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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Filed under: Lebanon
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.

FULL POST


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
Tech shares push stocks higher
Microsoft shares were higher Thursday after shareholder David Einhorn called for CEO Steve Ballmer (pictured) to step down.
May 26th, 2011
11:49 PM ET

Tech shares push stocks higher

Some highlights from the day's business news:

Stocks edged higher Thursday as momentum in the technology sector offset disappointing reports on economic growth and the labor market.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 8 points, or 0.1%, to end at 12,403; the S&P 500 added 5 points, or 0.4%, to 1,326; and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 22 points, or 0.8%, to close at 2,783. The Dow had been down more than 70 points earlier in the session.

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Filed under: Business • Economy
Overheard on CNN.com: Top court rules in Arizona's favor
The U.S. Supreme Court has backed an Arizona law that punishes businesses hiring illegal immigrants.
May 26th, 2011
07:15 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Top court rules in Arizona's favor

Comments of the Day:

“It is about time that these American companies are held accountable for their actions. After all, they have been unwilling to pay fair wages to American citizens and instead have paid dirt-low wages to illegal immigrants.”– sam49

“When illegal immigrants provide the backbone of produce production in the United States at costs far below minimum wage, that benefits those legally here. Wave your pom-poms for change all you want, but be sure you understand what you're changing.”– GeorgeFnBush

Supreme Court backs Arizona immigration law that punishes businesses

Arizona can suspend the licenses of Arizona businesses that don't verify that new hires are in the country legally, according to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Many CNN.com readers, including self-proclaimed liberals, cheered the ruling.

rosalvaje said, “Hurray for Arizona and coming to a state near you.” ChrisDawg said, “As a liberal, I'm fine with this.” OutNasa said, “This ruling is pro legal immigrant. I applaud it.” NCArmyVet1 said, “We welcome all immigrants who come here legally!” notrolls said, “It looks like even the Supreme Court is capable of grasping the concept that it is illegal to be illegal.”

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Senate votes to extend key Patriot Act provisions
May 26th, 2011
05:46 PM ET

Senate votes to extend key Patriot Act provisions

The Senate voted Thursday to extend three key provisions of the Patriot Act scheduled to expire at midnight, sending the measure to the House for consideration.

The House had been scheduled to begin its Memorial Day recess on Thursday afternoon. However, a protracted dispute over the legislation in the Senate, fueled by conservative newcomer Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, muddied voting schedules and required the House to stay longer than planned.

Late Thursday afternoon, Paul reached a deal with Senate leaders to allow votes on whether to table two of his amendments. Both amendments failed, and the subsequent vote on the measure to extend the Patriot Act provisions for four years passed easily on a 72-23 vote.

The expiring provisions of the law passed after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks deal with roving wiretaps, tracking alleged "lone wolf" terrorists, and the ability of law enforcement officials to obtain any records they deem relevant to an investigation.

While the Senate approval was expected, passage in the House could be tougher as lawmakers on the right and left oppose an extension for various reasons. For example, some members of Congress are concerned about the law's impact on civil liberties, while others support the law but think it should be made permanent.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Politics
May 26th, 2011
05:38 PM ET

7 U.S. soldiers among 8 killed in Afghanistan bomb attack

[Updated at 5:38 p.m.ET] Eight NATO soldiers - including seven Americans - were killed Thursday when two improvised explosive devices blew up in southern Afghanistan, according to the International Security Assistance Force and the Pentagon.

A coalition military official said the attack occurred in the Shorabak District, a remote area in the southeastern part of Kandahar Province, approximately 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) south of the city of Kandahar. It's the same region in which Taliban forces unleashed multiple attacks earlier this month in their so-called spring offensive.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • NATO • World
SI.com: Mavs finish off Thunder for NBA Finals berth; Bulls must beat Heat
Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki takes it to the hole Wednesday with four Thunder players in the lane. Nowitzki finished with 26 points.
May 26th, 2011
01:35 PM ET

SI.com: Mavs finish off Thunder for NBA Finals berth; Bulls must beat Heat

Led by Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks sealed the deal and sent the Thunder packing Wednesday night with a 100-96 win in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. Though Oklahoma City won't get a shot at the title, it certainly didn't go down without a fight. As SI.com's Chris Mannix explains, the Thunder fought to a three-point lead going into halftime but ultimately were outmatched by a better, more experienced Dallas squad.

"Oklahoma City will learn from this experience," Mannix writes. "(Kevin) Durant will learn how to play through contact, how to not let players push him off his spot. (Kendrick) Perkins will shed 15 pounds and regain the mobility he lost dealing with multiple knee injuries. Serge Ibaka will take the lessons learned from defending Nowitzki, and Zach Randolph in the conference semis, and come back in the fall a better player. (James) Harden will be a year older, a year wiser and that syrupy shooting stroke of his isn't going anywhere."
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Filed under: Baseball • Basketball • NBA • Oklahoma • Sports • Tennis • Texas • U.S.
Thursday's intriguing people
Laura Deming, Faheem Zaman and John Burnham put their college graduation on hold to use a grant to start a tech company.
May 26th, 2011
12:38 PM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Laura Deming, Faheem Zaman and John Burnham

These three students dropped out of college to receive a $100,000 grant and mentorship to start a tech company. They are part of the first group of Thiel Fellows - 24 people under age 20 who have agreed to put their formal education on hold for two years for this one-of-a-kind opportunity.

Deming, 17, is developing anti-aging therapies; Zaman, 18, is building mobile payment systems for developing countries; and Burnham, 18, is working on extracting minerals from asteroids and comets. Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder and Facebook investor, announced the first group of Thiel Fellows on Wednesday through his Thiel Foundation. He says the fellowship addresses two of the country's most pressing problems: a bubble in higher education and a dearth of Americans developing breakthrough technologies.

"We're not saying that everybody should drop out of college," Thiel told The New York Times.

The fellows can always go back to school. The problem, he said, is that "in our society, the default assumption is that everybody has to go to college."

"I believe you have a bubble whenever you have something that's overvalued and intensely believed," Thiel said. "In education, you have this clear price escalation without incredible improvement in the product. At the same time, you have this incredible intensity of belief that this is what people have to do. In that way, it seems very similar in some ways to the housing bubble and the tech bubble."

FULL POST

May 26th, 2011
12:20 PM ET

After the chaos: Digging through the damage, searching for the missing

Officials will release a list of 232 people officially reported missing or unaccounted for following the tornado that destroyed much of Joplin, Missouri.

View the list (PDF)

"Our goal is to get that number to 0," Andrea Spillers, deputy director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety said Thursday. "We will dedicate as much state resources as needed, around-the-clock, to make sure all of those family members that have loved ones that cannot be found are connected."

Authorities urged residents who may have been reported unaccounted for to let officials know they are okay by calling following number: (417) 895-6868. Those needing to report someone missing to law enforcement should call (417) 659-5464.

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Filed under: Joplin • Missouri • Oklahoma • Tornadoes • Weather
Super typhoon churns through Pacific, threatens Okinawa
Super Typhoon Songda, or Chedeng, is shown off the Philippines in this Thursday satellite image.
May 26th, 2011
12:12 PM ET

Super typhoon churns through Pacific, threatens Okinawa

Super Typhoon Songda ripped across the western Pacific on Thursday, dropping heavy rain on the Philippines and threatening Okinawa and the Japanese main islands with rain and damaging winds into the weekend.

Songda was a Category 5 storm late Thursday, with maximum sustained winds of 161 mph and gusts of 195 mph, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The storm was producing wave heights of 38 feet in the Pacific, forecasters said.

The forecast track for Songda put it over Okinawa on Saturday night as a Category 2 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 109 mph and gusts up 132 mph.

Okinawa is home to several U.S. military installations, including Kadena Air Base, home to nearly 18,000 Americans, and Camp Courtney, home of the III Marine Expeditionary Force and its 16,000 Marines, according to U.S. Forces Japan.

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Filed under: Japan • Philippines • Weather
Tornado aftermath: Searching for answers
Rescue workers, volunteers and home owners sift through wreckage on Monday, May 23, 2011.
May 26th, 2011
10:17 AM ET

Tornado aftermath: Searching for answers

It's one thing to survive the nation's deadliest tornado. It's another to then try to track down your missing loved ones. For Joplin, Missouri, residents, part of the healing process is accounting for all the missing. But many families are frustrated by bureaucratic policies that are hampering their search efforts. Watch as these families try to learn the fate of their relatives and learn how you can help.
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Filed under: Gotta Watch • Tornadoes • Weather
Gotta Watch: Tornado survival stories
Jamie Bell stands with his mother Marie Rich in what used to be his 2nd floor apartment after it was destroyed when a massive tornado passed through the town killing at least 116 people on May 24, 2011 in Joplin, Missouri.
May 26th, 2011
09:09 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Tornado survival stories

It's been a harrowing week in the Midwest. Tornadoes ravaged towns across the region, killing hundreds. But in the storms' wakes are true, fierce survival tales. You’ve gotta watch how survivors made it through the worst tornado in history.
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Filed under: Gotta Watch • Survivor Stories • Tornadoes • Weather
Greenpeace: Japan nuclear plant radiation accumulating in marine life
A Greenpeace crew tests waters off Japan for radiation contamination earlier this month.
May 26th, 2011
08:31 AM ET

Greenpeace: Japan nuclear plant radiation accumulating in marine life

Radiation from Japan's damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is accumulating in marine life off Japan's coast above legal limits for food contamination, Greenpeace said Thursday.

The environmental group said its findings run counter to Japanese government reports that radiation from the Fukushima plant, damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, is being diluted as time passes.

“Despite what the authorities are claiming, radioactive hazards are not decreasing through dilution or dispersion of materials, but the radioactivity is instead accumulating in marine life," Greenpeace radiation expert Jan Vande Putte said in a press release.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Energy • Japan • Nuclear
May 26th, 2011
07:57 AM ET

Libya lists 'proposals' for ceasefire, Spain says

The office of Libya's prime minister sent a message to the Spanish government listing "a series of proposals that could lead to a ceasefire," a spokesman for Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Thursday.

The message, from the office of Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, was also sent to other European capitals, the spokesman said, adding that he could not name which capitals.

Spain has contributed military assets, including troops, to the NATO-led mission to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians in Libya.

Read CNN's full coverage of the Libyan ceasefire proposal
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Filed under: Libya • Spain
Thursday's live video events
May 26th, 2011
07:48 AM ET

Thursday's live video events

Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the devastating storms that have hit parts of the U.S.

Today's programming highlights...

8:45 am ET - G8 summit meeting - President Obama and other world leaders participate in a G8 working session in Deauville, France.

9:00 am ET - Casey Anthony trial - Testimony continues in the trial of Casey Anthony, the Florida woman accused of killing her young daughter.

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama • Casey Anthony • Crime • District of Columbia • Economy • Florida • France • Health • On CNN.com today • Politics • U.S. • World
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