March 8th, 2012
07:23 PM ET

Overheard on Psychiatric hospital shooting 'isn't some abstract tragedy'

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

Two people died and seven are being treated for injuries after a shooting Thursday afternoon  inside the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. Readers expressed their frustration with this event and shared their opinions on the genesis of it.

2 dead, 7 hurt in shooting at Pittsburgh psychiatric hospital

We heard from some people in the area. This commenter noted a somewhat close call.

PGH1980: "I was putting my jacket on and ready to go there to grab a quick bite for lunch when the first officer pulled up. If I had gotten my work done only a minute earlier, I would have walked right into it."

This reader called on others to hold off on the politics in discussing the issue.

rapier1: "I want you all to know that the people involved in this are real people. Two people are dead and seven injured. Shot. They were going about their day and now they are dead or wounded. Maybe this isn't 'real' for you, but I heard the sirens go by. This is happening blocks from me. This isn't some abstract tragedy, but real people who are now in pain, crippled, bleeding, and dead. There are people who will not be going home to their families tonight. People who don't have any more hopes and dreams. People, people just like you that are now *dead* and crippled. That *most* of you want to use this as a platform to spout off your inane pronouncements on gun control is just disgusting. It's the height of crassness. At least give it a day before you politicize the death and mayhem that happened here today."

Another commenter offered a local perspective. FULL POST

March 8th, 2012
06:27 PM ET

Ex-L.A. detective found guilty in 1986 murder of romantic rival

A Los Angeles County jury found a retired police detective guilty of first-degree murder Thursday in the 1986 death of an alleged romantic rival who married the detective's college sweetheart.

Stephanie Ilene Lazarus, now 51 and retired after rising through the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department, was accused of beating, biting and shooting to death Sherri Rasmussen, 29, in her townhouse in the suburban San Fernando Valley.

The judge scheduled sentencing for May 4. Lazarus faces 27 years to life in prison, prosecutors said.

Post by: ,
Filed under: California • Courts • Crime • Justice
March 8th, 2012
06:13 PM ET

Senate rejects GOP measure to build oil pipeline

The Senate narrowly rejected a Republican-sponsored measure Thursday that would have bypassed the Obama administration's current objections to the Keystone XL pipeline and allowed construction on the controversial project to move forward immediately.

Fifty-six senators voted in favor of the amendment - four short of the 60 required for approval. Eleven Democrats joined a unanimous Republican caucus in backing the plan.

The proposed 1,700-mile long pipeline expansion, intended to carry crude oil from Canada's oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, has become a political lightning rod. Supporters, including the oil industry, say it's a vital job creator that will lessen the country's dependence on oil imported from volatile regions.

Opponents say the pipeline may leak, and that it will lock the United States into a particularly dirty form of crude that might ultimately end up being exported anyway.

March 8th, 2012
05:11 PM ET

Solar storms causing few problems on Earth

Geomagnetic and solar radiation storms hitting Earth after Tuesday's solar flares may not be as big as advertised, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.

Together, such storms can affect GPS systems, other satellite systems and power grids, but none of these problems has been reported, even as the leading edge of the sun's coronal mass ejections from Tuesday hit Earth on Thursday morning, scientists said.

The geomagnetic storm has reached only G1 intensity on a scale from G1 (weak) to G5 (extreme), and the solar radiation storm is an S3 (strong) on a similar 1-to-5 scale, NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center said. Earlier, NOAA had predicted a G3/S4 event.

Still, the solar radiation storm has prompted some airlines to divert planes from routes near the north pole, where radio communications may be affected and passengers at high altitudes may be at a higher than normal radiation risk.

March 8th, 2012
03:01 PM ET

Court: Barbour's Mississippi pardons are valid

Mississippi's Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the pardons of more than 200 convicts issued by Gov. Haley Barbour on his way out of office, rejecting a challenge by the state's attorney general.

Attorney General Jim Hood had argued in court last month that Barbour failed to follow state law by filing proper notice in newspapers where the inmates' crimes had been committed.

But in its opinion Thursday, the high court wrote that the pardons "may not be set aside or voided by the judicial branch" on those grounds.

Among those Barbour pardoned before he left office in January were many convicted murderers, including four who had worked as "trusties" at the governor's mansion. Critics argued that the governor failed to consider the families of their victims before freeing them.

Overheard on 'Are there any more Wright brothers out there?'
Director James Cameron aims to reach Challenger Deep, the deepest known point in the world's oceans, this month.
March 8th, 2012
02:56 PM ET

Overheard on 'Are there any more Wright brothers out there?'

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

Director James Cameron, known for his blockbuster hits such as "Titanic" and “Avatar,” is aiming to take a record-breaking dive to the deepest known point in the world's oceans. He recently gave CNN a glimpse of his high-tech submersible, and the report about the project has inspired many readers to think in greater depth about the future of humanity.

Filmmaker James Cameron to explore the deepest depths of the ocean

Readers appeared sympathetic to the following comment.

OhGod!: "I'm just sad that all we can do is just type a whole bunch of dumb nonsense while people like Cameron and (Richard) Branson are actually out there and doing these things. I wish we would stop the BS talk and get motivated to do these things ourselves, instead of relying on a couple of billionaires to do it for us. What happened to American pioneerism? Are there any more Wright brothers out there? What a shame. You may now begin bashing me. ..."

intothemoonbeam: "No bashing here, I agree with you."

Some lamented that exploration is harder and more complicated today. FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: Overheard on • Science
March 8th, 2012
12:31 PM ET

Lawmakers announce bill prohibiting indefinite detention in U.S.

Two Democratic members of Congress announced a bill Thursday that would prohibit the indefinite detention of any suspected terrorist apprehended in the United States, whether or not the suspect was a U.S. citizen.

Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado said the legislation would ensure that anyone captured, detained, or arrested in the United States on suspicion of terrorism will go through the civilian justice system and be provided due process rights awarded under the Constitution.

This would not apply to suspected terrorists captured overseas who are now being held at the U.S. military facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"The goal here is to have clarity, first of all, on how these people are handled in the U.S., and second of all, to reassert the primacy and the importance of our civil justice system," Smith said. "It is our contention that our civil justice system absolutely protects us from the threat in this case."

The bill is aimed at amending a controversial provision added to the National Defense Authorization Act that gave the military the authority to indefinitely detain anyone suspected of terrorism in the United States.

"More than 10 years later, one thing has become absolutely clear: our criminal justice system in the U.S. is 100% adequate to take care of this problem," said Smith, who claimed that more than 400 terror suspects have been tried successfully by U.S. civilian courts. "But at the same time, on the books we have a law that gives the executive branch the power to indefinitely detain people here in the U.S., even U.S. citizens. And we believe that we should take that off the books."

The National Defense Authorization Act was strongly contested in Congress last year, with the issue of indefinite detention being high on the list of concerns for those who opposed its passing. President Barack Obama threatened to veto the bill, but after amendments were made, he relented.

Affiliate roundup: Grannies fight baggie pants; hot tub a no-no in dorm room
North Carolina women try a humorous approach in their campaign against sagging pants with a YouTube video for "ThongPends."
March 8th, 2012
10:58 AM ET

Affiliate roundup: Grannies fight baggie pants; hot tub a no-no in dorm room

A sampling of Thursday morning's headlines from some CNN affiliates nationwide:

WBTV: Granny thongs might make men pull up their pants

Two North Carolina grannies are tired of seeing men's rear ends because their pants hang low. So Beverly Terry and Sandy Diehl decided to strike back, according to CNN affiliate WBTV-TV in Charlotte, North Carolina.

You could call it a version of an eye for an eye - or perhaps a backside for a backside. The women have created what they are calling "ThongPends" to try to counter the baggie pants issue.

The two decided to launch a video to promote their cause.

"We saw the boys with the saggy baggies hanging out, and we decided how would they like it if their grandmothers had their underwear hanging out?" Terry says in a video on YouTube.

You can watch their pitch here:

Read more about the women's efforts

WEWS: Hot tub in dorm room must go

There's making your dorm room your new home, and then, well, there's putting a hot tub in one.


March 8th, 2012
10:53 AM ET

Public assistance pulled from lottery winner

A Michigan woman who won the lottery but continued to receive food assistance from the state government has had her benefits pulled, officials said.

Amanda Clayton hit it big playing the Michigan Lottery. Like many winners, she used her $1 million prize to buy a new house.

But the Lincoln Park, Michigan, resident continued to receive money in another form - $200 a month in state food assistance, according to CNN Detroit affiliate WDIV.

Her story made headlines, and on Thursday, the state's Department of Human Services announced that she is no longer getting the benefits.

According to Michigan law, welfare recipients must report any changes in assets or income to the agency within 10 days.

The department "relies on clients being forthcoming about their actual financial status. If they are not, and continue to accept benefits, they may face criminal investigation and be required to pay back those benefits," Director Maura Corrigan said in a statement.

Post by:
Filed under: Michigan
UK pants label: Give laundry to 'your woman'
This tweet from British journalist Emma Barnett show's the laundry tag from a pair of Madhouse pants
March 8th, 2012
10:28 AM ET

UK pants label: Give laundry to 'your woman'

A firestorm set off in a pair of men's trousers has left a British apparel company deflecting allegations of sexism and denying that it thinks laundry is strictly a woman's job.

It's not every day that clothing care instructions spark controversy. But that's what happened after British journalist Emma Barnett picked up her boyfriend's pants over the weekend while tidying the house.

Underneath the usually customary "machine wash warm" instructions, the tag offered a less appropriate option: “OR – GIVE IT TO YOUR WOMAN, IT’S HER JOB.”

Barnett tweeted an image of the tag on Monday, prompting an immediate outcry on social media and demands to out the company, Madhouse. The ensuing controversy has divided the citizenry into two camps: those who thought it was hilarious, with some asking how they can buy a pair, and those who found it offensive.

"Now normally I am the type of person who can stomach, and often smile along, with a touch of what has just become known as casual sexist 'banter,’ " Barnett, digital media editor for the the Daily Telegraph, wrote in a column. 

"Usually sexist jibes, statements, or even t-shirt logos, have some kind of juvenile or puerile humour to them. There’s more often than not a slight hint of tongue-in-cheek that allows most women to just pass off the remark or slogan as ‘stupid banter’ – even if they are seething inside," she said.

"There was no attempt at wit, and unlike the Topman t-shirts, which offended so many with their brazen slogans to be worn across young men’s chests – this was a hidden message – or rather an order, intended to encourage women to reassume their once their ‘proper place’ (in the home) and young men to maintain the expectations of their grandfathers.

Many who took up the issue on social media agreed with her.

"Way to alienate a substantial part of your potential customer base :O," Mfy Nixon said, echoing the sentiments of many who would later join the discussion on Twitter.


March 8th, 2012
07:36 AM ET

Thursday's live events

The race to the Republican presidential nomination remains up in the air. Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - Rutgers cyber-bullying trial - The trail of a former Rutgers University student accused of bullying his roommate, who later committed suicide, continues in New Jersey.


Filed under: Elections • Politics
March 8th, 2012
06:26 AM ET

EU kills Kill Bill-style video over racism complaints

Somewhere, Quentin Tarantino is laughing hysterically.

Trying to riff on one of the bad-boy movie director's iconic characters, the European Union has landed itself in a whole mess of trouble.

The 27-nation bloc released a video last week trying to promote an anti-racist message, then pulled it days later amid accusations that the clip itself was racist.

It features a white woman wearing a yellow track suit, like that of the Uma Thurman character The Bride in Tarantino's two-part kung-fu fest "Kill Bill."

Standing alone in an abandoned train station, she is threatened first by an east Asian karate master, then a scimitar-wielding turbaned Arab, and finally a bare-chested, dreadlocked black man.

Filed under: Politics • World
March 8th, 2012
03:44 AM ET

World powers to issue joint statement ahead of new nuclear talks with Iran

World powers who agreed to resume nuclear talks with Tehran are set Thursday to issue a joint statement outlining concerns about Iran's enrichment of uranium at underground facilities, a diplomat told CNN.

The proposed talks come after Iran signaled a willingness to let U.N. inspectors visit a military base that some suspect is involved in the development of nuclear weapons, a move that could possibly ratchet down rising tensions between Iran, Israel and the West.

Israel, the United States and other countries have long said they suspect Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons, and international inspectors have voiced concern about the possibility. Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

In the statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia - as well as Germany are expected to call for inspectors to return to Tehran, according to the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.


Filed under: Politics • U.S. • World
Obama to host Ghanaian president at the White House
Ghanian President John Evans Atta Mills
March 8th, 2012
02:45 AM ET

Obama to host Ghanaian president at the White House

President Barack Obama plans to host his Ghanaian counterpart at the White House on Thursday, nearly three years after he visited the West African nation.

Obama visited Ghana in July 2009, where he met President John Evans Atta Mills and addressed the nation's parliament.

Mills' visit gives Obama a chance to reciprocate the warm hospitality he and the first lady got during their Ghana trip, according to the White House.

Obama's 2009 trip was his first presidential visit to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Post by:
Filed under: Politics • U.S.
March 8th, 2012
12:16 AM ET

U.S. and North Korea press on with food aid talks

Talks between U.S. and North Korean officials in Beijing to thrash out the details of a plan to allow the resumption of food aid to the North continued into a second day Thursday.

Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, is meeting representatives from Pyongyang to finalize points like what ports will be used to dock incoming ships, how the distribution of the food will be monitored and which nongovernmental organizations will be involved.

"We've made progress," King said Wednesday after two sessions of talks. "We still have issues to resolve and will be meeting tomorrow to deal with those issues."

North Korea last week announced an agreement to freeze its nuclear and missile tests, along with uranium enrichment programs, and allow the return of U.N. nuclear inspectors. The United States said it would provide 240,000 metric tons of nutritional assistance to the impoverished country.


Filed under: Politics • U.S. • World