November 26th, 2011
10:24 PM ET

Arizona police vow probe into bloody arrest of grandfather at Walmart

An Arizona police department will conduct an investigation into the bloody arrest of a 54-year-old grandfather during a Black Friday sale at a Walmart, an assistant police chief said Saturday.

Jerald Newman, 54, was released Saturday from a Maricopa County jail, his wife, Pamela, told CNN. He has been charged with resisting arrest and shoplifting.

"(He is) as good as expected ... but he is emotionally and mentally a wreck," she said.

Newman was among a throng of shoppers crammed into a Buckeye, Arizona, Walmart soon after it opened late the night of Thanksgiving.

"They were just letting people in; there was nowhere to walk," said his daughter, Berneta Sanchez, who was also in the store. "Teenagers and adults were fighting for these games, taking them away from little kids and away from my father."

Post by:
Filed under: Arizona • Crime • Justice
November 26th, 2011
09:47 PM ET

Colombian rebels kill 4 hostages, president says

Colombia's main leftist rebel group shot and killed four hostages held for more than a decade, President Juan Manuel Santos said Saturday, vowing to fight the rebels with everything in reach.

A fifth hostage, a policeman, was found alive, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon told reporters.

"This is yet another example of how brutal and cruel the FARC is. ... When faced with security forces, they (the rebels) had no qualms about killing them in cold blood," Santos said.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC, has been at war with the Colombian government since the 1960s. While severely weakened in recent years, the guerrilla group has continued to carry out kidnappings and attack security forces.

Post by:
Filed under: Colombia
Arab League proposes sanctions against Syria, including freezing assets
November 26th, 2011
04:16 PM ET

Arab League proposes sanctions against Syria, including freezing assets

Arab League finance ministers recommended Saturday that economic sanctions be levied against the Syrian government for its part in a bloody, months-long crackdown on civilian demonstrators, a senior Arab League official told CNN.

Foreign ministers from the regional alliance will meet at 11 a.m. Sunday in Cairo (4 a.m. ET) to consider whether to adopt the proposal.

Damascus had failed to respond to a Friday deadline for it to allow Arab League observers into the Middle Eastern country to monitor the government's response to civil unrest.

"The Syrians responded with more requests to amendments to the protocol; they did not reject or accept," a senior Arab League diplomat said.

The slate of sanctions proposed Saturday in Cairo - which were opposed by Algeria and Iraq - include barring any private or commercial airlines from the league's 22 member states from flying into or out of Syria.

In addition, all assets belonging to the Syrian government and its officials would be frozen so they couldn't be accessed, and Syrian officials would not be allowed to visit Arab League countries.

Post by:
Filed under: Arab Spring • Arab unrest: developments • Syria
November 26th, 2011
03:40 PM ET

Yemeni leader calls for elections to be held in February

Yemen's vice president called Saturday for presidential elections to be held in February, state media reported.

Vice President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi issued a presidential decree for the vote to be held February 21, according to the state-run SABA news agency.

The decree comes three days after President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to step down from power after months of protests against his 33-year rule. He became the fourth leader to leave office as a result of the Arab Spring unrest that has roiled much of the Middle East and North Africa this year.

Post by:
Filed under: Yemen
A true reptilian in Washington
Oleander lives in the basement of the U.S. Commerce Department.
November 26th, 2011
08:00 AM ET

A true reptilian in Washington

Just look at the polls about how Americans are viewing some of the inhabitants of Washington.

It's as though they’re saying, "Some of these creatures in Washington aren’t following the rules of civilized society. They only seem to care about saving their own skin."

Downright reptilian, those dismal approval numbers say.

What the polls don’t show is that those creatures aren’t necessarily politicians. Some of them are living in the basement of the U.S. Commerce Department.

Right now, there’s an albino alligator there. On purpose.

(Click the audio player to hear more on this story from CNN Radio's Libby Lewis.)

It turns out that the National Aquarium – the original one – is in the basement of the U.S. Commerce Department. And it's been there been since 1932.

So upstairs, they’re talking about economic indicators (and maybe presidential candidates who want to make the Commerce Department extinct).

Downstairs, in the cool dark basement, it’s piranhas and pythons and a lone albino alligator named Oleander.

She got here in the fall, when a lot of creatures move to D.C. She’s got pale luminescent skin and mesmerizing eyes that look like pink crystal marbles.

CNN got an exclusive interview with her handler, Ryan Dumas, a herpetologist for the National Aquarium. As far as Oleander goes, he’s like your typical Washington aide.

Dumas: I take care of her every need here. I guess you could say I’m the chief aide. Anything that happens with her, I pretty much know about or made happen.

CNN: She hasn’t been here long. But she already looks like she’s used to holding out for what she wants.

Dumas: Absolutely. As far as eating goes, we’ve tried a number of different fish, different species of rodents.  She really has only an affinity right now for a smaller-sized frozen rat.

CNN: So she’s like some of these Washington types that develop strange appetites once they get here.

Dumas: Exactly.

CNN: But she doesn’t make those midnight calls to room service, because she has you, right?

Dumas: Yeah. And she doesn’t have thumbs, so it’s hard to dial. But she’s pretty low-maintenance, which is probably atypical for a lot of people in this area.

CNN: She’s albino. That raises a delicate color question. She’s not red or blue.

Dumas: Nope. She is all white.  Albinism is the lack of all dark pigments. She’s dark-pigment free.

CNN: So you could say she’s post-racial.

Dumas:  There are more than 2 million gators in the U.S. in the wild.  There are less than a hundred known albinos.

CNN: So she’s definitely in the 1%.

Dumas: Definitely.

CNN: How about her work habits?

Dumas: Alligators spend a large chunk of time doing absolutely nothing. They’re an ambush predator for the most part. They’re going to sit around and wait for something to come by. If it doesn’t, they’re fine.

Some would say Oleander will flourish here.

And, she believes in term limits. She’s only in Washington until February. Then she goes back home to her alligator farm in Florida.

She knows nobody should stay in Washington for too long.

Post by:
Filed under: Alligators