February 19th, 2013
08:45 PM ET

Gas blast injures more than dozen in K.C.

It was happy hour at JJ's when the roof blew off the popular Kansas City, Missouri, restaurant.

"When we got to the scene, we had a fully involved restaurant that had patrons, probably several patrons, inside at the time of the incident," said Fire Chief Paul Berardi.
A natural gas explosion leveled the eatery about 6 p.m. CT Tuesday. Two people were missing and 14 were injured.

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Filed under: Missouri
Court halts Tuesday execution
A Georgia Department of Corrections handout image from 2012 shows death row inmate Warren L. Hill.
February 19th, 2013
07:21 PM ET

Court halts Tuesday execution

[Updated at 7:21 p.m. ET] A federal appeals court has granted a stay of execution to convicted killer Warren Lee Hill, who was to have been put to death at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a Georgia prison, a staff attorney for the Georgia Resource Center told CNN.

Hill's lawyers had argued that his IQ of 70 meant he should be spared under a 2002 decision that barred the execution of the mentally disabled.

[Updated at 6:54 p.m. ET] The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a stay of execution for convicted murderer Warren Lee Hill, who is slated to be executed at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Jackson, Georgia.

His defenders say he should be spared because he is mentally disabled. Georgia's Supreme Court denied a request for a stay earlier today.

[Updated at 5:02 p.m. ET] The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles said it has denied the request for clemency from Warren Lee Hill. Hill is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday for the 1990 killing of Joseph Handspike.

[Updated at 3:16 p.m. ET] In a 5-to-2 decision, Georgia's Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a stay of execution for convicted murderer Warren Lee Hill.

Hill, 53, is scheduled to be put to death at 7 p.m. by lethal injection at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

Hill was convicted of beating fellow inmate Joseph Handspike to death in 1990 with a nail-studded board while already serving a life sentence in the 1985 killing of his girlfriend, Myra Wright.

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Death Penalty • Georgia • Justice
February 19th, 2013
04:43 PM ET

Suspect in airplane baby slapping surrenders

An Idaho man accused of uttering a racial slur and slapping a crying 19-month-old boy on a Delta Air Lines flight has surrendered to federal authorities.

Joe Rickey Hundley of Hayden, Idaho, turned himself in to federal officials in Idaho on Tuesday morning, the U.S. attorney's office in Atlanta said.

Hundley was recently charged with assaulting a minor in the February 8 incident. According to court documents, Hundley, during a flight to Atlanta, allegedly told the baby's mother to "shut that (N-word) baby up."

He then turned around and slapped the child in the face with an open hand, according to the documents.

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Filed under: Crime • Idaho
Police: Man kills 3, self in shooting spree
A man, believed to be the shooter, lies dead in the street near an Orange County sheriff's vehicle in Villa Park, California.
February 19th, 2013
04:09 PM ET

Police: Man kills 3, self in shooting spree

[Updated at 8:26 p.m. ET] In the middle of a shooting spree that killed three people and unleashed terror on Southern California motorists Tuesday morning, Ali Syed told one of his carjacking victims to walk away, police say.

"Mr. Syed ... said, 'I don't want to hurt you, I killed somebody. Today's my last day. Give me your keys,'" Tustin Police Chief Scott Jordan told reporters.

According to preliminary accounts from police, Syed, 20, didn't intentionally spare another target.

Police say they believe Syed, a part-time college student, fatally shot a woman at his family's Ladera Ranch home before killing two other people - including a senior citizen executed outside his vehicle - and wounding three others as he fired a shotgun at Orange County motorists on the Costa Mesa Freeway and committed three carjackings.

The spree ended when Syed died after he turned his gun on himself as police approached on a road north of Tustin, authorities say.

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Filed under: California • Crime
Gen. Allen retires, passes on NATO nomination
February 19th, 2013
03:10 PM ET

Gen. Allen retires, passes on NATO nomination

The Marines general who was in line to become NATO's supreme allied commander is retiring instead.

President Barack Obama announced the retirement of U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, the former leader of coalition forces in Afghanistan, on Tuesday.

"I met with General John Allen and accepted his request to retire from the military so that he can address health issues within his family," Obama said in a statement.

Allen was caught up in a scandal over embarrassing e-mails with Tampa socialite Jill Kelley that came to the public's attention during the same investigation into an extra-marital affair that brought down former CIA Director David Petraeus. Allen was cleared of wrongdoing, and the White House initially indicated that Obama would proceed with the nomination for the supreme commander spot.

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Filed under: Marines • Military • NATO
Report: Tunisia's prime minister resigns
Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali meets with members of his cabinet on Tuesday.
February 19th, 2013
01:33 PM ET

Report: Tunisia's prime minister resigns

[Updated at 3:12 p.m. ET] Tunisia's prime minister Hamadi Jebali resigned Tuesday, Tunisia state TV said, marking the latest development in a nation wracked by political unrest.

He submitted his resignation after the failure of his initiative to form a technocratic government, state TV reported. Jebali told CNN last week he'd step down if the effort was not approved.

It's possible that his ruling Muslim Brotherhood-linked Ennahda party will reappoint him to form another government or choose another politician to do the task.

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Filed under: Tunisia
Regular contact with space station lost
The International Space Station as photographed from the space shuttle Atlantis in 2011.
February 19th, 2013
11:43 AM ET

Regular contact with space station lost

NASA has lost regular communications with the International Space Station, a NASA official confirmed Tuesday.

The space agency says it is currently only able to communicate every 90 minutes when the facility passes over ground stations in Russia.

The station, which is carrying one American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts, does not appear to be in danger, NASA spokesman Josh Byerly said.

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Filed under: Space
February 19th, 2013
10:52 AM ET

New clues about Sandy Hook motive

[Updated at 10:52 a.m. ET] Investigators have found evidence that Sandy Hook Elementary School gunman Adam Lanza "was obsessed" with other mass murderers, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN Tuesday.

This news follows an earlier report that Lanza may have been motivated by a desire to outdo Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian man who killed 77 people in July 2011, law enforcement sources told CBS Evening News.

[Posted at 1:43 a.m. ET] The shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School may have been motivated by a desire by Adam Lanza to outdo Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian man who killed 77 people in July 2011, law enforcement sources told CBS Evening News.

The unnamed sources said Lanza saw himself as being in direct competition with Breivik, who killed eight with a bombing in downtown Oslo before he moved to a nearby island where he hunted down and fatally shot 69 people.

According to the sources, the 20-year-old Lanza wanted to top Breivik's death toll and went to the Connecticut school on December 14 because it was the "easiest target" and had the "largest cluster of people."

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Filed under: Connecticut • Crime • Justice
Pistorius' affidavit in alleged murder
South Africa's Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius buries in court on Tuesday.
February 19th, 2013
09:07 AM ET

Pistorius' affidavit in alleged murder

Following is a partial text of Oscar Pistorius' affidavit handed out in a South African court on Tuesday as he sought bail after being accused of murdering his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day.

16.2 I have been informed that I am accused of having committed the offence of murder. I deny the aforesaid allegation in the strongest terms.

16.3 I am advised that I do not have to deal with the merits of the case for purposes of the bail application. However, I believe that it is appropriate to deal with the merits in this application, particularly in view of the State’s contention that I planned to murder Reeva. Nothing can be further from the truth and I have no doubt that it is not possible for the State to present objective facts to substantiate such an allegation, as there is no substance in the allegation. I do not know on what different facts the allegation of a premeditated murder could be premised and I respectfully request the State to furnish me with such alleged facts in order to allow me to refute such allegations.

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Filed under: Crime • South Africa
Storm expected to bring blizzard conditions
February 19th, 2013
08:15 AM ET

Storm expected to bring blizzard conditions

A storm system in the U.S. West is expected to pose a triple threat to the country over the next three days, eventually bringing snow to the Southwest, a blizzard to the Central Plains, and severe storms to Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, according to CNN's weather unit.

Portions of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, especially those at higher elevations, face winter storm conditions over the next 24 hours.

Then, the National Weather Service says portions of Kansas and Nebraska could see more than a foot of snow by Thursday. Meanwhile, significant ice buildup could make travel treacherous in the southern Plains. The weather service advises postponing travel until after the storm passes if possible.

Additionally, areas farther south including Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi, could see severe thunderstorms with possibly strong tornadoes from this weather system, CNN's weather unit says.

Later on in the week, the storm system could dump up to six inches of rain on areas from Mississippi to Georgia.

Pistorius: 'No intention' to kill girlfriend
February 19th, 2013
07:55 AM ET

Pistorius: 'No intention' to kill girlfriend

Famed Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius appears in a South African court today seeking bail after being accused of murdering his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day. We are live blogging the appearance.  Read the full story

[Updated at 7:55 a.m. ET] The Pistorius hearing has adjourned. The prosecutor said he needs time to process the affidavits filed today. Court will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. Pistorius will spend the night in a local jail.

[Updated at 7:40 a.m. ET] The defense is reading a statement from Steenkamp's friend Samantha Grevenstein that describes Pistorius as humble and the epitome of a true gentleman. Grevenstein said Steenkamp told her that she loved Pistorius and would have likely married him if he'd have asked.

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February 19th, 2013
07:49 AM ET

Tuesday's live events

President Obama and Congress look to avert $85 billion in automatic across-the-board spending cuts scheduled for March 1.  Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the sequestration crisis.

Today's programming highlights...

10:45 am ET - Obama's sequestration warning - President Obama will ask Congress to work with him to avoid the March 1 spending cuts in remarks from Washington.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Budget • Congress • Economy • On CNN.com today • Politics
February 19th, 2013
06:36 AM ET

Thieves grab $50 million in diamonds

Eight masked thieves in two vehicles stole $50 million worth of diamonds Monday at Brussels Airport, the Antwerp Diamond Centre told CNN Tuesday, citing police.

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Filed under: Belgium • Crime
Jackson son debuts as entertainment reporter
February 19th, 2013
03:49 AM ET

Jackson son debuts as entertainment reporter

As an heir to the King of Pop, Prince Michael Jackson should not have to work, but at age 16, he has taken a gig as a reporter for "Entertainment Tonight."

After receiving an on-camera coaching session on journalism techniques from ET's Brooke Anderson, Jackson recorded his first interview. The topic: an upcoming remake of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."

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Filed under: California • Celebrity • Entertainment • Los Angeles • Michael Jackson • Music • Showbiz • TV
February 19th, 2013
03:39 AM ET

U.N.: Civilian deaths fall in Afghanistan

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan dropped 12% in 2012 - the first time that figure has fallen in six years, a U.N. report said Tuesday.

The report by the U.N. Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) credits the decline to:

– fewer suicide bombings

– a decline in aerial attacks

– less ground fighting between pro-government and militant forces

– care taken by those pro-government forces to minimize harm to civilians.

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Filed under: Afghanistan
February 19th, 2013
01:57 AM ET

Police: Rape suspect used dating website

A California man is accused of raping a woman he met on a Christian dating website and police fear there may be other victims.

Sean Banks, 37, met the victim on the matchmaking website Christianmingle.com, where he went by the user name "Raritiy," La Mesa Police said in a statement.

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Filed under: Crime • U.S.
Shiites protest bombing by not burying dead
Smoke rises following a bomb explosion in Quetta, Pakistan, on Saturday.
February 19th, 2013
01:47 AM ET

Shiites protest bombing by not burying dead

Shiite Muslims in the Pakistani city of Quetta are refusing to bury scores of people killed in a devastating weekend bombing until authorities respond to their demands to take military action against the Sunni extremists behind the attack.

The macabre protest is an expression of the anger and frustration among Shiites in the southwestern province of Balochistan, whose capital is Quetta, over the government's failure to shield them from a series of bloody sectarian attacks in recent months.

The outlawed Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has said it carried out the attack Saturday in Quetta in which police say a suicide bomber rammed a water tanker laden with explosives into a crowded marketplace, setting off a huge blast that killed more than 80 people and wounded at least 180 others.

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Filed under: Pakistan • World
February 19th, 2013
12:10 AM ET

Teen shot hours after sister attends Obama gun violence speech

Hours after her younger sister stood behind President Barack Obama during his gun violence speech last week, an Illinois teen died when a bullet found her in a North Chicago alley.

Two people were being questioned Monday as police worked to piece together the final moments of 18-year-old Janay McFarlane, who left behind a 3-month-old son.

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Filed under: Crime • U.S.