September 20th, 2011
10:04 PM ET

4 killed as typhoon approaches Japan

[Updated at 11:35 p.m. ET] Four people in Japan have been killed amid heavy rain from a powerful typhoon that is expected to make landfall Wednesday afternoon, authorities there said.

The center of Typhoon Roke, which had sustained winds of up to 167 kph (103 mph) Wednesday morning, could hit Japan's Tokai region, which includes Nagoya city or the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo in the afternoon, Japan Meteorological Agency chief forecaster Yutaka Kanda said at a news conference.

As of 8:45 a.m. Wednesday, Roke's center was 280 kilometers southwest of Nagoya, where about 1 million people had been urged to evacuate.

An evacuation order for about 80,000 residents of Nagoya was lifted, according to local media reports.

Heavy rain fell in central and western Japan from the typhoon's outer bands on Tuesday and Wednesday. Some downpours came at up to 50 millimeters (2 inches) an hour, and some parts received more than 450 millimeters (17 inches) over a day, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

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Filed under: Japan • Weather
September 20th, 2011
09:21 PM ET

Prosecutor says he has no doubt about Troy Davis' guilt

For the Georgia prosecutor who put Troy Davis on trial in 1991 for killing a cop and won a conviction, there were two cases being fought.

"There is the legal case, the case in court, and the public relations case," Spencer Lawton, the former Chatham County prosecutor, said. "We have consistently won the case as it has been presented in court. We have consistently lost the case as it has been presented in the public realm, on TV and elsewhere."

Lawton spoke to CNN about the Davis case, his first interview on the case since Davis' initial trial, after the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency for the death-row inmate on Tuesday.

Davis was convicted of the 1989 killing of Savannah, Georgia, police officer Mark MacPhail. He is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Wednesday at a state prison in Jackson, Georgia.

After he was sentenced to death, Davis' lawyers filed a federal court appeal insisting there was "no physical evidence linking" Davis to MacPhail’s murder. They called the testimony of a ballistics expert that shell casings from another shooting by Davis matched casings found at the murder scene an "unremarkable conclusion" since the murder weapon was not found.

"We believe that we've established substantial doubt in this case," Stephen Marsh, Davis' attorney, said at the time. "And given the level of doubt that exists in this case, we believe that an execution is simply not appropriate."

Thousands of influential dignitaries, including the pope, South Africa's Desmond Tutu and former President Jimmy Carter, as well as more than 600,000 people have signed a petition seeking to stop Davis' execution.

Lawton says he believes the outrage over the sentence resulted from a public relations campaign by Davis' supporters, while prosecutors remained silent outside the courtroom.

"It's just been my policy, that I not comment on a pending case - and this case has been pending for two decades," he said. "For two decades, I've maintained my silence. That meant I could never respond.

"So we have been at an extreme disadvantage in the public relations campaign for that reason, because we felt that we were ethically bound to maintain our silence and express our opinions and judgments on the facts in court, which is where we have. And every place we have, we have won."

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Death Penalty • Georgia • Justice
U.N. General Assembly: The world's largest family reunion
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff meets with U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday at the United Nations.
September 20th, 2011
06:37 PM ET

U.N. General Assembly: The world's largest family reunion

Member states of the United Nations get together this week for the U.N. General Assembly, an annual gathering to reacquaint themselves, catch up and map out plans for the year ahead. It's not unlike a family reunion, says Bruce Jones, director of the Center on International Cooperation at New York University.

"Everybody gets together once a year to pretend that everyone gets along,” Jones said. "Behind the scenes, everyone is scrambling to meet the cool kids or catch up with lost uncles, and there are family fights that have to be resolved.”

There's plenty of new family business to discuss, including the European debt crisis and the fact that Greece’s prime minister isn’t attending because of the financial problems in his country.

“I guess this is the cash-strapped uncle that can’t make it to the party this year,” Jones said. “There’s always a few of those. They don’t normally come from Europe, though.”

There’s the Palestinian bid to be recognized as a member state and the Palestinians' stalled peace process with Israel.

“It’s like the problem branch of the family," Jones said. "Everybody knows that there are problems, that usually everybody is polite when they come together at the annual gathering. This year, it’s not going to be possible to be polite. All the issues are right out for everybody to see.”

And then there are the new faces at the reunion: the leaders of new or transitional governments in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and South Sudan. “I suppose they’re like sort of new arrivals in the family, newlyweds or something who haven’t come to the picnic before and are trying to find their way around,” Jones said.

He said that a big test for the U.N. over the next 10 or 15 years will be helping those new leaders acclimatize in a constructive way.

Click the audio player to hear the rest of the story from CNN Radio's Steve Kastenbaum:

You can also listen to the CNN Radio Reports podcast on itunes or subscribe to the podcast here.

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Filed under: United Nations • World
Overheard on CNN.com: Spare Troy Davis
Death row inmate Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday in Jackson, Georgia.
September 20th, 2011
05:23 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Spare Troy Davis

Comments of the day:

“Killing simply begets more killing ... let's get rid of the death penalty.” - Fielding Mellish

“I'm an extremely ardent supporter of the death penalty but there's just so much doubt here it defies logic that his clemency request was rejected.” - Chris

“The president really needs to intervene on behalf of this man.” - kedmond

Troy Davis denied clemency

Death-row inmate Troy Davis, who has been fighting for years to stave off his execution, was denied clemency by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, a decision that has drawn outrage and protests. Recent evidence casts some doubt on his conviction in the 1989 death of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail, including the fact that seven of nine witnesses have recanted testimony that led to his conviction.

Davis is scheduled to die by injection Wednesday night in Jackson, Georgia. CNN.com readers debated whether Davis should be executed and whether the death penalty should be a thing of the past.

TooRelaxed said, “If there is one inch of doubt then the death penalty needs to be stopped. There have been a lot of prisoners put to death only later on in years to be found to be innocent.

KCWildguy responded, “A lot? Can you name one? Exactly. So we know 100% that he shot the guy at the party. We know he pistol whipped the homeless guy, but we're playing games that he didn't also kill the cop? How can anyone reasonably think this thug didn't do it?"

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September 20th, 2011
05:01 PM ET

Supreme Court delays Texas man's execution

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday granted a stay of execution for Cleve Foster, who was set to die in Texas later in the evening for a 2002 murder.

It is the third time this year that Foster received a last-minute stay.

The Supreme Court's decision gives Foster's lawyers more time to file further appeals.

Foster is a Gulf War veteran convicted along with another man of the 2002 murder of Nyanuer "Mary" Pal, a Sudanese immigrant he met at a Fort Worth bar.

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Filed under: Texas
September 20th, 2011
02:46 PM ET

Widow sues for information on Falcon Lake killing

Almost a year has passed since Tiffany Hartley's husband was shot and killed while on a personal watercraft on Falcon Lake, which sits on the border and is shared between Texas and Mexico.

Now she has sued the State Department, Justice Department and FBI in an attempt to get answers about what happened that day and why no one has been brought to justice in the killing of David Hartley.

It is believed that he was shot by members of the Zetas drug cartel, but no one has been arrested or even named as a suspect in his death.

With the help of Judicial Watch, an organization dedicated to investigating corruption, Tiffany Hartley filed the three freedom of information act lawsuits Friday.

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Filed under: Drug violence • Mexico • Texas
Turban bomb kills key Afghan political leader
Former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani is shown in a 2008 photo.
September 20th, 2011
01:46 PM ET

Turban bomb kills key Afghan political leader

[Update 1:51 p.m. ET] NATO's International Security Assistance Force said two suicide bombers detonated themselves in the attack that killed Afghanistan peace council leader Burhanuddin Rabbani at his home in Kabul on Tuesday afternoon.

Afghan officials earlier said there was one bomber. That attacker, who claimed to be a Taliban member who had come for talks about peace and reconciliation, hid the explosive device inside his turban, said Hasmat Stanikzai, spokesman for Kabul police.

Rabbani was president of Afghanistan before the Taliban deposed him in 1996, and he had been heading the largest political party standing in opposition to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Rabbani was long considered crucial to Afghan and coalition efforts to bring Taliban leaders into the reconciliation process.

[Update 1:46 p.m. ET] Afghan President Hamid Karzai called Burhanuddin Rabbani's killing a "very tragic loss" for his country.

Speaking at the United Nations in New York, where world leaders are preparing to speak to the U.N. General Assembly this week, Karzai described Rabbani as "an Afghan patriot" who "has sacrificed his life for the sake of Afghanistan and for the peace of our country."

[Update 1:21 p.m. ET] The suicide bombing that killed Afghanistan peace council leader Burhanuddin Rabbani in Kabul on Tuesday afternoon shows that the Taliban don't want peace with the Afghan government, said Gen. John R. Allen, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

"This is another outrageous indicator that, regardless of what Taliban leadership outside the country say, they do not want peace, but rather war," Allen said in a statement released Tuesday. "Their only goal with this completely immoral act is to turn the clock back to the darkness synonymous with the Taliban movement.

A suicide bombing killed Rabbani and wounded council official Masoom Stanikzai and three others at Rabbani's home in Kabul, Afghan authorities said. The attack happened when a meeting was due to take place between Rabbani and a delegation representing the Taliban insurgency.

The suicide bomber claimed to be a Taliban member who had come for the talks about peace and reconciliation, and detonated the explosives as he entered the home, said Hasmat Stanikzai, spokesman for Kabul police.

"Our condolences go out to the families of Prof. Rabbani and Minister Stanikzai," Allen said. "We will continue to work closely with our Afghan partners in our march toward peace, and to hold those responsible for this heinous act accountable for their crimes against the people of Afghanistan."

[Update 12:57 p.m. ET] The suicide bomber who killed Afghanistan peace council leader Burhanuddin Rabbani and wounded one of Rabbani's top advisers on Tuesday had hidden the explosive device in his turban, Kabul police spokesman Hasmat Stanikzai has confirmed.

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September 20th, 2011
12:29 PM ET

Obama lauds new era of global diplomacy at U.N.

Heralding what he called a new international diplomacy model for the 21st century, President Barack Obama spent Tuesday at the United Nations in meetings with key foreign leaders to continue pushing foreign policy objectives in the Middle East and North Africa.

His schedule included one-on-one talks with the chairman of Libya's National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, as well as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

Obama also addressed a meeting of the Libya Contact Group, telling the gathered leaders including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the NATO-led military campaign in Libya that helped oust Moammar Gadhafi from power was an example of modern global cooperative action.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • United Nations
Prosecutor asks to drop corruption charges against Jacques Chirac
September 20th, 2011
12:20 PM ET

Prosecutor asks to drop corruption charges against Jacques Chirac

A Paris prosecutor has asked for corruption charges against former President Jacques Chirac to be dropped, courthouse press representative Sylvie Polack confirmed Tuesday.

Chirac was accused of misuse of public funds when he was mayor of Paris before he became president. Chirac had immunity from prosecution during the 12 years he was president of France, from 1995 to 2007.

This story is developing. We'll bring you the latest information as soon as we get it.

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Filed under: France
Somali teens earn guns in Quran recitation contest
Somali children play with toy guns in Mogadishu last month.
September 20th, 2011
11:25 AM ET

Somali teens earn guns in Quran recitation contest

Three Somali teenagers who won a Quran recitation contest have been rewarded with weapons and cash by the Islamist group Al-Shabaab, according to reports from Somalia.

The first-place winner was awarded an AK-47 rifle and $700, a report from RBC Radio said. Second place was worth an AK-47 and $500, and third place got two grenades and $400, RBC reported. Winners also received religious books.

The contest was organized by Al-Shabaab-controlled Radio Andalus, the report said.

At an awards ceremony in the Mogadishu neighborhood of Elasha, Al-Shabaab leaders urged the teenage winners to use their weapons.

“We want the children to fight for defending of their country and their religion ...  just take these guns,” Sheikh Moktar Robow abu Mansur, a senior Al-Shabaab leader, is quoted as saying. That means battling the Somali government and African Union peacekeeping troops in the country, according to the RBC report.

Pictures of the event have been posted on the RBC website and on an Al-Shabaab-affiliated website.

Al-Shabaab is a radical al Qaeda-linked group challenging Somalia's central government, fighting an endless civil war, and forcing a strict form of Sharia law on local residents.

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September 20th, 2011
11:08 AM ET

U.N. chief applauds Libya revolution; new alleged Gadhafi message surfaces

[Posted at 11:08 a.m. ET] United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday congratulated Libya's National Transitional Council Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil on the apparent success of the Libyan revolution.

"For Libya this is a historic today," Ban said, directing the new Libyan flag to be presented alongside the United Nations flag.

The move drew a standing ovation from those in attendance.

[Posted at 7:53 a.m. ET] National Transitional Council fighters entered the Libyan city of Sabha Tuesday, long regarded as a pro-Moammar Gadhafi enclave.

The rebel fighters have received no resistance so far in the southern city, according to a CNN team accompanying the NTC forces.

[Posted at 7:52 a.m. ET] An audio message purported to be from deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said his political system represented the people's will and could not be overthrown.

The message was broadcast Tuesday on Al-Rai TV, a Syrian-based, pro-Gadhafi television station.

This comes as troops loyal to Libya's new leaders are planning a major assault on Bani Walid, one of the few towns still held by Gadhafi loyalists, a National Transitional Council spokesman there told CNN Tuesday.

"Our fighters are planning a massive attack today to bring the siege to an end," Abdallah Kenshil said.

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Gotta Watch: Impressive kids
16-year-old Alexis Thompson becomes the youngest player to win an LPGA tour event.
September 20th, 2011
10:56 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Impressive kids

Watching 16-year-old Alexis Thompson win her first LPGA tournament got us thinking about other youngsters making a splash in the adult world. There are a surprising amount of successful kids out there, but we think we've found a few of the best and brightest. So without further adieu, be prepared to regret all those childhood days wasted instead of honing your talents.

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Fast Facts: Breaking down the current state of the death penalty
September 20th, 2011
10:47 AM ET

Fast Facts: Breaking down the current state of the death penalty

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole has denied clemency for death-row inmate Troy Davis.

Davis was convicted of the 1989 killing of Savannah, Georgia, police officer Mark MacPhail. He is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Wednesday at a state prison in Jackson, Georgia.

Davis' case gained momentum with the support of Amnesty International, ex-President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, among others, calling for clemency to be granted.

However, the Georgia Parole board denied Davis clemency once before. And the board has never changed its mind on any case in the past 33 years.

The high-profile case has again brought the death penalty back into the spotlight. So we're taking a look at the current state of the death penalty, the clemency process and specifically the statistics in Georgia.

Death penalty statistics:

– More than 3,200 inmates in 36 states are awaiting execution. The U.S. government and U.S. military also have approximately 67 people awaiting execution.

– As of September 18, 2011 – 1,267 people have been executed in the U.S. since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated.

– Capital punishment is legal in 34 states.

– The legal methods of capital punishment are lethal injection and the electric chair.

– 35 states use lethal injection.  New Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2009; however, two prisoners remain on death row and will be executed by lethal injection.

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Death Penalty • Justice
September 20th, 2011
10:45 AM ET

26 killed in attack on bus in Pakistan

[Updated at 11:09 a.m. ET] A bus carrying Shiite Muslims was attacked Tuesday evening, killing 26 and wounding six, near the garrison city of Quetta in southwest Pakistan, senior police official Shanawaz Khan told CNN.

"This was a sectarian terrorist incident" said Khan, who added the passengers were on a religious pilgrimage to Iran when unknown assailants began firing on the bus.

The Mastung District, an area 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Quetta, where the attack happened, has been the site of frequent violence between extremist Sunni and Shiite Muslim factions.

The attack on the bus was followed by another assault in Akhtarabad, a suburb of Quetta, where three men were shot in a vehicle, senior police official Hamid Shakeel told CNN.

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Filed under: Pakistan
September 20th, 2011
10:22 AM ET

Toobin: Troy Davis could be 'out of options' after clemency denied

Editor's note: Jeffrey Toobin, CNN's senior legal analyst, offered his immediate reaction Tuesday to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole's decision to deny clemency to death row inmate Troy Davis.

The creativity of defense attorneys aside, convicted police killer Troy Davis appears "out of options," Toobin said.

Davis' attorneys pleaded with the board, telling it that seven of nine witnesses who testified against their client had recanted or changed their testimony. The board also heard the defense assert that witnesses have come forward to say someone else was responsible for the 1989 murder of Savannah, Georgia, police officer Mark MacPhail.

But the board, which also denied clemency to Davis in 2008, was not swayed.

"This has been an extraordinary legal saga since the murder in 1989, and two years ago the United States Supreme Court did something it almost never does instructed a District Court in Georgia to take another look at the case, hold a hearing," Toobin said.

A Savannah judge did just that, Toobin said, and issued a 170-page opinion saying that, despite the recanted testimony, "there is no substantial doubt cast on the verdict as far as this judge could tell." In short, Toobin said, the judge sided with the jury that originally found Davis guilty.

"I know lawyers can be very creative, but I think Troy Davis is really out of options. ... I never can underestimate the creativity of lawyers, but certainly, based on what I can see, based on my familiarity with the law, I think he will be executed (Wednesday)."
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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Death Penalty • Georgia • Justice • Supreme Court • U.S.
September 20th, 2011
10:08 AM ET

Libya fighters put pressure on regime holdouts

Troops loyal to Libya's new leaders maintained strong momentum Tuesday against pro-Moammar Gadhafi holdouts as they planned an assault on one loyalist city and moved into another without resistance.

A National Transitional Council official said fighters were planning a major assault on Bani Walid, a northern town still held by Gadhafi loyalists. "Our fighters are planning a massive attack today to bring the siege to an end," Abdallah Kenshil said.

Meanwhile, NTC fighters moved into Sabha, a southern town long regarded as a pro-Gadhafi stronghold, and have met no resistance so far, according to a CNN team that accompanied the forces.

This comes as an audio message purported to be from the deposed Libyan leader said the Gadhafi political system represented the people's will and could not be overthrown.

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Death-row inmate Troy Davis denied clemency
September 20th, 2011
09:57 AM ET

Death-row inmate Troy Davis denied clemency

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole has denied clemency for death-row inmate Troy Davis.

Davis was convicted of the 1989 killing of Savannah, Georgia, police officer Mark MacPhail.

Davis is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Wednesday at a state prison in Jackson, Georgia.

"Monday September 19, 2011, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles met to consider a clemency request from attorneys representing condemned inmate Troy Anthony Davis. After considering the request, the Board has voted to deny clemency," the board said in a statement Tuesday morning.

The five-member parole board votes in a secret ballot.

Davis has gained international support for his long-standing claim that he did not kill MacPhail. International figures including Pope Benedict XVI, Desmond Tutu, and former President Jimmy Carter, entertainers such as Susan Sarandon, Harry Belafonte, and the Indigo Girls, and others have joined with Amnesty International, the NAACP and other groups in supporting Davis' efforts to be exonerated.

He has been scheduled to die three times before, most recently in October 2008, when the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay two hours before he was to be executed.

Since Davis' conviction in 1991, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their testimony. There also have been questions about the physical evidence - and, according to some, the lack thereof - linking Davis to the killing.

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Filed under: Crime • Death Penalty • Georgia • Justice
September 20th, 2011
08:34 AM ET

3 killed in Turkey blast

Three people died in an explosion in the Turkish capital Ankara, in what may have been a terror attack, Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin told CNN sister network CNN Turk on Tuesday.

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Bottle of whisky sells for $200,000
The Dalmore 62 whisky is displayed in Singapore's Changi Airport.
September 20th, 2011
08:08 AM ET

Bottle of whisky sells for $200,000

It may be the most expensive drink ever.

A Chinese businessman has put down a deposit of $79,400 ($100,000 Singapore) on a bottle of Scotch whisky that goes for $200,000 ($250,000 Singapore). The 62-year-old bottle of Dalmore single malt is one of only 12 produced, according to a report on ChannelNewsAsia.com.

The $200,000 bottle price amounts to about $12,000 per serving, the report said.

The bottle of whisky is still on display at a duty-free shop in Singapore's Changi Airport. The businessman put down the deposit with a bank transfer, an airport spokesman told ChannelNewsAsia.

The price breaks the retail record set by another bottle of the same brand three months ago, according to the Moodie Report. That bottle of Dalmore 64 sold in London for $188,000.

Vijay Mallya , chairman of Whyte & Mackay and United Spirits, which owns the Dalmore brand, told the Moodie Report that whisky is a good investment.

“The record breaking Dalmore 62 is an absolute bargain in my mind. The owner of this fabulous bottle now owns one of the rarest and most exclusive whiskies in the world. It’s a fantastic investment, rising in value by £100,000 ($157,000)  in 10 years. How much will it be worth in another 10 years?" Mallya is quoted as saying.

The Dalmore 62 was first offered for sale in 2002 at $39,000, according to the Moodie report.

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Filed under: Scotland • Singapore
September 20th, 2011
07:49 AM ET

Tuesday's live events

The GOP presidential candidates continue to crisscross the country, looking for support.  Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the race to the White House.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - Florida millionaire murder trial - Testimony continues in the trial of Bob Ward, who's accused of killing his wife.

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Filed under: Crime • Elections • Politics
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