Presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry is taking heat from many in his own party for supporting a state policy giving in-state tuition rates to children of illegal immigrants.
But while this position may be seen as favorable for Latinos – a large majority of Texas’ illegal immigrants are Latino, with more than 60 percent of them hailing from Mexico alone, according to the Pew Hispanic Center – it hasn’t gained him much Latino support in his own state.
Almost two-thirds of Latino voters in Texas vote Democratic, and Latinos overwhelmingly vote against Perry, a Republican.
In a GOP presidential debate last month, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney criticized Perry for supporting Texas’ illegal-immigrant tuition policy. Perry responded this way: “If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state … by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart.”
After the debate, Perry fell from frontrunner status.
[Updated at 9:28 p.m.] Congress voted Wednesday on a bipartisan basis to pass free-trade bills with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
President Barack Obama, who dined Thursday at a Korean restaurant with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and is to welcome him Thursday on a state visit to the White House, sent the trade deals to Congress last week.
The White House, Republicans and big business groups have said the deals would create jobs in the United States. The deals could spur $13 billion annually in new exports and "support tens of thousands of jobs," a senior administration official has said.
In a statement issued by the Office of the Press Secretary, Obama called the agreements "a major win" for the nation. "Tonight's vote, with bipartisan support, will significantly boost exports that bear the proud label 'Made in America,' support tens of thousands of good-paying American jobs and protect labor rights, the environment and intellectual property," he said, promising to sign the bills.
In a separate statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the agreements "will make it easier for American companies to sell their products to South Korea, Colombia and Panama, which will create jobs here at home."
Union groups and some Democrats have opposed the bills, expressing doubt that they would create jobs.
The U.S. agriculture industry has been calling for the free-trade agreement, which could open new markets for beef, wheat and soybeans. The U.S. auto industry is also watching, as the deal with South Korea would mean a decline in tariffs aimed squarely at Detroit automakers.
House Republicans have voiced support for the deals.
"These three trade agreements will support American jobs and help create opportunities to expand for American businesses," Speaker John Boehner said last week in a statement.
[Updated at 7:53 p.m. ET] The death toll in Wednesday's shooting at a Southern California beauty salon rose to eight after the deaths of two people who initially were reported as critically injured, police say.
One wounded victim remains in critical condition, Seal Beach police Sgt. Steve Bowles said.
[Earlier post] Six people are dead and three are in critical condition after a shooting Wednesday at a hair salon in the Southern California community of Seal Beach, Police Sgt. Steve Bowles said.
A suspect, described as a white male, is in custody, he added.
"He was cooperative. He did not provide any resistance to the officers and he was taken into custody," Bowles said.
In addition to the people who were killed and injured, Bowles said, "there were people in the salon who were not shot."
Authorities are investigating what relationship the gunman had with anyone inside the Salon Meritage.
"We don't know if he's related or what his involvement is with the salon," Bowles said.FULL STORY
A second passenger in a helicopter that crashed last week in New York City's East River has died, a hospital official said.
Helen Tamaki died Tuesday and had been in critical condition since the crash happened, Bellevue Hospital Duty Officer Frances Arscott told CNN.
The October 4 crash also killed Sonia Marra, a British citizen living in Sydney, Australia. Tamaki's death lowers the number of injured survivors to three.
A 15-member team from the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, which left three other people injured.
[Updated at 6:40 p.m. ET] Mutassim Gadhafi, a son of ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, was reported captured Wednesday after a four-hour firefight in Sirte, said Abdallah Naker, the head of the Tripoli Revolutionary Council, who cited field commanders in Sirte as his sources.
But two senior National Transitional Council spokesmen said the report was unconfirmed and a third reportedly denied the claim.
Col. Ahmed Bani, the official spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, said the capture had not been confirmed. And NTC spokesman Shamsiddin Abdulmolah told CNN from Benghazi that the report had not been corroborated.
Abudlmolah said Hassan al-Droyee, NTC's Sirte representative who is currently in Tripoli, denied the report.
Mutassim Gadhafi and a number of aides were captured around noon in an area considered the center of operations for Gadhafi loyalists, Naker said. They were then taken to Benghazi, he said. The scion had been directing operations in Sirte, the hometown of his father, which had been surrounded since Tuesday night, Naker said.
CNN teams in Tripoli and Sirte heard celebratory gunfire ring out as reports of the capture spread. From Benghazi, National Transitional Council spokesman Shamsiddin Abdulmolah said there was massive celebratory gunfire there, too.
Anti-Gadhafi forces have previously reported captures of Gadhafi relatives that proved to be untrue.FULL STORY
Australian power companies say skyrocketing solar panel use is overloading their power lines, according to news reports.
In the wake of new limits set by Australia’s energy industry on solar panel installation, one power company said it may raise power rates to ease system strains created by the reverse flow of electricity, according to the Australian.
The issue stems from the increase in homes and businesses using photovoltaic cells, which feed electricity back into networks. The upsurge is creating “consequences for appliances and equipment in customers' homes," energy provider Ausgrid said in a letter to the New South Wales pricing and regulatory body, the Australian reported.
Ausgrid, one of the largest power providers Down Under, warned of the “significant likelihood" that costs would need to go up due to the solar craze, which has taken off in parts of Australia.
[Updated at 7:22 p.m. ET] Actress Patricia Modell, who was married to former Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell, died Wednesday, the Ravens organization announced. She was 80.
She is survived by her husband, their two sons, John and David, and six grandchildren, the Ravens said.
Modell, also known as Patricia Breslin, appeared on television, film, and the New York stage during her 22-year acting career, the Ravens said. Her most widely known role was as nurse Meg Bentley in the daytime soap opera General Hospital in the late 1960s, and she also played Laura Brooks on the primetime TV drama "Peyton Place."
Modell also appeared on "Twilight Zone," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Perry Mason," and "Maverick."
At one point, the Ravens said, Modell had appeared in more television shows than any other woman in U.S. history. Her record was eventually broken by one of her closest friends, the late Lucille Ball.
Modell retired from acting after the couple married in 1969 and became involved in philanthropy. In Cleveland, she did work for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Cerebral Palsy Association, and the Cleveland Clinic FoundationFULL STORY
Comment of the day:
“In other news: person to person contact is up for the first time in years.” – columbridae
As the BlackBerry service outage continued into its third day, it hit North America, prompting massive complaints from customers. Some said the outage has disrupted their business and personal lives.
But most CNN.com commenters took the outage in stride; some even said they could see the positives of people being unable to access their BlackBerrys.
Rock2 said, “Good spend some time talking face to face again; it’s a lost art.”
DarkMarcsun said, “In unrelated news, automobile crashes caused by distracted driving are down 15 percent since Monday.”
Officials in Yokohama, Japan’s second largest city, are investigating soil samples after a radioactive substance was found in sediment atop an apartment building about 155 miles (250 kilometers) from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, according to news reports.
The discovery has raised concerns that leaked radiation from three Fukushima reactors that suffered meltdowns after the March earthquake and tsunami may be more widespread than thought, The Japan Times reported Wednesday.
The findings come after a travel alert issued by the U.S. government last week, warning Americans in Japan to avoid areas near the stricken reactors.
The alert recommends that U.S. citizens stay away from areas within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the nuclear facility. The State Department also admonished Americans to stay away from territory northwest of the plant in a zone that Japan calls the "Deliberate Evacuation Area." The zone includes Iitate-mura, the Yamagiya district of Kawamata-machi, Katsurao-mura, Namie-machi and parts of Minamisoma.
The radioactive isotope strontium-90 was detected on a rooftop by a private agency responding to a resident's request, The Japan Times reported.
Strontium-90 has been found in Japan at concentrations up to 20 becquerels before the nuclear crisis, The Japan Times said. The latest discovery found the strontium-90 level at 195 becquerels, according to the paper.
Since strontium-90, which has a half-life of 29 years, is widely dispersed in the environment and the food chain in trace amounts, external exposure is minimal, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. With internal exposure at high concentrations, strontium-90 can accumulate in the bones and is “one of the more hazardous constituents of nuclear wastes,” according to the EPA.
Meanwhile Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Co., the embattled utility whose territory includes the nuclear crisis zone, held a disaster drill at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power, according to news reports.
In his latest video, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri congratulated the Libyan people on their victory against dictator Moammar Gadhafi but warned them against Western manipulation as they forge ahead in building a new nation.
Osama bin Laden's successor said Libyans should move quickly to establish Sharia, or Islamic law.
"Be careful of the plots of the West and its agents as you are building your new state and do not allow them to trick you and steal your sacrifices and suffering," al-Zawahiri said in the video posted on Islamist websites. "And be sure to take the first, most important step for reform and apply Sharia.
"If the West talks about extremists and militants, they are talking about the honest and the free who defend their religion, sanctities, families and countries," he said.FULL STORY
A decline in fertility rates that began in 2008 is closely linked to financial woes that started at the same time, said a new Pew Research Center report issued Wednesday. Changes in personal income, per capita GDP, unemployment rates and claims, and state-level foreclosure rates all had an effect.
In 2007, there were 69.7 babies per 1,000 women of childbearing age. Provisional data for 2010 showed that number had dropped to 64.7.
The actual number of births from 2008 to 2009 rose only in one state, North Dakota, which also posted one of the nation's lowest unemployment rates at 3.1%.
"This does not conclusively prove that the economic changes led to fertility changes," the Pew report said. "However, the timing is consistent with the time it might take people to act upon fertility decisions."
Historically, there's evidence to back up the Pew analysis.
Editor's note: The U.S. Justice Department says the FBI and the DEA have disrupted a plot involving Iran to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States and commit other attacks. Two men – one arrested, the other at large – have been charged in connection with the alleged plot, which the Justice Department says was directed by elements of the Iranian government.
The Justice Department says one of the men – Manssor Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen holding an Iranian passport – arranged to hire for the assassination someone in Mexico who he thought was an associate of a drug trafficking cartel. The person in Mexico actually was a DEA confidential source who was posing as a cartel associate, the Justice Department says.
Here are the latest developments in the story on Wednesday:
[Posted at 12:29 p.m. ET] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that the alleged attempted assassination of Saudi Arabia's U.S. ambassador by Iranian operatives is the "kind of reckless act" which "undermines international norms and the international system."
"Iran must be held accountable," Clinton said.
Clinton said the U.S. government will continue to work to isolate the Iranian regime.
[Posted at 11:48 a.m. ET] Mahan Air, an Iranian commercial airline, has been sanctioned by the United States for its ties to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, the Treasury Department said on Wednesday.
[Posted at 7:27 a.m. ET] Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal said he believes "someone in Iran is going to have to pay the price" for the alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
Al-Faisal, a key member of the royal family, was speaking at conference in London Wednesday. Al-Faisal's representatives said the remark was his personal view and not the official Saudi position.
Comment of the morning:
"When we kill foreign citizens on foreign soil, it is patriotic. When they do it, it is an act of war." – AlpaChino
After details were released about a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Washington is grappling with how to handle relations with Iran. More sanctions appear likely and Rep. Peter King is calling Iran’s alleged involvement an act of war.
CNN.com readers reacted to news of the disrupted plot with much speculation and, regardless of just how involved the Iranian government was, they say action should be taken by Saudi Arabia, not the United States.
hoppinMad1 said, “More false-flag nonsense. Did they ever find WMD's in Iraq? Let's make up some crap about Iran to avert attention away from Holder’s Fast and Furious scandal. The sheeple will eat it up. Baaa.”
goodyweaver responded, “So, so happy your comment is at the top - suggests that maybe, just maybe, Americans are sick to death of this crap. Even if it's not a false flag, this is certainly not worth going to war over. I don't personally care about a conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia. They're both oppressive nightmares. Let them have each other.”
[Updated 11:24 a.m. ET] Jova has weakened into a tropical storm over Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday.
[Posted 2:09 a.m. ET] Hurricane Jova made landfall on the Pacific coast of Mexico late Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center reported.
The Category 2 storm was packing 100 mph winds as it came ashore in the Mexican state of Jalisco.
Jova, which has been steadily weakening, is expected to lose much of its punch over western Mexico on Wednesday and become a tropical storm.
The storm's center was about 65 miles west-northwest of the resort town of Manzanillo at 2 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was moving north-northeast at 8 mph.FULL STORY
Myanmar released dozens of political prisoners Wednesday, among them a well-known comedian and an ethnic Shan general, the latest in a series of moves that could help the isolated nation normalize relations with the West.
The mass amnesty, which authorities say will eventually free 6,300 prisoners, has helped fuel hope for change in one of the most repressive states in the world.
But is the amnesty an authentic step toward liberalization - or another gesture by the new government to appease critics?
Speaking in Thailand this week, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said undeniably, "dramatic developments" were under way in Myanmar that could prompt Washington to improve ties. The United States imposes an embargo on arms and investment in Myanmar, once known as Burma before a military junta took over.
But human rights activists warned against showering Myanmar's leadership with too many kudos too fast.
Only about 150 of Myanmar's more than 2,000 political detainees were released in the amnesty, said Thein Oo, a senior member of the National League for Democracy, the party led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Many prominent dissidents remain behind bars.
"If we talk about the change going on in Burma, what I can say is I still don't believe that Burma is really on the right track," said Zarganar, the comedian who was released Wednesday. "I'm saying that based on my experience. What I mean is that only a few political prisoners are included in today's release."FULL STORY
Congressional investigators have issued a subpoena for communications from several top Justice Department officials - including Attorney General Eric Holder - relating to the discredited "Fast and Furious" federal gunrunning operation, according to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California.
Operation Fast and Furious involved agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowing illegal sales of guns believed to be destined for Mexican drug cartels to "walk" from Phoenix, Arizona, gun stores into Mexico.
The idea was to track the sellers and purchasers of guns to Mexican cartels, but the program became mired in controversy after weapons found at Mexican and American murder scenes were traced back to the program. Mexican officials and critics in the United States called the program a failure, saying it exacerbated the longstanding problem of U.S. weapons getting into the hands of the violent Mexican cartels.
Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the Nigerian man accused of trying to detonate an explosive device in his underwear aboard a Christmas 2009 flight to Detroit, pleaded guilty to all counts in court Wednesday.
He had been indicted on charges including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, and possession of a firearm or destructive device in furtherance of an act of violence.
AbdulMutallab had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The announcement comes one day after the prosecution finished its opening statement.
On Tuesday, the prosecution finished its opening statement and the defense said it would reserve the right to give an opening statement at a later point in the trial.
The judge in the trial refused to prevent the prosecution from calling the device he allegedly carried a "bomb."
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds also refused to exclude a photo of AbdulMutallab's burned genitals from the evidence.
While at previous court appearances AbdulMutallab has had outbursts - including yelling "Osama's alive," a reference to Osama bin Laden - he remained calm Tuesday.
AbdulMutallab was indicted on charges including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, and possession of a firearm or destructive device in furtherance of an act of violence.
He was a passenger on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 en route from the Netherlands to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.
U.S. officials say the terror group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was behind the alleged bombing attempt.
A Virginia man has been charged for his alleged role in spying on Syria protesters in the United States, the Justice Department said on Wednesday.FULL STORY
GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich revealed to CNN how his family has played a huge role in shaping his life.
His remarks came during a recent Red Chair interview – a CNN series that examines the lives of headliners to see what made them who they are today.
Gingrich, a former speaker of the U.S. House, said he learned his cheerful optimism from his mother who told him "everyday can be filled with interesting things."
"I'm like a 4-year-old who gets up every morning knowing there is a cookie somewhere and I just have to find it," said Gingrich.
The GOP presidential candidate credited his stepfather for teaching him about discipline and determination.
Gingrich's passions include a love for nature, animals and education. He also collects items related to dinosaurs.
"Early on in life I thought I'd be a paleontologist or a zoo director," he said. "I've visited about 100 zoos in my life and enjoy them."
Regarding his career, Gingrich said if he were House speaker again, he'd "do it in a significantly different way."
Learn more about his family life, passions and lessons learned in his CNN Red Chair video interview. Look for conversations with other presidential candidates in upcoming weeks.
A radio station promotion that awarded five couples in vitro fertility treatments Tuesday as part of a “Win a Baby” contest has drawn the ire of Canadians on both sides of the issue.
Hundreds entered the contest held by Ottawa station Hot 89.9 for a chance to win a round of IVF treatments. After several weeks of having hopefuls campaign and write essays on why they should be chosen, the station whittled the competition down to five couples.
Hot 89.9 assembled the families in a room Tuesday, as posted on the station's website, and announced the award after a tense setup. “You’re all getting up to three fertility treatments. Congratulations!” radio host Jeff Mauler said as loud sobs from the women can be heard in the background.
“There's not a dry eye in the house,” Mauler said. "A lot of hugs and a lot of tears," he said describing the emotional scene in the room. “Once again with 'Win a Baby' all five of our finalists are getting three fertility treatments, up to three fertility treatments, and hopefully having their dreams come true.”
The contest has touched a political vein in Ontario, where residents - unlike their neighbors in Quebec - don't get government-funded IVF coverage. In July 2010, Quebec became the first jurisdiction in North America to fund IVF. Last month a Canadian survey showed that 75% of Ontario residents supported health insurance coverage for in-vitro fertilization treatments.