
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo addresses the press and public after signing the state's same-sex marriage bill into law.
June 24th, 2011
10:22 PM ET

New York Senate approves same-sex marriage

[Update 4:52 a.m.] New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the state's marriage equality bill hours after it passed the Republican-controlled Senate on Friday night, making it the sixth state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. Cuomo signed the bill into law after the legislature cleared the way to legalize same-sex marriage with a 33-29 vote, the first time a state Senate with a Republican majority has approved such a bill.

[Original post 11:21 p.m.] New York legislators cleared the last major hurdle to legalize same-sex marriage Friday when the state Senate followed the Assembly's lead in approving legislation to do so.

Earlier in the day, the Assembly passed a version of the bill that included an amendment about religious institutions. The Friday night vote in the Senate means the legislation's fate is now in the hands of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who proposed it.

The Senate vote came after lawmakers agreed on an amendment that would help protect religious institutions from potential lawsuits, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said. FULL POST

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Filed under: New York • Same-sex marriage
Overheard on CNN.com:  How relevant are new stories about the Holocaust?
A pogrom in Lvov in 1941, where Ukrainian Nazi collaborators ransacked the city while abusing and murdering Jews
June 24th, 2011
05:32 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: How relevant are new stories about the Holocaust?

Comments of the Day:

"If one ever wants to see humanity's real face, just read the comments on any CNN story concerning a particular religion or background."–TheFinalWerd

Silence lifted: The untold stories of rape during the Holocaust

Was sexual violence more common during the Holocaust than originally believed? Were victims and their families too ashamed or too traumatized to report it, even when able to talk about other atrocities? The story had CNN.com readers arguing over the relevance of new stories on a 65-year-old genocide.

DanUSMC said, "My first response to this was to question why they keep bringing this up, and why do we need to see this? But to be honest, we need to be reminded of how pervasive this really was. It was not a couple of people doing this, it involved tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of troops–previously good people somehow turned into careless murderers."

doors43 said, "Picture # 3 had me crying, seeing all those babies and little girls forced naked before death with their mothers. I think of my own 7-year-old daughter and am sickened at how scared she would be if this happened to me and her, knowing I couldn't do my job as a mother and protect her. I'm ashamed this is part of humanity's history. And no, I'm not Jewish, Israeli or German."

1racebannon said, "The Nazi regime shows us that there is almost no limit to the evil that can be perpetrated upon fellow human beings when your ideology is grounded in racism and hatred. It's not pretty, but it shouldn't be swept under the rug either."

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Michelle Obama talks Mandela, husband's campaign, daughters' privacy
First lady Michelle Obama paints a mural with teens at an HIV support center in Gaborone, Botswana, on Friday.
June 24th, 2011
04:05 PM ET

Michelle Obama talks Mandela, husband's campaign, daughters' privacy

First lady Michelle Obama has visited with dignitaries, schoolkids and women as part of her weeklong visit to Africa to promote youth leadership and education.

She and daughters, Sasha and Malia, arrived Monday.

She has even more events lined up this weekend, including a safari before she heads home from Botswana, but she has already sat down with South African ex-President Nelson Mandela and done pushups with Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu. She also went to a Cape Town, South Africa, museum after her planned trip to the notorious Robben Island prison, where Mandela spent 18 years, was canceled because of weather.

CNN caught up with Obama for an interview during which she discussed some of the high points of her trip:

On Mandela: "The one thing I told him, I wanted to make sure he understood how important his leadership and sacrifice has been to who I've become, to who my husband has become and, in short, I just said, 'Thank you.' It's really hard to know what to say to such an icon."
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Filed under: Africa • Barack Obama • Botswana • Education • Health • Michelle Obama • Politics • South Africa • World
Scientists: Saturn moon could support life
NASA's Cassini space probe snapped this photo of jets spewing from Enceladus, one of Saturn's 53 moons.
June 24th, 2011
03:49 PM ET

Scientists: Saturn moon could support life

That's one small step for microbes, one giant leap for mankind's search for extraterrestrial life.

NASA's Saturn-exploring Cassini spacecraft has gathered new evidence that conditions on Enceladus, one of Saturn's 53 named moons, could support life, said Dr. Carolyn Porco, leader of the Cassini Imaging Team at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

"On Enceladus we have conditions under the surface that we know could be enjoyed by organisms similar to types of organisms we find right here on Earth," she said Friday.

Several years ago, Cassini, launched in 1997, spotted jet sprays shooting out of fissures called tiger stripes in Enceladus' southern polar region. Lighter particles from those jets provide most of the material for Saturn's outermost ring, called the E ring. But heavier particles fall back to the moon's surface, Porco explained. Cassini took measurements of the spray during three passes and found a greater concentration of sodium and potassium grains (that is, salt) nearer Enceladus' surface than farther out, according to a paper published in this week's edition of the journal Nature.

"There currently is no plausible way to produce a steady outflow of salt-rich grains from solid ice across all the tiger stripes other than saltwater under Enceladus' icy surface," Frank Postberg, a Cassini team scientist at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and the lead author on the paper, said in an article on NASA's website.

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June 24th, 2011
01:51 PM ET

Caylee Anthony could climb pool stairs, grandmother says

Two-year-old Caylee Anthony was able to climb into the family's backyard pool on her own, but she couldn't have installed the removable ladder or opened gates leading to the area, her grandmother testified Friday at the outset of an emotional day in the Casey Anthony murder trial.

Defense attorneys are trying to prove that Caylee could have accidentally drowned in the family pool on June 16, 2008. They argue Casey Anthony and her father panicked on finding the girl's body and covered up her death.

Prosecutors argue Casey Anthony used chloroform to render her daughter unconscious, put duct tape on her nose and mouth to smother her, then stored her body in the trunk of her car for a few days before disposing of the remains in a wooded field.

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Filed under: Casey Anthony • Crime
June 24th, 2011
01:41 PM ET

Arab Unrest: Middle East and North Africa, country by country

Countries in the Middle East and North Africa have been swept up in protests against longtime rulers since the January revolt that ousted Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. In many cases, these demonstrations and movements have been met with brute force and escalated into seemingly unending violence. Here are the latest developments from each country and information about the roots of the unrest.

SYRIA

The European Council on Friday condemned "in the strongest possible terms the ongoing repression and unacceptable and shocking violence the Syrian regime continues to apply against its own citizens."

"By choosing a path of repression instead of fulfilling its own promises on broad reforms, the regime is calling its legitimacy into question," the council said.

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday after Muslim prayers, as they had on past Fridays in recent weeks. Protests were held in various locations, including Hama, Homs, Deir El Zour, Idlib, Qameshli, Latakia, and in neighborhoods of Damascus, according to Rami Abdelrahman, head of the London-based Syria Observatory for Human Rights.

GPS: Why the odds are against the protesters in Syria

The group reported 11 deaths: 10 in Friday demonstrations and one death from injuries suffered in a demonstration a few days ago.

Damascus streets contrast sharply with border chaos

On Thursday, the alliance voted to expand sanctions against Syria by freezing the assets of seven people and four businesses with connections to the regime. Among those sanctioned were three commanders in Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps accused of helping the "regime suppress protests" and "providing equipment and support" to the government, according to the European Union Official Journal.

Abdelrahman said that in al-Kasweh, in the province of Damascus, security forces fired at protesters, resulting in injuries. Estimated deaths have exceeded 1,600, he said, with 1,316 civilians and 341 soldiers and security forces killed.

An estimated 10,000 people have been jailed, Abdelrahman said, but that number is fluid because there have been many releases and new detentions. The military crackdown has spurred the flight of refugees from Syria into Turkey.

At least 11,739 refugees are now in Turkey, the Hatay governor's office in Turkey said Friday.

Roots of unrest: The unrest began in mid-March after teens were arrested for writing anti-government graffiti in Daraa, according to Amnesty International. As the crackdown intensified, demonstrators changed their demands from calls for freedom and an end to abuses by the security forces to calls for the regime's overthrow. On April 19, Syria's Cabinet lifted an emergency law that had been in effect since 1963. But security forces then moved quickly to crack down. Government opponents allege massive human rights abuses.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has chartered ships to ferry people cut off from their families since war erupted four months ago.

FULL POST

June 24th, 2011
12:22 PM ET

House set to rebuke Obama on Libya

The House of Representatives is expected to officially register its disapproval of U.S. involvement in the NATO-led Libya campaign Friday, voting to restrict funding for America's role in the mission.

The Republican-sponsored bill, which would effectively prohibit U.S. offensive operations such as drone strikes, is seen as a sharp rebuke of President Barack Obama's policy in the war-torn North African country.

It would limit the U.S. role to nonhostile actions such as search and rescue, aerial refueling, operational planning, intelligence gathering and reconnaissance.

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Amazon CEO looks to tell 10,000 years of time
The Great Pyramid of Giza is about 4,500 years old. Amazon's CEO is funding the creation of a clock that will last twice as long.
June 24th, 2011
12:17 PM ET

Amazon CEO looks to tell 10,000 years of time

Just as the pharaohs and emperors of Ancient Egypt and Rome live on in the structures they left behind, one CEO of the Information Age may be known for leaving behind a piece of our time.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is funding the creation of a clock that will run for 10,000 years, according to a Wired magazine article. The clock will overlook the Blue Origin Spaceport in Van Horn, Texas, a private space venture in which Bezos has invested. He said his intention for the clock is to encourage long-term thinking.

To view the clock, visitors will descend 500 feet into the mountain where it is housed. In order to see the clock in its entirety, a visitor will need to view it in individual parts, climbing the mountain to finally see the face at the top, Wired reports. By turning a wheel, visitors will cause the clock to automatically advance to that particular moment in time, so it will always read the time of its last visit. A 6-foot, 300-pound titanium pendulum will allow the clock to tick every 10 seconds.

Bezos told Wired that he has budgeted about $42 million for the project.

To put this timepiece in perspective, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world that is still standing,  is about 4,500 years old, having been around half as long as the clock is projected to last.

“Over the lifetime of this clock, the United States won’t exist,” Bezos said to Wired. “Whole civilizations will rise and fall. New systems of government will be invented. You can’t imagine the world — no one can — that we’re trying to get this clock to pass through.”

Thousands of years from now, in a region that will have been formerly known as "West Texas," civilizations of the future will still hear the heartbeat of our era ticking every 10 seconds.

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Filed under: Technology • Texas • U.S. • Uncategorized
Ex-NBA bad boy Ron Artest wants to be known as Metta World Peace
If a Los Angeles County court approves a name-change request, the back of this jersey will read "World Peace" next year.
June 24th, 2011
11:52 AM ET

Ex-NBA bad boy Ron Artest wants to be known as Metta World Peace

Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and Ahmad Rashad did it for religious reasons. Chad Ochocinco did it because he's funny, loves attention and doesn't know Spanish too well. Baseball cards companies in the '80s co-opted Rock Raines' and Doc Gooden's nicknames because, we have to assume, Rock and Doc are way cooler names than Tim and Dwight.

Then, there's World B. Free, who once prompted Herb Smith - the cat who correctly thought Dr. J was a better name than Julius Erving - to call out "All-World!" after the Brooklyn baller pulled off a 360-degree dunk ... in junior high. Free would later say he also thought highly of world liberation.

But why would NBA-bad-boy-turned-rapper-model-citizen Ron Artest want to change his name? The answer: Why does Artest do anything?

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers forward has filed paperwork in Los Angeles County Superior Court to dispense with his given name, Ronald William Artest Jr., and adopt the name Metta World Peace. The back of his jersey, then, would read, "World Peace."

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Adviser: Doctors say Yemen president should stay in Saudi Arabia longer
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was injured in an attack at the presidential palace on June 3.
June 24th, 2011
10:22 AM ET

Adviser: Doctors say Yemen president should stay in Saudi Arabia longer

The health of the wounded Yemen president is improving but doctors are recommending that he stay in Saudi Arabia for a "longer time" to recover, an adviser said Friday.

Yemeni ruling party officials had been saying that President Ali Abdullah Saleh would return home Friday from Saudi Arabia, where he was taken for treatment after he was injured in a June 3 attack on the country's presidential palace.

The attack took place on a mosque in the presidential palace when senior officials were attending Friday prayer.

Investigators: More than one bomb in Yemen attack

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Gotta Watch: Inside the mob
Authorities arrested James “Whitey” Bulger and his long-time girlfriend, 60-year-old Catherine Elizabeth Greig, after 16 years on the run.
June 24th, 2011
10:17 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Inside the mob

It's omnipresent. With tentacles in nearly every part of the world, the mob may be one of the globe's pervasive organizations. James "Whitey" Bulger's arrest after 16 years is just the latest high-profile incident for organized crime, which has gone mainstream thanks to a popular reality show, various tell-alls and one of the biggest busts in recent memory.  You Gotta Watch to learn how it all works.
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Filed under: Boston • Crime • Drugs • Gotta Watch • Justice • Massachusetts
On the Radar: Alleged mobster, Minot flooding, Libya resolution, deficit talks
Law enforcement officials announce the capture Wednesday of alleged mob figure James "Whitey" Bulger in California.
June 24th, 2011
08:43 AM ET

On the Radar: Alleged mobster, Minot flooding, Libya resolution, deficit talks

Alleged mobster to be extradited

Alleged mobster James "Whitey" Bulger may be moved back to Boston on Friday to begin facing numerous charges of murder and other crimes. Bulger, who vanished in 1995 into lore and became the inspiration for the 2006 Martin Scorsese film "The Departed," was captured by the FBI Wednesday night in southern California with his longtime girlfriend Catherine Elizabeth Greig, 60, who also was charged.

Flood waters reach North Dakota city

The flood waters in Minot, North Dakota, are coming in faster and deeper than expected. Now it's a race to get people out of their homes and protect as much of the city's infrastructure as possible.

Same-sex marriage vote nears

The New York State Senate may vote late Friday - or even early Saturday - on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Action on the bill had been expected Thursday night didn't happen.

Candidates address Right to Life

Five Republican presidential candidates will address the National Right to Life Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, on Friday morning. Rick Santorum, Herman Cain and Ron Paul will appear in person; Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann will participate via Skype. Bachmann and Santorum hammered Mitt Romney last week for not signing a pledge against federal funding for abortion. Jon Huntsman also declined to sign the pledge. Romney, who ran the '02 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, and Huntsman, who ran the state, return to Utah on Friday to court big donors and Mormon supporters.

House takes up Libya resolution

The House is expected to vote Friday on a measure that would bar any funding for U.S. forces supporting the NATO operation in Libya - except for search and rescue, intelligence, aerial refueling and operational planning. There are enough unhappy Republicans and Democrats that it could pass.

Deficit talks stall

Deficit reduction talks led by Vice President Joe Biden collapsed Thursday after the only two Republicans involved walked out over Democratic demands for tax increases. Democrats meanwhile suggested Republicans are "playing with fire" by holding up a vote on raising the debt ceiling. What happens next?

Europe deals with Greek debt

European heads of state on Friday tackle Greece's enormous debt burden and high probability of default. Europe is trying to avoid that and the inevitable contagion effect on other teetering economies.

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Filed under: Crime • On the Radar
June 24th, 2011
08:42 AM ET

Agency reunites divided Libyan families

Their war-torn land divided in two, a few Libyans boarded a ship Friday with hopes of reuniting with loved ones, separated by many miles and treacherous front lines.

The only safe route between east and west was by sea and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) chartered ships to ferry people cut off from their families since war erupted four months ago.

Women carried luggage and diaper bags and held the hands of their children as they walked onto the Ionis, a ship that carried 300 people from the port Tripoli, the capital, to Benghazi, the de facto capital of the Libyan opposition. The Ionis is scheduled to return to Tripoli later Friday carrying people from Benghazi.

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Ex-Rwanda minister jailed for genocide, rape
A photo from May 28, 1994 shows displaced Tutsis at a refugee camp in Kabgayi, Rwanda.
June 24th, 2011
08:37 AM ET

Ex-Rwanda minister jailed for genocide, rape

A former Rwandan minister has been jailed for life for genocide and incitement to rape at the United Nations-backed court for Rwanda in Tanzania.

Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, who was one of the first women to be charged with genocide, was minister for family and women's affairs in the Rwandan government when some 800,000 people, mainly ethnic Tutsis, were killed in 1994.

She was accused of direct and public incitement to commit genocide and of being responsible for rape "as part of a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population on political, ethnic and racial grounds," the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said.

Her son, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, a militia leader who was jointly charged in the case, was also convicted Friday of genocide, crimes against humanity including rape and persecution and war crimes, and sentenced to life in prison.

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Syrian regime faces EU condemnation
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gives a speech at Damascus University in Syria on June 20, 2011.
June 24th, 2011
08:35 AM ET

Syrian regime faces EU condemnation

The European Union is drafting a declaration on Syria that could call into question the "legitimacy" of the Bashar al-Assad regime, and injuries have been reported as more anti-government demonstrations erupted across the country on Friday.

A representative for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said European Union leaders are preparing a final declaration on Syria on Friday.

A line in the draft version says that "Syrian authorities by choosing aggression instead of broad reforms are calling into question the legitimacy of the regime" but that line is subject to change.

This comes a day after the alliance voted Thursday to expand sanctions against Syria by freezing the assets of seven people and four businesses with connections to the regime.

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Friday's live video events
Georgia's Herman Cain is one of many presidential contenders in a crowded GOP field.
June 24th, 2011
07:52 AM ET

Friday's live video events

The House considers future U.S. action in Libya, while President Obama pitches the U.S. economy in Pennsylvania.  Watch CNN.com Live for the latest on these developing stories.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - Casey Anthony trial - Testimony resumes in the trial of Casey Anthony, the Florida woman accused of killing her young daughter.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Casey Anthony • Congress • Courts • Crime • District of Columbia • Economy • Elections • Florida • Jobs • Justice • Libya • Military • NATO • NATO • On CNN.com today • Pennsylvania • Politics • Republican Party • Tim Pawlenty • U.S. • Uncategorized • War • World