Auburn University removing poisoned oaks
Oak trees at Auburn University that had been poisoned by an Alabama fan in 2010 will be chopped down on Tuesday.
April 23rd, 2013
07:44 AM ET

Auburn University removing poisoned oaks

Two years of rescue efforts could not save them. So, Tuesday, Auburn University will remove two iconic trees that a disappointed fan of its inner-state rival poisoned, after his team lost a game to Auburn.

The landmark live oaks, used for celebrations by fans, who rolled them with toilet paper after big victories, were over 130 years old. The Auburn oaks will disappear from the campus gathering place, Toomer's Corner, at 7 a.m. CT.

Local television news cameras will broadcast the removal live.

March 22nd, 2013
09:22 PM ET

'Bama fan pleads guilty to poisoning Auburn oaks

An Alabama man pleaded guilty Friday to poisoning oak trees that drew generations of Auburn University football fans celebrating victories, officials said.

Harvey Updyke will serve at least six months of a three-year sentence for criminal damage to an agricultural facility, a felony, Lee County District Attorney Robbie Treese said in a statement.

The plea brings to an end the criminal proceedings in an act in 2010 that outraged Auburn fans and others upset that the trees at Toomer's Corner were poisoned.

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Filed under: Alabama • Crime • U.S.
March 22nd, 2013
04:21 PM ET

2 arrested in shooting death of baby

Two youths have been arrested in the shooting death of a 13-month-old boy who was in his stroller, according to police in Brunswick, Georgia.

Police offered a $10,000 reward for information and have received more than 30 leads, police said.

Though no one has reported seeing the shooting, several people called 911 after hearing it, police spokesman Todd Rhodes said earlier.

February 16th, 2013
07:24 PM ET

Final take in Florida hunt is 68 pythons

They can reach lengths of 18 feet and their numbers are estimated to be in the tens of thousands, but Burmese pythons, a nuisance in the Everglades, aren't easy to find.

"It's an amazing challenge to try to come out and hunt these big snakes," hunter Dennis Jordan told CNN Miami affiliate WSVN in the closing days of the 2013 Python Challenge sponsored by state officials.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced Saturday that 68 Burmese pythons were taken during the January 12-February 10 competition that drew 1,600 registrants lured by prizes of up to $1,500.

Though the take was small, wildlife officials said their main aim was heightening public awareness of the invasive species.

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Filed under: Environment • Florida • Snakes
December 12th, 2012
09:15 PM ET

Springsteen, Bon Jovi, other stars raise $$$ for Sandy relief

New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen kicked off Wednesday night's star-studded Madison Square Garden concert that raised money for those enduring misery after Superstorm Sandy.

Springsteen's set included "Land of Hope and Dreams" and "Born to Run."

Proceeds from "12-12-12" benefit the Robin Hood Relief Fund, which is assisting storm victims in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Alicia Keys, launching into a customized version of "No One," told a cheering crowd, "This is our city. This is everybody's city. The resilience of this city is incredible."

Early performers include the Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Roger Waters and Eddie Vedder, joined by comedians Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Billy Crystal. The Who's set included "Who Are You" and "Pinball Wizard." Images of storm damage were shown on a large screen.

"This recovery is not going to be quick," Jon Bon Jovi told the crowd during his set. "We need your support."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recently said the latest estimates of Sandy-related storm costs in his state were $36.8 billion, while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters the total cost in his state was $41 billion.

Concert organizers said the event was accessible to 2 billion people worldwide, through television and Web sites. "We are having high donation volume on the web," they said on the concert's Twitter page late Wednesday.

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Filed under: Entertainment
October 8th, 2011
06:28 PM ET

Congenital amputee who loves challenges trains for Mount Kilimanjaro

Congenital amputee Kyle Maynard is taking his "no excuses" mantra to the next level, training for a Mount Kilimanjaro climb that will be his biggest endurance test to date.

The athlete and motivational speaker talked by phone Saturday from the Appalachian Mountains of North Georgia, where he had completed a five-mile hike in forested conditions akin to the lofty heights of Tanzania.

"I've never done anything that lasted this long," he said of the intense training for the January expedition.

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Filed under: Africa • U.S.
Fate of facility in tornado-ravaged town to be decided
An EF-5 tornado destroyed a Wrangler jeans distribution center in Hackleburg, Alabama, the town's largest employer.
July 29th, 2011
10:04 PM ET

Fate of facility in tornado-ravaged town to be decided

The largest employer in a northwest Alabama town that lost 18 residents and its business core to an EF-5 tornado will announce Monday night whether it will rebuild.

VF Corp. has been evaluating what to do at its Wrangler jeans distribution center since the April 27 storm destroyed it and killed one employee.

Will America's 'best hometown' survive?

“We appreciate everyone’s patience as we finalize our evaluation process, especially the people of Hackleburg,” CEO Eric Wiseman said in a statement Friday. “We look forward to informing our associates and the Hackleburg community of our decision early next week.”

Since the tornado, the majority of the 150 displaced workers have been employed at company-owned locations in Hackleburg and Holly Pond.

Federal, state and local officials have conducted a full-court press, offering a range of incentives to VF Corp. The political leaders say a new Wrangler facility is a crucial component in the town’s recovery.

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Filed under: Alabama • Tornadoes • Weather
June 14th, 2011
07:22 PM ET

California's Prop 8 ruling upheld

A federal judge who ruled against a ban on same-sex marriage in California and later revealed that he is gay showed no evidence he was prejudiced in the case, according to a ruling Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge James Ware upheld former colleague's Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling on California's Proposition 8. Questions had been raised about Walker's ability to impartially decide the controversial question of same-sex marriage.

"It is not reasonable to presume that a judge is incapable of making an impartial decision about the constitutionality of a law, solely because, as a citizen, the judge could be affected by the proceedings," ruled Ware, based in San Francisco.

Ware backed the original ruling by Walker that the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in the state was unconstitutional. The new order keeps the issue on track to an expected Supreme Court challenge, perhaps by next year.

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Filed under: California • Proposition 8
Land that belonged to 'Unabomber' for sale
December 4th, 2010
09:59 PM ET

Land that belonged to 'Unabomber' for sale

For 17 years, Ted Kaczynski meticulously prepared his instruments of death from a cabin on a remote piece of property in western Montana.

The former math professor eschewed modern comforts, like electricity or water, in the small wooden building where he made the mail bombs that would make him infamous.

The "Unabomber" killed three people and wounded 23 others in a string of attacks from 1978 to 1995.

The cabin is long gone, housed in the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Kaczynski, 68, is long gone, too. He is serving a life sentence at a federal supermax prison in Colorado.

All that's left in Lincoln, Montana, are the notoriety for about 1,500 townspeople and the 1.4 acres Kaczynski owned a few miles south of town.


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Filed under: Crime • Montana
October 23rd, 2010
05:42 PM ET

Man agrees to plea deal in Cracker Barrel altercation

A restaurant vestibule normally is a place for patrons to exchange greetings and hold the door for each other.

What occurred at an Atlanta restaurant last year turned into much more than that, with allegations of punches, kicks, racial invective and spitting.

Testimony providing two different views of the confrontation ended Friday in Clayton County Superior Court, with a man accused of punching and kicking a female patron at a Cracker Barrel restaurant agreeing to a plea deal and six months in jail.


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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Georgia • Justice
October 14th, 2010
07:45 PM ET

Ole Miss goes with a bear; Georgia has another Uga

He is no Admiral Ackbar, but Rebel Black Bear will do for the University of Mississippi.

Mascot changes can be a serious business in college sports. Viewers of ESPN got a taste of this earlier this year, when the sports network ran a spot about some University of Mississippi students who were trying to nominate "Star Wars" character Admiral Ackbar to represent Ole Miss' teams.

Ackbar backers will be distressed to know their guy didn't make it. On Thursday, the Ole Miss Rebels announced they are going with a bear.

That's Rebel Black Bear, to be exact. He succeeds Colonel Reb, whose goatee and garb conjured images of the Old South. Ole Miss has been without an on-field mascot since 2003, when Colonel Reb was benched. With Ole Miss left as the only Southeastern Conference school without such a mascot, students pushed for a replacement.


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Filed under: Mississippi • Sports
September 2nd, 2010
10:24 PM ET

Actress who played Bonnie Blue Butler in 'GWTW' dies

Former child actress Cammie King Conlon used to joke "that I peaked at age 5."

But what a peak.

Conlon was 4 years old when she portrayed the ill-fated Bonnie Blue Butler in the 1939 blockbuster film "Gone With the Wind." Three years later, she voiced the part of the doe Faline in "Bambi."

After that, she departed show business and eventually had a family and a new career. As she grew older, Conlon was a gracious link between the film and its millions of fans.

Those fans are mourning the passing of Conlon, who died of lung cancer Wednesday in Fort Bragg, California, where she lived for about 30 years, said friend and family spokesman Bruce Lewis. Conlon was 76.


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Filed under: Gone With The Wind • Obituary
August 31st, 2010
07:00 PM ET

North Carolina emerald: Big, green and very rare

Generations of rock hounds and miners have turned the earth in western North Carolina, looking to bring a special ruby, sapphire or emerald - the "big three" of the gem world - to the light.

The passion started early for Terry Ledford, 53, who operated a gem stand on weekends when he was a kid. "I always loved rocks," said the Spruce Pine resident.

For W. Renn Adams, 90, the world of spodumenes, hiddenite and beryl runs even deeper in his blood. His Alexander County family has been digging for them since the 1880s.

The men's interests became intertwined early this decade when they became partners on the Adams family farm, which grows corn along with its treasures below.

And then came that day in August 2009 when Ledford saw what looked to be part of a 7UP bottle. It was an emerald crystal. A very big emerald crystal. Some 310 carats of it.


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Filed under: Earth • North Carolina
August 18th, 2010
10:38 PM ET

Civil War site unites descendants of captive, guard

Kevin Chapman, the college graduate student who led the team that recently unearthed Civil War artifacts at the site of a Confederate prison in Georgia, recalls two visitors who came one day to watch one of the digs.

Doug Carter of Fayetteville, Georgia, and Nina Raeth of North Augusta, South Carolina, traveled in April to Magnolia Springs State Park, unaware of each other and the bond they shared.

Carter brought a "fowling" shotgun that belonged to his great-grandfather, Jesse Taliaferro Carter, who was a Confederate prison guard at Andersonville and Camp Lawton, site of Chapman's work.

Raeth, a great-granddaughter of a Union prisoner who also was at Andersonville and Lawton, came out of curiosity.


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Filed under: Civil War • Georgia
August 17th, 2010
10:29 PM ET

Bees trap deputy inside car for 3 hours

Tuesday was anything but a routine day for Deputy Brandon Jenkins, who spent three hours in his patrol car after nearly 50,000 honeybees decided to park on it.

The Wake County Sheriff's Office officer had responded around 9:40 a.m. to a call of a person possibly being attacked by bees. He found a disabled truck on U.S. 64 a few miles east of Raleigh, North Carolina. Behind it was a trailer holding 60 boxes of bees.

The truck driver, who was headed for Rocky Mount, had been hauling the bees at night, when they are quiet and not apt to fly. He spent a couple hours after daybreak trying to get someone to tow the trailer and his truck.

That's when Jenkins, 31, pulled up 50 yards behind in his Dodge Charger. By then, the day was beginning to warm.


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Filed under: Bees • North Carolina
July 20th, 2010
09:03 PM ET

Utah moves to fire 2 over immigrants data list

The Utah Department of Workforce Services has moved to fire two employees believed to have created and distributed a list containing personal information of 1,300 purported illegal immigrants, officials said Tuesday.

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Filed under: Crime • Human rights