January 23rd, 2013
10:55 PM ET

N.Korea plans nuclear test, rocket launch

North Korea said Thursday that it plans to carry out a new nuclear test and further long-range rocket launches, all of which it said are a part of a new phase of confrontation with the United States.

The North's National Defense Commission said the moves would feed into an "upcoming all-out action" that would target the United States, "the sworn enemy of the Korean people."

Carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, the defense commission statement followed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Tuesday that condemned North Korea's recent rocket launch and expanded existing sanctions.

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Filed under: Kim Jong Un • North Korea • World
January 23rd, 2013
08:40 PM ET

Drone strike kills six suspected militants in Yemen

A U.S. drone strike on a vehicle just outside the capital of Sanaa killed six suspected al-Qaeda militants Wednesday night, three Yemeni Defense Ministry officials told CNN.

The strike took place in Al-Masna'a village of Khawlan district, 35 kilometers southeast of the capital. Three of the killed were senior members of al Qaeda, two of whom were Saudi nationals, the officials said.

Security teams were deployed to the scene, one of the officials said.

The United States views Yemen as being on the front line of the war on al Qaeda. Yemen is adjacent to Saudi Arabia, and chaos in Yemen could disrupt oil supplies and upset world energy markets.

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Filed under: Uncategorized
January 23rd, 2013
08:02 PM ET

New Mexico governor takes aim at immigrant driver's licenses

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said Wednesday that she plans a new push to repeal the state law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.

Martinez, who has tried to get the law repealed twice before, described it as dangerous in a post on her official Facebook page.

"I am once again asking the legislature to repeal the law that gives driver's licenses to illegal immigrants," said Martinez, a Republican. "I am always willing to discuss this issue with legislators from both parties and explore ways to find common ground, but I believe the most effective solution is to simply repeal this dangerous law."

Her comments are the latest salvo in a nationwide debate over the controversial issue.

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Filed under: Immigration • New Mexico
January 23rd, 2013
07:48 PM ET

Five things we learned from the Benghazi hearings

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday took on Republican congressional critics of her department's handling of the deadly September terrorist attack in Libya.

Conservative GOP members challenged Clinton on the lack of security at the diplomatic compound in Benghazi as well as the erroneous account that the attack grew spontaneously from a protest over an anti-Islam film produced in the United States.

At two hearings, which together totaled more than five hours, Clinton acknowledged a "systemic breakdown" cited by an independent review of issues leading up to the armed assault and said her department was taking additional steps to increase security at U.S. diplomatic facilities.

Here are five things we learned from the hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees.

Click here to see the five things we learned from the hearings

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Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Libya • State Department
Shooting at Lone Star College
January 23rd, 2013
07:29 PM ET

'Stupidity' led to Texas shooting, sheriff says

The exact subject of the argument that led to a shooting a Houston-area community college hadn't been determined Wednesday, but Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia said he had a general idea of the cause.

"Idiocy. Stupidity," Garcia told reporters. "We had individuals who did not care about putting other people in harm's way. It was a ridiculous, adolescent confrontation that occurred. But if we can make an example out of anyone, we will."

Pressed for details, Garcia added, "We're still clearing that up. But a confrontation occurred, and somebody thought, in their peanut-sized brain, that maybe a firearm on a campus would be the way to settle it."

Garcia's blunt assessment came a day after three people were wounded at Lone Star College. One of those shot, 22-year-old Carlton Berry, has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault and remains under guard at a hospital, Garcia said. The other two were still hospitalized as well, he said.

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Filed under: Crime • Gun violence • Texas
Live blog: Clinton testifies before House on Benghazi attack
January 23rd, 2013
05:03 PM ET

Live blog: Clinton testifies before House on Benghazi attack

[Updated at 5:03 p.m. ET] And after three hours, the session is over. The panel's chairman, Rep. Edward Royce, R-California, ends the session by saying he's concerned whether the independent review board captured fully what happened in Benghazi.

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Pentagon to allow women in combat
The United States military is modifying its long-standing ban on women in combat roles.
January 23rd, 2013
03:24 PM ET

Pentagon to allow women in combat

The U.S. military is ending its policy of excluding women from combat, and will open combat jobs and direct combat units to female troops, CNN has learned. Multiple officials confirm to CNN that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make the announcement tomorrow, and notify Congress of the planned change in policy.

"We will eliminate the policy of 'no women in units that are tasked with direct combat, a senior defense official says.

But the officials caution that "not every position will open all at once on Thursday."

Once the policy is changed, Department of Defense will enter what is being called an "assessment phase," in which each branch of service will examine all of its jobs and units not currently integrated and then produce a timetable in which it can. The Army and Marine Corps, especially, will be examining physical standards and gender-neutral accommodations within combat units. Every 90 days, the service chiefs will have to report back on how they're doing.

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January 23rd, 2013
01:39 PM ET

House passes debt-ceiling relief bill

The House on Wednesday passed the "No Budget, No Pay Act," a Republican bill that would effectively defuse the debt ceiling threat for several months.

The bill would let the Treasury Department borrow new money until mid-May. In exchange, the legislation would require lawmakers in both chambers of Congress to pass a budget resolution or have their pay withheld until they do.

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Filed under: Politics
Live blog: Clinton testifies before Senate on Benghazi attack
Secretary of State Clinton appears before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.
January 23rd, 2013
12:13 PM ET

Live blog: Clinton testifies before Senate on Benghazi attack

[Updated 12:13 p.m. ET] CNN's chief Washington correspondent, Jake Tapper, says he wasn't surprised that Clinton became emotional when she recalled calling the families of the two State Department personnel who died in Benghazi Ambassador Chris Stevens and computer expert Sean Smith.

"A lot of diplomatic people, we don’t perceive hem in this country as necessarily putting their lives at risk we think, oh, they work for the State Department, their job is not as dangerous. And it’s not true," Tapper said. "And people like Secretary Clinton have now learned that firsthand. … The other point to take is, from sources close to her, this really did take a very, very, strong emotional toll on her. In addition to an exhausting job, I think probably it’s all part and parcel of the exhaustion we’ve seen that she’s been suffering.”

[Updated 12:05 p.m. ET] CNN's chief Washington correspondent, Jake Tapper, sums up the criticism that Clinton received from some Republicans on the Senate panel this morning:

"Republicans were focused on two areas of criticism. One, of course, (was) the fact that the administration specifically the United Nations Ambassador Dr. Susan Rice initially in the Sunday show appearances ... (gave the view that) this was not a terrorist attack, this was a spontaneous protest because of that anti-Islam video, which of course turns out not to have been the case.

"And a lot of senators Ron Johnson and John McCain especially focused on why were these talking points false. Specifically, Johnson said that Dr. Rice was purposefully misleading the American public. Dr. Rice, of course, has said she was not that she was merely using the talking points provided by the intelligence community, and that there was no effort to mislead. She was providing as much information as she knew at the time.

"The other area where there was significant criticism, of course, came from Sen. Rand Paul, who was talking about the lack of accountability how come nobody was fired? He said that if he had been president at the time ... he would have relieved Secretary Clinton of her job, specifically for not having read all of these cables from on the ground in Libya, of diplomatic personnel requesting more security in the months leading up to the attack."

[Updated 11:37 a.m. ET] This morning's hearing has concluded.

FULL POST

January 23rd, 2013
11:08 AM ET

35 killed in Iraq suicide bombing, police say

A suicide bombing at a funeral has killed dozens of people and wounded scores more including two senior Iraqi government officials in northern Iraq.

At least 35 people were killed in the bombing near a Shiite mosque in northern Iraq, police said. The attack occurred in the ethnically mixed town of Tuz Khurmatu, roughly 56 miles south of Kirkuk.

Among the injured is Ahmed Abdul-Wahed, deputy governor of Salaheddin province, a largely Sunni region in north central Iraq.

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Filed under: Iraq
Clinton's prepared remarks for congressional hearing on Libya
January 23rd, 2013
09:20 AM ET

Clinton's prepared remarks for congressional hearing on Libya

Here are Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's prepared remarks for a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday morning:

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, members of the Committee, thank you for this opportunity.

The terrorist attacks in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 that claimed the lives of four brave Americans - Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty - are part of a broader strategic challenge to the United States and our partners in North Africa. Today, I want to offer some context for this challenge and share what we’ve learned, how we are protecting our people, and where we can work together to honor our fallen colleagues and continue to champion America’s interests and values.

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Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Libya • State Department
January 23rd, 2013
07:47 AM ET

Wednesday's live events

President Obama will deliver his fourth State of the Union address before Congress on February 12.  Watch CNN.com Live for all your political coverage.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - Benghazi attack hearing - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on Capitol Hill today to discuss last year's attack of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.  She'll first appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee at 2:00 pm ET.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Libya • On CNN.com today • Politics • World
Photos: Mali military battles Islamist insurgents
January 23rd, 2013
07:22 AM ET

U.S. Air Force makes five flights into Mali

As of Wednesday morning, U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo jets have made five flights to Mali, delivering about 80 French troops and more than 124 tons of supplies to help in the fight against Islamist insurgents in the country, a Pentagon spokesman said.

The U.S. airlift began Monday and was expected to continue for several days, U.S. Africa Command spokesman Chuck Prichard told CNN.

"We continue to consult with the French on further steps that we may take as U.S. government to support their efforts in Mali," Pentagon press secretary George Little said Wednesday, according to a report from American Forces Press Service.

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Filed under: Mali • Military • U.S. Air Force
Cameron promises referendum on Britain's place in Europe
British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers his speech on the UK's relationship with the EU on January 23, 2013 in London.
January 23rd, 2013
04:49 AM ET

Cameron promises referendum on Britain's place in Europe

British Prime Minister David Cameron promised Wednesday that a referendum would be held on Britain's membership of the European Union, if his party wins the next election in 2015.

Cameron said the British people should have a choice about whether to remain in the EU on the basis of a renegotiated settlement - or to leave.

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Filed under: Politics • World
January 23rd, 2013
04:05 AM ET

A lot at stake for Jordan in an election of firsts

It's the 17th time Jordan has gone to the polls to elect a parliament since becoming a nation in 1946, but Wednesday's balloting is an election of firsts.

For the first time, the country has allowed observers. It's also the first time that an independent election commission will oversee the polling.

These deliberate steps at transparency are crucial for a country that's under a great deal of political strain - and whose stability has ramifications for the world outside its borders.

It is amidst this backdrop that most Jordanians went to the polls. Opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, boycotted it

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Filed under: Politics • World
January 23rd, 2013
03:43 AM ET

NRA chief: Obama makes 'mockery' of American freedoms

The National Rifle Association chief issued a blistering retort to President Barack Obama's inaugural address, accusing him of name calling and limiting American freedoms.

Wayne LaPierre had been relatively silent since his controversial response to the shooting massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

In a speech late Tuesday night, he hit upon that same theme as he took repeated shots at Obama and his inaugural speech Monday.

"President Barack Obama quoted the Declaration of Independence and he talked about 'unalienable rights.' I would argue that his words make a mockery of both," LaPierre said at the annual black-tie Weatherby International Hunting and Conservation Awards in Reno, Nevada.

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Filed under: Justice • Politics
Thai court sentences activist to 10 years in prison for insulting king
January 23rd, 2013
03:43 AM ET

Thai court sentences activist to 10 years in prison for insulting king

A Thai court on Wednesday sentenced a political activist to 10 years in prison for insulting the country's revered king, a decision that drew criticism from human rights groups and the European Union.

The Criminal Court in Bangkok ruled that Somyot Pruksakasemsuk had breached Thailand's strict lese majeste laws when a newspaper he edited, Voice of Thaksin, published two satirical articles that were found to be critical of the monarchy.

Somyot plans to appeal the court's decision, according to his lawyer, Karom Polpornklang.

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Filed under: Thailand