January 10th, 2012
03:28 AM ET

North Korea plans prisoner release to mark dead leaders' birthdays

North Korea said Tuesday that it would release an unspecified number of prisoners in February to mark the birthdays of the two dictators who ruled the reclusive nation for a total of more than 60 years.

The amnesty of "convicts," ordered by a parliamentary decree, will begin February 1, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

KCNA said the move ties in with the centenary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the revered founder of North Korea who ran the country between 1945 and 1994, and the 70th birthday of his son, Kim Jong Il, who succeeded him and remained in power until his death last month.

Leadership of the repressive regime has now passed to a third generation of the Kim family: Kim Jong Un, the youngest son and chosen successor of Kim Jong Il.

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Filed under: Kim Jong Il • Kim Jong Un • North Korea • World
January 10th, 2012
03:23 AM ET

Nicaragua next stop in Ahmadinejad's Latin America tour

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad heads to Nicaragua on Tuesday, the second stop of his five-day tour of Latin American countries.

There, he will attend the inauguration of President Daniel Ortega, who cruised to a third term in November amidst allegations of voter irregularities.

Accompanying Ahmadinejad will be Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, with whom he met Monday to pledge closer cooperation between their two nations.

Venezuela was the first stop in Ahmadinejad's tour, which was not altogether coincidental.

Despite their cultural differences, Venezuela and Iran have found significant common ground: Both are among the world's top crude oil exporters, and their leaders are strong allies united by a fierce opposition to what they describe as U.S. imperialism.

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Filed under: Iran • Nicaragua • Venezuela • World
January 10th, 2012
02:46 AM ET

After calls for Mubarak's execution, lawyers return to court

Civil rights lawyers will present their case for a second day Tuesday in the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The lawyers have joined the prosecution's calls for Mubarak to be executed for allegedly killing hundreds of protesters during the country's uprising last year.

"We merged our voice with the prosecutor's closing arguments from last week's hearing and demanded the death sentence to Mubarak, his former interior minister Habib El Adly, and four of his aides for killing hundreds of protesters and injuring thousands more," attorney Khalid Abu Bakr told CNN on Monday.  "We have proof Mubarak is directly responsible for the killings along with El Adly and his aides."

Mubarak, 83, is accused of corruption and ordering the deaths of protesters. He has denied the charges.

The judge, Ahmed Refaat, set aside two days to hear from at least 10 civil rights lawyers. The defense is expected to make its closing arguments later in the week.

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Egypt • World
January 10th, 2012
02:08 AM ET

Al-Assad to speak as UN Security Council set to discuss Syria

Amid unabated violence in his country, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is expected to deliver a speech Tuesday - the same day the U.N. Security Council will meet for the first time this year to discuss the situation in the embattled country.
Al-Assad will address national developments before noon (5 a.m. ET) Tuesday, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) announced.
Hours later, the U.N. Security Council will take up the issue of Syria, where reports of a brutal and sustained government crackdown on anti-regime protesters have yielded international condemnation.

Thousands have been reported killed by security forces throughout the uprising. Death estimates range from 5,000 to more than 6,000. But the Syrian government has consistently blamed the violence on "terrorists."

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Syria • United Nations • World
January 10th, 2012
01:59 AM ET

Family to share more about FAMU hazing death

Family members of Florida A&M University drum major Robert D. Champion will hold a news conference Tuesday morning to share more information about  a marching band hazing incident that they say led to his death.

The death prompted the FAMU  board of trustees to approve a new three-part anti-hazing plan.

The new policy, approved last week, was passed in a 9-1 vote by the board as the school continues to deal with the controversial death.

Champion, 26, collapsed in Orlando on a bus carrying members of FAMU's Marching 100 band after a November football game that included a halftime performance by the group.Family lawyer Christopher Chestnut has charged that Champion died after receiving "some dramatic blows, perhaps (having an) elevated heart rate" tied to "a hazing ritual" that took place on the bus.

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Filed under: Crime • Justice • U.S. • World
January 10th, 2012
01:51 AM ET

High-stakes race for second and third in New Hampshire

It's Round 2 in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

While most polling places in New Hampshire don't open until early Tuesday, the first votes were cast just after midnight in tiny Dixville Notch.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. and former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman tied for the lead with two votes each. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas had one vote apiece. President Barack Obama received all three votes in the Democratic primary.

While there's little drama over which candidate will win the statewide contest, there's plenty of interest in which candidates come in second and third and gain momentum moving forward towards South Carolina's January 21 contest.

Romney is the long-time front-runner in Granite State polls, and his lead over the rest of the field ranges from 13 to 24 points, according to the latest surveys. New Hampshire's home field for Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, who also owns a vacation home here and has spent lots of time the past six years campaigning for himself and fellow Republicans in the state.


Filed under: Politics • U.S. • Uncategorized
January 10th, 2012
01:41 AM ET

Official: Marketplace blast kills at least 18 in Pakistan

A blast at a busy market in northwest Pakistan killed at least 18 and wounded more than 50 Tuesday, an official said.

The explosion occurred in the Jamrud Market in the Khyber Agency, one of seven districts in Pakistan's volatile tribal region, which borders Afghanistan.

The bomb was placed in a vehicle belonging to a local militia group fighting the Taliban, said Jameel Khan, a government official.

The bomb was then remotely detonated, he said, citing the initial investigation.

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Filed under: Pakistan • World
January 10th, 2012
01:20 AM ET

Rescuers find 3 alive in West Virginia cave

Three men missing in a 13-mile-long West Virginia cave complex since Sunday were rescued alive and unhurt Monday night, authorities said.

There was no immediate word on their condition. They went into the 13-mile Bone-Norman Cave System late Saturday on a weekend spelunking - or cave-exploring - trip and did not return as expected Sunday evening, said April Harvey, assistant chief of the Renick Volunteer Fire Department.

Authorities were notified early Monday morning, and trained cave rescuers began their search shortly after 4 a.m. The men were found alive and well about 9 p.m. by two volunteers from the Virginia Tech Cave Club, Harvey said.

One of the three, West Virginia University student Grant Blaisdell, told CNN affiliate WVVA he was "ready to get on with the rest of my life" after learning a difficult lesson: "Do not underestimate the cave, and do not overestimate your abilities."

Blaisell said he and his friends had sleeping bags and food as they waited for rescue alongside an underground creek. But when they first saw their rescuers' lights, they weren't certain they weren't an illusion.

The creek "kind of messes with you," Blaisdell said. "You think you see lights, you think you hear voices, but it's not that at all."

Renick is located in a mountainous region about 120 miles east of the state capital, Charleston. In addition to Virginia Tech, caving experts from Morgantown and Charleston came to the entrance, located off of a rural road in Greenbrier County, Harvey said.

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Filed under: U.S.
January 10th, 2012
01:13 AM ET

Grounded cargo ship leaks more oil off New Zealand coast

The stern of a cargo ship that ran aground last year on a reef off the coast of New Zealand has slipped further underwater, officials said Tuesday, spewing nearly 10 more tons of oil into the sea.

Some 21 containers holding a hazardous metal called cryolite - a by-product of aluminum smelting - have also slipped off the vessel as it plunged downward, said Maritime New Zealand spokeswoman Michele Poole.

"We had significant storms last weekend and the seas really have not subsided," added Poole. "So it's very rough out there."

Authorities say they do not consider the metals dangerous because they are wrapped in plastic within the container. Should the containers break apart, Poole noted, the metals' toxicity levels would likely be diluted by the surrounding sea water.

The metals are not thought to pose an environmental risk, she said.

Still, emergency management teams were again placed on alert after monitoring devices aboard the ship - named the MV Rena - indicated Tuesday morning that the vessel had further slipped off the Astrolabe Reef, located about 12 nautical miles off the city of Tauranga.

Authorities said six little blue, or korora, penguins have since been recovered after new pockets of oil surfaced later Tuesday, but added that they do not expect a need for a major recovery effort.

The Liberian-flagged vessel struck the reef in October and has split in two.

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Filed under: New Zealand
January 10th, 2012
12:23 AM ET

Japan to hand over detained whaling activists to Australia

Japan said Tuesday that it would hand over to Australian authorities three Australian anti-whaling activists being held aboard a Japanese vessel, but that it would press on with its annual whale hunt in the seas near Antarctica.

The activists had illegally boarded the ship, a patrol vessel supporting Japan's whaling mission in Antarctic waters, to protest the hunting of the giant marine mammals in the area.

The three men will be released without charge after being questioned by Japan's Coast Guard, an official at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday. The official declined to be identified as is customary in Japan.

"They have not been violent after getting on board and had no record of joining past destructive actions by Sea Shepherd," the official said, referring to the anti-whaling group that has clashed several times with the Japanese fleet.

He said the Japanese whaling fleet needed the patrol boat to continue with its hunt.

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Filed under: Australia • Japan • World
January 10th, 2012
12:08 AM ET

Alabama beats LSU, wins college football championship

Alabama exacted revenge and clinched the Bowl Championship Series on Monday night, besting Louisiana State University 21-0.

The Crimson Tide cleared up past problems with its special teams, kicking five field goals to become champions of college football.

Alabama's stifling defense battered LSU the entire game, holding the Tigers to just five first downs.

"It was great team win. Our defense did a good job. Our offense controlled the momentum and our special teams played well," Alabama coach Nick Saban said.

Monday's game was a far cry from the two Southeastern Conference rivals' last showdown.

Both teams went into that game on November 5 undefeated. College football pundits dubbed it the game of the century and Alabama lost 9-6 in overtime.

In that game, Alabama missed four field goals, including one in overtime.

This time, Alabama's kicker Jeremy Shelley hit five field goals, giving Alabama a commanding 15-0 lead in the fourth quarter.

Crimson Tide's star running back Trent Richardson broke a 34-yard touchdown with less than five minutes left.

"I am happy and proud of my players, the way they responded to the pain and disappointment of losing the last time," Saban said

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Filed under: College football • Football • Sports • U.S. • World
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