Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days
Police in Pakistan determined Rimsha Masih, 14, is innocent after being framed by an imam for desecrating the Quran.
September 30th, 2012
03:17 PM ET

Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days

Here is a look at some of the stories that CNN plans to follow this week:

Obama, Romney square off in Colorado

The first debate between President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney happens Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET, and the economy is expected to be the topic for about half of the 90 minutes.

Though the topics could change because of news developments, the other half is expected to focus on health care, the role of government, and governing, according to the organizers of the debate at the University of Denver.

iReport.com: What questions would you like to ask the candidates?

Debate preview: Both sides trying to manage expectations

Last Thursday's CNN Poll of Polls, an average of five national polls of likely voters conducted over a week and a half, showed Obama with a 49% to 45% lead over Romney.

Blasphemy case against Pakistani teen could be nearing end

A juvenile court in Pakistan on Monday is expected to consider a police investigators' determination that a 14-year-old girl is innocent of allegations that she desecrated the Quran.

Pakistani police told CNN their investigation concluded Rimsha Masih is innocent and was framed by an imam. The girl faced life in prison on allegations that she burned pages of the Quran to use as cooking fuel. But Rimsha's lawyers said the accuser wanted to settle a personal score with the girl because the two didn't get along.

The teen's case sparked international outcry against the Pakistani government, some saying that its blasphemy laws are used to settle scores and persecute religious minorities.

Will Pennsylvania voter ID law stand?

A Pennsylvania judge is expected to rule by Tuesday on whether the state's new voter identification law disenfranchises voters.

The judge upheld the law earlier this year, but the state's Supreme Court sent it back to him to reassess whether alternative forms of identification are sufficiently available. The law requires that most voters show photo identification before casting ballots.

The law's opponents said the measure undermines the ability of registered voters to vote and that it was passed without sufficient evidence of prior identity fraud. Its backers argue the law strengthens voting procedures and protects against fraud.

Ex-Cub getting long-delayed major-league at-bat

Seven years after Adam Greenberg was hit in the head by a pitch in his first Major League Baseball plate appearance, he's finally going to get a chance to get a complete MLB at-bat.

Greenberg, who hasn't been to the majors since that injury with the Cubs in 2005, is expected to take an at-bat for the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night, during their game against the visiting New York Mets.

The Marlins the very team that knocked him out of his July 2005 game signed him to a one-day contract last week so that he could bat in Tuesday's game, the penultimate match of the regular season. A filmmaker's campaign, including an online petition, helped persuade the Marlins to give Greenberg the chance.

Greenberg, 31, last played professionally for Bridgeport in the independent Atlantic League in 2011, but has been working out and served as a reserve outfielder for Team Israel in World Baseball Classic qualifying games this month.

Who wants James Bond's 2008 Aston Martin?

Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the release of the first James Bond film "Dr. No." What better to celebrate than to buy Bond's 2008 Aston Martin 6 Litre V12 DBS two-door coupe?

The car, used by actor Daniel Craig in "Quantum of Solace," is expected to attract up to £150,000 at an auction at Christie’s action house in London on Friday. Friday's event will sell the car and nine other items relating to the films. Forty other items are being auctioned online through October 8.

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FC Barcelona invites Palestinians to Madrid match after Gilad Shalit row
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is sidetracking "El Clásico," a game normally known for featuring the world's biggest stars.
September 28th, 2012
03:46 PM ET

FC Barcelona invites Palestinians to Madrid match after Gilad Shalit row

It's not often a sporting event can stoke the tensions of one of the world's longest-running conflicts, but news that an ex-prisoner and Israeli soldier would attend a Spanish soccer match next month did just that.

Gilad Shalit, who was freed in October 2011 after more than five years as a Palestinian prisoner, is expected to attend next month's "El Clásico," a match between Spanish powerhouses FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. This game, which will be played at Barcelona's Camp Nou on October 7, is one of the world's biggest rivalries.

Despite several reports that Barcelona had extended the invitation to Shalit, the club announced in a Thursday statement that wasn't the case.

Gilad Shalit is expected to attend next month's soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

"The Club did not invite Mr. Shalit to the game, but accepted a request to watch a match during his visit to Barcelona," the statement said.

Barcelona said it also accepted a Palestinian Embassy request that three of its delegates - Palestinian Authority Ambassador Musa Amer Odeh, Palestinian Football Union President Jibril Rajoub and soccer player and activist Mahmoud Sarsak - be invited to the game.

Though the club statement said the three would attend, the Palestinian-run blog, The Electronic Intifada, cited two reports saying that Sarsak would reject the invitation.

Sarsak was freed from an Israeli prison in June following a three-month hunger strike. The player's refusal to eat prompted Amnesty International to issue a statement saying Sarsak should be released or provided with medical treatment.

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Filed under: Human rights • Israel • Palestinians • Soccer • Sports • World
September 28th, 2012
11:10 AM ET

Stay of execution issued for convicted killer

A Philadelphia judge ruled Friday to stay the execution of Pennsylvania convicted killer Terrance Williams and grant a new penalty phase in the case.

Williams, 46, was scheduled to be executed on October 3. No one disputes that Williams beat Amos Norwood to death with a tire iron in 1984 or that he should be in prison.

But his defense team says information that Norwood had allegedly sexually abused Williams was withheld from the trial, and his life should be spent in a cell.

Philadelphia Judge M. Teresa Sarmina on Friday found "reasonable probability" that the verdict might have been different had allegations of abuse surfaced during the initial case and that the relationship between the two men had been established but not disclosed.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Courts • Crime • Death Penalty • Justice • Pennsylvania
 The mystery of Jimmy Hoffa
September 28th, 2012
10:48 AM ET

New chapter in Jimmy Hoffa search: Police drill at Michigan home

Police will drill outside a suburban Detroit residence Friday in the search for Jimmy Hoffa, the labor strongman whose disappearance is one of the most notorious and mysterious in U.S. history.

A tipster told police that a body was buried at the spot in Roseville, Michigan, around the same time the Teamsters boss disappeared in 1975.

The tipster did not claim it was Hoffa's body, authorities said.

Police Chief James Berlin told CNN on Thursday that while the tipster's information seems credible, he's not convinced the body is Hoffa's because of the timeline. He spoke with the tipster on August 22 and says he believes the person did see a burial.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Crime • Michigan
Bonnie and Clyde auction
September 28th, 2012
09:01 AM ET

Bonnie and Clyde's guns go up for auction

If you happen to be a crime aficionado and have a bunch of extra cash on lying around you just might have a chance to nab two very historic weapons.

The guns recovered from the bodies of notorious gangster couple Bonnie and Clyde are expected to fetch more than $100,000 each at an auction on Sunday, an auction official said.

The Colt .45 was found in Clyde Barrow's waistband, and the .38-caliber Colt was strapped to one of Bonnie Parker's legs on May 23, 1934, when they were killed in an ambush near Gibsland, Louisiana.

"This is one of the finest Bonnie and Clyde collections you will ever see," said Bobby Livingston, vice president of RR Auction in Amherst, New Hampshire. "We expect the guns should sell anywhere between $100,000 and $200,000. But really the sky is the limit for these types of guns."

In January, a submachine gun and shotgun reportedly seized at one of Bonnie and Clyde's hideouts was sold by a Kansas City auction firm for $130,000 and $80,000, respectively, The Joplin Globe reported.

According to the website for RR Auction, the Colt Model 1911 U.S. Army pistol was Barrow's "personal pistol." When police officers searched the car Bonnie and Clyde were driving when they were gunned down, they found many weapons, including nine other Colts, but this was the one he favored, Livingston said.

FULL POST

September 28th, 2012
07:43 AM ET

Friday's live events

President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney hold their first debate October 3 from the campus of the University of Denver.  Watch CNN.com Live for all the latest coverage from the debate.

Today's programming highlights...

12:00 pm ET - Biden in Florida - Vice President Joe Biden spends his day campaigning in Florida, starting with an event in Boca Raton.  He'll then travel to Tamarac for a 3:00 pm ET campaign stop.

12:05 pm ET - Romney's academy rally - GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will speak at a so-called "victory rally" at a military academy in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

CNN.com Live is your home for breaking news as it happens.

 


Filed under: Elections • On CNN.com today • Politics
September 28th, 2012
05:02 AM ET

Real refs return to cheers

The real referees were greeted with a standing ovation Thursday night as they returned to the field after a new contract was announced less than a day earlier.

It may be the last time fans will voice their opinion on the recent NFL lockout that brought replacement referees to the football field.

Thursday's 23 to 16 win by the Baltimore Ravens over the Cleveland Browns went on without much controversy, a far cry from the gaffe-filled display that punctuated the first three weeks of the professional football season.

Before Thursday's game NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he was sorry the league felt it had to resort to the replacements, few of whom had any previous NFL officiating experience. Many were high school or low-level college officials who hold down myriad other jobs, from schoolteachers to attorneys.

That ended Wednesday night when the NFL stuck a deal with officials.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Sports • U.S.
September 28th, 2012
02:31 AM ET

Britons and Chinese reported to be among 19 dead in Nepal plane crash

A plane caught fire and crashed soon after taking off from the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu, killing all 19 people on board, the Himalayan country's Civil Aviation Authority said Friday.

There were 16 passengers and three crew members on the Dornier Aircraft when it crashed near the Manohara River in Bhaktapur District, the Civil Aviation Authority said. The river is in the same valley as Kathmandu.

The passengers included seven Britons and five Chinese citizens, said Sameer Neupane, an official at Sita Air, which was operating the flight.

The other people killed were four Nepali passengers and the three Nepali crew members, Neupane said, who cited the plane's passenger list.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

FULL STORY

Filed under: World
September 28th, 2012
02:27 AM ET

Michigan teen targeted in homecoming 'prank' gets last laugh

A Michigan teen is making the most of a homecoming prank that she says left her feeling suicidal.

Whitney Kropp, a self-described outcast with just a handful of close friends at Ogemaw Heights High School, was picked to be the female representative of the sophomore class royalty. It certainly came as a shock.

But hours later, the 16-year-old learned classmates voted for her as a joke. She spent the night in tears.

"I'm like, 'Wow, I feel like trash,'" Kropp said. "I feel like I'm a little thing that no one really cares about."

That night, she said, she contemplated ending her life "right here, right now."

But thanks to a push from her family and friends, she decided to embrace what happened and turn the tables.

FULL STORY

Filed under: U.S.
NFL fans on Twitter hyped for refs' return
NFL officials -- the genuine article -- get ready for Thursday night's game in Baltimore.
September 27th, 2012
08:14 PM ET

NFL fans on Twitter hyped for refs' return

Football fans were rejoicing Thursday that the NFL's real officials were going to be back on the field for the evening's midweek matchup between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. Replacement officials hired by the NFL during a lockout of the regular officials had endured increasing criticism over a long list of what appeared to be bad calls.

Early arrivals at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium gave a rousing cheer to the game's seven officials, led by referee Gene Steratore, as they took the field before Thursday night's kickoff.

Once news got out that the lockout had been resolved, NFL fans on Twitter let fly with some ref-fueled humor:

FULL POST

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Batter beaned in only MLB appearance getting 2nd shot
Adam Greenberg, then with the Cubs organization, is seen during spring training in 2005.
September 27th, 2012
05:55 PM ET

Batter beaned in only MLB appearance getting 2nd shot

Adam Greenberg wasn’t in a bright mood Saturday. The former Chicago Cub  famously hit in the head in his only Major League plate appearance had just watched Spain knock out his team, Israel, in World Baseball Classic qualifying in Florida.

A friend approached him after the game, saying he had someone on the phone with good news. The Team Israel reserve outfielder said he didn’t particularly want to hear it, but his friend insisted.

The man on the phone was Miami Marlins General Manager David Sampson. The Marlins the very team that knocked him out of his only MLB game seven years ago wanted to give him a full Major League at-bat.

“He ended up smiling after all,” filmmaker Matt Liston the friend and the man who’s pushed full-time for Greenberg’s return told CNN by phone Thursday.

The Marlins on Thursday confirmed what they told Greenberg over the weekend: They’ve signed the 31-year-old former prospect to a one-day contract so he can finally have a proper MLB at-bat on Tuesday, when the Marlins host the Mets in their penultimate game of the season.

Opinion: Baseball, get tough on pitchers who hit batters

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Filed under: Baseball • Florida • Illinois • Sports
24 hours through the lens
September 27th, 2012
05:05 PM ET

Mash-up: Lil Wayne's legal mind

The CNN Daily Mash-up is a roundup of some of the most interesting, surprising, curious, poignant or significant items to appear on CNN.com in the past 24 hours. We top it with a collection of the day's most striking photographs from around the world.

Lil Wayne gives quite a performance

Faithful celebrate 'no matter where'

iReporter Theodros Arega captured vibrant images of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrating the annual Meskel religious festival in Stockholm, Sweden.

The festival commemorates what they believe is the finding of "the true cross" by St. Helena in the fourth century. The highlight of the festival is a Demera ceremony, where a massive bonfire is lighted and attendees celebrate with songs.

"Many Ethiopians who live abroad stick to their culture and tradition no matter where they live and how difficult it is," he said. "I'd never been to this beautiful celebration in Stockholm, and I was eager to document it."

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September 27th, 2012
01:26 PM ET

'About time,' players, fans say as NFL officials return

The National Football League's regular referees will return to the field Thursday night after reaching a tentative labor deal that kicked replacement officials to the curb, ending a major source of frustration and embarrassment for fans, players and the league.

In place of the replacement referees, most of whom had officiated no more than a handful of pro games, the league put together a veteran crew with a combined 70 seasons of NFL experience to handle Thursday night's game between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens, the first since league owners lifted the lockout Wednesday night.

"Never thought I would be excited for the refs to come back to work but it's about time," Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Cribbs tweeted Thursday. "It was definitely necessary!"

The eight-year deal - the longest ever for officials, according to the NFL - gives the union referees a pay raise and keeps their pension program in place for five years.

It suspends a lockout that began before the league's preseason, leading to a series of gaffes that climaxed in a furor over a botched call that allowed the Seattle Seahawks to walk away with a victory in Monday night's nationally televised game. The league acknowledged Tuesday that the Green Bay Packers should have won, but allowed the result of the game to stand.

Union members still must ratify the deal, but the league has lifted the lockout to allow crews to handle games, pending that vote.

While they have not called a game since last season, the league's veteran crews will be ready to go, said retired official Mason "Red" Cashion.

"These guys have been working every week, really since May, to get ready for the season, through conference calls, through video, through meetings of their own," Cashion said. "And that's something that the officials have done simply because they have enough pride in what they do that they wanted to be ready. And they are ready."

The eight-year deal includes details about officials' pensions and retirement benefits, and adds a pay bump from $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013. The pay will rise to $205,000 by 2019.

The agreement will also allow the NFL to hire some officials on a year-round basis and hire additional referees so they can be trained.

"This agreement supports long-term reforms that will make officiating better. The teams, players and fans want and deserve both consistency and quality in officiating," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

The return of the league's regular referees won't put an end to controversial calls, said retired NFL player Tiki Barber. But it will raise the respect level between coaches and players and officials, Barber said.

"There's still going to be arguing with referees," he said. "They're still going to make bad calls. But now we're going to know that it's coming from a base of knowledge. These guys know what they're talking about and they're going to have an argument for why they do what they do on the field."

The deal came almost exactly 48 hours after the controversial ending of the Monday night game, which the Seahawks won 14-12 after replacement officials gave possession of a disputed ball, and a touchdown, to Seattle receiver Golden Tate.

FULL STORY
New chapter in Jimmy Hoffa search: Police to drill beneath Michigan home
Jimmy Hoffa at the Teamster's Union Convention.
September 27th, 2012
01:18 PM ET

New chapter in Jimmy Hoffa search: Police to drill beneath Michigan home

Police will drill outside a suburban Detroit residence Friday in the search for Jimmy Hoffa, the labor strongman whose disappearance is one of the most notorious and mysterious in U.S. history.

A tipster told police that a body was buried at the spot in Roseville, Michigan, at around the same time the Teamsters boss disappeared in 1975.

The tipster did not claim it was Hoffa's body, authorities said.

Police Chief James Berlin told CNN Thursday that while the tipster's information seems credible, he's not convinced the body is Hoffa's because of the timeline. He spoke with the tipster on August 22, and believes the person did see a burial.

The tipster did not come forward sooner out of fear, said Berlin.

Dan Moldea, author of "The Hoffa Wars," told CNN the tipster, a former gambler, contacted him on March 30. The tipster used to do business with a man who had ties to Anthony Giacalone, an organized crime figure who was supposed to meet Hoffa the day he disappeared, Moldea said.

"I am very skeptical," Moldea said of the planned dig. If Hoffa's burial had taken place at the spot, it would have been in full view of the neighborhood, the author argued.

And if Hoffa's body was disposed of, it would have been done in a way that no evidence would be left years later, he said.

At 10 a.m. Friday, crews will begin digging, police chief Berlin said. It shouldn't take long to get a sample, which will be taken to a forensic anthropologist at the University of Michigan for analysis.

The reading will determine whether there are human remains at the site, but will not identify them, Berlin said.

"It took us a while to get the proper equipment to do what we're going to do. If this is a person, they've been down there for 35 years. What's a few more days?" Berlin said.

Results from the soil testing should be available next week, the chief told CNN Wednesday.

FULL STORY
'Sons of Anarchy' actor dead in Hollywood murder mystery
"Sons of Anarchy" actor Johnny Lewis attends the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.
September 27th, 2012
01:14 PM ET

'Sons of Anarchy' actor dead in Hollywood murder mystery

The violent deaths of "Sons of Anarchy" actor Johnny Lewis and an elderly woman in an affluent Hollywood neighborhood Wednesday is a murder mystery for Los Angeles police.

Lewis, 28, whose acting resumé included "The O.C." and "Criminal Minds," died in the driveway of a three-story home in the Los Feliz neighborhood near Griffith Park, apparently after climbing on the roof and falling, police said Thursday.

Police, responding to a call from neighbors saying they heard screams for help from a woman inside the house, found Katherine Davis, 81, dead in what a police spokesman called a "gruesome scene."

"It appears that some type of altercation occurred inside the house, resulting in the death of the woman, then this individual ran outside and had an altercation with a couple of neighbors," LAPD Commander Andrew Smith told reporters.

Autopsies will be conducted Thursday on the bodies of Lewis and Davis, Los Angeles County Coroner's Lt. Larry Dietz said.

Police would not comment on the possibility of drugs being involved in the case.

Lewis is credited with playing Kip "Half Sack" Epps in 26 episodes of "Sons of Anarchy" in the FX Network drama's first two seasons, according to the Internet Movie Database. His character was killed off in the finale of season two.

"Sons" creator Kurt Sutter, in an extended Twitter posting Thursday, called Lewis' death "a tragic end for an extremely talented guy, who unfortunately had lost his way."

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Crime • Showbiz
September 27th, 2012
07:46 AM ET

Thursday's live events

President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney hold their first debate October 3 from the campus of the University of Denver.  Watch CNN.com Live for all the latest coverage from the election.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - UN General Assembly debate resumes - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are among the speakers scheduled to address today's session of the UN General Assembly.

FULL POST


Filed under: Elections • On CNN.com today • Politics • United Nations • World
September 27th, 2012
04:44 AM ET

Rare albino whale puts on a show off Australian coast

It may seem straight out of Moby Dick, but a rare white whale is thrilling Australians off the eastern coast.

The albino humpback has been nicknamed "Migaloo" by researchers who track his movements.

Albino whales are rare and Migaloo is the only documented all-white humpback adult, according to Peter Harrison, director of marine ecology research at Southern Cross University in Australia.

Migaloo was first seen in 1991 when he was a juvenile, Harrison says, and researchers believe he is now in his 20s.

The humpbacks are on their annual migration from their breeding grounds along the Great Barrier Reef back to feed in the Antarctic.

FULL STORY

Filed under: World
September 27th, 2012
04:41 AM ET

Country icon George Strait announces his final tour

Country music icon George Strait has announced his final concert go-round but stressed that he does not plan to ride into the sunset after his two-year "The Cowboy Rides Away Tour" ends in 2014.

"Don't think I'm retiring, because I'm not," Strait, who turned 60 this year, said at a press conference Wednesday at the Country Music and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.

"If a special event happens to come up somewhere I want to do, by all means, I'm going to do it," he said. "I hope I still have a lot of those left in me."

A likely prospect, if his future at all resembles his past.

Strait lays claim to 59 number one hits - at least one a year for 30 years – and 65 million albums sales, according to the news release announcing his final tour.

Straight broke into stardom with his 1981 album "Strait Country" and has cranked out an album almost every year since - in some years two, according to his discography on allmusic.com.

FULL STORY

Filed under: U.S.
NFL, refs agree to contract
September 26th, 2012
11:50 PM ET

NFL, refs agree to contract

The NFL and its locked-out referees have agreed to a contract, according to a statement from the NFL, and the regular officials will be on the field for Thursday night's Cleveland-Baltimore game.

The league has used replacement officials for the first three weeks of the regular season, as well as the pre-season, an a string of bad decisions have become fodder for jokes and criticism, highlighted by a game-deciding call on Monday night in the Packers-Seahawks game. Even politicians have gotten in on the act.

Reports throughout the day Wednesday indicated a deal was close, and the NFL even reported that the sides were closing in on an agreement.

Though the regular refs have been sitting out the league's games, they should be ready when the time comes, according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, who says that longtime ref Ed Hochuli has held training sessions to keep them sharp.


Filed under: Uncategorized
September 26th, 2012
08:16 PM ET

We asked, you answered: Are we really ready to take a look at 'real women'?

There is arguably not much shock value left in Lady Gaga’s out-there and often barely there wardrobe choices. But when the superstar singer decided to bare it all this week showing nothing but a simple bikini, her bod and a few extra pounds, the world stopped to stare – and comment - once again.

Gaga, admitting a longtime struggle with bulimia, proclaimed on her blog that she was embracing her new curves and urged her “little monsters” to do the same.

Photos: Gaga's new curves and most memorable looks

Meanwhile, fashion designer Ralph Lauren made headlines of its own by hiring Australian plus-size model Robyn Lawley. Lawley stands 6-foot-2 and wears a size 12.

The intense focus on fuller figures prompted Lesley Kinzel, associate editor at xoJane.com and the author of "Two Whole Cakes: How to Stop Dieting and Learn to Love Your Body" to write a piece for CNN.com asking our audience "Are we really ready to take a look at 'real women'?"

The CNN community responded to the question in droves. Check out our roundup of conversations about body image happening on CNN.com.

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