Romney wins Florida primary, CNN projects
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made phone calls at his Florida campaign headquarters on Tuesday.
January 31st, 2012
08:08 PM ET

Romney wins Florida primary, CNN projects

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will win Tuesday's Florida primary, CNN projects.

With 60% of polling places reporting, Romney had 48% of the vote, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich getting 31%. Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania had 13%, and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas had 7%.

All of the state's polls were closed at 8 p.m. ET. CNN made its projection based on early returns and results of exit polls.

Florida is the fourth contest in the 2012 presidential primary and caucus calendar. Santorum won in Iowa, Romney won New Hampshire and Gingrich won South Carolina.

The Nevada caucuses are next, scheduled for Saturday.

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Overheard on CNN.com: Are we getting copyright laws wrong?
James Joyce, the author of "Ulysses," is seen in 1938. "Ulysses" has entered the public domain.
January 31st, 2012
07:16 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Are we getting copyright laws wrong?

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

An interesting conversation began on a story today about creative works that enter the public domain. William Patry, a senior copyright counsel at Google Inc., argued that the length of time required for this to occur has become far too protracted. Many of our commenters tended to agree, and two popular responses are included below.

Time to update copyright law?

Most-liked comment
Several readers said they felt copyright law has become too prohibitive. Do you agree or disagree? Comment below and let us know.

Clouseau2: "The whole logic of the copyright has been turned upside down. It makes perfect sense to give authors a limited time when their work is protected to give them an incentive to make it in the first place. However, now 'limited' means 'forever.' Whenever Steamboat Willie is about to enter into the public domain, Disney just throws a million or two into the pockets of a corrupt Congresscritter and magically the copyright gets extended for another 20 years. Authors are not going to avoid making something because 50 years after their death it's going to go into the public domain. That's ridiculous. The main purpose of copyright law today is to protect the profits of a few media empires, not to enable creative output. These long copyright terms seriously infringe on the arts, as older works are lost forever and new derivative content cannot be produced."

Another view
The comment below was also popular. We heard from several people who said they were content creators and wanted to have protection for themselves and their future generations.

flyboy60: "I'm all for strong copyright laws since I am an artist and content creator. I want to benefit from work my whole life, and what's wrong with my kids benefiting too? Granted, it doesn't need to be lifetime plus 70 years, maybe lifetime plus 20 would be good. All this 'information needs to be free' horsepucky is said by those who don't create anything for a living!"

What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

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

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Overheard on CNN.com: Readers' solutions for Florida's wild python problems
Pythons are wiping out mammals in the Florida Everglades, a new report says.
January 31st, 2012
03:31 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Readers' solutions for Florida's wild python problems

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

"They need to import the Honey Badger. That'll fix the problem."
Banned in 49 States

Florida has a GOP primary, but it's also got pythons. The slithering creatures have inspired many memorable comments on CNN.com on Tuesday.

Pythons wiping out mammals in Everglades, researchers say

Commenters offered ideas to get rid of the creatures, suggesting they be hunted.

Michael Vick: "The solution to the problem is already presented in the article. If Burmese pythons are threatened in their native range because humans hunt them for meat and skins, you just have to do the same to get rid of them (in the Everglades). You're forgetting python skins make great handbags, purses and shoes. This may help Florida's manufacturing industry as they have an unlimited supply of python skin. Python meat is lean and quite tasty. They taste better than rattlesnake meat and are much healthier for you than red and white meat. Florida needs to do this soon or else there won't be anything left but pythons."

Maybe a net is in order, one reader said. FULL POST

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Filed under: Animals • Overheard on CNN.com • Snakes
Will today's Florida primary determine GOP front-runner?
Mitt Romney (left) led Newt Gingrich in Florida polls ahead of Tuesday's GOP presidential primary there.
January 31st, 2012
03:29 PM ET

Will today's Florida primary determine GOP front-runner?

After one month and three contests, it may be up to Florida to finally add some clarity to the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Polls were open across Florida on Tuesday for voters who were not among the more than 632,000 who had already cast absentee or early ballots as of Monday. The winner walks away with Florida's 50 delegates - the largest haul so far in the primary and caucus calendar.

With three different winners in the three contests so far, Florida could be the state to put one of the four remaining major GOP candidates firmly into the front-runner position.

"I think the winner of Florida is in all likelihood going to be the nominee of our party," Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told CNN Tuesday. "Florida is a mini America."

In the final Florida poll of likely GOP primary voters, released Tuesday by the American Research Group, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had a 12-point lead over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, with former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas far behind. The poll, conducted Sunday and Monday, has a margin of error of four percentage points.

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Filed under: Florida • Politics • Republican Party
Chinese city bans schools' palm-reading test
January 31st, 2012
02:14 PM ET

Chinese city bans schools' palm-reading test

Education officials in a northern China city have banned schools from offering palm-reading tests that were purported to predict kids’ intelligence and potential, state-run news agency Xinhua reported Tuesday.

The ban in Taiyuan comes after a previous Xinhau report that privately run kindergartens in that city’s province, Shanxi, were charging parents about $190 (1,200 yuan) for the opportunity to have their kids' palms read.

The company that designed the test, Shanxi Daomeng Culture Communication Co., claimed the palm reading could help determine a child’s innate intelligence and identify kids’ aptitudes in subjects such as math and music, and was applicable to children older than 3 months of age, according to Xinhua.

But Taiyuan education officials have “issued a circular to criticize the three kindergartens” that offered the tests, and have launched an investigation into whether the schools were ripped off by the company, the city’s education bureau chief, Ma Zhaoxing, told Xinhua.

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Filed under: China • Education
January 31st, 2012
01:42 PM ET

Teacher accused of taking elementary student 'bondage' photos

A Los Angeles elementary school teacher allegedly took bondage photos of more than two dozen students in his classroom, including some with suspected semen-filled spoons at their mouths, investigators said Tuesday.

The young students were told they were playing a game and that swallowing the semen, which they believed was liquid candy, was part of that game, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Dan Scott told CNN Tuesday.

Mark Berndt, 61, was arrested on child molestation charges at his Torrance, California, home Monday and is being held pending $2.3 million bond in a Los Angeles County jail, according to Sheriff's Lt. Carlos Marquez.

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Filed under: California • Crime • Los Angeles
Experts advise ending Concordia underwater salvage
Technicians work Friday near the wrecked ship Costa Concordia in front of Giglio island.
January 31st, 2012
11:26 AM ET

Experts advise ending Concordia underwater salvage

Technical experts directing the salvage operation aboard the Costa Concordia cruise ship are recommending that the underwater part of the operation be called off because it is becoming too dangerous, Italy's civil protection agency said Tuesday.

The head of the operation, Franco Gabrielli, will make the final decision, but is unlikely to go against the recommendations of the technical experts, his office said.

The advice is based on safety concerns and follows consultations with relatives of the people still missing from the shipwreck and diplomats representing their countries, the civil protection agency said.

A total of 15 people remain missing after the cruise ship's collision with rocks off the coast of Tuscany on January 13. Seventeen bodies have been recovered. There were about 4,200 people on the cruise liner when it crashed.

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January 31st, 2012
11:07 AM ET

Minister escapes assassination attempt in Yemen

Yemen's information minister escaped an assassination attempt unharmed Tuesday, his office manager said.

The minister, Ali al-Amrani, was headed to the prime minister's office when the attack occurred, spokesman Abdul Basit al-Qaedi told CNN.

At least 10 bullets were shot in the direction of the vehicle al-Amrani was getting into, al-Qaedi said. Three bullets hit the back window and trunk of the car, he added.

Witnesses said there were at least two gunmen.

Al-Amrani was not hurt in the attack, al-Qaedi said.

The minister's office said al-Amrani has been targeted recently in a hate campaign by pro-revolution groups.

FULL STORY
Gotta Watch: Massive world records
145 water skiiers attempt to break a world record in Australia.
January 31st, 2012
10:54 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Massive world records

There's something captivating about an attempt to break a previously set world record. We've looked before at Guinness World record holders with some of the most unique talents. A recent video of 145 water skiers pulled by one boat got us thinking, what about other records set by large groups of people?

145 skiers pulled by one boat - We've seen water-skiing pyramids, we've seen water-skiing Santas and we've even seen a water-skiing squirrel. Yawn. How about 145 water skiers pulled by one boat? The previous world record of 114 was shattered by what started out as 154 skiers (Nine fell. They're ok) in Australia. The record is still being confirmed by officials, but the video is impressive, nonetheless.

100 skydivers attempt to break record - It's pretty amazing to see professional skydivers link up to create formations thousands of feet in the air. But these thrill-seekers take it to another level by attempting to break the previous world record with 100 skydivers from 16 different countries. Were they successful at getting all jumpers linked up at once? Watch and find out!

FULL POST

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January 31st, 2012
10:50 AM ET

Protesters struggle to stay awake on first night of sleeping ban

Occupy DC protesters struggled to stay awake overnight but vowed to stay strong Tuesday in the first full day of a camping ban enforced by U.S. Park Police.

"I had more fun in the park last night than the whole time I've been here," said Amanda Rickard, who is among the protesters staying at McPherson Park in Washington. "We were out here playing guitar, singing, playing drums, Scrabble, card games, you know, just stuff to keep us busy so we can stay here and stay awake."

But one protester said he wouldn't be surprised if the mandate against camping gear and sleeping in the park takes its toll on protesters.

"To be honest, I don't know how long we can keep this up," protester Kevin Whiley said after a sleepless night.

Park police began enforcing the ban on Monday after months of tolerating the Occupy camps at McPherson Park and Freedom Plaza. Police moved through the parks on Monday, asking protesters to remove camping gear and be sure to leave a tent flap open at all times.

FULL STORY
January 31st, 2012
10:30 AM ET

Diplomacy in Syria: 9 months of sanctions, suspensions and vetoed resolutions

Sanctions, suspensions, monitors: The international community has been trying to find a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis for almost a year. 

In May, the European Union placed sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and nine other senior members of his government.

As violence escalated over the following five months, a European-backed resolution condemning Syria but lacking sanctions was put before the U.N. Security Council in October. But permanent Security Council members Russia and China vetoed that resolution.

In November, the Arab League got involved, signaling its unhappiness with Syria by suspending its membership in the group.

On December 19, Syria signed an accord with the Arab League, saying it would withdraw armed forces from residential areas and let observers into the country. That same day, a vote in the U.N. General Assembly condemned the security crackdown.

On Saturday,  the Arab League suspended its mission to monitor whether al-Assad was abiding by an agreement to end the crackdown, which reportedly has left thousands of civilians dead.

This week, the U.N. Security Council is considering another resolution that calls for al-Assad to transfer power. The draft resolution also demands the government end the violence, pull back its heavy weaponry from residential areas, allow monitors to operate freely, release political prisoners and allow the news media to operate.

"It is primarily a straightforward condemnation of what has transpired, a call upon the government of Syria to adhere to the commitments it made," Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said about the draft. She noted that it contains no sanctions nor does it threaten the use of force.

Russia which maintains trade relations with Syria has proposed its own draft U.N. resolution that assigns equal blame for the violence on both al-Assad and the opposition.

More on the challenges in Syria:

Where is Syria crisis heading? 

In Syria, many caught in the middle

Dangerous cat-and-mouse game

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January 31st, 2012
10:10 AM ET

Intel report cites strides, threats

The al Qaeda terror network is weakening and the embattled Afghan government is making modest strides, but cyber security threats are on the rise and Iranian nuclear aspirations remain a major peril.

These are among the main themes in the annual U.S. intelligence community's threat assessment, a sweeping 31-page document released Tuesday that touches on a range of issues across the globe.

"The United States no longer faces - as in the Cold War - one dominant threat," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in prepared testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which will meet on Tuesday to discuss the report.

He said "counterterrorism, counter-proliferation, cyber security and counter-intelligence are at the immediate forefront of our security concerns" and that the "multiplicity and interconnectedness of potential threats - and the actors behind them ... constitute our biggest challenge."

FULL POST

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Pythons wiping out mammals in Everglades, researchers say
A Burmese python in the Everglades swallowed a 76-pound deer last year.
January 31st, 2012
09:34 AM ET

Pythons wiping out mammals in Everglades, researchers say

Burmese pythons have eaten so many small mammals in Everglades National Park that populations of rabbits and foxes have disappeared and numbers of raccoons, opossums and bobcats have dropped as much as 99%, according to a report released Tuesday by researchers at Virginia Tech University, Davidson College and the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Pythons are wreaking havoc on one of America’s most beautiful, treasured, and naturally bountiful ecosystems,” said U.S. Geological Survey Director Marci McNutt in a statement.

The massive nonnative snakes have become an established species in the park in the past 11 years, after snakes that were once pets were released into the wild, according to the researchers. Park spokeswoman Linda Friar said earlier this month that there are tens of thousands of the snakes in the park.

In the remote southernmost regions of the 1.5 million-acre national park, researchers could find no marsh or cottontail rabbits or foxes. In those same areas, the raccoon population has declined 99.3%, the opossum population 98.9%, and the bobcat population 87.5%, the researchers reported.

Those animals are often found in the stomachs of Burmese pythons captured in the Everglades, the researchers said.

“The magnitude of these declines underscores the apparent incredible density of pythons in Everglades National Park,” said lead author Michael Dorcas, a biology professor at Davidson College in North Carolina.

To measure the population declines, researchers traveled more than 39,000 miles at night along roads in the park between 2003 and 2011, counting both live animals and road kills. Their data were compared to similar counts made along the same roads in 1996 and 1997, before the Burmese pythons had become an established species in the park.

In northern areas of the park, where python populations have not become established, the researchers found similar mammal numbers between their recent and older surveys. But in the area where the pythons have recently become established, the researches reported a noticeable decline in mammal numbers. They called for action before the pythons wipe out mammals in the entire park.

“Right now, the only hope to halt further python invasion into new areas is swift, decisive, and deliberate human action,” McNutt said.

Burmese pythons are native to southeast Asia, their range extending from southern China to the Malay Archipelago, according to the National Zoo. The snakes reach breeding age in four to five years and a female lays an average of 35 eggs during the spring breeding season, though one snake may lay up to 100. Burmese pythons can live as long as 30 years.

In their native range, the snakes are considered threatened and are hunted by humans for their meat and skins, according to the National Zoo.

They may grow up to 22 feet long but average about 16 feet. The snakes can swallow whole animals four or five times the size of their head. In the Everglades, the pythons have been found to eat deer and even alligators.

While the researchers are concerned about the fate of the raccoons and the opossums, they say they may not even be able to measure the snakes' effect on more elusive species.

“Such severe declines in easily seen mammals bode poorly for the many species of conservation concern that are more difficult to sample but that may also be vulnerable to python predation,” Dorcas said in a statement.

The researchers compared the proliferation of pythons in Florida to that of the brown tree snake on the Pacific island of Guam, where native species have disappeared since the introduction of the snakes. But they said it's happening faster in Florida.

“It took 30 years for the brown tree snake to be implicated in the nearly complete disappearance of mammals and birds on Guam; it has apparently taken only 11 years since pythons were recognized as being established in the Everglades for researchers to implicate pythons in the same kind of severe mammal declines,” U.S. Geological Survey scientist Robert Reed said in the report.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service instituted a ban on the importation of the Burmese python and three other nonnative constrictor snakes - the yellow anaconda and northern and southern African pythons.

But the researchers say they'll still need to do more.

“This severe decline in mammals is of significant concern to the overall health of the park’s large and complex ecosystem,” Everglades National Park Superintendent Dan Kimball said in a statement. “We will continue to enhance our efforts to control and manage the non-native python and to better understand the impacts on the park.”

The latest research was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Other stories you might be interested in:

Hunting snakes in Florida

Tylenol-spiked mice air-dropped to kill snakes

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Filed under: Animals • Florida • Snakes
January 31st, 2012
07:41 AM ET

Tuesday's live events

All eyes are on Florida today for the state's Republican presidential primary.  CNN.com Live is your home for all of the political news and views from the Sunshine State.

Today's programming highlights...

8:30 am ET - Gingrich visits polling precinct - GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich will make a series of stops at Florida voting precincts today, beginning with a visit to Orlando.

FULL POST


Filed under: Elections • Politics • Republican Party
January 31st, 2012
06:33 AM ET

Marine pleads guilty in hazing-suicide case; gets 30-day sentence

A U.S. Marine accused of hazing a fellow Marine who later committed suicide in Afghanistan has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and a reduction in rank.

Lance Cpl. Jacob D. Jacoby pleaded guilty to assaulting Lance Cpl. Harry Lew in April after Lew fell asleep while on watch after first arriving in Afghanistan. Charges also were filed against Sgt. Benjamin E. Johns and Lance Cpl. Carlos Orozco III, according to a Marine statement.

They will face courts martial later this year.

"It has been a bad tragedy for us and never can be able to repair our broken heart," said Lew's father, Allen, to CNN affiliate KHON. "We just couldn't believe their own peers could do something like that to their own people."

A military investigation report obtained by the Marine Corps Times said Lew killed himself with a two- or three-round burst from an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in the early hours of April 3.

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Filed under: Justice • U.S.
January 31st, 2012
05:55 AM ET

Militant attacks kill 8 Pakistani soldiers

Hundreds of militants stormed military checkpoints in northwest Pakistan early Tuesday, killing at least eight soldiers and injuring 10 others, military and government officials said - the latest in a string of attacks against security forces.

Twenty-five militants died in the clash, according to the officials.

The predawn attack took place over several hours in Kurram, one of seven mostly ungoverned districts in Pakistan's tribal region along the Afghan border.

The district has seen a sharp increase in militant activity with insurgents who have fled military operations in neighboring South and North Waziristan.

FULL STORY

Filed under: World
Psychiatrist says Hinckley has had risky romances
John Hinckley Jr. is seen in a 2003 file photo.
January 31st, 2012
03:42 AM ET

Psychiatrist says Hinckley has had risky romances

Hearings to determine whether John Hinckley Jr. should be granted more visits to his mother's home enter their 10th day Tuesday, a day after a psychiatrist questioned risky romantic relationships the presidential assailant had engaged in.

Hinckley, who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan in March 1981, is currently allowed to leave St. Elizabeth's Hospital for 10 days each month visiting his mother's home in a gated community in Williamsburg, Virginia. St. Elizabeth's proposal calls for that to increase to two visits of 17 days and then to be upped again to six visits of 24 days.

A federal judge is hearing testimony on whether Hinckley will be allowed to spend more time away from the mental hospital where he has been treated for three decades.

On Monday, a psychiatrist testified that he is opposed to the plan and he was concerned about the risks Hinckley's relationships with women cause.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Crime • Justice • U.S.
January 31st, 2012
03:35 AM ET

International leaders call for U.N. to act on Syria

As the U.N. Security Council mulls whether to call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, the council will hear from the head of the Arab League on Tuesday about the group's monitoring mission in the besieged country.

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby is set to address the council as it considers a draft resolution proposed by Morocco that calls for al-Assad to transfer power.

Also on Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe will travel to U.N. headquarters "in order to persuade the Security Council to fully assume its responsibilities in the face of the increased level of crimes against humanity being perpetrated by the Syrian regime," according to a statement on France's U.N. delegation's website.

"Everything must be done to bring an end to the spiral of violence now resulting from the bloody crackdown that Bashar al-Assad's regime has been imposing for more than 10 months," the statement said, urging other nations to support the Moroccan resolution.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Syria • United Nations • World
January 31st, 2012
03:20 AM ET

Occupy DC camps remain as deadline passes

Defiant but festive, Occupy DC protesters hunkered down early Tuesday as a deadline passed for U.S. Park Police to begin enforcing a ban on camping in two Washington parks.

"We're just having a great party," said Occupy DC representative Sara Shaw. "We've camped since October so it's a lot like any other night. We're all staying awake and looking out for each other."

Until now, Occupy protesters have been allowed to remain under a Park Service interpretation that considered the activity a "24-hour vigil."

But on Friday, the National Park Service set a noon Monday deadline for protesters who have occupied the parks for months to remove their camping gear.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Politics • U.S.
January 31st, 2012
02:20 AM ET

9 killed in suspected drone strike in Yemen

A suspected drone strike hit militant targets in southern Yemen on Monday night, killing at least nine people with suspected links to al Qaeda, security officials said.

The missiles struck Abyan province near areas that have been taken over by Ansaar al-Sharia, a militant group with links to al Qaeda, three security officials officials said.

The militant group took over large parts of Abyan province in May after government forces evacuated a number of security posts and military bases. The group announced Abyan as an Islamic emirate and is calling for the implementation of Sharia law.

Hundreds of troops and militant fighters have been killed in the government's efforts to clear the province from the hands of the militants, according to Yemen's defense ministry.

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