February 11th, 2013
03:59 PM ET

Military extends some benefits to same-sex partners

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced just days before leaving office that the Pentagon is extending some benefits to the same-sex partners of service members.

Same-sex partners who sign a military "Declaration of Domestic Partnership" form will be eligible for several benefits, including military identification cards as dependents.

This would allow them unescorted status on bases, access to commissaries, and the right to visit their partners in military hospitals.

They will also be able to receive many survivor benefits, including life insurance payments.

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Northeast blizzard
February 11th, 2013
01:43 PM ET

Northeast digs out; storms hit Upper Midwest, South

A major winter storm whipped the Upper Midwest early Monday, just after a historic snowfall buried much of the Northeast.

The latest blizzard dumped 8 to 15 inches of snow across parts of seven states, but saved most of its fury for the Dakotas and Minnesota, the National Weather Service said.

Snow showers and blowing snow were expected to linger Monday across the area.

More than 1,000 miles away, residents of the Northeast spent the weekend digging out from a storm that dumped several feet of snow across the region.

In the Southeast, at least 15 tornadoes formed across southern Mississippi and Alabama Sunday afternoon as a cold front moved in. Major damage was caused by a tornado that struck Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The Mobile, Alabama, National Weather Service Office was to begin conducting damage surveys Monday.

According to Storm Prediction Center reports, nearly 70 people were injured in Sunday's storms, with at least 61 of those in Hattiesburg.

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Filed under: U.S. • Weather • Winter weather
Pope Benedict XVI
February 11th, 2013
12:24 PM ET

Pope Benedict to resign at end of month, Vatican says

  • Pope Benedict XVI to resign on February 28, Vatican says
  • The pope is stepping down "because of advanced age,' he said in a statement
  • He was elected pope in 2005. Read our full story here.

[Updated at 12:24 p.m. ET] President Obama issues the following statement on Pope Benedict's decision to step down: "On behalf of Americans everywhere, Michelle and I wish to extend our appreciation and prayers to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Michelle and I warmly remember our meeting with the Holy Father in 2009, and I have appreciated our work together over these last four years.

"The Church plays a critical role in the United States and the world, and I wish the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s successor."

[Updated at 8:57 a.m. ET] Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement about Pope Benedict's resignation:

"The Holy Father brought the tender heart of a pastor, the incisive mind of a scholar and the confidence of a soul united with His God in all he did. His resignation is but another sign of his great care for the Church. We are sad that he will be resigning but grateful for his eight years of selfless leadership as successor of St. Peter.

Though 78 when he elected pope in 2005, he set out to meet his people – and they were of all faiths – all over the world. He visited the religiously threatened – Jews, Muslims and Christians in the war-torn Middle East, the desperately poor in Africa, and the world’s youth gathered to meet him in Australia, Germany, Spain and Brazil.

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Filed under: World
February 11th, 2013
11:15 AM ET

Will Benedict 'resign' or 'abdicate' as pope?

When Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he would step down at the end of the month, an interesting debate sprang up: Do popes resign or abdicate?

Read the pope's letter

In English, the pope said he is renouncing his role at the end of the month "because of advanced age."  In some other languages, he uses the word "vacating."

This is a rare situation; the last pope to resign was Gregory XII in 1415.

But it turns out there is some specific language to help guide the linguistics of it all.

"Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required for validity that the resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted by anyone," according to laws that guide the church.

So according to those rules, the correct word to describe the pope's actions would be resignation.

But many people have been calling the pope’s announcement an abdication. That word normally applies in a royal context, when the person who leaves their position has an immediate successor in place.

In this case, the cardinals will vote on a new pope.

Papal resignation: What happens next

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Filed under: Catholic Church • Religion • World
3 killed in shooting at Delaware courthouse
February 11th, 2013
10:53 AM ET

3 killed in shooting at Delaware courthouse

[Updated at 10:53 a.m. ET] Two female shooting victims are dead after a gunman opened fire in a Delaware courthouse.

The suspected gunman also was killed during an exchange of gunfire with officers, Delaware State Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Shavack said. Two capitol police officers were injured in the incident. Their injuries are non-life-threatening.

[Posted at 9:03 a.m. ET] There has been a shooting at a courthouse in Wilmington, Delaware, according to Wilmington Police spokesman Jamaine Crawford.

A constable was among those shot, Crawford said.

The shooting occurred this morning at the New Castle County Court of Common Pleas. The number of injured and the severity of their injuries were not immediately available.

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Filed under: Crime • Delaware • Justice
February 11th, 2013
07:34 AM ET

Monday's live events

President Obama will deliver his fourth State of the Union address before Congress on February 12.  Watch CNN.com Live for all of your political coverage.

Today's programming highlights...

Ongoing coverage: The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

12:30 pm ET - White House briefing - Tomorrow's State of the Union address and gun violence will likely dominate Press Secretary Jay Carney's briefing with the White House press corps.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Congress • Gun violence • On CNN.com today • Politics • Religion • Vatican
World's largest captive crocodile dies
February 11th, 2013
05:42 AM ET

World's largest captive crocodile dies

"So long, Lolong."

That was the phrase echoing around social media on Monday after news emerged the night before that Lolong, the world's largest crocodile in captivity, had died in the southern Philippines.

The outpouring of online shock and grief over the demise of the heavyweight reptile, which was more than 6-meters (20-feet) long, could be considered a little surprising, given suspicions Lolong may have been involved in at least two lethal attacks on people before he was captured in 2011.

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Filed under: Animals • Philippines • wildlife • World
Northeast blizzard
February 11th, 2013
05:07 AM ET

Blizzard whips the Midwest; the Northeast continues to dig out

A major winter storm whipped the Upper Midwest early Monday, just days after historic snowfall left much of the Northeast buried and without power.

The blizzard dumped up to 8 to 15 inches of snow across parts of seven states, but saving most of its fury for the Dakotas and Minnesota, the National Weather Service said.

Snow showers were expected to linger across the area Monday.

More than a thousand miles to the east, residents of the Northeast spent the weekend digging out from a historic storm that dumped several feet of snow in the region.

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Filed under: U.S. • Weather
Photos: Manhunt for Christopher Dorner
February 11th, 2013
04:01 AM ET

Where is Christopher Dorner? Search for ex-cop at center of LAPD revenge plot widens

As the manhunt for the renegade ex-cop accused of killing three people in a revenge plot targeting the Los Angeles Police Department entered its second week on Monday, the big question facing authorities - where is Christopher Jordan Dorner?

The search, considered one of the largest in the history of Southern California, has taken authorities from Orange County to the border of Mexico, from Los Angeles to the Big Bear Lake resort area of the San Bernardino Mountains.

Read more: Timeline in manhunt for former L.A. cop

A $1 million reward was offered Sunday for information leading to the capture and conviction of Dorner, an announcement that followed news that the LAPD was reopening the case that resulted in his termination.

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Filed under: Crime • U.S.
February 11th, 2013
02:55 AM ET

Official: 5 suspects arrested in Mexico tourist rapes

Mexican authorities are holding five suspects in connection with the alleged rapes of six Spanish tourists in Acapulco, Guerrero state Gov. Angel Aguirre Rivero said Sunday.

The state attorney general has not yet released any information on the suspects or where they're being held, prompting demonstrations by family members concerned about their whereabouts.

Fifty investigators have been dedicated to the case.

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Filed under: Crime • World
Carnival cruise ship floats in Gulf of Mexico after engine fire, will be towed
February 11th, 2013
01:24 AM ET

Carnival cruise ship floats in Gulf of Mexico after engine fire, will be towed

A Carnival cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico with more than 4,200 passengers and crew will be towed to port after a weekend engine fire left it dead in the water, a cruise line official said.

A cutter is expected to arrive on the scene Monday morning to assist, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The Carnival Triumph was in waters off the Yucatan Peninsula, heading back to Galveston, Texas, when the fire occurred Sunday morning, said Astevia Gonzalez from the Carnival Cruises family support team. The ship's automatic fire extinguishing system kicked in and soon contained the blaze, and no injuries were reported.

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Filed under: U.S. • World