Georgia Democrats propose limitations on vasectomies for men
State Rep. Yasmin Neal's bill comes in response to an abortion-restrictions bill that Georgia legislators are considering.
February 21st, 2012
06:23 PM ET

Georgia Democrats propose limitations on vasectomies for men

As members of Georgia’s House of Representatives debate whether to prohibit abortions for women more than 20 weeks pregnant, House Democrats  introduced their own reproductive rights plan: No more vasectomies that leave "thousands of children ... deprived of birth."

Rep. Yasmin Neal, a Democrat from the Atlanta suburb of Jonesboro, planned on Wednesday to introduce HB 1116, which would prevent men from vasectomies unless needed to avert serious injury or death.

The bill reads: "It is patently unfair that men avoid the rewards of unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly. ... It is the purpose of the General Assembly to assert an invasive state interest in the reproductive habits of men in this state and substitute the will of the government over the will of adult men."

“If we legislate women’s bodies, it’s only fair that we legislate men’s,” said Neal, who said she wanted to write bill that would generate emotion and conversation the way anti-abortion bills do. “There are too many problems in the state. Why are you under the skirts of women? I’m sure there are other places to be."

Personally, Neal said, she has no qualms with vasectomies.

“But even if it were proposed as a serious issue,” she said, “it’s still not my place as a woman to tell a man what to do with his body."

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Filed under: Abortion • Georgia • Health • Politics
Overheard on CNN.com: Spectrum crunch and smart phone curmudgeons
February 21st, 2012
01:50 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Spectrum crunch and smart phone curmudgeons

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.

Wireless data use is growing at a dramatic rate in the United States and the wireless spectrum that carries phone calls, text messages and Internet services isn't growing fast enough to keep up with demand.

CNN Money is devoting a week of coverage to the "Spectrum Crunch" and readers also are weighing in on the problem.

Sorry, America: Your wireless airwaves are full

CashTheGreen: "This situation would be easily remedied if they would just invest more into upgrading their network and infrastructure, but no, the execs have to line their pockets instead. They won't care one bit about the company once they retire from their short careers with millions."

Alan Elliot "The fix is simpler than it looks, charge what is required to deliver a good quality of service. Maybe data plans will be $100/mo for 1G but it will stop all the mindless surfing and viewing of YouTube on phones. Perhaps the video won't be that funny when you realize it costs you $4.00 to view it."

FULL POST

February 21st, 2012
01:46 PM ET

California teacher pleads not guilty in student 'bondage' case

A former southern California schoolteacher entered a not guilty plea Tuesday to allegations he bound young students, then photographed them with semen-filled spoons held at their mouths and three-inch cockroaches crawling across their faces, among other graphic depictions.

Authorities have said they have discovered roughly 600 images allegedly taken by Mark Berndt, 61, in his classroom.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Marcelita Haynes set the next hearing for March 28.

Berndt's lawyer is asking to see all of the photographs seized by investigators, but the district attorney's office has only given him copies of 200 photos of the 23 alleged victims who have been identified.

Berndt did not speak during the short hearing.

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Filed under: California • Courts • Crime • Justice
February 21st, 2012
01:40 PM ET

Inside Syria: 'I can guarantee ... people will starve to death'

Editor's note: CNN correspondent Arwa Damon recently spent some time in Baba Amr, a neighborhood in Homs, Syria, a city that has been a flashpoint in a months-long uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Government forces have shelled parts of the city especially Baba Amr, a bastion of anti-government sentiment for more than two weeks, damaging houses and other buildings and leaving many dead and wounded.

Damon was one of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been placing restrictions on journalists and refusing many of them entry. Below is the latest in a string of edited accounts of what Damon and her team saw and heard from activists in Homs:

Virtually no food has come into Baba Amr since the shelling began more than two weeks ago, activists say. So, the residents who are gathered in makeshift bunkers collect what food they can find there and carefully ration it though those supplies are running out.

Some of what they’ve gathered comes from, among other places, stores that have been hit by artillery fire.

“We take the products to distribute so they don’t go to waste. We keep track of everything we took to reimburse the owners,” an activist says.

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4.0 quake jolts Missouri
February 21st, 2012
12:14 PM ET

4.0 quake jolts Missouri

Residents across 13 states reported feeling a 4.0-magnitude earthquake that struck southeastern Missouri early Tuesday.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports the temblor struck at 3:58 a.m. Central time with an epicenter nine miles east-southeast of Sikeston, Missouri, and 16 miles southwest of Cairo, Illinois. The quake was at a depth of 3.1 miles.

It was felt in 13 states, with the furthest location from the epicenter being New Bern, North Carolina, more than 800 miles to the east, according to reports to the USGS. Besides Missouri, Illinois and North Carolina, residents in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma reported feeling the quake.

Did you feel the earthquake? Share your story on CNN iReport.

Lonnie Thurmond, city administrator in East Prairie, Missouri, about five miles from the epicenter of the quake, said he'd gotten reports of things falling from shelves and off walls when the quake hit, but no reports of major damage.

But he said he expected his community would be getting reports of underground service line breaks over the next few weeks as that is what usually happens when quakes hit the area, which sits near the New Madrid fault.

"Some water lines will be broken," Thurmond said. "It's just inevitable."

Thurmond said the quake jolted the entire community awake in the early morning darkness.

"It seems like there was not anyone it didn't wake up," he said, adding that his father, who lives near the epicenter, told him it sounded like a meteor had hit.

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Filed under: Earthquake • Missouri • Natural Disasters
Gotta Watch: Bacon Mania
Bacon isn't just for breakfast anymore, as proven by today's Gotta Watch.
February 21st, 2012
11:51 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Bacon Mania

What food could you see being added to just about anything and making it better? If your answer is bacon, you are not alone. Wondering why bacon has become so popular, we reached out to Kat Kinsman, managing editor of CNN’s Eatocracy blog.

“Bacon, the food, is, full-stop delicious, but so are plenty of other foods. Bacon, the concept, has taken on a life of its own.” It's shorthand, Kinsman said, for, “Hey, I’m a food freak, but I don’t take myself too seriously.”

"Pork, fat and salt are pretty much the antithesis of what any nutritionist would counsel you to eat" Kinsman said.

But, as Pete Wells quoted a bacon maker’s wife as saying in his 2003 James Beard Award-winning essay, "Captain Bacon," “And if I can't have bacon on my salad, I just don't care about it."

From a bacon-wrapped pork dish to the fan-favorite Bakon Vodka, we’ve got your craving covered with today’s Gotta Watch.

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Baconpocalypse Now

Where else does a walking slab of bacon fit right in! The annual event known as “Baconpocalypse Now”, now in its fifth year, is a bacon festival for bacon lovers, by bacon lovers. If you think bacon and butterscotch cupcakes sound amazing, this video is for you.

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Bacon-n-booze

It’s tough to say what the oddest taste to pair with bacon would be but we’re pretty sure this would top most people’s list. The brain child of Seattle-based Black Rock Spirits, Bakon Vodka has recently become a hit.

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Bacon explosion

What do you get when you wrap a layer of bacon around a chunk of spicy sausage and crumbled bacon? A precursor to an angioplasty? Maybe. Or, a 5,000-calorie dish called the Bacon Explosion. Interested in creating this meat-lovers lunacy for yourself? This video will show you how.

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Filed under: Food • Gotta Watch
February 21st, 2012
11:34 AM ET

Life resurrected from prehistoric seeds

Russian scientists say they've grown a flowering plant from material extracted from seeds deposited in the Siberian permafrost 30,000 years ago.

The work of the scientists at the Institute of Cell Biophysics in Russia is creating a worldwide buzz after being published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States.

Previously, the oldest known seed material that has been able to produce life was from about 2,000 years ago, science writer Ed Yong reports in a Discover magazine blog giving details of the work of the Russian breakthrough.

The plants, named silene stenophylla, are from a time when wooly mammoths and saber-tooth cats lived in Siberia. Their 300-century path to life began when squirrels brought the fruit of the plant and the immature seeds the fruit contained into a riverbank burrow. As the climate cooled, the burrow was covered with layers of ice and the seeds were preserved by temperatures of minus-7 degrees Celsius (19.4 degrees Fahrenheit), according to Yong's report.

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Filed under: Russia • Science
February 21st, 2012
10:44 AM ET

3 killed in Mexican prison riot

At least three people were killed in a prison riot Tuesday in northern Mexico, a Nuevo Leon state security spokesman said.

Jorge Domene said the riot happened in a prison in Topo Chico, about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the site of another prison riot on Sunday that left at least 44 people dead.

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Filed under: Mexico
February 21st, 2012
09:46 AM ET

'Beloved' Homs now 'a bleeding wound'

The besieged Syrian city of Homs endured more bloodshed Tuesday as security forces pounded restive areas and killed at least 18 people in the defiant Baba Amr neighborhood, activists said.

Along with Baba Amr, security forces shelled the Homs neighborhoods of Khalidiya and Karam al-Zaytoon, according to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Three of those killed were children, including a baby, the group said. The government's siege against the recalcitrant city, an epicenter of opposition, has persisted for more than two weeks and shows no signs of ending.

The offensive prevailed as the Syrian crackdown against opposition forces is now almost a year old. The crackdown has been condemned by many world powers, and the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition activist network, estimates almost 9,000 people have been killed since the crackdown and uprising flared.

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Filed under: Syria
February 21st, 2012
09:30 AM ET

Coalition: Quran burning at Afghan base "a mistake"

Some Qurans and other Islamic religious materials gathered for disposal from a detention facility at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan were improperly burned, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force said Tuesday.

"This was not a decision that was made because they were religious materials," Gen. John Allen said. "It was not a decision that was made with respect to the faith of Islam. It was a mistake. It was an error. The moment we found out about it, we immediately stopped and we intervened."

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the airfield Tuesday, furious over reports of the burning.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Islam
February 21st, 2012
09:10 AM ET

Iran threatens preemptive action

Iran warned Tuesday it would strike against an "enemy" threatening it if needed to protect its national interests - even if the enemy didn't attack first.

Gen. Mohammad Hejazi, a deputy head of Iran's armed forces, said his country "will no more wait to see enemy action against us," according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.

"Given this strategy, we will make use of all our means to protect our national interests and hit a retaliatory blow at them whenever we feel that enemies want to endanger our national interests," Hejazi said.

Fars added that in November, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had "warned enemies about Iran's tough response to any aggression or even threat."

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Filed under: Iran
February 21st, 2012
07:45 AM ET

Tuesday's live events

The race to the Republican presidential nomination continues Wednesday with a GOP debate in Phoenix, Arizona.  CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

11:00 am ET - Gingrich in Oklahoma - GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich will address a session of the Oklahoma State Legislature in Oklahoma City.

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Filed under: Elections • Politics • Republican Party
February 21st, 2012
03:35 AM ET

Relentless shelling in Syria kills 7, including baby, opposition group says

While aid workers struggle to access the most devastated parts of Syria, families in the ravaged city of Homs wonder when the misery inflicted by government forces will end.

Seven people - including a baby - died Tuesday from fresh shelling on three Homs neighborhoods, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition activist group.

"My husband died on the first day of the bombing. They didn't let me see his body; it was shredded to pieces. His blood is still in the streets," says Umm Khidir, one of several mothers holed up in a makeshift shelter after a weeks-long bombing campaign on the city.

She said her son is sick with a fever, but there's no medicine.

"He keeps crying and saying, 'I want daddy, I want daddy.' I can't bring his daddy back," she said, demanding to know why the world is not coming to their aid. "What is the world waiting for? For us to die of hunger and fear?"

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Syria • World
February 21st, 2012
03:24 AM ET

Report of Quran burning sparks protests at Afghan base

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the Baghram Airfield in Afghanistan on Tuesday, spurred by reports that soldiers had burned a copy of the Quran at the base.

NATO officials acknowledged that Islamic religious materials, including copies of the Quran, had been improperly disposed at the base, but could not definitely say whether any was burned.

"We think very little was disposed (of)," said Col. Gary Kolb. "We don't think any was burned because we were able to recover most of the materials."

The commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan quickly apologized and said he had launched an investigation.

"I offer my sincere apologies for any offense this may have caused, to the President of Afghanistan, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and most importantly, to the noble people of Afghanistan," Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said.

"I assure you ... I promise you ... this was NOT intentional in any way," he said in a statement.

Local citizens who work at the base discovered the material that been put into a burn pit at the base by NATO personnel and alerted officials.

"When we learned of these actions, we immediately intervened and stopped them," Allen said. "The materials recovered will be properly handled by appropriate religious authorities."

Soon after, up to 1,000 demonstrators gathered outside the base. The protests were peaceful, authorities said.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • World
February 21st, 2012
01:40 AM ET

Strauss-Kahn to be questioned over alleged prostitution ring

Dominique Strauss Khan, the former International Monetary Fund chief, is scheduled to be questioned Tuesday by authorities investigating an alleged prostitution ring operating out of two hotels in France.

Last year, Strauss-Khan urged police to question him, saying it would help clear his name.

At the time, his attorneys released a statement saying Strauss-Khan wanted to address the so-called "media lynching" that he says falsely links him to sex parties with prostitutes in Europe and the United States.

The investigation kicked off in October and centered around the northern French city of Lille, where investigators began looking into claims that luxury hotels served as a base for a high-profile prostitution network.

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Filed under: Crime • World
February 21st, 2012
01:23 AM ET

Yemen holds presidential election with 1 candidate

There is only one name on the ballot Tuesday as Yemen goes to the polls to replace longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh. And yet, the election is a historic one because it signifies the formal end of Saleh's 33-year reign.

Vice President Abdurabu Mansur Hadi, who took over when Saleh stepped down in November after months of protests, insisted on standing for election. He has said he wants to make his presidency official.

Security around the capital and elsewhere was tight Tuesday. Around Sanaa, posters of Hadi has replaced images of Saleh.

"A New President for a New Yemen," read a large banner that hung from Change Square, which had been the epicenter of the anti-government movement last year.

Some who took part in the protests said they were not particularly excited about Tuesday's vote.

"Maybe you can call them elections," said Nadia Abdullah. "But for me, elections should have more than one candidate."

Abdullah said she would stand by Hadi as long as he made good on his promises.

"If he goes through with it, we will stand hand-in-hand with him," she said. "If he doesn't, or if we see a lot of game-playing between him and the government, I believe the youth will remain in the squares. They would say, 'Leave,' as they did to Ali Abdullah Saleh."

The 65-year-old Hadi is a British-, Egyptian- and Soviet-trained army officer, recently promoted to the rank of field marshal. He has served as vice president since 1994 and is running for a two-year term as president on pledges of improving security and creating more jobs.

But he's never had much of a power base of his own, and Yemen's problems will take much longer to fix than the two-year mandate he's expected to receive. It's the poorest country in the Middle East, with a severe shortage of water and rising levels of malnutrition among its population of about 25 million.

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Filed under: World • Yemen