July 8th, 2010
09:27 PM ET

LeBron James to play for Miami Heat

NBA free agent LeBron James announced Thursday that he will play for the Miami Heat in one of the most anticipated free-agent announcements in sports history.

James said he made his final decision Thursday morning, after speaking with his mother.

"Once I had that conversation with her I think I was set," James told sportscaster Jim Gray.

The six-time NBA all-star and two-time league MVP said the chance to play alongside fellow stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami affected his decision.

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Filed under: Sports
July 8th, 2010
06:36 PM ET

Former subway officer guilty of involuntary manslaughter

[Updated at 7:13 p.m.] Johannes Mehserle, a white former police officer accused of killing an unarmed black man in Oakland, California, has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

The verdict was read in court minutes ago.

Read the full CNN.com report

[Posted at 6:36 p.m.] A verdict has been reached in the trial of a former police officer who is white and accused of killing an unarmed black man in Oakland, California, according to a superior court spokesman. The verdict will be read at 4 p.m. (7 p.m. ET).

Johannes Mehserle, who was a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer at the time of the shooting, is accused of shooting 22-year-old Oscar Grant on a California train platform on January 1, 2009. Mehserle, who was on duty at the time, said at the trial that he intended to draw and fire his Taser rather than his gun, CNN affiliate KTVU reported.

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Filed under: California
July 8th, 2010
02:51 PM ET

Gates defends rules governing military's interaction with media

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that new rules governing interaction between members of the press and the military are a result of "flat out sloppy" media relations efforts on the part of military officials in recent years.

A memo issued by Gates last week requires military officials to notify the Pentagon before providing interviews on potentially sensitive subjects. FULL POST

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Filed under: Security Brief
July 8th, 2010
02:19 PM ET

New documentary shows raw side of life at war

In the middle of the night, a platoon of U.S. soldiers is building an outpost on a remote hillside in Afghanistan. Taliban sympathizers are watching. This is the Korengal Valley in Kunar Province, one of Afghanistan‚Äôs most inhospitable areas. The soldiers assigned to this place know it as ‚ÄúThe Valley of Death.‚ÄĚ It‚Äôs perhaps the most dangerous place in Afghanistan for any soldier to serve. The occupants will see more than 500 gunfights during their stay, and not every soldier will make it home. With attacks at close range, no running water, and the enemy on the other side of the sandbags, this is Restrepo.

Named in honor of a medic killed in combat, Restrepo was more than just a base to the platoon followed in a new documentary of the same name. The men stationed here literally left blood, sweat, and tears behind; the isolation and near-constant threat of death also took a heavy psychological toll. FULL POST

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Security Brief
July 8th, 2010
02:19 PM ET

New Centcom head announced

Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis has been chosen as the new head of the U.S. Central Command, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Thursday.

Mattis replaces Gen. David Petraeus, who was recently tapped by President Barack Obama to head the military campaign in Afghanistan.

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Filed under: Security Brief
July 8th, 2010
01:56 PM ET

Three convicted in liquid bomb plot

In a third trial, three men have been convicted in a 2006 plot to blow up commercial airliners over the Atlantic Ocean, the head of Britain's counterterrorism prosecution told CNN on Thursday.

Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan and Waheed Zaman were convicted of conspiracy to murder as suicide bombers. They and other conspirators planned to detonate liquid explosives stowed aboard the planes in soft drink bottles, prosecutors said.

The men "were actively working alongside other men on a plot to cause death and injury on a massive scale," said Sue Hemming, head of the Counter Terrorism Division at the Crown Prosecution Service, in a statement released to CNN. FULL POST

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Filed under: Security Brief
July 8th, 2010
01:56 PM ET

Louisiana schools sued for handcuffing 6-year-old boy

Rights advocates filed a class-action lawsuit against Louisiana school officials for repeatedly handcuffing and shackling a 6-year-old boy, attorneys for the advocates said Thursday.

A legal team representing the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana and the child's parents filed the civil-action complaint Thursday at a federal court in Louisiana. It was filed on behalf of children in the Louisiana  Recovery School District, including the child, now 7 years old, who they say was handcuffed and shackled  for "minor offenses."

The school district is a statewide entity administered by the Louisiana Department of Education to manage underperforming schools. Named in the lawsuit are the superintendent of the school district, Paul Vallas, along with school officials and security officers of Sarah T. Reed Elementary School.

Ken Jones, director of communications for the school district, declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said in an e-mail to CNN, "The Louisiana Recovery School District investigated the allegations involving a student at Sarah T. Reed Elementary school last semester. The RSD concluded that this was an isolated incident, the student was not arrested and the employee involved was terminated."

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Filed under: Human rights • Justice • Louisiana
July 8th, 2010
01:25 PM ET

U.S. to share terror finance info with E.U.

After six months of trans-Atlantic argument, the European Union and the United States are ready to share again. But no one can know what leads into terror investigations may have been lost or missed in the meantime.

On Thursday, the European Parliament finally gave its blessing - by a vote of 484 to 109 - to a new agreement between the EU and the United States on transferring data to assist the U.S. Treasury's Terrorist Finance Tracking Program. It will take effect August 1.

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Filed under: Security Brief
July 8th, 2010
01:22 PM ET

Terror suspects arrested in Norway, Germany

Norwegian authorities announced the arrests of three suspects Thursday in connection with an ongoing investigation into terrorist plots in New York and the United Kingdom.

Their apprehension was made possible through international cooperation, including information from U.S. authorities, they said. The suspects had been under surveillance for several months, the Norwegian authorities said.

The three are suspected of plotting terrorist attacks and having connections to al Qaeda, the Norwegian prime minister's office said earlier. Two were arrested in Norway; the other in Germany.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Justice • National security • Terrorism
July 8th, 2010
01:07 PM ET

BP in final stage of relief well

The first relief well BP is drilling in the Gulf of Mexico could intercept the leaking Deepwater Horizon well in seven to 10 days, the man heading the federal response to the oil crisis said Thursday.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said the length of time it will take to seal the well will depend on "where the oil is coming up through, where they can intercept, where they can put the mud in, where they can put the cement plug."

He reiterated that despite that accelerated time frame, he's sticking with mid-August as the expected time for the "bottom kill" procedure to be completed. "Certain things could move that up," Allen said, but for the second time in as many days, he couched that optimism, saying, "It's better to under-promise and over-deliver."

BP is in the final stages of drilling one of two relief wells, which is now 17,780 feet deep, Allen said. He called it "the slowest, most meticulous part."

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Filed under: BP • Environment • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
July 8th, 2010
12:44 PM ET

Spy suspects could plead guilty, be deported

Ten suspected Russian spies in the United States could enter guilty pleas Thursday and be swiftly deported, possibly as soon as Thursday night, a source with detailed knowledge of the investigation told CNN.

The source said the suspects are expected to plead guilty in federal court in New York to one of the current charges against them - failing to register as a foreign agent - and will likely be sentenced to time already served since they were arrested at the end of June.

The development comes amid reports of a possible exchange of the accused Russian spies in the United States for convicted Russian spies in Russia.

One of those Russians - a man convicted of spying for the United States in 2004 and possibly on a list for the swap - left Russia earlier Thursday and arrived in Vienna, Austria, Russia's state-run news agency RIA-Novosti reported. The scientist's family told CNN he was part of the exchange.

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Filed under: National security • Russia
July 8th, 2010
10:32 AM ET

After U.S. loss, do Americans still care about World Cup?

Americans packed bars to cheer on the U.S. team, but are these fans hooked on soccer?

Every four years in the United States the same question comes up - will the World Cup popularize pro soccer among the American masses?

This year the hype was palpable. The U.S. team came into the cup with high expectations. Commercials like Nike's ad grabbed us - full of stop-motion action telling us that we would write the future. How could you not get excited? Especially with the U.S. drawing England for its first match.

Casual fans packed bars, donning jerseys sporting red, white and blue, along with longtime enthusiasts. Oohs, aahs and hands slamming on desks and bartops quickly energized the masses as the U.S. came back to tie England.

But would Team USA finally pull through and make us a nation of soccer-crazy, goal-shouting enthusiasts? Maybe.

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July 8th, 2010
10:32 AM ET

Lawyer: U.S. scientist jailed in Russia for spying may be part of swap

Igor Sutyagin, a Russian scientist jailed for spying for the United States, arrived in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday, Russian state news agency Ria Novosti reported, citing his lawyer, Anna Stavitskaya.

Stavitskaya said Sutyagin could be part of a swap involving the suspected Russian spies detained in the United States in late June.

"Igor's father received a phone call at approximately 16:30 Moscow time (8:30 a.m. ET), and he was told that he [Sutyagin] was seen getting off a plane in Vienna," she said, according to Ria Novosti.

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Filed under: Espionage • Russia
July 8th, 2010
10:03 AM ET

A.M. Security Brief

The charges announced Wednesday against five alleged members of an al Qaeda plot to attack the United States and the United Kingdom underline the evolving links between would-be jihadists in western countries and the vital importance of intelligence sharing.

The charges link Najibullah Zazi, who has admitted trying to bomb the New York subway, and people arrested last year on terrorism charges in Manchester, England, specifically a student there, Abid Naseer. There may also be a link to an alleged plot in Norway; three men have been arrested there in the past 24 hours.

The volatile tribal territories of Pakistan have become the nexus for would-be terrorists bent on attacking NATO forces in Afghanistan or, more frequently, receiving the training that would allow them to commit acts of terror at home. Two of the London 7/7 bombers, Bryant Neal Vinas, Faisal Shahzad, Najibullah Zazi, Abid Naseer and a substantial Belgian cell have all beaten a path to Pakistan and either al Qaeda or the Pakistani Taliban.

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Filed under: Security Brief • Uncategorized
July 8th, 2010
09:45 AM ET

Security Brief: Gates to make CENTCOM announcement

At 2:00PM in the Pentagon briefing room Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to discuss the much talked about media strategy as well as announce his recommendation for the new CENTCOM commander. Joint Chief Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen will joint Gates at this briefing.

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Filed under: Security Brief
July 8th, 2010
08:54 AM ET

Reports: LeBron heading for the Heat

If media reports are right LeBron James may not be playing against Dwayne Wade -- but with him instead.

Published reports say LeBron James is planning to join the Miami Heat.

Newsday's Alan Hahn tweeted the news just after midnight.

ESPN followed Hahn's report with its own, also saying James is heading for Miami to join fellow stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

If the reports are accurate, the Heat will have hit the jackpot in the most frenzied talent chase in NBA history, landing the three top free agents.Things could still change of course. Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen doesn't believe the reports and thinks James will return to Cleveland.

Eatocracy blog: Dear LeBron, come for the hoops, stay for the grub

Wherever he decides to play, Us Magazine says LeBron has a big party planned in South Beach this weekend.

Since he knows his new deal will pay him anywhere from about $96 to 125 million LeBron can afford the South Beach soiree' and a new place to live. CNNMoney shows us there are no shortage of housing options in his price range.

James is unlikely to confirm or deny any of this today since he's planning to announce his decision in a prime-time special on ESPN tonight.

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July 8th, 2010
08:38 AM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Josh Fox

On Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas, the Environmental Protection Agency will hold the first in a series of four public meetings on the controversial issue of "hydraulic fracturing" (aka "fracking"), a method of extracting natural gas from deep within rock formations. Fox has learned firsthand about the process.

He is the filmmaker of "Gasland," a documentary that was prompted in 2008 when a gas company offered Fox $100,000 to lease his family's land in Milanville, Pennsylvania, to extract gas from the land. At the time, he did not know what hydraulic fracturing was and what leasing his land for fracking would mean.

He visited people living near sites in Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Colorado and Texas. The film shows what it says are the consequences of fracking: pools of toxic water; fouled air and water; sickness in plants, animals and people; and fires, including tap water that ignites.

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Filed under: Most Intriguing People
July 8th, 2010
08:08 AM ET

Thursday's live video events

Ongoing coverage ‚Äď BP webcam of Gulf oil disaster

8:40 am ET - Emmy nominations briefing - Nominations for the 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced.

10:00 am ET - Last shuttle fuel tank unveiled - NASA and Lockheed Martin hold a ceremony as workers roll out the fuel tank to be used for the final space shuttle mission.

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Filed under: On CNN.com today
July 8th, 2010
06:49 AM ET

World update: Newborn baby cut free from aircraft toilet

An update from London on some of the international stories we expect to develop on Thursday:

Aircraft birth - An unmarried Indian woman delivered a baby in the toilet of an international flight and abandoned the infant in the plane’s washroom, police and doctors said Thursday.  Cabin crew of the Turkmenistan Airlines rushed the newborn to a hospital as the plane arrived in the northern Indian city of Amritsar on Wednesday, according to police.  The toilet was taken to the hospital with the baby, and surgeons had to cut it away to get the newborn out, according to a doctor at Amritsar’s Fortis Escorts hospital. Read the full story

Terrorism suspects - Three suspects whose arrests were announced Thursday by Norwegian authorities were held in connection with an ongoing investigation into terrorist plots in New York and the United Kingdom, Norwegian security authorities say.

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