July 31st, 2010
09:57 PM ET

Chavez deploys troops near Colombia, reviews 'war plans'

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has deployed troops to areas near the Colombian border and says he is reviewing plans for a potential war as tension between the two nations rises.

"Three nights ago I told the vice president. It makes me sad, I confess, that I'm reviewing war plans," he said during a phone interview on the state-run VTV network.

Special forces are moving to 10 districts near the Colombian border to be prepared in case Colombian President Alvaro Uribe issues an invasion order before he leaves office August 7, Chavez said Friday.

Colombia and Venezuela are at odds over accusations that leftist rebels have found refuge in Venezuela.

Read the complete story here.

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Filed under: Colombia • Venezuela • World
July 31st, 2010
08:35 PM ET

Soldier in WikiLeaks scandal held in solitary confinement

The Army private charged with leaking an airstrike video and downloading documents remained in solitary confinement Saturday.

Military officials told CNN that Pfc. Bradley Manning is also the prime suspect in the latest leak of documents to the WikiLeaks website.

Manning arrived at 9:30 p.m. Thursday at the Quantico detention facility and was given a physical exam and medical screenings, according to Lt. Col. Rob Manning (not related) of the Military District of Washington.

While in custody the suspect is being observed in accordance with normal operating procedures, according to a military spokesman.

Read the complete story here.

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Filed under: Military • National security • WikiLeaks
July 31st, 2010
07:29 PM ET

Kanye West anoints his first follow on Twitter

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Rapper Kanye West, who some are saying has the funniest Twitter feed of all time, has been on the popular social networking site for all of four days and amassed more than 345,000 followers.

With celebrities and big brands, that kind of stuff usually happens. In April 2009, CNN and actor Ashton Kutcher battled to see which Twitter account would top 1 million followers the fastest.

What doesn't happen is when a celebrity who is following no one picks you as the sole person he or she is following.

For West, that person is an obscure Twitter account assigned to Steven Holmes of Coventry, England, aka ste_101.


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Filed under: Twitter
July 31st, 2010
05:27 PM ET

3 convicted murderers on loose after prison break

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[Update 9:27 p.m.] Arizona authorities are hunting for three convicted murderers who may well be out of state or on their way to Mexico, a corrections official said Saturday.

The Arizona Department of Corrections and the Flagstaff police said on
Saturday that the three disappeared from a medium-security facility near Kingman by cutting a hole in a fence. They are considered to be armed and dangerous.

The escaped inmates were discovered missing after a 9 p.m. count in prison.

The three missing prisoners are: Tracy Province, a 42-year-old white man who is 6 feet, 1 inches tall and weighs 184 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes; Daniel Renwick, a 36-year-old white man who is 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs 190 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes and John McClusky, a 45-year-old white man who is 6 feet, 1 inch tall and weighs 160 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes.

Police said the convicts are with a woman who helped them escape.

Read the complete story here.

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Filed under: Arizona • Crime • Justice
July 31st, 2010
06:42 AM ET

800 dead in Pakistan flooding

A car is swamped and a house collapsed in Pakistan's Nowshera district.

The death toll from flooding caused by monsoon rains in Pakistan has risen to at least 800, the information ministry in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said.

Many of the victims died when floodwaters swept away hundreds of mud houses in parts of Swat Valley and the districts of Shangla and Tank, according to Bashir Ahmed Bilour, a provincial minister in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Rushing water also has washed away thousands of acres of crops and dozens of government buildings, local businesses and schools, Bilour said.

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Filed under: Pakistan • Weather • World
July 30th, 2010
11:19 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

The five most popular CNN.com stories during the last 24 hours, according to NewsPulse:

Is this the "safest bridge in America"? On August 1, 2007, the old Interstate Highway 35W bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapsed into the Mississippi River. The deaths of 13 people and the injuries of 145 others left Americans wondering about the safety of bridges and tunnels in their hometowns. Later, the tragedy focused attention on the bridge that would be built in its place. The new bridge, completed in September 2008, is expected to stand for 100 years. But will it?

Attorney: Russian boy in U.S. adoption case back in orphanage: A Russian boy who was sent back to Moscow, Russia, by his adoptive mother in the United States has been returned to an orphanage, an attorney of the World Association for Children and Parents said Friday. The National Council for Adoption will be traveling to Russia next week to meet with adoption authorities there. The delegation will evaluate the child, 8-year-old Artyem Saveliev, and provide information to a U.S. circuit court in Tennessee.

Iranian woman facing stoning "I'm afraid of dying": Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, was set to be stoned to death for allegedly committing adultery in Iran. An advocacy group trying to free her held a news conference on Friday to share a letter they said was from Ashtiani. "Tell everyone that I'm afraid of dying. Help me stay alive and hug my children," the letter said.

Author Anne Rice: I'm quitting Christianity: The legendary author who wrote a book about her spirituality titled "Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession" in 2008 said Wednesday that she refuses to be “anti-gay,” “anti-feminist," “anti-science” and “anti-Democrat.” Rice went on to say, "It's simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious and deservedly infamous group. For 10 years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

Grizzly euthanized after fatal mauling that perplexed experts: A grizzly bear was euthanized Friday after a DNA test determined it mauled three campers - one of them fatally - in a remote area of Montana, an attack that has puzzled wildlife experts. All the food in the campground was stored properly in bear-proof containers, the attack was unprovoked and the bear had no history of attacking humans, said Ron Aasheim, a spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. "It's a head scratcher."

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Filed under: Adoption • Animals • Bears • Iran • Most Popular • U.S.
Chelsea Clinton through the years
July 30th, 2010
10:35 PM ET

Inside Chelsea Clinton's (and Bill and Hillary's) big day

Journalists, celebrities and enough political bigwigs to put on an inaugural ball are converging on the quaint town of Rhinebeck, New York, this weekend for the wedding of former first daughter Chelsea Clinton, 30, and investment banker Marc Mezvinsky, 32.

The mother and father of the bride, former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, won't need to worry about media helicoptors drowning out the "I do's." The airspace over the venue is restricted.

The posh venue, Astor Courts, was commissioned by millionaire financier John Jacob Astor IV, who died aboard the Titanic, according to the venue's website.

Despite the bouquet of details that CNN has gathered about the festivities, a number of questions remain mere hours from the start of the ceremony. Will the bride wear Vera Wang (as her recent shopping habits slyly hinted), Oscar de la Renta or a Bridal Mart rental? Will Bill break out the sax? And what exactly is "country chic" (the dress code offered for Friday evening's rehearsal dinner)?

But here is what others are saying about Chelsea Clinton's (and Bill and Hillary's) big day:

Chelsea Clinton's future father-in-law says the bride and groom are "two wonderful human beings." Ed Mezvinsky, 73, a former U.S. congressman, was spotted getting a haircut in Rhinebeck.

- Bill Clinton arrives in Rhinebeck and causes pandemonium. When asked by a reporter if he was excited, Clinton said, "You bet." The follow-up question: "Is your daughter going to look beautiful?" To which Clinton said: "She looks beautiful every day to me."

- Some large events have portable toilets, some have whole portable bathrooms. At a reported cost of $15,000, the latrines will have porcelain toilets, hot running water and audio speakers that play music.

- To make amends for causing a town ruckus, the family is giving wine to the locals. The Clintons sent nearby residents "Dear neighbor" letters attached to a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. "It’s very sweet," a neighbor told the New York Post.

- Another couple has some special plans of their own on Saturday in  Rhinebeck. “I know she’s not doing it on purpose,” Emn Haddad-Friedman, a Brooklyn teacher said. “But Chelsea Clinton has taken what was supposed to be a special day for me turned it into hell.”

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Filed under: Hillary Clinton • New York • U.S.
July 30th, 2010
07:10 PM ET

Al Gore won't face prosecution in sexual assault allegation

Former Vice President Al Gore will not face prosecution on an allegation of sexual assault from 2006.

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Filed under: Al Gore
July 30th, 2010
06:28 PM ET

Stocks, Treasurys rise

A look at highlights from the day's business news:

Stocks: Best monthly gain in a year

Despite a mixed performance on Friday, stocks booked the best monthly gain in a year, with the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 both rising more than 6 percent in July.
It was also the first positive month after declines in May and June.
Stocks were supported this month by strong quarterly financial results
from major U.S. companies. About 75 percent of the roughly 300 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings so far have beat analysts' estimates.
But the earnings optimism has been tempered by ongoing concerns about the economy, particularly worries that tepid job growth will eventually undermine corporate profits.
"Even though earnings and guidance have been better than expected,
there's still skepticism in the market because jobs have been missing in
action," said Alec Young, an equity strategist at Standard & Poor's.
Friday's session was choppy, as investors weighed mixed reports on U.S.
economic growth, consumer confidence and regional manufacturing activity.

Treasurys rise on weaker GDP

Investors flocked back into Treasurys Friday after a weaker-than-expected government report on the economy, pushing the prices up on U.S. debt and driving yields down.

The benchmark 10-year note rose 25/32 to 105-2/32, with a 2.9 percent yield. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.
The 30-year bond rose 1-28/32 to 106-30/32 and its yield rose to 3.98 percent.
The 2-year note inched up 2/32 to 100-5/32 and yielded 0.56 percent, while the 5-year note edged up 12/32 to 100-24/32 and a 1.6 percent yield.
The Commerce Department sparked concerns about the recovery when it reported gross domestic product, the broadest measure of
the nation's economic activity, rose at a slower rate than expected in the
three months ended June 30.
Investors view Treasurys as a low-risk buy during times of economic
uncertainty, so the news increased the safe-haven appeal of the government bonds.
Numbers that continue to show the economic recovery may be losing steam continue to make a case for owning Treasurys, Kevin Giddis, managing director of fixed income at Morgan Keegan, said in a note to investors.

– CNNMoney.com reporters Annalyn Censky and Ben Rooney contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Economy
July 30th, 2010
04:30 PM ET

Deepest cracks of Earth give clues to life in space

The team recovers the hybrid vehicle Nereus aboard the R/V Cape Hatteras during an expedition to the Mid-Cayman Rise in October 2009.

Scientists have discovered the deepest crack on the Earth’s crust on the Caribbean Sea floor, along with signs of life that at that those crushing depths could mean alien life could exist on other planets, NASA said. 

A NASA-funded team discovered three hydrothermal vents - fissures in a planet's surface from which geothermally heated water comes – including one about 16,000 feet under the sea along a 100-kilometer (62-mile) stretch called the Mid-Cayman Rise. That stretch of sea bed is an ultra-slow spreading ridge that is part of the tectonic boundary between the North American and Caribbean plates. 

Though these hydrothermal vents are far from sunlight and under the extreme pressures of the oceans, some of them get as hot as a convection oven, and scientists say they host bizarre communities that could lead to clues about how life may exist on other planets. 

“Most life on Earth is sustained by food chains that begin with sunlight as their energy source. That’s not an option for possible life deep in the ocean of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, prioritized by NASA for future exploration,” said Max Coleman, co-author of the study with NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory. 

“However, organisms around the deep vents get energy from the chemicals in hydrothermal fluid, a scenario we think is similar to the seafloor of Europa, and this work will help us understand what we might find when we search for life there.” 

The team’s findings were published in last week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

Chief scientist Chris German and his team look at the data downloaded from the vehicle.

Chris German, the team’s chief scientist and a geochemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, said the team is trying to translate its findings to help plan for future space missions. There may be applications in the search for life on Mars and moons that have an icy ocean, he said. 

Despite uncertainty surrounding NASA’s space program, which has only two Space Shuttle missions left and a dwindling budget, discoveries such as German’s may help show the need for future space exploration. 

The newly discovered vent, named Piccard, is 2,600 feet deeper than the previously known deepest vent found in the Pacific Ocean in 1977. 

Another newly discovered vent, Walsh, was found in rocks that are composed of material similar to the much hotter lavas that erupted on Earth’s very earliest seafloor thousands of years ago. 

The third site, Europa, named after the icy Jupiter moon that scientists believe may contain life, is believed to be a unique shallow low-temperature vent that has only been reported once, at the “Lost City” site in the mid-Atlantic. 

The team scoured for the vents using sensors on unmanned robotic vehicles programmed to track chemicals and microbes discharged from the vents. 

Researchers said the mission marked the first time they were able to obtain microbial data from primitive organisms that thrive in high-temperatures and the lack of oxygen at this depth. German believes what his team has obtained so far is a fraction of the community of organisms that live on the chemical energy at the vents. 

The team plans on returning to the vents to better examine the life there. German also said the team hopes to take the mission to the Arctic, where conditions are much more similar to those on other planets.

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Filed under: Nature • Space • Technology
July 30th, 2010
04:08 PM ET

Obama says U.S. auto industry 'growing strong' after bailout

President Barack Obama, speaking at auto plants in Detroit, Mich., Friday, praised the recovery of the embattled U.S. auto industry and celebrated the tough choices he says made a comeback possible.

"Last year, many thought this industry would keep losing jobs, as it had for the better part of the past decade. Today, U.S. automakers have added more than 55,000 jobs since last June," said Obama, speaking at a Chrysler plant.

He said both Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Corp. have rebounded from the depths of their government-brokered bankruptcies and are back on track to grow.

Later in the day, Obama toured and spoke at a GM plant, where he also made the case for why the federal government's investment in the auto industry was a wise move. At times sounding like a candidate on the campaign trial, he is working to build support for his economic policies with just a few months to go until midterm elections in November.

In the 12 months before he took office, Obama said, the U.S. auto industry had lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and had seen its sales drop 40 percent. He cited estimates suggesting more than 1 million people would have lost their jobs if Chrysler and GM, two of the three big U.S. automakers, had been allowed to liquidate.

Ford Motor Co. was the only one of the "Big 3" automakers that did not take a government bailout.


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Filed under: Barack Obama
July 30th, 2010
01:32 PM ET

Commitee recommends Rangel be reprimanded

House ethics committee investigators have recommended that Rep. Charlie Rangel of New York be reprimanded, according to one of those investigators, Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas.

A reprimand would be a relatively light punishment, compared with censure and expulsion.


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Filed under: Politics
July 30th, 2010
12:59 PM ET

WikiLeaks disclosures are a 'tragedy'

Gen. Michael V. Hayden was appointed by President George W. Bush as CIA director in 2006 and served until February 2009. He also was director of the National Security Agency and held senior staff positions at the Pentagon

In a 1997 light-hearted comedy, "Excess Baggage," Benicio del Toro (an inadvertent kidnapper) asks Alicia Silverstone (the unintended kidnap victim), "How stupid do you think I am?" Silverstone classically deadpans her response, "How stupid is there?"

I thought of this scene often this past week as I watched WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange attempt to explain and then justify his dumping of some 75,000 classified U.S. intelligence documents into the public domain.

It was hard to suppress a laugh as he attempted to justify the release of documents based on their content when most of us in the actual business of secrets know that reports are more often classified because of their source, not their content.

Suppress a laugh. Except that this isn't a comedy. It's a tragedy. And innocents will die.

First of all, let's look at the "up" side of this release. These documents "prove" that war is grittier when viewed by an infantryman than by a policymaker; that Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, is a difficult partner; that in war innocent civilians sometimes die; and that the Taliban has been growing in strength over the past several years. Not quite "stop the presses" kind of revelations. FULL POST

July 30th, 2010
12:33 PM ET

3 wildfires burning more than 22,000 acres in S. California

Hundreds of firefighters - backed up by 11 aircraft - battled a third wildfire in the Los Angeles area Friday as two more raged within 60 miles of one another.

The latest - known as the Crown Fire - has ignited more than 5,000 acres, fire officials said. The other two have blackened more than 17,000 acres.

About 500 firefighters were at the scene of the Crown Fire on Friday. The L.A. County Sheriff's Department said mandatory evacuation orders from overnight had been lifted, but a voluntary evacuation remained in effect. Residents should be ready to evacuate at any time, and follow instructions of deputies, the department said. Areas affected included some parts of Leona Valley, Ritter Ranch, Anaverde and Palmdale in northern Los Angeles County.

Four heavy tankers, one DC-10 and six helicopters will be making drops of fire retardant Friday, according to Michael Bryant, incident commander for the L.A. County Fire Department. The DC-10 made its first drop at 7:48 a.m. as officials briefed reporters in Leona Valley. Bryant said the aircraft can drop between 1,000 and 2,200 gallons of liquid at a time.

The priority Friday, Bryant said, was preventing the Crown Fire from destroying power lines that provide electricity throughout Southern California. The lines are very near the fire.

iReport: Are wildfires impacting you?


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Filed under: California
July 30th, 2010
12:06 PM ET

Incoming BP chief promises help for Gulf region 'for years'

Incoming BP CEO Bob Dudley sought to reassure jittery Gulf of Mexico residents Friday that the massive British corporation will not abandon them once the ruptured well responsible for the oil disaster has been permanently sealed.

Dudley, currently the company's managing director, stressed during a visit to Mississippi that BP has made a "long-term commitment" to the region.  "We'll be here for years," he said.

The spill has been a "catastrophe" and a "real wake-up call for change," he told reporters.  We have to "treat it as an opportunity to change for the better."

Shortly before Dudley made his remarks, BP announced that it is setting up a $100 million charitable fund to support unemployed oil rig workers experiencing economic hardship due to the deepwater drilling moratorium imposed by the Obama administration. 

The establishment of the Rig Worker Assistance Fund "fulfills the commitment" BP made on June 16 to provide $100 million in assistance "as a gesture of good will for the people of the Gulf region," according to a company statement.

The company also announced that James Lee Witt, director of Federal Emergency Management Agency during the Clinton administration, will be advising Dudley on BP's disaster response efforts.


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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
July 30th, 2010
12:04 PM ET

NOAA confirms record breaking hailstone in South Dakota

A hailstone that fell from a severe thunderstorm in South Dakota has been officially declared the largest ever recorded in the United States, in terms of both diameter and weight, according to the NOAA National Climate Extremes Committee.

The stone was 8.0 inches in diameter, 18.62 inches in circumference, and weighed one pound, 15 ounces.

This is just short of the size of a soccer ball.


July 30th, 2010
11:49 AM ET

Friday's most intriguing people

Admiral Mike Mullen

The commander of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange may have "blood on his hands." “Meant what I said,” Mullen reiterated on his Twitter feed late Thursday night. In an unrelated report, three U.S. soldiers died yesterday in two separate IED incidents, making the number of Americans killed in Afghanistan in July a record-high 63.

As the top member of the military to advise President Obama, Mullen, 60, was appointed in 2007 by President George W. Bush. According to a Washington Post profile, Mullen is a creative, yet pragmatic problem solver who has restored the influence of the military to the White House, after two of his predecessors were marginalized by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Mullen is a Harvard Business School graduate whose motto is “The Sea is my business.” Fast Company magazine reported in its April issue that Mullen is the first military commander to approach his job seeking constant feedback, including “economists, entrepreneurs, not-for-profit executives, even a former Disney Imagineer.” Incidentally, Barbara, his wife and the mother of his two children, manages his Twitter account.

Fast Company: How America's top military officer uses business to boost national security

CNN: Mullen: WikiLeaks founder may have 'blood' on his hands


July 30th, 2010
11:14 AM ET

WikiLeaks founder 'disappointed' by Gates' remarks

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Friday he was disappointed by criticism from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates over the release of about 75,000 pages of U.S. documents related to the war in Afghanistan.

Gates said Thursday that the massive leak will have significant impact on troops and allies, revealing techniques and procedures.

Assange rejected that assessment Friday, saying in a release that Gates "has overseen the killings of thousands of children and adults" in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • WikiLeaks
July 30th, 2010
09:53 AM ET

BP to set up $100 million fund for struggling rig workers

Rig workers hold signs at a rally in June protesting the drilling moratorium.

BP announced Friday that it will set up a $100 million charitable fund to support unemployed oil rig workers experiencing economic hardship due to the deepwater drilling moratorium imposed by the Obama administration.

The establishment of the Rig Worker Assistance Fund "fulfills the commitment" BP made on June 16 to provide $100 million in assistance "as a gesture of good will for the people of the Gulf region," according to a company statement.

The fund will be administered by the Gulf Coast Restoration and Protection Foundation, a supporting organization of The Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF).

"BRAF has a strong track record of meeting community needs, and we are confident the Foundation will respond effectively to assist the rig workers who today are struggling to make ends meet," BP Managing Director Bob Dudley said in the statement.

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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
July 30th, 2010
08:15 AM ET

Friday's live video events

Ongoing coverage - BP webcam of Gulf oil disaster

10:30 am ET - BP announcement - Bob Dudley, CEO of BP’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, will announce engaging James Lee Witt, CEO of Witt Associates, to support BP’s long-term recovery efforts.

12:15 pm ET - Obama auto plant visit - President Obama tours and delivers remarks to workers at the Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly plant, which is building the redesigned 2011 Grand Cherokee.


Filed under: On CNN.com today
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