September 17th, 2012
12:52 PM ET

Giant panda at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo gives birth

A 14-year-old gave birth Sunday night, and Monday was on her way to becoming a reality TV star.

The teenager is Mei Xiang, the female giant panda at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. It was her second successful pregnancy with 15-year-old Tian Tian, the zoo's male giant panda, in seven years.

"We are thrilled that Mei Xiang had a successful pregnancy since 2005," said Dennis Kelly, the zoo's director. "I'm cautiously optimistic as we haven't seen the cub yet, but we know that Mei is a good mother. Like everyone else, I‚Äôm glued to the panda cam for my first glimpse of the cub!‚ÄĚ

Kelly isn't the only one watching the "panda cam" that monitors the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat. So many people are trying to get a glimpse of the new cub that the streaming video online is getting jammed. You can try to access the view here or from the zoo's website. MTV and TLC, take notice.

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Filed under: Animals • China • District of Columbia
September 17th, 2012
12:14 PM ET

Officials: Tainted sugar sold in Dominican grocery stores

(CNN) - Dominican authorities have warned consumers not to eat a brand of sugar imported from Brazil after tests found that it was tainted.

The sugar came from a 14,000-metric-ton shipment that has been on the market since July and is "not suitable for domestic consumption," the Dominican Republic's consumer protection agency said.

The Canaria brand sugar was imported from Brazil by the Casa Chepe company, the agency said in a statement posted on its Facebook page Sunday. Representatives from the company could not be immediately reached for comment.

The Dominican Republic's health ministry has ordered a recall of the refined white sugar, and the local company agreed to pull it from shelves, the consumer agency said.

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Sandusky could be sentenced on October 9
Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky leaves court in handcuffs after his conviction.
September 17th, 2012
11:39 AM ET

Sandusky could be sentenced on October 9

Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky may be sentenced on October 9 after a hearing to determine if he's a sexually violent predator, according to court documents.

After a three-week trial featuring emotional and often graphic testimony from eight of the former Penn State assistant football coach's victims, a 12-person jury convicted him on 45 of 48 counts. There were convictions related to all 10 victims alleged by prosecutors, with the three not-guilty verdicts applying to three individuals.

The verdict prompted people in central Pennsylvania to breathe a sigh of relief, believing a man many called a "monster" would pay the price for his crimes and their impact on his victims, as well as the Penn State community.

Jurors did hear from eight young men who testified that as boys, Sandusky forced them to engage in sexual acts in showers in Penn State's athletics facilities, hotel rooms, the basement of his home and other places. The abuse spanned at least 15 years.

More on the Penn State scandal:

Forging a new meaning for the rally cry 'We Are...Penn State' 

Penn State scandal: Where things stand 

'Victim 1' sues Penn State over Sandusky abuse 

Jerry Sandusky brick removed from State College walkway 

Penn State to give back trophies because of NCAA sanctions 

Reaction to the Sandusky verdict 

Penn State alum: 'We are more than this tragedy' 

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Filed under: Jerry Sandusky • Penn State
William and Kate visit Far East
September 17th, 2012
11:21 AM ET

Angry royals take Kate's topless photo battle to court

More topless photos of Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, spilled into public view Monday as Britain's royal family planned to ask a French court to stop further publication of the pictures.

The legal battle raged while the duchess and her husband, Prince William, carried on with an official tour of the South Pacific, including meetings with Solomon Islanders - some of them topless.

The new photos were published Monday by the Italian gossip magazine Chi, which is owned by the same company that last week published several pictures of a topless Catherine sunbathing in private during a vacation at a private chateau belonging to William's uncle in Provence, in southern France.

The grainy images, shot from a distance, show Catherine on a balcony and appear to be no more revealing than those published last week by the French magazine Closer, the Guardian newspaper reported.

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Filed under: Diamond Jubilee • France • Italy • Kate Middleton • Prince William • Royal family • United Kingdom
Chicago teachers strike
September 17th, 2012
11:18 AM ET

Chicago schools go to court to end strike

Chicago school officials sought a court order to end the teacher strike that entered its sixth school day on Monday.

The move comes after teachers union representatives decided Sunday not to end a week-long walkout - despite a tentative contract deal reached by union leaders and school officials.

The move left Mayor Rahm Emanuel vowing to go to court to force teachers back to work, calling Sunday's actions by the union "a delay of choice that is wrong for our children."

Emanuel contended Sunday that the strike is illegal because "it is over issues that are deemed by state law to be nonstrikable, and it endangers the health and safety of our children."

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September 17th, 2012
10:48 AM ET

Floods in northern Cameroon kill nearly 30 people

Flooding in Cameroon's Far North Region has killed nearly 30 people and affected more than 26,000 others, officials said Monday.

More than 4,000 people in the Logone and Shari division were displaced, and more than 22,000 people in the region of Maga, Mayo-Danay division, also have been affected.

Communication Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary described the flooding as "a calamity," and he called for urgent action to save lives, livestock and property. Dana FM, a local radio station, said the death toll will grow as bodies are collected and identified. For the past few weeks, there has been no sign of the flood easing.

The floodwaters have submerged areas like Benoue, Faro, Louti and Mayo. Homes, crops and barns have been destroyed and herds of livestock killed. Heavy rainfall that has lasted nearly a month has fractured the Lagdo Dam, causing the Benoe River to flood nearby villages.

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Filed under: Africa • Cameroon • Flooding • Weather
Death Valley officially hottest place on Earth
Death Valley, California, recorded a temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit on July 10, 1913.
September 17th, 2012
10:42 AM ET

Death Valley officially hottest place on Earth

In a year that has seen the United States record its hottest month ever comes word that the country now owns the title of the hottest air temperature recorded on Earth.

The World Meteorological Organization, the weather and climate agency of the United Nations, has recognized Death Valley, California, as the place where the planet has seen its hottest day ever, July 10, 1913, when it reached 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.7 degrees Celsius).

Death Valley was able to lay claim to the title when the U.N. agency invalidated the previous record, 136.4 degrees F (58 degrees C), that was recorded at El Azizia, Libya, on September 13, 1922.

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Filed under: California • Heat • Libya • Weather
150 years since America's bloodiest day
Confederate infantry re-enactors re-create the Battle of Bloody Lane on Saturday in Sharpsburg, Maryland.
September 17th, 2012
08:34 AM ET

150 years since America's bloodiest day

Monday marks 150 years since the bloodiest day in U.S. history, the Civil War Battle of Antietam in Maryland, which left almost 23,000 Union and Confederate soldiers dead, wounded, missing or captured.

While Union forces suffered a heavier casualty toll 12, 400 Union to 10, 300 Confederate casualties and military historians consider the battle a draw, President Abraham Lincoln called it a Union victory and said it showed that the Union army could enforce orders coming out of Washington. Five days later, Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. When it went into effect on January 1, 1863, it freed slaves in the rebellious Confederate states and made the abolition of slavery an official U.S. policy.  Read the original Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation from the National Archives here.

"Antietam enabled Lincoln to identify the nation's cause with the cause of liberty for men and women everywhere and at all times, and had it not occurred, it is quite possible that America never would have become the beacon of freedom the world now recognizes," The Baltimore Sun writes in an editorial Monday.

The Battle of Antietam was brutal and up close for the 131,000 troops engaged, 87,000 on the Union side and 45,000 for the Confederacy. In the part of the battlefield known as the Sunken Road, so much blood was spilled that dirt turned to mud, so much so that the road was later given the name Bloody Lane.

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Filed under: Civil War • History
Chicago teachers strike
September 17th, 2012
05:13 AM ET

Q&A: What's behind the Chicago teachers' strike?

The Chicago teachers strike drags into a second week, after a representative group of the Chicago Teachers Union decided over the weekend not to end the walkout even though union leaders and school officials had reached a tentative contract deal.

The strike in the third-largest school system in the country is affecting more than 350,000 children.

A quick primer:

Q. What's the sticking point?

A. Among the major issues, the teachers are negotiating over the length of the school day, objecting to their evaluations being tied to performance and fretting about potential job losses.

Q. How would the length of school days change?

A. Elementary students would gain 75 minutes to create a seven-hour school day. High school students would gain 30 minutes to create a seven-and-a-half-hour school day. Teachers wants additional money to teach the additional hours.

Q. Why are teachers objecting to evaluations tied to performance?

A. The union says student performance is directly linked to conditions in the home or neighborhood, making it unfair for teachers to be punished if students don't do well in the the classroom for those reasons.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics • U.S.
Anti-Japan protests sweep China
September 17th, 2012
04:29 AM ET

Fallout widens from island dispute between China, Japan

The widening fallout from an increasingly volatile territorial dispute between China and Japan prompted a Japanese company to halt work at plants in China on Monday, and the United States to urge the two sides to avoid letting the situation spiral out of control.

The electronics company Panasonic said Monday that it was suspending operations at three plants in China after two of them were damaged amid violent anti-Japanese protests set off by the clash between Beijing and Tokyo over a group of small islands in the East China Sea.

Japan calls the islands Senkaku; China calls them Diaoyu.

The United States, a key military ally of Japan, has called on the two sides to find a peaceful resolution to the disagreement, which is generating more and more unease in the region and starting to hurt economic links between the world's second and third largest economies.

"It's in everybody's interest for Japan and China to maintain good relations and to find a way to avoid further escalation," U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday at a joint new conference in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart, Satoshi Morimoto.

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Filed under: China • Japan
September 17th, 2012
12:52 AM ET

Retired firefighter goes missing from Amtrak train

Amtrak police are searching for a retired San Francisco firefighter who went missing while traveling to visit family in Montreal.

Charlie Dowd, 69, left the Bay Area on Wednesday. He last spoke to his son by cell phone Thursday night, saying he was just outside of Denver, Colorado, his family said.

When Dowd's train arrived in Chicago on Friday, he was not on it. His luggage, cell phone, and wallet were found in his sleeping car, the family said on a Facebook page they set up to find him.

His daughter said Dowd is under a doctor's care and may need medical attention.

"He has medical needs and does need his medication for high blood pressure and heart disease," Jennifer Dowd told CNN affiliate KGO. "He is diabetic, but for medical reasons we obviously want him - we need to know where he is."

An Amtrak conductor may have spoken with Dowd early Friday near Omaha, Nebraska, one of the stops along the route, the family said.

Dowd was confused about his whereabouts and believed he was in an apartment, not on a train, and needed to find the front door, the family said.

Amtrak is investigating the possibility that Dowd got off the train during the night and may have gotten disoriented, and then didn't get back on, the family said.

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Filed under: U.S.