September 18th, 2012
06:21 PM ET

Chicago teachers vote to suspend strike

[Updated at 6:43 p.m. ET] Delegates for striking Chicago Public Schools teachers voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to suspend their nine-day strike, meaning classes will resume Wednesday, according to delegates who attended a union meeting.

About 800 delegates from the teachers union gathered at midafternoon to vote on whether to suspend the walkout, which began September 10.

The vote came a day after school officials asked a judge to declare the strike illegal and order the teachers back to work. A Cook County judge had scheduled a hearing on that request Wednesday.

Any contract agreement with the school system would need to be ratified by the more than 29,000 members of the union. The strike has kept about 350,000 students out of class for seven school days.

Teachers walked off the job September 10, objecting to a longer school day, evaluations tied to student performance and job losses from school closings.

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Filed under: Education • Illinois
NFL Films pioneer Steve Sabol dies at 69
Steve Sabol speaks on behalf of his father, Ed, in Dallas after the elder Sabol was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
September 18th, 2012
03:48 PM ET

NFL Films pioneer Steve Sabol dies at 69

NFL Films President Steve Sabol, who helped his father establish the Emmy-winning production company that changed the way people viewed professional football, died Tuesday after an 18-month battle with brain cancer, the NFL said.

He was 69.

NFL Films, which has filmed every NFL game since 1965, produced weekly highlight shows in the days before sports cable networks, breaking away from highlight reels of the past by showing action in slow motion with multiple ground-level cameras, with stirring music and sound from the sidelines.

The company was founded by his father, Ed Sabol, but Steve was with the outfit from the beginning and took it over in 1987, helping it become a business with revenue of tens of millions of dollars, with programs on several networks.

“Steve Sabol was the creative genius behind the remarkable work of NFL Films,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell said in a statement. “Steve’s passion for football was matched by his incredible talent and energy.”

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Filed under: Football • Pro football • Sports • Uncategorized
September 18th, 2012
02:31 PM ET

Egypt charges Coptic Christians linked to infamous video

Egyptian authorities have charged seven Coptic Christians living in the United States and a Florida pastor of insulting Islam and inciting sectarian strife for their alleged links to an online video that has enraged much of the Muslim world.

Egypt's public prosecutor announced the charges Tuesday, the latest development in the deadly backlash against the low-budget, amateurish 14-minute movie trailer produced privately in the United States and posted on YouTube. The clip from "The Innocence of Muslims" mocks the Muslim Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and killer.

"Innocence of Muslims" was an obscure Internet video until September 11, when rioters, seizing on it, breached the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Protesters also attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

The charges - largely symbolic because the accused all live abroad - name alleged filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who is identified by Egyptian officials as Elia Bassili.

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Filed under: Egypt • Middle East • Protest
Atlanta Falcons star running back arrested on suspicion of drunk driving
Michael Turner carries the ball against the Denver Broncos Monday night. Hours later, he was charged with DUI.
September 18th, 2012
11:44 AM ET

Atlanta Falcons star running back arrested on suspicion of drunk driving

Michael Turner, a star running back for the Atlanta Falcons, has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol after being clocked at 97 mph on an Atlanta-area interstate, police said Tuesday.

Turner, 30, nicknamed "The Burner" because of his speed on the football field, was driving a black Audi R8 in a 65-mph zone on northbound Interstate 85 around 4 a.m. Tuesday, the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department said. An officer pulled him over, and after smelling alcohol and investigating further, he charged Turner with DUI and speeding, the Sheriff's Department said.

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Filed under: Crime • Sports • U.S.
Blue Jays shortstop suspended after homophobic slur on eye black
Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar is shown in a game Friday night.
September 18th, 2012
11:15 AM ET

Blue Jays shortstop suspended after homophobic slur on eye black

Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar has been suspended for three games after a photo emerged from Saturday's game showing him with a Spanish homophobic slur in his eye black, the substance ballplayers put below their eyes to reduce the sun's glare.

Escobar acknowledged being the author of the message, but was reticent about the underlying meaning of the words.

"It was not something I intended to be offensive," Escobar said through a translator. "It's something I just put on the sticker on my face."

The team said it met with Escobar, Major League Baseball officials and the MLB Players Association and decided the shortstop will be suspended without pay. The salary he forfeits will be donated to the groups You Can Play and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD.)

"The Blue Jays want to reaffirm that discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated," the team said in a statement announcing the suspension.

Escobar said his actions were not intentional or directed at anyone in particular and he wanted to apologize to anyone he offended.

"I don’t have anything against homosexuals," Escobar said. "I have friends who are gay. I'd like to ask for the apology of all those who have been offended by this."

Maria Cristina Cuervo, a Spanish professor at the University of Toronto, told Toronto Star columnist Cathal Kelly on Tuesday that the word "is derogatory, but it’s not necessarily homophobic," and in some Spanish-speaking countries such as Argentina, it is more of a teasing insult.

Escobar did not say specifically what he thought the words on his eye black meant, but added the phrase was something that's "been said amongst Latinos."

"It's not something meant to be offensive," he said. "For us, it didn't have the significance to the way it's being interpreted right now. It's a word used often with teens."

When pressed further by reporters, Escobar said that the words he wrote have different meanings depending on how you say it and who you say it to. Reporters then asked what he specifically meant.

"I didn't mean to say anything with it," he said.

Escobar added he has several gay friends, including the person who decorates his house and who cuts his hair. He said those people told him they were not as offended as the larger community.

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Filed under: Baseball • Canada • Sports
September 18th, 2012
09:31 AM ET

132 inmates escape Mexican prison on U.S. border

Mexican authorities have detained a prison director and two other prison officials after 132 inmates escaped from the facility Monday, officials said.

The attorney general for Coahuila state had asked a judge to detain the three prison leaders for 30 days while an investigation into the escape from the border city of Piedras Negras began.

Piedras Negras is across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas, and about 150 miles from San Antonio.

The inmates escaped one by one from what's known as a social rehabilitation center, a minimum-security facility, by using a 7-foot-long tunnel, according to a statement from the state attorney general. The escapees then cut through a chain-link fence and ran through an empty lot.

The tunnel, which was about 4 feet wide and nearly 10 feet deep, began inside a wood shop inside in the prison, authorities said.

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Filed under: Mexico
2012 hottest year on record, federal agency says
September 18th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

2012 hottest year on record, federal agency says

The first eight months of 2012 were the hottest ever recorded in the continental United States and the summer period of June, July and August was the third hottest ever, the National Climatic Data Center reported Monday.

Although the August average of 74.4 degrees Fahrenheit made it only the 16th hottest August on record, the hottest July ever combined with the hottest spring on record to keep January-August 2012 atop the record books.

The nation as a whole is averaging 4 degrees Fahrenheit above average for the year. That's a full degree higher than the same period in 2006, the second hottest January-August on record.

Record keeping began in 1895.

The record warmth is a constant for from cities north to south, from Fargo, North Dakota, at 5.7 degrees F above average, to Tampa, Florida, at 2.2 degrees F above average. Green Bay, Wisconsin, posted the biggest difference to the average, 6.7 degrees F above.

The hottest temperature recorded for the month was 126 degrees F in Death Valley, California, recently recognized as the hottest place on Earth.

If you were looking colder than normal weather, the West Coast was the place to be. San Diego was .2 degrees F below normal for the year, San Francisco was 1 degree F below normal, Portland, Oregon, .7 degrees F below normal and Seattle, 1.1 degrees F below normal.

Outside the continental 48, Alaska and Hawaii temperatures were also below normal.

Meanwhile, drought conditions continued to affect a large chunk of the 48 states. The portion of the country experiencing exceptional drought, the worst level of drought, doubled in August to 6%, the NCDC reported. Overall, 39% of the country was in severe to extreme drought, "indicating that the drought has intensified," it said. Only the droughts of the 1930s and 1950s have been worse, the agency said.

Drought by the numbers

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Filed under: Heat • Weather
September 18th, 2012
03:29 AM ET

Gambia frees 2 Americans imprisoned for treason; agrees to halt executions

Two American citizens serving long prison sentences for treason in Gambia will return to the United States Tuesday night after the Rev. Jesse Jackson made a face-to-face appeal for their release to President Yahya Jammeh.

In a separate concession, Jammeh agreed to halt indefinitely dozens of executions he had originally planned to carry out by mid September, according to Jackson's non-profit Rainbow Push Coalition.

The tiny West African nation last executed an inmate about 30 years ago, but in August the president announced he would have all death row prisoners put to death - 47 in total.

The pronouncement sparked the outrage of human rights activists around the world and was the catalyst for Jackson's trip "to plead for mercy."

The freed Americans were not on death row.

One them, Amadou Scattred Janneh, was serving a life sentence for printing and distributing T-shirts critical of Jammeh, according to Amnesty International. The T-shirts bore the slogan "End Dictatorship Now."

Janneh once served as Gambia's minister of information, and also taught at the University of Tennessee.

The second man, Tamsir Jasseh, who served in the U.S. military during Operation Desert Storm, was serving a 20-year sentence for his role in a failed coup against the president.

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Filed under: World
September 18th, 2012
01:29 AM ET

Deadly attack in Afghanistan a response to anti-Islam film

An insurgent group that carried out a suicide attack that killed eight foreigners and their interpreter in Afghanistan on Tuesday said it was in response to the anti-Islam film that has angered the Muslim world.

Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, a group allied with the Taliban, said a 22-year-woman drove a car packed with 660 pounds (300 kg) of explosives into a van on a road leading to the Kabul International Airport.

Ten others were wounded in the attack.

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Filed under: World