August 9th, 2010
10:12 PM ET

Police in Virginia, Michigan suspect link in attacks

Police in Leesburg, Virginia, and Genesee County, Michigan, suspect three recent attacks in Leesburg are linked to the stabbing deaths of five people and injuries to 10 others in the Flint area.

Genesee County prosecutor David Leyton confirmed in a news conference Monday that Michigan authorities have been in contact with police in Virginia, saying "there are some similarities" between the assaults in both states.

Leyton said the Virginia victims' description of the suspect as well as their description of the suspect's vehicle led authorities to make the possible connection.

Elsewhere, police in Toledo, Ohio, said Monday that a stabbing there fits the pattern of the Michigan attacks and could be linked to the same suspect as well.


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Filed under: Crime • Michigan • Ohio • Virginia
August 9th, 2010
10:06 PM ET

Angry flight attendant escapes via evacuation chute

Police arrested a flight attendant Monday suspected of triggering an emergency escape chute on a plane parked at a JFK Airport terminal, a spokeswoman for the district attorney said.

Steven Slater was arrested at his home and charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and criminal trespass, said Helen Peterson at the Queens District Attorney's Office.

The incident took place just after the Jet Blue flight landed when a passenger stood to remove a bag from the overhead bin while the plane was still taxiing, a law enforcement source with direct knowledge said. A flight attendant exchanged words with the passenger, and the conversation escalated.

Slater picked up the intercom and used expletives directed at the passengers, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation. It is not clear exactly what was said on the intercom. The source said that when the plane stopped at the gate, Slater then grabbed some beer from the beverage cart before deploying the emergency slide and using it to leave the plane.


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Filed under: Air travel • New York
August 9th, 2010
05:57 PM ET

Gates proposes eliminating Joint Forces command

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday announced some far-reaching proposals for restructuring the massive budget at his agency, including getting rid of the U.S. Joint Forces Command.

The current Defense Department budget totals more than $530 billion a year, and defense officials believe they need increases of 2 to 3 percent a year to sustain the force structure and meet modernization needs.

However, the economic recession caused the department to propose a 1 percent budget increase for next year, and the cuts announced Monday were intended to help hold down overall costs.

Gates acknowledged his spending plan was "politically fraught," and congressional criticism started before Gates even finished announcing the news.


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Filed under: Budget • Military • U.S.
August 9th, 2010
04:22 PM ET

Obama touts education goals in Texas speech

President Barack Obama on Monday touted the steps his administration has taken to try to meet his goal of dramatically boosting U.S. college graduation rates.

In a speech at the University of Texas at Austin, Obama said he wants the United States to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

"In a single generation, we've fallen from first place to 12th place in college graduation rates for young adults," Obama said, referring to rankings of the world's top 36 developed nations. "Now that's unacceptable, but it's not irreversible. We can retake the lead."

Achieving that goal would mean adding an additional 8 million college graduates to current levels by 2020 "so we can have a higher share of graduates than any other nation on Earth," Obama said.


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Filed under: Barack Obama • Education
August 9th, 2010
03:31 PM ET

WebPulse: Vogue's oil, HP's actress, Moscow's smog

Vogue Italia's spread evokes the Gulf oil spill.

Fashion or offensive? - What does an oil-drenched supermodel blowing black feathers out of her mouth mean? Controversy, baby.

Vogue has apparently attempted to interpret the BP oil spill. A spread called "Water & Oil" in Vogue Italia has hit the stands and struck a chord. Some call it insulting, others deem it high art. A video shows famous photographer Steven Meisel capturing a gunk-covered Kristen McMenamy lying like a dead bird on black rocks. Newsweek doubts the tastefulness of the spread.  Forbes reminds of Vogue's previous stabs at political art. Miami New Times says Vogue is out of line, while The Huffington Post writes that the pics are beautiful.

Which Jodie, again? - No, this isn't about actress Jodie Foster. Stop making that mistake. We're going to tell you about actress Jodie Fisher, the woman whose sexual harassment claim led to HP CEO Mark Hurd's downfall last week. Fisher had been employed as a contractor for HP working on customer and executive events. She and Hurd, who is married, both say they didn't have sex. The company maintains that Hurd, a major figure in corporate America, did not violate its sexual harassment policy, but that he violated its standards of conduct policy. HP says Hurd filed inaccurate expense account reports to keep his relationship with Fisher secret. Hurd probably won't starve. He walked away with $12 million in severance. Fisher, on the other hand, is having her acting chops examined on

Moscow smog - The pictures say it all: It's hell to be in Moscow, which is choked with smog, toxic gases and smoke from wildfires. The mortality rate in Russia's capital has doubled, according to the head of the city's health department. Out of 1,500 slots in city morgues, 1,300 are occupied, the official said. A CNN iReporter who fashioned a face mask out of a dish towel and coat hanger takes viewers on a tour through the city. He got crafty out of desperation; there's been a run on conventional face masks.

August 9th, 2010
02:12 PM ET

One Arizona escapee recaptured in Wyoming

After 11 days on the lam, Arizona prison escapee Tracy Province has been captured in Meeteetse, Wyoming, police said Monday.

Lt. Mark Trimble, of the Casper, Wyoming, police department said he was told of the capture by U.S. marshals.

Province escaped July 30 from an Arizona prison with two other men. One of them, John Charles McCluskey, 45, and his alleged accomplice, Casslyn Mae Welch, 43, are believed to be hiding in Yellowstone National Park, U.S. Marshal Fidencio Rivera said earlier.


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Filed under: Arizona
August 9th, 2010
01:34 PM ET

Is there "Code Red" pollution in your city?

While no air pollution can possibly compare to the smog choking Moscow right now, people in the U.S. are reminded that they can check the air pollution for "code red" alerts in their own city on this site. Code red indicates that ozone or particle pollution levels are high enough to cause health problems.

Though frequent cold fronts moving across the Midwest, Great Lakes and Northeast have kept levels low, a major heatwave is building in the nation's midsection and will push to the east this week. Air quality alerts have been posted for dozens of cities, including Washington, DC, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Cincinnati.

A few tips from CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras -

1. Avoid being outdoors when bad air levels are at their highest, which is typically between 3-6p.m. 

2. Don't exercise outdoors during that time.

3. Combine trips and carpool, and avoid fueling up if possible (the gasoline fumes add to the pollution) and don't idle your vehicle.

If you ever need an excuse not to mow the lawn, try this: "Honey, I can't mow the lawn this afternoon, it's bad for my lungs."

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Filed under: Weather
August 9th, 2010
12:51 PM ET

Security Brief: Who is Omar Khadr?

The preliminary legal maneuvering in the military trial of suspected terrorist Omar Khadr serves up two starkly different images, portraying him both as a child forced into war by adults and as a committed al Qaeda fighter.

Prosecutor Jeff Groharing told the court Monday morning that Khadr was aware of al Qaeda ideology. "He embraced it and used it to justify his own activities," Groharing said.

At the same time Pentagon-appointed defense attorney, Lt. Colonel Jon Jackson, has repeatedly called Khadr a "child soldier" who was forced into fighting in Afghanistan by adults and later threatened with rape and death if he did not provide statements to U.S. interrogators. FULL POST

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Security Brief
August 9th, 2010
11:35 AM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Michelle Obama

Her mother-daughter jaunt to Spain is turning into a PR tangle for the White House. It began with a New York Daily News column written by a Republican consultant last Thursday. Columnist Andrea Tantaros called the First Lady a ‘Modern-Day Marie Antoinette.’

“While she's spent her time in the White House telling parents they should relieve their chubby kids' dependency on sugar and stressing the importance of an organic veggie garden,” Tantaros wrote, “hopping a jet to Europe to meet with Spanish royalty isn't the visual the White House probably wants to project. Perhaps they've forgotten the damning image of John Kerry, on the eve of the 2004 election, windsurfing off the coast of Nantucket?”

While Tantaros reported a travel entourage of 40 friends and family, the White House is downplaying those numbers. Additionally Mrs. Obama has covered her own expenses on the trip, a spokesman said. The federal government, however, does cover the Secret Service tab - a hefty sum, according to critics.

Right-wing blogs are repurposing the story, and now making video blogs asking Americans what they think of the trip. Possibly making matters worse might be the remainder of the Obama summer schedule: a family weekend in the Gulf, followed by ten days in Martha’s Vineyard, which isn't far from Nantucket.

CNN: Michelle Obama and daughter arrive in southern Spain

NY Daily News: Material girl Michelle Obama is a modern-day Marie Antoinette on a glitzy Spanish vacation


August 9th, 2010
11:27 AM ET

Sports Update: Smith, Rice become Hall of Famers

Emmitt Smith speaks on stage after he was announced as one of the newest inductees into the Hall of Fame.

With NFL training camps underway, the sport took time to recognize seven of the game's finest, including all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith and receiver Jerry Rice.

The pair (along with greats John Randle, Dick LeBeau, Rickey Jackson, Russ Grimm and Floyd Little) were inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday.

"This is finally it," Rice said. "There are no more routes to run, no more touchdowns to score, no more records to set. That young boy from Mississippi has finally stopped running.  Let me stand here and catch my breath."

But while the seven legends accepted their place in the Hall, other potential NFL stars fell victim to first-year hazing and a veteran finally passed a test.

In other sports, New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, days removed from crushing his 600th homer, was forced to the bench after his newest teammate, Lance Berkman, drilled him with a ground ball in batting practice; Alabama earned the No. 1 preseason ranking in college football; American sprinter Tyson Gay upset world record-holder Usain Bolt in the 100 meters in Stockholm on Friday; LeBron James decided to ride a bike in Akron, Ohio, just miles from where Tiger Woods played the worst tournament of his pro career on Sunday.

Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees (2:05 p.m., YES) On Saturday, the Yankees pulled out a win over Boston even without Rodriguez, who sat out nursing his bruised shin.

Cincinnati Reds vs. St. Louis Cardinals (7:10 p.m., ESPN) - The Cards and Reds have alternated atop the NL Central 17 times this season, and after their three-game series, which starts tonight at the Great American Ballpark, we may see an 18th switch.

Team USA training in New York, Aug. 10-15 - All is on the line for the 15 finalists who hope to make the FIBA World Championship roster. Coach Mike Krzyzewski and head of USA Basketball, Jerry Colangelo, will make the last round of cuts after this week following the team's training at Madison Square Garden and double-header exhibition games against France and Puerto Rico on Aug. 15.

23-59 - The Knicks' record in 2007-08, Isiah Thomas' final season as coach. The organization announced on Friday that Thomas would return as a consultant and recruiting specialist.

113 - Races Juan Pablo Montoya lost before winning at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, his first Cup win since 2007.

17 - Strikeouts for Blue Jays pitcher Brandon Morrow, who was inches away from throwing a no-hitter against the Rays on Sunday. Though he gave up one hit in the ninth, Morrow tossed his first complete game and shutout as Toronto won 1-0 to sweep the Rays.

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Filed under: Sports • Tiger Woods
August 9th, 2010
11:08 AM ET

4,000 miles = Historic Amazon River hike

British explorer Ed Stafford finished his two-year, 4,000-mile trek along the Amazon River on Monday, completing a feat never before accomplished, his publicist said.

He started the hike at Camana, Peru, on April 2, 2008, before ending it Monday at Maruda Beach, Brazil.

Four months after beginning, he was joined by Peruvian forestry worker Gadiel "Cho" Sanchez Rivera. Sanchez intended only to guide Stafford for five days through a dangerous area near Satipo, Peru, but stayed to the end of the expedition.

The 859-day journey took Stafford through three countries and a place in his body and soul he never imagined.


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Filed under: Peru
August 9th, 2010
10:49 AM ET

'One more run' for relief well before moving in for kill, Allen says

The disaster of epic proportions in the Gulf of Mexico still is on track to be resolved at the end of this week, according to the federal point man in the region.

Now, the solution lies in precision calculations of minute proportion, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Monday.

Allen said the closer of two relief wells alongside the capped, formerly gushing BP well in the Gulf was 17,909 feet deep and less than 100 feet from intercepting the main well. Over the previous 72 to 96 hours, he said, crews had twice drilled for 30 feet at a time, then backed out and put wire down the pipe to gauge the exact location relative to the main well.


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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
August 9th, 2010
10:09 AM ET

Youngest Gitmo prisoner arrives in courtroom for trial

More armed guards were visible early Monday morning near where two war crimes proceedings were set to begin for two terrorism suspects at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

But apart from the boost in security, there was little outward sign that the first full Military Commission of the Obama administration was almost under way.

Canadian-born terrorism suspect Omar Khadr, who was captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan when he was 15 years old, arrived in the courtroom early Monday morning, according to Joe DellaVedova of the Office of the Military Commission.


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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Cuba
August 9th, 2010
09:56 AM ET

On the Radar: Gitmo trial and blood diamonds

Gitmo trial - A Canadian who is the youngest detainee at Guantanamo Bay is set to go to trial this week. Now 23, Omar Khadr was a teen when he was captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan and accused of killing of a U.S. Special Forces soldier. The case has divided those who believe Khadr, who once considered Osama bin Laden a grandfather figure, would be a danger if released and those who perceive him as an innocent who got wrapped up in a terrorist cause he didn't fully comprehend. A Pentagon-appointed lawyer is representing Khadr. It's unclear if the prisoner will actively participate in his defense.

Missourians travel to Gulf Coast - While the worst oil spill in U.S. history is over, its effects will be felt for a long time. A caravan from Missouri will head south to boost businesses that the BP oil spill has hurt. The caravan raised money from donations across the nation and will spend the cash while traveling across the Gulf Coast.

Obama talks education - Monday afternoon in Austin, Texas, President Obama will outline his plan for the U.S. to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. America will need to increase graduates by more than 10 million over the next 10 years to make that happen, according to the administration.

Blood diamonds - Actress Mia Farrow's testimony has contradicted that of supermodel Naomi Campbell in the war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. Taylor allegedly gave Campbell a diamond after a 1997 dinner party in South Africa at which Farrow, Taylor and the model were guests. Prosecutors say Taylor paid for  a brutal civil war in Sierra Leone using blood diamonds, which are mined in war zones and used to fund rebels and warlords. The stones have fueled bloody conflicts in Africa for more than a decade. Farrow said Campbell told her Taylor gave her a diamond. But Campbell testified last week that she had no idea who had given her the diamond.

August 9th, 2010
07:25 AM ET

Monday's live video events

Ongoing coverage - BP webcam of Gulf oil disaster

9:05 am ET - New Orleans Saints visit White House - President Obama welcomes the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints to the White House.


Filed under: On today
August 9th, 2010
06:22 AM ET

World update: Farrow gives evidence over diamonds

An update from the CNN newsdesk in London on stories we're following on Monday:

War crimes trial: Actress Mia Farrow has testified that supermodel Naomi Campbell named Charles Taylor as the person who presented her with a diamond. Farrow appeared in The Hague, The Netherlands, at the war crimes trial of Taylor, the former president of Liberia who prosecutors allege funded a brutal civil war in Sierra Leone using blood diamonds.

Rwanda votes: Presidential elections are being held in Rwanda with the incumbent Paul Kagame expected to win a second and final seven-year term.

Flotilla inquiry starts in Jerusalem: Israel operated within international law when it stopped a flotilla and raided the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, on which nine people were killed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of an inquiry into the incident.