August 30th, 2012
10:21 PM ET

Isaac works its way up Mississippi River

[Updated 4:15 a.m. Friday] Isaac, now a tropical depression is working its way up the Mississippi River Valley, bringing heavy rain and the threat of flash floods to the area. A tornado watch remains in effect for much of Mississippi. Parts of Arkansas and Mississippi are under flash flood watches and warnings, according to the National Weather Service.

[Updated 10:35 p.m. ET] And finally ...

[Updated 10:21 p.m. ET] The folks who catch the shrimp we enjoy on our tables are a tough lot, a breed apart. Not a few of them rode out Isaac on their boats.

[Updated 10:09 p.m. ET] Electric utility Entergy says it will bring its Waterford 3 nuclear plant back online over the coming days. The plant, 25 miles from New Orleans, was shut down Tuesday as a precaution as Tropical Storm Isaac approached. About 41 percent of all homes in Entergy's Louisiana service area were without power as of late afternoon.

[Update 10:01 p.m. ET] Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport received its first post-Isaac incoming flight this evening, from Aspen, Colorado, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office says.

[Updated 9:54 p.m. ET] The Salvation Army says it has provided more than 8,000 meals, 7,000 drinks, 6,000 snacks, and emotional and spiritual care to nearly 600 individuals along the Gulf Coast during the storm period.

[Updated 9:44 p.m. ET] New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees tweeted a message of support for the folks back home while the Saints prepared for a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville:

[Updated 8:39 p.m.] Storm surge and high winds pushed several pleasure boats out of Mississippi's Pass Christian Harbor, leaving vessels high and dry on streets and in parking lots, CNN affiliate WLOX reports.

"I'd say in one word, it's a mess," Pass Christian Mayor Chipper McDermott told WLOX. "We had 215 boats in the harbor, and all but six or seven got out. As you can see, three are in the road, and that is a big problem."

Boat owners were under orders to remove their vessels from the harbor before the storm struck. McDermott wants to have a word with those who didn't.

"I'm personally taking it upon myself to talk with these boat owners," he said. "I'm personally doing it."

FULL POST

Read CNN's full coverage of Hurricane Isaac
August 30th, 2012
08:27 PM ET

Jury finds Florida teen guilty of impersonating a physician assistant

A Florida jury found a teenager guilty Thursday of impersonating a physician assistant and practicing medicine without a license.

Matthew Scheidt spent some two weeks posing as a professional at the Osceola Regional Medical Center in August 2011. He was just 17 at the time.

Scheidt told investigators he went to the hospital last year to get a badge for his job as a clerk at a doctor's office across the street. But he said someone botched the paperwork.

He was charged with two counts of impersonating a physician assistant and three counts of practicing medicine without a license. He was found guilty on four of the five counts, excluding one count of practicing medicine without a license.

Scheidt is scheduled to be sentenced on November 14. Each count carries a maximum of five years in prison.

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Tennis pro Andy Roddick to retire after U.S. Open
August 30th, 2012
08:20 PM ET

Tennis pro Andy Roddick to retire after U.S. Open

Tennis pro Andy Roddick will retire after the U.S. Open tournament, a spokesman for the International Tennis Federation said Thursday.

Roddick, who turned 30 years old on Thursday, will compete in the tourney and is the last American man to win the U.S. Open, in 2003.

"Andy has been an outstanding ambassador for our sport and our country, always carrying himself with the character and class that define a champion," said U.S. Tennis Association board chairman Jon Vegosen. "In addition to representing the U.S. on the world stage, he was a Davis Cup stalwart and standout."


Filed under: Sports • Tennis
Clinton embarks on wide-ranging Asia trip
August 30th, 2012
07:57 PM ET

Clinton embarks on wide-ranging Asia trip

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was heading to Asia on Thursday for a wide-ranging trip that will take her from the Cook Islands in the Pacific Ocean to China and Russia farther north.

The State Department says the week-and-a-half-long trip is intended to emphasize a strong, long-term U.S. focus on the entire Asia-Pacific region.

"It is a very long, very diverse trip, but the concurrent themes that run through this is a strong, determined effort on the part of the United States to underscore our rebalancing towards the Asia-Pacific region, to make clear that we're here to stay, that we are engaged on an array of issues - strategic, political, commercial," a senior State Department official told reporters ahead of the trip.

"It spans not just Asia, not just Northeast Asia but Southeast Asia and, increasingly, the Pacific," the official said.

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Family of Marine imprisoned in Iran plead for his release
August 30th, 2012
07:43 PM ET

Family of Marine imprisoned in Iran plead for his release

Relatives of a former U.S. Marine jailed in Iran for allegedly spying for the CIA say they are pleading with the leaders of the Islamic Republic to show mercy and set Amir Mirzaei Hekmati free.

"I just want to ask President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, these two are our only hope. These two can bring Amir home," pleaded Behnaz Hekmati, Amir's mother.

"We just want (him) to come home, I think one year is enough. If you want to punish us, if you want to punish Amir, for whatever reason he is there, just one year is enough. Please let him come home," his mother added.

With reluctance and much apprehension, the Hekmati family opened their home to CNN and sat down for an exclusive interview, their first since Hekmati was arrested on August 29, 2011.

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Hip hop manager Chris Lighty found dead
August 30th, 2012
07:40 PM ET

Hip hop manager Chris Lighty found dead

Chris Lighty, who managed several of hip hop's biggest artists, apparently shot himself to death in his Bronx, New York, apartment Thursday morning, a New York police spokesman said.

Lighty, 44, was found with a gunshot wound to his head and a semi-automatic firearm next to his body at 11:30 a.m., the police spokesman said.

While the death appears to be a suicide, police investigators will wait until the medical examiner's report before closing their investigation, the spokesman said.

Lighty founded Violator Records & Management, which counts Mariah Carey, Soulja Boy, 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, and Diddy among their artist.

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August 30th, 2012
07:38 PM ET

Justice Department won't prosecute CIA interrogators in two prisoner deaths

The Justice Department on Thursday closed its criminal investigation of the deaths of two prisoners in CIA custody, ending a controversial investigation that Attorney General Eric Holder had approved more than a year ago.

The investigation, conducted by veteran Justice prosecutor John Durham, examined alleged CIA interrogation abuses in connection with prisoner deaths at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003 and at a secret prison in Afghanistan in 2002.

If the probe had led to criminal charges against CIA officers or contractors, it could have ignited a firestorm of objections by Republican lawmakers and the national security community.

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August 30th, 2012
07:36 PM ET

Grandmother pleads guilty in New York drug ring case

A little grandmother has pleaded guilty for her role in a big New York drug ring.

Doris Smith, 71, was arrested in February with 34 other defendants in a drug ring bust in Harlem, according to an indictment from the New York County District Attorney's Office. She was charged with conspiracy, criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal sale of a controlled substance.

She pleaded guilty to the two felony counts of conspiracy and criminal possession Wednesday, according to court documents.

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Allegations of widespread cheating in government class probed at Harvard
August 30th, 2012
07:29 PM ET

Allegations of widespread cheating in government class probed at Harvard

Harvard University is investigating allegations that almost half the students in an undergraduate class last spring may have plagiarized or "inappropriately collaborated" on their final exams, the school announced Thursday.

Following an initial investigation, Harvard's administrative board, which enforces academic regulations, undertook "a comprehensive review of the more than 250 take-home final exams" submitted at the end of a course, the school said in a statement.

The Harvard Crimson, the school's flagship student-run newspaper, identified the class in which the cheating allegedly occurred as Government 1310: Introduction to Congress.

A document on the website of Harvard's registrar's office says the class had 279 students.

"We take academic integrity very seriously because it goes to the heart of our educational mission," said Michael D. Smith, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, in a written statement.

FULL POST

August 30th, 2012
07:25 PM ET

New Jersey man charged with sexually abusing sleeping woman on plane

A New Jersey man was indicted Thursday for allegedly sexually abusing a woman who was asleep on an airplane, the U.S. District Attorney's Office said.

Bawer Aksal was detained on August 21 upon his arrival in Newark, New Jersey. According to the indictment, he was seated next to a woman in a window seat on a United Airlines flight from Phoenix to Newark.

"While the plane was in the air, the woman - who did not know Aksal - fell asleep with a jacket across her legs. She awoke to find Aksal's hands inside her shirt and shorts as he asked her to kiss him," according to a news release from the District Attorney's Office in New Jersey.

The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over all sexual abuse cases that occur on American airplane flights, as such events are outside the jurisdiction of any state. If convicted, Aksal faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine, the news release said.

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August 30th, 2012
03:05 PM ET

Comments: 'Who at this stage hasn't figured out who they want to vote for?'

Editor's note: We're listening to you. Every day, we spot thought-provoking comments from readers. Here are some comments from Thursday.

As the Republican National Convention nears its end in Tampa, Florida, readers are buzzing about politics. Conversation about Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential candidate, has been dominating the site after his prime-time speech Wednesday night. Readers talked about what impact Ryan might have on undecided voters and speculated about how many people are having trouble making a decision.

Ryan's speech gives undecided voters mild nudge toward Romney

Many readers opposed Ryan's speech, questioning some of his comments, while others said listeners should give the candidates a chance. CNN published a fact check about a portion of the presentation afterward.

Cedric: "In other words, Ryan's speech full of outright lies failed to move the needle. It is easy to deliver a good speech when you can make up the facts to support your narrative."

jp2123: "I don't understand why people don't even try to listen to the points the candidates make. Just because they are not Democrats? Seriously, I'm independent, leaning toward (Mitt) Romney after listening to some of the speeches (even though I'm waiting for Romney's speech). But people complaining about Romney cutting taxes for the wealthy and increasing taxes on the middle class? When did he say this? I have yet to hear them say, or have any indication that that's what he is planning on doing. Wish people were more concerned about the candidates and the issues than on the political parties. Take it as it is, and stop judging someone just because the ones that came before him did something. Listen to both candidates, and their ideology and their idea of America. And vote for who represents you the best, not based on the media or popularity. I think the scariest thing is that I know so many young and adult people who will vote for (President Barack) Obama without taking a look at Romney just because Obama is the popular one, and is painted in the media as the good guy and Republicans as the bad guys."

Is anyone even undecided at this point?

Hyco: "Undecided voters? Really? Who at this stage hasn't figured out who they want to vote for? They either care nothing about the election or have an IQ around 75 and have problems deciding which hand is best to eat with."

Some readers took jabs at teleprompter usage during the convention.

Spikel1: "It's funny for all the talk of Obama's teleprompters, they've been getting much usage at the convention."

Mara Tam: "Amen! So far no media types mentioned this. All of them using them evil machines!"

killingly: "Well the orator in chief shouldn't need them by now."

Do you vote for a particular candidate or simply against another? FULL POST

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Jerry Sandusky brick removed from State College walkway
The brick bearing Jerry Sandusky's was removed on Thursday after photos posted online sparked complaints.
August 30th, 2012
03:05 PM ET

Jerry Sandusky brick removed from State College walkway

A brick bearing Jerry Sandusky's name and that of his Second Mile charity has been removed from a walkway in downtown State College, Pennsylvania.

The brick is one of nearly 3,000 along Centennial Walkway in the downtown part of campus. The bricks bear the names of many notable figures from Penn State, including former President Graham Spanier and his wife as well as other alumni.

The Sandusky brick had gone mostly unnoticed as students passed through McAllister Alley, not far from the school's Old Main building, until it was noticed on Wednesday by the student-run independent Penn State blog Onward State and photographed by others, including a CNN journalist in State College.

The photo prompted calls for it to be pulled up, considering the school had torn down a statue of legendary former coach Joe Paterno in the wake of a scandal that has left Sandusky jailed for sexually abusing 10 boys over a period of 15 years. The school had no authority to remove the brick, many mentioned, since it wasn't on Penn State property.

Pat Daugherty, owner of the Tavern, a restaurant located along the walkway, said he received a call from State College Borough Manager Thomas J. Fountaine II on Thursday morning saying he had received calls after the photos circulated online.

"We honestly were not aware the brick was there until a day or two ago," Fountaine said.

He said it took a couple days to figure out whether officials could remove the brick, because ownership of the pedestrian walkway was unclear, but it wasn't specifically borough property.

That's when Fountaine called Daughterty, who offered to remove the brick.

"There was some vandalism that was occurring as well," Fountaine said. "Because of that and other issues, we thought it was appropriate to remove it."

Daugherty said he would probably return the brick to the borough because somebody had probably paid to have it put there during the school's centennial celebration.

August 30th, 2012
11:48 AM ET

Buzz ramps up over SEAL's bin Laden book

It’s already No. 1 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

Like little kids with the latest Harry Potter sequel, Washington and the rest of the world will be eagerly thumbing through “No Easy Day” when it hits bookshelves Tuesday. The memoir of a Navy SEAL who helped kill Osama bin Laden in May 2011 purports to tell the full story of how the globe’s most-wanted terrorist met his end.

Mentions of the book's author spiked on Twitter on Thursday morning, as did the term "Navy SEAL book." About 4,500 mentions were made by mid-morning. The book was mentioned more than 8,000 times on August 22, when news broke of its release.

Carl Carver tweeted, "This sort of thing is NOT healing relations in Middle East, predicted as the starting point of WWIII !"

"It seems like once a year since I graduated college I get super excited for a book release, this year No Easy Day by Mark Owen is that book," Drake Stahr tweeted.

The RangerUp fan page on Facebook, a popular spot for military folks, had a range of comments.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Alaska • Navy SEALs • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • September 11 • Taliban • Terrorism • U.S. • War • World
Almost 1 million without power from Isaac
August 30th, 2012
07:20 AM ET

Almost 1 million without power from Isaac

Nearly a million customers were without electricity because of Isaac on Thursday morning. Power providers say at least 948,564 customers are without electricity across Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

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Filed under: Hurricane Isaac • Hurricanes • Tropical weather • Weather