Overheard on CNN.com: Readers' interracial marriages
About 15% of new marriages in the United States in 2010 were between spouses of different races or ethnicities.
February 16th, 2012
06:40 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Readers' interracial marriages

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.

Both the number of interracial marriages and the acceptance of such couples is growing, according to a new study. But the relationships themselves still stir a bit of conversation, and we saw some fiery debates among our commenters. We also heard some stories from couples in interracial marriages.

Study: Interracial marriage, acceptance growing

This reader talked about her own interracial marriage.

lchristma: "As an Asian-American who married a white man, my race was not a factor to him. I had more concerns than he did. I knew he had never faced racism, and he would be judged. Culturally, it was not an issue, since my adopted parents are white. People should remember that the U.S. adopted many Asian children, which contributes to the increase. I just get annoyed with people wondering if I am a mail-order bride, can speak English, must be submissive, etc. Just more stereotypes that are not always true. Fortunately we live in a very educated, diverse, and liberal college town. We live there so we can give our children a safer and healthier environment. No one should grow up feeler lesser than others, due to others people’s ignorance."

For some couples, race is just about a nonissue.

casselli: "I am married to a 'white' man, and I don't see us as an 'interracial' marriage. I love him to death and adore his beautiful skin. I am Mexican, and he feels the same way about me. Needless to say our kids are gorgeous and lucky."


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Filed under: Overheard on CNN.com • Race
Baseball great Gary Carter dies after cancer battle
Gary Carter is pictured during his 1986 World Series-winning season with the New York Mets.
February 16th, 2012
05:29 PM ET

Baseball great Gary Carter dies after cancer battle

[Updated at 8:03 p.m. ET] Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, who played 19 Major League seasons and won a World Series with the New York Mets in 1986, died Thursday in Florida after battling brain cancer, according to Carter's family and the Hall of Fame.

He was 57.

"He is in heaven and has reunited with his mom and dad," said a message on the family's online journal chronicling Carter's health. "I believe with all my heart that dad had a standing ovation as he walked through the gates of heaven to be with Jesus."

Carter's death comes less than a month after the family announced that more tumors were found on Carter's brain. Carter initially was diagnosed with inoperable brain tumors in May.

Carter, an 11-time All-Star and two-time All-Star Game MVP, batted .262 with 324 home runs and 1,225 runs in a career that began and ended with the Montreal Expos (1974-1984; 1992), who retired his No. 8 in 1993, 10 years before he would be elected to the Hall of Fame.

He also played for the Mets (1985-1989), the San Francisco Giants (1990) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (1991). MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said Carter, driven by a remarkable enthusiasm for the game, "became one of the elite catchers of all time."

"'The Kid' was an 11-time All-Star and a durable, consistent slugger for the Montreal Expos and the New York Mets, and he ranks among the most beloved players in the history of both of those franchises," Selig said in a statement released Thursday. "Like all baseball fans, I will always remember his leadership for the '86 Mets and his pivotal role in one of the greatest World Series ever played."

During his first run with the Expos, from 1974 to 1984, he frequently was among the National League's top 20 batters in home runs, slugging percentage and runs batted in, even leading the league in RBI in 1984.

One of his career highlights came in 1986, when Carter was a key part of one of the wildest rallies in World Series history.

With the Mets one out away from losing the series to the Boston Red Sox, who were ahead 5-3 in the bottom of the 10th in Game 6, Carter singled and eventually was driven home with the singles of two teammates.

Later that inning with the score tied - in one of baseball's most memorable moments - the Mets' Mookie Wilson hit a grounder that slipped through the legs of Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner, allowing the Mets' Ray Knight to score the winning run. That improbable victory kept the Mets alive for Game 7, which they won two days later.

Earlier, Carter was a hero of Game 4, hitting two home runs and a double in the Mets' 6-2 win.

Wilson and other baseball stars from Carter's playing days recalled his enthusiasm for the game Thursday.

"The one thing I remember about Gary was his smile," Wilson said in a statement released by the Mets. "He loved life and loved to play the game of baseball."

"No one enjoyed playing the game of baseball more than Gary Carter," pitching great Tom Seaver said through the Mets, one of Seaver's former teams. "He wore his heart on his sleeve every inning he played. He gave you 110% and played the most grueling position on the field and that was something special."

Mets officials said Carter's nickname, "The Kid," captured "how Gary approached life."

"He did everything with enthusiasm and with gusto, on and off the field," said Mets chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon, President Saul Katz and COO Jeff Wilpon in a statement released after Carter's death. "His smile was infectious. He guided our young pitching staff to the World Series title in 1986 and he devoted an equal amount of time and energy raising awareness for a multitude of charities and community causes. He was a Hall of Famer in everything he did."

Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, said Carter's "enthusiasm, giving spirit and infectious smile will always be remembered in Cooperstown," the Hall of Fame's home.

"Our thoughts are with ... the entire Carter family on this very sad day," Clark said.

SI.com: Gary Carter, the light of the Mets

SI.com: Photos of Carter

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Filed under: Baseball • California • Canada • Florida • Montreal • New York • Sports
February 16th, 2012
04:40 PM ET

U.N. General Assembly passes resolution endorsing plan for al-Assad to step down

The United Nations General Assembly has passed a nonbinding resolution endorsing the Arab League plan for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to step down.

The vote was 137 in favor and 12 against, with 17 abstentions.

The symbolic resolution that condemns al-Assad's violent crackdown in Syria was introduced into the assembly after China and Russia blocked the Security Council from approving enforceable measures aimed at curbing the violence.

The vote followed news that al-Assad has moved up a vote on a constitutional referendum touted by his government as an important reform initiative. Critics have derided the move as window dressing.

"Today, the UN General Assembly sent a clear message to the people of Syria: the world is with you," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said in a statement. "An overwhelming majority of UN member states have backed the plan put forward by the Arab League to end the suffering of Syrians. Bashar al-Assad has never been more isolated. A rapid transition to democracy in Syria has garnered the resounding support of the international community. Change must now come."

The uprising in Syria - influenced by the Arab Spring movement that forced regime change in Egypt and Tunisia - was sparked about a year ago in the southern city of Daraa with demonstrators angered by the arrests of young people who scrawled anti-government graffiti.

Their grievances and calls for reforms were met with a violent security crackdown, and the unrest there served to catalyze anti-government ferment across the nation.

Thousands have died in the crackdown - well over 5,000, according to the United Nations. But the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition activist group, puts the toll at well over 7,000.

The resolution calls on Syria to end human rights violations and attacks against civilians immediately. It condemns all violence "irrespective of where it comes from" and "calls on all parties," including "armed groups," to halt violence.

Along with urging the government to cease violence, the resolution calls on it to protect the population, release prisoners "detained arbitrarily" during recent events, withdraw security personnel from cities and towns to barracks, and "guarantee the freedom of peaceful demonstration."

It also calls for an "inclusive" and violence-free "Syrian led political process."

"This resolution strongly condemns Assad’s 11-month campaign of murder and torture. It demands an end to the killing machine," Rice said in her statement. "It demands that the Syrian government release all political prisoners; assure the freedom of peaceful demonstrations; and guarantee full and safe access to Arab League representatives and international media, and to humanitarian aid workers, who seek only to protect a people who have endured unimaginable violence.

"The international community has just given its firm support to the Arab League's plan to facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system, 'in which citizens are equal regardless of their affiliations or ethnicities or beliefs.' The only question is how many more women, men and children - from demonstrators on Syria’s streets to those taking shelter in homes and hospitals - will suffer or be killed by Assad before that transition begins."

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Filed under: Syria • United Nations
February 16th, 2012
03:42 PM ET

'We'll die for our country, it doesn't matter,' Syrian activist says

Editor's note: With the Syrian city of Homs under siege, CNN interviewed an opposition activist using the pseudonym of "Danny" to find out more about what was happening on the ground. Danny, whose real name CNN is protecting, escaped the slaughter.

CNN traveled to an undisclosed location recently to interview activist Danny. For his safety, we are not disclosing where that was, and Danny has since moved.

Before leaving Homs, Danny shared his stories with CNN and posted videos on YouTube purporting to show the violence in Syria. CNN cannot verify these videos independently, but they appear to show a desperate situation. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh caught up with Danny to ask him about what's going on in Syria, what scenes keep him up at night and what he hopes will happen.

There are many things Danny wants the world to know about what he and others in the Syrian city of Homs have gone through. But mostly, he wants people to know it has gotten so bad, and so many people have died that it has become the norm in that town.

"What people have to see is the children getting killed. Not just the children, but when someone dies and the relatives get used to it," Danny says.

"One of my friends, his father got killed two weeks ago. I hugged him and he cried a little bit, but he kept going for like an hour, an hour and a half, going, coming, he was asking for a pen. So I caught him and I said, 'Why do you want a pen?'

 "He said he wanted to write on my Dad's body, on the sheets, his name so I don't lose it between the bodies.

"People are getting used to that kind of bodies in the street."

The scenes that have played out before him can keep Danny up all night. There are situations and people whom he remembers vividly.

"I've seen lots. You would not imagine. If I would go on about what I've seen, it would take me hours.

"What about the kid we picked up who's got no jaw left and he's still alive? What about the kid that's lost his two legs, and he's still alive? What about the kid who's lost his arms? My friend who's paralyzed now?  My friend who's lost his arm? My friend who lost an eyeball? My friend who got hit by a (sniper's bullet) that went in his mouth and went out ... (who) lost his teeth?

"These are all people who are scarred for life. I would rather get killed than be scarred like that.

"That's what people are scared about now - not dying. We'll die for our country. It doesn't matter.

"But that's different to losing a piece of your body."


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Filed under: Syria
'Underwear bomber' sentenced to life in prison
The U.S. Marshals Service released a photo of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab after his arrest in 2009.
February 16th, 2012
03:11 PM ET

'Underwear bomber' sentenced to life in prison

[Updated at 3:35 p.m. ET] A Nigerian man who pleaded guilty to trying to bring down a Christmas Day 2009 flight with an explosive device hidden in his underwear was sentenced to life in prison Thursday.

Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, 25, pleaded guilty in October to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, among other charges. Shortly before he was sentenced Thursday in a federal courtroom in Detroit, he argued a life sentence - for which prosecutors were arguing - would be "cruel and unusual punishment," as well as unconstitutional.

The judge rejected his argument.

U.S. officials say the terror group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula helped plot the bombing attempt on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, which was heading from the Netherlands to Detroit. Authorities say AbdulMutallab, a passenger, tried to ignite an explosive device that was hidden in his underwear shortly before the plane landed, but passengers and flight crew members subdued him and extinguished flames after the device briefly set him on fire.

The plane was carrying 289 people.

"As this investigation and prosecution have shown, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is a remorseless terrorist who believes it is his duty to kill Americans," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a Justice Department news release after Thursday's sentencing. "For attempting to take the lives of 289 innocent people, he has been appropriately sentenced to serve every day of the rest of his life in prison.

"Today's sentence once again underscores the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in both incapacitating terrorists and gathering valuable intelligence from them."

When pleading guilty in October, AbdulMutallab told the court that he aimed to avenge "the killing of innocent Muslims" and "U.S. tyranny and oppression of Muslims."

Overheard on CNN.com: Gimme a Triple Bypass, but hold the fries
A heart attack at the Heart Attack Grill? What do you think?
February 16th, 2012
02:06 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Gimme a Triple Bypass, but hold the fries

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.

The story about an apparent heart attack suffered at Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas was naturally a talker for readers of Eatocracy, our food blog. This story presents a bit of a quandary for some readers.

Man suffers heart attack while eating "Triple Bypass" burger at Heart Attack Grill

People who have been to the restaurant shared their opinions.

Amanda: "I've been to this place once when it was in Chandler, Arizona, and you get fat by just walking in the door. This place is a novelty restaurant, so you know what your getting into when you go there. You reap what you sow, if your going to eat a 6,000 calorie burger by yourself. But as much as this article highlights the restaurant, it probably wasn't the burger that gave him the heart attack ... just saying ..."

Tr1Xen: "No joke ... this guy's probably been eating food like that his whole life."

Can a Triple Bypass burger really give you a heart attack right then and there? FULL POST

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Filed under: Food • Health • Las Vegas • Nevada • Nutrition • Overheard on CNN.com • U.S.
February 16th, 2012
01:39 PM ET

Iranian President Ahmadinejad sends letter offering to resume nuke talks

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is offering to resume talks over its nuclear program as soon as possible, according to a copy of a letter he sent to the European Union and obtained by CNN.

Iran flaunted a new generation of centrifuges and mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle on Wednesday as Ahmadinejad, clad in a white lab coat, was on hand to load domestically made fuel rods into the core of a Tehran reactor.

Iran boasts nuclear progress

Also announced was an intent to start production of yellowcake, a chemically treated form of uranium ore used for making enriched uranium.

United Nations sanctions ban Iran from importing yellowcake. Domestic production would further Iran's nuclear self-sufficiency.

In a speech outlining the latest developments, Ahmadinejad said Iran was willing to share its nuclear knowledge with other nations that subscribe to the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).


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Filed under: Iran
Gotta Watch: Cool cars
Gotta Watch is along for the ride with vehicles that fold, fly and swim.
February 16th, 2012
12:11 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Cool cars

"Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads." So said Doc Brown at the end of "Back to the Future" just before he took off into the sky in his famed DeLorean.

The road less traveled or not traveled at all, in some very cool cars, has us talking today. The idea came to us after we saw a piece on a folding car that's perfect for the avid parallel parker. Adjust your mirrors and fasten your seat belts for today's Gotta Watch.


Folding car

No, it's not a Transformer, but wouldn't it be cool if this electric car from the brains at MIT made that Transformer sound?


Up, up and away!

Getting from here to there on the street? That's so five minutes ago. Check out this plane-car hybrid for the traveler who wants the best of both worlds.


Dive and drive

If you prefer mermaids to meter maids, strap on your SCUBA gear for this underwater wonder, which caught our eye back in 2008.

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Filed under: Air travel • Automobiles • Aviation • Technology • Uncategorized
February 16th, 2012
11:34 AM ET

Houston funeral preparations under way at New Jersey church

Preparations were under way Thursday for the private, invitation-only funeral of pop superstar Whitney Houston at the New Jersey church where she sang as a child.

Metal barricades were being erected around a tribute area in front of New Hope Baptist Church, where fans of Houston were leaving balloons, candles and photographs of the singer.

Inside, funeral directors met with members of the Newark, New Jersey, police, who will provide security for the event, said police Sgt. Ronald Glover.

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Filed under: New Jersey • Whitney Houston
February 16th, 2012
10:48 AM ET

Syria appears to be losing control in the north

Syrian security forces resumed their fierce shelling of opposition targets in Homs Thursday but appeared to be losing their tight grip in the northern region.

Government troops were stretched thin in their effort to control all fronts in the volatile country, while violence raged in the grass-roots anti-government uprising. The revolt has now entered its 12th month and the U.N. General Assembly prepared to take up a symbolic resolution condemning President Bashar al-Assad's brutal crackdown.

Syrian forces shelled the flashpoint city of Homs for a 13th straight day Thursday, targeting the opposition stronghold neighborhoods of Baba Amr, Inshaat and Khalidiya, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition activist group. Heavy sustained bombardment that commenced around 5 a.m., and dozens of injuries were reported.

In Idlib province in the northwest, people appear to be preparing for the possibility of a military offensive. Much of the region is in open revolt with villages and towns in the north out of government control for months.

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Filed under: Syria
February 16th, 2012
10:47 AM ET

Inside Syria: Farmers, teachers, carpenters armed with rifles fear massacre

Editor's note: CNN's Ivan Watson is reporting from northern Syria, where he is seeing rural communities opposed to President Bashar al-Assad's regime. He describes these areas as free of a strong government presence but says residents are concerned the Syrian army could launch a military offensive in the countryside if it's victorious in the city of Homs.

Watson is one of a few reporters in Syria, where the government has been placing restrictions on international journalists and refusing many of them entry at all. Below is an edited account of what Watson and his team are seeing and hearing on the ground:

The countryside here in northern Syria is in open revolt, and this is rebellion of farmers, of carpenters and of high school teachers.

Entire communities, villages and stretches of towns across northern Syria tell us that they have not seen the presence of central Syrian government authority in months.

They have been effectively governing themselves, and they have clearly established militias as well as pockets of what's been called the Free Syrian Army - defectors from the Syrian army who have joined these villages and rural communities in opposition to the Syrian government.

As we've traveled across this region, we've gone from village to village, from small council to small council, where young men and old, sit on the ground, chain-smoking, next to Kalashnikov assault rifles, weapons they say they've gotten within the last couple of months.

It does appear that villages and towns in northern Syria have been, basically, out of government control for months now, except when government forces have tried to conduct deadly incursions into these towns that are temporary at best.

Nearly everybody we talked to was able to show photos in their cell phones of neighbors, of relatives who have been killed in some of these incursions.


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Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Syria
February 16th, 2012
07:38 AM ET

Thursday's live events

The race to the Republican presidential nomination continues on February 22 with a GOP debate in Phoenix.  CNN.com Live is your home for all the news from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

8:30 am ET - Romney roundtable - Looking to keep his momentum going following wins in Maine and at CPAC, GOP candidate Mitt Romney holds a roundtable discussion on fiscal issues in Monroe, Michigan.


Filed under: Elections • Politics • Republican Party
February 16th, 2012
06:59 AM ET

Inside Syria: Wounds ooze, doctors cry in Syrian city

Editor's Note: CNN correspondent Arwa Damon is reporting from Baba Amr, a neighborhood that has become a symbol of the uprising in Syria, where she found impoverished and shaken residents who are facing shortages of supplies and daily attacks, yet they stand firm in their opposition to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Damon is one of a few reporters in Syria, where the government has been placing restrictions on international journalists and refusing many of them entry at all. Below is an edited account of what Damon and her team are seeing and hearing from activists in Homs as attacks continue:

Shelling had struck a medical clinic at least three times, shattering the windows. Inside, critically wounded patients were lying in hospital beds tended to by two doctors - an internist and a dentist.

The doctors said they had neither the equipment nor the expertise to help many of their patients. For example, one man would require that his leg be amputated if he were not transferred to a hospital within a day, a doctor said. The stench from the man's wound underscored the seriousness of his condition. The patient said the constant bombardment and the resulting carnage had stripped life of its meaning for him. As the man spoke, tears coursed down the doctor's cheeks.

A 30-year-old man whose brain had been pierced by shrapnel lay on the brink of death. The doctors had been able only to sew shut the wound and give him anti-clotting drugs.

Many of those who survive are taken to private homes nearby so that they can recover. Those trips can themselves be perilous, as snipers have taken up positions on rooftops in the neighborhood.

The two medical professionals are aided by 20 volunteers, each of whom has undergone 15 days of training. One of those volunteers, a young man who himself became a casualty in the shelling, died Wednesday.

"How can the world stay silent?" asked a nurse who had tried to comfort him. "They're human beings in front of us. These are not people who are made of stone."


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Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Syria
Bus, truck collision kills at least 6 in Ramallah
Rescue workers and security personnel gather at the site of a crash between a truck and a school bus outside Ramallah.
February 16th, 2012
06:26 AM ET

Bus, truck collision kills at least 6 in Ramallah

A bus carrying school children burst into flames after a collision with a truck outside the Palestinian city of Ramallah on Thursday, killing at least six people, authorities said.

Dozens more were injured and are undergoing treatment at Israeli and Palestinian hospitals.

Palestinian medical sources said five of those killed were students traveling with their teacher.

The school bus collided with a truck near a circle that acts as an interchange for traffic between Jerusalem and the West Bank, witnesses said.


Filed under: World
February 16th, 2012
02:35 AM ET

Bangkok bombers targeted Israeli diplomats, Thai police official says

A group that set off explosions in Bangkok this week intended to strike Israeli diplomats, a Thai police official said, intensifying a heated argument between Israel and Iran about a string of bombings in different countries.

Israel and Iran have traded accusations over attacks in Thailand, India and Georgia, with Israel pointing fingers at Tehran and the Iranian regime calling such claims a "prelude" to an Israeli attack.

"I can tell you that the target of the operation of this group is specifically aimed at Israeli diplomats," Police Gen. Priewpan Damapong said late Wednesday in an interview with CNN affiliate Channel 3.

His comments came after a senior Thai security official had drawn a tentative link between the Bangkok blasts and the attacks aimed at Israeli officials in India and Georgia, saying the materials used in the explosive devices were similar.

Two men allegedly involved in the Bangkok blasts have been arrested in Thailand and charged, the authorities said Wednesday.

Authorities arrested a third suspect in Malaysia and Thai police will send an arrest warrant to seek his extradition, said Col. Piya Uthayo, a police spokesman.

Thai officials have also issued an arrest warrant for a woman who is believed to have left Thailand.


Filed under: Crime • World
February 16th, 2012
02:15 AM ET

Congressional negotiators reach payroll tax cut deal

Multiple aides told CNN late Wednesday that Congressional negotiators have resolved all differences on a plan to extend a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits while avoiding a fee cut for Medicare doctors.

The roughly $100 billion payroll tax cut, a key part of President Barack Obama's economic recovery plan, has reduced how much 160 million American workers pay into Social Security on their first $110,100 in wages. Instead of paying in 6.2%, they've been paying 4.2% for the past year and two months. The break is worth about $83 a month for someone making $50,000.

"I'm glad to see that Congress seems to be on the way to making progress on extending the payroll tax cut so that taxes don't go up on all of you," Obama told a crowd in Wisconsin Wednesday afternoon after a tentative agreement had been announced. "It will make a real difference in the lives of millions of people and as soon as Congress sends (the bill) to my desk, I will sign it right away."


Filed under: Barack Obama • Economy • Politics • U.S.