In the hours before Troy Davis was executed in a Jackson, Georgia, prison Wednesday for the murder of a police officer, the hundreds of people who had gathered outside not only protested his sentence, but also talked of bringing about reforms for the future.
During the hot day and into the evening, high-profile activists, college students and others said there was too much doubt over Davis' guilt for an execution (though the prosecutor said he had no doubt). And some expressed hope that the death penalty eventually would be abolished.
In a crowded church across the street from the prison, the head of Amnesty International, Larry Cox, drew raucous applause with a nod to the Christian belief in an afterlife.
"We are not afraid of death, because we know that death can be conquered," he said.
Many spoke about reforming the justice system. Elijah West, a cousin of Davis, spoke of getting a degree in criminal justice so that he could make changes from the inside.
Ben Jealous, head of the NAACP, called the death penalty "legalized vengeance" and urged the protesters to oppose it.
The U.S. Navy's newest destroyer, the USS Spruance, has arrived in Key West, Florida, where it will be formally commissioned next week.
The 509-foot-long Spruance is a multimission ship that will carry Tomahawk cruise missiles and two helicopters.
“It was the commanding officer's choice on where he wanted the commissioning," said Trice Denny, spokesman for Naval Air Station Key West, where the destroyer arrived. "He picked Key West because he has been here before, and he knew it would be memorable for the crew and their families."FULL STORY
While the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, another issue in the region was being discussed among diplomats in the halls and meeting rooms – the rise in tension between Egypt and Israel.
"The administration here, and in most other places in the world, understands that that’s the real game," said Daniel Kurtzer, who has served as U.S. ambassador to both Israel and Egypt.
A couple of weeks ago, the Israeli embassy in Egypt was overrun by a mob, causing Israeli diplomats to flee. In August, a string of attacks in southern Israel near the Egyptian border left several people dead; Israeli officials believe the attackers had support from within Egypt's Sinai peninsula.
"For many years, those of us who have been studying or working in and on the Middle East have known that there’s a great deal of anger built up in the so-called Arab Street over the failure to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli/Arab-Israeli conflict,” said Kurtzer, now a professor of Middle Eastern policy studies at Princeton University.
A jury of seven men and five women was sworn in Friday in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Conrad Murray (pictured), the doctor accused of having a role in singer Michael Jackson's death.
Opening statements in the trial are scheduled for next week.FULL STORY
Priscilla Martinez wishes the children of Las Lomas had an after-school program this fall. But in this Texas border community poverty is the norm, and extras like after-school programs are luxuries.
"We don’t have any funding right now," said Martinez, director of Colonias Unidas, the community center in Las Lomas that usually hosts the after-school program. "We're just hanging on by a string."
Colonias Unidas' primary source of funding comes from revenue from mailboxes the center rents to Las Lomas residents. That money ran out after this year's summer program, which provided the children of Las Lomas with lunch and a place to play four days a week, Martinez said.
CNN visited Las Lomas in July, when the summer program was in full swing. Gavina Barrera, a resident of Las Lomas, showed us around the community, which is known in bureaucrat-speak as a "colonia," or an unincorporated settlement usually lacking water, sewage systems, sanitation or electricity.
In Las Lomas, in unincorporated Starr County about an hour from McAllen, median household income was $22,418 in 2009.
Barrera, a naturalized U.S. citizen who moved to Las Lomas in 1984, has seen the colonia grow from a shanty town to a neighborhood with paved roads and drainage systems. It may be substandard to many Americans, but given the progress of the past 20 years, it's a place Barrera is proud to call home.
But with each step forward, it seems another hurdle arises.
Colonias Unidas held an after-school program last year from September to May, she said. From Monday to Thursday, high school students provided homework help to younger children, receiving a stipend as incentive. This year, the money ran out before fall, Martinez said.
In the meantime, residents look forward to the little things, she said. Colonias Unidas holds a monthly "mercadito," where residents can sell handmade crafts or used household items. In October, architecture students from Texas A&M University will build a playground on the community center's grounds.
"That's something we look forward to. It gives motivation to the community, and that's important when you have little in the way of wealth or material possessions." she said. "People live simple lives here, but basically, as long as they're safe and their families are safe, they're happy."
Exchange of the Day:
"Remember when the Star Ship Voyager went beyond warp 10 and the crew de-evolved? Kind of like that ..."–9Destiny9
"Exactly like that, only completely different."–clearfog
The travels of a tiny particle called a neutrino may challenge Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, scientists say. An experiment in Switzerland shows the particles apparently defying nature by traveling faster than the speed of light. Some CNN.com readers wrote the problem may lie with neutrinos rather than with Einstein's theory.
Binky42 said, "Neutrinos are too understudied to make assumptions that blast Einstein's theories at this point. There has been no evidence so far (that I'm aware of) that muon neutrinos have mass. It's all based on assumption and not on empirical evidence. They have only scratched the surface of neutrino studies, and all they really know about them is that they are 'weird.'"
mcpersons said, "According to the theory of relativity, nothing with a rest mass that can be expressed as a real number can be observed to travel faster than light. Neutrinos were originally thought to be similar to light in that they would have zero rest mass (like particles of light, the photon) and would therefore travel at the speed of light. Some years back, however, it was discovered that there were in fact three types of neutrino, and that each type can 'switch' from one type to another. The theory on how they can 'switch' back and forth was based upon a new assumption that the rest mass of the neutrino was small but not zero: To my knowledge, this was an assumption of the oscillations between the three types, and not independently confirmed."
Brian222 said, "People are a little too excited about something that might very well be an error in measurement." kettlecorn replied, "It's not an error, there are other neutrino detectors around the world and at least one other has gotten the same results."
Many wanted to know how the discovery related to science fiction theories. enricorosan asked, "Does this mean that warp drive like in 'Star Trek' is possible? Sorry if my question offends people who are very knowledgeable in science." CEW replied, "No, this is more like the FTL drives in "Battlestar Galactica." Warping is like 'bending' space, akin to an artificial wormhole (I think)."
kettlecorn said, "More likely in our lifetimes, you will see this result in wireless power distribution, noninvasive surgery, covert surveillance and what is more likely than warp drive: just opening a window to wherever you want to step through to."
Former Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Orlando Brown was found dead in his home Friday morning, Baltimore police said. He was 40, according to the NFL's website.
Authorities said there was no sign of trauma or foul play.
Brown, nicknamed "Zeus," retired in 2005 and lived in Baltimore, where he was involved in the franchising of restaurants, according to NFL.com.
While he was with the Browns in December 1999, a flag thrown by an official struck him in the eye and led to Brown suing the league.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' address to the United Nations General Assembly, tells the same body that says Israel has been "singled out for condemnation" more often than "all the nations of the world combined."
"The truth is Israel wants peace," he said. But "peace must be anchored in security."
Netanyahu said Palestinians' application for U.N. membership should be rejected because Israel and the Palestinians need to clinch a peace deal first, and that, he said, can only be reached through negotiation for a two-state solution that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state.
Palestinians must "first make peace with Israel, and then get their state."
After a peace agreement is signed, Israel will not be the last country to welcome Palestinians as a full member of the U.N., but the first.
He said prior Israeli concessions did not "calm the militant Islamic storm that threatens us," and that the concessions only brought militants "closer to us."
Earlier Friday, Abbas submitted Palestinians' application for full U.N. membership. The United States has pledged to veto the application should a vote occur in the body's Security Council.
The United States, however, would not be able to veto any Palestinian effort to go before the General Assembly, rather than the Security Council, to gain a lesser-than-full-member status: that of "permanent observer state."FULL STORY
Libya's National Transitional Council will hold an urgent meeting Sunday to discuss the formation of an interim government, a senior council member told CNN Friday.
Mohammed Naser, the council member, said the formation of a government could take up to one week, but NTC members agreed that the interim government would include a premier, a vice premier, and 22 ministers. Naser did not give further details.
Earlier this week, Elamin Belhaj, a senior member of the NTC, told CNN the formation of a Libyan government would not be announced until anti-Gadhafi forces controlled the borders of the country and liberated three cities that still remained under loyalist control - Bani Walid, Sirte and Sabha - a task that could take up to one month, he said.
"We are not a fully established country," he said this week of the fact that Libya has not been completely liberated.
The NTC, he said, will expand as cities are liberated in order to give representation to all regions of the country. Ultimately, the council could have approximately 80 members; it currently has 43.FULL STORY
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has handed the Palestinian application for statehood to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, according to a United Nations statement.
Abbas later spoke Friday afternoon at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Below are updates on what Abbas said:
[Updated at 12:57 p.m. ET] Abbas said the Palestinians' application for full U.N. membership asks for Israel to return to its 1967 boundaries. He also appealed to "states that have not recognized the state of Palestine to do so."
The United States has pledged to veto the application should a vote occur in the body's Security Council. The United States would not be able to veto any Palestinian effort to go before the General Assembly, rather than the Security Council, to gain a lesser-than-full-member status: that of "permanent observer state."
Abbas also called for Israeli-held "prisoners of conscience" to be released.
[Updated at 12:48 p.m. ET] Abbas said his submission of a bid for statehood at the U.N. reflects "a moment of truth."
"Our people are waiting to hear the answer of the world," he told the U.N. General Assembly, adding that Israeli policies have been able to operate "above the law."
[Updated at 12:44 p.m. ET] Abbas said: "We extend our hand to the Israeli government and the Israeli people for peacemaking."
"Let us build bridges of dialogue instead of checkpoints and walls of separation," he told the U.N. General Assembly.
[Updated at 12:39 p.m. ET] Abbas said the Palestinians were ready to return to the negotiating table with Israel, provided Israel cease expansion efforts, among other concerns.
Israel has called for a return to negotiations with no preconditions.
Abbas blamed Israel for the decades-old conflict, saying the country's policies have been "aimed to entrench occupation," rather than forge a lasting peace.
"We decided to adopt the path of relative justice," he told the United Nations General Assembly, saying East Jerusalem is Palestinians' rightful capital.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has returned home after undergoing treatment in Saudi Arabia, a government spokesman said Friday.
Saleh returned to Yemen after a three-month medical stay in Saudi Arabia, said Mohammed Albasha, the Yemeni government spokesman.
Protesters have been calling for the ouster of the longtime president, who had been recuperating from injuries he received in a June attack on his palace. He has vowed to finish his term.FULL STORY
A Florida jury on Friday has begun deliberating the fate of a millionaire accused of killing his wife in their upscale home.
During the trial, attorneys painted sharply different pictures of James "Bob" Ward that jurors will have to weigh.
The defense said Ward loved his family, while prosecutors contend the Florida millionaire's demeanor - along with the evidence - proves he murdered his wife.FULL STORY
[Updated at 11:18 a.m. ET] The United States is back as a possible – but unlikely – landing site for a satellite that will be crashing to Earth on Friday or Saturday, NASA says.
The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, or UARS, will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere sometime Friday night or early Saturday Eastern Time, according to the space agency. It's too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with precision, but NASA can no longer rule out the United States as a landing spot.
"There is a low probability any debris that survives re-entry will land in the United States, but the possibility cannot be discounted because of this changing rate of descent," NASA said on its website.
NASA previously predicted that the satellite would fall Wednesday afternoon or early evening, Eastern Time, and that the satellite wouldn't be over North America at that time. But "the satellite’s orientation or configuration apparently has changed, and that is now slowing its descent," NASA's website said Friday.
Though much of the satellite will burn up as it re-enters the atmosphere, 26 pieces - or about a half-ton of the 6-ton craft - have a good chance of surviving, NASA says.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced Friday that states will be allowed to opt out of various requirements of the controversial No Child Left Behind law - the landmark education reform initiative passed with broad bipartisan support a decade ago.
The administration will begin reviewing state applications to waive various requirements in the law in return for credible commitments to close lingering achievement gaps.
The law, which passed 2001, requires public schools to meet targets aimed at making all students proficient in reading and math by 2014 or face stiff penalties. The Department of Education has predicted up to 82% of the nation's schools could miss that target and face penalties including the loss of federal education dollars.
Three things you need to know today:
Palestinians' expected bid for full U.N. membership
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (pictured) is expected to submit a formal request for full U.N. membership for his territories on Friday, the day he is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly. He's expected to speak sometime after 11 a.m.
The bid seems unlikely to succeed because the United States has vowed to block a Palestinian membership application should it reach the U.N. Security Council. The Obama administration has expressed concern that Palestinian action at the United Nations could intensify conditions on the ground and delay already stalled negotiations with Israel.
A successful vote would not lead to an established Palestinian state with defined borders, but it would afford the Palestinian government an upgraded international status, allowing them to pursue legal actions against Israel.
NASA has announced that it expects a defunct satellite to tumble to Earth today, but scientists can't say exactly when or where. That's got some people worried. This isn't the first time that space junk has fallen from the sky, though. Gotta Watch brings you some of our favorites.
The question of Palestinian statehood grips the United Nations, while Congress deals with funding the government. CNN.com Live is your home for political debate from around the corner and around the world.
Today's programming highlights...
8:30 am ET - GOP candidates at CPAC - Ten Republican presidential candidates are expected to address the Conservative Political Action conference in Orlando.