November 4th, 2010
11:00 AM ET

iReport daily challenge: #BeAHero for emergencies

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at

[Updated, 4:40 p.m.] Thanks to everyone who participated in today's "Be A Hero" challenge to ICE your phone. A special shout-out to commenter Summaiyah, who told us, "I had never even heard of the ICE strategy, but just added it onto my phone. I've always just added 'HOME' to my contacts, but this idea sounds a lot better."

We were also happy to hear from a bunch of folks who ICE'd their phone a long time ago - including CNN iReport Facebook fan Diane Kukal-Arnold, who wrote:

"I learned about the ICE, added it to my phone, and now my kids have it on theirs too, also told all my Facebook friends about it too! We laugh that my husband is 'ICE Brian,' or when we're teasing him about his title, it's 'Ice Ice Baby.'"

Check back tomorrow for the next "Be A Hero" challenge.


November 4th, 2010
10:54 AM ET

Tomas may intensify, threatens Haiti

Aid agencies were scrambling Thursday to move as many people as possible into storm shelters as Tropical Storm Tomas approached Haiti with the potential to deal a disastrous blow to a nation still struggling to its feet after a devastating January earthquake.

"People are already dislocated," said Leonard Doyle, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, which is moving about 2,000 people from the Corail Cesselesse tent camp into a nearby shelter - a former church.

The group is working "as fast as we can," he said Thursday morning, noting winds had picked up.

For the past 24 hours, the government has been advising Haitians to seek sturdy shelter, he said. Humanitarian organizations are doing what they can. But with an estimated 1.3 million Haitians left homeless by the January 12 earthquake, the task before them is enormous.


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Filed under: Tropical weather • Weather
November 4th, 2010
10:52 AM ET

Qantas grounds Airbus A380 fleet after engine cover falls off plane

Qantas, Australia's national airline, grounded its Airbus A380 fleet indefinitely after part of a plane's engine cover fell off in flight Thursday.

The airline said flights of the twin-deck planes - the world's largest airliners - will remain suspended until an investigation into Thursday's incident is complete.

"As long as it takes," said airline CEO Alan Joyce, when a reporter asked how long the suspension would last. "We are being very cautious until we know exactly what caused this."

One of the four engines on a Qantas airliner shut down six minutes after takeoff Thursday from Singapore's Changi Airport, Joyce said. The plane - with 440 passengers and 26 crew members - was headed to Sydney, Australia, but it returned to Changi.


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Filed under: Air travel
November 4th, 2010
10:41 AM ET

On the Radar: Smart kidnap trial, Tomas, Mexico deaths

Smart trial opens - Opening statements in the trial of the accused mastermind in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart are expected Thursday. It's been eight years since the Utah teen disappeared from her Salt Lake City bedroom in a crime that shocked the nation.

In 2005, a judge found Brian David Mitchell incompetent to stand trial on state charges, leaving him in custody at a psychiatric hospital. The state case was put on hold when federal authorties stepped in.

Mitchell, 57, is facing federal charges of kidnapping and transporting a minor across state lines for improper purposes. Smart, now 22, has talked about her experience while she was held. She was found less than a year after her capture walking in an area near Salt Lake City wearing a wig and sunglasses. Smart is on the list of witnesses who are scheduled to testify.


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Filed under: Elizabeth Smart • Haiti • Hurricanes • Mexico • On the Radar • Utah • Weather
November 4th, 2010
10:33 AM ET

Obama vows to 'move American people's agenda forward'

President Barack Obama has invited the leaders of the Republicans and Democrats in both houses of Congress to join him in a meeting to discuss what to do in the waning days of this Congress' term, vowing it will "not be just a photo-op," he said Thursday.

"I want us to talk substantively about how to move the American people's agenda forward," he said.

Obama wants to discuss the future of the Bush-era tax cuts, he said. They're due to expire at the end of the year, and Republicans and Democrats disagree about whether - or how - to extend them.

The meeting is set for November 18, Obama said.


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Filed under: Politics • Republican Party • U.S.
November 4th, 2010
10:25 AM ET

Court to consider new trial for West Memphis 3 convict

The Arkansas Supreme Court has agreed to hear motions for a new trial for West Memphis 3 convict Damien Echols' case.

That means Ehols and others will be able to present new evidence that could exonerate them at a hearing, which could result in a new trial for the teens who were found guilty more than a decade ago of killing three young boys in Arkansas, according to Echols spokesman Lonnie Soury.

Echols maintains his innocence 16 years after he and two other teens were convicted of murdering three Cub Scouts - Michael Moore, Christopher Byers and Steven Branch. On May 6, 1993, police in the rural community of West Memphis, Arkansas, found their bodies bruised and mutilated, their arms and legs hogtied with their own shoelaces.

Echols, along with 16-year-old Jason Baldwin and 17-year-old Jessie Misskelley, were found guilty a year later. Echols received a death sentence, while Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life in prison. The three teens became known as the West Memphis 3.

Echols of West Memphis 3 talks about appeal, death row

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Filed under: Justice
November 4th, 2010
09:45 AM ET

Cholera deaths in Haiti reach 442, health org reports

A cholera outbreak in Haiti continues to spread to previously unaffected areas in rural communities, killing 442 people and hospitalizing 6,742 others, the Pan American Health Organization said Wednesday.

Health authorities are concerned that the situation may worsen as Tropical Storm Tomas approaches the impoverished nation, still recovering from a devastating January earthquake that killed 250,000 people and left 1 million homeless. Tomas is projected to pass over Haiti on Friday.

Health officials set up six cholera treatment centers in Port-au-Prince, the nation's capital. Four of the centers are fully operational, the Pan American Health Organization said. Four more are planned.

Officials hope to create 2,000 beds in the treatment centers, the health agency said.

In addition, the agency said, cholera treatment tents will be established at 14 hospitals in Port-au-Prince as soon as Tomas clears the island nation.


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Filed under: Cholera • Haiti • Health
November 4th, 2010
08:18 AM ET

Close encounter with comet today

This fantastical NASA illustration captures the spirit of Thursday's EPOXI fly-by.

A spacecraft will have the closest encounter ever with a comet at 10 a.m. ET today, and NASA is providing live coverage.

NASA's EPOXI spacecraft will pass just 435 miles (700 kilometers) from the nucleus of comet Hartley 2, acquiring data with two imagers and an infrared instrument.

This is an actual image of Hartley 2 taken by the EPOXI spacecraft.

"We are really looking forward to this because the comet has shown so many surprises, both in the data from EPOXI and the data from our many collaborators, over the last several months," EPOXI principal investigator Mike A'Hearn of the University of Maryland, College Park, said in a NASA release.

Live coverage beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET from mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will be broadcast on NASA Television's Media Channel.

A post-flyby news briefing is planned for 4 p.m. ET.

Scientists and engineers were getting the spacecraft's instruments and the data center on Earth ready Wednesday as EPOXI closed in on Hartley 2.

"The last 1 million kilometers are always the hardest," quipped Tim Larson, EPOXI project manager from JPL. "But we've prepared thoroughly for this day and are confident that come [Thursday] morning, we'll be getting the kind of data and imagery that will keep our scientists busy for months to come."

The EPOXI team expects to begin receiving imagery from the spacecraft starting about 30 minutes after closest approach, according to NASA. The first images received will be those that were taken when the spacecraft was 18 hours out from the comet. They will depict the comet nucleus as little more than a point of light with a fuzzy coma, a gaseous cloud, surrounding it. A few of the close-approach images should be received on the ground one hour after the event occurs.

"Those early images may not be the 'money shot,' but we on the science team will prize them just as well, as they will help us further understand the nature of comets," said A'Hearn.

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Filed under: Space
November 4th, 2010
07:01 AM ET

World update: Qantas grounds A380s after engine scare

The Qantas plane at Singapore

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

Qantas emergency landing - A Qantas Airbus A380 superjumbo made an emergency landing in Singapore with 459 people aboard, after one of its four engines failed over western Indonesia.  The airline has grounded its fleet of six A380s until an investigation is complete. Read the full story

Greece letter bombs - Greek air cargo and airmail transport remains suspended after embassies and European leaders were targeted by a series of letter bombs.


November 4th, 2010
06:20 AM ET

NASA delays shuttle launch

NASA managers this morning delayed space shuttle Discovery's scheduled launch for 24 hours due to inclement weather. Mission managers will meet Friday at 5 a.m. to re-evaluate weather conditions. Friday's launch attempt would be at 3:03 p.m. ET.

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Filed under: Shuttle • Space
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