September 6th, 2010
09:09 PM ET

Dutch paper: Van der Sloot admits extortion

Joran van der Sloot admitted in an interview with a Dutch newspaper that he extorted money from the family of Natalee Holloway, but his attorney in a Peruvian murder case suggested Monday that his client's comments may have been mistranslated.

Attorney Maximo Alteza said he is not involved in the case of Holloway, the Alabama teenager who disappeared in Aruba after going out on the town with van der Sloot, and was reluctant to comment on van der Sloot's interview with The Telegraph.

"Maybe there were some mistakes in the translation," he said. Alteza said van der Sloot was not paid for the interview.

"I wanted to get back at Natalee's family," van der Sloot said from prison in the Dutch interview. "Her parents have been making my life tough for five years."

"When they offered to pay for the girl's location, I thought: 'Why not?'" he said.

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Filed under: Crime • Peru
September 6th, 2010
09:04 PM ET

Quran-burning could endanger troops, Petraeus warns

The U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Monday criticized a Florida church's plan to burn copies of the Quran on September 11, warning the demonstration "could cause significant problems" for American troops overseas.

"It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan," Gen. David Petraeus said in a statement issued Monday.

The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, plans to mark the anniversary of al Qaeda's September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington by burning copies of the Muslim holy book. The church insists the event is "neither an act of love nor of hate," but a warning against what it calls the threats posed by Islam.

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Filed under: Islam • Military • Religion
September 6th, 2010
04:27 PM ET

Obama pushes infrastructure spending to spur growth

President Barack Obama unveiled on Monday a $50 billion plan to renew the country's transportation infrastructure, create jobs and spark economic growth.

His address is the first of two speeches the president plans to make this week in an attempt to frame his administration's response to the recession, less than two months ahead of midterm elections where Democratic majorities in the House and Senate are in jeopardy.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Economy • Politics
September 6th, 2010
04:08 PM ET

Obama economic push: Too little, too late?

President Barack Obama is rushing to roll out a new economic plan this week, but his fellow Democrats are confronting a tough question: Is it too little, too late?

On one hand, Obama used a Labor Day speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to suggest he wasn't rattled about the economic crisis that might wipe out Democratic majorities in the House and Senate in less than two months.

"Now, the plain truth is, there's no silver bullet or quick fix to the problem," he said.

But on the other hand, Obama certainly sounded like a president trying to use the roll-out of his new plan to convince voters he's all over the problem.

"I'm going to keep fighting, every single day, to turn this economy around; to put our people back to work; to renew the American dream for your families and for future generations," Obama said.

There's certainly urgency to the situation because panic is starting to set in privately among some Democratic strategists if the American people don't see economic improvement by November.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Economy
September 6th, 2010
02:35 PM ET

Hurricane watch issued for Texas, Mexico

A hurricane watch was issued Monday for portions of the Texas and Mexico coasts ahead of Tropical Storm Hermine, which forecasters said could approach hurricane strength before making landfall late Monday or early Tuesday.

However, tracking maps show Hermine remaining a tropical storm as it makes landfall early Tuesday near the Texas and Mexico border.

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Filed under: Hurricanes • Mexico • Texas • Tropical weather • Weather
September 6th, 2010
12:23 PM ET

'Little Rock Nine' student dies of cancer

Jefferson Thomas, left, with members of the "Little Rock Nine" and former President Bill Clinton in 1998.

Jefferson Thomas, one of the so-called "Little Rock Nine," the nine students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957, has died, according to Carlotta Walls LaNier, president of the group's foundation. He was 67.

Thomas died of pancreatic cancer on Sunday, the Little Rock Nine Foundation said in a statement.

As a 15-year-old, Thomas was one of the nine African-American students who braved segregationist mobs to integrate the all-white school under the protection of military forces.

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Filed under: Uncategorized
September 6th, 2010
12:01 PM ET

Dairy farmer politics: 'Vote against the incumbent'

Editor's note: CNN's T.J. Holmes will be traveling through four states on the CNN Election Express bus this week, talking with voters about their thoughts on the economy and the upcoming midterm elections.

The following is a post he filed from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Always vote against the incumbent.”

That’s the voting philosophy of Anthony Nicoletto, a dairy farmer we met in western Pennsylvania.

He says he always votes against the incumbent because you should “give someone else a chance to be corrupt” and steal money.

Here in western Pennsylvania, everyone seems to be in agreement: they are sick of Washington, DC.

Nicoletto has been a dairy farmer his whole life, but now, he says each year could be his last year in the business. His cost of doing business continues to go up, but the cost of milk doesn’t go up at the same pace. He can’t turn a profit. So, a successful year for him now is when he loses a little bit of money instead of a lot.

And, Nicoletto and his wife don’t have a lot of (or any) confidence in Washington. Listen to what they told us.

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Filed under: Politics
September 6th, 2010
11:54 AM ET

Retail politics at the Stoneboro fair

Editor's note: CNN's T.J. Holmes will be traveling through four states on the CNN Election Express bus this week, talking with voters about their thoughts on the economy and the upcoming midterm elections.

Local Democrats and Republicans took retail politics to the 143rd annual Stoneboro fair in Mercer county Pennsylvania this Labor Day weekend.

At stake is Pennsylvania's third congressional seat, currently held by first term congresswoman Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper.

She is the first Democrat to hold the seat in 32 years. Republican challenger Mike Kelly hopes to take the seat back in the district which voted for John McCain in 2008 by only a 17 vote advantage over then Senator Obama.

Lifelong Stoneboro resident Trisha Black runs the Democrat table at the fair. She says that the Republicans are playing politics and only want to make Democrats look back. At the Republican table Cindy Robbins, also a lifelong Stoneboro resident, retorts that Democrats current leadership in Washington is not listening to the people's needs and concerns.

September 6th, 2010
11:33 AM ET

Iraqi reality show plants fake bombs in celebrities' trunks

Sgt. Leo Dunson is seen in this YouTube clip playing a similar prank months before al-Baghdadia's television show caused a stir on the air.

The Obama administration hoped that with combat operations coming to a close in Iraq, local forces and authorities would be able to protect the Iraqi street just like the Americans.

But it's doubtful Washington envisioned Iraqi soldiers coming up with their own reality show.

"Put Him in Camp Bucca" - a show The New York Times has dubbed "Punk'd, Iraqi-Style, at a Checkpoint" - is earning the furor of many Iraqis who wonder if there will ever be an appropriate time to make jokes about car bombs.

The premise of the show is similar to the popular Ashton Kutcher-hosted MTV program, except that the joke never changes. Iraqi celebrities are invited to al-Baghdadia television network offices for an interview, but en route, they are stopped at a checkpoint. There, an Iraqi soldier plants an explosive device in their car, and the purported hilarity ensues.

The bewildered celebrities, according to The Times, are called terrorists and told they will be jailed or executed for trying to kill Iraqi soldiers. Camp Bucca, of course, is the formerly U.S.-administered detention facility in Basra that was shut down a year ago as part of the bilateral security agreement between the U.S. and Iraq. It was reported the prison held about 20,000 Iraqi prisoners of war in 2007.

The intro to the Arabic-language program shows freaked-out celebrities pleading with soldiers and hugging them after the high jinks run their course.

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Filed under: Iraq • Terrorism
September 6th, 2010
11:00 AM ET

College football, USA basketball, Red Sox try to rebound

Jonathan Papelbon and the rest of the Red Sox are hoping they can bounce back with a win tonight.

Week 1 of college football season is in the can and fans couldn’t have asked for a better start. From Hail Mary finishes courtesy of Eastern Carolina’s Dominique Davis to North Carolina’s near comeback against LSU, the start of the regular season has sports fans gushing at the prospect of their favorite teams making it to their respective big show. But SI.com’s Stewart Mandel cautions fans to not get too hyped – or discouraged - by early season performance.

Sure, Notre Dame’s 23-12 victory over Purdue was a nice way for new Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly to come out of the gate, but with only one down and 11 more games to go there is plenty of time for Kelly and his team to keep moving full steam ahead or to fizzle out.

Sans 13 of the team’s best players, UNC looked to be a lost cause when they took the field in Atlanta against Les Miles and LSU. But despite missing key pieces of their roster, the team nearly came back in the fourth quarter, closing their 20-point deficit to 30-24. But can UNC keep the momentum going if the program continues to run into scandal? Early season storylines have grabbed our attention, but first impression can often be deceiving.

But today we give the college gridiron a break and turn our attention back to Coach K and boys and the Sox:

Team USA vs. Angola (11:00 am ET) - Kevin Durant, Chauncey Billups and Derrick Rose will face off against Angola at the FIBA Worlds. The winner will get two days off before meeting either Russia or New Zealand in the quarterfinals.

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Filed under: Sports
September 6th, 2010
10:28 AM ET

Suspected drone strike kills 5 suspected militants

A suspected U.S. drone strike killed five suspected militants in Pakistan's tribal region on Monday, intelligence officials tell CNN.

Two intelligence officials say two missiles were fired on the vehicle of suspected militants in village Khar Qamar of North Waziristan, one of seven districts in Pakistan's tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

The intelligence officials asked not to be named because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

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Filed under: Pakistan
September 6th, 2010
09:36 AM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Phil Best

The Mayor of Dublin, Georgia may be opening up a debate on what should be considered indecent exposure after announcing that wearing saggy, baggy pants is a violation that could face fines up to $200. Best has been mayor of this town of approximately 16,000 residents for over a decade, while also serving as CEO of his own construction company. CNN reports that this week he will sign an amendment to the municipality's indecent exposure ordinance—an amendment that prohibits the wearing of pants or skirts "more than three inches below the top of the hips exposing the skin or undergarments." Some residents in Dublin, in central Georgia about 130 miles southeast of Atlanta, feel the rule will single out a specific group of citizens and lead to profiling, an accusation Best says is "ridiculous," claiming the ordinance has been “violated by all races and sexes.” Best is also not alone in his campaign.

Flint, Michigan recently passed a ban against sagging pants. So did Riviera Beach, Florida, only to have the legislation declared unconstitutional. "It's time we all have a mutual respect for each other ... what a person does in the privacy of their home is fine," Best said. "But if I had an 8-year-old daughter, I don't think she needs to be subjected to looking at someone's rear end."

FULL POST

September 6th, 2010
09:34 AM ET

On the Radar: Obama and economy, latest tropical storm

President Obama will focus on economic issues in two speeches this week in the Midwest.

Obama's economic push On this Labor Day, the White House will put its focus squarely back on the economy, following a week in which the Obama administration concentrated on Middle East peace talks and the end of the U.S. combat role in Iraq.

In two speeches this week President Obama will try to frame his administration's response to the recession ahead of the midterm elections in which Democratic majorities in the House and Senate may be on the line. Obama will outline actions he wants to see taken to help speed up the economic recovery, first in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Monday and then in Cleveland, Ohio, on Wednesday.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Economy • Jobs • On the Radar • Politics • Tropical weather • Weather
September 6th, 2010
02:54 AM ET

1 killed, 4 hurt in New Orleans shooting

A woman was killed and four others wounded after a shooting in New Orleans' 7th Ward, police said early Monday morning.

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Filed under: Crime • Louisiana