High court and gay marriage: A 'major event in American history'
December 7th, 2012
07:04 PM ET

High court and gay marriage: A 'major event in American history'

[Updated at 7:04 p.m. ET] The U.S. Supreme Court's announcement Friday that it will soon tackle the contentious issue of same-sex marriage is "a major event in American history, not just in Supreme Court history," CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said.

"The Supreme Court is not just going to decide whether the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional, they are also going to decide whether Proposition 8 in California whether the ban on same-sex marriage there is unconstitutional, and that could affect all 50 states," Toobin said.

The court says it will hear two appeals: one involving the federal Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA, which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples legally married in their own state; and one involving a challenge to California's Proposition 8, a voter-approved referendum that took away the right of same sex-marriage that previously had been approved by the state's courts. Read more about these cases.

Oral arguments in the high court appeal will likely be held in March, with a ruling by late June.

Here's some of what's being said about Friday afternoon's announcement:

Edith Windsor, who had a 42-year partnership with Thea Clara Spyer and is behind the DOMA case, told the Guardian's Adam Gabbat that she is "delirious with joy."

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Filed under: Same-sex marriage • Supreme Court
December 7th, 2012
02:39 PM ET

Rebels set their sights on Syria's capital

Emboldened rebels fighting to hasten the fall of Syria's regime set their sights on the capital, Damascus, as diplomats went into high gear amid concerns over chemical weapons.

"Our country will be free, we have no one but God," protesters rallying against President Bashar al-Assad chanted on Friday outside the capital in Douma. "The glad tidings are coming."

The war for control of Damascus is being waged in its suburbs, where rebel forces say the casualty count has increased in recent days. And so has talk of a turning point in Syria's 21-month civil war.

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December 7th, 2012
02:37 PM ET

Bus driver acquitted of manslaughter, homicide charges in New York crash

The bus driver charged in a March 2011 crash that killed 15 passengers and injured 18 others in New York was acquitted of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges Friday.

Ophadell Williams, 41, was found guilty of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree. He has served more than 15 months in prison and was sentenced to an additional 30 days. He will also pay a $500 fine.

A jury in the Bronx reached the verdict Thursday afternoon, but the judge delayed the reading to Friday morning because a juror had to leave for a medical appointment

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Filed under: New York
Nurse found dead after prank call on Catherine
The King Edward VII Private Hospital on December 4, 2012 in London, England.
December 7th, 2012
10:48 AM ET

Nurse found dead after prank call on Catherine

[Updated at 11:29 a.m. ET] A nurse at the hospital that was duped by a prank call from two Australian radio DJs concerning Prince William's pregnant wife, Catherine, has apparently committed suicide, the hospital confirmed Friday.

The nurse "was recently the victim of a hoax call," King Edward VII Hospital said in a media statement.

The DJs impersonated Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles in the prank call, in which some details of the Duchess of Cambridge's condition and care were given.

The nurse who died was the person who first took the hoax call and transferred it through to Catherine's ward, the hospital said.

FULL STORY
December 7th, 2012
08:41 AM ET

U.S. unemployment rate drops to lowest level since 2008

U.S. jobs growth for November was better than what economists predicted it would be.

The U.S. economy added 146,000 in November, according to the Labor Department, nearly twice as many as the 77,000 jobs that economists surveyed by CNNMoney had predicted in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

And the U.S. unemployment has dropped to 7.7%, the lowest since December 2008, according to the Labor Department. That's down from 7.9% in October.

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Filed under: Economy • Jobs
December 7th, 2012
07:47 AM ET

Friday's live events

The talk in Washington is all about the "fiscal cliff" and what the president and Congress need to do to avoid it.  Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the fiscal cliff debate.

Today's programming highlights...

Ongoing coverage - Crisis in Egypt

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

 


Filed under: Budget • Economy • Egypt • Finance • On CNN.com today • Politics • Taxes
December 7th, 2012
04:37 AM ET

McAfee fights return to Belize to face questioning

The next stop for software pioneer John McAfee could be Belize after Guatemalan authorities rejected his bid for asylum.

Authorities there want to talk to him about the November 11 shooting of his neighbor, American businessman Gregory Faull.

Under Belize law, McAfee can be held for 48 hours without charges, police spokesman Raphael Martinez said.

But McAfee's fight to stay in Guatemala is not over.

His attorneys said they filed a request for an injunction with Guatemala's Supreme Court to prevent his extradition.

Standing outside the police hospital as ambulance lights flashed nearby, attorney Karla Paz said officials had unjustly rejected McAfee's petition without weighing the evidence.

"Due process has been violated. The right to defense has not been respected," she said.

McAfee is being held in a Guatemalan immigration detention center while developments swirl.

FULL STORY

Filed under: World
December 7th, 2012
04:07 AM ET

Major quake strikes off Japan, raising risk of tsunami

A powerful earthquake struck off the northeast coast of Japan on Friday evening, rattling buildings in Tokyo and raising the risk of a tsunami.

The 7.3-magnitude quake hit 492 kilometers (306 miles) east-northeast of Tokyo, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The Japan Meteorological Agency warned a tsunami as high as two meters could hit the country's northeast coast following the quake, which struck out at sea.

The agency issued the warning for Miyagi Prefecture, the hardest hit area by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck in March 2011.

But the quake Friday hasn't created a widespread threat of a tsunami in the Pacific, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Weather • World
December 7th, 2012
02:28 AM ET

Ghana votes in another test of its stable democracy

Ghanaians vote Friday in a general election that pits the incumbent against the son of a former president in one of Africa's most stable democracies.

The west African nation is hailed as a beacon of peace and democracy in a region beleaguered with coups, conflicts and civil wars.

Incumbent leader John Dramani Mahama, a former vice president who took over after his predecessor died this year, is one of eight contenders vying for the top position.

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Filed under: World
December 7th, 2012
12:49 AM ET

McConnell move on debt ceiling backfires

The political posturing - and theater - related to the fiscal cliff continued Thursday as Senate leaders squared off over whether to make it harder for Congress to block future increases in the debt ceiling.

At issue was a move by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell - and meant to put Democrats in a tough spot - that backfired. McConnell pushed for a vote on an idea he first proposed last year as part of the debt ceiling standoff.

The legislation would allow the president to increase the debt ceiling without congressional approval, though Congress could block the move if a two-thirds majority of both the House and Senate voted to disapprove it. Democrats want the change because raising the limit has become increasingly contentious, as Republicans have demanded spending cuts and other reforms to go along with it. Another debt limit increase is needed early next year.

McConnell now opposes the change he once advanced because it was intended as a one-time solution to the deadlock over the debt last year. Nevertheless, he pushed for a vote on it because he wanted to show that even some Democrats oppose giving the president that much authority, and he knew there was no way Democrats could garner the 60 votes typically needed for major legislation to pass the Senate.

But in the back-and-forth legislative chess match that often plays out on the Senate floor, Democratic Leader Harry Reid instead moved to pass the measure with a 51 vote threshold, confident that he had at least that many votes to give Democrats a victory.

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Filed under: Politics • U.S.
December 7th, 2012
12:46 AM ET

Former Thai prime minister faces murder charge over 2010 crackdown

The consequences of ordering the military to crack down on anti-government demonstrations more than two years ago has come back to haunt the former Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Thai authorities have charged Abhisit and his former deputy with murder in relation to the killing of Pan Kumkong, a taxi driver, amid the unrest that brought chaos to the streets of the capital city, Bangkok, in 2010.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) said Thursday that the charges against Abhisit and Suthep Thaungsuban concern orders to soldiers to use live ammunition in the area were Pan was shot. If convicted, they would face the punishment of death or life in prison.

The Court of Justice ruled in September that the taxi driver's death resulted from acts carried out by the military under instructions from the Center for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation, a temporary task force set up by Abhisit.

He and Suthep have been summoned to hear the charges on Wednesday, said Thairt Pengdit, director general of the DSI.

FULL STORY

Filed under: World
December 7th, 2012
12:31 AM ET

Egypt's Morsy stands by edict, calls for punishment of violent protesters

Opposition activists geared up for a new round of mass demonstrations Friday, unconvinced by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy's defense of his recent controversial actions and unnerved by threats of punishment.

In remarks Thursday night - his latest since the bloodiest stretch in two weeks of political unrest - Morsy refused to back off the controversial edict he issued or his nation's upcoming constitutional referendum, saying he respects peaceful opposition to his decisions but won't stand for violence.

Addressing "those who oppose me" and his backers, the president condemned those involved in the clashes - referring specifically to those with weapons and who are backed by members of the "corrupt ... ex-regime" - and promised they'd be held accountable.

"(They) will not escape punishment," the president said in a televised speech.

Yet Morsy's words not only failed to mollify many protesters on the streets, it further enraged them. Activists camped in Cairo's Tahrir Square chanted "Leave! Leave! Leave!" as the president talked.

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Filed under: World