Squirrel in spokes floors cycling opera singer
Mon Sep 4, 6:15 AM ET
HELSINKI (Reuters) - A squirrel scampered into the bicycle wheel of an unlucky Finnish opera singer, causing him to fall, knock himself out and break his nose just ahead of the world premiere of a new opera.
Esa Ruuttunen was pedalling his way to the Helsinki Opera House last month when the squirrel ran into his spokes.
The singer ended up concussed and in a local hospital, rather than at his rehearsals for the Finnish opera Kaarmeen hetki (Hour of the Serpent), which opens on September 15.
"He is not yet singing in rehearsals, but thinks he will be able to perform at the world premiere," Finnish National Opera spokeswoman Heidi Almi told Reuters.
The squirrel died in the accident.
Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin killed
20 minutes ago
BRISBANE, Australia - Steve Irwin, Australian television presenter known as "The Crocodile Hunter," killed in marine accident, local media report says.
* * * * * * *
By Paul Tait 1 hour, 14 minutes ago
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Steve Irwin, the quirky Australian naturalist who won worldwide acclaim, was killed by a stingray barb through the chest on Monday while diving off Australia's northeast coast, emergency officials and witnesses said.
"Steve was hit by a stingray in the chest," said local diving operator Steve Edmondson, whose Poseidon boats were out on the Great Barrier Reef when the accident occurred.
"He probably died from a cardiac arrest from the injury," he said.
Police and ambulance officials later confirmed Irwin had died and said his family had been advised.
Irwin, 44, was killed while filming an underwater documentary off Port Douglas.
Irwin had been diving off his boat "Croc One" near Batt Reef northeast of Port Douglas. A helicopter had taken paramedics to nearby Low Isles where Irwin was taken for medical treatment but he was dead before they arrived, police said.
Irwin won a global following for his dare-devil antics but also triggered outrage in 2004 by holding his then one-month-old baby while feeding a snapping crocodile at his Australian zoo.
He made almost 50 of his "Crocodile Hunter" documentaries which appeared on cable TV channel Animal Planet and won a worldwide audience.
The series ended after he was criticized for the incident with his young son and for disturbing whales, seals and penguins while filming in Antarctica.
Khaki-clad Irwin became famous for his seemingly death-defying methods with wild animals, including crocodiles and snakes.
He made a cameo appearance alongside Eddie Murphy in the 2001 Hollywood film Dr Dolittle 2 and appeared on U.S. television shows such as "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and on children's television alongside The Wiggles.
Irwin was married with two children, Bindi Sue and Bob Clarence. His American-born wife Terri was his business partner and frequent on-screen collaborator.
(Additional reporting by Michael Perry in SYDNEY)
Updated: Monday, 4 September 2006 10:59 PM CDT
Profanity in 9/11 show worries some
By LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 27 minutes ago
NEW YORK - Broadcasters say the hesitancy of some CBS affiliates to air a powerful Sept. 11 documentary next week proves there's been a chilling effect on the First Amendment since federal regulators boosted penalties for television obscenities after
Janet Jackson's breast was exposed at a Super Bowl halftime show.
"This is example No. 1," said Martin Franks, executive vice president of CBS Corp., of the decision by two dozen CBS affiliates to replace or delay "9/11" — which has already aired twice without controversy — over concerns about some of the language used by the firefighters in it.
"We don't think it's appropriate to sanitize the reality of the hell of Sept. 11th," Franks said. "It shows the incredible stress that these heroes were under. To sanitize it in some way robs it of the horror they faced."
Actor Robert DeNiro hosts the award-winning documentary, which began as a quest to follow a rookie firefighter on an ordinary day but resulted in the only known video of the first plane striking the World Trade Center and horrific and inspiring scenes of rescue, escape and death. CBS will show it on Sept. 10 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. EDT, profanity intact.
Carter G. Phillips, a lawyer for Fox Television Stations Inc., cited the decision by several CBS affiliates to replace the documentary or show it after 10 p.m., the time at which the
Federal Communications Commission loosens restrictions, when he spoke last week to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.
Phillips addressed the court as part of a hearing on whether the FCC rushed to judgment in concluding that "NYPD Blue" and three other programs violated decency rules.
Saying the FCC was chilling free speech rights, Phillips mentioned the documentary to show the court how timid broadcast companies had become since the FCC toughened its position toward profanities after the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show on CBS, in which Jackson's breast was briefly bared.
Congress recently boosted the maximum fines the FCC can impose for indecency from $32,500 to $325,000.
So far, about a dozen CBS affiliates have indicated they won't show the documentary, another dozen say they will delay it until later at night and two dozen others are considering what to do.
On Friday, Sinclair Broadcasting became the latest company to say it was delaying the broadcast until after 10 p.m. on its stations in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Portland, Maine, saying it was concerned it could face fines.
The announcement came as the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association readied its 3 million members to flood the FCC and CBS with complaints after the documentary airs.
"This isn't an issue of censorship. It's an issue of responsibility to the public," said Randy Sharp, director of special projects for the group, which describes itself as a 29-year-old organization that promotes the biblical ethic of decency.
The documentary first aired on the six-month and one-year anniversaries of the Sept. 11 attacks on the trade center and the
Pentagon. This latest showing, on the eve of the five-year anniversary, includes new interviews with many of the firefighters featured in the original, describing how their lives have changed.
Franks said it was an easy decision not to edit the language in the documentary, especially since it has won a George Foster Peabody Award, among others. "It was a much more difficult decision five years ago when the emotions were much more raw and fresh," he said.
Franks said it seemed "dishonest somehow" for the network to cover up the real language five years later because of the current regulatory environment.
However, he said he understood the difficulties of small stations that fear the huge FCC fines. "We're not twisting arms," he said.
FCC spokeswoman Tamara Lipper said the commission routinely takes context into account in any decency analysis.
"We don't police the airwaves. We respond to viewer complaints," Lipper said. "We haven't seen the broadcast in question. It's up to individual stations to decide what they should air or not air."
She noted that "the historical context of 9/11 is important to the context of the broadcast" but said she could not predict how the commission might view the show if it receives complaints.
Sharp promised on Friday that his organization would flood the FCC with complaints, saying nearly 198,000 people already had told the FCC they want the agency to "enforce the law should CBS decide to break it."
CBS is feeling the heat. "Even if all 206 stations decide between now and the 10th to air the program live, what we have gone through for the past two or three weeks is overwhelming evidence of the chill facing broadcasters," Franks said.
Gate-crasher livens up MTV awards
By Claudia Parsons Fri Sep 1, 1:40 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) -
Jack Black dressed as a Moon Man, a monkey graced the red carpet, rapper Lil' Kim wore an orange prison jumpsuit and a gate-crasher tried to steal the top prize -- what else but MTV's Video Music Awards.
But despite MTV's efforts to paint itself as a venue for outrageous antics -- most notably the 2003 onstage kiss between Madonna and
Britney Spears -- there was nothing too shocking on Thursday in the slick show at New York's Radio City Music Hall.
Only at the end was there a deviation from the otherwise tame script when pop-punk quartet Panic! at the Disco were walking up to collect the trophy for video of the year.
A man in the audience grabbed the microphone from one of the band members and introduced himself as "Six."
"MTV never gave me my own show," he complained, making an unsuccessful bid to grasp the statuette from the hands of presenter
The cameras pulled away and the intruder was swiftly dealt with, and a flustered Lopez quipped "That was all planned."
In contrast to last year when veterans Green Day dominated with seven trophies, there was no runaway winner -- the first dozen major awards went to a dozen different artists.
MTV set up a stage by the red carpet to keep screaming fans amused before the show as a stream of musicians and celebrities trod the velvet, from wrestler and reality TV star Hulk Hogan to tennis star Andy Roddick, in town for the
MONICA AND HER DOG
Some celebrities even brought their pets -- Peter Wentz from the band Fall Out Boy sported a small black and white monkey on his shoulder, while R&B star Monica apparently could not be separated from her large black dog.
Actor Jack Black hosted the show, promising to spice up an event whose reputation for shock tactics has faltered.
Black started with a skit in which he dressed up as a "Moon Man" in imitation of the silver statuettes in the shape of an astronaut planting a flag that are handed out to the winners.
Rap diva Lil' Kim, returning to the high life after nearly a year in prison, made light of her jail time, walking on stage wearing an orange jumpsuit and flanked by men dressed as prison guards.
She presented the first award of the night, for best male video, to British soldier-turned-singer James Blunt for his hit song "You're Beautiful."
Pink, who won the award for best pop video for "Stupid Girls," said there was more spice off camera than on.
"There's been some stunts, just backstage," she told reporters backstage. "It's hard these days when everything is so sort of politically correct," she added.
Kelly Clarkson of "American Idol" fame won best female video for the second year in a row, though she did not attend.
Beyonce Knowles had jaws dropping when she performed in a tan trench coat over black vinyl boots and hot pants before picking up the prize for best R&B video for "Check on It."
Sultry Latin star Shakira and the funk-rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, who came into the night as favorites with seven nominations each, took just one minor award each (choreography and art direction).
Another big name shut out was Madonna, whose five nominations translated into not a single win.
Chamillionaire won the rap video award, the Black Eyed Peas won in the hiphop category and the Pussycat Dolls won for best dance video. The All-American Rejects won for best group video and Avenged Sevenfold picked up best new artist in a video.
Paris Hilton was the butt of several jokes -- introduced at one point as "the world's most attractive producer of independent film" in a reference to a home-made sex video involving her that was posted on the Internet.
(Additional reporting by Chris Michaud)
Army recommends death in Iraq slayings
By ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press Writer Sun Sep 3, 2:23 AM ET
An Army investigator has recommended that four soldiers accused of murder in a raid in
Iraq should face the death penalty if convicted, according to a report obtained Saturday by The Associated Press.
Lt. Col. James P. Daniel Jr. concluded that the slayings were premeditated and warranted the death sentence based on evidence he heard at an August hearing. The case will now be forwarded to Army officials, who will decide whether Daniel's recommendation should be followed.
The soldiers, all from the Fort Campbell, Ky.-based 101st Airborne Division's 187th Infantry Regiment, are accused of killing three Iraqi men taken from a house May 9 on a marshy island outside Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad.
Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard, Spc. William B. Hunsaker, Pfc. Corey R. Clagett and Spc. Juston R. Graber have claimed they were ordered to "kill all military age males" during the raid on the island. According to statements from some of the soldiers, they were told the target was an al-Qaida training camp.
Hunsaker told investigators that he and Clagett were attacked by the three men, who were being handcuffed, and shot them in self-defense. Clagett said he was hit in the face, and Hunsaker claimed he was stabbed during the attack.
Prosecutors argue the soldiers conspired to kill the men and then altered the scene to fit their story. They contend Girouard stabbed Hunsaker as part of the killing plot.
Clagett, Girouard and Hunsaker also are accused of threatening to kill another soldier who witnessed the slayings. Girouard, the most senior soldier charged, faces several additional charges, including sexual harassment and carrying a personal weapon on duty.
Paul Bergrin, Clagett's civilian attorney, said he was surprised that Daniel recommended the case be taken to trial at all.
"I'm extremely disappointed and disheartened," Bergrin said Saturday. "They are being used as pawns in the war on terror. They followed the rules of engagement. They were confronted with violence by a known al-Qaida training camp member."
Other lawyers in the case, several of whom are deployed to Iraq, did not immediately respond to e-mail requests for comment.
The soldiers are expected to be tried at Fort Campbell. They have been jailed in Kuwait since their arrests this year.
The U.S. military has not executed a soldier since the 1960 hanging of a soldier convicted rape and attempted murder.
Associated Press writer Alicia A. Caldwell, the El Paso, Texas, correspondent, reported this story from Glendale, Ariz.
Pope and former students ponder evolution, not "ID"
By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor 2 hours, 21 minutes ago
PARIS (Reuters) -
Pope Benedict and his former doctoral students spent a weekend pondering evolution without discussing controversies over intelligent design and creationism raging in the United States, a participant said on Sunday.
The three-day closed-door meeting at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo outside Rome ended as planned without drawing any conclusions but the group plans to publish its discussion papers, said Father Joseph Fessio S.J.
Media speculation had said the debate might shift
Vatican policy to embrace "intelligent design," which claims to prove scientifically that life could not have simply evolved, or even the "creationist" view that God created the world in six days.
"It wasn't that at all," Fessio, who is provost of Ave Maria University in Florida, told Reuters by telephone from Rome. The Pope's session with 39 former students was "a meeting of friends with some scholars to discuss an interesting theme."
"We did not really speak much about intelligent design," said Fessio, whose Ignatius Press publishes the Pope's books in English. "In fact, that particular controversy did not arise."
Creationism -- the view that God created the world in six days as described in the Bible -- was "almost off the radar screen of the people in this group," he added. The Catholic Church does not read the Genesis account of creation literally.
Fessio said Benedict took part in the discussions but said nothing different from previous public statements, in which he has recognized evolution as a scientific fact but argued that God ultimately created the world and all life in it.
As the Pope put it at his inaugural Mass after being elected in April 2005, "We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God."
Benedict, who taught theology at four German universities before becoming archbishop of Munich and then the Vatican's top doctrinal official, has held these annual get-togethers since the late 1970s. The international group debates in German.
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution has long been rejected in the United States by conservative Christians who want to have a Bible-based view of creation taught in public schools, where the church-state separation bars the teaching of religion.
More recently, Darwin's critics have campaigned to have "intelligent design" taught as a scientific alternative to evolution.
President George W. Bush and other conservative politicians support this drive to "teach the controversy."
The "ID movement" does not name the designer as God, but its opponents say that is the logical conclusion and call this an unacceptable bid to sneak religion into the teaching of science.
Schools in some parts of the United States teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution but a Pennsylvania court banned it there last year, saying it was religion in disguise.
Catholic teaching accepts evolution as a scientific theory but disagrees with what it calls "evolutionism," the view that the story of life has no role for God as its prime author.
Vienna's Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, a close associate of the Pope, was one of four speakers who addressed the meeting. He raised eyebrows last year with a New York Times article that suggested the Catholic Church supported the "ID movement."
Schoenborn and Benedict have said several times over the past year that intelligence in the form of God's will played a part in creation and that neo-Darwinists who deny God any role are drawing an ideological conclusion not proven by the theory.
They say they use philosophical reasoning to conclude that God created the world, not arguments which intelligent design supporters claim can be proven scientifically.
(Additional reporting by Philip Pullella in Rome)
Annan questions Iran Holocaust exhibit
By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press Writer Sun Sep 3, 11:38 AM ET
TEHRAN, Iran - U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan, visiting
Iran Saturday, raised concerns with officials over an exhibition of cartoons about the Holocaust that opened in response to Muslim outrage over the Prophet Muhammad caricatures.
Annan brought up the exhibit in talks with Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, said Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi.
Annan told Mottaki "we should avoid anything that incites hatred" according to Fawzi. The U.N. chief said he had not seen the Holocaust cartoons. "From what he heard, he would find them pretty distasteful, as he did the Danish cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad, which he strongly condemned at the time," Fawzi said.
"While (Annan) respects freedom of expression, he believes it should be used responsibly with due respect for people's feelings," he added.
The Holocaust cartoon exhibit opened last month at Tehran's Caricature House, with 204 entries from Iran and abroad.
The cartoons were submitted after the exhibit's co-sponsor, the Hamshahri newspaper, said it wanted to test the West's tolerance for drawings about the Nazi killing of 6 million Jews in World War II. The entries on display came from nations including United States, Indonesia and Turkey.
One cartoon by Indonesian Tony Thomdean shows the Statue of Liberty holding a book on the Holocaust in its left hand and giving a Nazi-style salute with the other.
The exhibit was a response to the prophet drawings published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten last year. The publication and subsequent reprinting in other European newspapers set off widespread protests in the Islamic world.
Many Muslims considered the cartoons a violation of traditions prohibiting images of their prophet, while many in the West defended them in the name of freedom of expression.
The exhibition runs until Sept. 13 and the winner of a contest for the best cartoon will receive $12,000.
U.S rebuts 9/11 homegrown conspiracy theories
By Jim Wolf Sat Sep 2, 3:14 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States government is attacking conspiracy theories about the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York as the fifth anniversary of September 11 approaches.
According to a Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll carried out in July, more than one-third of Americans suspect U.S. officials helped in the September 11 attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could later go to war.
The State Department responded this week with a rebuttal of World Trade Center demolition theories and doubts about other events of the day that abound on the Internet.
It listed some of the most prevalent September 11 myths, led by claims the twin towers were destroyed by secretly planted explosives, not burning passenger jets.
"This is how the collapses may have appeared to non-experts, but demolition experts point out many differences," said a department "special feature" available at http://usinfo.state.gov/media/misinformation.html.
Demolition professionals always blow the bottom floors of a structure first, while the collapses began at upper levels -- where the hijacked Boeing 767s hit, it said.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed on September 11. The Bush administration responded by leading an invasion of
Afghanistan and, in 2003, of
The State Department was providing "corrective information" in response to misinformation in the media and on the Internet, said Joanne Moore, a department spokeswoman.
The information in the rebuttal was not new, she added, but drawn from public sources.
In a similar vein, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology posted a "fact sheet" on its Web site on Wednesday in question-and-answer format responding to alternative theories about the fire and the collapse.
NIST, which carried out a three-year investigation, concluded the towers collapsed after being hit by separate, fuel-laden aircraft flown by hijackers.
The resulting fire, which reached temperatures as high as 1,000 degrees C (1,800 degrees F), led to an inward bowing of perimeter columns and subsequent collapses, NIST found in 43 volumes that comprise a final report issued last October.
In putting out its answers to 14 questions about the World Trade Center, NIST, an arm of the
Commerce Department, said its findings did not support the "pancake theory" of collapse premised on a progressive failure of floor systems consistent with a controlled demolition.
"NIST is a group of government scientists whose leaders are Bush appointees, and therefore their report is not likely to veer from the political story," said Kevin Ryan, an editor of the online Journal of 9/11 studies.
Ryan says he was a former site manager of a division of Underwriters Laboratories, an independent, not-for-profit product-safety testing and certification organization.
"The more information we learn about this investigation, the more concerned we become," he said.
Media: Senior judge to run Diana inquest
Sat Sep 2, 10:46 PM ET
LONDON - A retired senior judge has been chosen to take over the inquest into the 1997 death of Princess Diana, British media reported Saturday.
The Times newspaper and the British Broadcasting Corp. said Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss would replace royal coroner Michael Burgess, who pulled out of the inquest in July, citing a heavy workload.
Butler-Sloss, former head of the High Court's family division, refused to comment on the reports.
When he stepped aside, Burgess asked the government to nominate a senior judicial official to take over the inquest into the deaths of Diana and her companion Dodi Fayed.
The inquest is awaiting a report by Lord Stevens, the former head of London's Metropolitan Police, whom Burgess asked to investigate the Paris car crash that killed the couple and their driver, Henri Paul.
Rumors and conspiracy theories continue to swirl around the crash, despite a French judge's 1999 ruling that it was an accident. An investigation concluded that Paul had been drinking and was driving at high speed.
Stevens said in January the investigation was "far more complex than any of us thought" but did not specify what he meant.
Democrats see support for anti-Rumsfeld vote
By Susan Cornwell 1 hour, 5 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - There is substantial support among U.S. Senate Democrats for a resolution demanding the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a senior Democrat said on Sunday.
"I believe there is a lot of sentiment to push for such a resolution, indeed," New York Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record) said on Fox News Sunday.
Senate Democrats are expected to discuss this week whether to push for a vote of no confidence in Rumsfeld as part of a pre-election offensive on what they see as the Bush administration's mishandling of the
A similar resolution against the defense secretary is being considered by House Democrats.
Democrats are in the minority in the Senate and the House, meaning they would face difficulties getting such resolutions on the floor. Even if such a resolution passed, it would not be binding on
President George W. Bush's administration.
But the Democrats, hoping to win back control of at least one chamber in November mid-term elections, are seeking to attack the Republicans over the deteriorating security situation in Iraq three years into the U.S war there.
California Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer (news, bio, voting record) has vowed to offer a resolution calling on Bush to name a new defense secretary, saying she was outraged by Rumsfeld's comments that appeared to compare Iraq war critics to appeasers of Nazi Germany.
Rumsfeld says his remarks in a speech last week were misrepresented.
Schumer, chairman of the Senate Democrats' campaign committee for the November congressional elections, said the resolution would send a "very simple" message.
"It says that our policies are not going well," he said. He noted that it was not just Democrats that have called for Rumsfeld to step down -- a Republican candidate for the Senate from New Jersey, Thomas H. Kean Jr., did so on Saturday.
"And the reason is not that we shouldn't fight a strong war on terror, but Rumsfeld's not doing a very good job of it," Schumer told Fox.
Another senior Democrat, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, told ABC's "This Week" he would probably support a no-confidence resolution against Rumsfeld.
The administration has begun a new push to bolster sagging public support for the war ahead of the elections, with Bush framing the debate as a choice between staying the course or giving in to terrorists. Republicans argue that Democrats are weak on security issues and would "cut and run" in Iraq.
"I think Secretary Rumsfeld has done an excellent job. He'll be remembered as one of the great secretaries of defense," Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, told CBS's "Face the Nation."
McConnell said Democrats wanted to "wave the white flag" on the Iraq war. He said the Republican-run Senate would dwell on national security issues all through September.
Democratic National Committee Chairman
Howard Dean said on "Face the Nation" that "of course" Rumsfeld should resign, adding that it was not smart to attack the majority of Americans who thought the war in Iraq was a mistake.
"Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice President (Dick) Cheney have gone on television saying people who disagree with the president are essentially like Nazi appeasers. When you start attacking voters out of your frustration, that is not a good thing for winning elections," Dean said
Ed: Imagine if Humans eventually grow to nine tons as the dominant species...Americans seem to be headed there already...will the evolving decedents of rodents or our cousin primates, or crocodiles, spiders or insects, the klan or politicians who be competing to replace us, still...? Lions and Tigers and Bears in the FOREEEST(!) will no longer be the largest worry!
By Julio Villaverde Mon Aug 28, 6:03 PM ET
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) - Brazilian paleontologists have discovered a new giant dinosaur species based on fossilized fragments of the herbivorous reptile that lived 80 million years ago.
The Maxakalisaurus topai, of the Titanosauria group, was 13 meters (yards) long and weighed about nine tons.
It had a large body, long tail and neck with a relatively small head. Some of the bones found had the marks of teeth on them, which led scientists to believe that the specimen was devoured by carnivorous dinosaurs after its death.
The fossils date back to the Late Cretaceous period. They were found during excavations between 1998 and 2002 next to a highway in a place called Serra da Boa Vista in central-southern Minas Gerais state. It then took some time for the scientists to categorize the species and reconstruct the skeleton.
The name of the species, Maxakalisaurus topai, derives from an Indian tribe, Maxakali, which lives in the area. Topa is a divinity that the tribe worships. It is a custom in Brazil to give native Indian names to paleontological finds.
The find is extremely important as Maxakalisaurus topai is closely related to a highly evolved group of dinosaurs, called the Saltasaurinae, researcher Alexander Kellner said on Monday after presenting a reconstructed skeleton of the reptile in the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro .
The Saltasaurinae lived 70 million years ago and the fossils have only been found in Argentina.
"Among its specific traits are some peculiarities that we found in the vertebrae, especially a protuberating sacral vertebra ... It also has teeth with carinae (ridges), which we think served to better process the food," Kellner said.
Dinosaurs from the Titanosauria group were the main herbivorous dinosaurs of the ancient super-continent known as Gondwana, which grouped Australia, India, Africa, South America and Antarctica some 200 million years ago.
Some scientists believe a connection still existed between what is now South America, Antarctica, India and possibly Australia until about 70 million years ago.
"I've reminded the prime minister --the American people, Mr. Prime Minister, over the past months, that it was not always a given that the United States and America would have a close relationship."
--George W. Bush
Jun 29 2006
Pentagon gives gloomy Iraq report
By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer Fri Sep 1, 7:58 PM ET
WASHINGTON - Sectarian violence is spreading in
Iraq and the security problems have become more complex than at any time since the U.S. invasion in 2003, a
Pentagon report said Friday.
In a notably gloomy report to Congress, the Pentagon reported that illegal militias have become more entrenched, especially in Baghdad neighborhoods where they are seen as providers of both security and basic social services.
The report described a rising tide of sectarian violence, fed in part by interference from neighboring
Syria and driven by a "vocal minority" of religious extremists who oppose the idea of a democratic Iraq.
Death squads targeting mainly Iraqi civilians are a growing problem, heightening the risk of civil war, the report said.
"Death squads and terrorists are locked in mutually reinforcing cycles of sectarian strife," the report said, adding that the Sunni-led insurgency "remains potent and viable" even as it is overshadowed by the sect-on-sect killing.
"Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq, specifically in and around Baghdad, and concern about civil war within the Iraqi civilian population has increased in recent months," the report said. It is the latest in a series of quarterly reports required by Congress to assess economic, political and security progress.
Iraqi forces were dealing with more violence Friday as officials said a mortar attack on an open-air market in Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, killed three people and wounded 12. Elsewhere, two policemen were also killed and authorities said they found the body of a
Saddam Hussein-era intelligence officer who had been kidnapped and shot.
The bloodshed capped a week in which hundreds of Iraqis were killed despite a security crackdown that targeted some of Baghdad's most violent neighborhoods.
A growing number of members of Congress are calling for either a shift in the Bush administration's Iraq strategy or a timetable for beginning a substantial withdrawal of American forces. Although administration officials say progress is being made in Iraq, U.S. commanders have increased U.S. troop levels by about 13,000 over the past five weeks, to 140,000, mainly due to increased violence in the Baghdad area.
In response to the Pentagon's report Friday, the Senate's top Democrat, Harry Reid of Nevada, said it showed the Bush administration is "increasingly disconnected from the facts on the ground in Iraq."
"It is time for a new direction to end the war in Iraq, win the war on terror, and give the American people the real security they deserve," Reid said.
Sen. Jack Reed (news, bio, voting record), D-R.I., who recently returned from a visit to Iraq, said the report squared with what he saw there.
"Iraq is tipping toward civil war," Reed said.
Col. Thomas Vail, commander of a 101st Airborne brigade operating in the mostly Shiite areas of eastern Baghdad, told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday that an intensified effort to root out insurgents and quell sectarian violence in the capital is bearing fruit, leading to a decrease in sectarian murders in recent days.
"They understand a big stick," he said, referring to a bigger U.S. and Iraqi force confronting militias and others responsible for violence like the barrage of coordinated attacks across eastern Baghdad on Thursday. Iraqi police said they killed at least 64 people and wounded more than 286 within a half hour.
Peter Rodman, the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, in a separate session with reporters, said that despite progress this summer in reviving the Iraqi economy, raising electricity production and increasing the number of trained Iraqi troops, security conditions have deteriorated.
The report covered the period since the Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki was seated May 20.
From that date through Aug. 11, the average number of attacks per week against Americans and Iraqis was 792, up 24 percent from the previous period of Feb. 11 to May 19. The 792 figure was the highest for any counting period since the war began. The previous high was 641 in the Feb. 11 to May 19 period.
"The last quarter, as you know has been rough," Rodman said. "The levels of violence are up and the sectarian quality of the violence is particularly acute and disturbing."
That assessment was tempered by a degree of optimism that the Iraqi government — with support from U.S. troops — will succeed in quelling the sectarian strife.
Optimism among ordinary Iraqis, however, has declined, the 63-page report said.
When asked if they believe "things will be better" in the future, the percentage of Iraqis responding positively has dropped over the past year — whether they were asked to look ahead six months, one year or five years — according to polling data cited in the report.
"The security situation is currently at its most complex state since the initiation of Operation Iraqi Freedom," the report said, using the U.S. military's name for the war that was launched in March 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein.
One of the most celebrated events during the period on which Friday's report was based was the killing of the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The report said that although this was a major success, al-Qaida remained a threat because of its "resilient, semiautonomous cellular structure."
Kurdistan president replaces Iraqi flag
2 hours, 8 minutes ago
SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq - Kurdistan president Massoud Barzani has ordered the Iraqi national flag to be replaced with the Kurdish one in his northern autonomous region in what appeared to be another move toward more self-rule in the north, local officials said Friday.
The order was issued Thursday and applies to the Kurdish region, said Beshraw Ahmed, a spokesman for the Sulaimaniyah municipality.
According to Azad Jundiyanim, a member of President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Sulaimaniyah, Barzani issued a formal message asking for the Iraqi flag to be lowered. The message was also broadcast on Kurdish radio.
Iraq's northern Kurdish region has slowly been gaining more autonomy since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
On May 7, its parliament in the northern city of Irbil unified the Kurdish region's two long-standing administrations, one headed by Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party and the other by Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
Kurds had until then enjoyed self-rule in three provinces of the north but under the separate administrations.
Sunni Arabs fear that Kurds are pushing for secession under the nation's new federal system, a step which, if imitated by the Shiite majority in the oil-rich south, would leave Sunnis with little more than date groves and sand.
The Kurdish region had been out of
Saddam Hussein's control since the 1991
Gulf War, when the Kurds set up their autonomous region under the protection of U.S. and British warplanes. After the U.S.-led invasion, Kurdistan was the only region that did not witness major changes.
Iraq's new constitution recognizes Kurdish self-rule and provides a legal mechanism for other areas to govern themselves but within the Iraqi state.
ENN FULL STORY
Mammoth, $200 Million Wind Farm Proposed in Iowa
September 01, 2006 — By Associated Press
HAMPTON, Iowa — Northern Iowa could have one of the nation's largest wind farms by 2008. Iowa Winds LLC wants to build a 200- to 300-megawatt farm covering about 40,000 acres in Franklin County.
A county zoning board will consider approving permits for the $200 million project next month.
"It's something new and renewable," said Amber Schwarck, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Falls-based company. "It's great for national security, so we can start depending on ourselves and the wind."
Iowa ranks third in the nation in wind energy behind Texas and California, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The Franklin County Wind Farm would help Iowa keep pace with those states and create 30 to 40 technical jobs maintaining turbines, said Schwarck. A pay scale was unavailable.
Company officials said the farm could be the nation's largest -- depending on the permits and the county's power grid infrastructure. The project would be built near Bradford and involve 193 landowners in the townships of Grant, Hamilton, Ingham, Lee, Morgan, Oakland and Reeves.
If the county approves the project, construction would start next spring and take about a year, said Franklin County Supervisor Michael Nolte.
"It's not very often you have someone who wants to make a $200 million investment in the county," he said. "That's a huge investment. It's just a win-win for the county."
Schwarck said Iowa Winds has conducted meteorological studies in southern Franklin County since the company was formed in 2002. The project would be its first wind farm.
Iowa has nearly 900 wind turbines capable of producing 836 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 226,000 average homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Planned projects -- besides the Franklin County farm -- would add 120 turbines capable of generating an additional 249 megawatts of electricity, the group said.
Texas leads the nation with 2,400 megawatts of wind energy installed and California has 2,323 megawatts.
Source: Associated Press
Flushing CNN anchor goes on Letterman
1 hour, 19 minutes ago
NEW YORK - CNN anchor Kyra Phillips, whose ladies room chatter found its way onto her newscast, bounced back two days later with a "Top 10 List" of excuses on the "Late Show with David Letterman."
The mishap had happened Tuesday when Phillips, still wearing her wireless microphone, visited the loo while CNN aired
President Bush's speech from New Orleans. For a minute or so her voice commingled with his, as she was heard telling an unidentified woman how great her husband is, then mentioned that her sister-in-law is "a control freak." Only then was she alerted that her mike was live.
How could such a thing happen? A game but still embarrassed-looking Phillips set Letterman (and his CBS audience) straight — or at least, left them laughing.
Top Ten Kyra Phillips Excuses Presented by CNN Anchor Kyra Phillips:
10. "Still haven't mastered complicated On/Off switch."
9. "Larry King told me he does this all the time."
8. "How was I supposed to know we had a reporter embedded in the bathroom?"
7. "I honestly never knew this sort of thing was frowned upon."
6. "Couldn't resist chance to win $10,000 on 'America's Funniest Home Videos.'"
5. "I was set up by those bastards at Fox News."
4. "Oh, like YOU'VE never gone to the bathroom and had it broadcast on national television!"
3. "I just wanted that hunky Lou Dobbs to notice me."
2. "OK, so I was drunk and couldn't think straight."
1. "You have to admit, it made the speech a lot more interesting."
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Bush says U.S. in 'ideological struggle'
By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer Thu Aug 31, 1:36 PM ET
SALT LAKE CITY -
President Bush on Thursday predicted victory in the war on terror at a time of increasing public anxiety at home, likening the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism with the fight against Nazis and communists.
With just over two months until Election Day, Bush said opponents of the war in
Iraq who are calling for a plan to bring home troops would create a disaster in the Middle East.
"Many of these folks are sincere and they're patriotic but they could be — they could not be more wrong," the president said. "If America were to pull out before Iraq could defend itself, the consequences would be absolutely predictable, and absolutely disastrous. We would be handing Iraq over to our worst enemies — Saddam's former henchmen, armed groups with ties to
Iran, and al-Qaida terrorists from all over the world who would suddenly have a base of operations far more valuable than
Afghanistan under the Taliban."
The president chose a friendly audience in one of America's most conservative states to begin his pre-election series of speeches defending his war strategy. The three-week campaign is tied to the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"The war we fight today is more than a military conflict," Bush told thousands of veterans at the American Legion convention. "It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century."
Only a third of Americans saying they approve of Bush's handling of the war or his leadership overall — a figure that worries Republicans who are hoping they have enough support to keep control of Congress in elections just over two months away.
Democrats said Bush's speeches don't change his failed Iraq policy.
"The American people know that five years after September 11th, we are not as safe as we should and could be," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. "Iraq is in crisis, our military is stretched thin, and terrorist groups and extremist regimes have been strengthened and emboldened across the Middle East and the world."
A majority of Americans approved of the way Bush responded to the Sept. 11 attacks nearly five years ago, according to an AP-Ipsos poll that came out Thursday, and the president was trying to remind them of that as the anniversary approaches.
Bush described the current violence in the Middle East and the recently thwarted attack to blow up planes over the Atlantic Ocean as part of the same movement that resulted in the Sept. 11 attacks.
"As veterans you have seen this kind of enemy before," Bush said. "They are successors to fascists, to Nazis, to communists and other totalitarians of the 20th century. And history shows what the outcome will be.
"This war will be difficult. This war will be long. And this war will end in the defeat of the terrorists," Bush said.
He acknowledged the unsettling times — marked by sectarian violence in Iraq, war along the
Israel-Lebanon border and terrorists allegedly plotting to blow up planes between Britain and the United States.
"The images that come back from the front lines are striking and sometimes unsettling," Bush conceded. "When you see innocent civilians ripped apart by suicide bombs or families buried inside their homes, the world can seem engulfed in purposeless violence."
But he also said that those responsible for bringing down the World Trade Center are united with car bombers in Baghdad, Hezbollah militants who shoot rockets into Israel and terrorists who wanted to bring down the flights between Britain and the United States.
"Despite their differences, these groups form the outline of a single movement, a worldwide network of radicals that use terror to kill those who stand in the way of their totalitarian ideology," he said. "And the unifying feature of this movement, the link that spans sectarian divisions and local grievances, is the rigid conviction that free societies are a threat to their twisted view of Islam."
Even in Utah — which gave Bush a wider margin of victory than any other state in the 2004 election — the president's appearance was a source of dispute. Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, a Democrat, led thousands of anti-Bush demonstrators on a march through the city Wednesday. He called Bush a "dishonest, warmongering, human-rights-violating president."
The White House countered by organizing a campaign-like rally at the airport for Bush's arrival Wednesday night. A couple thousand cheering supporters, who got tickets from the governor's office and the congressional delegation, stood under flood lights and cheered as Bush pledged to stay in Iraq.
The pro-Bush American Legion did not have any anti-war speakers or nationally prominent Democrats scheduled to speak at its convention, which attracted at least 12,000 veterans. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld addressed the group earlier this week as part of the high-powered campaign to build support for the war.
This is the third time in less than a year that Bush has made a series of speeches on Iraq and terrorism. This time, it's an all-hands-on-deck effort, with Vice President
Dick Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld also touting the mission this week.
While in Salt Lake City, Bush had a half-hour private meeting with leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also raised at least $500,000 by speaking at a $500-per-plate luncheon for Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch (news, bio, voting record).
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Rumsfeld sharpens attacks on U.S. war critics
29 Aug 2006 22:07:21 GMT
Iraq in turmoil
By Kristin Roberts
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Aug 29 (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld turned up the heat on critics of U.S. policy in Iraq and the war on terrorism in a speech on Tuesday recalling the world leaders who sought to appease Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
"With the growing lethality and the increasing availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?" Rumsfeld asked the American Legion U.S. military veterans group.
"Can folks really continue to think that free countries can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists?"
The Bush administration is coming under increasing criticism from congressional Democrats and some Republicans over the direction of the Iraq war nearly 3-1/2 years after a U.S.-led invasion toppled President Saddam Hussein. Opinion polls show eroding U.S. public support for the war.
Rumsfeld said it was important to note that "any kind of moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere" in any long war.
In a speech heavy on condemnation of news coverage of the war, Rumsfeld told the American Legion that insurgents and terrorists are waging a campaign to demoralize the American public.
Rumsfeld, in his second speech in as many days to military veterans, tried to draw links between the current hostilities and World War Two.
Taking on the Bush administration's current critics, Rumsfeld referred to the period before the earlier war, and said that "some seem not to have learned history's lessons."
"It was a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among Western democracies, when those who warned about a coming crisis -- the rise of fascism and Nazism -- they were ridiculed or ignored," Rumsfeld said.
"Indeed, in the decades before World War Two, a great many argued that the fascist threat was exaggerated or that it was someone else's problem. Some nations tried to negotiate a separate peace, even as the enemy made its deadly ambitions crystal clear."
"It was, as Winston Churchill observed, a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last," Rumsfeld added.
"I recount that history because, once again, we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism," he said.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada took issue with Rumsfeld's comments.
"The Bush White House is more interested in lashing out at its political enemies and distracting from its failures than it is in winning the War on Terror and in bringing an end to the war in Iraq," Reid said in a written statement.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also addressed the convention, telling veterans if the United States pulled out of Iraq too soon it would embolden extremists.
"We should not assume for one minute that those terrorists will not continue to come after the American homeland. That is why President (George W.) Bush calls Iraq a central front in the war on terror," said Rice.
Bush is scheduled to address the group on Thursday.
Rumsfeld's comments come as members of the Bush administration, ahead of November elections to determine control of the U.S. Congress, connect the Iraq war to the broader fight against terrorism.
Rumsfeld also condemned two news organizations, CNN and Newsweek magazine, for comments by some of their senior officials about the U.S. military.
In separate speeches on Monday to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, both Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney said pulling out of Iraq prematurely would be a sign of American weakness to terrorists and other foes. (Additional reporting by James Nelson)
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Wind farms face growing opposition in Eastern U.S.
By Scott Malone Wed Aug 30, 11:09 AM ET
LOWVILLE, New York (Reuters) - From the front of the Flat Rock Inn, a restaurant and campground on a gravel road, owner Gordon Yancey can see more than 100 windmills spinning, part of the electricity-generating wind farm that surrounds his property in upstate New York.
The sight and sound of them burns Yancey, 47, who grew up on a nearby farm and considers Lowville, 300 miles northwest of New York City with a population of 3,500, too crowded to live in.
"The noise, it's all a matter of opinion, who it is," Yancey said. "People who come from the city, who come from noisy areas, they don't think the noise is bad at all. Anybody that's from out in the country, that's used to it being quiet, thinks the noise that they give off is horrendous."
To a city dweller's ears, the whoosh of the windmills' blades is comparable in volume to an idling car engine.
With 185 windmills up and 10 to go, the Maple Ridge Wind Farm is the largest in the northeastern United States. It raises strong emotions, pro and con, among local residents.
For some locals -- particularly those who are paid at least $6,600 a year for windmills on their land -- the farm is a welcome addition to the local economy, expected to pay about $8 million a year to the governments and school districts of nearby towns, including Lowville.
But others here and elsewhere in the northeast complain about the noise and the changes the 260-foot (79.25-meter) tall towers bring to the bucolic view.
Wind farms have caught the attention of electric utilities because they don't burn fossil fuels. That means they release no carbon dioxide and the don't face volatile fuel bills.
U.S. wind farms are currently capable of generating enough electricity for about 2.5 million American homes, according to trade group the American Wind Energy Association, which predicts that will rise by 50 percent by the end of next year.
To meet that goal, developers are building new facilities, such as Maple Ridge and another hotly opposed planned wind farm off Cape Cod, a popular Massachusetts vacation spot.
When Maple Ridge is complete, it will have 195 windmills, each one 260 feet high, stretched out in a 12-mile (19.31-km) band along a ridge between Lake Ontario and the Adirondack Mountains.
There are about 100 homes on the land the wind farm occupies, which Maple Ridge operations manager Scott Alexander acknowledged causes some tensions. "It presents challenges," Alexander said. "We've got neighbors."
As developers begin to build wind farms in more populous areas, they're running into public opposition. In this part of New York State -- dairy country in the foothills of the Adirondacks -- the town of Malone this year passed a law banning commercial wind farms, though residents and farmers are allowed to install single units for their own use.
"You go south out of Malone, you're looking at the Adirondack Mountains," said Howard Maneely, town supervisor. "We don't need something to cut off the aesthetics."
OPEN ARMS OUT WEST
The largest wind farms in the United States are in the west, home to wide open farmlands. Many farmers have met the developments with open arms, enjoying the extra income that leasing space for the base of towers provides.
"This area is a large wheat producer and open agricultural area, so the wind farms have been put significantly outside of town," said Hal Thomas, public works director for Walla Walla, Washington, near to the Stateline wind farm, the nation's largest, which straddles the Washington-Oregon border in the Pacific Northwest. "There's no impact on residential areas."
Not all residents of Lowville oppose the farm. Town Supervisor Arleigh Rice said it has provided a boost to the local economy and said residents will adjust to it.
"We've been isolated here for so long that any progress is a problem for some," Rice said.
Robert Siemienowicz, 72, a lifetime area resident who has four turbines on farmland he owns -- but does not live on -- outside town also viewed the wind farm as a positive.
"We have to look out for people besides ourselves," said Siemienowicz, who can also see the windmills from his house in Lowville. "I was always taught that you're supposed to leave the woodpile a little bigger than you found it."
Pakistani militants decapitate cleric
By BASHIRULLAH KHAN, Associated Press Writer Wed Aug 30, 1:44 PM ET
MIRAN SHAH, Pakistan - Militants decapitated an Islamic cleric and an Afghan refugee accused of spying for U.S. and Afghan authorities in northwestern Pakistan, an intelligence official said Wednesday.
The men's beheaded bodies were found early Wednesday in two villages near Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region bordering
Afghanistan, the official said on condition of anonymity because of the secretive nature of his work.
Notes written in the local Pashtu language were left on the bodies accusing the men of being spies for the U.S. and Afghanistan, he said.
The cleric was an Afghan identified as 45-year-old Noor Wali. His body and severed head were dumped next to each other on a roadside in Khati Khel, a village near Miran Shah, the official said.
The body of the Afghan refugee, identified as Hak Nawaz, was found in Darpakhel village, on Miran Shah's western outskirts. Militants had cut off his head and placed it on his chest, leaving a note saying "this is a gift for Karzai," referring to Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, according to the official.
In neighboring South Waziristan, the 15-year-old brother of local BBC reporter Dilawar Wazir was kidnapped on Tuesday after leaving home for school and shot to death. Taimor Khan's body was dumped in the same area, a correspondent for the broadcaster and a security official said.
The motive for the attack in South Waziristan's main town, Wana, was unclear, but Wazir had previously received threats from unidentified pro-Taliban local Islamic militants who believed he was "writing stories against them," said the security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was unauthorized to speak to the media.
Zafar Abbas, BBC's senior corespondent in the capital, Islamabad, confirmed the killing of Wazir's brother. Wazir works for BBC's Urdu service.
The bullet-riddled body of an Afghan refugee was found in North Waziristan on Monday with a note attached also accusing him of spying for the United States.
Suspected al-Qaida-linked militants and pro-Taliban tribal militants have been blamed for killing scores of tribesmen accused of spying or collaborating with Pakistani authorities in the volatile North and adjoining South Waziristan region.
Pakistan, a U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism, has deployed about 80,000 troops along its border with Afghanistan to track down militants.
Associated Press writer Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan contributed to this report.
CNN `Live From...' the ladies room
By FRAZIER MOORE, AP Television Writer Wed Aug 30, 12:57 PM ET
NEW YORK - Kyra Phillips, anchor of CNN's "Live From...," unwittingly upstaged
President Bush's speech in New Orleans with on-the-air analysis of her husband and the marriage of her brother — all live from a CNN ladies room.
Unaware that her wireless microphone was "live" during her break, Phillips could be heard overriding Bush's prepared address Tuesday as he was seen marking the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
The Atlanta-based Phillips, in conversation with an unidentified woman in an echoey room, dismissed most men with a vulgar term, but called herself "very lucky in that regard. My husband is handsome and he is genuinely a loving — you know, no ego — you know what I'm saying? Just a really passionate, compassionate, great, great human being. And they exist. They do exist. They're hard to find. Yup. But they are out there."
A few moments later, she observed that "brothers have to be, you know, protective. Except for mine. I've got to be protective of him."
Why? "His wife is just a control freak."
At that point, another voice cut in: "Kyra."
"Yeah, baby?" replied Phillips on hearing her name.
"Your mike is on. Turn it off. It's been on the air."
CNN anchor Daryn Kagan, looking flustered, then broke into the telecast with a recap of what Bush had been saying.
Phillips later apologized to viewers "for an issue we had with our mikes" and "for a little bit of an interruption there during the president."
CNN issued its own official apology "to our viewers and the president for the disruption," and apologized to the White House.
In a subsequent statement, CNN explained the mishap as "a technical malfunction with the audio board. We're addressing how this happened and why it was not more promptly corrected on air."
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