Italian cruise ship captain freed from house arrest
Francesco Schettino is escorted by an Italian policeman in Grosseto, Italy, on January 14, 2012.
July 5th, 2012
01:18 PM ET

Italian cruise ship captain freed from house arrest

Italian judges released the captain of the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner from house arrest Thursday, but ordered him not to leave his home town while the case against him continues, his lawyer said.

Francesco Schettino has been under house arrest in his home town of Meta di Sorrento, near Naples, since January 17.

At least 30 people died when the cruise liner struck rocks and turned on its side off the Italian island of Giglio on January 13.

Schettino faces allegations of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, abandoning ship, failing to report an accident to the coast guard and destroying a natural habitat, a prosecutor said this year. Giglio is a protected park.

Schettino's first officer, Ciro Ambrosio, and six other officers both on the ship and from the firm Costa in Genoa are under investigation over allegations including manslaughter, shipwreck and failure to report the accident, the prosecutor in the case has said.

No one has been charged in connection with the shipwreck.

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Filed under: Italy
Zimmerman's new bail set at $1 million
July 5th, 2012
11:43 AM ET

Zimmerman's new bail set at $1 million

A Florida judge set the new bail amount for George Zimmerman - a Florida man charged with murder in the February shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin - at $1 million on Thursday.

It was unclear how quickly Zimmerman (pictured) could post the bail and be released from jail. His attorney argued that Zimmerman should not be jailed because the state's case is weak and his claim of self-defense is strong.

Zimmerman's previous bail $150,000 was revoked last month after the judge learned Zimmerman and his wife had failed to disclose more than $150,000 in donations from the public.

Leading up to the judge's decision Thursday, Zimmerman attorney Mark O'Mara asked the judge to set the same $150,000 bail amount that he granted in April. Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda countered that Zimmerman should remain in jail without bail because he was complicit in lying to the court and can't be trusted.

Zimmerman, who says he shot the unarmed Martin in self-defense, could stay in jail until his eventual trial or could be released Thursday if he posts bail. He would not have to post the full amount. Only a percentage is needed to make bail.

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Filed under: Florida • Trayvon Martin
July 5th, 2012
10:50 AM ET

Some prominent supporters blast Romney for mixed messages on health care 'tax'

Some prominent Mitt Romney supporters are saying the presidential hopeful's campaign should stop sending mixed messages about the Supreme Court's health care ruling.

Romney and his staffers have been going back and forth on whether to call it a tax as an attack on President Obama or not a tax, to preserve the argument that Romney never raised taxes in his state despite having a similar health care law.

Head spinning a bit? We'll backtrack.

On Wednesday, Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, said the federal health care reform mandate constitutes a "tax," contradicting the way his senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, of the Etch-a-Sketch gaffe fame, characterized his position earlier this week. But the similar individual mandate and fee he signed into law when governor of Massachusetts is not a tax, he said in a separate interview, citing the Supreme Court's decision last Thursday.

In March, Fehrnstrom made headlines for saying in a CNN interview that the transition from the primaries to the general election was "almost like an Etch-a-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again."

Some people are calling the tax chatter another Romney flip-flop. Others are calling it the Etch-a-Sketch redux. Others, like editor of The Nation Katrina vanden Heuvel, are saying this incident makes the previous gaffe look like solid campaign strategy.

And now, plenty of people, including his supporters, are hitting Romney on the issue and letting him know that either he needs to get himself aligned with his staff on these issues, or scrap some of the staff and get a new game plan as they charge into the general election.

Media baron Rupert Murdoch, never shy on his views, tweeted that while he supports the former Massachusetts governor he believes Romney needs to shake up his staff to have a chance to beat Obama's seasoned campaign staff.

And apparently, that tweet upset the Romney campaign, which prompted Murdoch to follow up with a tweet on Monday. He said he wants Romney to win, but instead of the campaign upset about the criticism they should heed some of the good advice Murdoch feels Romney is getting about trying to get his campaign in order.

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July 5th, 2012
09:12 AM ET

Series of pilot errors contribute to Air France Flight 447 crash, officials say

[Updated at 9: 12 a.m. ET] A series of errors by pilots and a failure to react effectively to technical problems contributed to the crash of Air France Flight 447, which plunged into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 and killed all 228 on board, France's Bureau of Investigation and Analysis said in its final report on the disaster.

[Posted at 7:56 a.m. ET] More than three years after Air France Flight 447 plunged into the southern Atlantic Ocean, killing all 228 people aboard, authorities are preparing to release their final report on the fatal crash.

France's Bureau of Investigation and Analysis (BEA) said the data indicated that the flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed because the aircraft's speed sensors gave invalid readings, but there are other theories on why the plane went down.

When did Flight 447 go down?

Flight 447 - which was en route to Paris from Rio de Janeiro - made its last contact with Brazil's Atlantic Control Center (ACC) at around 01:33 GMT on June 1, 2009, informing the center of the plane's position as it crossed the Atlantic.

Soon after, Brazil's air control contacted Dakar's control center in North Africa and reported that AF 447 was entering an area on its route known for constant bands of severe turbulence, officials said.

There was no further contact with the plane.

History's deadliest plane crashes

Do we know why Flight 447 crashed?

Last year's BEA report said the airplane climbed to 38,000 feet when "the stall warning was triggered and the airplane stalled." It then descended, crashing into the Atlantic. The descent lasted 3 minutes and 30 seconds and the engines remained operational, said the report.

Studies of the debris and bodies that were found soon after the crash led the BEA to conclude the plane hit the water belly first, essentially intact. Oxygen masks were not deployed, indicating that the cabin did not depressurize, the BEA said in a 2009 report.

Tests have already brought into question the performance of pitot tubes, which measure the pressure exerted on the plane as it flies through the air, and are part of a system used to determine air speed.

Before it crashed, Flight 447 sent out 24 automated error messages that suggested the plane may have been flying too fast or too slow through the thunderstorms, officials have said.

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July 5th, 2012
08:17 AM ET

Al-Assad: Syria protests can't compare to Egypt, Tunisia

The Syrian president says his country's opposition movement has failed to duplicate the kinds of mass protests that unfolded in other Arab nations.

"They wanted to bring people out into the streets in large numbers just like in Egypt and Tunisia," President Bashar al-Assad said in the latest installment of an interview published Thursday in the Turkish newspaper, Cumhuriyet.

"However they were not successful."

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Filed under: Syria • Turkey
July 5th, 2012
08:08 AM ET

UK police close motorway, say it wasn't related to terrorism

[Updated at 8:08 a.m. ET] An incident that led authorities in Britain to close a major highway near Birmingham, England is not related to terrorism, police said Thursday.

Officers responded swiftly to a credible report of suspicious activity but there is no danger and no one is a suspect, police said.

[Posted at 7:58 a.m. ET] Armed police have closed a major motorway near Birmingham, England, after an incident involving a passenger traveling on a bus from the northwestern town of Preston to London.

Staffordshire police described the unusual move to CNN: "There is major ongoing police-led incident on M6 toll motorway near Lichfield. Both lanes remained closed off."

A spokeswoman for Megabus confirmed that one of its vehicles was involved, with 48 people booked on the journey.

"We are assisting police with their inquiries into an allegation made against a passenger," the spokeswoman said.

Passengers were told to evacuate the bus by police who included armed officers. Police in Britain are not usually armed when they respond to incidents.

Footage from the scene shows the bus pulled over on to the hard shoulder, with the passengers sitting in rows on the tarmac where they were questioned by officers.

Emergency vehicles can be seen lined up along the highway.

ITN reporter Rupert Evelyn, who is at the scene, told CNN a woman with a small child was among the passengers led off the bus.

A couple of military bomb disposal units are on standby, he said.

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WikiLeaks releases 2.4 million Syria e-mails
Julian Assange, pictured here on October 8, 2011, is the founder of WikiLeaks, which facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information.
July 5th, 2012
08:04 AM ET

WikiLeaks releases 2.4 million Syria e-mails

WikiLeaks said Thursday it has begun publishing some 2.4 million e-mails from Syrian politicians, government ministries and companies dating back to 2006.

The e-mails, which are in a range of languages including Arabic and Russian, come from the ministries of presidential affairs, finance, information and foreign affairs, among others.

According to WikiLeaks, the e-mails "shine a light on the inner workings of the Syrian government and economy, but they also reveal how the West and Western companies say one thing and do another."

WikiLeaks, which facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information, has published about 250,000 confidential U.S. diplomatic cables, causing embarrassment to the government and others. It has also published hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents relating to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Its founder, Julian Assange, was arrested in Britain in 2010 over allegations of rape and sex crime charges in Sweden.

Two women have accused Assange of sexually assaulting them in August 2010 when he was visiting Sweden in connection with a WikiLeaks release of internal U.S. military documents.

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Filed under: Julian Assange • WikiLeaks
July 5th, 2012
07:42 AM ET

Thursday's live events

The race to the presidency now turns toward the general election in November.  CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

8:30 am ET (est.) - Air France crash report briefing - Three years after Air France Flight 447 plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 228 people aboard, French authorities will release their final report on the tragedy.

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama • Elections • France • On CNN.com today • Politics • World
July 5th, 2012
07:30 AM ET

A look back: Casey Anthony found not guilty of killing daughter one year ago

One year ago Thursday, Casey Anthony entered a courtroom in a pink ruffled shirt, her hair pulled back in a ponytail. She waited to learn whether a jury had found her guilty in the death of her daughter, Caylee.

The tension was palpable. The case had gripped the entire country, and emotions were flaring outside the courthouse. Inside, Anthony was biting her nails and her lower lip and taking deep breaths at the defense table.

Then came the words that would divide many: not guilty. Her trial was one that had gripped the nation. It was a summer obsession for many, who stayed glued to the TV from the moment Caylee went missing to the moment that verdict was read.

Casey Anthony's trial was a summer obsession  | Casey Anthony's trial is one hot ticket 

Anthony had been found not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter and of aggravated child abuse and aggravated manslaughter. The woman whose face was known around the world, who had been dubbed "tot mom," had her day in court.

HLN: The Casey Anthony Effect | Nancy Grace: Story 'didn't make sense' from start

 She wiped tears from her eyes, clutched her attorneys' hands and hugged them.

One year later, Anthony remains in hiding, fearful for her safety and her life. She says she's received numerous threats because people still believe she is guilty of the crime. But she continues to fight to convince them that she is not guilty, exactly the finding a jury decided 12 months ago. Anthony said the world may have one view of her, but she knows who she truly is.

"There’s obviously several misconceptions," Anthony told CNN's Piers Morgan in June. "Obviously, I didn’t kill my daughter."

Anthony told Morgan that she cherished her daughter and did not want to get rid of her, as many people had suggested during and after her trial.

"If anything there’s nothing in this world I’ve ever been more proud of, and there’s no one I loved more than my daughter," Anthony said. "She’s my greatest accomplishment."

As the anniversary nears, here is a look back at evidence and testimony, the verdict as it happened, analysis of the "historic decision" by the jury and some key video from the trial.

FULL POST

July 5th, 2012
04:42 AM ET

Verdict may come on young boy detained in Bahrain protests

A verdict may come Thursday in the case of a preteen who was arrested and accused of protesting in Bahrain, the boy's lawyer said.

Police arrested Ali Hasan on May 14 and accused him of participating in an "illegal gathering" with about a dozen others, according to the Bahrain International Affairs Authority, the Persian Gulf kingdom's information office.

At the time of his arrest, human rights groups said he was age 11. Authorities said he was 12.

Mohsin Al-Alawi, one of his attorneys, said he hopes the charges against the young boy will be dismissed.

"Ali is innocent and did not commit any criminal act," the lawyer said. "There is no proof to justify the entire case."

The arrest is part of a government crackdown on protesters in Bahrain.

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July 5th, 2012
04:39 AM ET

First NATO trucks move into Afghanistan from Pakistan after 7-month closure

Trucks carrying supplies to NATO troops crossed from Pakistan into Afghanistan for the first time in seven months on Thursday after Islamabad agreed to reopen routes, officials said.

The four trucks, under heavy security, crossed the border from Chaman in Pakistan's Balochistan province.

Because Afghanistan is landlocked, many supplies for NATO-led troops fighting Islamic militants there have to be trucked in from Pakistan.

On Tuesday, Islamabad decided to reopen the crucial supply routes shut down on November 27, a day after coalition forces mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani troops.

The incident plunged U.S.-Pakistan relations to an all-time low.

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Japan again getting electricity from nuclear energy
Kansai Electric Power's Ohi nuclear plant began generating electricity on Thursday.
July 5th, 2012
02:13 AM ET

Japan again getting electricity from nuclear energy

Japan was once again getting electricity from nuclear power on Thursday after two months as a nuclear-free nation.

Unit No. 3 at Kansai Electric Power Co. Ohi nuclear plant began generating power at 7 a.m., according to a report from broadcaster NHK.

The process of restarting the reactor had begun Sunday night.

The reactor will provide electricity to western Japan - which includes Osaka, Japan's second-biggest city.

Ohi's No. 4 reactor is scheduled to resume operations by July 24.

All 50 commercial nuclear reactors in Japan have been offline since May 5 for safety checks in the wake of the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami. The government has been conducting simulation tests for restarting its nuclear reactors in response to public concerns.

Before the March 2011 nuclear disaster, Japan had relied on nuclear energy for about 30% of its electricity needs, according to government figures.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Earthquake • Japan
July 5th, 2012
12:18 AM ET

South Korea says it may resume whaling, angering environment groups

South Korea is considering hunting whales in the waters off its shores for scientific purposes, drawing condemnation from environmental groups.

Citing calls from fishermen for a resumption of limited whaling, the head of the South Korean delegation to the International Whaling Commission, Kang Joon-suk, said Wednesday that Seoul was working on a proposal to hunt minke whales migrating off the Korean Peninsula.

Korean fishermen complain that the whales are disrupting their fishing activities and eating fish stocks, Kang said at the commission's annual meeting in Panama.

Nonlethal measures are not enough to assess the whales' numbers and feeding habits, he said.

But environmental organizations are skeptical about the South Korean explanation.

"We believe this move is a thinly veiled attempt by Korea to conduct commercial whaling under the guise of scientific research, similar to hunts conducted by Japan in the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary," said Wendy Elliott, head of WWF's delegation to the whaling commission.

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Filed under: Earth • Environment • South Korea • Whales • wildlife