March 18th, 2013
10:26 PM ET

Syrian opposition group selects leader

The main Syrian opposition umbrella group, meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, has chosen a U.S.-educated Kurdish businessman to head its provisional government, an opposition activist who attended the vote said Monday.

Ghassan Hitto, an information technology executive who went to college in Indiana and lived for many years in Dallas, was elected Monday to lead a government whose specific role may be spelled out at a planned news conference Tuesday.

Hitto was born in Damascus and is a member of the board of the Syrian American Council, the council said in a news release after the vote.

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Filed under: Middle East • Syria • Texas
March 18th, 2013
07:35 PM ET

Fire that destroyed dozens of cabins in Tennessee is contained

[Update 7:35 p.m.] Heavy rain has brought the wildfire in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, under control, the state's emergency management agency says.

The fire is contained to about 5 acres, and all crews have been sent home except for about eight people who will monitor hot spots, the agency told CNN affiliate WATE.

[Original post, 12:57 a.m] The National Guard will fly in two helicopters Monday to help battle a massive wildfire that has damaged more than 30 cabins in Pigeon Forge, a mountain resort city in Tennessee.

While the state Emergency Management Agency had not received reports of casualties, the fire prompted the evacuation of about 150 people.

The area is home to rental cabins with some permanent residences

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Filed under: Fire • Tennessee • U.S.
March 18th, 2013
03:45 PM ET

FBI: We know who stole rare Boston art

The FBI said Monday it believes it knows who was behind one of the most significant art heists in the United States - the 1990 theft of 13 precious works, once valued at $500 million, from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

A couple of catches in the announcement: The FBI didn't reveal the suspects' names, and the artwork still hasn't been recovered. But the FBI said the suspects "are members of a criminal organization with a base in the mid-Atlantic states and New England."

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Filed under: Boston • Crime • Massachusetts
March 18th, 2013
01:51 PM ET

Syrian jets fire into Lebanon, reports say

Two Syrian jets fired three rockets that hit empty buildings near the Lebanese town of Arsal near the Syrian border Monday, a local source said. There were no injuries, according to the source.

Also, Lebanese state-run news agency NNA reported that Syrian warplanes attacked sites in northern Lebanon.

This latest violence comes as the Syrian conflict enters its third year. The unrest started in March 2011 when President Bashar al-Assad's government launched a fierce crackdown on protesters. The discontent evolved into a full-blown civil war that has left more than 70,000 dead and more than 1 million refugees.

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Filed under: Lebanon • Syria
Obama nominates Perez as labor secretary
March 18th, 2013
12:23 PM ET

Obama nominates Perez as labor secretary

President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general heading the Justice Department's civil rights division, as labor secretary.

A former federal prosecutor and an official in his home state of Maryland, Perez was sworn in to his current post in October 2009.

CNN's Jessica Yellin reported earlier this month that Obama would name Perez to the Cabinet position.

March 18th, 2013
12:21 PM ET

Hillary Clinton backs same-sex marriage

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced for the first time Monday she supports marriage rights for same-sex couples, saying that "gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights."

"America is at its best when we champion the freedom and dignity of every human being," Clinton said in a video produced by the Human Rights Campaign.

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March 18th, 2013
12:14 PM ET

10 killed in suicide car bombing in Mogadishu

At least 10 people were killed and 15 wounded in a suicide bombing of a bus outside the National Theatre in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Monday, the prime minister's office said.

A suicide bomber drove a car with explosives into the bus, according to the office of Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon.

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Filed under: Somalia • Terrorism
March 18th, 2013
09:21 AM ET

Monday's live events

The murder trial of Jodi Arias has captivated many.  Watch CNN.com Live for gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial.

Today's programming highlights...

11:00 am ET - 'March Madness' briefing - It's that time of the year where some workers slack off, take sick days and schedule vasectomies.  It's the NCAA Men's Division I college basketball tournament, and this year's "Final Four" takes place in Atlanta.  Officials from the city and Turner Broadcasting discuss festivities surrounding the games.

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Filed under: Basketball • College basketball • Courts • Crime • Justice • On CNN.com today • Sports
March 18th, 2013
07:36 AM ET

Body, explosive devices found in UCF dorm

A body with a self-inflicted gunshot wound was found along with a bag of explosives in a dormitory room at the University of Central Florida early Monday, prompting officials to cancel classes at the main Orlando campus until at least noon, a school spokesman said.

Police made the discovery shortly after 12:20 a.m., after a fire alarm sounded at the Tower 1 dorm and someone called 911 about a person with a gun there, school spokesman Grant Heston said. Officers entered the dorm and found a male dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a bedroom, Heston said.

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March 18th, 2013
05:17 AM ET

Sky's no limit: 5 helicopter jailbreaks

The spectacular, airborne escape of two Canadian inmates Sunday stunned witnesses and showcased the illicit ingenuity behind one of the more creative styles of prison breaks.

But while astonishing, helicopter escapes are not unheard of. For decades, crafty inmates have fled into the sky - some with more success than others.

Here are five epic helicopter escapes:

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Filed under: Canada • Crime • Justice • Montreal
March 18th, 2013
05:17 AM ET

China: U.S. risks antagonizing North Korea

The United States' plans to beef up its missile defenses against North Korea are likely to inflame tensions that are running high over Pyongyang's nuclear program, China said Monday.

"Bolstering missile defenses will only intensify antagonism, and it doesn't help to solve the issue," Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a regular news briefing in Beijing.

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Filed under: China • North Korea • South Korea
March 18th, 2013
05:13 AM ET

Canadian prisoners escape in helicopter

Even by dramatic jailbreak standards, this escape was particularly brazen.

Two men posing as tourists reportedly commandeered a helicopter from a Canadian tour company, ordered the pilot to fly over a detention center near Montreal, hoisted two inmates using cables or ropes into the hovering aircraft - and zipped away.

All in broad daylight. All in full view of incredulous witnesses.

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Filed under: Canada • Crime • Justice • Montreal
March 18th, 2013
05:09 AM ET

Plane crashes into neighborhood, kills 2

A corporate jet, sheared in half - it's nose poking through the front window of a shattered home.

Such was the scene in a South Bend, Indiana, neighborhood Sunday when a Hawker Beechcraft 390 slammed into a row of single-story homes, damaging three.

Two of the four people aboard the plane died on impact.

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Filed under: Air travel • Indiana
More court drama awaits Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan is accused of lying to a police officer, reckless driving and violating her probation for a shoplifting conviction.
March 18th, 2013
04:56 AM ET

More court drama awaits Lindsay Lohan

The soap opera that is Lindsay Lohan offers more drama after the actress missed a Sunday night flight to Los Angeles, where she goes on trial Monday morning.

With no more red-eye flights heading west, Lohan called on a Los Angeles-based beverage company for which she has made promotional appearances.

"Thanks Mr. Pink for the private jet see you all in a few hours in LA," Lohan tweeted early Monday. Mr. Pink makes "premium ginseng-infused wellness beverages," according to its website.

Fortunately for Lohan, the courthouse where her trial is set to begin at 8:30 a.m. is just two miles from Los Angeles International Airport.

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Filed under: Celebrity • Crime • Justice • Lindsay Lohan • Showbiz
March 18th, 2013
02:16 AM ET

Francis to meet Argentina's president

The Vatican has sought to quell controversy over Pope Francis' conduct during Argentina's so-called Dirty War, amid accusations that he could have done more to protect two Jesuit priests who were kidnapped.

A meeting on the pope's agenda on Monday may be another sign that he's trying to put the past behind him. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is scheduled to meet with Francis in the afternoon.

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Filed under: World
March 18th, 2013
02:06 AM ET

Doctor won't testify in Jackson death trial

Dr. Conrad Murray, who was Michael Jackson's personal physician, is refusing to testify in the wrongful death lawsuit that the singer's mother filed against concert promoter AEG Live.

If called, he will plead the fifth so as not to incriminate himself, the doctor said in a statement sent to the Jackson family.

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Filed under: Crime • Michael Jackson • U.S. • World
March 18th, 2013
01:10 AM ET

6 arrested in gang rape of Swiss tourist

Police have arrested six men following the gang rape of a Swiss woman in central India, officials said Monday.

Investigators have also recovered valuables stolen from the woman and her husband during the attack, Inspector-General S.M. Afzal said.

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Filed under: India • World
March 18th, 2013
12:04 AM ET

Saudi cleric to government: Clean up act

ne of Saudi Arabia's most prominent and popular clerics has issued a stark warning to the Saudi government, saying it must take serious steps toward instituting reform, stamping out corruption and releasing political detainees "before violence is kindled"

In an open letter published online over the weekend, Salman Al-Oadah described a rising tide of anger in the deeply conservative kingdom, writing that "negative feelings have been accumulating for a long time" in Saudi Arabia.

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Filed under: Saudi Arabia • World