February 7th, 2012
07:15 PM ET

Argentina to file protest against Great Britain at U.N.

[Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET] Amid escalating tensions over the Falkland Islands, Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner accused Great Britain of militarizing the South Atlantic and said Tuesday her country would file a protest at the United Nations.

Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

"I have instructed our chancellor to formally present before the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. General Assembly this militarization of the South Atlantic, which implies a great risk for international safety," she said during a speech in Buenos Aires.

"We're going to file a protest," Fernandez added.


[Initial post, 12:14 p.m. ET] Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has announced plans for what local media are calling a major announcement Tuesday amid escalating tensions between Argentina and Great Britain over the Falkland Islands.

Kirchner is gathering ruling and opposition party politicians, diplomats and veterans from the 1982 war between Britain and Argentina over the South Atlantic islands, which Argentina calls Las Malvinas, the English-language Buenos Aires Herald reported. Her announcement is scheduled for 7 p.m. local time (5 p.m. ET).

Speculation in recent days has been that Kirchner will cut the Falklands air link to the South American mainland by banning the airline LAN Chile from using Argentinian airspace to fly to the islands from Chile. The Saturday flights are the only scheduled air service to the Falklands and carry fresh food as well as passengers, Britain's Sky News reports.

Argentina already bans Falklands ships from its ports, an action joined by other South American and Caribbean nations.

"If the LAN Chile flight is cancelled, it would be pretty difficult to resist the already credible thesis that there is an economic blockade of the civilian population of the Falklands," a senior British diplomat in the region was quoted as saying by the UK's Guardian newspaper last week.

Though Britain won the 1982 war, expelling an Argentinian military force, Argentina still claims the territory, which has been under British rule since 1833, as its own. Britain maintains that the 2,500 residents of the Falklands have the right to determine their allegiance, and so far that has been staunchly British.

"We support the Falklands' right to self-determination, and what the Argentinians have been saying recently I would argue is actually far more like colonialism, because these people want to remain British, and the Argentinians want them to do something else," British Prime Minister David Cameron told UK lawmakers last month.

Tensions between London and Buenos Aires were raised even higher this month when Britain sent the second in line to the throne, Prince William, to the Falklands as a military helicopter pilot.

"Prince William is coming ... as a member of the armed forces of his country," Argentina's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "The Argentinian people regret that the royal heir is coming to the soil of the homeland with the uniform of the conqueror and not with the wisdom of a statesman who works in the service of peace and dialogue between nations."


February 7th, 2012
06:48 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Battle over federal aid moves to strip clubs, casinos

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.

"This gives a whole new meaning to 'stimulus money.' "

When a story is about strip clubs and welfare, the reader response is going to be colorful. LZ Granderson wrote an opinion column about a bill designed to prevent people from spending government assistance money in strip clubs and casinos. He argues that Democrats shouldn't bicker and try to oppose this bill.

'Strip club bill' a no-brainer

This commenter said Congress has better things to be doing.

fishfry001: "So LZ, if your position is right, then how come we can't get congress to pass laws putting them under the same health care coverage as the rest of us (maybe you have it, maybe you don't), And why don't they change the laws to stop the lifetime full pensions legislators earn for serving even just one term in congress? Those are very significant drains on taxpayer dollars and deserve to be changed right along with this "strip club" initiative. I'm certainly not saying that those receiving public assistance should be able to spend some of that money in strip clubs or the like, but I AM saying that if we are going to get so deeply into controlling the people at such a base level, with saving taxpayer dollars as the justification and congress is all for it, then it's high time congress made these other changes as well. Oh, and while we're at it, once they leave Washington they should never, ever be allowed to lobby. You've done your time, performed your service to the government, now go home. Taxpayers deserve nothing less. So, LZ – why don't you use your influence and get the dialog started on this initiative?"

Some readers suggested that the government assistance system needs tweaking.

grinch031: "The welfare system should be abuse-proof. No more cash. It should be in the form of vouchers that can only be used for necessities. If someone is able-bodied, welfare should be temporary, not permanent. Time to end the abuse."

This reader said the bill would be hard to enforce. FULL POST

Overheard on CNN.com: What is a 'marriage' anyway? Prop 8 commenters debate
In light of a federal appeals court's ruling against Proposition 8, readers are talking about the meaning of marriage.
February 7th, 2012
04:43 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: What is a 'marriage' anyway? Prop 8 commenters debate

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.

A federal appeals court ruled against Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage. It argued that the ban unconstitutionally singles out gays and lesbians for discrimination. People hashed out the finer points, but there are plenty of thorny questions involved. What is the definition of "marriage"? Who has a say in what parts of people's lives? What will the impacts of this decision be?

Appeals court rejects California's Proposition 8

This reader said they don't understand the controversy.

1doctor: "Kim Kardashian's 90-day marriage (for publicity) and Britney Spears' one-week marriage consummated during a drunken state in Las Vegas is legal, recognized and upheld as a foundation of society this is worthy of protecting. But, my 30+ year monogamous committed relationship with my same-sex 'partner' (hate that word) is illegal; a threat to marriage and the family. Maybe ... just maybe one day, our U.S. Supreme Court will settle this once and for all, making marriage equality real for all of us across this great nation."

But this person said they stand by their beliefs. Some agreed, and some did not.

M1sf1ts: "I will not condone, accept, or recognize a gay partnership as a marriage, nevermind the law."

worktolive: "Neither I nor my children nor my grandchildren nor any generation thereafter. They will be taught it is a sinful lifestyle and against God's will. And if our schools try to make our kids accept this against parents' wishes - homeschool or send them to a Christian school."

This was the most-liked comment:

yooobetcha: "This is a very bad day for religious fanatics who want to legislate their hate."

One interesting discussion started about the motivations behind the ban and possible impacts of the decision against it. FULL POST

February 7th, 2012
03:32 PM ET

Toobin: What Proposition 8 ruling means for California, other states

Editor's note: Shortly after a federal appeals court ruled against California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage Tuesday, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin answered questions about the implications of ruling and his reaction to it.


Proposition 8, the initiative passed by voters in 2008, is unconstitutional, a violation of the rights of gay and lesbian people who want to get married.


No - not yet. The 9th Circuit panel left a stay in place that will continue as long as the defendants in the case continue their appeal. Since the defendants have indicated they will continue their appeals, it is likely to be months before same-sex marriages may resume.


February 7th, 2012
01:59 PM ET

Slaughter in Syria: Rocket attacks, blood in the streets and a relentless fight for freedom

Throughout Syrian neighborhoods, the bombardment does not stop. It is relentless in its power. And it spares nobody, regardless of age.

Rocket and mortar fire pelts the town and the people striving to defend themselves against what they say is a brutal regime.

Graphic videos showing the battle against Bashar al-Assad's regime paint a gruesome picture of life in the country as residents struggle to release themselves from the grasp of a ruler they say they no longer want. Activists claim the Syrian city of Homs is under heavy bombardment by government forces, a claim the regime denies.

But the footage is so raw, it's hard to look at - and hard not to look at. While many of the details in the videos cannot be independently verified by CNN, the images alone are still haunting.

A child with bloodied clothing lies in a hospital, unable to move because her legs have been blown off. Some videos show bodies in the streets. Blood flows down the faces of people who are said to be victims of the attacks.

The blood of Syrians continues to flow, as does their anger - at both the regime they claim is killing them and international powers that have yet to be able to help stem the bloodshed.

The violence ratcheted up again after Russia and China on Saturday vetoed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution that would have demanded al-Assad stop the violence and seek a solution to the crisis.

Vetoes lead Syria to bloody stalemate

Many activists say they saw the vetoes as a green light for the Syrian regime to strengthen its crackdowns, though the government denies that.

After the vetoes, the U.S. and other governments said they would try other ways to pressure the Syrian government. On Tuesday, Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that the days of al-Assad's leadership "are numbered."

What is happening in Syria?


February 7th, 2012
01:03 PM ET

Calif. same-sex marriage ban violates Constitution, appeals court finds

[Updated at 1:26 p.m. ET] California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Tuesday.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to be appealed, to either the full court or to the U.S. Supreme Court. But supporters of same-sex marriages cheered the decision when it was announced outside the courthouse Tuesday morning.

The 2-1 decision found the ban - known as Proposition 8 - "served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationship and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples." That violates the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law, the decision states.

The 9th Circuit, in a hearing just over a year ago, indicated it was inclined to toss out Proposition 8. The court also rejected arguments by supporters of the ban that now-retired federal judge Vaughn Walker - who found Proposition 8 unconstitutional in 2010 - should have recused himself and let another judge hear the case.

Walker disclosed after his retirement that he is gay and in a long-term relationship, leading Proposition 8 advocates to argue he should have stepped aside.

California's Supreme Court had allowed same-sex marriages in California. But Proposition 8 passed with 52% of the vote in 2008, bringing an end to the practice.

Prior to Walker's ruling, the California Supreme Court allowed that initiative to stand, saying it represented the will of the people.

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Filed under: California • Gay and lesbian • Proposition 8
Komen executive resigns after Planned Parenthood controversy
Women in Seattle, Washington, hold signs Friday after the Komen foundation's reversed a decision to not fund Planned Parenthood breast exams.
February 7th, 2012
10:52 AM ET

Komen executive resigns after Planned Parenthood controversy

Karen Handel, a vice president with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, resigned her position Tuesday following a controversy over funding for some Planned Parenthood projects, the foundation said.

Komen last week initially said it was going to stop its Planned Parenthood funding, which Planned Parenthood said largely paid for breast exams at local centers. But Komen reversed the decision on Friday after facing pressure from lawmakers and internal dissent.

Handel, the foundation's vice president for public policy, opposes abortion, which is a service that Planned Parenthood provides. Handel was the driving force behind the foundation's decision not to renew parts of its longstanding partnership with Planned Parenthood, the Huffington Post reported earlier this week after reviewing internal e-mails at the foundation.

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Filed under: Abortion • Health • Politics
Italian cruise ship captain must remain under house arrest, judge rules
The captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner Francesco Schettino is escorted by an Italian policeman in Grosseto on January 14.
February 7th, 2012
10:05 AM ET

Italian cruise ship captain must remain under house arrest, judge rules

The Italian captain of the shipwrecked cruise liner Costa Concordia must remain under house arrest while investigators look into possible charges against him, a court in Florence, Italy, ruled Tuesday, a defense lawyer said.

The court rejected a prosecution motion that Francesco Schettino be sent back to jail as well as a defense motion that he be set free, according to lawyer Alessandro Antichi.

Schettino was "satisfied" that the court rejected the prosecution's request to send him back to jail, Antichi said. Attorneys will likely wait until February 9, when the full text of the court's decision is published, to decide whether to appeal, Antichi said.

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Filed under: Italy
February 7th, 2012
08:37 AM ET

Obama campaign returning contributions from donors tied to fugitive

The reelection campaign of President Barack Obama said Tuesday it plans to return about $200,000 in donations collected by two Chicago men after a newspaper report described their brother as a fugitive with alleged links to violence and corruption in Mexico.

"More than 1.3 million Americans have donated to the campaign and we constantly review those contributions for any issues. On the basis of the questions that have been raised, we will return the contributions from these individuals and from any other donors they brought to the campaign," Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said.

The announcement came after The New York Times published a report detailing alleged ties between two campaign donors and a Mexican casino magnate.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Elections • Illinois • Mexico • Politics
February 7th, 2012
08:28 AM ET

Kidnapped Chinese workers released in Sudan

More than two dozen Chinese construction workers abducted in Sudan have been released, China's official Xinhua news agency reported Tuesday.

The 29 workers flew out of Sudan aboard a Red Cross plane bound for Nairobi, Kenya, Xinhua reported, citing an unnamed source with the International Committee of the Red Cross. They were to be turned over to Chinese officials there, Xinhua said.

Rebels abducted the workers January 28 from a camp run by China's Power Construction Corp. in volatile South Kordofan. Eighteen other workers in the camp escaped the raid, which the Sudanese military blamed on the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North - a rebel force in the border region with neighboring South Sudan.

One worker died in the raid, Xinhua said. Sudanese authorities handed over the worker's body Tuesday, according to Xinhua.

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Filed under: China • Sudan • World
February 7th, 2012
07:33 AM ET

Tuesday's live events

The 2012 presidential race continues today with caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota, as well as a primary in Missouri.  CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

10:00 am ET - Bernanke on Capitol Hill - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will testify on the U.S. economic outlook and the federal budget before the Senate Budget Committee.


Filed under: Budget • Economy • Elections • Politics • Republican Party
Military mobilizes as death toll climbs in the Philippines
Residents carrying their belongings cross a damaged road, part of a national highway in the village of Tuway, Philippines on Tuesday.
February 7th, 2012
05:33 AM ET

Military mobilizes as death toll climbs in the Philippines

The death toll climbed to 48 on Tuesday from a strong earthquake that rocked the Visayas region of the Philippines, state media reported.

Another 92 people were reported missing as the nation's military scrambled 1,000 government troops to deal with the disaster, according to the Philippines News Agency.

"We have dispatched two ... choppers from Western Mindanao Command to help in the relief operations," military spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said.

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Filed under: Philippines • World
February 7th, 2012
05:02 AM ET

Russian official visits Syria to meet al-Assad

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Damascus on Tuesday to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, days after world leaders accused Russia of helping give the Syrian government a green light to kill more civilians.

While attempts at diplomacy have so far failed to curb the estimated thousands of deaths in the 11-month conflict, residents and opposition activists say they are desperate for international help in stopping the regime from slaughtering dissidents.

But Syrian state-run TV showed throngs of people waving Russian and Syrian flags in Damascus - highlighting the stark contrast in perception of what is happening in the country.

At least 128 were killed nationwide Monday, mostly in the besieged city of Homs, according to the opposition Syrian Revolution General Commission.

"The situation is beyond description," the commission said in a statement. "Some of these martyrs were killed with shrapnel and the others were under the rubble, and their bodies couldn't be identified because they were in remains."

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Russia • Syria • United Nations • World
February 7th, 2012
04:05 AM ET

Appeals court to rule on California's Proposition 8

A three-judge pannel with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to rule Tuesday on whether California's same-sex marriage ban violates the Constitution.

After a two-week trial in 2010, Federal District Court Judge Vaughn Walker - who has since retired - overturned the voter-approved measure known as Proposition 8, saying gay and lesbian couples were unfairly denied the right to marry.

Walker's decision came into question because he was gay and in a long-term relationship. The court is being asked to invalidate the ruling.

District Court Judge James Ware has previously upheld the ruling.

"It is not reasonable to presume that a judge is incapable of making an impartial decision about the constitutionality of a law, solely because, as a citizen, the judge could be affected by the proceedings," Ware ruled in June.

Ware, based in San Francisco, backed the original ruling by Walker that the ban on same-sex marriage in the state was unconstitutional - a violation of equal protection.

The 9th Circuit, in a hearing just over a year ago, indicated it was inclined to toss out Prop 8.

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Filed under: Justice • U.S.
February 7th, 2012
03:29 AM ET

Maldives president resigns after police revolt

President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives resigned Tuesday after members of the nation's police force revolted against his government.

In a nationally televised address, Nasheed said he felt unable to maintain security and peace in the country, according to Ahmed A. Rasheed, an executive producer at the state TV station.

About 200 policemen in the Maldives mutinied against the country's government and seized control of the state TV station, Rasheed said.

The policemen defected on Monday night in support of opposition groups that had been calling for Islam to play a greater role in the running of the country, Rasheed said.

Nasheed's office said the policemen had sided with the party loyal to the former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

The policemen gathered in Republic Square in the capital, Male, according to Rasheed, where a peaceful standoff with members of the Maldives defense forces turned violent Tuesday morning.

Rasheed described the situation in Male as "chaos."

The policemen took over the state TV station later Tuesday morning. They changed its name from the Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation back to its old name, Television Maldives.

The nation is an archipelago of almost 1,200 coral islands south-southwest of India. Its pristine beaches and rich marine wildlife are a lure for well-heeled Westerners.

In 2008, Nasheed became the country's first democratically elected president in 30 years.

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Filed under: World
LA elementary school, at center of abuse probes, replaces staff
Police stand outside Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, California, on Monday.
February 7th, 2012
02:38 AM ET

LA elementary school, at center of abuse probes, replaces staff

Students at Miramonte Elementary School will return to class later this week to a new staff because administrators do not want any more "surprises" at the Los Angeles school that is at the center of two child abuse cases.

The school will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday to "take a break," the Los Angeles Unified School system said.

When classes resume Thursday, a new staff and social workers will be at hand to receive them, said Los Angeles School District Superintendent John Deasy.

"I can't have anymore surprises at Miramonte," Deasy told an auditorium packed with parents Monday night. "And if there are more, then we'll have to deal with that."

Everyone from current custodians to teachers at Miramonte will be removed, he said.

Those staffers who are not being fired are expected, after undergoing special training, to resume work at another location, he said.

Staffers and students will be questioned as part of the ongoing criminal investigation.

Parents will also be given the option of transferring their children to one of four elementary schools in the area.

"The actions we are taking are not a condemnation of the entire staff," he said.

But it wasn't enough to appease outraged parents, who are demanding additional safeguards for the students.

"We're saying enough is enough," community leader Morris Grifton said at a demonstration Monday. "We want cameras in the classrooms, in the hallways and around the school."

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Filed under: Crime • U.S.
February 7th, 2012
02:26 AM ET

Greek unions set to strike over new austerity demands

Greek union members are expected to go on a daylong strike Tuesday to protest new austerity measures sought by foreign lenders as the country negotiates to keep its finances afloat.

Officials in Greece are under pressure to reach an agreement on a new bailout package with the threat of a default hanging over the country.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos met with officials from the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank on Monday to try and hammer out the details of a €130 billion bailout deal.

Greece needs the money to avoid defaulting on a €14.5 billion bond redemption in March. The concern is that a so-called disorderly default could force Greece out of the euro monetary union and shock the global financial system.

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Filed under: Economy • Politics • World
February 7th, 2012
01:59 AM ET

New York throws parade to honor Super Bowl winning Giants

Sunny and 45 F. That's the weather for New York City Tuesday morning - perfect for the thousands of residents who are expected to line city sidewalks to welcome home a Super Bowl winning team.

The city has planned a ticker tape parade for the New York Giants, which beat the New England Patriots over the weekend on a last-minute touchdown.

The 21-17 Super Bowl victory Sunday night was the fourth for the Giants and the second over New England. The Giants defeated the Patriots 17-14 in the 2008 title game.


Filed under: Sports • U.S.
February 7th, 2012
01:15 AM ET

Tuesday contests about bragging rights and momentum

Seventy delegates and a whole lot of momentum: That's what's at stake Tuesday when three states hold contests in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

It's the first day so far this cycle with multiple contests and with a total of 70 delegates up for grabs in caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota, it's the largest haul yet in the race for the White House. While the two states won't officially award delegates Tuesday night (that will happen down the road at district and state conventions), the news media, including CNN, will use them to keep track of unofficial delegate counts.

Coming just days after big victories in Florida and Nevada for Mitt Romney, the two caucuses and a nonbinding primary in Missouri, where Newt Gingrich isn't on the ballot, offer Rick Santorum and Ron Paul opportunities to win delegates and grab some momentum.

For Romney, who's making his second bid for the GOP nomination, a sweep of the three contests would make the former Massachusetts governor's bid for the nomination seem even more unstoppable than it already feels to many.

Romney's campaign appears to see its best chance of victory in Colorado. He canceled stops in Minnesota scheduled for Monday to concentrate on Colorado, where he'll spend caucus night. Romney, who won big in the state's 2008 caucuses, has been working Colorado since last summer and arguably has the strongest structure in the state.

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Filed under: Politics • U.S.
February 7th, 2012
01:13 AM ET

Strike in France expected to ground many overseas flights

Air France expects to cancel nearly half its long haul flights Tuesday as a strike by aviation workers enters its second day.

The workers, including pilots and flight attendants, have called for a four-day strike to protest a draft law that they say will curtail their right to strike.

The proposed law says that workers will have to provide a 48-hour notice before they strike.

"Since the arrival of the proposed law, the intentions of government and businesses are clear: removing all means of dissent from air travel personnel," the main pilot union, SNPL, said.

"Let there be no mistake: in the light of the government and businesses' will to muzzle airline pilots, we must speak with one voice," the union added.

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Filed under: Air travel • France • Travel • World