Officials confirm 'credible but unconfirmed' 9/11 threat
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said "there's no reason for any of the rest of us to change ... our daily routines."
September 8th, 2011
10:05 PM ET

Officials confirm 'credible but unconfirmed' 9/11 threat

[Updated at 10:05 p.m. ET] New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters Thursday night that authorities are "taking additional precautions" given "new threat information" tied to the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

These measures include "vehicle checkpoints around the city," more bomb-sniffing dogs around the city, increased towing of illegally parked cars and greater police staffing, according to Kelly.

[Updated at 9:56 p.m. ET] New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters Thursday night that while additional police will be deployed around the city amid reports of an "unconfirmed" terror threat to the city on September 11, "there's no reason for any of the rest of us to change ... our daily routines."

In an earlier statement, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged residents to be "cautious and aware" while adding, "There is no reason to panic." And D.C. Metro Police Chief Cathy Lanier said that authorities in the nation's capital are preparing for 9/11 anniversary events and noted "maintaining a certain sense of unpredictability is essential to the success of any security plan."

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Power outages reported in southern California, Arizona, Mexico
Power outages contributed to traffic jams in southern California on Thursday afternoon, including this one in Orange County.
September 8th, 2011
09:02 PM ET

Power outages reported in southern California, Arizona, Mexico

[Updated at 9:02 p.m. ET] Authorities were investigating a power blackout in parts of southern California, Arizona and Mexico on Thursday that left more than 1 million customers without power and caused widespread traffic jams.

San Diego Gas & Electric said all of its 1.4 million customers were without power. The problem appeared to have originated in Arizona, the utility said.

"This caused our line from AZ and from the north of our region to both trip off," the utility posted on its Twitter account.

Power outages in California stretched from San Clemente to the state's border with Mexico on Thursday, a San Diego County spokesman told CNN.

In Arizona, about 56,000 customers in Yuma, lost power, Arizona Power and Supply said. Parts of Mexico's Baja California and Sonora states were also without power, Mexican authorities said.

The cause of the blackout was unclear. The San Diego utility said greater power usage during hot weather could be responsible.

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Filed under: Arizona • California • Mexico
Overheard on CNN.com: 'Send in the clowns'
Republican presidential candidates at Wednesday night debate
September 8th, 2011
06:55 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: 'Send in the clowns'

Comment of the Day:

"Republicans dodging questions. Why is this news?"–Tredecim

Perry's night of "duck the question"

Debate expert Todd Graham honed in on what he saw as Texas Gov. Rick Perry's weaknesses during the Wednesday night GOP debates, among them: ignoring direct questions, refusing to address contradictions between his words and actions, and providing no evidence to back up his statement that climate change science was "not settled." Many CNN.com readers agreed.

barbie1311 said, "Music to my ears: the sound of Rick Perry calling Social Security a giant Ponzi scheme, and comparing climate change to eugenics; probably music to the ears of the desperate Obama camp watching in the White House, too. Go ahead, GOP, send in the clowns. By the time Rick Perry is finished sticking his cowboy boots in his mouth, Obama won't have anything to worry about."

Walker1971 asked, "Is this really the best the Republicans have to offer? Ugh, far-right crackpots who bring religion into politics. When will the right put up someone who is actually a viable candidate? Kiss off 2012."

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Filed under: Overheard on CNN.com
SI.com: Baylor trying to preserve athletic future
September 8th, 2011
04:57 PM ET

SI.com: Baylor trying to preserve athletic future

Hey, "Don't Mess With Texas Football." That message, posted on Baylor's website, comes amid Texas A&M's efforts to leave the Big 12  join the Southeastern Conference and Oklahoma's flirtation with the idea of leaving the Big 12  to join the Pac-12. As SI.com's George Schroeder explains, Baylor is concerned that the Big 12 will break up, leaving Baylor out in the cold.

Baylor, which has threatened to sue Texas A&M if it jumps to the SEC, argues on its website that the Big 12 should be preserved because it is a bastion of Texas football and tradition. Four of the conference's 10 members - Baylor, Texas, Texas Tech and Texas A&M - are in the Lone Star state.

But don't be confused, Schroeder writes. Baylor also is acting in its own self-interest:

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Filed under: College football • Sports
September 8th, 2011
01:45 PM ET

Residents scramble to leave houses during northeast flooding

Thousands of people were told to evacuate their homes Thursday as the remnants of former Tropical Storm Lee moved across already-sodden portions of the Northeast, triggering near-historic flooding and leaving at least three people dead. Central and northeastern parts of Pennsylvania were hit hard. In Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, 65,000 to 70,000 people were ordered to leave their homes as the Susquehanna River rose above flood stage, according to Emergency Management Coordinator Stephen Bekanich.

The rising Susquehanna and Chenango rivers were also triggering evacuations in upstate New York, where evacuation orders were issued for portions of the city of Binghamton and the towns of Conklin, Endicott, Johnson City, Union and Vestal, according to CNN affiliate YNN.

Numerous cities and counties declared a state of emergency. For our full CNN Wire story on the flooding click here.

[Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET] Officials in northeastern Pennsylvania's Luzerne County, where 65,000 to 70,000 people were ordered to leave their homes as the Susquehanna River rose above flood stage, are "getting more and more alarmed as the day progresses," Luzerne County Commissioner Maryanne Petrilla said.

She said the river is forecast to crest between midnight Thursday and 2 a.m. Friday. Shelter space for 4,100 was rapidly being filled and the county was looking for more space, Petrilla told CNN.

[Updated at 2:40 p.m. ET] The Mayor of Port Deposit, Maryland, has ordered mandatory evacuations, Kathy Gray, town hall spokeswoman told CNN.

"The order goes into effect as of 8 p.m. tonight. It was voluntary as of this morning," Gray said.  "Mayor Wayne Tome signed the order at 12noon today. Flyers are being passed out at this hour to residents.  Port Deposit has a population of 800 residents," Gray said.

[Update 1:45 p.m. ET] The Maryland State Highway Administration says it's closing a section of southbound U.S. 301 indefinitely in La Plata due to storm damage, according to WABC.

[Update 1 p.m. ET] Fairfield, New Jersey, residents prepare for flooding, according to WPIX.

[Update 12:47 p.m. ET] The basketball court at Binghamton University in New York has been transformed into evacuation shelter, according to WBNG. See a gallery on the station's site.

[Update 12:30 p.m. ET] State officials say that148 National Guard troops are in the New York region to help with flooding rescue and transport of water and meals. At least 180 other troops are on their way to the area.

[Update 12:25 p.m. ET] New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is talking at a press conference now. He urged anyone in an evacuation area to get out. "I've been through this more times than I care to remember," he says, telling people not to hesitate just because the sky may look fine and their immediate conditions may seem alright. "This is nothing to be trifled with," he said. "This is going to get much worse...This will be a flood of historic proportion."

Cuomo went on an aerial tour of the entire region, he said. They are going out for another tour shortly.

He said he will be calling on President Barack Obama to designate the area a national disaster zone so that federal assistance can be received.

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September 8th, 2011
12:41 PM ET

Texas wildfire's toll makes big jump

A huge wildfire raging near Austin has destroyed nearly 1,400 homes and is still spreading, officials said Thursday.

Victoria Koenig, spokeswoman for the Texas Forest Service, said the Bastrop County fire has destroyed 1,368 homes - more than double the estimate officials gave Wednesday.

Despite hopes that the fire would be largely contained by Wednesday night, it remained 30% contained Thursday morning, she said. About 34,000 acres have been destroyed.

The fire has killed at least two people. An elite search team is helping local officials scour the area for other potential victims.

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Gotta Watch: Celebrity freakouts
It seems reality star Kate Gosselin is really particular about just how her bodyguard is served pizza.
September 8th, 2011
12:31 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Celebrity freakouts

Let's be honest. Celebrity freakouts are hilarious. Not only do celebs show their less polished sides, but the clips also provide a great escape during the work day. Take, for example, Kate Gosselin. The epic battle of Kate Gosselin vs. The Babysitter over a piece of pizza had you howling yesterday. So, we've resurrected her brand of eccentric behavior back for a repeat performance along with some of our other favorite celeb rants.
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Filed under: Gotta Watch • Showbiz • TV
September 8th, 2011
12:14 PM ET

FBI searches offices of solar company touted by Obama

FBI agents on Thursday were searching the offices of a California solar energy company touted by President Barack Obama that recently halted operations, FBI spokesman Peter Lee confirmed to CNN.

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Filed under: Crime • Energy
Parts of UK to lift lifetime ban on gay men donating blood
September 8th, 2011
12:01 PM ET

Parts of UK to lift lifetime ban on gay men donating blood

Gay men who have not had sex with another man in 12 months will be allowed to donate blood in parts of the UK for the first time since a ban was put in place in the 1980s in response to the spread of AIDS and HIV, the UK Department of Health announced Thursday.

Blood banks in England, Scotland and Wales have said they will allow gay men to begin giving blood if they qualify under new rules beginning on November 7. Northern Ireland is expected to announce a decision on whether they too will lift the ban soon. (The UK is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.)

"Currently, men who have ever had oral or anal sex with another man, even if a condom was used, are permanently excluded from blood donation in the UK," UK National Health Services Blood and Transport said on their website. "The change means that in future only men who have had anal or oral sex with another man in the past 12 months, with or without a condom, will be asked not to donate blood. Men whose last sexual contact with another man was more than 12 months ago will be able to donate, subject to meeting the other donor selection criteria."

The decision follows a review of the ban by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) who studied the latest details on relevant sexual contact in relation to the safety of donating blood and completed a full review of review of overall blood donor selection criteria that is related to sexual behavior. The committee looked at the risk of infection being transmitted in blood as well as improvements in testing donated blood for diseases before reaching their conclusion to change the guidelines.

The UK Department of Health said the review found "evidence no longer supported the permanent exclusion of men who have had sex with men.

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Flooding cancels classes at New York college campus
Flooding seen on the SUNY campus.
September 8th, 2011
11:26 AM ET

Flooding cancels classes at New York college campus

Floodwaters have canceled classes and shuttered buildings on the campus of the State University of New York in Cobleskill, New York. Video of murky water rushing fast over a concrete sidewalk showed just how serious the situation there is. There has been damage to 10 resident hall wings in five buildings as well as staff offices. Sixty students had to be relocated, according to Scott Silverstein, SUNY's director of communication.

"It's not as bad as it was yesterday," he told CNN on Thursday morning, adding that everyone is safe and accounted for on campus.

Classes were canceled Wednesday and are canceled Thursday, he said. Officials are assessing the situation for Friday, Silverstein said.

An agricultural engineering building is offline because of flooding in the basement, he said.

"Luckily, in our case, being in a college, we have a large infrastructure between our residence hall staff, our facility staff, dining services as well as faculty staff and students on campus," Silverstein said. "It's all hands on deck. We could always use more assistance."

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September 8th, 2011
10:34 AM ET

Puerto Rico police blasted in report

Puerto Rico's police department has a long pattern of violating citizens' constitutional rights through excessive force and unwarranted searches, the Justice Department said in a report released Thursday.

The analysis by the department's civil rights division found that the U.S. territory's police force is "broken in a number of critical and fundamental respects."

Bucking the trend of decreasing crime in the United States, violent crime in Puerto Rico increased 17% between 2007 and 2009. The territory has also seen a number of large protests in past years over issues such as the cost of public education and job cuts.

Police confronted these challenges with too heavy a hand, the report states.

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ICC wants Interpol to issue Red Notice to arrest Gadhafi
September 8th, 2011
10:24 AM ET

ICC wants Interpol to issue Red Notice to arrest Gadhafi

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has requested Interpol to issue a Red Notice to arrest fallen Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for alleged crimes against humanity.

A Red Notice from the international police organization seeks the provisional arrest of a wanted person with a view to extradition or surrender to an international court. The court also asked for Red Notices for the arrest of Gadhafi's son Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi and his brother-in-law Abdullah Al-Senussi.

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Filed under: Libya
September 8th, 2011
09:50 AM ET

Anti-Gadhafi fighters come under fire in Bani Walid

The days of calm that prevailed during negotiations shattered in one of Moammar Gadhafi's last bastions as loyalists fired on advancing opposition fighters, a chief interim council negotiator told CNN Thursday.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the new Tripoli Military Council said Gadhafi is cornered and has no means of escape.

Anees Al-Sharif would not divulge the fugitive leader's location, saying only that Gadhafi was surrounded within a radius of 60 kilometers (37 miles) with no way of leaving the area.

The anti-Gadhafi fighters were on a reconnaissance mission when they came under fire in Wadi Dinar, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) outside Bani Walid, said Abdallah Kenshil, a National Transitional Council member who is negotiating with tribal leaders in Bani Walid for a loyalist surrender.

Kenshil said Gadhafi and his sons, two of whom have been spotted by Bani Walid residents, were attempting to derail the peace talks.

"We know that Saif al-Islam Gadhafi and Mutassim Gadhafi are inside Bani Walid," he said. "Eyewitnesses we know by name inside Bani Walid told us they saw them."

Libya's new leaders have imposed a Saturday deadline on Gadhafi loyalists in the town to lay down their arms or face military force.

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Filed under: Libya • World • World Update
September 8th, 2011
08:13 AM ET

Former Egyptian interior minister accused in Mubarak trial

A former interior minister and his aides ordered the killings of anti-government protesters in the days before Hosni Mubarak was overthrown, according to testimony from an Egyptian security official, an attorney told CNN Thursday.

This is the latest testimony in the trial of Mubarak, who is charged with ordering the killing of protesters to quash the uprising in February that ultimately ended his 30-year rule.

Maj. Esam Shawky, who works in the administrative department in charge of anti-riot security forces, testified Thursday that Habib el-Adly and his aides ordered the killings and gave the order to cut Internet services on January 28 amid the unrest, lawyer Khaled Abou Bakr said.

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Fashion's Galliano found guilty of making anti-Semitic comments
Famously flamboyant fashion designer John Galliano seen here earlier this year.
September 8th, 2011
08:06 AM ET

Fashion's Galliano found guilty of making anti-Semitic comments

[Updated at 8:57 a.m.] Flamboyant fashion designer John Galliano was found guilty Thursday on charges of making anti-Semitic comments against at least three people in a Paris cafe.

The French court gave him a suspended fine of 6,000 euros ($8,415) but he was not sentenced to jail time. The plaintiffs were awarded one symbolic euro each. Aurelien Hamelle, Galliano's lawyer, told CNN he was not surprised by the verdict.

He said the designer was happy it was all over and wants to put the whole episode behind him. Galliano was not present at the trial because he didn't want to face the media, his lawyer added.

The designer could have faced up to six months in jail and a fine of 22,500 euros ($32,410), prosecutors said before the verdict.

Galliano, who was fired by fashion giant Christian Dior in March after a video surfaced showing him praising Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, testified at the start of the trial in June that drugs were to blame.

Judge Anne-Marie Sauteraud read out a list of the abuse Galliano was accused of hurling at Geraldine Bloch and Philippe Virgitti, including obscenities mixed with remarks about their ethnic backgrounds.

"He said 'dirty whore' at least a thousand times," the judge said.

Galliano said on the witness stand that he had no memory of making the comments.

Asked to explain his "lack of memory," he said: "I have an addiction. I am currently undergoing treatment."

Galliano's attorney said before the trial began that the designer "was a sick person, who was suffering from addiction and this is something we are demonstrating through medical evidence, expert reports."

"We must not judge a man who for 30 years has been dedicated to diversity, who has been a loving person for all races, cultures and religions ... based on 40 minutes where he was sick through alcohol and medication," Hamelle said.

Galliano testified that he suffered from an increasing workload and that he had had no time to mourn after the 2007 death of his alter ego at Dior, designer Steven Robinson.

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September 8th, 2011
07:46 AM ET

Thursday's live events

President Obama will speak to both houses of Congress tonight to discuss his plan to improve America's jobs outlook.  Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the president's address.

Today's programming highlights...

8:36 am ET - NASA GRAIL mission launch - NASA attempts to launch its mission to study the interior and gravitational field of the moon.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Jobs • Space
On the Radar: Wildfires, GOP debate, jobs speech and Lee's remains
Thomas Polly tries to open a fireproof gun safe with his father at their burned home Wednesday near Bastrop, Texas.
September 8th, 2011
06:38 AM ET

On the Radar: Wildfires, GOP debate, jobs speech and Lee's remains

Texas fires - Wildfires continue to rage in Texas. One fire near the Texas capital has charred thousands of acres as of Thursday and prompted evacuations as officials bring in more resources to help local emergency crews. Authorities are working to pinpoint the cause of the fire in Bastrop County, which has killed at least two people. An elite search team is helping local officials look for victims. The fire near Austin started Sunday and has spread across 33,000 acres, forcing the evacuations of at least 5,000 people, officials said. At least 576 homes have been destroyed in the county and that total is expected to increase, officials say. Watch hundreds of animals be rescued

Republican debate ahead of jobs speech - GOP candidates took turns blasting President Barack Obama at the latest Republican presidential debate Wednesday night.  It was Texas Gov. Rick Perry's first debate since entering the race last month and he and Mitt Romney went at each other over job creation, Social Security and other issues. The CNN tea party debate is Monday. That debate will likely be informed by whatever Obama says tonight in an anticipated speech about how he's going to create jobs. CNN will carry the speech live at 8 p.m. ET. It's unclear how much Obama's plan will cost. Some are figuring as much as $400 billion. It includes large investments in infrastructure and unemployment assistance.

What's left of Tropical Storm Lee - The remnants of Tropical Storm Lee are dumping heavy rain and prompting flood advisories from Washington, D.C., to western New England. Several rounds of heavy rain are in store for much of the region the next couple of days, with an additional 2 to 6 inches forecast - and in isolated cases as much as 10 inches, according to the National Weather Service. "These rains may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," a weather service advisory said. Watch for updates on Lee and other storms on the National Hurricane Center's site.

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Filed under: Elections • On the Radar • Politics • Republican Party • Texas • Tropical weather