February 5th, 2013
09:35 PM ET

5 dead after powerful quake strikes in South Pacific

[Posted at 9:35 p.m. ET] An 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific on Wednesday, triggering a tsunami that killed five people but didn't threaten the wider region.

Four elderly people and one child died after the roughly 1-meter (3-feet) high wave hit the Santa Cruz Islands, an eastern region of the Solomon Islands, said Augustine Bilve, a director at a hospital in Lata, the main town in the area.

The strong waves appeared to have caused damage and disruption at the local airport and nearby villages.

Bilve said that some patients were being relocated, but the hospital was intact.

Read the latest details on the story here

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Filed under: Uncategorized
February 5th, 2013
07:14 PM ET

Yuma students released following report of gun, lockdown

[Posted at 7:14 p.m. ET] No gun was found, no injuries were reported and no arrests were made after police were told of a possible sighting of a student with a gun at a Yuma, Arizona, elementary school, CNN affiliate KYMA reported.

Two elementary schools and some preschools were put on lockdown Tuesday morning because of the possible sighting. Students were sent home by the afternoon, though some of them were first bused to a Yuma elementary school that hadn't been locked down, KYMA reported.

[Posted at 1:51 p.m. ET] Three schools in the Yuma, Arizona, area have been put on lockdown as a precautionary measure because of a possible sighting of a student with a gun, the Yuma Police Department said.

Officers are investigating reports that a student might have been seen with a gun this morning at Yuma's Rancho Viejo Elementary School, police said.

That school, plus nearby Salida Del Sol Elementary School and a preschool, have been locked down, according to the department.

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Filed under: Arizona • Education
February 5th, 2013
06:04 PM ET

France to start pulling troops from Mali in March

France expects to begin pulling its troops out of Mali in March, the French foreign minister told the Metro newspaper for a story published today.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said troops will continue operations in northern Mali, where he said "some terrorist havens remain."

At Mali's request, France launched an offensive last month against militants in its former colony. The ground and air campaign has sent Islamist fighters who had seized the northern region fleeing into the vast desert.

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Filed under: France • Mali
February 5th, 2013
05:44 PM ET

Pentagon expected to expand benefits to same-sex spouses

Same-sex spouses of U.S. service members could soon be granted some benefits that they had been denied until now.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is expected to announce this week that service members' same-sex spouses will receive some of those benefits, according to an Obama administration official.

The Pentagon has been reviewing what benefits it could extend without violating the Defense of Marriage Act. Gay rights groups have been calling for the change. Among the benefits gay rights groups say can be legally extended are housing on military bases, military ID cards to access on-base activities and programs, access to commissaries and the consideration of a same-sex spouse and family in duty assignments.

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Filed under: Gay and lesbian • Military • Pentagon • Same-sex marriage
February 5th, 2013
03:27 PM ET

UK lawmakers approve same-sex marriage in first vote

[Updated at 3:27 p.m. ET] A little clarification: The bill would, as drafted, enable religious organizations in the United Kingdom to conduct same-sex marriages if they wish.

[Updated at 3:14 p.m. ET] More details on the vote on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom: The second reading of the bill passed in a 400-175 vote Tuesday.

The bill will be up for further debate in the House of Commons, and it still would need to go though other stages, including another vote in the House of Commons and approval in the House of Lords, before it can become law.

[Updated at 2:35 p.m. ET] The UK House of Commons has passed a bill to introduce same-sex marriage in the country.

The legislation still must go through several more stages, including approval in the House of Lords, before it can become law.

[Posted at 9:23 a.m. ET] UK lawmakers are to vote on a bill to introduce same-sex marriage Tuesday, an issue that has prompted widespread rebellion within Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party.

Three top party members appealed to Conservative MPs to get behind the controversial legislation in a letter published in the Telegraph newspaper Tuesday.

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Lance Armstrong's rise and fall
February 5th, 2013
02:42 PM ET

No charges planned against Lance Armstrong, U.S. attorney says

The U.S. attorney who initially decided against pursuing charges against cyclist Lance Armstrong said Tuesday he has not changed his mind, despite Armstrong's recent admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

"That has not changed my view at this time. Obviously we'll consider, we'll continue to look at the situation, but it hasn't changed our view as I stand here today," Andre Birotte, the U.S. attorney for Los Angeles, told reporters at the Justice Department in Washington.

Armstrong admits doping in Oprah interview

Lawyer: Armstrong open to 'truth and reconciliation' commission, not USADA

7 lessons Armstrong's confession has taught us

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Filed under: Cycling • Lance Armstrong • Sports
February 5th, 2013
01:30 PM ET

Obama calls for short-term fix to imminent spending cuts

[Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama says that if Congress can't come up with a long-term deficit reduction package by March 1, Congress should pass a smaller, short-term package to avoid the deep automatic spending cuts that otherwise would take effect that day.

The imminent spending cuts known as sequestration were part of a 2011 debt ceiling deal.

In his comments moments ago at the White House, Obama said his past proposal a mix of spending cuts, entitlement reforms and increased revenue remain on table. He says this mix, rather than spending cuts alone, is the most sensible option.

Choosing only to cut spending, Obama said, would "cost us jobs and slow down our recovery."

[Initial post, 12:03 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama today will call for a short-term agreement to put off deep cuts to government spending set to take effect next month, a senior administration official has confirmed to CNN.

The president will make a statement to reporters at 1:15 p.m. ET that urges Congress to pass a measure that would put off the imminent spending cuts known as sequestration that were part of a 2011 debt ceiling deal, the official said.

A White House official, also on condition of not being identified, issued a statement that said Obama will call for a balanced approach which is code for including additional revenue with spending cuts to "avoid the deep, indiscriminate cuts to domestic and defense programs slated to take effect in just over three weeks."

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Filed under: Politics
Ski champion Vonn tore MCL and ACL, suffered fracture in race
Lindsey Vonn is airlifted after she crashed during the Alpine Ski Wold Championships in Schladming, Austria, on Tuesday.
February 5th, 2013
01:13 PM ET

Ski champion Vonn tore MCL and ACL, suffered fracture in race

[Update 1:13 p.m. ET] Still more details about Lindsey Vonn's serious knee injury today at the Alpine Ski World Championships: She suffered a torn ACL and MCL in her right knee, and also fractured her lateral tibial plateau, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association said.

The tibial plateau is the top of the shinbone, at the knee joint.

The 2010 Olympic downhill gold medalist "will be out for the remainder of this season but is expected to return to racing for the 2013-14 Audi FIS World Cup season and the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi," the association said.

[Update 12:54 p.m. ET] New details about Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn's crash today at the Alpine Ski World Championships: She suffered a complex torn ligament in her right knee, according to Dr. Christian Kaulfersch, who is treating her at a hospital in Schladming, Austria.

Vonn's U.S. team is deciding whether to fly her back to the United States or keep her in Europe for a possible operation, Kaulfersch said.

[Update 10:51 a.m. ET] Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn was airlifted to a hospital Tuesday after she crashed during the opening day super-G at the Alpine Ski World Championships in Austria, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association said.

The American suffered a "complex knee injury," according to the hospital where she was taken. Her injuries are not life-threatening, a hospital spokesman said.

Vonn was immediately attended to by race medical officials in Schladming, Austria, before being transported to the hospital, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association said in a statement on its website.

Vonn, 28, won the downhill gold in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and is a four-time overall Alpine Ski World Cup champion.

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Dell to be sold to founder, investment firm for $24.4 billion
February 5th, 2013
09:26 AM ET

Dell to be sold to founder, investment firm for $24.4 billion

Computer company Dell has agreed to be sold to founder Michael Dell and investment firm Silver Lake for about $24.4 billion.

Want to know more about what this means for the company? Our colleagues at CNNMoney.com break it down for you.

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Filed under: Technology
Gun background checks in January were second highest ever, FBI data shows
February 5th, 2013
08:39 AM ET

Gun background checks in January were second highest ever, FBI data shows

As the President continues to push for new gun control measures, new FBI data shows January was the second highest month on record for gun background checks.

FBI figures posted Tuesday show there were 2,495,400 background checks done through the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System known as NICS. The number was more than a million higher than any previous January. The data does not indicate exactly how many weapons might have been purchased as some customers buy more than one gun at a time.

December was the number one record-setting month with 2,783,765 background checks.

The FBI does not comment on the data but makes it available on its website. But the figures typically show high numbers of background checks during the holiday shopping months of November and December. The background check numbers usually decline January. There also is often a spike in checks after dramatic incidents of gun violence. The NICS system was launched in November 1998 after being mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993.

Gun debate: Where is the middle ground?

Why new laws could miss America's bigger gun problem

The faces of America's gun debate

Gun Debate: Full Coverage

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Filed under: Gun Control
Photos: Mali military battles Islamist insurgents
February 5th, 2013
07:48 AM ET

African forces enter northern Malian city

A force of 1800 Chadian soldiers has entered the northern Malian city of Kidal in an effort to secure it from Islamist rebels, the French Defense Ministry said in a statement today.

French forces had previously taken control of the airport in Kidal. France has nearly 4,000 troops in Mali.

Read more: French military says troops control airport in key Malian city


Filed under: Mali • World
February 5th, 2013
07:41 AM ET

Tuesday'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 of your political coverage.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - Trayvon Martin shooting motion hearing - Attorneys in the second-degree murder case against George Zimmerman will argue motions in anticipation of the trial.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Congress • Justice • On CNN.com today • Politics • Trayvon Martin
February 5th, 2013
07:21 AM ET

Testimony begins in India gang rape and murder trial

The trial in the brutal gang rape and killing of a 23-year-old medical student formally began Tuesday in New Delhi.

Five suspects are accused of attacking the woman and her male companion as they rode a city bus. The woman, badly injured in the attack, died two weeks later. She had been flown from India to Singapore for treatment. Her companion survived.

The attack has sparked protests and prompted widespread debate over the way India handles sexual assaults and the treatment of women.

Read more: Hearing ordered for gang rape suspects

'She could have been me': Action urged after Delhi gang rape case

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Filed under: India • Justice • World
What's next for Ethan after Alabama hostage standoff?
February 5th, 2013
03:40 AM ET

What's next for Ethan after Alabama hostage standoff?

At least Ethan is safe.

That is the sentiment many were expressing in Midland City, Alabama, and beyond. But what comes next for this little boy about to turn six was anybody's guess.

How does a five-year-old heal from this ordeal? How does a youngster go on after witnessing his bus driver shot to death, after being dragged to an underground bunker by a gun-toting stranger? How will he deal with what he experienced the six days he languished in that hole and what he saw during the explosive rescue Monday that left his captor dead?

FULL STORY

Filed under: Crime • U.S.
February 5th, 2013
02:38 AM ET

An asteroid is coming, and scientists are excited. Fear not, Earth is safe

Look out for Asteroid 2012 DA14.

It is heading toward Earth at 17,450 miles per hour, according to NASA, and the tug of our planet's gravitational field will cause it to accelerate when it gets here.

But it's not going to strike us, when it passes by on February 15. NASA is adamant about this.

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Filed under: U.S. • World