'Revolution' artist Gil Scott-Heron dies
May 27th, 2011
11:17 PM ET

'Revolution' artist Gil Scott-Heron dies

Gil Scott-Heron, a poet and musician best known for the song "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," died Friday, his publicist at XL Recordings said.

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Overheard on CNN.com: Boy or girl? Parents won't say
A couple with two boys, 5 and 2, have decided their third child will be "gender-free," to the chagrin of some and joy of others.
May 27th, 2011
07:00 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Boy or girl? Parents won't say

Comments of the Day:

“This child will know what it's like to have a completely free set of gender beliefs. These parents should be commended, not criticized.”– greeniethumb

“Dear Mom and Dad,
Thanks for not acknowledging gender. Now I'm screwed up, all because you wanted to use me as a political statement. I appreciate your selfishness.
Love, Storm”– MrjackTors

Boy or a girl? It's a secret - and an international controversy

A Canadian couple with two boys, 5 and 2, have decided that the gender of their third child will remain a mystery for now. Even the grandparents don't know whether Storm, who is 4 months old, is a boy or a girl. Some CNN.com readers thought the experience would damage the baby's psyche; others applauded. Either way, the story has caused an, ahem, storm of controversy.

iphelgix said, “We're supposed to prepare our children to make their own way in this world. I do not know if this approach is right or wrong, but as a parent that means it's not an approach I'd be willing to test out on my own kids just to see if it helps.”

HeatherJeane said, “This experiment was conducted forty or so years ago to disastrous results on a set of identical twin boys. One was reassigned female after a botched surgery. Both attempted suicide as adults and one succeeded. Messing with a person's gender and their perception thereof may just be a bad idea.”

bambina54 said, “Won't this poor child wonder one day 'why are my brothers and dad considered boys and my mom a girl but I am neither?' "

But others thought there would be no harm done. franglass said, “These parents are trying to avoid telling their children how to express their gender and I think that's awesome. More power to them for not relegating their children to the ‘pink’ or ‘blue’ childhood.”

RushHawk said, "According to a Toronto Star article, the only others who know the baby's gender are the couple's sons; and they expect them not to tell? LOL!!”

poetx said, “Who cares. It's not your kid and they are not abusing him/her. People need to judge what they do and leave everyone else alone.”

Dixichick13 said, “The parents' efforts may be in vain. Much of our behavior and personality is hardwired in the womb by genetics and hormones. In other words, even if you buy your little boy dolls as well as trucks, if his brain is more masculinized, he will just use the dolls as speed bumps for his rolling trucks. “

millergirl asked, “Can it be possible this baby was born with both male/female genitalia and the parents and doctors aren't ready to decide whether to surgically make the baby male or female?”

CrowTRobot replied, "Now that would be a legitimate reason to raise a child that way, although now they can test for the number of X and Y chromosomes. In the past it was a guessing game.”

Report: Marine never fired on SWAT officers who fatally shot him

A U.S. Marine suspected in a four-house drug-smuggling operation died with the safety set on his semi-automatic rifle. A video from the sheriff's department showed that the uniformed SWAT team sounded its sirens, banged on the front door, kicked it in and then opened fire. Gaberlunzie3 said, “ ‘They absolutely responded how they were trained.’ So they are trained to murder people in their homes?”

whatudeserve said, “ ‘The police refused to allow paramedics to access Guerena for more than hour, leaving the young father to bleed to death, alone, in his own home.’ You want this to happen in your home? Goodness!!”

warrior001 replied, "If you point an assault rifle at a law enforcement officer and get shot, it's your fault. They identified themselves as officers. Why pick up a weapon and point it at them? I'm a Marine; we hold ourselves to a higher standard, or should anyway. Being a Marine, with two tours, doesn't make you above the law or more deserving. “

hylnderone said, “Wow. You've convicted him with no evidence. He was ‘suspected’ yet they found nothing in his house or vehicles. Have you no respect for life or for our laws? What if this was your son? What we do know is he was in his own house, had the legal right to own and possess a gun, never took his weapon off safety, but was shot 22 times in his own home and that there was zero evidence of any wrongdoing found in his home.”

usaforme said, “Yes, innocent until proven guilty, but you still don't point semi-automatic weapons at police officers and expect to live." bob8436 said, “We have no idea whether or not he knew what was going on. The poor guy could have just been asleep and reacted to panicked screams from his wife. If I were in my bedroom and my wife started talking about men with guns outside, you better bet I'd be aiming an assault rifle at the door.”

RB2 said, “The police were wrong. Someone died and two others, one of them a child, were endangered. When are we going to ditch the ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ mentality?”

Medical team says Mladic OK for extradition

Five doctors determined that war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic is well enough for extradition to the Netherlands to face the U.N. war crimes tribunal. He was arrested Thursday after more than 15 years in hiding.

icdeadpeople said, “Ooh, poor little thing, he's old, has a heart problem and is frail in health. Aren't they all? So am I supposed to feel sorry for a Hitler incarnation? Or that old, frail SS prison guard sentenced earlier this month?”

Guest said, " ‘His health is very deteriorated.’ I can well imagine, after the ghosts of 8,000 men and boys have been haunting him.” soprano141 said, “May you never rest in peace, Mladic.” ComeOnMan9 said, “A waste of time to fit him for prison garb, he comes back as a cockroach over and over. Problem solved.”

globaldecay said, “I heard a low ranking subordinate of Mladic [was] questioned by the U.N. war crimes tribunal as to why he did what he did to his next-door neighbor. He said ‘500 years ago his ancestors killed my ancestors, and that’s why I chained a cinderblock around his neck and threw him in the river.’ Wars Don’t End!”

GhostofOsama said, "I'm confused. When we Moslems want a homeland, refuse to allow anyone to practice another religion, and kill those that don't comply; we are holy warriors. We apply this label even when the homeland to which we refer belongs to others that invited us in. When others defend themselves or do the same thing, we are outraged and call them butchers. If there is one god, there is one standard. I say we are guilty of the same butchery and should spend an equal amount of our time ridding ourselves of the culture of violence that so many in our religion enjoy.”

May 27th, 2011
06:17 PM ET

Florida boy wrestles 6-foot alligator back to house

Michael Dasher thought he had hooked a good-sized fish Wednesday.

The 10-year-old and two friends were fishing in a canal near his home in Rockledge in Brevard County, Florida, when the line snapped.

Michael's buddy, Kentral Welch, thought his friend was reeling in a big one "...until I saw his face," CNN affiliate WKMG in Orlando reported.

What they were staring at was a 5-foot-9 long alligator, which charged at the boys. Michael says he used a stick and even got on the animal's back. Then Michael dragged the gator home.

Wildlife officers were called and said they had to tell Michael he could have been charged with a felony for capturing an alligator. He says he learned his lesson. Next time, he'll just out run it.

Filed under: Alligators • Animals • Florida • Nature
Friday's intriguing people
Sir Alex Ferguson could become the first coach to win three Champions League titles.
May 27th, 2011
04:09 PM ET

Friday's intriguing people

Sir Alex Ferguson

The coach of Manchester United leads his team into the biggest soccer match of the year seeking a title of his own - greatest coach ever.

In his 25 years in charge of the club, Ferguson has won 12 league titles and countless other domestic trophies. If he leads United to victory Saturday, he will become the first manager to win three Champions League titles, reports CNN's Greg Duke.

The matchup Saturday between Manchester United and favored Barcelona will be played at one of the most famous stadiums in the world, Wembley in London, so the English side may have a edge in fans, but most experts favor the Spanish side on the field.

Sports Illustrated's Jonathan Wilson says Ferguson will have an interesting decision to make with his tactical formation: Does he play the same lineup or opt for the addition of a defensive-minded player?

Not everyone thinks Barcelona is certain to win. Gabriele Marcotti says Manchester United has an advantage at the end of this very long season.

Nathan Bootz

The Ithaca Public Schools superintendent reportedly wants Michigan's governor to put more money into schools.

Maybe the state should make them into prisons, he says in a letter to Gov. Rick Snyder, originally published in the Gratiot County Herald on May 11.

In part the letter reads: "The State of Michigan spends annually somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 per prisoner, yet we are struggling to provide schools with $7,000 per student. I guess we need to treat our students like they are prisoners, with equal funding."

Bootz goes on to write that by providing more funding the state can help keep students out of prison.

The letter apparently was cheered but also booed by some in the state.

State Rep. Tom McMillin, a Republican from Rochester Hills, called the letter “inflammatory rhetoric,” according to the Michigan Capitol Confidential, a news service that "reports on the public officials who seek to limit government, those who do not, and those whose votes are at odds with what they say."

The Michigan Capitol Confidential looked at the budgeting issue a different way, saying that prisoners are in state care 24 hours a day while students spend only eight hours.

"Students cost roughly $6.46 per hour to educate. Prisoners cost $5.92 per hour to house," Tom Gantert wrote.

Jack Scott

The mayor of Cordova, Alabama, has plenty of mad residents. Scott says a city ordinance passed in the 1950s doesn't allow for single-wide trailers as residences, reports say. But many people were displaced after a tornado hit the town April 27, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency offers the trailers as temporary housing.

So while some city bureaus are using trailers for offices, the mayor won't allow FEMA to give out the single wides, according to reports.

ABC 33/30 in Birmingham said it called the mayor to ask why, and he hung up on the reporter.

CNN affiliate WIAT-TV in Birmingham reports that some people have resorted to living in tents.

Luke Smith

The 8-year-old was upset the U.S. flag flying on a pier in Oceanside, California, was damaged, according to CNN affiliate KSWB-TV in San Diego.

"I was actually standing right under this pier at the starting line (of a 5-kilometer race). I looked up at the flag and noticed it was all ripped up and tattered," he told KSWB.

So he wrote the man in charge, according to the station.

"Dear Mr. Mayor,

"During my last visit to the pier, while I was looking around, I saw the American flag at the top of the pole waving in the breeze. I felt proud, then I was sad. The flag was all ripped up and tattered. I think it was disrespectful to our country and the people who fight for it. I would be pleased if you would replace it.

"Thank you, sir, for your attention.

" Your friend, Luke Smith, 8 years old."

Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood said budget cutbacks made it harder for officials in the military town to spot such problems, according to KSWB.

Wood sent Smith a letter of proclamation and had the flag replaced, the TV station reported.

Filed under: Alabama • California • Education • Michigan • Most Intriguing People • Natural Disasters • Soccer • Spain • Sports • United Kingdom
Actor Jeff Conaway dead at 60
Actor Jeff Conaway had been fighting for his life in an Encino, California, hospital after being admitted for pneumonia May 11.
May 27th, 2011
03:41 PM ET

Actor Jeff Conaway dead at 60

Actor Jeff Conaway, who was in the TV series "Taxi" and the movie "Grease," died Friday morning from pneumonia, his manager said.

Conaway, 60, had been in an Encino, California, hospital since May 11, after apparently having been unconscious for eight or nine hours before he was found, Phil Brock said.

Initial reports earlier in the week that he suffered a drug overdose were inaccurate, according to a source familiar with Conaway's medical condition. However, his use of drugs caused him not to realize how ill he was, keeping him from getting treatment until it was almost too late,  the source said.

Source: Bin Laden considered Pakistan protection deal
May 27th, 2011
12:28 PM ET

Source: Bin Laden considered Pakistan protection deal

Osama bin Laden considered seeking a deal with Pakistan for protection of al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and in return al Qaeda would refrain from attacking Pakistan, a U.S. official told CNN. The revelation surfaced as American agents analyzed the documents that were seized in the May 2 raid of bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, according to the official who was not authorized to speak on the record.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Terrorism
Judge blocks VA from barring 'Jesus Christ' from Memorial Day prayer
More than 6,000 people are expected to attend a Memorial Day ceremony at Houston National Cemetery.
May 27th, 2011
11:55 AM ET

Judge blocks VA from barring 'Jesus Christ' from Memorial Day prayer

A federal judge in Texas has told the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs that it cannot censor a pastor's invocation at a Memorial Day ceremony.

The VA had ordered the Rev. Scott Rainey to remove a phrase using Jesus Christ from the prayer, arguing the line excluded other beliefs held by veterans, KHOU-TV in Houston reported.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes disagreed, writing the government cannot "gag citizens when it says it is in the interest of national security, and it cannot do it in some bureaucrat's notion of cultural homogeneity," according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.


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Filed under: Courts • Judge • Justice • Lawsuit • Military • Texas • Veterans
Watching Joplin 'debris ball' on radar: ‘You really feel for the people out there’
The tornado's radar signal over Joplin, Missouri, last Sunday.
May 27th, 2011
11:52 AM ET

Watching Joplin 'debris ball' on radar: ‘You really feel for the people out there’

When Gene Hatch reported to work at the National Weather Service’s Springfield, Missouri, office on Sunday afternoon, he knew it was going to be bad.

The national Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, had updated its forecast for southwest Missouri from a slight risk to a moderate risk of severe weather - meaning a stronger possibility of thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes.

The storm eventually produced the deadliest tornado in recorded U.S. history – destroying much of Joplin, Missouri, killing at least 132 people and leaving 156 people missing or unaccounted for.

Hatch, a meteorologist at the Springfield office since 1999, was one of two radar operators on duty that day. He remembers watching as the tornado formed and passed over Joplin. He knew immediately it had been destructive.

“One of the things you can kind of see on radar is what’s called a ‘debris ball,’ where the actual reflectivity patterns on the radar will actually begin to show the debris that’s being lofted by the tornado.

“It looks like a little ball on the tail end of the hook,” he said. “And that was fairly evident fairly quickly as the storm moved through Joplin.”


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Filed under: Joplin • Missouri • Natural Disasters • Weather
Dam releases are killing hundreds of thousands of fish, farmers say
Fish farmers say nitrogen gas generated by the Grand Coulee Dam’s increased water flow is killing their crop downstream.
May 27th, 2011
11:04 AM ET

Dam releases are killing hundreds of thousands of fish, farmers say

Hundreds of thousands of fish in the Columbia River are dying from the bends.

That's the layman's explanation. Here's the detailed one.

A large winter snow melt is forcing the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which runs the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia in Washington state, to increase water flows through the dam. The turbulent water is releasing gases, including nitrogen gas, which is what causes the bends in scuba divers when they surface too quickly. Gas levels have been more than 130% of normal recently, the Seattle Times reports.

"We've easily got hundreds of thousands of dead fish," Bill Clark told the Seattle paper. He works for Pacific Aquaculture, which farms steelhead trout in nets in the river.

Pacific Aquaculture's parent company, Pacific Seafood, says it is losing 100,000 fish a day from the 2.7 million still living on the farm in the river 20 miles south of the Grand Coulee, according to a report on SeattlePI.com.


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Filed under: Aquaculture • Fish • Washington state
Bomb hits U.N. convoy in Lebanon; casualties reported
May 27th, 2011
10:52 AM ET

Bomb hits U.N. convoy in Lebanon; casualties reported

An explosion targeted a convoy of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon near a stadium in the Lebanese city of Saida, the Lebanese Army said Friday. The blast caused casualties, it said. Additional details were not immediately available.

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May 27th, 2011
07:32 AM ET

Friday's live video events

Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the devastating storm that have hit parts of the United States.

Today's programming highlights...

8:30 am ET - Casey Anthony trial - Testimony resumes in the murder trial of Casey Anthony, accused of murdering her young daughter in 2008.


Filed under: Casey Anthony • Crime • Elections • Florida • Iowa • Joplin • Missouri • Natural Disasters • On CNN.com today • On the Ground • Politics • U.S.
On the Radar: Pacific typhoon; art race in California; NHL playoffs
Typhoon Songda moves away from the Philippines on Friday.
May 27th, 2011
06:38 AM ET

On the Radar: Pacific typhoon; art race in California; NHL playoffs

Three stories to watch into the weekend.

Pacific typhoon: Typhoon Songda was weakening Friday over the western Pacific but was still expected to be a Category 3 storm when it passes near the Japanese island of Okinawa on Saturday.

The Pacific Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, forecasts Songda's maximum sustained winds to be 120 mph with gusts up to 150 mph as it approaches Okinawa, home to tens of thousands of U.S. military personnel, on Saturday. The Japan Meteorological Agency forecast Songda to be a very strong storm as it approaches Okinawa.

Significant weakening was predicted, however, as the typhoon passes southeast of Japan's main islands on Sunday.

U.S. military officials on Okinawa have banned troops from consuming alcohol during the storm, saying alcohol use in such conditions puts troops and their mission in danger.

Officials in the Philippines said Songda, also known as Chedeng, killed two people there, according to the Philippine Information Agency.

Art triathlon: Scores of artists, pilots and engineers will bring their one-of-a-kind kinetic machines to race for the glory at the 43rd annual Kinetic Grand Championship.

Billed as "The Triathlon of the Art World," the event pits human-powered art sculptures on wheels against one another in a three-day race across California's northern coast.

Pilots guiding "kinetic sculptures" ranging from gigantic tricycles to hulking metallic lobsters will traverse road, water and sand on their way from the city of Arcata to Ferndale.

NHL playoffs: The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning play Game 7 of their Eastern Conference finals Friday night in Boston.

Tampa Bay won Game 6 Wednesday at home to tie the series at three games apiece.

"Boston is 1-0 in home playoff Game 7s this year, while Tampa Bay is 1-0 on the road. Something's gotta give," writes SI.com's Adrian Dater.

Friday night's winner will take on the Vancouver Canucks for the Stanley Cup.
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Filed under: Art • California • Hockey • Japan • NHL • Philippines • Tropical weather • Weather