September 12th, 2011
08:42 PM ET

N.C. House votes to put constitutional same-sex marriage ban on ballot

[Updated at 8:42 p.m. ET] The North Carolina House voted Monday to put on the 2012 ballot a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in the state, a spokesman for the House speaker said.

The bill, which the House approved 76-41, now goes to the Senate. Three-fifths of the House's 120 members - 72 - were required for the bill to pass.

If the measure passes in the entire Legislature and is approved by voters during the primary in May, North Carolina would become the final state in the Southeast to add a constitutional amendment regarding same-sex marriage.

"This amendment pushes the power away from us and pushes the decision to the people of North Carolina," state Rep. Dale Folwell, a Republican from Winston-Salem and the speaker pro tem, said.

Proponents of the measure said they felt it was important that the amendment be added so that it would protect the state's policy on gay marriage. North Carolina currently has a ban on same-sex marriage, but legislators are seeking to protect that ban by chiseling it into their constitution.

The bill came to the House floor Monday after a House committee passed it by a voice vote earlier in the day. Many Democrats who opposed the measure argued that Republicans, who are in the majority in the Legislature for the first time in 140 years, were trying to push the amendment through quickly without allowing for a real debate or public comment. Republicans argued that the content of the proposed amendment has long been known, even if the specific wording was not.

During debate on the House floor, Rep. Susan Fisher, a Democrat from Asheville, questioned why legislators were asking for such swift movement on the issue.

"I think it's somewhat ironic that we would be asked to debate or have this bill in front of us for immediate consideration," she said. "I don't think you ever consider an amendment to the state constitution immediately, yet here we are."

Jordan Shaw, communications director for North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, told CNN that he did not believe there was a requirement to have a public debate on the issue.

"But I would point out the very nature of this measure would be for the people to vote on it," he said. "It is hard to have a more democratic process than to put it up to the voters."

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Overheard on CNN.com: Treasure trove or corporate monster?
Borders moved to a 10,000 square-foot location in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1974 and became a haven for book lovers.
September 12th, 2011
05:56 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Treasure trove or corporate monster?

Comments of the Day:

"One of the best-written articles, perhaps the best, that I've read on CNN. A fitting tribute to a passing iconic bookstore. Congratulations, Mr. Leopold." - SightSeer

"Yes, iconic corporate monster that killed hundreds of small bookstores across the country finally gets the taste of its own medicine. Live by the sword, die by the sword." - Karaya

The death and life of a great American bookstore

Forty years after its start as the prototypical big-box book store, the original Borders bookstore is shutting its doors. CNN.com readers fondly recalled exploring its treasures and shared why they thought it failed. Many said it was a fitting end to a box store that had run so many independents out of business.

binnytutu said, "Goodbye Borders. I was there at the beginning: just a very little girl, but I loved to read, and Borders was like heaven."

neason said, "My husband and I used to meet friends at the cafe when they gathered to play bluegrass music on Fridays. My son and I spent hours just browsing and reading books in the kids section. Our last visit was painful, to see the store practically looted, empty. My little guy cried when he saw the kids' section empty, sealed with yellow tape."

RobynH said, "I still remember the sense of wonder I had when Borders first came to town in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the fall of 1991. I had never seen anything like it. It was Disneyland and Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory spun together. It was as close to heaven as I will ever find in a retail business. In recent years, Borders lost some of its charm, as it sometimes became maddening to deal with salespeople who obviously had no knowledge or love for the magical place where they worked."

RickPachtuto said, "As a former Borders community relations coordinator, I can say these stores were staffed by wonderful people who gave their all, at retail wages, to make the stores the intellectual arena they were. The dark side was Borders' structure that demanded those long (and even unpaid) hours from its employees, offered shoddy benefits, and refused collective bargaining."

drstanley said, "It was Kmart that destroyed Borders. And The Super Market Guys? Just look what they did with Circuit City and Home Depot. I remember customer service at Home Depot, when every aisle had its own associate and they knew everything inside out. Now, they rely on part-time guitar center rejects who refer to everyone as 'Dude' or 'Chief' or 'Boss."

rcr4624 said, "Borders helped put the small bookstores out of business. Now the Internet is putting them out of business. Revenge is sweet."
FULL POST

September 12th, 2011
12:56 PM ET

Homeowners begin to return to fire-ravaged Texas neighborhoods

More areas of Bastrop County, Texas, were reopened to residents Monday following the devastating wildfire that destroyed more than 1,500 homes.

"Our goal is to get everybody back in by Thursday," said county Judge Ronnie McDonald.

Many of the residents will return to charred homes and possessions. Those with standing homes may have to wait weeks for electricity to return, and crews are still working on restoring drinking water, utility officials said.

The Bastrop County Complex fire near Austin was 60 percent contained Monday after burning across more than 34,000 acres, according to the Texas Forest Service.

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Filed under: Texas • U.S.
Gotta Watch: Children coping with tragedy
CNN spoke to children who lost a loved one on 9/11 about their feelings and where they are now.
September 12th, 2011
12:23 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Children coping with tragedy

It was an especially reflective weekend as the United States and much of the world looked back on the lives lost in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. CNN had a chance to talk to several young people who lost a parent that day. In today's Gotta Watch, we present highlights from those interviews, and look back at how children caught in the middle of another national disaster - Hurricane Katrina - looked at their city two years later.

'Nobody else has lost a parent on national television' – Some of the children who lost a parent on 9/11 say they have little or no memory of that day. Watch here as they talk about life growing without a mother or father, the "nightmare" talk that daddy wasn't coming home and the scrutiny they face as "9/11 kids."

'The lost city' - In February 2007, CNN's Soledad O'Brien handed out video cameras to a group of students who lived through Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Here, they spoke with director Spike Lee about feelings of being forgotten and what the world didn't see two years after the storm.

September 12th, 2011
12:15 PM ET

Forces stalled near Gadhafi stronghold amid reports of in-fighting

Libya's new leaders are moving to unite fractious, heavily armed bands of fighters under a single control, even as the forces struggled Monday to take control of Moammar Gadhafi's last bastions of support.

The announcement Sunday by the head of the National Transitional Council followed reports of in-fighting and arguments among bands of fighters stalled outside the town of Bani Walid after encountering stiff resistance during an assault.

Syrian television station Al Rai on Monday, meanwhile, said it would air a message from Gadhafi. The station ran a banner allegedly quoting the ousted Libyan leader as saying, "We cannot surrender Libya to imperialism once like the agents/spies want us to now. So we have no option but to kill until victory and to destroy this attempted overthrow."

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Filed under: Libya
Bank of America plans to cut 30,000 jobs
September 12th, 2011
11:43 AM ET

Bank of America plans to cut 30,000 jobs

[Updated at 11:43 a.m.] Bank of America said Monday that it plans to eliminate 30,000 jobs as part of plan to save $5 billion.

The announcement came after Chief Executive Brian Moynihan outlined the bank's strategy at an investor conference in New York. Moynihan made no mention of layoffs during his presentation.

BofA has already disclosed plans to eliminate a total of 6,000 jobs this year. And it recently announced a management shakeup that effectively will split the bank into two units: one serving consumer and one serving commercial clients.

The bank said it expects a "significant portion" of the reduction in headcount to occur through attrition and the elimination of unfilled positions.

The move, part of an ongoing reorganization that BofA launched last year called the "Project New BAC," will play out over the next few years.

[Posted at 11:17 a.m.] Bank of America expects to cut 30,000 jobs in the 'next few years' as it moves to refocus its banking business.

This story is developing. CNNMoney.com is digging into the story and we'll bring you the latest details and information as soon as we get them.

FULL CNNMONEY.COM STORY
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Filed under: Business • Economy • Jobs
Arctic ice levels hit historic low, researchers say
Melting ice is visible near Greenland's Ilulissat glacier, one of the areas seeing the effects of global warming in the Arctic.
September 12th, 2011
11:07 AM ET

Arctic ice levels hit historic low, researchers say

The amount of Arctic sea ice has melted to a historic low, with the area of land covered by ice at the smallest level since scientists began observing it with satellites in 1972, researchers from the University of Bremen in Germany report.

The North Pole skull cap shrank to about half a percent under the previous record low set in September 2007, according to the school's Institute of Environmental Physics.

Researchers, including those from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, had predicted earlier this summer that Arctic sea ice levels could reach extreme lows. But the University of Bremen physicists said there was uncertainty in July about whether the ice melt would surpass the previous record.

They said their studies indicated that continuing ice decline was related to man-made global warming.

"It seems to be clear that this is a further consequence of the man-made global warming with global consequences," researchers said in their report.  "Directly, the livehood of small animals, algae, fishes and mammals like polar bears and seals is more and more reduced."

Read the report (PDF)

As Arctic sea ice has continued to decline, it also has become drastically thinner overall, the report said.

The researchers said that previously the melting ice had been attributed to yearly weather anomalies. But now it is believed the massive melt is due in part to global warming and the increasing albedo effect, which has to do with the power of the surface to reflect sun. As more ice melts, instead of having white ice reflect more of the sun's rays, you have a larger amount of open water that absorbs those same rays. Therefore, warmer temperatures lead to even more ice melting.

FULL POST

September 12th, 2011
08:56 AM ET

55 killed in Kenya pipeline fire, police say

[Posted at 8:56 a.m.] The fuel pipleline explosion apparently occurred about 10 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET), possibly as a group of people were siphoning fuel from the pipeline, the officials said.

It leveled houses and burned some bodies to dust, said Carol Nduta, a Kenya Red Cross emergency medical instructor and dispatcher who traveled to the scene in Sinai slum, which surrounds the Lunga Lunga industrial area where the pipeline and a fuel depot were located.

"Almost the whole place blew up," she said.

Police confirmed that at least 55 people died. Nduta said scores more were dead, but their bodies had not yet cooled enough to recover. She said authorities expect to find more bodies in the smoking ruins of homes near the pipeline. Nduta said she believed between 100 and 130 people had died.

An unknown number of injured have been taken to hospitals, particularly Kenyatta National Hospital, Nduta said.

Although some structures continued to smoke and burn Monday afternoon, the fire seemed to be mostly under control, she said.

Nairobi police spokesman Eric Kiraithe confirmed the explosion happened as employees of the Kenya Pipeline Company tried to contain a leak in the pipeline and prevent people from stealing the leaking fuel.

[Posted at 6:31 a.m.] A fuel pipeline exploded in a densely populated Nairobi slum Monday morning, killing at least 55 people but likely more, police and Kenya Red Cross officials said.

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Filed under: Kenya • World
September 12th, 2011
08:28 AM ET

One killed in blast at French nuclear waste site, source says

An oven exploded Monday at a nuclear site in France, killing one person and injuring four others, a spokeswoman for French energy company EDF said.

There was no radioactive leak or waste released, she said. The Ministry of the Interior and the French nuclear safety agency also said there had been no radioactive leak, CNN affiliate BFM-TV reported.

The explosion took place in Marcoule, in southeastern France, the EDF spokeswoman said, declining to give her name in line with company policy.

Weapons-grade plutonium is produced at the plant, the think tank Global Security said. EDF did not immediately confirm that.

FULL POST

Read CNN's full coverage of the explosion at a French nuclear site
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Filed under: Energy • France • Nuclear • World
September 12th, 2011
07:46 AM ET

Monday's live events

Eight GOP presidential candidates gather in Florida tonight for the CNN/Tea Party debate.  CNN.com Live is your home for all your debate coverage.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - Romney in South Carolina - Before heading to Florida for the CNN/Tea Party debate, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney talks labor relations at a Boeing plant in South Carolina.

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Filed under: Elections • Politics