Artist LeRoy Neiman dies at 91
June 20th, 2012
11:34 PM ET

Artist LeRoy Neiman dies at 91

American artist LeRoy Neiman, known for his handlebar mustache and his portrayals of athletes, has died in New York, his publicist said. He was 91.

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Filed under: Art • Obituary • Sports • U.S.
Overheard on Are you a 'huggy' person? Would you make a child hug?
Some experts advise parents not to make their children hug and kiss relatives, so children will feel in control of their bodies.
June 20th, 2012
09:00 PM ET

Overheard on Are you a 'huggy' person? Would you make a child hug?

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.

As the Jerry Sandusky trial moves forward, some people are talking about the roots of child molestation. Katia Hetter wrote an article about whether children should be required to hug or kiss their grandmothers, their relatives, and other people children are typically asked to embrace. Readers had varying attitudes toward such compulsory affection and any possible consequences that could result.

I don't own my child's body

Many readers were in support of letting the child have some freedom over who they hug and kiss, but others said there are lessons to be learned about manners and the way to show affection.

runabout: "Good article. I visited my cousin (who I had not seen in 10 years) and she practically forced her daughter to hug me goodbye. This kid had never seen me in her life and had now seen me for all of two hours. She didn't want to hug me. And I was OK with that. It felt weird she got forced by her Mom. I kept saying, 'It's OK, I understand ... why should she hug someone she barely knows.' Since I brought a little gift, it was appropriate that her Mom reminded her to say 'Thank You.' And I agree that a Mom should teach their kids to formally say 'Goodbye' to guests. But forcing unwanted touching? And if a older relative is offended ... tell them to get over it ... they are adults."

2sc00ps: "Um, long-lost cousin vs. grandmother is completely different. You're damn right you're going to hug the woman who gave your mother/father life so you could have life."

But what if there is something else going on with the child?

FreonP: "All of the people agreeing with the author clearly know nothing about autism or myriad other problems that can make an adult seem different or creepy to a child. They assume that a child's instincts are correct and that no child is ever controlling or cruel toward adults. If the child doesn't like hugging anyone, fine. But don't encourage the child to be cruel by discriminating."

Hugging can be a greeting in some cases.

russpro82: "But is asking them to give their grandmother a hug really a matter of controlling their body? It's a way that we greet people who are close and special to us, and I think if we explain to our children that we should hug grandma because she is a special lady and she deserves a hug, then we are teaching them that hugging is OK for special people but not for just anyone."

Scarred for life?

banjoist1234: "I have a friend who was forced by their parent to kiss their grandmother in her casket, and he carried that horrible memory into adulthood. Hearing him talk about it, you could hear the anger and resentment in his voice towards the parent, 40 years later. Kids are not intelligent obedient pets; they're human beings, and it's their body to control as they wish."

This person said they experienced an episode of abuse when younger, and didn't want their child to feel obligated to touch anyone. FULL POST

Alert level raised for Alaska volcano after small eruption
An ash cloud rises above Alaska's Cleveland Volcano on Tuesday. The image was taken 45 miles from the volcano.
June 20th, 2012
08:18 PM ET

Alert level raised for Alaska volcano after small eruption

Scientists have raised an aviation alert level around a remote Alaskan volcano after a small eruption produced an ash cloud several miles high.

Cleveland Volcano, on the Aleutian Islands southwest of mainland Alaska, erupted briefly Tuesday afternoon, creating an ash cloud at an estimated height of 23,000 feet above sea level, said Steve McNutt, a volcano seismologist at the Alaska Volcano Observatory and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The observatory on Tuesday raised its color-coded alert for aviators to orange, the second most serious of four levels, and warned on its website that "additional sudden explosions of blocks and ash are possible with little or no warning."


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Filed under: Air travel • Alaska • Travel • Volcano
June 20th, 2012
04:44 PM ET

Mash-up: Gaga joke, 'pig in a poke'

The CNN Daily Mash-up is a roundup of some of the most interesting, surprising, curious, poignant or significant items to appear on in the past 24 hours. We top it with a collection of the day's most striking photographs from around the world.

Step away from the soda

The mayor of Cambridge (Our Fair City), Massachusetts, unveiled a proposal Monday that would outlaw large-size sodas and other sugary drinks in area restaurants. As happened when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a similar proposal, CNN readers had strong feelings. To wit:


This is crazy to me. You could walk into any fast food place, order yourself 3 triple cheddar bacon double cheeseburgers, but have any extra sprite and that is ultimately making you unhealthy/ overweight. Stop beating around the bush with this. If you want to get rid of fast food businesses fine, but don't say it's the temptation of a third diet coke that is ultimately the problem that needs fixing.


I feel like I should move to a secluded cabin in the woods and begin writing my manifesto.

 Crustacean of a different color

You may recall the rare blue lobster that appeared in this space a little more than a week ago. Well, this seafood restaurant found a whole passel of oddly colored (but not blue) crustaceans.


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Filed under: CNN Daily Mash-up
Hamas says military wing agrees to cease-fire with Israel
The remains of a rocket launched from Gaza are embedded in the ground Tuesday near the kibbutz of Yad Mordechay.
June 20th, 2012
04:33 PM ET

Hamas says military wing agrees to cease-fire with Israel

[Updated at 8:30 p.m. ET] The Palestinian group Hamas says its military wing has agreed to an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire with Israel following a sharp increase in violence between the two sides.

In a statement posted early Wednesday, Hamas - which controls the Palestinian territory of Gaza - says it will observe the cease-fire as long as Israel remains committed to the agreement.

There was no immediate response to the cease-fire announcement from Israel, which said more than 75 rockets had been fired into its territory from Gaza in the past three days. Six Palestinians and one Israeli died between Sunday and Tuesday in a spate of rocket attacks and Israeli airstrikes, officials on both sides reported; Israel also said a Palestinian child was killed when a rocket launch attempt by militants backfired.

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Filed under: Israel • Palestinians
June 20th, 2012
04:23 PM ET

House panel recommends Holder be cited for contempt

[Updated at 4:23 p.m. ET] Voting on strictly partisan lines, a House committee recommended 23-17 Wednesday that Attorney General Eric Holder be cited for contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents relating to the botched Fast and Furious weapons sting operation.

The measure now goes to the full House for consideration, expected next week, of what would be an unprecedented event - Congress holding a sitting attorney general in contempt.

Republicans on the committee voted for the recommendation; Democrats voted against it. Like they do on the panel, Republicans hold a majority in the full House.

Earlier Wednesday, President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege over the documents that the panel is seeking.

[Initial post, 10:11 a.m. ET] President Barack Obama has asserted executive privilege over documents sought by a House committee investigating the botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting, said a letter to the panel Wednesday from Deputy Attorney Gen. James Cole.

The move means the Department of Justice can withhold the documents from the panel.

The letter came just as the House Oversight Committee was set to vote on a contempt measure against Attorney General Eric Holder for not providing some documents on the botched federal firearms sting operation.

A showdown meeting Tuesday between Holder and panel chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, failed to resolve their dispute over the committee's demand for the Department of Justice to turn over more documents about the program.

"Prepping for #contempt proceedings against #Holder for #FastAndFurious stonewalling. Didn't have to be this way, but we'll do our duty," said a Twitter post by Issa before the committee convened Wednesday.
If the panel approves the contempt measure, it would go to the full House for possible consideration.

After Tuesday's meeting with Issa, Holder said he offered to provide the documents on the condition that Issa gave his assurance that doing so would satisfy two committee subpoenas and resolve the dispute.

Letter from Holder requesting privilege (PDF)

Letter informing Issa that Obama is asserting privilege (PDF)

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics
Egypt election results delayed
Egyptian riot police stand outside parliament as protesters gather in Cairo on Tuesday.
June 20th, 2012
04:13 PM ET

Egypt election results delayed

Egypt's Presidential Election Commission has delayed, until a date to be announced, the release of the results of Egypt's presidential election, state-run Nile TV reported Wednesday.

An announcement of the results had been expected on Thursday. Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister to serve under Mubarak, and Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, were the two candidates in last weekend's presidential runoff.

"The committee has not completed the verification of a total of 400 electoral violation reports submitted by the two presidential candidates," said Tarek Shibl, a senior member of electoral committee. "Most probably the announcement of the election results will be delayed a day or two but nothing is final yet."

Shafik and Mosri each proclaimed himself winner in the race to succeed Hosni Mubarak 16 months after a popular uprising ended Mubarak's three-decade rule.

Thousands of Egyptians gathered Tuesday night in Cairo's Tahrir Square - the birthplace of the anti-Mubarak ferment - to show their support for their preferred candidate. Each side in the election has accused the other of voting irregularities and called for an investigation.

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Filed under: Egypt
Duluth flash flooding destroys roads, leads to zoo animal drownings
Kayla Keigley sent in this photo of the Lester River in Duluth, Minnesota, surging after heavy rainfall.
June 20th, 2012
04:04 PM ET

Duluth flash flooding destroys roads, leads to zoo animal drownings

Flash flooding in Duluth, Minnesota, has forced residents to evacuate, left homes underwater, destroyed roads and even led to the drownings of at least eight animals at a zoo.

Between 5 and 9 inches of rain fell between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, sending what looked like raging rivers through Duluth's streets, according to the National Weather Service. Another 2 or 3 inches of rain was still likely to fall.

Duluth residents, who are more used to having snow dumped on them rather than flash floods, said the damage was worse than anything they had ever seen.

"This flooding has been crazy. We have not experienced anything like this in our community," iReporter Kayla Keigley, who said she works as a health care preparedness coordinator, told CNN. "Roads are destroyed. Neighborhoods are underwater. I am in shock and I work in the field of preparedness - this is something I work to 'deal with' daily. Our community is in disbelief."

Workers at the Lake Superior Zoo were in disbelief, too, when they learned at least eight animals drowned there. The toll might still rise, because the workers hadn't yet been able to check all enclosures.

"Sadly the zoo experienced the loss of several animals, among them many of the barnyard residents," Susan Wolniakowski, the zoo's director of guest services, said in a news release. "Due to flooding, the zoo’s polar bear Berlin was able to exit her exhibit. She was darted by the zoo’s vet and is safe in quarantine. At no time did any dangerous animal leave the perimeter fence."

The zoo said the staff still was assessing the situation.

“Obviously, our entire staff is devastated,”  the zoo’s director of animal management, Peter Pruett, said.


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Filed under: Flooding • Minnesota • Weather
Mass. mayor suggests ban on large drinks, free refills
June 20th, 2012
01:45 PM ET

Mass. mayor suggests ban on large drinks, free refills

A Massachusetts mayor is taking inspiration from a controversial New York City proposal to ban large, sugary beverages - and might even want to take it a step further.

Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis unveiled a proposal that would outlaw large-size sodas and other sugary drinks in area restaurants to the City Council on Monday.

She’s also suggesting that city officials consider banning free refills of sugary beverages, which would be a step beyond New York City’s plan.

“Our environment is full of way too many temptations,” Davis said. “This is one temptation that isn’t really necessary.”


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Filed under: Fast Food • Food • Health • Massachusetts
June 20th, 2012
01:44 PM ET

Report: Jury deadlocked on 4 counts in Pa. priest sex abuse case

The jury in a Philadelphia priest sex abuse case told a judge Wednesday that they are unable to reach a verdict on four of the five charges, CNN affiliate KYW reports.

In a note to Judge Teresa Sarmina, the panel said that it has developed "firm, fixed opinions" and "entrenched positions" among its members, making it unable to return verdicts, according to KYW.

The judge said she will offer the jurors some additional or clarifying remarks if they would find that helpful, according to KYW.

Monsignor William Lynn is considered the first high-ranking church official to be charged in the three-month-long trial.

Lynn is accused of knowingly allowing dangerous priests to continue in the ministry in roles in which they had access to children. Also on trial is the Rev. James Brennan, who is accused of the attempted rape of a 14-year-old. Both Brennan and Lynn have pleaded not guilty.

June 20th, 2012
01:29 PM ET

Samaras sworn in as head of new Greek government

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras was sworn in Wednesday as Greece's new prime minister, following months of political uncertainty for the debt-stricken country.

He was inaugurated at the presidential mansion after meeting with President Karolos Papoulias, who asked him to form a new Greek government.

His swearing-in followed the news that three parties - the center-right New Democracy, which placed first in Sunday's vote, Pasok and the Democratic Party of the Left - had reached agreement on the terms for the coalition.

Speaking as he left the presidential mansion, Samaras said: "We trust that with God's help we will do all we can to get our people out of the crisis. I will ask the government tomorrow morning to work hard in order to be able to give tangible hope to our people."

Greece has been without an elected government for 223 days, and the new government, which has pledged to push for a renegotiation of the painful austerity measures imposed under the terms of an international bailout, will face significant challenges.

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Filed under: Economy • Europe • European Union • Greece
June 20th, 2012
01:13 PM ET

Sandusky defense rests without ex-coach's testimony

Closing arguments are set for Thursday morning in the child-rape trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky after his defense rested its case without calling Sandusky to the witness stand.

Sandusky is accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. Defense attorney Joe Amendola had told reporters earlier to "stay tuned" to see whether the onetime Penn State defensive coordinator would testify - a move that could have given prosecutors an opening to introduce new evidence against the former coach.

Over four days, several prosecution witnesses testified that Sandusky forced them to engage in sexual acts with him in various places, including showers in the Penn State coaches' locker room, hotel rooms and the basement of his home. One told jurors that Sandusky - whom he met, like many of the accusers, through a charity for disadvantaged youths that the ex-coach founded - had threatened him if he told others about the abuse.

But Sandusky’s wife Dottie testified Tuesday that she could remember at least six of her husband's accusers staying overnight at their house, and said she did not witness any sexual abuse. And former Penn State coach Richard Anderson said it was not uncommon for coaches and youths to use the shower at the same time, and that he had never seen anything inappropriate between Sandusky and a child.

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Filed under: Jerry Sandusky • Penn State • Pennsylvania
June 20th, 2012
12:31 PM ET

What happens if panel cites Holder for contempt?

The House Oversight Committee is considering a contempt measure against Attorney General Eric Holder over documents sought by the panel investigating the botched gun-running sting called Operation Fast and Furious. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama entered the dispute by asserting executive privilege over the documents sought by committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-California.

Here are the issues around the dispute:

Q: What is a contempt citation?

A: Congress can vote to hold a congressional witness in contempt of Congress if it considers the witness to be obstructing its ability to carry out its constitutional powers. For a person to be held in contempt, Congress must vote on a contempt citation in committee.

The process involves a series of legal maneuvers including the president’s ability to assert executive privilege, as he did in this case, which has historically made executive branch officials immune from criminal prosecution.

Q: Why is a contempt citation being considered against Holder?

A: Issa may hold Holder in contempt for failing to hand over all of the documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious, the botched Justice Department sting operation linked to the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and a number of Mexican citizens from some of the 2,000 weapons that fell into the hands of Mexican drug gangs.

Q: When is the last time an executive branch official faced a contempt citation?

A: Although this is the first time an attorney general has faced a potential contempt citation, other executive branch officials have been held in contempt of Congress.

Most recently, George W. Bush White House Counsel Harriet Miers and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten were held in contempt of Congress despite Bush asserting executive privilege in their case. During the vote in early 2008, a large number of Republicans walked out in protest of what they saw as a partisan vote.

Miers and Bolten were accused of failing to cooperate in a congressional investigation into the mass firings of U.S. attorneys and allegations that the White House was using the Justice Department for political aims. Their citations marked the first time White House officials had been found in contempt of Congress.

Q: What happens next?

A: If the committee votes to cite Holder for contempt, it will go to the full House for a vote.

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Filed under: Politics
June 20th, 2012
12:31 PM ET

Uganda bans 38 agencies it says are promoting gay rights

The Ugandan government said Wednesday it will ban at least 38 nongovernmental agencies it says are promoting gay rights and recruiting children into homosexuality.

"We have investigated them thoroughly and we have found their sponsors," said Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo. "We will ask them to step aside and stop pretending to work in human rights."

"Some NGOs, under the pretext of providing social services, are receiving funds to promote homosexuality," he said.

The organizations - both international and local - will lose their registrations and no longer be able to operate in Uganda. He did not name the groups on the list.

"The sooner they are phased out, the better," he said.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, as it is in many African countries, and legislation is pending in parliament that could bring even harsher penalties for gays.

At one point the bill included life imprisonment and even the death penalty. That provision was dropped, under intense pressure from donor countries, but several Ugandan politicians still plan to push it through parliament.

The announcement of the ban comes in the wake of a police raid Monday that disrupted a gay rights activists' workshop in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.

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Filed under: Gay and lesbian • Uganda • World
June 20th, 2012
12:18 PM ET

Nearly 30 die in two Afghan attacks

Bombings in two restive eastern Afghan provinces killed at least 29 people Wednesday, authorities said.

One strike occurred in Khost city when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle targeted NATO and Afghan security forces. The town is in the province of the same name.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul and Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office said 17 Afghan civilians were killed and 32 others were injured. The embassy said three members of the NATO-led International Security Force and an Afghan interpreter died in Khost. A Western official told CNN the soldiers are Americans.

In Logar province, four children and two women were among eight killed when a vehicle hit a roadside bomb planted by the Taliban, according to a Twitter message from Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Seddiqi.

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Filed under: Afghanistan
June 20th, 2012
07:45 AM ET

Wednesday's live events

The Supreme Court may soon rule on the constitutionality of President Obama's health care law.  Once a ruling is issued, Live will be there for all the reaction and fallout.

Today's programming highlights...

9:30 am ET - IPO process hearing - The Facebook IPO fallout has made some wonder whether initial public offerings are worth it for ordinary investors.  A Senate banking subcommittee looks at the issue.


Filed under: Economy • Health • Health Care • Health care reform • On today
June 20th, 2012
06:15 AM ET

Gunman shot to end France hostage-taking incident, police say

[Updated at 12:06 p.m. ET] A hostage-taking incident in the French city of Toulouse has ended with shots fired, the gunman wounded and the last two remaining hostages freed, police union spokesman Christophe Crepin said Wednesday.

The gunman, who said he was with al Qaeda, took four people hostage at a bank five hours earlier, police said.

He released one of them, a woman, after about three hours, Crepin said, and a second hostage was released about an hour after that

[Posted at 6:15 a.m. ET] A man was holding four people hostage Wednesday in a bank in the southern French city of Toulouse, authorities said.

The incident occurred at the CIC bank.

The man fired one shot, and police are at the scene, police said.

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Filed under: Crime • France • Hostages
June 20th, 2012
06:01 AM ET

Police seek WikiLeaks founder Assange's arrest after asylum claim

Julian Assange is subject to arrest for breaking the terms of his bail, London's Metropolitan Police said Wednesday, after the WikiLeaks founder attempted to claim asylum at the embassy of Ecuador in Britain.

Assange was arrested in Britain in 2010 because Swedish authorities want to question him about allegations of rape and sexual molestation.

His bail conditions included staying every night at the home of a supporter outside of London.

Police were notified Tuesday night that he had breached that condition, they said Wednesday morning.

"He is now subject to arrest under the Bail Act for breach of these conditions," they said.

It is not clear that they will be able to arrest him, since diplomatic protocol prevents authorities from entering foreign embassies.

Assange has requested political asylum in Ecuador, officials and WikiLeaks said Tuesday.

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Filed under: Julian Assange • WikiLeaks • World
June 20th, 2012
05:31 AM ET

China dissident Ai Weiwei harassed by police, he says

China most famous dissident artist, Ai Weiwei, was being harassed by police and warned to stay away from a planned court appearance on Wednesday, he said.

"I've never seen so many police cars outside my studio - at one point last night a few dozen were there, which was unprecedented," Ai told CNN by phone.

"Yesterday my assistant wanted to take pictures of the police outside our studio, but his camera was immediately grabbed and he got injured in the process," he said.

"The police started calling me repeatedly yesterday afternoon, warning me to stay away from the court today, which I find pretty confusing" because he is facing tax charges, he said.

Ai says the allegations that he owes back taxes are a cover for accusations that he is trying to overthrow the state.


Filed under: World
June 20th, 2012
04:32 AM ET

Fukushima plant operator: We weren't prepared for the nuclear acccident

The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant admitted Wednesday that it was not fully prepared for the nuclear accident spurred by last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

"All who were related to the nuclear plant could not predict an occurrence of the event which was far beyond our expectation," said Masao Yamazaki, executive vice president of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO). "We did not have enough measures to prevent the accident."

Yamazaki spoke at a press conference announcing a TEPCO report on the nuclear accident that spewed radiation and left tens of thousands of residents displaced.

He acknowledged criticism that his company took too long to disclose information and as well as accusations that TEPCO has been hiding information.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Japan • World
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