October 3rd, 2011
08:28 PM ET

Officials: Initial air quality tests show no danger from Texas chemical plant fire

Preliminary air quality tests show "no threat to the public" from a massive fire at a Texas chemical plant Monday, city and federal officials said.

Waxahachie Fire Chief David Hudgins said authorities believe that the fire "overran the sprinkler system," and it sent thick plumes of smoke high into the sky hours after it started. There were no flames visible by late afternoon, though by then the blaze might have discharged dangerous substances into the air, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

That prompted EPA staff to dispatch air monitors to test for toxic vapors. Around 4:45 p.m. (5:45 p.m. EST), Waxahachie city spokeswoman Amy Hollywood said initial tests did not indicate any danger to those in the area. That assessment was later confirmed by EPA official Nicolas Brescia.

"We have not seen any significant level that would cause a public health concern," Brescia told reporters.

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Filed under: Texas
Overheard on CNN.com: What exactly do the protesters want?
Police ticketed more than 700 "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrators crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday in New York.
October 3rd, 2011
07:28 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: What exactly do the protesters want?

The recent "Occupy Wall Street" protests have been a hot topic on CNN.com lately, and the stories about them have prompted a great deal of discussion among readers. Many readers engaged in very heated debates, while many others wondered what the demonstrations were really about.

Wall Street protests enter 3rd week, pick up steam

Some readers have applauded the efforts of the protesters:

carnac95 said, “I think this movement is AWESOME!  It's about time the left be heard. We are hard working Americans that believe in science, innovation, compassion and taking our country back from the far right that only want "each man for himself." We are ALL in this together!!!”

JesusLizard said, “We should all be protesting. Sick of CEOs with their $10 million golden parachutes as they leave corporations that fail to make a profit to go work for another.  Sick of the billions our government has thrown at the banksters.  And a $14 trillion debt is unacceptable! Take the protest to Washington!”

Jones3 said, “I LOVE the protesters.  This is what this Country is all about.  I applaud their courage. The nationwide protests in this Country have: given people Civil Rights, stopped the last stupid War we were pushed into (Vietnam) and caused many other good things to come.  What else can we do with such a messed up Government?”

Others have indicated uncertainty over what the protesters’ exact aims are:

goingsoon said, “What exactly is the goal of the protests?  "End corruption" is too vague.  I wonder how many of these protesters are just sitting in, getting arrested with no ability to define the outcome they seek.”

randaxe said, “I still don't understand the objectives. What do these guys want to happen? More taxes on the rich? More regulation? The purpose has to be clear enough to demand for a particular action versus just saying the economy sucks.”

One reader expressed his bewilderment with the protests, asserting that the protesters are essentially going nowhere by protesting the various issues at Wall Street:

ExLonghorn said, “This whole protest thing is baffling to me. American consumers are pushing for ever-lower prices, which push local companies out of business and which push corporations to move costs overseas.  Then everyone complains that there aren't enough jobs, and that incomes are stagnant or declining. Well, duh. That's how this whole thing works, folks. Either buy American, or get ready to compete with 2 billion people in Asia who are willing to work harder than you for a tenth of your income. If this protest is about fairness, I humbly submit to you that WASHINGTON is the place to protest."

Other readers attempted to better explain the protesters' cause:

Libertycall said, “We are for taxation fairness and financial discipline, but not while Wall Street disposes of our income and savings. It's not anarchy, strikes, disorder we're aiming for, because our economy is in a poor shape.  We want to educate people who think they do well only by comparison to starving, unemployed, and desperate. We are on a course of becoming a 2nd Greece, and we want to prevent it, while we still can.”

ddelrose said, "People are speaking up about their frustrations of living in a country that has outsourced their jobs, corporate profits being made off the backs of those that do work, affordable healthcare that is unattainable, a Wall Street that has forgotten about taking care of its investors and politicians that have sent us down the river for their own goals. It is time to speak up...and stand up to what is happening here in America. If we don't, this country will never survive."

FULL POST

October 3rd, 2011
05:10 PM ET

Live blog: Amanda Knox to go free after jury overturns murder conviction

For further updates please read the full CNN Wire story here.

[Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET] Business mogul Donald Trump told CNN’s Erin Burnett he hoped that Amanda Knox would somehow be able to rebound and make some “dividends” off her ordeal. “I”ve been supporting the family. I’ve been helping the family and will continue to help them,” he said.

“For her to have spent four years in a terrible jail is just outrageous,” he said. "I don’t think they [the Knox family] can leave [Italy] quick enough. She went to Italy to learn the language. Well, she learned the language,” he said.

[Updated at 6:54 p.m. ET] Rocco Girlanda, a member of the Italian parliament who became an advocate for Knox, said she was  "incredibly happy" upon leaving prison. He said Knox will leave Tuesday for Seattle, her hometown.

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Filed under: Amanda Knox • Crime • Italy • U.S. • Washington state
October 3rd, 2011
05:07 PM ET

Man accused of Pentagon plot pleads not guilty

A 26-year-old U.S. citizen accused of plotting to use model airplanes in attacks on the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol pleaded not guilty in federal court Monday.

Authorities claim Rezwan Ferdaus - a resident of Ashland, Massachusetts - planned to use large, remote-controlled model aircraft filled with C-4 plastic explosive against the targets. He faces a maximum sentence of 100 years in prison if convicted.

Ferdaus was arrested last week.

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Filed under: Justice • Massachusetts • Terrorism • U.S.
Study shows unprecedented loss of ozone above Arctic
At left, colors represent ozone levels in March 2011. At right, colors representing chlorine monoxide are shown.
October 3rd, 2011
01:51 PM ET

Study shows unprecedented loss of ozone above Arctic

Loss of the Earth’s ozone layer above the Arctic last winter was unprecedented, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told CNN on Monday.

In findings published in a new study in the journal Nature, scientists said a hole in the ozone was caused by an unusually long period of low temperatures in the stratosphere, the protective layer that shields the Earth’s surface from harmful radiation.

While ozone loss is a sadly common occurrence at the South Pole, recent findings document a similar event happening at the Earth’s northernmost point. “We’ve never seen that kind of phenomenon in the Arctic before,” Michelle Santee, an atmospheric scientist with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said.

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Filed under: Science • Weather
October 3rd, 2011
12:26 PM ET

Two decapitated heads found in Mexican capital

Two decapitated heads were found along a highway in Mexico City on Monday morning, the city prosecutor's office said.

The heads were found near the border dividing the city from neighboring Mexico state, the attorney general's office said.

Police were searching the area for bodies.

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Filed under: Mexico • World
Pacific nation may exhaust water supply by Tuesday
The Pacific nation of Tuvalu is made up of a string of coral atolls and has few natural resources.
October 3rd, 2011
10:57 AM ET

Pacific nation may exhaust water supply by Tuesday

The small Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has declared a state of emergency because of a shortage of rain and says it may run out of water by Tuesday.

Tataua Pefe, the secretary-general of Tuvalu’s Red Cross, said that because of the lack of rainfall, residents would likely "be finishing up their rationed water," according to an interview with Radio Australia.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully said his country was rushing to help as best it could, sending in defense force personnel to help with the crisis as well as delivering Red Cross supplies.

“Tuvalu has declared a state of emergency relating to water shortages in the capital, Funafuti, and a number of outer islands,” McCully said in a statement on the New Zealand Foreign Ministry site. “Two Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff on board, including our Wellington-based High Commissioner, will remain in Tuvalu to help assess needs on the ground."

Pefe said the situation has become dire after six or seven months without adequate or sustained rainfall.  He said that forecasts suggest that Tuvalu and other Pacific islands will not receive "decent" amounts of rain until perhaps December.

"We need emergency support," Pefe said.

FULL POST

Convicted Lockerbie bomber says truth will come out
Abdelbesset al Megrahi told Reuters that he hoped the whole truth about the Lockerbie bombing would be revealed soon.
October 3rd, 2011
10:52 AM ET

Convicted Lockerbie bomber says truth will come out

The truth about the bombing of a PanAm airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 will come out "one day, and hopefully in the near future," the only man convicted the bombing told Reuters in an interview aired Monday.

"In a few months from now, you will see new facts that will be announced," Abdelbeset al-Megrahi told Reuters. "I don't want to speak about that because there are people who are looking after that themselves."

Al-Megrahi's comments come about five weeks after CNN's Nic Roberston visited al-Megrahi's home, where his family said he was in a coma and near death from terminal prostate cancer.

At the time of his late August visit, Robertson found al-Megrahi in a metal hospital bed, attached to an IV drip and cared for by an elderly woman that the family said was his mother. He was, Robertson said, "paper-thin, his face sallow and sunken."

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Filed under: Aviation • Libya • Scotland • Terrorism
October 3rd, 2011
10:23 AM ET

GOP pushes Obama on industry regulations

House Republicans tried to seize the political upper hand in the job-creation debate Monday, urging President Barack Obama to support GOP-sponsored legislation designed to ease industry burdens imposed by environmental regulations, among other things.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, sent a letter to the president noting that the Republican-controlled House is scheduled to consider two bills - an "EPA Regulatory Relief Act" requiring authorities to reissue certain rules in a "less burdensome manner," and a "Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act" requiring regulators to reconsider rules affecting an industry critical to new construction.

"The federal government has a responsibility under the Constitution to regulate interstate commerce, and there are reasonable regulations that protect our children and help keep our environment clean," Boehner said in the letter.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Business • Economy • Jobs • John Boehner • Politics
October 3rd, 2011
07:55 AM ET

Monday's live events

CNN.com Live is your home for gavel-to-gavel coverage of Dr. Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial.

Today's programming highlights...

10:00 am ET - Amanda Knox trial: Kercher family briefing - Representatives for Meredith Kercher's family discuss the appeals of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.

FULL POST


Filed under: Amanda Knox • Conrad Murray • Crime
October 3rd, 2011
07:30 AM ET

Amanda Knox pleads for her freedom as murder appeal ends

Nearly four years after she was arrested on suspicion of having killed her roommate in this picturesque Italian university town, Amanda Knox got one last chance Monday to persuade a jury she didn't do it.

"People always ask who is Amanda Knox? I am the same person I was four years ago. But I have lost a friend. I have lost my faith in Italian police. I am paying with my life for something I have not done. Four years ago I didn't know what suffering was," Knox said, delivering her statement in Italian.

"I did not kill. I did not rape. I did not steal," she added. "I was not there."

Knox and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito are fighting to be acquitted of the murder of Meredith Kercher. Prosecutors have called for the pair's sentences - of 26 and 25 years, respectively - to be increased to life.

The case is now in the hands of two judges and six jurors, who retired together within minutes of Knox's statement to consider their ruling.

Knox and Sollecito were convicted of the killing and related crimes in December 2009. Their appeal has focused largely on DNA evidence found on a knife and on a bra clasp belonging to the victim.

Knox's words capped a dramatic week of closing arguments by the host of lawyers battling over the outcome, from the lawyer for a man falsely accused of the crime, who called Knox "Lucifer-like, demonic, Satanic," to the Sollecito defense counsel Giulia Bongiorno, who insisted that like the buxom cartoon temptress Jessica Rabbit in the movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" Knox is not bad, just "drawn that way."

Knox told the court she always wanted justice for Kercher, her roommate at the university.

"I am innocent. Raffaele is innocent," she said.

At the conclusion of her statement, Knox put her hands on her face and wept.  Before Knox addressed the court, Sollecito asked the court to set Amanda and him free.

Sollecito described the original investigation, the trial and the jailing as "living in a nightmare."

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Filed under: Amanda Knox • Crime • Italy • U.S. • Washington state