College football's Bowl Championship Series says it will fine the Fiesta Bowl $1 million and impose other sanctions after the bowl reported that it had, among other things, reimbursed employees for political contributions they made allegedly at bowl leaders' encouragement.
The Fiesta Bowl can remain a part of the BCS, a system that determines the national college football champion, if it adheres to all sanctions, the BCS said Wednesday.
Had the Fiesta Bowl not implemented its own reforms when it self-reported in March, BCS investigators "almost certainly would have recommended the termination of the BCS Group's involvement with the Fiesta Bowl," a BCS report said.
Although the BCS looks intent on keeping the Fiesta Bowl, the NCAA has yet to decide whether it will continue to license the game.FULL STORY
As Newt Gingrich prepares his candidacy for the 2012 presidential nomination, he needs to remind people of what he accomplished as speaker of the House dureing the Clinton administration, his former campaign chairman said.
Gingrich announced via Twitter Wednesday that he is a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. His agenda includes overturning health care reform and eliminating the EPA.
Gingrich needs to remind GOP voters, especially the fiscally conservative, that he worked "to bring President Clinton to the table to bring a balanced budget, that he worked to reduce capital gains, that he worked to reform welfare," political consultant Matt Towery said.
At the same time, Gingrich should not talk up too many issues and ideas, just stay focused on the fiscal discipline matters that are driving much of the national debate, Towery said in an interview with CNN Radio.
Towery, a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives, served as campaign chairman for Gingrich and chief strategist for numerous national political campaigns. He said he is not working on Gingrich's campaign.
It won't be easy for Gingrich to deal with social conservatives when it comes to his personal life, which includes an affair while his first wife was stricken with cancer and a second while he was leading the Clinton impeachment proceedings. But the transgressions are not necessarily a deal-breaker, Towery said.
“Most people ... really don’t care about that issue,” Towery said. “They’re more concerned about whether they have a job, food on the table and the like.”
Gingrich has been facing up to his indiscretions in interviews, the Atlanta-based attorney and businessman said. Plus, “neither of his two former wives have come out against him.”
Listen to the full interview here:
Comment of the day: "Maaaan! I need more money." -dallaslib
Apparently CNN.com readers are in a blue-water-vacation state of mind. One of the most popular stories on CNN.com today showcased five “overwater hut resorts” complete with iconic, thatch-roofed bungalows. Besides representing paradise on earth, "For everyone, they've come to typify romance," a travel agent says.
After reading the story (and looking at the pictures) readers said they are ready to pack their bags or, sadly, that they may never be able to afford the luxury trip.
lam81208 said, “DROOL!!!” elfmeister said, “This article is EXACTLY why I play the lottery.” heyitsme said, “Come on 25th wedding anniversary!! That's all I'm sayin.’” SoonerLyno said, “Yep, assuming I ever get married, I want to go there for my honeymoon.” makemlaff said, “I'm currently engaged and broke as a joke, but instead of a registry, I think hubby-to-be and I will ask for honeymoon contributions now!” ModeratelyMe said, “So glad my wife isn't reading this article.” cmr35 said, “Wow. Time to add another item to the bucket list.” pumpkinseeds said, “Some day.” Jpeters said, “Great. I am now accepting donations. [This is] something I will never afford on a teacher's salary!” DontUGetIt said, “In order to develop an informed opinion I will require an all-expense-paid vacation to one. Anybody want to help me out?”
Other readers shared their experiences:
entropy430 said, “Just got back from our honeymoon staying in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora. What a pleasant surprise to log onto CNN for the first time in a week and see this.” fonzarelli99 said, “Honeymooned in Tahiti back in 2002. It has to be the most beautiful place on Earth. Stayed in the overwater huts on Moorea and Bora Bora and snorkeled right out from our balcony. Can't wait to go back, and this time surf Teahupoo.” STP1026 said, “We honeymooned at Bora Bora Nui last year. The place was incredible. We opted for an extravagant honeymoon rather than an extravagant wedding and are very happy we did so. Can't wait to go back for whatever anniversary.”
And other readers made comments about the price tag.
renodakota said, “We dropped $500 a night to stay in one of those bungalows in Bora Bora for our honeymoon last November for five days. Combined with the $40 breakfasts and $20 cocktails, yeah, it was staggeringly expensive.” malfunction said, “Wow. Even though I could afford this for a bit I don't think I could feel comfortable at that nightly rate. Perhaps a few nights for a honeymoon and then I would move on to something that has a better value.” entropy430 said, “I couldn't help but notice how they highlighted the most expensive bungalow in all of Bora Bora. Most of the bungalows in Bora Bora go for about $600-$800 a night. Still a chunk of money, but nothing like $2,700 a night.”
And a few others offered more affordable alternatives:
iBabble said, “Beautiful...turns out one of the most affordable places to stay in Bermuda is 9beaches...cool tents right over the water...really enjoyed our stay there!” siracco said, “You can get 'over water huts' in Roatan, Honduras at Anthony's Key for a whole lot less. And Americans can save on air fare as well.” Jess2010Jess said, “I LOVE that somebody on here knows and mentioned the Bay Islands! Such a wonderful, little-known gem. Cheap and beautiful. And great sea food and snorkling.” hondo99 said, “Pearl Farm, near Davao in the Southern Philippines, has some really cute huts over a coral reef. You can sit on your back porch and watch the multicolored tropical fish swim by. A truly beautiful place and far more affordable than some of the others listed.”
Stocks fell sharply Wednesday, as energy and materials stocks were particularly hard hit by a sell-off in oil and gasoline futures.
"Commodities are getting crushed here, and it's taking the whole market with it," said David Rovelli, managing director of U.S. equity trading at Canaccord Adams.
The Dow Jones industrial average slid 130 points, or 1%, to end at 12,630. The blue-chip index had been down as much as 179 points. The S&P 500 fell 15 points, or 1.1%, to 1,342; and the Nasdaq Composite shed 27 points, or 0.9%, to end at 2,845.
Shares of Chevron and Exxon Mobil were among the biggest laggards on the Dow as oil plunged nearly 6% to $100 a barrel. Gasoline futures also got hammered, tumbling 8% to $3.11 a gallon.
The selling intensified after the Energy Department's weekly inventory report showed a surprise build in gasoline supplies.
The drop in energy prices also drove down shares of energy firms Halliburton, Cabot Oil and Tesoro, among others.
Precious metals were also selling off, with silver sinking $3.26, or 8.5%, to $32.22 an ounce. And gold fell $13.40, or 0.9%, to $1,503.50 an ounce. Copper was also getting caught up in the selling mayhem, with prices sinking 3.5%. That spilled over to miner stocks, including Freeport McMoRan and Teck Resources. Traders also pointed to weakness in the euro as part of the reason commodities were under pressure. The dollar gained strength amid growing concerns about Greece's debt problems. FULL POST
The Rev. Billy Graham, 92, was admitted Wednesday for treatment of a pulmonary condition following a health episode overnight, according to Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.
Initial testing suggested pneumonia, and further tests showed Graham's heart was normal, the hospital said in a statement.
The minister was reported to be in stable condition and fully alert.FULL STORY
The Memphis, Tennessee, suburb of Northhaven has been flooded extensively, and now the community has some unofficial new rules aimed at keeping people safe.
"If you're thinking of going swimming in the floodwaters, don't," Shelby County sheriff's spokesman Chip Washington said. "Some folks have been in the water, letting their kids play in the water. It's extremely dangerous. It's no joke. It really isn't."
Parts of Memphis have flooded thanks to a swollen Mississippi River. The river on Tuesday crested at Memphis more than 13 feet above flood stage, just short of a Memphis record set in 1937.
Washington said people should be mindful of debris, contaminated water, rodent infestation and snakes. Animals have been fleeing the river basin, and poisonous water moccasins and copperheads have been showing up in people's yards.
Click the audio player to hear the rest of the story from CNN Radio's John Sepulvado:
"We had a moccasin hang out in the back for about an hour," Northaven auto mechanic Eric Scott said. "In 15 years I've never seen anything like this. We had flash floods last year, but it's like a zoo out back (of the auto shop)."
[Updated at 3:08 p.m.] Seven people were killed Wednesday when an earthquake struck southeastern Spain, the delegate of the government in Murcia told National Spanish Radio.
The 5.3-magnitude quake occurred at 4:47 p.m. (10:47 a.m. ET) and was centered about 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of Murcia, near the Mediterranean coast, the U.S. Geological Survey said. That is about 350 kilometers (218 miles) south-southeast of Madrid.
It was preceded at 3:05 p.m. by a 4.5-magnitude temblor centered in the same area, the survey said.FULL STORY
Philippine tourism officials are turning an unused nuclear power plant into a tourist attraction, the Philippine Star reports.
The $2.3 billion Bataan Nuclear Power plant was completed in 1984 but was never put into use.
The plant was built during the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos, but when Corazon Aquino became president in 1986, she refused to open it, saying its location near earthquake faults and an active volcano made it unsafe, according to an Agence-France Presse report.
Tourists will now get a look inside the plant and its intact reactor to see "how nuclear energy throughout the world menacingly threatens the quality of life of the people if handled incorrectly,” Department of Tourism regional director Ronald Tiotuico told the Philippine Star.
“Hopefully, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant would serve to warn the global community of the fallout disaster that struck people in the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima,” the Star quoted him as saying.
It won't be an all-nuclear tour, however. The plant will be a stop on a tour that includes historical sites and beach resorts, the Star reported.
More than 100 leopard sharks have washed up dead over the past month around California's San Francisco Bay Area, according to a conservation and research group working with scientists to determine a cause.
At least four of the spotted creatures are being examined by a Department of Fish and Game pathologist now, said Sean Van Sommeran, executive director of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation. Three of the sharks undergoing analysis have signs of infection in their digestive and nervous systems, Van Sommeran said.
"Leopard sharks are typically very tough and are rarely susceptible to getting sick," he said. "So this is alarming. The infection seems to come in through the nose and affects their eyes, blinding them and half-paralyzing them so that they cannot keep themselves from coming up on the shore with the tide."
He said it's possible that the canals in which the sharks sometimes swim are polluted with stagnant water where bacteria can thrive. If it's a matter of cleaning the water, that can be accomplished by installing aerators or other equipment.
Because the sharks live in salt water, there is no threat to the human water supply, he stressed.
Van Sommeran said it's likely that more than 100 sharks have been affected. An untold number may still be in the water or have already decomposed.
Bob Marley lives.
The reggae star may have died 30 years ago Wednesday, but his music - and impact - are inescapable. “Legend,” the best-of compilation his label, Island Records, originally released in 1984, is among the best-selling albums of all time, with a “Diamond” certification (more than 10 million sold) from the Recording Industry Association of America, more than 1,000 weeks on Billboard’s catalog chart and a listing as No. 46 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Kevin Macdonald, director of “The Last King of Scotland” and the Oscar-winning “One Day in September,” is preparing a documentary on the Jamaican musician.
"He's gone beyond being a famous musician, he's now a philosopher and prophet," he told the BBC last month. A portion of Macdonald’s film, “Marley,” is scheduled to screen at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday.
What was it about this son of a white plantation overseer and Afro-Jamaican woman who continues to inspire three decades after his death at age 36 from a rare form of cancer? Why is Marley the popular face of reggae instead of “Israelites” hitmaker Desmond Dekker, “The Harder They Come” star Jimmy Cliff or pioneering producer Lee “Scratch” Perry?
Robert "Tractor" Traylor, known for his size during the short time he played in the NBA, was found dead in his apartment in Puerto Rico where he had been playing basketball, according to the Bayamon Vaqueros team site.
Calling him "the strength of the Bayamón Vaqueros," the team said Traylor had not been seen for a few days and so they went to his apartment, where he was found dead.
Traylor, 34, is presumed to have died of a heart attack, according to Bayamon Vaqueros. The star struggled due to his size - but also heart problems when he tried to make it in the NBA. He had a heart operation in 2005.
Traylor, who attended the University of Michigan, was taken by the Dallas Mavericks as the sixth pick in the NBA draft in 1998 but was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for Dirk Nowitzki. (Some Michigan fans in the 1990s might remember him for other reasons.)
The 300-plus pound center joked about his weight in an old SI.com story, but he also acknowledged how it had kept him from being the style of player he wanted - though he did often try conditioning methods to get him in better shape.
His coach at Michigan, current San Diego State Coach Steve Fisher, said Wednesday that Traylor was "one of my favorite people and players that I have ever had the privilege of getting to know."
"Robert was someone who could light up a room with his smile. He was a gentle person but as fierce a competitor as there was," Fisher said. "I am very saddened to hear of his sudden and tragic departure. Robert was one of my favorite people for all the right reasons."
Romans let out a sigh of relief Wednesday morning.
Everything was still in place: buildings, famous ancient ruins, schools and homes.
In recent months, concerns of a possible earthquake that was going to destroy the "Eternal City" spread on the Web. It all started with the misinterpretation of the theory of Raffaele Bendandi, a seismologist who died in 1979 who claimed a major quake would take place on May 11, 2011. After the Japanese earthquake, concern turned to anxiety.
And with the best view of the planets clustering before sunrise Wednesday, it caused further panic.
In some areas of the city, nearly 50% of the shops where closed. On doors are quick handwritten notes: ‘Closed for inventory."
While several minor quakes rattled the country prone to temblors, none came like the one in the purported claim. Still, some residents fled, just in case.
The hip-hop performer and mainstream movie actor with a longtime reputation for his star power and socially conscious lyrics will be among a number of artists appearing with first lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday at a White House event honoring poetry. Conservatives including Karl Rove, Sean Hannity and Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are lambasting the invitation based on Common's 2007 performance on HBO's "Def Poetry," which is now posted on YouTube.
In "Letter to the Law," Common rapped about government corruption and police abuse in the inner city. He also criticized President George W. Bush's involvement in Iraq. "Burn a Bush 'cos for peace he no push no button," the artist said. "Killing over oil and grease/ no weapons of destruction."
Palin was the first to bring the clip national attention when she sent a Twitter message linking to a story about the poetry in the right-leaning website The Daily Caller. "Oh lovely, White House," Palin said.
By Tuesday night, Rove, Bush's top adviser turned Fox News commentator, was on the record calling Common "a thug." Hannity used his Fox program to accuse Common of previous drug use and promiscuity. Common has appeared in films such as "Terminator Salvation," "Date Night" and, most recently, "Just Wright" with Queen Latifah. He also starred in a Gap ad, "Peace, Love, the Gap."
People are not the only ones being forced out of their homes by the rising waters of the Mississippi. The water has wildlife big and small heading for the hills. These are some of the stories of the unforseen consequences of disastrous flooding.
Wildlife displaced by flooding – All creatures great and small have started to head for higher ground as the waters rise. As Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal points out, it sounds comical, but it may actually become a problem as wildlife like deer and raccoons start to populate urban areas.
The swollen Mississippi River rolled south Wednesday, swamping emptied-out towns and businesses, and threatening untold damage to areas still recovering from a series of natural disasters.
In Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas, authorities and residents braced for the days ahead.
"I went through (Hurricane) Katrina," said Lynn Magnuson, a New Orleans resident. "I would not wish flooding on anyone, and this city is the last place on Earth that needs any more high water."
The river crested Tuesday at Memphis, just short of a record set in 1937. The river in Memphis measured 47.8 feet Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service. In Natchez, Mississippi, the river surpassed its record early Wednesday, exceeding 58 feet. Forecasts predict the river will crest in Natchez on May 21 at an overwhelming 64 feet.
Mississippi has already had to close some of its casinos at Tunica, a key economic driver in that part of the state, as flood waters seeped in. About 600 people in the Tunica community of Cutoff have been driven from their homes, said Larry Liddell, a county spokesman.
"We're just watching and waiting," he said.
In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal said as many as 3 million acres could be affected by the flooding. Some 500 National Guard members have been mobilized so far and 21 parishes have issued emergency declarations.
The river's crest is expected to begin arriving in Louisiana next week. Flooding is expected to be a major setback in the southern part of the state.
"After hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike - as well as the oil spill - Louisiana can ill-afford another large-scale disaster," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat. "Billions of dollars in property is at stake, not to mention the threat to human life."FULL STORY
Perhaps it's all in the name - Waffle House.
Police and rescue crews were called to one of the popular restaurants off a highway in Augusta, Georgia, to help a man down from the roof who had apparently apparently been living up there for some time, according to WAGT, a CNN affiliate.
The station reported that the man, who was not identified, was dehydrated and transported to a hospital.
The scheduled trial of two Americans accused of espionage in Iran was delayed again Wednesday after the suspects were not brought from prison to the courthouse, a Swiss diplomat and their defense attorney told CNN.
"I have been able to verify that the session has actually been postponed due to the absence of the two prisoners. They were not brought in from prison," said an official with the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, who, according to protocol, asked not to be identified. Switzerland represents U.S. interests in Iran.
Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were set to stand trial on Wednesday. The two were charged with espionage after being arrested nearly 22 months ago while hiking along an unmarked border between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan. The two Americans were expected to appear in Branch 15 of Tehran's Revolutionary court Wednesday morning.
"There were no reasons given why they were not brought in," the diplomat said. Iranian authorities once again barred Swiss diplomats from monitoring the proceedings.
"Shane and Josh were not brought up from the jail to the courtroom today," said defense attorney Masoud Shafii. He said he also does not know the reason for the postponement, but does not believe it was because a third hiker released on bail, Sarah Shourd, did not return to Iran for proceedings.
The families of Bauer and Fattal said in a statement they also do not know why the two were not brought to court, "but we are even more deeply concerned for their health and welfare as a result of their non-appearance.
"Their unexplained absence from the hearing, and the fact that their lawyer, Mr. Masoud Shafii, continues to be denied access to Shane and Josh, is extremely troubling," the statement said.
The last time Fattal and Bauer appeared in court, Swiss diplomats and the prisoners' defense attorney also were not allowed into the courtroom. The hikers' trial began in February, but was delayed until Wednesday.FULL STORY
A canoe that carried six missing people from Tarawa Atoll in the South Pacific nation of Kiribati has been found, but there is no sign of its occupants, including four girls under the age of 15.
The six - two 19-year-old men and girls ages 14, 12, 9 and 8 - went missing Friday when their 9-foot-long canoe drifted out of a lagoon near their village of Marenanuka and into the open ocean. The six were gathering palm fronds for roof thatching when they were lost.
The New Zealand Rescue Coordination Center, which is assisting Kiribati authorities in the search for the six, said Wednesday that a canoe spotted by a fisherman Saturday on Buariki, seven miles (11 kilometers) northwest of Tarawa, was the one the group was using. A search of nearby areas has turned up no sign of its occupants, however, according to a rescue center statement.
Louisiana flooding - As many as three million acres in Louisiana could be flooded by the surging Mississippi River, according to Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is urging residents to take precautions immediately. Rising water could reach levels unseen since 1927, which has many people fearful. The region is still trying to recover from Hurricane Katrina. Flooding has already forced casinos in Tunica, Mississippi, to close. About 600 people in Tunica have had to leave their homes.
Iran hikers trial delay - The trial of two American men whom Iran accuses of spying has once again been delayed. A Swiss diplomat tells CNN that Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer were not brought from jail to the courthouse Wednesday, and that no reason was given. Switzerland represents U.S. interests in Iran. Sarah Shourd, a third U.S. citizen who was arrested on the border between Iraq and Iran in 2009 along with Fattal and Bauer and also accused of espionage, refused to attend Wednesday's hearing. Shourd, Bauer's fiancee, was released from an Iranian jail on bail last year and allowed to leave Iran on "humanitarian grounds." Shourd said she would not return because she was suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder after spending 14 months in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.
California college shooting - Three people have been killed in a shooting in a parking garage on the campus of San Jose State University. Police say it's unclear if the victims were students. The identities of the deceased have not been released pending autopsy results.
Newt Gingrich's presidential run? - The former Republican speaker of the House is expected to officially announce Wednesday that he's running for the White House in 2012. He's already been traveling to some of the early primary states like Iowa. At the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, Gingrich took jabs at President Barack Obama.