Dallas on track to set new record as heat wave takes toll
"Fuel City" gas station in Dallas, Texas, has a pool, but it's not enough to provide relief from the city's 40-day heat wave.
August 10th, 2011
09:07 PM ET

Dallas on track to set new record as heat wave takes toll

Dallas may be the only city in Texas - maybe even the country - that boasts a gas station with a swimming pool. Now, as the city endures a relentless summer heat wave, "Fuel City" is arguably one of few inviting outdoor scenes in town.

This summer's heat wave is wreaking havoc on virtually all aspects of life in Dallas, which has had 40 straight days of grueling 100-plus degree temperatures, with no end in sight.

Outdoor restaurants are nearly barren despite water misters and street-side advertising. Popular walking trails are empty of all but the most dedicated exercise enthusiasts and even they restrict their activity to the early morning hours, when the thermometer reads in the "bearable" upper 90's.

One night last week, the temperature was still reading an unthinkable 99 degrees at midnight!

It's not just miserable and hot outside, something for everyone to agree on and complain about. This year's heat event has also been deadly.

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Filed under: Heat • Texas • Weather
California economists say S&P downgrade is no big deal
August 10th, 2011
05:48 PM ET

California economists say S&P downgrade is no big deal

Standard & Poor's recent downgrade of the U.S. credit rating AAA to AA+ has caused some concern and even panic.

But some economists in California - a state rated A- by S&P - say it's no big deal.

"A half-point drop on a single rating by a single credit service means very little," said Ann Stevens, an economics professor at the University of California at Davis.

And Stevens lives in a state with a lower S&P rating than Spain and the same rating as Botswana and Aruba.

For economist Steve Levy of the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto, the S&P's downgrade was simply a political statement - a message of sorts to politicians.

"So in that sense, it doesn't mean anything," Levy said.

What makes sense, said Levy, is not worrying about a letter grade but worrying about the broader economy.

In California's case, S&P's A- rating has been in place since January 2010. That's one reason Californians pay the highest sales tax in the nation and the highest state income taxes in the nation on income above $46,000.

On top of that, the state is saddled with an unemployment rate of 11.8%.

But the state's treasurer says California has passed a balanced budget and made tough spending cuts, steps the state hopes will improve its credit rating.

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Filed under: Economy
Overheard on CNN.com: A war on Facebook? Really?
Facebook users have been warned. The hacking group Anonymous says it will attack on November 5.
August 10th, 2011
04:46 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: A war on Facebook? Really?

Comment of the day:

“They can have my FB info...I'm not important enough for it to do any harm. Lots of pictures of me drunk though...have at those!” - pakman1412

A senseless Facebook attack coming?

Members of Anonymous, the group that took credit for hacking Syria's defense site Monday, say Facebook will be next. The shadowy collective known for its politically motivated Web hacks and attacks take issue with Facebook’s misuse of personal information. They released a video statement (using a voice modulator) announcing the date of their attack: November 5, 2011 “a day that will go down in history.”

Despite the ominous tone of their warning, CNN.com readers weren’t fazed. In fact, many said they support their efforts.

PublicAnimal said, “I hope they succeed. Facebook is a cancer.”

swordspider responded, “Only hacking the mentality of the user will work, and unfortunately our society is so far lost from the concept of creating whole, genuine relationships over instantaneous clicks of virtual friendship that to cut off the soulless vessel that is Facebook will only spawn two more.”

BioHzrd420 responded, “Sounds like somebody doesn't have any ‘Friends.’”

Tankles responded, “Is it a cancer because I use it to keep in touch with friends I haven't seen since high school? Is it societal degradation because I can instantly find out where my college friends are living, scattered across the country? Not saying playing Farmville for 19 hours a day is healthy, but I hope you don't make inane generalizing comments about things, just because you don't have a high personal opinion of it.”

europeandude said, “Social networks are destroying society. People are marching like sheep into history's biggest trap!”

neuwest1 said, “Really? Facebook? Don't you guys have anything truly WORTHY of hacking? How about hacking Al Qaeda’s terrorist funds and routing them into failing school districts? Don't be so short-sighted. Take down Facebook and you have a bunch of mad grandmas who can't see photos of their grandkids. Take money away from Al Qaeda and put it toward schools... ha, ha even Salman Rushdie couldn't beat that! And you'd even get a deathmark on your heads! Woo hoo!” FULL POST

Anthony Sowell sentenced to death for killing 11 women
August 10th, 2011
02:56 PM ET

Anthony Sowell sentenced to death for killing 11 women

An Ohio jury recommended death Wednesday for convicted serial killer Anthony Sowell in the murders of 11 women.

Relatives of the victims gasped and hugged each other as Judge Dick Ambrose announced the first verdict for victim Tonya Carmichael. The courtroom erupted into applause after Sowell, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, left the courtroom.

The final decision rests with Ambrose, who scheduled a hearing Friday to impose the sentence.

Sowell, who frowned as the verdicts were read, was convicted in July of 11 counts of aggravated murder more than 70 other charges, including abusing corpses and kidnapping.

As part of the sentencing hearing, Sowell made a statement on Monday without being under oath or facing cross-examination from prosecutors.

Sowell was visibly agitated and occasionally tearful as he recounted claims of childhood abuse - both physical and sexual.

Sowell said his childhood "was like a war," with his mother and grandmother constantly arguing, yelling and "whopping" the children.

He did not elaborate on the crimes for which he was convicted.

"I don't know what happened, it's not typical of me," Sowell said. "I can't explain it and I know it's not a lot, but it's all I can give."

Sowell's convictions ended a saga that began in October 2009 with the discovery of the first two victims' remains inside Sowell's home. He eventually was accused of killing at least 11 women ranging in age from 25 to 52.

August 10th, 2011
02:11 PM ET

Caregiver of husband with AIDS facing split by deportation over DOMA

A San Francisco man and his Australian husband will be forced apart when the Australian is deported this month after the federal government denied his request to be a permanent resident.

Anthony Makk was trying to become a permanent U.S. resident – like many heterosexual couples do – so he could stay with his loved one who he married seven years ago in Massachusetts. Makk, who has been with Bradford Wells for 19 years, is also doing it because he is a caregiver for his husband who has AIDS.

But the federal government denied his final appeal two weeks ago on the basis of the Defense of Marriage Act which doesn’t recognize their same-sex marriage.

"The claimed relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary is not a petitionable relationship," the government's ruling said. "For a relationship to qualify as a marriage for purposes of federal law, one partner must be a man and the other a woman."

The U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services echoed the sentiment, saying as long as DOMA was in place, they will continue to operate under that standard.

So now, unless someone steps in for them, the couple says they will have no choice but to part, with Makk being forced to leave the country by August 25.

FULL POST

August 10th, 2011
01:10 PM ET

Sibling fugitives captured in Colorado

Three siblings wanted for an alleged armed bank robbery in Georgia and the attempted murder of a Florida police officer have been apprehended after a high-speed chase on a Colorado interstate Wednesday, authorities said.

Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor said the three were chased down by police on Interstate 25. The three were captured near Walsenberg, south of Pueblo, when their vehicle crashed. There were shots fired, Taylor said, but it isn't clear by whom. There was a report of a non-life-threatening injury but not to a law enforcement officer, Taylor said.

This comes after the Colorado Springs Police Department on Tuesday received a report that people were spotted in the area of Woodmen and I-25 who matched the description of the siblings.

Officials call them "the Dougherty family" and identified the suspects as Ryan Edward Dougherty, 21; sister Lee Grace Dougherty, 29; and half-brother Dylan Dougherty Stanley, 26.

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Filed under: Colorado • Crime • Florida • Georgia
August 10th, 2011
12:53 PM ET

Single mom lets fly at Wall Street, downgrades S&P with her own pink slip

A lot of people are ticked about the U.S. economy.

There’s the torpid pace of job growth, the plummeting markets and the partisan gridlock that Standard and Poor’s cited in downgrading the nation’s debt last week.

But at whom do you lash out? Where do you vent? Is there a feasible way to convey your angst to the myriad players responsible for landing the U.S. in this financial morass?

Lucy Nobbe apparently thinks so.

The Kirkwood, Missouri, securities executive and single mother rented a plane to fly over Wall Street towing a banner that read, “Thanks for the downgrade. You should all be fired.”

Nobbe originally wanted to fly the sign over Washington, she told CNN affiliate KSDK-TV in St. Louis, but there’s a no-fly zone over the nation’s capital.

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Filed under: Economy • Finance • Missouri • New York • Protest • U.S.
Inmates on Facebook? Active profiles of California prisoners getting yanked
This inmate has been active on Facebook while in prison, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says.
August 10th, 2011
11:37 AM ET

Inmates on Facebook? Active profiles of California prisoners getting yanked

The state of California and Facebook are working together to help keep prisoners off Facebook for the safety of crime victims and to stop inmates from engaging in additional criminal activity, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Facebook has agreed to yank profiles that are updated while users are in prison, though those created before the prisoners were locked up can stay online.

The decision to step up efforts to remove profiles set up on behalf of inmates, or to keep prisoners from using the site on illegal cell phones, intends to try and curb inmates' ability to keep committing crimes and protect those who helped put them there, according to the department.

“Access to social media allows inmates to circumvent our monitoring process and continue to engage in criminal activity,” California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary Matthew Cate said in a statement. “This new cooperation between law enforcement and Facebook will help protect the community and potentially avoid future victims.”

The corrections department cited the case of a mother who received mail from a convicted sex offender with drawings and sketches of her 17-year-old daughter, the offender's victim. The prisoner, according to the department, had used an illegal cell phone to go on MySpace and Facebook to see current photos of the teen. Using those photos, he reportedly made the drawings with precise detail, including her hairstyle and clothes.

The increased use of contraband has compounded the problem, the department said, especially that of illegal cell phones. It said that in 2006, 261 phones were confiscated inside state prisons, compared with 7,284 in the first six months of 2011 alone.
August 10th, 2011
10:20 AM ET

Troops depart Hama but violence erupts in other Syrian cities

Syria's military is withdrawing Wednesday from the restive city of Hama, more than a week after security forces besieged the city to crack down on a major epicenter of anti-government sentiment.

This comes as violence erupted in other towns and amid international cries for Syria's government to end its brutal drive on peaceful protesters intensified.

Scores of deaths have been reported in the siege on the western city of Hama, a push coinciding with last week's start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a period of fasting and reflection. That offensive exacerbated world condemnation toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

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NATO: Taliban who brought down copter killed
Soldiers board a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan in July.
August 10th, 2011
09:21 AM ET

NATO: Taliban who brought down copter killed

Coalition forces in Afghanistan have killed the Taliban insurgents involved with the recent downing of the CH-47 helicopter, which killed 22 Navy SEALs, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan announced Wednesday.

The strike killed Taliban leader Mullah Mohibullah and the insurgent who fired the shot associated with the August 6 downing in the Tangi valley of Wardak province, NATO said.

ISAF said Mullah Mohibullah was a key facilitator in an insurgent attack cell led by Din Mohammad, a Taliban leader killed in a previous Special Operations mission. Mohibullah had as many as 12 Taliban fighters under his command, including potential suicide bombers, ISAF said.

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August 10th, 2011
07:49 AM ET

Wednesday's live video events

The Dow Jones Industrial Average may have regained some ground Tuesday, but the state of the market remains unpredictable.  Watch CNN.com Live for the latest from the world of Wall Street.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - Pentagon briefing on Afghanistan - U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen briefs reporters from Kabul on current military operations in Afghanistan.

9:30 am ET - Wall Street opening bell

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Budget • Economy • Finance • World
On the Radar: SCRABBLE finals, News Corp. earnings, stadium beating
Play goes on during Day 4 of the National SCRABBLE Championship Tuesday in Dallas.
August 10th, 2011
06:12 AM ET

On the Radar: SCRABBLE finals, News Corp. earnings, stadium beating

Three things you need to know today.

SCRABBLE championship: America's SCRABBLE champion will be crowned in Texas on Wednesday afternoon.

Jesse Day, a Berkeley, California, graduate student, holds a slim lead over Nigel Richards, a former SCRABBLE national and world champion from Malaysia, and Kenji Matsumoto, from Aiea, Hawaii, as the competition heads into the final day of play.

Twenty-eight rounds have been completed and three will be played on Wednesday. The winner gets a $10,000 prize.

Nearly 350 players have been involved in the National SCRABBLE Championship at the Hotel InterContinental Dallas.

You can follow the play live online. Play begins at 10 a.m. ET and finishes around 3:30 p.m. ET.

News Corp.: News Corp. will release its fiscal year-end earnings report Wednesday, likely thrusting embattled chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch back into the spotlight after a brief respite.

A phone-hacking scandal that has brought a 168-year-old newspaper to its end and caused a parliamentary investigation in the United Kingdom will likely draw attention to a routine report that is usually only combed over by stockholders.

A key group of News Corp. investors is calling for the company to separate the roles of chairman and CEO, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday. The group also wants the majority of the company's board of directors to be independent, according to the report.

Dodger Stadium beating: Two California men are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday morning in Los Angeles on charges relating to the beating of a San Francisco Giants fan in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium in March.

The victim, Bryan Stow, is still hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury, a hospital spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Marvin Norwood, 30, and Louie Sanchez, 29, both of Rialto, California, are each charged with mayhem, assault and battery, and all three charges are felonies, according to the complaint provided by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Sanchez is also charged with two misdemeanor counts - one for battery and the other for assault - against two other persons on the same day, according to the complaint.

Sanchez and Norwood, arrested at their San Bernardino County homes July 21, are being held on $500,000 bail each, the prosecutor's office said.

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Filed under: Business • Crime • Games • Media • On the Radar