May 17th, 2010
04:38 PM ET

American missionary held in Haiti is free, lawyer says

Laura Silsby, the American missionary accused of trying to take nearly three dozen children out of Haiti after the devastating January 12 earthquake, has been freed from jail by a Haitian court, her defense attorney said Monday.
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May 17th, 2010
04:37 PM ET

Suspected India Maoists kill 35 in bus attack, police chief says

Suspected Maoists killed 35 people in a land mine attack against a bus in central India on Monday afternoon, a local police chief told CNN.
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May 17th, 2010
03:41 PM ET

Police chief: Suspected India Maoists kill 35 in bus attack

Suspected Maoists killed 35 people in a land mine attack against a bus in central India on Monday afternoon, a local police chief told CNN.

In addition, 30 injured passengers were transported to a health care center, Dantewada Police Deputy Superintendent Sanjay Sharma said.

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May 17th, 2010
03:18 PM ET

Security Brief: A field trip to grapple with wartime contracts, accountability

A team of six has arrived in Iraq with a mission few would envy. They are looking for new insights into how to deal with the contractor phenomenon. The Congress-appointed Commission on Wartime Contracting is trying to figure out how the U.S. government can do a better job overseeing the virtual shadow army that has arisen from the private sector in less than a decade.

The bipartisan committee, co-chaired by Michael Thibault and Christopher Shays, is housed in a modest office facility in Virginia, not far from the Pentagon. On a recent visit, I was struck by the enormity of the task they've been given, to report back to Congress on better ways to manage this force multiplier. It's a huge task, seeing as how there are now more contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan than there are U.S. troops.

"American taxpayers are paying for billions of dollars' worth of services from private security contractors," said Thibault, "but there are a lot of troubling questions about contract management and oversight, use of force, interagency coordination, use of subcontractors, and transition planning as the United States prepares to exit Iraq. We'll be looking at all of them to add to the knowledge gained from our stateside research and public hearings."

The government has been playing a game of catch up since private contractors were hired by the tens of thousands to do everything from logistics support to security in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Iraq • U.S.
May 17th, 2010
03:13 PM ET

WebPulse: Muslim Miss USA, Twieber and speedy traders

Web trends have been dominated today by Rima Fakih, the new Miss USA, and discussions about her faith.

Here’s a quick glance at the collective consciousness of the Web on Monday:

Miss USA Rima Fakih - When the Miss USA pageant is in town, you never know what's going to happen or what headlines may show up the next day. And this year didn't disappoint - in some very good and bad ways. The biggest attention following the show centered on the newly crowned winner, Rima Fakih, who is the first Muslim to nab the top spot. And the Web hasn't stopped chattering about it all day. People have been talking about the positive impact of a female Muslim winning the crown - and the Detroit Free Press piece on Fakih that discusses the cultural significance of the win - especially since "some Arab Americans - in particular, Muslims - aren't keen on seeing their daughters and sisters participate in beauty pageants that feature public displays of the body."

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May 17th, 2010
02:14 PM ET

White House: Iran nuke offer won't stop push for sanctions

A nuclear agreement announced by Iran and Turkey will not halt the U.S. push for stronger sanctions against Iran, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday.

"It does not change the steps that we are taking to hold Iran responsible for its obligations, including sanctions," Gibbs said at the daily White House news briefing.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Iran • Turkey
May 17th, 2010
01:35 PM ET

Court blocks British Airways strike

A series of four British Airways employee strikes, including one planned for midnight Monday (7 p.m. ET) cannot proceed, a judge has ruled.

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May 17th, 2010
01:25 PM ET

Judge rules Obama's aunt can stay in U.S.

President Barack Obama's Kenyan aunt can stay in the United States, a U.S. immigration judge has ruled, ending a more than six-year legal battle over her status.

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May 17th, 2010
12:29 PM ET

Sports Update: Suns take on Lakers, Red Sox-Yanks rivalry

The Suns have been on a roll, but their latest task of taking on the champion Lakers, may rest on the play of Pau Gasol.

The Phoenix Suns have not lost two games in a row since late January, but this week they face a challenge unlike any they’ve seen in 2010: a seven-game series against the defending champion Los Angles Lakers. The NBA's Western Conference finals begins tonight in L.A. – SI.com’s Britt Robson has the scouting report here - and promises to be a high-octane and exciting series. It's the highlight (all times Eastern) of the night in sports.

–Red Sox at Yankees (7:05 ESPN)
Baseball’s most storied rivalry comes to Yankee Stadium for a two-game series. Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-1, 6.35) opposes New York’s Phil Hughes (5-0, 1.38)

-Suns at Lakers (9 p.m., TNT)
The Suns are the last Western Conference team to eliminate the Lakers from the playoffs. They defeated Los Angeles in both 2006 and 2007, but that was before the Lakers added Pau Gasol. Los Angeles is 7-2 against Phoenix since Gasol arrived in February 2008.  The Suns are the league’s hottest team, winning 36 of 45 games since Jan. 28.

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May 17th, 2010
12:15 PM ET

Feds step up monitoring of global press freedom

President Barack Obama signed legislation Monday expanding the federal government's role in monitoring global freedom of the press.

Obama signed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, which requires a greater examination of the status of press freedoms in different countries in the State Department's Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

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May 17th, 2010
11:53 AM ET

Scientist: Oil plumes in Gulf may pose additional hazard

While efforts to mop oil off the surface of the Gulf of Mexico stretch into a fifth week, more potentially hazardous oil could be lurking below the surface in large oil plumes, scientists said Monday - a previously-unseen phenomenon they are eager to learn more about.

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May 17th, 2010
11:03 AM ET

Rulings: Sex offenders, teen sentences, overseas custody

The Supreme Court on Monday handed down rulings on three separate cases that focused on continuing to hold sex offenders in prison after their sentence, whether life in prison without parole is appropriate for juveniles and how much power the federal courts have to intervene when child custody battles cross borders and countries.

Sentencing juveniles to life in prison without parole 'cruel and unusual'

Sentencing some juvenile criminals to life in prison without parole is "cruel and unusual" punishment, especially when their crime is not murder, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The justices by a 6-3 vote found such a sentence for a 16-year-old armed robber from Florida was unconstitutional. The court concluded life without parole is not justified for those offenders who may lack full "culpability" for their actions, because of their ages.

"A state need not guarantee the offender eventual release, but if it imposes a sentence of life it must provide him or her with some realistic opportunity to obtain release before the end of that term," write Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority.

The appeal came from Terrance Graham, who was 16 and 17 when he took part in a series of violent home-invasion robberies while on parole for another felony.

The high court in 2005 said juvenile murderers cannot be executed, and Kennedy applied the same standards in this case, saying a "national consensus" had developed against life without parole sentences for those under 18 at the time of their crimes.

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Read the ruling (PDF)

States rethink 'adult time for adult crime'

Judge: Boy, 12, will be tried as adult in double homicide

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Filed under: Justice • Supreme Court
May 17th, 2010
10:43 AM ET

Bangkok residents: We feel like hostages

Gunshots and explosions ring out. Soldiers, police and army trucks rumble through neighborhoods in the Thai capital; a plane flies overhead. Businesses are shuttered as barbed wire lines the streets.

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May 17th, 2010
10:38 AM ET

Court: Sentencing juveniles to life without parole 'cruel and unusual'

Sentencing some juvenile criminals to life in prison without parole is "cruel and unusual" punishment, especially when their crime is not murder, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The justices by a 6-3 vote found such a sentence for a 16-year-old armed robber from Florida was unconstitutional. The court concluded life without parole is not justified for those offenders who may lack full "culpability" for their actions, because of their ages.

Monday's other Supreme Court rulings:

Supreme Court: Sex offenders can be held indefinitely

High court rules for father in international child custody case

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May 17th, 2010
10:22 AM ET

High court rules for dad in international custody case

The Supreme Court has ruled for a British father seeking to regain custody of his son, who was taken by his mother from Chile to Texas, a dispute testing the power of federal courts to intervene when fights over children cross borders.

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Filed under: Justice • Supreme Court
May 17th, 2010
10:20 AM ET

Supreme Court: Sex offenders can be held indefinitely

The Supreme Court ruled Monday the federal government has the power to indefinitely keep some sex offenders behind bars after they have served their sentences, if officials determine those inmates may prove "sexually dangerous" in the future.

"The federal government, as custodian of its prisoners, has the constitutional power to act in order to protect nearby (and other) communities from the danger such prisoners may pose," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the 7-2 majority.

Monday's other Supreme Court rulings:

Court: Sentencing juveniles to life without parole 'cruel and unusual'

High court rules for father in international child custody case

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Filed under: Justice • Supreme Court
May 17th, 2010
10:13 AM ET

ISAF: 2 troops killed in Afghanistan

Two members of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force were killed Monday in two separate improvised explosive device attacks, ISAF said in a statement.

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May 17th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Rima Fakih

The 26-year-old from Dearborn, Michigan, was crowned Miss USA on Sunday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pageant-watchers say Fakih, of Lebanese descent, is thought to be the first Arab-American and Muslim to wear the crown, The Detroit Free Press reports.

According to TIME magazine, Fakih was raised in New York, attended the University of Michigan and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in economics with a minor in business administration. She won the Miss Michigan USA title in 2009. She told TIME, “I grew up watching pageants with my father, but never knew I can really do it. Possibly because I was picked on a lot in school, and had a very shy personality. I can proudly say that I don't think I would have reached so high and come such a long way had I not went through the pain I did growing up.”

Detroit Free Press: Detroit celebrates Miss USA's first Arab-American winner

Time: Miss Michigan USA Rima Fakih on serving others

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May 17th, 2010
08:05 AM ET

Monday's live video events

8:15 am ET - Spacewalk -  Two Atlantis astronauts perform the first of three planned spacewalks.

1:05 pm ET - Hoops champs at the White House - President Obama welcomes the 2010 NCAA Division I women’s basketball champions, the Connecticut Huskies, to the White House.

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Filed under: On CNN.com today
May 17th, 2010
07:57 AM ET

Plane reported missing has crashed, Afghan government say

[Updated at 7:56 a.m.] A plane that was reported missing with 44 people on board has crashed in Afghanistan, Interior Ministry spokesman Zemarai Basharay said Monday.

[Posted at 6:18 a.m.] A plane disappeared in Afghanistan on Monday with 38 passengers and six crew aboard, a government official told CNN.

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