January 17th, 2012
07:01 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: SOPA stokes some readers' ire, plus tech talk from CES

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community. Share  your thoughts about the technology world on CNN iReport's Tech Talk assignment.

"I used to surf the web freely, then I took SOPA to the knee."

As the clock strikes midnight, late-night hyperlinked romps through Wikipedia's user-edited annals of culture and science will pause. The encyclopedia "wiki" site will have a 24-hour blackout Wednesday in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Several other tech companies have stated opposition to the proposed legislation, while many media companies embrace it.

Why Wikipedia is going down at midnight

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said the website might not be able to operate if it is passed. Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, is among the industry supporters of the legislation. Readers wrote in with varying opinions on SOPA, and quite a few were vehemently opposed. We mentioned it yesterday, and we're exploring the issue today. Many different perspectives have surfaced.

Terryshilo: "I use Wikipedia many times a day. I contribute financially. I actually believe I'm a Wikipedia addict. I don't disagree with them making this statement, if it brings enough momentum to the SOPA issue so much the better. This is what's become all too frequent, big business actually running our government. Wikipedia is something we can contribute to individually, the federal government ... not so much."

Guest: "Most people tend to forget that the vast majority of the piracy taking place is outside the United States and so outside the laws of the U.S. The creation of a secure DNS system would not only stop this piracy but allow the U.S. to track it, and help the US track cyber attacks originating outside the U.S. On the downside it will help cut off the U.S. from the rest of the world and make it difficult for other countries to access U.S. sites."

Some commenters said it's not as bad as it looks. FULL POST

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Filed under: Overheard on CNN.com • Technology
January 17th, 2012
02:53 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: 'I would protect my ship and my people with my life'

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

"No captain should abandon his ship prior to everybody else! If anybody goes on the bottom of the sea, the captain should be there too! I hope he gets the hardest penalty, hopefully. No one should ever get away with this! Captains (naval, military, airborne) are the last men of honour at present times and that should be kept this way!"
–Cpt Sailor

Recordings between Capt. Francesco Schettino of the Costa Concordia cruise ship and the Livorno Port Authority, which is part of the Coastal Guards, shed light onto what might have happened Friday night.

Many readers said they found the translated transcripts fascinating. At one point, Italian Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco says, "Look Schettino, you might have been saved from the sea, but I will make sure you go through a very rough time ... I will make sure you go through a lot of trouble. Get on board, damn it."

Port Authority to cruise ship captain: 'Get on board, damn it'

Many of our readers were convinced that the captain was not taking responsibility for the ship.

exCaptain: "As a retired Navy veteran this is pathetic to witness. A captain of the ship is the decision maker and there are rightful duties with that responsibility! How can you not know the number of your own people on your ship and on top of that, not make quick leadership decisions? I would protect my ship and my people with my life!"

There were several references to the actions of the captain on board the U.S. Airways plane that landed in the Hudson River. FULL POST

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Filed under: Italy • Overheard on CNN.com • Travel • World
January 17th, 2012
02:49 PM ET

Former Marine in Iraq War charged with murdering four homeless men

Itzcoatl Ocampo, a 23-year-old Iraq War veteran accused of stabbing four homeless men to death in California, was charged Tuesday with four counts of murder, said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.

The four murder charges carry the special circumstances of multiple murders and lying in wait, the prosecutor said.

Rackauckas and representatives from the FBI, the county sheriff's office and the Anaheim police department held a news conference Tuesday to discuss legal issues concerning Ocampo.

"I'm not prepared to discuss a possible motive," Rackauckas said. "We know he had selected others" to kill, he added.

Ocampo was arrested Friday night after he allegedly stabbed a transient to death, Anaheim Police Sgt. Bob Dunn said.

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Filed under: California • Crime • Justice
January 17th, 2012
02:20 PM ET

Romanian deputy health minister reappointed; protests continue

Romania's deputy health minister, whose resignation last week triggered ongoing protests across the nation, was reappointed to his post on Tuesday after meeting with the prime minister.

Raed Arafat said Tuesday he had withdrawn his resignation, adding that President Traian Basescu called him over the weekend to discuss the matter.

Protests broke out last Thursday after Arafat, an opponent of health care changes proposed by the government, resigned. Arafat gained popularity after creating what many Romanians see as an efficient medical emergency system.

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Filed under: Romania
January 17th, 2012
11:49 AM ET

Fuel transfer under way across Alaska ice

A Russian tanker has begun transferring 1.3 million gallons of fuel to icebound Nome, Alaska, the U.S. Coast Guard reports.

The fuel is flowing through 1,200 yards of hoses from the tanker Renda - anchored amid the Bering Sea ice off the coast of the town of 3,500 - to a fuel transfer station on shore.

The transfer began at 5:06 p.m. local time Monday and is expected to last several days, the Coast Guard said in a news release.

Nome Mayor Denise Michels, along with Coast Guard safety inspectors, walked along the fuel hoses before the transfer began to be sure they were sound.


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Filed under: Alaska • U.S. Coast Guard • Weather • Winter weather
Gotta Watch: Betty White is still raunchy at 90
Comedian Betty White celebrates her 90th birthday.
January 17th, 2012
11:01 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Betty White is still raunchy at 90

Actress Betty White turns 90 today, and she’s not slowing down any time soon. The former “Golden Girls” star returned to the public eye after a spot in a Snickers commercial that aired during the 2010 Super Bowl. She followed that up with book deals and a gig as the guest host of “Saturday Night Live.” Now we’re showcasing our favorite moments. You’ve Gotta Watch these bawdy Betty moments.

Sex symbol — Betty White answers viewer questions with Larry King in this clip. She takes on everything from Sarah Palin to “Dancing with the Stars.” Watch Larry King ask her if she was a “loose woman.”

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2010/03/17/lkl.betty.white.cnn"%5D


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Filed under: Celebrity • Gotta Watch • Showbiz • TV
Twin winter storms slamming Pacific Northwest
An earlier storm created treacherous driving conditions over the weekend in Oregon.
January 17th, 2012
10:28 AM ET

Twin winter storms slamming Pacific Northwest

Seattle could see one of its largest snowfalls since the 1940s as twin winter storms move over the Pacific Northwest during the next two days, according to the National Weather Service.

Between 5 and 9 inches of snow could hit the Seattle-Tacoma area Wednesday, with 6 to 10 inches falling before the storms pass early Thursday, said Dustin Guy, a meteorologist at the weather service's Seattle office.

Precipitation moving in from the south and west is combining with cold air moving south from Canada to create the heavy snowfall, Guy said. If snowfall amounts top 7 inches, the winter weather event will rank among Seattle's 10 worst since the early 1940s, he said.

iReport: Are you there? Share photos, video

Mountainous areas of the Pacific Northwest will see even more snow, with the largest accumulations on the eastern slopes of the Cascades, according to the weather service.

From late Tuesday through early Thursday, 2 feet to 3.5 feet of snow is forecast for the mountains east of Seattle, Guy said.


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Filed under: Oregon • Washington state • Weather • Winter weather
January 17th, 2012
10:02 AM ET

Port Authority to cruise ship captain: 'Get on board, damn it'

Recordings between the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship and the Livorno Port Authority, which is part of the Coastal Guards, have given new insight into what happened on the ship when it hit rocks Friday night just off Italy's western coast.

A total of 23 people remain missing following the wreck, which led to 11 deaths, Italian officials said Tuesday. Capt. Francesco Schettino is under arrest and may face charges that include manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning a ship when passengers were still on board, according to an Italian prosecutor.

Questions abound for captain of doomed cruise ship

Below are several transcripts of recordings between authorities and the captain published by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and translated by CNN's Hada Messia. The first calls came in right after midnight.

Livorno Port Authorities: "Concordia, we ask you if all is OK there."

Concordia: "All is well."


Port authority: "Concordia, We ask you if all is well there."

Concordia: "All is well. It is only a technical failure."


Port authority: "How many people are on board?"

Schettino: "Two-three hundred"

Port authority: "How come so few people? Are you on board?’

Schettino: "No, I’m not on board because the ship is keeling. We’ve abandoned it."

Port authority: "What? You’ve abandoned the ship?"

Schettino: "No. What abandon? I’m here."



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Filed under: Italy • Travel
January 17th, 2012
09:57 AM ET

'You get on board! That is an order!' cruise captain told

An Italian Coast Guard official swore in frustration at the captain of the stricken Costa Concordia after the ship hit rocks Friday night, ordering him at least 10 times to return to the cruise liner and coordinate rescue efforts, a transcript of the conversation published Tuesday shows.

Authorities in the port of Livorno seemed to believe the captain had abandoned ship with passengers still on board, a report in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra suggests.

"You get on board! This is an order!" the Coast Guard official instructed Capt. Francesco Schettino.

"You have declared 'Abandon ship.' Now I'm in charge. You get on board - is that clear?" the port official said.

Schettino says at one point that he wants to go back on board, then refers to "other rescuers" and says something about a lifeboat being stuck.

Italian prosecutors confirmed that the quotes match ones in a transcript they were using in their investigation.

The dramatic conversation was published as the captain faced a court hearing to determine whether he remains in jail while the investigation continues, and as divers continued desperate attempts to find survivors.

Navy explosives experts blew a hole in the hull of the vessel to allow access for search-and-rescue teams, Italian Navy officials said Tuesday.

At least 11 people were known dead as a result of the wreck, including five bodies located on Tuesday, according Coast Guard Captain Filippo Marini. Before the discovery, officials listed 28 people as missing.

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Filed under: Uncategorized
January 17th, 2012
08:33 AM ET

Syrian defector speaks of devastation; slams Arab League mission

A member of Syria's Parliament has defected to Egypt and spoken of leaving behind a "ghost town full of horror."

Imad Ghalioun has represented the city of Homs for five years. He defected with his immediate family two weeks ago after, he says, he convinced the al-Assad regime that he was traveling on business.

Ghalioun told CNN that many senior officials want to defect but it may be harder now because the al-Assad regime banned officials from traveling the day after he left Syria.

"What is happening in Homs is a crisis, a ghost town full of horror," he said.

"The humanitarian situation is dangerous and no basic services, food supplies, or equipped hospitals. Residents can not move from (one) neighborhood to the other because of snipers that kill people. People are sitting at home wondering if they will be bombed."

Ghalioun was withering in his appraisal of Arab League monitors.

"We expected the Arab monitors to stop the regime's killing machine, but what happened is that they came to what seemed like a sightseeing trip," he said.

"Some went to visit the governor; others spent most of their time in five-star hotels. We wanted them to meet the activists on the ground, visit the prisoners and the injured and the families of the martyrs. They did not do that, maybe some wanted to do that but could not do it."

January 17th, 2012
07:37 AM ET

Tuesday's live events

The South Carolina GOP presidential primary is just four days away, and CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest political news and views from the Palmetto State.

Today's programming highlights...

8:30 am ET - Romney talks jobs - GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney discusses jobs and the economy with supporters in Florence, South Carolina.


Filed under: Elections • Politics • Republican Party
January 17th, 2012
06:45 AM ET

Truth Squad: 3 checks on Monday's GOP debate

CNN examines three statements by Republican presidential candidates during Monday night's Fox News-Wall Street Journal debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Romney on releasing his tax returns

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he probably would release a tax return in April - though he declined to commit - asserting that recent GOP nominees waited until tax season in election years.

Romney's statement about his tax return came after Texas Gov. Rick Perry pushed him to release his tax information, saying his was already out.

"Mitt, we need for you to release your income tax so the people of this country can see how you made your money, and I think that's a fair thing," Perry said.


January 17th, 2012
05:43 AM ET

UK cannot deport radical cleric, European Court rules

The United Kingdom cannot deport a radical cleric linked to al Qaeda to Jordan because evidence obtained by torture could be used against him there, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in a landmark case Tuesday.

Abu Qatada has been fighting to remain in the United Kingdom since he was first arrested under anti-terrorism legislation nearly a decade ago.

He would be "at real risk of ill-treatment or a grossly unfair trial if deported to Jordan, where he is wanted on terrorism charges," the court said in a statement announcing the ruling.

British officials have described the Jordanian national as an "inspiration" for terrorists such as Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker behind the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

Abu Qatada appealed to the European Court following a British court ruling in 2009 ordering his deportation.

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Filed under: World
January 17th, 2012
05:02 AM ET

Trial begins for famous Spanish judge

 Spain's best-known judge, Baltasar Garzon, went on trial Tuesday in Madrid accused of abusing his judicial authority in an investigation into financial corruption.

The trial before a seven-judge panel at Spain's Supreme Court began Tuesday morning and if convicted, Garzon, who was suspended in 2010 pending the trial, would not go to jail but could lose his right permanently to be a judge in Spain.

The trial in the so-called Gurtel financial and political corruption case is just the first of two trials against Garzon. Next week, a case that many legal experts say is the more important one, accuses Garzon again of overstepping his legal authority while investigating human rights abuses under the former dictatorship of Spain's Francisco Franco.

Garzon became known internationally in 1998 when he sought the extradition of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was in a London hospital. Garzon accused him of the murder of Spaniards in Chile and of crimes of genocide.

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Filed under: World
January 17th, 2012
04:35 AM ET

Syrian official defects, says regime will fight at all costs

While the Syrian government's fierce crackdown on dissidents shows no sign of letting up, cracks are emerging in the regime's armor.

Imad Ghalioun, a parliamentarian from the embattled city of Homs, is the highest-ranking Syrian official to defect.

Now in Egypt, Ghalioun said reports of bloodshed by pro-government forces are true.

"What is happening in Homs is a crisis, a ghost town full of horror - no words to describe the situation," he said. "The humanitarian situation is dangerous ... no basic services, food supplies,or equipped hospitals. Residents can not move from neighborhood to the other because of snipers that kill people."

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Syria • World
January 17th, 2012
04:31 AM ET

Defense begins its case in Mubarak trial

The defense begins its case in the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who is accused of corruption and of ordering the deaths of hundreds of protesters during the uprising last year that led to his ouster.

Mubarak's former interior minister, four of his aides, and two sons are also on trial on various charges in a case that has been dubbed the "trial of the century" in Egypt.

Prosecutors and civil rights lawyers have called for Mubarak to be put to death.

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Crime • Egypt • World
January 17th, 2012
03:54 AM ET

Govt.: 68.4% of milk sold in India does not meet basic standards

In India, milk is used in holy ceremonies, it is offered to the gods, poured over deities and generally considered the healthiest of drinks.

But a first-of-its-kind government survey reveals that a stunning 68.4% of milk sold in India does not meet basic government standards.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India tested milk across the country. It took 1,791 samples - and of of those, 1,226 were found to be "non-conforming."

In seven Indian states, 100% of the samples failed to meet standards.

Some samples contained water and milk powders; others included potentially toxic ingredients.

"We found about 14% of the samples which found traces of detergent," said V.N. Gaur, the chief executive officer of the food safety authority.

In lesser percentages, the tests also found hydrogen peroxide and urea - a substance found in fertilizer and urine.

"There is a problem and they need to face it head-on and they have to kind of really take some strict action against those people who are violating simple consumer rights of getting a clean glass of milk," said Savvy Soumya Misra, the food safety and toxins deputy program manager with the Center for Science and Environment.

Doctors say ingested over long periods of time, chemicals like detergent can eat away the lining of intestines, stomach and affect the liver and the kidneys.

Just adding water to the milk can pose a real danger in India where waterborne illnesses are commonplace.

"What you get is diarrhea. Vomiting. What we call gastroenteritis," said Dr. Suranjit Chatterjee, a senior consultant for internal medicine at Delhi's Apollo hospital said. "You can get something like cholera. You can have jaundice. There are infections like typhoid fever, which are all part of water-borne infections in this part of the world."

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Filed under: Health • India • World
January 17th, 2012
03:17 AM ET

Authorities to offer more information about homeless killings suspect

Authorities may provide answers Tuesday to some of the questions surrounding a 23-year-old war veteran accused of stabbing four homeless men to death in California.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, representatives from the FBI, the county sheriff's office and the Anaheim police department are all expected to be at a news conference Tuesday to discuss legal issues concerning Itzcoatl Ocampo.

Ocampo was arrested Friday night after he allegedly stabbed a transient to death, Anaheim Police Sgt. Bob Dunn said.

The suspect has not been arraigned in relation to that or the three other killings, and police have not yet detailed evidence behind their accusation.

The arrest left those who know Ocampo confused.

A friend said Monday that "something happened" to Ocampo after he came back from serving in the U.S. military in Iraq.

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Filed under: Crime • U.S.
January 17th, 2012
02:19 AM ET

Divers recover data recorder from fallen Italian cruise ship

The Italian Coast Guard said Tuesday it has located the second "black box," or data recorder, from the Costa Concordia cruise ship that wrecked off Italy's western coast, killing at least six people.

Operations were underway to retrieve the recorder, said Warrant Petty Officer Massimo Macaroni of the Italian Coast Guard.

Information from the device, along with that from another that has already been recovered and is being analyzed by prosecutors, will provide authorities with "a complete picture of how the disaster unfolded," Macaroni said.

Also Tuesday, authorities will question the cruise ship captain at a closed hearing, his attorney said.

Francesco Schettino is under arrest and may face charges that include manslaughter, shipwreck, and abandoning a ship when passengers were still on board, according to Italian prosecutor Francesco Verusio.

Schettino could face up to 15 years in prison, he said.

At the closed hearing, a preliminary investigation judge will decide whether Schettino will remain detained. The captain has not yet been questioned, but more than 100 witnesses, including passengers and crew, have been interviewed, the prosecutor said.

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Filed under: World
January 17th, 2012
02:10 AM ET

EU expected to decide on controversial Hungary reforms

The European Commission is expected to issue a decision Tuesday on whether it considers certain reforms introduced by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government to be legal.

Both the European Union and and International Monetary Fund have said they will refuse to extend aid to Hungary, which is struggling financially, unless the government in Budapest guarantees the independence of the central bank.

The organizations say they are concerned the Hungarian government will have undue influence over monetary policy.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso wrote to Orban in December requesting the withdrawal of two recent bills related to the country's financial stability and the central bank. Orban rejected the requests.

The EU has raised the prospect of taking Hungary to the European Court of Justice, Europe's highest court, over Orban's constitutional overhaul.

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Filed under: World
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