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Thursday, July 23, 2009

NASA Earth pictures show extent of eclipse

(CNN) -- NASA has released new pictures of the Earth showing the vast extent of Wednesday's spectacular solar eclipse.

A Japanese satellite took this image of the eclipse an hour before totality.

The longest solar eclipse of the century cast a wide shadow for several minutes over Asia and the Pacific Ocean, luring millions outside to watch the spectacle.

Day turned into night, temperatures turned cooler in cities and villages teemed with amateur stargazers.

The total eclipse started in India on Wednesday morning and moved eastward across Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Vietnam, China and parts of the Pacific. Video Watch the 'exceptional' eclipse »

NASA said the two images, left, were taken from a Japanese satellite.

The first showed the Earth at 8.30 a.m. local time in Taiwan and the second, an hour later, when the moon completely overlapped the sun (called totality) casting a huge shadow over the area.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Obama: Police who arrested professor 'acted stupidly'

(CNN) -- President Obama said that police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, "acted stupidly" in arresting a prominent black Harvard professor last week after a confrontation at the man's home.

"I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played," Obama said Wednesday night while taking questions after a White House news conference.

Cambridge authorities dropped disorderly conduct charges against Henry Louis Gates Jr. on Tuesday.

Obama defended Gates on Wednesday night, while admitting that he may be "a little biased," because Gates is a friend.

"But I think it's fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry; No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, No. 3 ... that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately."

The incident, Obama said, shows "how race remains a factor in this society." Video Watch the president address the incident »

Gates told CNN on Wednesday that although charges had been dropped, he will keep the issue alive.

"This is not about me; this is about the vulnerability of black men in America," Gates told CNN's Soledad O'Brien.

Gates said he'd be prepared to forgive the arresting officer "if he told the truth" about what the director of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research said were "fabrications" in the police report.

The officer, Sgt. James Crowley, told CNN affiliate WCVB earlier Wednesday that he will not apologize.

"There are not many certainties in life, but it is for certain that Sgt. Crowley will not be apologizing," he said.

Gates said the mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts, called him to apologize about the incident, in which he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

CNN could not confirm Wednesday night that an apology was made. Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons did not respond to requests by CNN for comment.

Crowley wrote in the Cambridge police report that Gates refused to step outside to speak with him, the police report said, and when Crowley told Gates that he was investigating a possible break-in, Gates opened the front door and exclaimed, "Why, because I'm a black man in America?" the report said.

The report said Gates initially refused to show the officer identification, but eventually produced a Harvard identification card, prompting Crowley to radio for Harvard University Police.

"While I was led to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence, I was quite surprised and confused with the behavior he exhibited toward me," Crowley said, according to the report.

Gates was arrested for "loud and tumultuous behavior in a public space" and was released from police custody after spending four hours at the police station.

He said Wednesday that he and his lawyers were considering further actions, not excluding a lawsuit.

Gates said that although the ordeal had upset him, "I would do the same thing exactly again."

Earlier this week, a prosecutor dropped the charge against Gates and the city's police department recommended that the matter not be pursued.

Michael Jackson's confused son

Michael Jackson's youngest son thinks his father is on holiday. Prince Michael II, also known as 'Blanket', doesn't realise his singer dad died last month and was left confused after the 'Thriller' star's memorial service in Los Angeles. Mark Lester - who is godfather to Michael's three children, Prince Michael I, 12, Paris, 11, and seven-year-old 'Blanket' - told Hello!...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Man refused liver transplant dies

A man from east London who began binge-drinking at 13 has died after being denied a life-saving liver transplant.

Gary Reinbach, 22, from Dagenham, was given only a few weeks to live after developing cirrhosis of the liver.

He was admitted to University College Hospital London (UCL) with alcohol damage for the first time 10 weeks ago.

But health chiefs ruled he should not be exempt from strict organ donation criteria which require an alcohol-free period of at least six months.

Mr Reinbach was too ill to be sent home after his admission to hospital.

Teenage drinking

A spokeswoman for UCL said: "We would like to extend our sympathies to the family at this difficult time."

Campaign group Alcohol Concern called for more research into the way alcohol can affect young people's health.

The group said it was worried that a rise in teenage drinking would lead to more people suffering alcohol-related illnesses at younger ages.

Speaking about Mr Reinbach's case, a spokeswoman said: "This doesn't surprise us at all, sadly.

"Statistics show that more people are getting liver disease in their 30s and, if more teenagers are drinking, people will become seriously ill at a younger age."

US 'seeks Afghan prison overhaul'

A US military review is to recommend an overhaul of the entire Afghan prison and judicial systems, the New York Times reports.

It says the report, drawn up by a senior marine commander, highlights concerns about recruitment by the Taliban within local prisons.

The paper says the review, which has not yet been released, also recommends reform of the US-run Bagram air base.

Last month the BBC uncovered widespread allegations of abuse at the facility.

The BBC spoke to 27 ex-inmates around the country over two months, most of whom alleged they had been beaten, deprived of sleep and threatened with dogs at Bagram.

In 2002, two Afghan detainees died after being repeatedly struck by American personnel.

Prisoners at the controversial facility are currently refusing privileges available to them in a protest about their basic rights.

Bagram is the main prison for people detained by US forces in Afghanistan. Most detainees there have been arrested on suspicion of militancy - the US considers them "unlawful combatants" who can be detained indefinitely.