White House to some members of Congress: Expect Hagel nomination
Chuck Hagel represented Nebraska in the U.S. Senate from 1997 until January 3, 2009, when he retired.
January 4th, 2013
05:31 PM ET

White House to some members of Congress: Expect Hagel nomination

A Republican and former U.S. Senator from Nebraska is expected to be nominated for secretary of defense, sources tell CNN.

The White House has told some senior members of Congress to expect President Obama to nominate Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, according to a knowledgeable source. Another source with knowledge of the nomination called it "locked down."

The timing is uncertain, but other sources have told CNN it could come early next week.

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Pharmacy: Cleaners should share blame for meningitis outbreak
Bottles containing injectable steroids distributed by the New England Compounding Center, suspected in a meningitis outbreak.
January 4th, 2013
03:49 PM ET

Pharmacy: Cleaners should share blame for meningitis outbreak

A Massachusetts pharmacy linked to a meningitis outbreak says its cleaning contractor should share blame for an apparent mishap that left dozens dead nationwide.

The New England Compounding Center sent a letter to UniFirst Corp. demanding it share responsibility for a tainted steroid used to treat pain and inflammation, according to a filing this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company said that it "seeks to establish a fund to compensate individuals and families affected" by the outbreak, which has been linked to 39 fatalities among the 656 cases tallied in 19 states.

Patients contracted fungal meningitis after their spines were injected with a contaminated steroid called methylprednisolone acetate, health officials have said. According to health agencies, the compounding center did not follow proper sterilization procedures and distributed its products without knowing whether they had passed sterility tests.

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Filed under: Health • Massachusetts
Small plane crashes into Florida house
This image from CNN affiliate Central Florida News 13 shows the house into which the plane crashed Friday.
January 4th, 2013
03:40 PM ET

Small plane crashes into Florida house

A small plane carrying at least three people crashed into a home in eastern Florida on Friday after reporting a mechanical problem, officials said.

The Beechcraft BE35 aircraft was en route to Knoxville Downtown Island Airport in Tennessee, said Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Atlanta.

The plane was diverting to Flagler County Airport, near the coast about 30 miles north of Daytona Beach, when it crashed a mile east of the airport and into a house, Bergen said. There was no immediate information on injuries.

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Filed under: Air travel • FAA • Florida
Obama's re-election is made official
Vice President Joe Biden read the results during a joint legislative session on Friday afternoon in Washington.
January 4th, 2013
03:08 PM ET

Obama's re-election is made official

Remember that presidential election we had two months ago? The electoral college has followed through.

Lawmakers on Friday counted the electoral college's votes on Friday, and the results were as expected: 332 votes for Obama and his running mate, Vice President Joe Biden; and 206 votes for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Biden, in his role as the Senate's president, read the results of the electoral college's votes actually taken in December, more than a month after Election Day in a joint legislative session in the U.S. House.

While Obama awaits his January 21 inauguration, he'll be making new picks for his cabinet. High-profile vacancies are expected to include secretary of state, secretary of defense and treasury secretary.

Big cabinet decisions loom as Obama vacations

Obama’s cabinet: Who’s in, who’s out?

Obama, GOP lay out hard lines for tough talks ahead

January 4th, 2013
02:42 PM ET

Congress passes scaled-back Sandy aid bill

[Updated at 2:43 p.m.] After days of controversy surrounding a canceled vote on a Superstorm Sandy aid package, the new Congress has approved part of the plan.

The U.S. House on Friday approved a $9.7 billion Superstorm Sandy aid package, 354-67, and the Senate gave its own approval, unanimously and without debate, in the afternoon.

Lawmakers from both houses will weigh in on $51 billion in additional Sandy aid on January 15, but that larger portion will likely face much closer scrutiny in a Congress anticipating more acrimony over spending and debt.

Frustrated victims of the massive October storm in the Northeast watched this week as a vote on a $60 billion measure was canceled just before the previous Congress wrapped up its work. Politicians from hard-hit New York and New Jersey blasted House GOP leadership for canceling the vote, until House Speaker John Boehner promised to hold the new votes this week and January 15.

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Lawmaker: New congressional makeup good for Violence Against Women Act
U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore speaks at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
January 4th, 2013
12:41 PM ET

Lawmaker: New congressional makeup good for Violence Against Women Act

A representative disappointed that the old Congress didn’t renew the Violence Against Women Act before disbanding says she’s hopeful that the new Congress with more female and Democrat members will get it done.

“There are more women (two) in the Senate. There’s a greater number of Democrats (eight) in the House (than last Congress). We’re going to keep working at this,” U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wisconsin, told “CNN Newsroom” on Friday morning. “We just cannot have the male-dominated House of Representatives stop support and help and protection for women.”

The Democratic-controlled Senate had voted to renew the act with an addition: giving tribal authorities new power to prosecute offenses by non-Indians on tribal lands. The Republican-controlled House passed a bill without this power. Talks to reconcile the versions failed, and lawmakers will have to start over in the 113th Congress, which began Thursday.

Only six Democrats supported the House version that omitted the new tribal authority.

“It’s a shame we’re at this point, because … this bill had some very, very hard times getting through the Senate committee structure,” Moore said.

More on the Violence Against Women Act

Sen. Patty Murray: House GOP failed women

Meet the 113th Congress: More diverse than ever

Politics in 2013: 5 things to watch for

Sen. Crapo pleads guilty to DUI charge
January 4th, 2013
11:13 AM ET

Sen. Crapo pleads guilty to DUI charge

It’s a new year, a new Congress, and a new driving ban for U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo.

The Idaho Republican, arrested in December on suspicion of drunken driving in Virginia, pleaded guilty Friday to the charges, which came with a $250 fine and a year-long suspension of his driver's license.

A 180-day jail sentence was suspended on condition of good behavior. His guilty plea came a day after the 113th Congress was sworn in.

Crapo, re-elected in 2010 with 71% of the vote, was arrested at 12:45 a.m. ET on December 23 in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, after a police officer noticed his vehicle running a red light. Alexandria police said Crapo's blood alcohol level was .110 at the time of his arrest.

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Filed under: Congress • Courts • Crime • Idaho • Politics
France's Brigitte Bardot might want Russian citizenship, too
This February 2001 file photo shows animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot in Romania.
January 4th, 2013
10:38 AM ET

France's Brigitte Bardot might want Russian citizenship, too

First it was Gerard Depardieu. Now another famed French movie star, Brigitte Bardot, might be interested in Russian citizenship.

The 78-year-old Bardot, an animal rights campaigner, will request Russian nationality Friday if plans to euthanize two elephants at a zoo in the French city of Lyon go ahead, her foundation said.

She has asked French President Francois Hollande to intervene on behalf of the elephants, who are believed to have tuberculosis. She told French newspaper Le Parisien that the former circus elephants could be helped with the right veterinary care and that her foundation could help find them a more suitable place to live.

This comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin gave Russian citizenship to Depardieu, who was angry about French plans to raise taxes.

FULL STORY
January 4th, 2013
09:20 AM ET

Images taken out of context in rape case, defense attorney contends

Images and messages posted to social media that appear to depict the sexual abuse of a girl in Steubenville, Ohio, have been taken out of context, the attorney for one of the teenagers charged in the incident said Friday.

"One of the main concerns we have is that this matter has been, by special interest groups all over the world, tried in the court of public opinion," said Walter Madison, the attorney for defendant Ma'lik Richmond.

Richmond and another 16-year-old member of the town's highly regarded football team, Trent Mays, are charged with raping the girl at a series of back-to-school parties in August.

The case gained national attention after The New York Times reported on it in December and an activist hacker group this week posted a previously unpublicized video of teenagers in the small Ohio River valley town cracking jokes about the case.

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Filed under: Ohio
January 4th, 2013
09:00 AM ET

U.S. economy adds 155,000 jobs

December was a somewhat positive month for U.S. jobs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

The U.S. economy added 155,000 jobs in December, roughly enough to keep pace with labor force growth, keeping the unemployment rate at 7.8% unchanged from November's revised rate, the bureau said Friday morning. Health care was the sector with the greatest jump, with 45,000 jobs added.

The gain is slightly above the average monthly gain for 2012 and 2011, which was 153,000 per month, the bureau says.

As you mull these numbers, here's something to consider: They include those you might call the hopelessly unemployed, those who say they want a job but haven't searched for one in at least a year. CNNMoney reports that number is above 3.3 million, higher than the 2.5 million recorded five years ago, before a recession began. Who are they, and why have they given up? Check out this report from CNNMoney's Annalyn Kurtz.

See Bureau of Labor Statistics report on December jobs

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Filed under: Economy • Jobs
January 4th, 2013
04:39 AM ET

Pakistani girl Malala released from hospital

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot in the head for campaigning for girls' education, has been released from the hospital in Birmingham, England, the hospital said Friday.

The teen will continue undergoing rehabilitation at her temporary home in the United Kingdom.

Malala was shot by gunmen last fall. She had blogged fearlessly about girls' education and accused the Taliban of thriving on ignorance.

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Her journey from near-death to recovery

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Filed under: England • Pakistan • World