December 28th, 2011
10:48 PM ET

Myanmar state TV: Blast in area of Yangon kills 20

An explosion early Thursday rocked a neighborhood in the city of Yangon killing 20 people and injuring more than 95, Myanmar's state-run television MR TV reported.

The blast occurred in Mingalar Taung Nyunt, a mainly residential area about a 15 minute-drive from central Yangon, the country's former capital. It struck a compound of warehouses that the government rents out to private businesses.

"I can't tell what is the exact cause of the incident but it is unlikely from man-made bombs," said a police official, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The authorities are investigating the explosion, he said.

Win Tun, who lives near the warehouses, said she heard a "very big, loud noise of explosion," which prompted startled residents to try to flee.

"Some people ran in the wrong way. I didn't know where to run to," she said, adding that the initial blast was followed by a string of other explosions.

The dead include four firefighters, MR TV reported.

The strength of the explosion shattered the windows of nearby houses.

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Filed under: Myanmar • World
Third infant reportedly sickened by rare bacteria
Investigators probing a rare infection for a possible link to powdered infant formula have come up empty.
December 28th, 2011
07:27 PM ET

Third infant reportedly sickened by rare bacteria

An Oklahoma infant is the third to be sickened by a rare bacteria that can come from baby formula, according to news reports Wednesday.

The baby is from Tulsa County and has fully recovered from Cronobacter sakazakii, CNN affiliate KYTV reported.

The child was fed a different brand of baby formula than Enfamil, the kind that has been linked in news reports to the death of 10-day-old Avery Cornett in Missouri, according to KYTV.

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Filed under: Consumer safety • U.S.
December 28th, 2011
05:02 PM ET

Rescuers reach trapped miners in Tennessee

Rescuers on Wednesday reached three miners trapped in an eastern Tennessee zinc mine after a fire, and were bringing them to the surface, a fire rescue spokesman said.

They should all be out by 5 p.m. ET, said Capt. Sammy Solomon of New Market Fire Rescue.

The miners were trapped by smoke after a rig fire broke out 800 feet underground Wednesday at the Young Mine in New Market, Solomon said. They were among 54 miners in the mine at the time. The others managed to get out, though two were transported to a local hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

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Overheard on CNN.com: Some fear escalation with Iran in Strait of Hormuz
An Iranian missile is launched during war games on April 25, 2010, in southern Iran, near the Strait of Hormuz.
December 28th, 2011
04:49 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Some fear escalation with Iran in Strait of Hormuz

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Iran's vice president is warning that the Islamic Republic could block the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions are imposed on its exports of crude oil. In fact, Iran is conducting a 10-day military exercise in the area. CNN analysts said the situation appeared volatile, and readers responded to stories about this incident by debating what would happen if the U.S. tried to go to war with Iran.

Analysis: Saber-rattling in Strait of Hormuz

Many of our readers said they feared the U.S. would at some point be tempted to go to war with Iran, and expressed concern about harm that could be done in such a case.

greatpet: "The Soviets had over 10,000 nuclear weapons and was dealt with diplomatically, but Iran should be attacked militarily if she acquired only a few nuclear weapons and hardly any delivery systems? This doesn't make sense."

era923: "You know where the problem is? The U.S. didn't have the (courage) to attack the USSR. In Iran's case, they still don't have it, but maybe Israel will drag them to the war and make the U.S fight for them. This time, the U.S is going to pay a huge price."

RKW29: "Ha! Are you serious? 10,000 nuclear weapons and you ask why we never attacked? Um, are you on crack? This is also why the Soviets never attacked us."

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Filed under: Iran • Overheard on CNN.com • World
December 28th, 2011
01:47 PM ET

U.S. fighter jets intercept aircraft near Washington

Two F-16 fighter jets were dispatched by the North American Aerospace Defense Command to intercept a civilian aircraft near Washington, D.C., NORAD said Wednesday.

The incident happened about 12:15 p.m. ET after the aircraft failed to establish radio contact, the agency said in a press release.

“The civilian aircraft re-established communications and was allowed to continue on its way without incident,” NORAD said.

Out of an abundance of caution, officials are being vigilant about security concerns around the holidays.

iReport: Witness describes fatal crash of F-18 jet in 2008

After the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 in September, two fighter jets were scrambled after reports of air passengers acting suspiciously on two flights. Although no problems occurred, authorities sent F-16s to shadow the flights just in case.

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Filed under: U.S.
Tebow tops 'most desirable celebrity neighbor' list
Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has scored big in two public-opinion surveys this month.
December 28th, 2011
12:53 PM ET

Tebow tops 'most desirable celebrity neighbor' list

NFL insiders and fans don’t think enough of Tim Tebow to put him in the Pro Bowl, but a decent portion of the American public might be OK with him barbecuing next door.

The Denver Broncos quarterback, who has made a name for himself in part through his outspoken faith in God and a number of comeback wins this season, is the most desirable celebrity neighbor for 2012, according to a survey from the Zillow real estate information company.

The annual survey asks more than 1,000 U.S. adults which celebrity or celebrity couple they’d most like to be their neighbor next year. It should be noted that respondents were given only seven from which to choose, plus “other.” But Tebow topped that list, garnering 11% of the vote.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (10%) were runners-up, followed by Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux (9%). A plurality of respondents 42% said “none of the above,” and “other” got 11%.

The survey results were released Wednesday, a day after USA Today announced that Tebow was the United States’ 11th most-admired man for 2011 two spots behind Bill Gates but ahead of the Dalai Lama in a USA Today/Gallup Poll.

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Filed under: Colorado • Football • Pro football • Sports • Tim Tebow
December 28th, 2011
12:23 PM ET

Meet Siku: Polar bear cub, heart- and ice-melter

What’s white and black and has people fawning all over? Meet Siku, a polar bear cub born in captivity in Denmark.

The cute cub is being reared by handlers at the  Scandinavian Wildlife Park because its mother isn’t producing the milk to feed him. Since his birth last month, Siku has become a Web star. He has his own page on the Scandinavian Wildlife Park website and he’s even on Facebook.

Park director Frank Vigh-Larsen says he's stunned by the cub's rapid transformation into an Internet sensation.

Video footage posted on YouTube of Siku bottle-feeding, rolling around and snoozing has been viewed more than 2 million times in six days, he told CNN, and the cub gained thousands of friends on Facebook within the space of a few hours.

As of Wednesday, at 36 days old, Siku has just opened his eyes and weighs in at 4.2 kilograms (9.2 pounds), more than five times his initial weight, his handler said.

"He's just a little solid cannonball," Vigh-Larsen said. "He's doing well."

Such growth is a testament to the dedicated care Siku is receiving. For the first three weeks, Vigh-Larsen fed the cub every two hours - and still feeds him every three hours, meaning the keeper gets little sleep.

In the new year, two other wildlife keepers will start to care for him, too, in shifts, making sure the cub is never alone during the first 12 months of his life.

Siku's popularity comes at a time when the plight of polar bears is at its peak. Corporate giant Coca-Cola recently launched a campaign in conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness about arctic conditions that threaten polar bears.

Siku, which means “sea ice” in Greenlandic, an Eskimo language spoken in Greenland, is thriving under a bottle-feeding program instituted by the park’s keepers.

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Filed under: Animals • Bears • World
December 28th, 2011
10:50 AM ET

U.S. Navy won't tolerate Strait of Hormuz disruption

The U.S. Navy said Iran's threat to block the strategically and economically important Strait of Hormuz is unacceptable.

"The free flow of goods and services through the Strait of Hormuz is vital to regional and global prosperity," Navy 5th Fleet in Bahrain spokeswoman Cmdr. Amy Derrick Frost told reporters on Wednesday.

"Anyone who threatens to disrupt freedom of navigation in an international strait is clearly outside the community of nations; any disruption will not be tolerated."

The 34-mile narrow shipping channel leads in and out of the Persian Gulf between Iran and Oman. It is strategically important because tankers carrying oil travel through it.

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Filed under: Iran • Oman
December 28th, 2011
10:32 AM ET

FARC to release 6 hostages

Colombia's main leftist rebel group says it plans to release six hostages, including three who have been in captivity for more than 12 years.

The FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has been at war with the Colombian government since the 1960s. While severely weakened in recent years, the guerrilla group has continued to carry out kidnappings and attack security forces.

It said the hostages to be released include three national police officers, Jorge Trujillo Solarte, Jorge Humberto Romero and Jose Libardo Forero. All of three were taken hostage in 1999.

The names of the other three hostages would be forthcoming, the FARC said.

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Filed under: Colombia
December 28th, 2011
10:22 AM ET

Officials: Suspect in Indiana girl's death wanted in Florida

A man charged in the bludgeoning death and dismemberment of a 9-year-old Indiana girl is wanted in Florida for violating probation in 2000, officials said Wednesday.

Michael Plumadore, 39, faces one count of murder in the death of Aliahna Lemmon. He was being held without bond after a court appearance Tuesday. He was arrested Monday night after the girl's body was found.

Florida Department of Corrections records show that Plumadore was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, firefighter or EMS worker in May 2000, and later that month he was sentenced to a year of community supervision.

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Filed under: Crime • Indiana
December 28th, 2011
07:32 AM ET

Wednesday's live events

We are now six days away from the Iowa caucuses, and many of the GOP presidential candidates are campaigning in the Hawkeye State.  CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news from the 2012 presidential election.

Today's programming highlights...

8:00 am ET - Perry's Iowa breakfast - GOP hopeful Gov. Rick Perry speaks at a breakfast in Urbandale, Iowa. 

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Filed under: Elections • Politics • Republican Party
December 28th, 2011
05:55 AM ET

Arab League monitors to visit 3 more Syrian cities

Monitors from the Arab League will visit three additional cities in Syria on Wednesday to gauge whether the country is ending a bloody crackdown on protesters.

Observers will visit the flashpoint cities of Daraa, Hama and Idlib, said Alaa Shalaby, a member of the Arab League advance team.

They will also spend a second day in the besieged city of Homs.

Ahead of the monitors visit in Daraa, violence erupted. Four Syrian forces members were killed and 12 wounded after defectors ambushed their convoy, according to the opposition activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Arab League fact-finding team is monitoring an Arab League initiative that calls for President Bashar al-Assad's security forces to withdraw from cities, release detainees and end violence.

But a report from Human Rights Watch says authorities have moved possibly hundreds of detainees to military sites to hide them from observers.

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2011: In memoriam
Some of the people we lost in 2011.
December 28th, 2011
05:49 AM ET

2011: In memoriam

As 2011 draws to a close, we’d like to look back at some of the notable people who died this year. These videos highlight their achievements and honor their legacies.

Screen siren – Elizabeth Taylor is remembered not only as a strikingly beautiful Academy Award-winning actress, but also as a compassionate and devoted advocate for HIV/AIDS research.

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Filed under: 2011 Year in Review • Amy Winehouse • Apple • Celebrity • Elizabeth Taylor • Gotta Watch • Movies • Music • Steve Jobs • Technology
December 28th, 2011
05:38 AM ET

Police: Afghan girl, 15, locked in basement, starved, tortured

Police in Afghanistan say they have rescued a 15-year-old girl who was locked up in the basement of her in-laws' house, starved and had her nails pulled out.

Authorities in the northern Baghlan province said they were aware of reports that the girl was tortured after she refused to be forced into prostitution. But, they said, they were waiting for her to fully recover to talk to her and learn more.

The girl, Sahar Gul, was married off to a 30-year-old man about seven months ago. After her parents reported not seeing her for months, police launched their investigation, said Baghlan police official Jawid Basharat.

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Filed under: Crime • World
December 28th, 2011
05:07 AM ET

Russian ship sails after repairs in the Antarctic

A damaged Russian fishing vessel headed for open water Wednesday after receiving repairs in the frigid waters around Antarctica, New Zealand officials said.

"The Sparta has been freed up from the ice shelf and is now underway under her own power," said Sian Routledge, a spokeswoman for Maritime New Zealand's Rescue Coordination Centre. "The repairs appear to be holding."

A South Korean polar research vessel, called Araon, assisted with repairs and will escort the Russian ship, along with its 32 crewmembers to open water.

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Filed under: Weather • World
December 28th, 2011
02:41 AM ET

Formal charges in Indiana girl's death to come Friday

Authorities have completed the autopsy of a 9-year-old Indiana girl who was dismembered and had her body parts stored in a freezer.

Formal charges against Michael L. Plumadore, 39, who has been charged with one count of murder in the death of Aliahna Lemmon, will be read Friday.

"Some of the story we heard from the beginning with him led us to believe he was the key to this case that ... he was the one who was going to have the answers we were looking for," Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries told HLN's Nancy Grace on Tuesday night. "He was the one who saw her last. He was the one who had the most contact with her."

Plumadore, described as a family friend, was being held without bond after Tuesday's initial court appearance. He was arrested Monday night after the missing girl's body was found.

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Filed under: Crime • Justice • U.S.
December 28th, 2011
01:58 AM ET

Mubarak's murder trial resumes in Egypt after months of delay

After a months-long break, the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resumes Wednesday after an appeals court dismissed a motion to disqualify the presiding judge, state-owned media said.

Mubarak is charged with ordering the killing of protesters to quash the uprising that ultimately ended his 30-year rule in February. In addition, he faces corruption charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

Lawyers representing families of dead or injured protesters petitioned a higher court demanding a new panel of judges, claiming unfair treatment.

The appeals court rejected the motion to disqualify Judge Refaat and fined the lawyers who filed the motion 6,000 Egyptian pounds ($996), according to Ahram Online - part of the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper group.

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Egypt • World
December 28th, 2011
01:28 AM ET

2 charged for false claims to get Indiana State Fair stage collapse money

Authorities in Indiana have charged two women for allegedly falsifying hospital records to collect money intended for victims of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse.

Both women claimed they were injured when a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair in August, killing seven and wounding 61, authorities said.

"It is particularly troubling that individuals would attempt to illegally profit upon a tragedy such as the State Fair stage collapse," said Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry. "We will not stand idly by while greedy individuals take from those who are truly deserving of compensation from this tragedy."

According to prosecutors, Stephanie Murry and Sandra Hurn filed false claims to the Indiana State Fair Remembrance

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Filed under: Crime • Justice • U.S.
December 28th, 2011
12:46 AM ET

Kim Jong Il's funeral begins in snow-laden Pyongyang

The funeral of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Il got under way Wednesday in a snow-laden Pyongyang, with analysts ready to parse the footage for clues on the transition under way within the secretive regime.

North Korean state television broadcast video on Wednesday of the services. A black car, carrying a giant portrait of Kim, led a procession of dozens of other cars.

A tearful Kim Jong Un, the son and chosen successor of Kim Jong Il, trudged through the snow alongside the lead car, followed by other senior officials.

Lines of soldiers stood with their heads bowed, their caps in hand, as the procession passed. The soldiers' green uniforms contrasted starkly with the bright white snow as mournful music played.

The reclusive nation had revealed no details about the funeral, where thousands of North Koreans were expected to file past a glass case housing the body of the elder Kim, revered as a godlike "dear leader" by his people.

Kim's funeral was expected to be modeled after that of his father, Kim Il Sung, in 1994, said Han Park, a professor at the University of Georgia's School of Public and International Affairs who is also director of the Globis Center for the Study of Global Issues.

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Filed under: North Korea • World