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
Overheard on CNN.com: Health care law a 'necessary evil'
A supporter of the health care law cheers upon learning the Supreme Court upheld it.
June 28th, 2012
04:20 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Health care law a 'necessary evil'

On June 28, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in a 5-4 ruling. In the hours after, CNN’s audience was incredibly active in expressing their opinions on the decision.

Some CNN commenters and iReport contributors had personal stories to share:

roaringwoman
As a cancer survivor… my life would have been over without health insurance. It's a necessary evil, but without it, hospitals would be closing their doors, and people would be dying. And don't blame Obama or any other political force because the insurance monster has been around for a long, long, time ruling patients, doctors and hospitals.

Amelia
If you own a vehicle you are required to have it insured. If you don't you pay fines...I don't see the big deal, if they make it affordable I would jump at the chance to insure my family. I work for an attorney, and since it is a small firm, he does not offer insurance.

Natfka
I have 62 employees currently, and since I will be mandated to provide healthcare, I have two options now: Cut deeply into the pockets of the company, myself and its employees, or cut my staffing down to 49 people so as to not hit that 50 person benchmark for mandatory coverage. So 13 people are gone, or 62 (plus myself) take cuts in vacation and or pay raises. I have not made the decision yet, but I won't let my company and all of its employees take such a big hit.

iReport assignment: Your reaction to health care ruling

darb123
As a person with a pre-existing condition that was hereditary, I am glad. Maybe [now] I can purchase insurance. No insurance company will insure me. I have to use my state Medicare-type program. I don't mind paying at all. I still pay for my own prescriptions to the tune of $200 a month. I had no choice a few months back when I had gotten extremely ill and had to go to a regular local hospital. I stayed overnight and the cost was $6,000. Not an Obama fan either!

Many readers pointed out the potential benefits of the law’s implementation:

c_apples
Most of you that have a problem with health care reform have no issues paying your Social Security and Medicare taxes on your paycheck. In fact, I'm sure the majority is counting down the days until they can take advantage of the Social Security and Medicare they have paid into. How is this health care as a tax any different?

flannelgal
People against this law have chosen to limit where they get their information about this law. Currently, when a person who has no insurance requires emergency care, tax payers pay for it, and the [federal] debt mounts. Now, all least the coffers will be replenished by all people, and all people get health care, preventative health care to boot. Thank you, President Obama, and everyone who worked hard to make this happen for all Americans.

Leeford68
I don’t like being forced to pay for wars I don’t want.
I don’t like being forced to pay for roads I don’t drive on.
I don’t like being forced to pay for schools when I don’t have kids....
But I accept the fact that I have to pay for all of these things that create a better community for all of us to live in.

Obama: Supreme Court ruling on health care a victory for all Americans

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Filed under: Health Care • Health care reform
On the Radar: Obama bus tour, Aruba missing case, market turmoil
President Barack Obama discusses jobs in an event in Holland, Michigan, last week.
August 15th, 2011
06:12 AM ET

On the Radar: Obama bus tour, Aruba missing case, market turmoil

Three things you need to know today.

Obama on tour: President Barack Obama is expected to talk about strategies for creating jobs and improving the economy during a three-day bus tour through part of the Midwest beginning Monday.

"Many Americans are hurting badly right now.  Many have been unemployed for too long.  Putting these men and women back to work, and growing wages for everyone, has got to be our top priority," the president said in his weekly radio address on Saturday.

Obama is scheduled to take a 360-mile trip through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, meeting groups of small-business owners and other people at rural events. On Monday, he'll have town hall events in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, and Decorah, Iowa. (CNN's Wolf Blitzer takes you along for the ride on Obama's bus tour. Join Wolf for a one-on-one interview with the president, Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET on "The Situation Room.")

On Thursday, the president and his family will head to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts – his summer vacation site of choice for the third straight year.

Missing in Aruba: A U.S. man being held in Aruba in connection with the case of a missing American woman will appear in court Monday, a judicial official said.

An investigating magistrate could order Gary Giordano, 50, held for at least eight more days, order him to remain on the island or release him due to a lack of evidence, according to Aruban Solicitor General Taco Stein.

Giordano was arrested by Aruban police on August 5, three days after Robyn Gardner, 35, was last seen near Baby Beach on the western tip of the Caribbean island.

Financial markets: This week could be just as bumpy as last week's wild ride, as Wall Street continues to deal with the fallout of S&P's downgrade, the problems in Europe and the fate of the U.S. economy, CNNMoney reports.

On Monday, investors will get the Empire Statement manufacturing index at 8:30 a.m. ET. The manufacturing survey fell into negative territory in July, which means manufacturing activity contracted during the period. Investors will be looking to see if that trend continues for a second month.

Retailers reporting their results Monday include Urban Outfitters and home improvement chain Lowe's. Analysts expect that Lowe's earned 66 cents a share and Urban Outfitters earned 32 cents a share.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Business • Crime • Economy • Jobs • On the Radar • Politics
August 10th, 2011
01:10 PM ET

Sibling fugitives captured in Colorado

Three siblings wanted for an alleged armed bank robbery in Georgia and the attempted murder of a Florida police officer have been apprehended after a high-speed chase on a Colorado interstate Wednesday, authorities said.

Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor said the three were chased down by police on Interstate 25. The three were captured near Walsenberg, south of Pueblo, when their vehicle crashed. There were shots fired, Taylor said, but it isn't clear by whom. There was a report of a non-life-threatening injury but not to a law enforcement officer, Taylor said.

This comes after the Colorado Springs Police Department on Tuesday received a report that people were spotted in the area of Woodmen and I-25 who matched the description of the siblings.

Officials call them "the Dougherty family" and identified the suspects as Ryan Edward Dougherty, 21; sister Lee Grace Dougherty, 29; and half-brother Dylan Dougherty Stanley, 26.

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Filed under: Colorado • Crime • Florida • Georgia
August 8th, 2011
01:41 PM ET

Your take: Where do you stand on S&P downgrade?

[Updated at 1:41 p.m.] The inability of Congress and President Barack Obama to reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling sparked a firestorm of anger directed toward Washington. Readers said they were angry, disappointed and fed up. They had no problem about where to point the finger when it came to blame. Quite frankly there was downright outrage.

And now Standard & Poor's has downgraded the U.S. credit rating by one notch to AA+, removing it from the Triple A-club for the first time in history.

CNNMoney.com: Did S&P get it right? | Time.com: A political miscalculation

As the market reacts to the downgrade status, CNN.com wants to know how people feel about it. Grab a video camera and sound off on iReport here.

Some iReport contributors are already speaking out about the downgrade, whom it affects and how much the American public understands and cares about the issue.

Egberto Willies, a frequent iReport political commentator, says he believes that the S&P downgrade of the U.S. is “a fraud on the American middle class.”

“The reality is, Standard & Poor's and all these organizations are the same companies who rated credit default swaps that brought down the economy and forced us to get into further debt to bail out the financial sector,” he argues in his video. “They're the ones who allowed that to occur.”

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Filed under: Business • Economy • Finance
A view of Horn of Africa's drought from space
Animation from satellite images shows the increasing drought. (Courtesy CESBIO/ESA)
July 26th, 2011
12:19 PM ET

A view of Horn of Africa's drought from space

The worst drought in 60 years has hit the Horn of Africa region, an area in east Africa that includes Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

A recent satellite-derived animation from the European Space Agency illustrates the crisis as it worsened over the summer. The images above show soil moisture in the region from April to mid-July of this year. Green and blue depict higher levels of soil moisture while the increasing spread of orange and yellow illustrates areas with little to no moisture.

The drought has led to starvation and the loss of crops and livestock. Food prices have nearly tripled in some areas since last year, worsening the crisis.

The United Nations officially declared famine in parts of Somalia last week, and thousands of people have fled their homes and crossed borders in search of water, food or aid.

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Filed under: Africa • Famine • Kenya • Somalia • World
Report: Drug traffickers staging gladiatorlike fights with captives
Mexican authorities exhume bodies from a mass grave in Acapulco last week.
June 15th, 2011
10:41 AM ET

Report: Drug traffickers staging gladiatorlike fights with captives

Drug traffickers in Mexico have been abducting bus passengers and forcing them to fight each other like gladiators with the winners being ordered to become assassins, a drug trafficker tells the Houston Chronicle.

The fights, initiated by members of the Zetas cartel, are called "Who's going to be the next hitman?" said the trafficker, who agreed to talk to the Chronicle on condition of anonymity.

The gladiators use machetes, hammers and sticks. "They cut guys to pieces," the paper quotes the trafficker as saying.

The winners are sent by the Zetas on suicide missions to shoot up the territory of rivals, the trafficker told the Chronicle. The losers end up in mass graves.

The trafficker said he was not a witness to the fights but gang emembers told him about them.

Federal law enforcement officials told the Chronicle they did not know of any gladiator fights, but they said the trafficker's story was plausible given the escalating violence in Mexico.

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Filed under: Crime • Drugs • Mexico
On the Radar: Van der Sloot charges, Google notebooks, hockey final
Joran van der Sloot is suspected in the death of Stephany Flores in Peru.
June 15th, 2011
06:01 AM ET

On the Radar: Van der Sloot charges, Google notebooks, hockey final

Three things you need to know today.

Van der Sloot case: Formal charges against Joran Van der Sloot, who is suspected of killing a woman in a Peruvian hotel, could be filed on Wednesday.

Van der Sloot and his new private defense attorney were in court on Tuesday for a preliminary hearing. The hearing was held behind closed doors at the Castro Castro prison outside of Lima. No cameras were allowed.

The hearing was postponed last week because Van der Sloot did not have legal representation.

Van der Sloot was once the prime suspect in the disappearance in Aruba of American teenager Natalee Holloway, who vanished at age 18 while on a graduation trip. He was arrested twice but never charged in connection with her disappearance.

He was arrested in May 2010 following the death of Stephany Flores in Peru.

Once charges are filed against him, a three-judge panel will set the date for an oral trial to begin.

Google notebooks: Notebook computers running Google's new operating system, called Chrome OS, come out on Wednesday.

The new operating system is based on Google's Chrome Web browser but adds some extra features for connecting digital cameras and offline usage. Google says 160 million people actively browse the Web using Chrome, up from 70 million a year ago.

Because the laptop runs on a stripped-down system, first-time setup takes three minutes, and the computers boot up in 8 seconds, Sundar Pichai, an executive for the Chrome group, said during a presentation on the system last month.

The notebooks will run Web-based apps and store files in the cloud instead of on a hard drive. "Your apps, games, photos, music, movies and documents will be accessible wherever you are and you won't need to worry about losing your computer or forgetting to back up files," Google said in a blog post announcing the computers.

Samsung Electronics will sell a version with a 12.1-inch screen and Wi-Fi for $429, and another model with Verizon Wireless 3G connectivity for $499. Acer will also make a Chromebook with prices as low as $349.

Stanley Cup final: The Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins square off for the seventh and final game to determine the winner of the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup.

The home team has won each of the previous six games. Wednesday night's Game 7 is in Vancouver, British Columbia.

SI.com's Stu Hackel looks back at the series and what to expect tonight.

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Filed under: Crime • Google • Hockey • Joran van der Sloot • NHL • Peru • Sports • Technology
April 30th, 2010
09:14 PM ET

Gulf Coast residents brace for potential calamity

Officials anticipate that oil floating toward Louisiana is likely to reach land sometime Friday.

(Update 9:13 p.m.) EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said Friday there is a chance that workers will be able to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but warned that the EPA is preparing for the worst.

"There is still the opportunity and the possibility that they would be able to shut it down," Jackson told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "Of course as responders we have to look at the worst case, and keep planning for that."

Jackson's comments come as the federal government is ramping up the pressure on BP to do more to stop well leaks gushing thousands of barrels of oil into waters off Louisiana. The government is also pushing BP to beef up its response as a giant oil slick approaches the Louisiana coast.

In the interview on CNN's John King USA that aired Friday, Jackson responded to questions about the level of trust the Obama administration had in BP immediately following the April 20 oil rig explosion that also resulted in 11 presumed deaths.

"I don't think it was ever a question of trust in the company, I think it was a question of responding to the set of facts as we came to understand them," Jackson said. "The situation has certainly worsened. It began as a human tragedy, it is now what I think is an environmental challenge of the highest order."

(Update 7:42 p.m.) Sen. David Vitter announced the closure of several oyster beds in eastern Louisiana, but kept the western parts open, CNN affiliate WDSU reports.

The director for Rouses Supermarket, which has stores across the Gulf Coast, including southern Louisiana and Mississippi, said all seafood on the shelves is safe, according to WDSU.

"Everything that is coming into the markets and restaurants is coming from the west part of the Mississippi River," Seafood Director James Bruel told WDSU.

"Everything we get is traceable. Anything that comes through our back doors has an invoice of where it came from. Everything right now is 100 percent safe to eat," he said.

(Update 6:48 p.m.) U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has approved Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's request to mobilize 6,000 National Guard troops in response to the massive oil spill expanding in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a Defense Department spokesman.

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