Obama administration asks court to reconsider 'don't ask, don't tell' order
July 14th, 2011
08:15 PM ET

Obama administration asks court to reconsider 'don't ask, don't tell' order

The Obama administration Thursday evening asked a federal appeals court to reconsider its order last week blocking the U.S. military from enforcing its "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians serving in the military.

U.S. officials have been moving ahead with dismantling the policy but had objected to having the courts force the government to officially repeal it at this time.

At issue in the complex legal fight is whether "don't ask, don't tell" can remain in effect even in name only while the legal fight over its constitutionality is being carried out in the federal courts. Judges have been at odds over the enforcement issue for months.

The case has put the Obama administration in an unusual position of supporting a repeal, but at the same time filing court motions to prevent it from happening faster than planned. Military officials suggest the policy compliance changes eliminating "don't ask, don't tell" could be finished in a few weeks.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Don't Ask Don't Tell • Politics
President Obama to address budget discussions
July 14th, 2011
07:15 PM ET

President Obama to address budget discussions

President Barack Obama will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. on Friday on efforts to reach a deal on the debt ceiling and budget cuts, according to a senior administration official.

Fifth day of talks ends without deal
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Filed under: Barack Obama • Budget • Economy • Politics
Overheard: $4 flights? Not bad, JetBlue
JetBlue offered $4 flights for this weekend's "Carmageddon."
July 14th, 2011
04:46 PM ET

Overheard: $4 flights? Not bad, JetBlue

Comment of the day:

“JetBlue is my new favorite airline”— AMGftw

 Jet blue offers solution to ‘Carmageddon’

On Wednesday, JetBlue offered a $4 flight special to those affected by this Saturday’s Interstate 405 closure in Los Angeles. The special allows customers to take the airline’s shortest flight ever—a 10-minute trip between the Burbank and Long Beach airports to escape traffic. It is estimated that more than 500,000 cars travel on Interstate 405 in Los Angeles each weekend. Three hours after the announcement, JetBlue announced that all $4 flights were sold out.

CNN.com readers were thrilled by the proactive approach the airline took to help out during the interstate closure (referred to by many as ‘Carmageddon’).

D3adpool  said, “Total travel with airport security and boarding, talking maybe 45 min.  Way faster than the 405, and that's when it's not closed down!”

PSAguy agreed. “That 405 is ridiculous.  What a way to live.  There is no ocean or climate worth that stress!!”

cameron2k asked, “Wouldn't it take longer to go through the airport hassle, plus 40-minute flight, than take the freeway?”

Despite the potential for minor airport delays, JustTroy  responded that the special is still a good idea:

“Yes, there's a wait for TSA, but it doesn't compare to the wait you'd have if you tried to drive it. A shuttle company said they 'hope' to make the drive in four hours.”

Lightnup said, “Kudos. I think this is a great service JetBlue is giving us SoCal residents who wish to avoid this weekend's absolute gridlock.”

Video triggers mistrial in Clemens perjury case

The perjury trial of Roger Clemens ended in a mistrial Thursday after the prosecution showed a video the judge ruled was inadmissible. Clemens, a former baseball player and all-star, is accused of perjury, obstruction of Congress and making false statements about his alleged use of steroids.  CNN.com readers felt the tax dollars spent on Clemens’ trial should be used for other things.

Nodule said:

"Have you ever thrown a fastball at  98 mph without using steroids?"
"Yes."
"Good enough for me!  I'm getting paid so let's just have us a mistrial!"

Lollygagger said, “WASTE OF TAXPAYER MONEY!!!   Who cares if he juiced or lied about juicing, is it really worth all the cost?”

RaTzAss said, "Seriously, there are bigger fish to fry. Forget this steroids crap and let the individual leagues in all sports police it themselves. Move on Congress!!"

LedRobster said, “Sweet, and I was worried that my tax dollars were being wasted.”

Guest said, “Just another case of poor prosecution with flimsy evidence. The feds should not even be meddling in baseball. There are a lot of more important things for the feds to do. Clinton lied to them and nothing happened.”

Tech elite struggling to define Google+

Is it a Twitter-assassin, a Facebook-killer or somewhere in between? Although several theories have been offered about what to make of Google+, the tech elite haven’t quite defined it yet. CNN.com readers used the comments section to sound off about how they are using the world's newest social network.

ii2bcnii said, "It seems similar to Google Wave, with circles.  The profile reminds me a lot of the FB profile.  I have difficultly finding people to invite or add."

LeeVA offered a suggestion, "I would call G+ Stream items "Casts," as in "casting a line in the stream."

TomAyles said, "So far, so good.  I like a lot about it - mostly the same things others have mentioned, like circles.  Some things still need some work, like sparks.  It would be nice to also see some Google reader integration the way they've already integrated buzz."

wstrnprd said, "So far I like what Google+ has to offer.  I find the 'hangouts' a very nice feature, as I have many friends/family spread across the country and this allows a quicker, simpler way for me to connect with them."

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

Source: FBI launches investigation into Murdoch's News Corp.
July 14th, 2011
04:01 PM ET

Source: FBI launches investigation into Murdoch's News Corp.

The FBI has launched an investigation into Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. amid allegations that employees or associates may have hacked into phone conversations and voicemail of September 11 survivors, victims and their families, a federal law enforcement source told CNN.

"We are aware of the allegations and are looking into them," said the source, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the investigation.

"We'll be looking at anyone acting for or on behalf of News Corp., from the top down to janitors," to gather information and determine whether any laws may have been broken.

Because the investigation just began, it's too early to say when the first interviews will be conducted, the source said. New York Rep. Peter T. King, a Republican, earlier this week asked FBI Director Robert Mueller to investigate the possibility that journalists working for Murdoch may have tapped into the phones of 9/11 victims and relatives.

News Corp. said Thursday it had no comment on the FBI investigation or possible congressional hearings.

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Californians await 'Carmageddon'
The Mullholland Bridge over Southern California's 405 freeway will be demolished while the heavily traveled road is closed for 53 hours this weekend.
July 14th, 2011
02:14 PM ET

Californians await 'Carmageddon'

A major 10-mile stretch of one of the busiest freeways in the world is being shut down for an entire weekend for a widening project. It's being called "Carmageddon."

More than 250,000 cars a day use the stretch of Los Angeles' I-405 freeway that connects the San Fernando Valley with the West Side. But this weekend it will be closed, leaving traffic backups that observers predict could be anywhere from 28 to 65 miles long.

Fly over the chaos for $4

The project involves demolishing the Mulholland Bridge, whose supports are too close to the current freeway to add a carpool lane. To do that, the entire freeway on both sides must be shut down for 53 hours.

City and transportation officials are urging people to stay home and avoid the area altogether. It's predicted that all surface streets and other freeways will be jammed with people who must get from the valley to the West Side, so all those who do not need to travel shouldn't, officials say.

"We have front-loaded with extra resources from the California Highway Patrol and LAPD, in the event that we're having a spike of issues that may be the causal effect of road rage," said California Highway Patrol Capt. Greg Hammond.

It's not just about impatience in a long backup, but other issues could arise, such as cars running out of gas or overheating. Drivers who must attempt to get from one side of town to the other are urged to make sure they are gassed up and have plenty of water in the car and triple the expected travel time.

Listen:


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Filed under: California • Travel
Births, not immigration, account for most of Hispanic growth in last decade
Mexican-American women accounted for 16% of the nation’s births in 2008.
July 14th, 2011
12:01 PM ET

Births, not immigration, account for most of Hispanic growth in last decade

Births have overtaken immigration as the driving force behind the growth of the Mexican-American population in the United States in the past decade, according to a report released Thursday by the Pew Hispanic Center.

The same can be said for the entire Hispanic population of the United States, which grew from 35.3 million in 2000 to 50.5 million in 2010, accounting for 16.3% of the U.S. population, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. About 58% of that growth resulted from births rather than the arrival of new immigrants, the report says.

The trend is most evident among Mexican-Americans, whose numbers grew by 7.2 million as a result of births and 4.2 million from new immigrant arrivals in the past decade, reversing trends from the previous two decades, when the number of new immigrants matched or exceeded the number of births, the report says.

Mexican-Americans are the nation's largest Hispanic group,  at around 31.8 million, or 63% of the U.S. Hispanic population and 10% of the total U.S. population.

In the Pew report, the term Mexican-American applies to people of Mexican origin, regardless of immigration status. The study noted that in 2010, 52% of people of Mexican origin were in the U.S. illegally, and that 68% of births to undocumented aliens were to Mexican nationals.

What's behind the change?

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Judge declares mistrial in Roger Clemens case
Former baseball star Roger Clemens, right, walks into a federal court in Washington on Wednesday with his lawyer Rusty Hardin.
July 14th, 2011
12:00 PM ET

Judge declares mistrial in Roger Clemens case

A federal judge declared a mistrial in the perjury trial of ex-baseball all-star Roger Clemens on Thursday after jurors heard references to statements that the judge had ruled inadmissible except on rebuttal.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton said prosecutors should have modified a video that showed Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, during a 2008 congressional hearing talking about a deposition from the wife of former New York Yankees player Andy Pettitte.

Clemens is accused of perjury, obstruction of Congress and making false statements about his alleged use of steroids and human growth hormone. The former all-star pitcher testified under oath before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in 2008 that he never used illegal performance-enhancing substances during his career.

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Filed under: Baseball • Crime • Justice • Roger Clemens • Sports
Japanese PM ready to abandon nuclear power; utility to inject gas into reactor
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Wednesday that nuclear power carries too much risk.
July 14th, 2011
11:46 AM ET

Japanese PM ready to abandon nuclear power; utility to inject gas into reactor

Japan's energy plan needs to be completely revised and must eliminate the nation's dependence on nuclear power, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Wednesday, according to The Daily Yomiuri.

"I have realized that nuclear accidents cannot be prevented completely with the conventional safety measures we have at present," he said.

It's a sharp about-face for Kan. His government approved a plan just last year that called for 14 new nuclear reactors by 2030 and an increase in nuclear energy production from 26% to 53% of total electricity generated, The Daily Yomiuri reported.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. planned Thursday to inject nitrogen into the last of the damaged reactors at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Kyodo News Agency reported.

The inert gas will help stabilize the reactors as the utility aims for a cold shutdown by January at the latest, Kyodo reported.

TEPCO already has new water circulation systems working at all three reactors to keep their temperatures under control.

Meanwhile, the Fukushima municipal government says it plans to cleanse the entire city of radioactive contamination, Yomiuri Shimbun reported. The city is about 30 miles from the damaged plant.

The effort, which could take nearly 20 years to complete, would involve pressure-washing buildings and scraping off the top layer of soil.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Earthquake • Energy • Japan • Natural Disasters • Nuclear
Austen manuscript fetches $1.6 million
Jane Austen never finished her novel "The Watsons," believed started in 1804, Sotheby's says.
July 14th, 2011
09:52 AM ET

Austen manuscript fetches $1.6 million

Sotheby's London auction house on Thursday sold a handwritten manuscript by Jane Austen for 993,250 British pounds, or about $1.6 million, more than triple the highest pre-sale estimate.

The partial manuscript of the unpublished novel "The Watsons" is full of corrections and strike-throughs in the author's own hand, Sotheby's e-catalog says.

"It is a tantalizing, delightful and highly accomplished fragment, which must surely have proved the equal of her other six novels, had she finished it," British author Margaret Drabble wrote in the description.

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Filed under: Auctions • Literature • United Kingdom
On the Radar: Deficit talks, Betty Ford funeral, Clemens trial, South Sudan, golf
Congressional leaders meet with President Barack Obama earlier this week to discuss a deal on the federal budget.
July 14th, 2011
08:25 AM ET

On the Radar: Deficit talks, Betty Ford funeral, Clemens trial, South Sudan, golf

Deficit talks – A fourth straight day of talks intended to head off a possible government default ended on a tense note Wednesday, with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor saying President Barack Obama cut him off by saying, "I'll see you tomorrow," before walking out. The exchange concluded almost two hours of talks that failed to achieve a breakthrough. Another session the fifth in five days was set for Thursday, participants said.

Betty Ford funeral – After a public viewing at the Gerald R. Ford Museum, a procession will travel to Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where a national tribute service will be held for former first lady Betty Ford. Lynne Cheney is expected to give the eulogy. In attendance will be former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (who also served in the Ford administration). After the church service, the family will return to the grounds of the museum, also in Grand Rapids, where the private interment will take place.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Baseball • Betty Ford • Golf • On the Radar • Politics • Roger Clemens
July 14th, 2011
07:49 AM ET

Thursday's live video events

Television's best are named as the White House and Congress continue to battle over the debt ceiling.  Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage on these stories.

Today's programming highlights...

8:30 am ET - Emmy nominations announced - Actors Joshua Jackson and Melissa McCarthy unveil the nominations for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards.

9:30 am ET - Senate considers debt ceiling - Senators resume debate on the possibility of raising the debt ceiling and avoiding default.

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Filed under: Budget • Dollars & Sense • Economy • Showbiz • TV