Songwriter Kara DioGuardi is stepping down from her role as a judge on "American Idol" after two seasons on the popular Fox talent contest, the network said in a statement Friday evening.
"I felt like I won the lottery when I joined 'American Idol' two years ago, but I feel like now is the best time to leave Idol," DioGuardi was quoted as saying in the statement. "I am very proud to have been associated withÂ American IdolÂ - it has truly been an amazing experience."
The network did not provide a reason for DioGuardi's departure, which comes on the heels of comedian Ellen Degeneres' exit from the judging table. Simon Cowell, known as the show's harshest critic, also abandoned his judging post this year to take up the reins of his new show, â€śThe X Factor.â€ť
"Kara is one of the world's best songwriters," Idol creator and executive producer Simon Fuller. "She has been passionate and committed to Idol over the last two seasons. I will miss having her on the show, but I look forward to working with her in music for many years to come."'
Read more on EW.com
Rachel Wade, 20, was sentenced to 27 years in prison Friday after being convicted of second-degree murder in the stabbing of a romantic rival.
The Pinellas Park, Florida, case stemmed from the two women competing over the affection of Josh Camacho, 21, who, according to "In Session," was sleeping with both of them and had a son with a third.
Wade could have received life in prison, but Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Joseph A. Bulone said he wouldn't hand it down because of her age and lack of maturity, The Tampa Tribune reported. He said, however, that her lack of remorse demanded a lengthy sentence.
Wade testified during her trial in July that she stabbed 18-year-old Sarah Ludemann only after Ludemann hit her three times in the head during a fight. Ludemann, who was unarmed, died at the scene after being stabbed twice in the chest.
In an exclusive interview with "In Session," Wade said she felt that God and Ludemann had forgiven her.
[Updated at 2:57 p.m.] For continuing coverage of the earthquake that hit Christchurch, New Zealand, read our full story here.
[Updated at 2:09 p.m.] The magnitude of the earthquake Saturday in New Zealand was 7.0, down from earlier assessments of 7.4 and 7.2, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The new assessment said the quake was 7.5 miles deep and 20 miles northwest of Christchurch.
An aftershock with a magnitude of 5.7 struck not far from the epicenter about 20 minutes later, the survey said.
Reinier Eulink, general manager of the Holiday Inn in Christchurch, said there's damage around the hotel corridors and "big cracks in the walls."
"It was a big big long jolt, and the building moved a lot," he said. The 13-floor building, with about 150 rooms, was about 40 percent occupied, and he estimated that 80 or more people were staying at the hotel at the time.
Power was knocked out, but emergency power came on. People were milling around in the hotel lobby, trying to get warm during the chilly Southern Hemisphere winter.
"My room is totally upside down," Eulink said.
A Christchurch Hospital shift manager said there are injuries and damage from the quake.
"We are in emergency planning at the moment," he said.
The largest chunk of ice in the Northern Hemisphere is on the move â€“ at a four-hundredths-of-a-kilometer an hour clip.
Satellite imagery from the European Space Agency shows that a massive iceberg that calved from Greenlandâ€™s Petermann Glacier on August 4 has cruised into the Nares Strait, putting 28 kilometers between it and its source.
The 245-square-kilometer iceberg â€“ thatâ€™s about four times the size of Manhattan â€“ faces a fractured future. The satellite imagery shows it has hit a small island, which is slowing its journey but also threatening to break it up.
The berg is being tracked by the European Space Agencyâ€™s Envisat satellite, using both radar and photographs.
[Updated at 1:39 p.m.] The 747-400 with two crew members on board crashed about 8 p.m. (noon ET) as it took off for Cologne, Germany, the company said in a statement. No casualties were immediately confirmed.
"Safety is a key priority for UPS," said the company's airline and international operations manager, Bob Lekites.
"This incident is very unfortunate and we will do everything we can to find the cause," Lekites said in the statement. "Our thoughts go out to the crewmembers involved in the incident and their families."
"We will also release more information as it becomes available, in cooperation with government authorities. We will not speculate about the cause. Until then, we ask for your patience in this difficult time."
[Updated at 12:50 p.m.] The man questioned overnight by the FBI after authorities found a suspicious object in his luggage at Miami International Airport has been told he is free to go, a U.S. government official told CNN.
"The container was a legitimate experiment," the official said, adding that the man, a U.S. citizen, will not be charged.
[updated at 10:55 a.m.] The man currently being questioned by the FBI after a suspicious object was found in his luggage at Miami International Airport is a scientist who once spent time in prison for illegally transporting vials of deadly bubonic plague, CNN has learned.
The 70-year-old man, whom CNN is not naming because he has not been charged, was convicted of transporting the plague nearly a decade ago.
The man's criminal history helps explain why authorities shut down much of Miami International Airport late Thursday for about eight hours, and why first responders in hazmat suits were dispatched to the scene.
Order was restored in the universe Thursday as last night marked the return of college football.
While Saturday will serve as this weekâ€™s main pigskin dish, Thursday night provided a savory appetizer to tide us over. No. 2 Ohio State and Heisman candidate Terrelle Pryor looked in top form in their 45-7 victory over Marshall. No. 14 USC outlasted Hawaii in Lane Kiffinâ€™s debut. And Utah delivered this seasonâ€™s first big upset with a 24-21 overtime win over No. 15 Pittsburgh, writes SI.comâ€™s Andy Staples.
With several must-see games this weekend, including TCU-Oregon St. and North Carolina-LSU, the season is amongst us. SI.comâ€™s college football experts kick things off with their bold predictions for the 2010 season. With no teams in action today, hereâ€™s what else is going on in the world of sports (all times Eastern):
â€˘ U.S. Open (11 a.m., Tennis Channel, 1 p.m. ESPN): America might have its next sweetheart in 18-year-old Beatrice Capra, who upset No. 18 Aravane Rezai of France on Thursday. Day 5 from Flushing Meadows promises more excitement with Rafael Nadal, Kim Clijsters hitting the courts.
[Posted at 12:08 p.m.] A third of a Hare Krishna temple in Leicester, England has collapsed, fire and rescue officials tell CNN.
"There was an explosion, a third of the building collapsed and there is a fire on the ground floor," but no people have been trapped, a Leicestershire Fire and Rescue press officer said.
The Hare Krishna movement is also known as the the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
[Posted at 11:59 a.m.] A Hare Krishna temple in Leicester, England was burning Friday after an explosion, the Press Association of Great Britain reported.
Television images showed a building in flames.
Six job recruiters have been indicted in federal court, in what the FBI has called the largest illegal human-trafficking operation ever charged in the U.S.
An indictment unsealed in Hawaii on Thursday accuses employees of a California-based company of luring about 400 people from Thailand, with false promises of lucrative jobs.
Many of the imported workers wound up laboring on farms under substandard conditions, had their passports confiscated and were threatened with deportation, the indictment says.
The National Football League has reduced the suspension of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger from six to four games, the league said.
The NFL in a statement Friday said Roethlisberger's reinstatement is contingent on him "continuing to adhere to the program established by our advisors and avoiding any further violations of the Personal Conduct Policy."
"You have told me and the Steelers that you are committed to making better decisions," Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a letter to Roethlisberger, according to the statement. "Your actions over the past several months have been consistent with that promise and you must continue to honor that commitment."
Roethlisberger, who led the Steelers to Super Bowl titles in 2006 and 2009, faced the threat of criminal charges after a woman accused him of raping her in a Milledgeville, Georgia, bar in March.
The quarterback's lawyer said no sexual assault took place, and prosecutors decided last week that they could not prove that a crime had been committed.
This story is developing. We'll bring you the latest information as we get it.
President Obama cited small businesses as "the primary drivers of job creation" and called on Congress, especially the GOP, to tackle a bill aimed at improving the climate for such enterprises.
In his Friday speech from the White House, which came on the heels of news that private sector jobs had been created for an eighth straight month, Obama said the legislation should be Congress' first order of business when it reconvenes this month. Legislators, he said, need to "put aside partisanship and be the leaders the American people need us to be."
He directly accused Republicans of blocking the $55 billion legislation package. Senate Democrats are hoping to OK the package and get it to the president's desk well before November's midterm elections.
Among the provisions in the bill are loan enhancements that would double what small business owners can borrow to expand their companies, as well as billions in tax-cut extensions.
"It is paid for," the president said. "It will not add one dime to our deficit."
CNN affiliate stations all along the East Coast have been monitoring preparations for Hurricane Earl. Here's what's going on:
Officials say tropical storm force winds are expected to end around 11 a.m. and holiday weekend activities along the Oceanfront will go on as planned, WAVY reports. Strong waves and rip tides are still expected this afternoon, but the rest of the weekend should be sunny, WAVY meteorologists say.
The weekend's activities include the American Music Festival and the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. A tall sand berm is protecting the music festival's main stage from the pounding surf, said city officials, who will decide around 4 p.m. whether to delay the start of Friday's concert.
Friday's job reports numbers are providing some hope in the midst of some troubling times - business hiring is picking up, but not enough to make up for the massive losses of temporary government jobs. Still, job recovery is the highest it has been in decades.
So how are things for those struggling to find a job? Despite some daunting numbers there are people finding work in todayâ€™s economy.
Ross Masood was unemployed for eight months after being laid off from the Office of Head Start and like many others out of work, he went through periods of self-doubt wondering: â€śWhen will this end?â€ť
He finally found a new job as a recruiter and is enjoying helping others find work.
Rossâ€™ advice to those still looking: â€śdo not give up.â€ť
Hear Rossâ€™ story as told to CNNâ€™s Steve Kastenbaum:
As badly as so many people wanted today's job numbers to confirm predictions of a double-dip recession, they didn't.
For perspective: most economists say the U.S. needs to add at least a couple hundred thousand jobs EVERY MONTH. America lost 54,000 jobs in August - that's bad. In fact, the government alone shed 121,000 jobs.
So why the heck am I so pleased? Because the private sector (-i.e. Businesses) ADDED 67,000 jobs. Here I'll do the math: 67,000 private sector jobs created minus 121,000 government jobs lost equals 54,000 jobs lost.
But I'm almost blind to the 121,000 government jobs lost (not, by the way, to the people and families affected by those lost jobs), because job creation is supposed to come from the private sector.
Businesses hiring is picking up, but not enough to make up for the massive losses of temporary government jobs.
The economy lost a total of 54,000 jobs in August, the Labor Department reported Friday, matching the revised estimate of jobs lost in July.
The bulk of the losses came from the public sector, as the government cut 114,000 temporary census workers. It was the third straight month that census worker layoffs caused an overall decline in jobs.
Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro led his first open-air rally Friday since a near-death illness four years ago, urging thousands of students packed on the steps at the University of Havana entrance to help prevent a nuclear war.
"I thank you all for your presence and moral support in this fight for peace," Castro said at the end of his 44-minute speech. "I exhort you to not abandon this battle. As in past fights, we can win."
After four years of virtual seclusion, Castro re-emerged in public in July, but mostly in small, tightly controlled events. He has visited an economic think tank, an aquarium and given a shorter speech to the National Assembly.
The Delaware Senate candidate backed by the Tea Party alleges that Republican leadership is behind a plot against her.
In an interview yesterday with the Weekly Standard, O'Donnell said unnamed opponents are following her. "They follow me home at night. I make sure that I come back to the townhouse and then we have our team come out and check all the bushes and check all the cars to make sure that - they follow me," she told the paper.
O'Donnell is challenging moderate GOP congressman Mike Castle in the September 14 primary and has said there is no difference between him and the Democrat in the race, Chris Coons. Her campaign website describes her as "a nationally recognized political commentator and marketing consultant" who previously worked for the Republican National Committee.
After endorsing her earlier this week, the Tea Party announced they will spend up to $250,000 on her campaign ads. "We are launching an aggressive multimedia and multiplatform campaign to help propel Christine O'Donnell to victory, and we've only just begun," said Amy Kremer, chairman of the Tea Party Express, in a statement.
Update 10:35 a.m. - death toll rises to 59
The death toll from a deadly blast in Quetta, Pakistan has risen to 59, and at least 160 people have been wounded, said Khadim Hussain, a police spokesman.
The blast occurred during an rally for Al Quds day, an annual event in the Arab and Muslim world that criticizes Israeli policies toward the Palestinians.
Dramatic television images showed what appeared to be the blast caught on camera, followed by heavy gunfire and people dispersing. Images also showed many casualties being treated.
Meanwhile, in northwestern Pakistan, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside an place of worship Friday, killing himself and a pedestrian, police said.
CNN's David Mattingly is at the Outer Banks in North Carolina as a weakened Hurricane Earl makes its way along the East Coast.
9:00 a.m.: North Carolina Highway 12, the only way in and out of much of the Outer Banks, is flooded for at least a couple of miles in the Avon, NC and Waves, NC areas. This is the result of a reverse storm surge.Â Water from the west of the island was pulledÂ onshore by high winds as Hurricane Earl moved north.
7:59 a.m.: This water wasn't here 45 minutes ago. The Outer Banks is getting hit with a reverse storm surge as water from the sound on the west side of the islands is being pulled on shore. Hwy 12 looks like a river and the water is still rising.
Ongoing coverage - Hurricane Earl tracker
7:45 am ET - Fidel Castro speaks in Havana -Â Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro addresses students at the University of Havana.
8:00 am ET - Hurricane Earl briefing -Â North Carolina officials update the public on Hurricane Earl.
10:00 am ET - Obama on job numbers -Â President Obama is expected to make a statement on the latest job numbers in the White House Rose Garden.
CNN.com Live is your home for breaking news as it happens.