Source: White House will not turn over all Solyndra documents
October 14th, 2011
09:18 PM ET

Source: White House will not turn over all Solyndra documents

The White House will not comply with requests to turn over documents related to the bankrupt solar company Solyndra, which received a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government, CNN learned Friday.

A government source provided a letter that White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler sent to House Energy and Commerce chair Rep. Fred Upton and subcommittee chair Rep. Cliff Stearns Friday afternoon responding to their request for internal White House communications related to the Solyndra loan guarantee.

Solyndra is a California solar panel manufacturer that had received $535 million in federal loan guarantees before it was forced to halt operations and file for bankruptcy at the end of August, putting more than 1,000 workers out of work.

Before its failure, the company had been touted as an example of the benefits of creating green jobs by the Obama administration. But since then, it has become the center of congressional criticism and a probe by the FBI.

Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison resigned Wednesday.

Citing precedent, the president's legal counsel is refusing to hand over all internal White House communications related to the energy firm, including President Obama's Blackberry messages, arguing that the president needs to protect open counsel from advisers and staff.

In part, the letter obtained by CNN says the request "implicates longstanding and significant institutional Executive Branch confidentiality interests. Encroaching upon these important interests is not necessary, however, because the agency documents the Committee has requested, which include communications with the White House, should satisfy the Committee's stated objective – to 'understand the involvement of the White House in the review of the Solyndra loan guarantee and the Administration's support of this guarantee.'"

The letter notes the administration in total has turned over 70,000 pages of documents from the Department of Energy, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Department of the Treasury, and over 900 pages from the White House itself. The letter also says the White House will continue to cooperate with the investigation.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics • Solyndra
October 14th, 2011
07:31 PM ET

London's Clock Tower not quite upright

London’s iconic Clock Tower is tilting.

But as sure as the signature tolling from the four-faced clock rolls over Westminster, there is little to fear that the structure could topple anytime soon. Some jokingly suggest that as long as it doesn’t fall on their heads, all’s well.

The slight lean of 0.26 degrees to the northwest may not be noticeable to the naked eye - and certainly doesn’t compare to the 5-degree angle tilt of the Tower of Pisa in Italy - according to Surveyors of the Parliamentary Estates Department.

Experts believe it would take well over 4,000 years for the listing of Big Ben (as the tower is commonly called, though sticklers will remind you that the name refers to the great bell inside) to compare to the Tower of Pisa’s.

Jonathan Prew, the principal surveyor of the Parliament building, says the tilt has developed due to the varying thickness of the foundation beneath the tower.

“The tower weighs eight-and half thousand tons,” Prew said, “so it’s going to have an effect.”

It takes a total of 334 steps up the spiralling stairway inside the 96-meter (315-foot) tower to reach the clock phase, where the bells are housed.

Completed in 1858, the structure accents the majestic view of Parliament from the river Thames, and has served as the standard “This is London” shot in many famous films, including The “Harry Potter” Series, “V for Vendetta,” “39 Steps” and “Sweeney Todd.”

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Filed under: Travel • Uncategorized • United Kingdom
October 14th, 2011
06:27 PM ET

Family hopes videos of missing girl keep spotlight on case

Videos of a missing Missouri child, released this week by her family, are snapshots of a happier time.

In one video taken by mother Deborah Bradley, 11-month-old Lisa Irwin is staring into the camera, smiling and cooing.

"Say hi to Momma," Bradley says in the video. “Look at that messy baby.”

Lisa is wearing an outfit that says “Daddy Loves Me.”

Lisa's family released three home videos of the girl - recorded in the spring - on Thursday, hoping to keep her image in the spotlight. The family says it last saw Lisa about 10:30 p.m. October 3, asleep in a crib in her Kansas City home, according to police.


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Filed under: Missing Children • Missouri
Overheard on Cain talks the talk they like to hear
The more inflammatory Herman Cain's statements are, the more his numbers climb, LZ Granderson says.
October 14th, 2011
04:47 PM ET

Overheard on Cain talks the talk they like to hear

Comments of the Day:

"For many conservatives like myself, one's ethnicity is not an issue. It's what the candidate believes that counts."–Adam B. Embry

"So long, Herman! From viable candidate to race-baiter to footnote in a few short weeks."–MrsNeutron

Is Herman Cain a straight-talking businessman whom Republicans can love or a race baiter? CNN political reporter Shannon Travis writes that he "is the first African-American to have a real shot at becoming the Republican presidential nominee. So why isn't his ethnicity as much a part of his story as it was with Obama?" readers argued over whether race was really a non-issue with Republicans, or - as columnist LZ Granderson suggests - Cain is simply able to say what some are thinking.

TRENDING: Cain's race not as big an issue with conservatives as Obama's was three years ago

Cain rises by slamming race

Gotta Be Kiddin said, "Actually, Colin Powell was the first African American who had a real shot at the Republican nomination. I'm not quite sure what Herman Cain is."

JLH said, "Travis's entire article is offensive, as it operates on the premise that conservatives are racist. I tried to find some means of statistics to support this supposition contained within the article, but none found."


October 14th, 2011
04:32 PM ET

Suspect in celebrity hacker case ordered to Los Angeles

A federal judge ordered the Jacksonville, Florida, man accused of hacking celebrities' online accounts for nude photos and other private information to make his way to a California courtroom on November 1 to answer charges against him, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office said.

Christopher Chaney, 35, is accused of hacking into the accounts of more than 50 celebrities, including movie stars Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis and singer Christina Aguilera.

A grand jury indicted Chaney on nine counts of computer hacking for gain, eight counts of aggravated identify theft, and nine counts of illegal wiretapping. If convicted of the 26 counts, Chaney would face a maximum of 121 years in federal prison, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said.

The aggravated identity theft charge alone carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence, he added.

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Filed under: California • Celebrity • Crime • Florida • Security breaches • Technology
October 14th, 2011
04:25 PM ET

Obama, South Korean leader tout trade deal in Michigan

President Barack Obama and his South Korean counterpart hit the road together Friday, traveling to the heart of America's Rust Belt to tout a recently approved trade deal between Washington and Seoul.

Obama also used the occasion to defend his controversial 2009 bailout of the U.S. auto industry, which has shown recent signs of recovery.

Obama and President Lee Myung-bak visited Orion Township, Michigan - on the outskirts of Detroit - to visit a General Motors assembly plant. GM, which filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009, got federal funding to help with its reorganization.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Economy • Politics
What is the Lord's Resistance Army?
Members of the Lord's Resistance Army stand guard in November 2008.
October 14th, 2011
03:17 PM ET

What is the Lord's Resistance Army?

The Lord's Resistance Army, formed in the late 1980s, is a sectarian military and religious group that operates in northern Uganda and South Sudan. It has committed numerous abuses and atrocities such as abducting, raping, maiming and killing civilians, including women and children, according to Its members are known for hacking off the lips and ears of their victims, looting villages and burning huts, and stealing clothes and medicine from the communities they terrorize, CNN has reported.

On Friday, President Barack Obama announced that he is sending about 100 U.S. troops to Africa to help hunt down the group's leaders.

The Lord's Resistance Army has sought to overthrow the Ugandan government and has contributed to instability across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.

It is led by Joseph Kony, who professes to have spiritual powers. He is often "underrated" as a leader, according to a 2011 Jane's report on the group. Kony has claimed to be possessed by spirits who dictate the group's strategy. Jane's notes that the tactic has served him well, enabling him to speak to followers who have mixed beliefs. By portraying himself as a medium with supernatural abilities, his authority becomes harder to question within the ranks.

U.S. military personnel will advise regional forces working to target Kony and other senior leaders. The president said the troops will not engage Kony's forces "unless necessary for self-defense."

The Lord's Resistance Army is sophisticated and less like the ragtag group of fighters it is sometimes portrayed as, Jane's says. It has benefited from the military experience of former Ugandan military officers and years of combat in Sudan.

International aid convoys and non-government organizations operating in the region have been threatened by the Lord's Resistance Army, according to numerous reports. Human Rights Watch, in a letter released in May, urged the U.S. government to step up its effort to protect people from the group.

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Filed under: Africa • Democratic Republic of Congo • South Sudan • Uganda • World
October 14th, 2011
02:49 PM ET

Man, 100, set to become oldest marathoner

A man who didn’t start running marathons until he was 89 is hoping to become the first undisputed centenarian known to have completed the 26.2-mile race.

Fauja Singh, 100, of the United Kingdom, is expected to run the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday in Canada. If he completes it, Guinness World Records will recognize him as the world’s oldest marathoner.

“He’s really happy, and looking forward to it,” his coach, Harmander Singh, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Guinness had recognized Dimitrion Yordanidis, 98, as the world’s oldest marathoner for running in Athens in 1976. Yordanidis isn’t among the records kept by the Association of Road Racing Statisticians, which already recognizes Fauja Singh as the oldest for the last marathon he ran, at age 93 in 2004.

Singh, nicknamed the Turbaned Tornado, took up running 20 years ago - around the time he moved to England from India - after losing his wife and son, the CBC and the marathon’s website say.

He began running marathons at 89, completing seven through age 93. He set the current world record for people 90 and older with a time of five hours, 40 minutes and four seconds in Toronto in 2003.


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Filed under: Canada • Running • Sports • United Kingdom
Man charged in California salon shooting
Police on Wednesday investigate a shooting that left eight people dead at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach, California.
October 14th, 2011
02:15 PM ET

Man charged in California salon shooting

[Updated at 3:42 p.m. ET] Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a 42-year-old southern California man charged Friday with murder in this week's mass shooting at a hair salon, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.

Scott Evans Dekraai of Huntington Beach, California, allegedly shot his ex-wife and seven other people to death at the Salon Meritage in the small, coastal community of Seal Beach, Rackauckas told reporters Friday. A ninth person was wounded.

Prosecutors formally filed charges of eight counts of first-degree murder and a felony count of attempted murder against Dekraai on Friday. The first-degree murder charges carry the special circumstance of multiple murder, the prosecutor said.

Dekraai and his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, were in a custody battle over their 8-year-old son and the dispute was the motive in the shooting, Rackauckas said. The prosecutor called Dekraai "a methodical and merciless killer.

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Filed under: California • Crime
October 14th, 2011
01:58 PM ET

Obama orders U.S. troops to help chase down African 'army' leader

President Barack Obama is sending about 100 U.S. troops to Africa to help hunt down the leaders of the notoriously violent Lord's Resistance Army.

"I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield," Obama said in letter to the House Speaker John Boehner and Daniel Inouye, the president pro tempore of the Senate. He was making a reference to the head of the LRA.

"I believe that deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa."

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Filed under: Africa
Overheard on Get money out of politics
Protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement rally in downtown Manhattan.
October 14th, 2011
01:14 PM ET

Overheard on Get money out of politics

Exchange of the Day:

"The root of the problem is mega-corporations buying members of Congress to rig capitalism in their favor." - blue175

"I totally agree. Lobbying is legalized bribery." - str8ridah

What will victory look like for Occupy Wall Street?

The Occupy Wall Street movement is still quite young, but writes political commentator Sally Kohn, "my sense is that the ultimate demand could be a radical reform to get money out of politics," including public financing of elections and a constitutional amendment removing the status of corporations as "people." Many readers agreed that money was polluting the process.

NocommentCNN asked, "Why are my elected representatives representing corporate interest before the interests of individual freedom and liberty that this country was founded for?"

MrSteiny said, "I consider myself a pretty far-right-leaning individual. I believe in the protection of property rights and that includes one's money. But one thing I think that most Americans (Democrat or Republican) can agree on is that money in politics is a poor idea. I'm not talking about paychecks. I think the men and women chosen to set and monitor the laws and policies of this country should be compensated fairly. I'm talking about lobbying, which really is more like bribing."


October 14th, 2011
01:06 PM ET

Court blocks part of Alabama immigration enforcement law

A federal appeals court has blocked enforcement of parts of a controversial immigration enforcement law in Alabama.

The injunction issued Friday from the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta came after the U.S. Justice Department - supported by a coalition of immigrant rights groups - requested the legislation, known as HB 56, be put on hold until the larger constitutional questions can be addressed, a process that could take some months at least.

The Obama administration argues the Constitution does not permit states to deter illegal immigration, saying an issue with foreign policy implications is the exclusive mandate of the federal government.

Alabama's law, passed by the legislature this summer, would allow state and local officials to check the immigration status of public school students; to detain suspected illegal aliens without bond; and make it a crime for immigrants who lack proper documents to conduct business with the state for things like driver's licenses.

Among selected provisions blocked from being enforced are:

- Section 10, requiring immigrants to carry an alien registration card;
- Section 28, allowing public school students to be questioned about their immigration status.

Among selected provisions Alabama will be allowed to enforce are:

- Section 30, blocking undocumented immigrants from entering into a "business transaction";
- Section 12, allowing local law enforcement to stop, detain or arrest upon reasonable suspicion anyone "unlawfully present" in the state

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Filed under: Alabama • Immigration
Protesters arrested in New York, Denver, San Diego
Uniformed officers stand across the street from protesters in Denver, Colorado, on Friday morning after troopers cleared protesters from a park.
October 14th, 2011
12:32 PM ET

Protesters arrested in New York, Denver, San Diego

Editor's note: The following are updates on Occupy Wall Street-style protests in the United States, including those in Denver - where some protesters were detained Friday morning - and New York, where authorities arrested some marchers after city officials canceled a plan to clear demonstrators' encampments at a city park.

[Updated at 12:32 p.m. ET] In San Diego, CNN affiliate KFMB broadcast images of police detaining demonstrators as they gathered amid tents and tarps strewn about a downtown plaza.

Protesters appeared to refuse to leave the area, sitting in columns atop the tarps and yelling, "Stay down" as police tried to remove them from the scene.

Police had warned the protesters to leave the area by Friday. They told protesters they were violating a city ordinance by setting up tents in a public area without a permit, and that they were in the way of a planned weekend event that is expected to draw hundreds of people in the same area, CNN affiliate KGTV reported.

[Updated at 11:05 a.m. ET] More details on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's revelation that the owners of Zuccotti Park - where protesters have been camping for weeks - decided against clearing the park Friday after they allegedly received threatening phone calls from city officials:

The mayor said on New York's WOR Radio that he didn't know which officials allegedly made the threats, but that the company decided to work out some form of a negotiated settlement with protesters in the coming days.

Bloomberg added that while he lacked first-hand knowledge of the conversations, he was told the officials generally threatened to "make life more difficult" for the real-estate company.

[Updated at 10:25 a.m. ET] Fourteen people were arrested Friday morning on or near Broadway in lower Manhattan, including protesters who obstructed traffic by standing or sitting down on the street, New York Police Department Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said.

Other people who were arrested had turned over trash baskets, knocked over a police scooter and hurled bottles, said Browne, who added that charges were pending.

Demonstrators were marching on Broadway on a day that city officials decided not to follow through on a plan to clear protesters from lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park, where protesters have been camping for weeks.

[Updated at 10:08 a.m. ET] At least 24 protesters were arrested - many on allegations of criminal misconduct -  in Denver, Colorado, on Friday morning as state troopers cleared people from a park where protesters had been encamped, CNN affiliate KMGH reported, citing Denver and state police.

[Updated at 9:25 a.m. ET] Some protesters in Denver, Colorado, were detained Friday morning as state troopers began clearing them from a park where they'd been encamped, CNN affiliate KMGH reports.

Authorities had given protesters until 11 p.m. Thursday to clear the park, which is across the street from the state Capitol, KMGH reports.

Video from the scene, provided by KMGH, shows a few dozen protesters shouting toward a line of uniformed officers across the street from them.  Troopers were preventing protesters from returning to the park.


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Filed under: Economy • Justice • Politics • U.S.
British defense minister resigns
British Defense Secretary Liam Fox addresses delegates at the Conservative Party Conference on October 5 in Manchester, England.
October 14th, 2011
11:54 AM ET

British defense minister resigns

[Updated at 11:43 a.m. ET] Liam Fox, Britain's defense minister, has resigned amid an uproar over a friend who worked as an adviser but didn't have an official governmental position.

"I mistakenly allowed the distinction between my personal interest and my Government activities to become blurred. The consequences of this have become clearer in recent days. I am very sorry for this," he said in a letter on Friday to Prime Minister David Cameron. He said he will continue to represent his constituents in North Somerset.

"I have also repeatedly said that the national interest must always come before personal interest. I now have to hold myself to my own standard. I have therefore decided, with great sadness, to resign from my post as Secretary of State for Defence - a position which I have been immensely proud and honored to have held."

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Filed under: United Kingdom
October 14th, 2011
10:09 AM ET

Small villages devastated by Jova

Hurricane Jova was not as damaging as other storms have been, but for small Mexican villages, it was hardly benign.

Mexican villages who were in Jova's path face a prolonged recovery from the heavy rains and flooding that affected them this week.

The city of Manzanillo on Mexico's Pacific coast bore the brunt of Jova. It was especially hit hard by the fierce rains of the storm. By Friday, the cleanup process was underway and many of the rivers that flooded were receding, but smaller villages are not faring as well.

In the village of Chavarin, on the outskirts of Manzanillo, floodwaters still inundated farmland, homes, roads and highways.

The Mexican Red Cross early Thursday delivered food and sanitary supplies. Each family, provided a blue bracelet for the purpose of receiving aid, waited in a long line to receive two boxes from the aid trucks.

The situation was calm but somber as boxes were placed in the hands of each family in need. The Red Cross distributed aid to some 300 families in the village. The agency would similarly travel to other small villages in the vicinity to provide aid. In all, they had enough supplies for 2,800 families for two weeks.

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Filed under: Flooding • Hurricanes • Mexico • Weather
October 14th, 2011
09:48 AM ET

Gadhafi's house lies in ruins

On the outskirts of Sirte, a mansion with a columned facade lies in ruins, though its opulence is still evident under shattered glass and chunks of concrete. This was Moammar Gadhafi's home in the city of his birth.

The house had its own salon with barber chairs and massage tables. Ornate four-poster beds furnished the bedrooms and there were lavish decorations all around.

In the basement is a large conference room. Is this where Gadhafi planned his last stand or arranged for his escape?

The deposed leader has not been seen in public for months. His whereabouts are unknown but some believe he may still be hiding in Sirte.

People wandering through the house are stunned. They thought Gadhafi lived in a tent.

Most residents have abandoned Sirte after a month of fierce battles. Revolutionary forces have fought Gadhafi loyalists street by street, cornering the last vestiges of the old regime to one district. With their backs to the Mediterranean, the loyalists used machine gun nests and snipers atop buildings to fight back Friday.

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Filed under: Libya • World
October 14th, 2011
08:46 AM ET

U.N. urges 'immediate' world 'measures' to protect Syrians

A top U.N. official deplored the "devastatingly remorseless toll of human lives" in Syria on Friday and exhorted the world community "to take immediate measures" to protect citizens.

"The onus is on all members of the international community to take protective action in a collective and decisive manner, before the continual ruthless repression and killings drive the country into a full-blown civil war," said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who issued the statement describing a dire human rights situation in Syria.

Her remarks come as protesters took to the streets on Friday in different cities, a nationwide outpouring supporting the "free army," a reference to personnel who have defected from President Bashar al-Assad's military and the recently-formed Syrian Free Army.

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Filed under: Syria
October 14th, 2011
07:54 AM ET

Friday's live events

Watch Live for gavel-to-gavel coverage of Dr. Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial, which is dark today.

Today's programming highlights...

9:30 am ET - Solyndra loan hearing - The controversial loan given to troubled solar company Solyndra is again the subject of a House Energy Committee hearing.


Filed under: Conrad Murray • Crime • Politics
October 14th, 2011
03:20 AM ET

Friend: Man accused in Saudi plot is more 'Mr. Bean than 007'

A man accused of an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States was too disorganized to have been a part of the scheme, a said.

Manssor Arbabsiar is accused of conspiracy to murder a foreign official, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism.

Know as "Jack" because of his affinity for the whiskey Jack Daniels, the 56-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen wasn't much of a businessman, according to David Tomscha, who owned a car lot with him for about a year in 2000.

"If they wanted 007, I think they got Mr. Bean," Tomscha said.

"He was very disorganized, he would lose most anything and he would get the dates of the cars wrong," Tomscha said. "He'd tell you it was an '89 and maybe it was an '85. One thing you could be sure, whatever date he told you, it wasn't that year."

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Filed under: Justice • Politics • U.S. • World
October 14th, 2011
02:07 AM ET

Clinton: U.S. must put economics at center of foreign policy

The United States must position itself to lead in a world "where security is shaped in boardrooms and on trading floors - as well as on battlefields," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will say Friday in a major economics and foreign policy speech in New York.

Economic forces, Clinton will say, are transforming foreign policy realities around the globe.

"We have seen governments toppled by economic crisis," a text of the Secretary's remarks released by the State Department on the eve of the speech reads. "Revolutions born in a Tunisian marketplace have swept across an entire region. Europe faces its strongest test in a generation, thanks to recession and debt. And everywhere I travel, I see countries gaining influence not because of the size of their armies, but because of the growth of their economies."

Clinton will say she is updating U.S. foreign policy priorities to include economics "every step of the way," suggesting the United States should take a cue from the leaders of emerging powers like India and Brazil who put economics at the center of their foreign policies.

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Filed under: Economy • Politics • U.S. • World
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