March 13th, 2012
08:05 PM ET

Overheard on Who stands to gain from ongoing contraception debate?

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.

We saw a fiery response to Sandra Fluke's opinion article about the Rush Limbaugh "slut" controversy. Many of our readers were outraged that a religious organization would be forced to pay for contraception coverage, while others said people are paying for their insurance and contraception can be a medical necessity. Women and men alike wondered how much of the debate was politically motivated.

Sandra Fluke: Slurs won't silence women

One reader said this article turned them "180 degrees away" from Fluke, and said they don't want the public to have to pay for contraception

lovedodos: "There is no other non medical necessity that is mandated to be covered by insurance that I know of. Fluke does not make a case for that but simply regurgitates traditional feminist arguments of equality. As an aside, Fluke, who is not a Catholic, should avoid making herself look stupid by trying to define Catholicism. It is not a 'social justice' based faith! It is a scriptual and tradition-based faith and social justice is an element of the teachings that arise from that base. WDR"

Another said they don't think religious organizations should take contraception out of insurance coverage.

LuluB: "You're not being forced to pay for anything. Insurance doesn't work that way. You are not allowed to pick and choose how others will be covered. This issue is about a religious group attempting to stop someone from having a care option that they've paid for. Religious conservatives are free to not take advantage of a health service that they disagree with. They are not, however, allowed to break our laws and oppress others based on religious doctrine. The USA is not a theocracy."

Some were debating the political benefits each side is getting from the contraception issue. Mary Beth Cox of Richmond, Virginia, was the iReport Pundit of the Week after sharing her opinions in a video, which she titled "I have government-funded birth control." In commenting on the candidacy of Sen. Rick Santorum, she said she fears that conservatives are using the issue of contraception as a smokescreen for real issues. FULL POST

U.N. official critical of Manning detention
Bradley Manning faces 22 charges, including aiding the enemy
March 13th, 2012
12:50 PM ET

U.N. official critical of Manning detention

U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of aiding the enemy by passing reams of classified military documents to WikiLeaks, may have been treated inhumanely by the U.S. military since his arrest in 2010, according to a report from the United Nations' top official on torture.

The findings are the result of a 14-month long probe conducted by U.N. special rapporteur Juan Mendez and released late last month. They could spark a debate about Manning's case as it winds toward a court-martial later this year. The latest hearing in Manning's case is scheduled for later this week, at which motions made when Manning was charged on February 23 will be heard.


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Filed under: WikiLeaks
March 13th, 2012
11:34 AM ET

Closing arguments begin in Rutgers roommate-spying trial

Closing arguments began Tuesday in the trial of a former Rutgers student accused of spying on and intimidating his gay roommate, who later killed himself by jumping off New York's George Washington Bridge.

On Monday, the defense rested without the defendant, Dharun Ravi, testifying on his own behalf.

The jury will consider 15 counts against Ravi, including bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, tampering with physical evidence, witness tampering and hindering apprehension or prosecution.

The case caught national attention in 2010 after the suicide of Ravi's roommate, Tyler Clementi. His death stirred discussion about bullying, with President Barack Obama releasing a videotaped message less than a month later condemning such treatment.

Ravi and fellow student Molly Wei - who admitted joining Ravi to watch a surreptitious webcam encounter involving Clementi and another man in September 2010 - were charged in the wake of Clementi's death.

Facing two counts of invasion of privacy, Wei reached a plea deal in May 2011 that required her to testify against her friend and former high school classmate, as well as to complete a three-year program on cyberbullying and do 300 hours of community service.

But Ravi, now 20, turned down a plea deal offered by Middlesex County prosecutors that would have let him avoid jail time in exchange for undergoing counseling, doing 600 hours of community service and disposing of any information that could identify the man who appeared in the web video with Clementi.

He faces 10 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Justice
March 13th, 2012
11:28 AM ET

Afghanistan massacre: A search for answers as questions arise, anger flares

A U.S. soldier is accused of shooting nine children, three women and four men in a house-to-house rampage in villages near his combat outpost in southern Afghanistan on Sunday.

The incident has sent ripples across the U.S. and the world, sparking threats of revenge from the Taliban, concern about the political implications of the attack and outrage from villagers.

There are more questions than answers around this horrific attack: What exactly happened when the soldier entered those villages Sunday? Who was the soldier behind this attack? Why did he do it? What are the political ramifications of this attack? And how will it affect the goal of peace in Afghanistan and future U.S. relations with the country?

How much do we know about what happened?

The shootings are believed to have begun between 2 and 3 a.m. Sunday in Panjwai district in Afghanistan's Kandahar province when the soldier went from house to house opening fire, according to officials and witnesses from the village.

"One guy came in and pulled a boy from his sleep, and he shot him in this doorway," one mother in the village told CNN. "Then they came back inside the room and put a gun in the mouth of one child and stomped on another child."

While investigators try to figure out exactly what happened, villagers say that the evidence that remains from the shooting paints a grisly picture. Shell casings were strewn across the streets. A dead toddler with a blood-stained face was lying sandwiched between two other dead men in the back of a pickup truck. In another truck, not far away, a blanket covered the charred bodies of two more victims.

A local minister told CNN that one family alone lost 11 members during the shooting spree.

"Look at this. The bodies - they all belong to one family," a villager cried.

While the bodies are mostly now covered or have been removed, the reminders of what happened literally still stain the village.

The floors and the walls of several homes in this area are splattered with the blood of those ambushed during the early morning attack.

The attack has shaken residents of the area in the western part of Kandahar, which is known to have a strong Taliban presence. Villagers there told CNN they are enraged. Residents say they moved back to the village because people on the nearby military base had said it was safe to return home, and that nobody would bother them.

Now, men openly weep in the street. Dreams of peace are now replaced with much of sorrow, and many people are crying and trying, through tears, to come to terms with what happened in Panjwai. 

Who is the soldier accused in the shooting?

Details about the soldier are beginning to emerge, but they are sparse. So far, it's known that he was a qualified infantry sniper, according to a senior U.S. Department of Defense official. 

The unidentified suspect served three tours of duty in Iraq before being deployed to Afghanistan, said Gen. John Allen, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan. A U.S. military official, who asked not to be named because he was talking about an ongoing investigation, said the suspect is an Army staff sergeant who arrived in Afghanistan in January.


Murdoch insider Brooks arrested in hacking probe, British media report
Former News International Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks is seen leaving parliament in July 2011 after testifying on the phone hacking scandal.
March 13th, 2012
11:21 AM ET

Murdoch insider Brooks arrested in hacking probe, British media report

Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of the British tabloid News of the World and a close confidante of its owner Rupert Murdoch, was arrested Tuesday in connection with a phone-hacking investigation, the British Press Association reported.

London's Metropolitan Police confirmed that six people were detained on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, but refused to name them.

Brooks' spokesman David Wilson and the publisher of the defunct News of the World both declined to comment.

Brooks was arrested in July over phone hacking and police bribery. She was released on bail after a day of questioning.

Tuesday's reported arrest could mean that she will face additional charges in an ever-widening scandal that has spawned three police investigations, two parliamentary committee probes and an independent inquiry.

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Filed under: News of the World • United Kingdom
March 13th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

U.S., EU file trade case against China over rare earths

The United States, the European Union and Japan filed a trade case Tuesday over China's export restrictions on minerals that are crucial for the production of many high-tech devices, according to EU and U.S. officials.

The case aims to pressure China to lift export limits on certain minerals known as rare earths, a senior Obama administration official said.

China produces 97% of all rare earths, according to the EU. The materials are used in products including flat-screen televisions, smart phones, hybrid car batteries, wind turbines, energy-efficient lighting, electronics, cars and petroleum.

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Filed under: China
Hawaii mystery: Child's fingers found in trash
The fingers were found in this trash bin a month ago.
March 13th, 2012
08:48 AM ET

Hawaii mystery: Child's fingers found in trash

Police in Honolulu are asking for the public's help in finding the answers to a horrible mystery: How did the fingers of a child end up in a trash bin at a housing complex?

The fingers were found a month ago, according to a Honolulu Police Department news release.

"Laboratory testing has determined that the fingers are those of a child," police said in Monday's release.

The fingers are those of a girl, 2½ to 4 years old, CNN affiliate KHON-TV reported, citing police sources. Six fingers were recovered, according to the report.


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Filed under: Crime • Hawaii
March 13th, 2012
07:34 AM ET

Tuesday's live events

The race to the Republican presidential nomination continues today with primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, as well as caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa. 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 - Closing arguments are expected in the trial of a former Rutgers University student accused of bullying his roommate, who later committed suicide.


Filed under: Crime • Elections • Justice • Politics • Republican Party
Delta jetliner rolls off taxiway during test
The Delta 737 rolled off a taxiway early Tuesday morning.
March 13th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Delta jetliner rolls off taxiway during test

A Delta Airlines jetliner veered off a taxiway during maintenance testing at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport early Tuesday, causing significant damage to the aircraft, an airline spokesman said. No one was injured, he said.

"Mechanics testing the engines of a Boeing 737-700 this morning experienced a problem with the plane’s braking system," Delta spokesman Eric Torbenson said.

The plane left a taxiway near 8 Right at the airport, he said, and rolled partially down an embankment.

There were no passengers aboard, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said.

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Filed under: Aviation • Georgia
March 13th, 2012
05:54 AM ET

Limited violence along Israel-Gaza border after cease-fire

Palestinian militants lobbed more rockets and mortars into Israel early Tuesday even after the two sides agreed to a cease-fire mediated by Egypt.

While there seemed to be consensus that a cease-fire deal had been reached, each side appeared to have a different interpretation of what the agreement entailed.

Daoud Shehab, a leader with the Palestinian miliant group Islamic Jihad, said, a truce began at 1 a.m. local time, but was based on the condition that Israel wouldn't carry out targeted killings. Amos Gilad with the Israeli Defense Ministry said that was never a part of the deal.

The Israeli military said suspected militants fired three rockets and mortars into Israel early Tuesday.

"There is an understanding, at the moment the direction is toward calm and it appears, unless there are last minute developments, that this round is now behind us," Homeland Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said Tuesday on Israeli radio.

The cease-fire agreement was reached with the help of Egyptian mediators, an Egyptian intelligence official said.


Filed under: World
France's Sarkozy denies taking money from Gadhafi
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was "known for talking nonsense."
March 13th, 2012
05:04 AM ET

France's Sarkozy denies taking money from Gadhafi

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has denied taking money from the Gadhafi family during his 2007 run for France's highest office, calling the allegation "grotesque."

He said the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was "known for talking nonsense," and challenged his son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi to produce records of the donations.

Sarkozy was responding to allegations which surfaced on the Internet ahead of the French presidential election scheduled for April 22.

"I am sorry that a big channel like TF1 is taking from information from the documents from Mr. Gadhafi or his son," Sarkozy said in the interview, which aired on Monday night on TF1.

"When one quotes Mr. Gadhafi, who is dead, or his son, who is standing trial, the credibility is zero. And when you drag up their accounts with these questions you are asking, you quite degrade this political debate," he said in an attack on interviewer Laurence Ferrari.

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Filed under: France • Libya • World
March 13th, 2012
04:25 AM ET

Hundreds protest in Afghanistan over shooting of civilians

Hundreds of people took to the streets Tuesday in eastern Afghanistan to protest the recent killing of 16 civilians, which has been blamed on a U.S. soldier who walked off base in the middle of the night and went door-to-door on a shooting spree.

In Jalalabad, near the border with Pakistan, "hundreds of protestors, many of whom are university students, have taken to the streets," said Ahmad Zaii Abdulzai, a spokesman for Jalalabad Naghar Province.

He said there had not been any damage or casualties from the protests, but the Jalalabad-Kabul highway was closed to traffic.

"We are in the process of trying to re-open," he said.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • World
Obama, Cameron to go to basketball game
President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron met in New York last year.
March 13th, 2012
03:40 AM ET

Obama, Cameron to go to basketball game

President Barack Obama, a well-known basketball fan, will treat British Prime Minister David Cameron to a little March Madness Tuesday as the two head to Ohio to catch an NCAA men's tournament basketball game.

There will be two games tipping off the tournament in Dayton, Ohio, a swing state. During halftime of the first game, Western Kentucky versus Mississippi Valley State, the two leaders will conduct a joint interview.

The leaders' trip to the game comes as Obama launched his new tournament "bracket challenge" on his campaign website.

Obama is asking those who visit the website to predict who will win the college basketball championship and to compare their picks against his.

March 13th, 2012
02:19 AM ET

U.N.: More than 8,000 have been killed in Syrian crisis

Opposition activists have declared Tuesday a day of mourning across Syria as the death toll from a year of government attacks escalates out of control.

More than 8,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, including many women and children, said Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, president of the U.N. General Assembly. Opposition activists have put the toll at more than 9,000.

"Violations of human rights are widespread and systematic," Al-Nasser said Monday. "The international community has a responsibility to act."

But how to act remains a point of contention.

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Syria • United Nations • World
March 13th, 2012
01:56 AM ET

'Whitey' Bulger girlfriend to plead guilty

The longtime companion of notorious fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger agreed to plead guilty to several charges against her related to her infamous 16-year run from authorities with her alleged mobster boyfriend.

Catherine Greig will plead guilty to the charges of conspiracy and two counts of identity theft charges, according to court documents.

Greig will not have to testify against Bulger at his upcoming trial, CNN affiliate WCVB reported.

"In early 1995, I agreed to join Bulger and travel with Bulger during his flight from law enforcement. From January 1995 through June 22. 2011, I also agreed with others, including Bulger, to harbor and conceal him from law enforcement," Greig said in court documents.

Bulger, 82, has previously pleaded not guilty to all charges against him, including 19 murder charges.

Bulger, who is being held without bail, was the head of a South Boston Irish gang before he fled an impending racketeering indictment in 1995. He evaded law enforcement for 16 years before he and Greig were arrested in June 2011 in Santa Monica.

The couple had, for several years, hid in plain sight in this palm-tree-lined oceanside city by Los Angeles in a three-story building named Princess Eugenia.

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Filed under: Crime • U.S.
Bolivia's Morales to UN: Legalize coca-leaf chewing
Bolivian President Evo Morales said chewing coca leaves is a tradition in his country.
March 13th, 2012
01:55 AM ET

Bolivia's Morales to UN: Legalize coca-leaf chewing

Holding up a coca leaf at a U.N. meeting on narcotics Monday, Bolivian President Evo Morales defended the practice of chewing on the leaves as tradition and urged the body to reconsider its decision to declare it illegal.

Coca leaves, the raw ingredient used in the making of cocaine, were declared an illegal substance under Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, along with heroin and others.

"I want to ask the assistance of the international community in correcting a historical error that was committed against the Bolivian people when it unreservedly ratified the Single Convention Against Narcotic Drugs of 1961," Morales told the 55th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Austria.

Bolivia has withdrawn from the convention, but said it would rejoin if the traditional consumption of coca leaf is allowed to continue.

Morales, a former union leader for coca growers, told the body his country has designated $20 million to fight cocaine traffickin - but cultural "producers of coca leaf are not drug dealers; consumers of coca leaf are not drug addicts," he said.

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Filed under: Bolivia • World
March 13th, 2012
12:19 AM ET

U.S. to file trade case against China over rare earths

The United States plans to announce Tuesday that it is filing a trade case over China's export restrictions on minerals that are crucial for the production of many high tech devices, a senior Obama administration official said.

The European Union and Japan will join the United States in the case, which aims to pressure China to lift export limits on certain minerals known as rare earths, the official said Monday.

China produces about 95% of all rare earths, which are used to make products like flat-screen televisions, smart phones and hybrid cars.

The United States will ask the World Trade Organization, the organization tasked with monitoring trade between nations, to serve as a facilitator in talks with China, according to the U.S. official.

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Filed under: Business • China • Economy
March 13th, 2012
12:07 AM ET

Will Deep South primaries deep six a candidate?

Can Alabama and Mississippi do what Super Tuesday failed to do - give the race for the Republican presidential nomination more clarity?

Rick Santorum heads into Tuesday's primaries coming off a big win Saturday in Kansas, where the former senator from Pennsylvania took more than half the vote in that state's caucuses.

For House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who won big in his former home state of Georgia last Tuesday, doing well in the Deep South is crucial to keeping alive his hopes of winning the White House.

And for front-runner Mitt Romney, the strategy seems to be downplaying expectations and hoping for a better than expected finish.


Filed under: Politics • U.S.