Eruption creates new island in Red Sea
December 29th, 2011
02:49 PM ET

Eruption creates new island in Red Sea

The Red Sea appears to have a tiny new island, courtesy of an underwater eruption.

The island essentially lava that cooled after breaking through the water's surface began forming this month between Yemen and Eritrea among the Zubair archipelago, a group of small islands that come from a submarine shield volcano, according to NASA and the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program.

NASA’s Earth-Observing-1 satellite captured an image (above) showing the new mass with a plume perhaps volcanic ash and water vapor rising from it on December 23, NASA’s Earth Observatory website says. The island appeared to be less than one-third of a mile in diameter, according to the Global Volcanism Program.

The image came four days after local news reports said fishermen saw an eruption in the sea, with lava rising up to 90 feet in the air, according to NASA.

The shield volcano from which the Zubair islands stem (the largest of which is 5 kilometers long) last erupted in the 19th century, according to the Global Volcanism Program.

Wordwide, new islands emerge from volcanic eruptions about once every few years, and not all of them survive beyond three years, because waves can break them apart, GVP volcanologist Rick Wunderman said Thursday. It's not clear whether the new Red Sea island will last, but the material that emerges from the Red Sea typically is more structurally sound than other areas, Wunderman said.

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Tsunami debris spotted along West Coast
Debris is littered along the Japanese coast months after a tsunami and earthquake struck the island nation.
December 29th, 2011
12:21 PM ET

Tsunami debris spotted along West Coast

Ten months after a tsunami devastated parts of Japan, some of the island nation’s debris has washed up on North American shores, according to news reports.

On Vancouver Island, B.C., The Sun newspaper reported that wreckage from Japan began appearing this month. "In or around Dec. 5th the first item or two of some consequence was found," Tofino Mayor Perry Schmunk told the newspaper. "Some lumber came ashore that had Japanese export stamps on it."

Two weeks ago, CNN affiliate KIRO in Seattle showed video footage of what it said was debris from the March 11 tsunami - at least 10 Japanese buoys - on the Washington coast. “That’s about as good as the evidence gets for first arrivals,” retired oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer told KIRO.

More reports of mundane Japanese items - such as bottles and toothbrushes - popping up along North American shores are beginning to emerge.

But that’s just the beginning, experts say.

Physicist Michio Kaku said Thursday that it is vital to understand the sheer size of the Japanese debris field in the Pacific Ocean.

“First, you have to understand the size and scope of this problem. The debris field from this Japanese tragedy is the size of the state of California,” he said.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Environment • Japan • U.S. • World
December 29th, 2011
11:29 AM ET

Suspect in soldier shooting pleads not guilty

A man accused of shooting and paralyzing a U.S. Army soldier at a homecoming party pleaded not guilty to all charges at his arraignment Thursday.

Ruben Jurado, 19, faces a charge of attempted murder in the shooting of Army Spc. Christopher Sullivan on Friday night at a homecoming party in Sullivan's native San Bernardino, California.

Jurado also faces four "special allegations involving premeditation and the use and discharge of a firearm, causing great bodily injury," said Christopher Lee, spokesman for the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office.

"Special allegations" can add to a convict's sentence in California.

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Filed under: California • Crime • Military • U.S. Army
December 29th, 2011
10:57 AM ET

Former Argentina dictator gets second prison sentence

[Updated at 11:21 a.m. ET] Former Argentine dictator Gen. Reynaldo Bignone was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison for crimes against humanity at a clandestine detention center during his rule. He was already serving a 25-year sentence from a previous trial.

He ruled Argentina from June 1982 until the nation's return to democracy in December 1983.

Argentina's 2nd Oral Federal Court handed down the ruling. The punishment stems from an investigation into a clandestine detention facility hidden inside a hospital during the country's military dictatorship.

Under his command, at least 22 people were kidnapped and taken to the center, known as the "Chalet at the Posadas Hospital," according to evidence in the case. Five of those were tortured during their detention, according to Argentina's judicial information center.

Bignone was previously sentenced in April 2010 to 25 years in prison for kidnapping and torturing 56 people.

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Two killed, dozens injured in 40-vehicle wreck in New Orleans
These vehicles were part of the wreck in eastern New Orleans on Thursday morning.
December 29th, 2011
09:49 AM ET

Two killed, dozens injured in 40-vehicle wreck in New Orleans

[Updated at 10:33 a.m. ET] Two people were killed and more than 50 others injured Thursday in a 40-vehicle pileup that shut down Interstate 10 in eastern New Orleans, authorities said.

Both eastbound and westbound lanes were closed following the crashes, which began about 4 a.m. local time (5 a.m. ET), said Garry Flot, New Orleans police spokesman. It was unknown how long the interstate would be closed, he said.

Twenty-two people were transported to hospitals with minor to critical injuries. Another 37 complained of minor injuries at the scene but refused medical care, Flot said.

One firefighter suffered a cut on his face while performing his duties at the scene, Flot said. He was taken to a local hospital for stitches.

WWL: Two killed in I-10 wreck in New Orleans

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December 29th, 2011
08:52 AM ET

2 French soldiers killed in Afghanistan attack

A soldier in the Afghan National Army uniform shot dead two French soldiers serving in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, the French Defense Ministry said.

The soldiers were there as part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said the two French soldiers had been deliberately fired on by an Afghan soldier present at their position in the Kapisa valley.

He condemned the attack as a "cowardly act" but reaffirmed France's commitment to helping the Afghan National Army develop and its confidence in the Afghan soldiers.

The "isolated incident" would not affect the process of eventually handing over responsibility for security to Afghan forces, the minister said in a statement, adding that his thoughts were with the families of those killed and their fellow service members.

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December 29th, 2011
07:47 AM ET

Syrian security fires on protesters as monitors arrive, group says

Syrian security forces opened fire on protesters in a Damascus suburb Thursday as Arab League monitors arrived, an opposition activist group said.

More than 20 demonstrators were injured in the Grand Mosque area of Douma as the observers arrived at the city's municipal building, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Local Coordination Committees of Syria, another opposition activist network, said two people in Douma were among 10 killed in Syria on Thursday. It is not clear how and where those deaths occurred.

The incident comes as Arab League monitors worked in the opposition epicenter of Homs, arrived in the restive cities of Daraa, Idlib, and Hama, and visited the Damascus area.

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December 29th, 2011
07:42 AM ET

Police: Texas gunman called 911

A clearer recording of a Christmas day 911 call from a Texas apartment where seven people were found dead revealed a man believed to be the gunman whispering, "I am shooting people," police said.

Grapevine, Texas, authorities replayed the audio Wednesday using a different software system than previously used while preparing to release a recording of the call to media outlets, police Lt. Todd Deating said in a statement.

Police responding to a 911 call initially thought to be an "open line" went to the Grapevine apartment and found the bodies of seven family members, who apparently had just finished opening gifts at a Christmas gathering. The estranged husband of one woman - Azizolah Yazdanpanah, 56 - is thought to be the gunman, authorities said. He was dressed as Santa Claus.

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December 29th, 2011
07:39 AM ET

Thursday's live events

The Iowa caucuses are now just five days away.  CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest from the Hawkeye State and the race to the 2012 presidential election.

Today's programming highlights...

8:50 am ET - Romney talks to voters - GOP hopeful Mitt Romney talks jobs and the economy with voters in Cedar Falls, Iowa.  He'll also hold a rally in Ames, Iowa, at 6:30 pm ET.

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Filed under: Elections • Politics • Republican Party
Gotta Watch: Best viral videos of 2011
December 29th, 2011
07:03 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Best viral videos of 2011

We've posted a lot of videos on CNN.com this year, but the ones that seem to be the most popular are the viral videos. From the hilarious barking cat to the incredibly talented mini-Nicki Minaj, 2011 has been jam-packed with some incredibly amusing videos. In the spirit of the end of the year, we at Gotta Watch put together the four most-watched viral videos on CNN.com in 2011. Enjoy!

Rejection is funny - This video out of Missouri proves that laughing truly is contagious. A letter that would make most of us mad seems to have a very different effect on a little boy.

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December 29th, 2011
05:16 AM ET

Demonstrators plan rally for jailed Russian opposition leader

Thousands planned to rally Thursday in central Moscow to protest the detention of Russian opposition activist Sergey Udaltsov, Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reported.

About 3,000 people say they may attend, according to the event's Facebook page, although Udaltsov's wife Anastasia said city hall had refused to give permission for it.

Udaltsov, the leader of the opposition Leftist Front movement, had his 15-day detention extended by another 10 days on Sunday, RIA Novosti said. He was arrested on December 4 for not serving out the full term of his previous administrative detention and escaping from hospital, according to the news agency.

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December 29th, 2011
05:09 AM ET

2 service members killed in Afghanistan attack

A person wearing an Afghan National Army uniform killed two members of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, the alliance said.

It did not release additional information.

The deaths come two days after three service members were killed in a roadside bomb, also in eastern Afghanistan, the alliance said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Tuesday attack.

The latest deaths bring the number of service members killed in Afghanistan this year to 553, according to a CNN count.

Last year, 711 service members died.

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December 29th, 2011
04:27 AM ET

Visitors to New York's 9/11 memorial top 1 million

In the 16 weeks since it opened to the public, the September 11 memorial in New York has seen more than 1 million visitors, officials will announce Thursday.

The memorial plaza opened to family members of victims on the 10th anniversary of the attacks and to the general pubic the following day.

A museum on site is still under construction, and is expected to open September 11, 2012.

Designed by architect Michael Arad, the memorial features two huge, square fountains that mark the footprints of the World Trade Center towers.

The fountains' water flows into granite reflecting pools at the center of the eight-acre, tree-lined plaza.

Bronze plates surround the fountains and bear the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the 2001 attacks, as well as the six who were killed when a terrorist truck bomb exploded in the parking garage beneath the towers in 1993.

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Filed under: New York • U.S.
December 29th, 2011
04:09 AM ET

Report: Bahrain adopts zero tolerance torture policy

Bahrain is adopting a zero tolerance policy toward "torture, inhuman treatment and degrading detention" practices toward political prisoners - one of a number of recommendations made by an independent commission looking into claims of abuse during a crackdown on protesters earlier this year.

The government announced the policy in a statement released by the state-run Bahrain News Agency on Wednesday evening.

The moves follows last month's report by an independent commission that found police tortured and used excessive force against civilians arrested during a crackdown on the protests that followed successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

The oil-rich kingdom, according to the statement, is committed to implementing the recommendations "in their entirety."

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December 29th, 2011
03:28 AM ET

Grandfather: Missing Maine girl's dad not communicating with family

The grandfather of a missing 20-month-old Maine girl repeated over and over Wednesday night that the girl's father has not been in touch with the family, even as the father reiterated he doesn't know what happened to her.

"Nothing, not a word, nothing," Ron Reynolds told HLN's Nancy Grace. "My daughter tried to talk to him. Nothing's coming back ... nothing is being said."

Police said Wednesday they have received 370 leads in the disappearance of Ayla Reynolds, who was last seen December 16 when her father, Justin Dipietro, said he put her to bed.

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December 29th, 2011
03:20 AM ET

Airstrike kills 31 Kurdish villagers in southeast Turkey

An airstrike in southeast Turkey killed at least 31 Kurdish villagers crossing into the country from Iraq on Wednesday night, a local official from the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party said.

"A group of villagers were coming from northern Iraq across the border after 9.30 p.m. Their path was blocked by soldiers and then four planes bombed them," said the official, Yunus Urek, blaming the Turkish military for the attack.

The people were from the border villages of Ortasu and Gulyazi, according to Urek, who said he was in Ortasu

"These are people who go across the border all the time, for their daily needs like sugar or fuel," he said. "Only one person survived with injuries."

There was no immediate reaction from the Turkish government.

Some observers have sounded the alarm in recent months about escalating tension between Turkey and its Kurdish minority, warning it may reignite a conflict that has simmered since 1984 and claimed more than 30,000 lives.

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December 29th, 2011
02:46 AM ET

Stratfor delays launch of website, offers identity monitoring to hack victims

tratfor, a global intelligence company, is delaying the launch of its website following an apparent computer hack that saw the release of subscriber credit card information.

"As part of our ongoing internal investigation, we have also decided to delay the launching of our website until a thorough review and adjustment by outside experts can be completed," Kyle Rhodes, a Stratfor spokesman, said late Wednesday.

The delay is expected to take about a week, though it could be longer, Rhodes said.

U.S.-based Stratfor, which provides independent analysis of international affairs and security threats and describes itself as a publisher of geopolitical analysis, said it was also providing its subscribers a year of free identity protection monitoring, he said.

The company is working with law enforcement, including the FBI, following the security breach, Rhodes said.

A posting earlier this week on the information-sharing website Pastebin said that Stratfor subscriber data, including information on 4,000 credit cards and the company's "private client" list, had been released. The posting cited AntiSec, a Web-based collaboration with the activist hacking groups Anonymous and LulzSec.

But Anonymous distanced itself from the hack, according to a news release posted on Pastebin.

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December 29th, 2011
02:39 AM ET

Tick tock! Iowa lottery jackpot deadline nears

year ago Thursday, someone walked into a QuikTrip in Des Moines, Iowa, picked up a lottery ticket and hit the jackpot: $16.5 million.

For the next year, officials with the Iowa Lottery waited for the person or persons to come forward.

That wait ends at 4 p.m Thursday.

If the ticket goes unclaimed, it will be the second time this week that someone has forfeited a mega payday. On Monday, a $77 million lottery ticket went unclaimed in Georgia.

"Someone legitimately won this money and we want them to take it home," Iowa Lottery CEO Terry Rich said in a news release. "But you must present the winning ticket to the lottery in order to claim the prize."

Few financial advisers would consider the $1 spent on the ticket to have been a wise investment. The buyer overcame 1 in 10.9 million odds to win, said Mary Neubauer, a spokeswoman for the state lottery. If the ticket is redeemed, the winner would owe 25% in federal taxes and 5% in state taxes, she said.

But the possibility of taxes and the absence of a ticket haven't deterred the hopeful from lining up - just in case. "We've been getting calls from the public all day long today," Neubauer said Wednesday night. "The closer that the deadline gets, the more people seem to be calling."

Some of the calls are from people who say they may have lost the ticket, or put it through a washing machine, she said. They are walked through a series of questions to de

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December 29th, 2011
02:09 AM ET

Arab League monitors head to Syrian opposition stronghold

A fact-finding team is expected to travel Thursday to the Syrian opposition stronghold of Daraa where it will monitor an Arab League initiative that calls for President Bashar al-Assad's security forces to end a violent crackdown on anti-government groups.

The trip follows mounting criticism from opposition groups over the selection of a Sudanese military commander as the team head because of his government's actions in the embattled Darfur region. The groups say the choice of Lt. Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi taints the Arab League's efforts in Syria.

"The appointment of al-Dabi taints the Arab League's efforts and characterizes it as nothing more than a political farce, causing little help but much harm to the situation in Syria," said a statement from the Doctors Local Committee in Damascus, a group opposed to al-Assad's government.

"It would be more appropriate, in our view, in the circumstances of the current conflict, for the United Nations to be mandated to conduct the monitoring mission."

The Arab League has dismissed the complaints out of hand, with one official - speaking on condition of anonymity - saying the claims against al-Dabi "come with no evidence."

The Arab League initiative, which was agreed to this month by al-Assad, calls for Syrian security forces to withdraw from cities, release detainees and end violence.

As part of that effort, the monitors are also expected to travel Thursday to the cities of Idlib, Hama and the capital city of Damascus, according to the Arab League official.

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December 29th, 2011
01:41 AM ET

Lawyer: Suspect in soldier shooting to plead not guilty at arraignment

A man accused of shooting and paralyzing a U.S. Army soldier at a homecoming party intends to plead not guilty to all charges at his arraignment Thursday, his attorney said.

Ruben Jurado, 19, faces a charge of attempted murder in the shooting of Army Spc. Christopher Sullivan on Friday night at a homecoming party in Sullivan's native San Bernardino, California.

He also faces charges on "allegations involving premeditation and the use and discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury," the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office said.

Jurado "will deny any and all allegations," defense attorney Michael Holmes said Wednesday. "We anticipate receiving the initial discovery of police reports and any other evidence that the district attorney has at this time."

Holmes noted that the court "allows video arraignment," but said he and Jurado had "discussed this process and he wanted to be present in court during the entire process."

Te party in Sullivan's honor was to celebrate his recent return to California from Kentucky, where he was stationed while recovering from wounds sustained in a suicide bombing a year ago in Afghanistan.

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