January 31st, 2012
02:01 AM ET

Fate of Chinese workers kidnapped in Sudan remains uncertain

The fate of dozens of construction workers kidnapped in Sudan, including a group of Chinese nationals, remained unclear Tuesday amid conflicting reports on the situation.

Militants captured 70 workers - a mix of local and foreign staff - in an attack Saturday on a construction site in a remote area of Sudan's volatile South Kordofan state, the Sudanese military said. The military said it was pursuing the kidnappers.

The camp belonged to China's Power Construction Corp. - an example of the willingness of Chinese companies to push into unstable regions of the world in search of resources to help fuel the country's fast growing economy.

The official Sudan News Agency reported Monday that the Sudanese army had freed at least 14 of the kidnapped Chinese nationals, citing Ahmed Haroun, the state governor.

But that conflicted with information from Xinhua, the state-run Chinese news agency, which said later Monday that the 29 Chinese workers abducted by the rebels were still being held captive.

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Filed under: China • South Sudan • Sudan • World
January 31st, 2012
01:52 AM ET

Attorney general: Getting pardoned Mississippi murderers difficult

Getting the convicted murderers pardoned by outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour back in prison is like "being on a manhunt with one arm tied behind my back," the state's attorney general said.

Highlighting the difficulty is the case of Joseph Ozment, whom authorities finally located Monday in Wyoming, said Jim Hood, the attorney general.

"We can't treat him as an escapee. He has a document that says he's a free man as of now," said Hood. "All we have is a civil document we served him with. That is the most we can do. If he doesn't show up in court, we will move to hold him in contempt. That's the difficult part of this process."

Ozment's whereabouts had been unknown since his mother picked him up on January 8 after his release.

Ozment is one of four convicted murderers Barbour pardoned this month. The others are: David Gatlin, Charles Hooker and Anthony McCray.

Ozment did not appear at a court hearing in a case challenging the pardons.

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Filed under: Crime • Justice • U.S.
January 31st, 2012
01:27 AM ET

Will Florida determine a GOP front-runner?

After one month and three contests, it may be up to Florida to finally add some clarity to the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

With three different winners in the three contests so far, Florida could finally be the state to put one of the four remaining major GOP candidates firmly into the front-runner position.

At stake in Florida's Tuesday primary: 50 delegates, the largest haul so far in the primary and caucus calendar.

And the latest public opinion polls suggest that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will claim those delegates.

Five surveys of those likely to vote in the primary conducted between Saturday night and Monday afternoon all indicated that Romney held a double-digit lead over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, with former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas far behind.

"The GOP contest may end in Florida, but that doesn't mean it will be over," said Alex Castellanos, a GOP strategist and CNN contributor. "With a win, Romney puts the nomination firmly in his grip. But it appears Gingrich and Santorum will keep trying to rip it from his hand."

"Romney's relentless and disciplined effort should get more credit," added Castellanos, who was a top media adviser for Romney's 2008 nomination bid but who is not taking sides this cycle. "No long passes, just three yards a play and a cloud of dust. But with a win on Tuesday, he'll have gotten the nomination the old-fashioned way: He'll have earned it."

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Filed under: Florida • Politics • U.S.
January 31st, 2012
01:12 AM ET

Texas community trucks in water to stem shortage

A small central Texas community has begun trucking in thousands of gallons of water to avoid running dry during the state's historic drought, a water official said.

Two trucks filled with about 8,000 gallons of water reached Spicewood Beach Monday afternoon and the precious liquid was immediately pumped into community water tanks.

"The community could be trucking for two weeks or two months, it just depends on the weather," according to Lower Colorado River Association spokeswoman Clara Tuma. "It's raining right now, though."

The town is under a Stage 4 water emergency - the most severe level - and it won't ease until the town gets more rain over an extended period of time.

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Filed under: Texas • U.S. • Weather
January 31st, 2012
12:13 AM ET

College admits fudging students' exam scores

An admissions officer at Claremont McKenna College in California has resigned after the school's president revealed that the officer had inflated college entrance examination scores for incoming freshmen since 2005.

"As an institution of higher education with a deep and consistent commitment to the integrity of all our academic activities, and particularly our reporting of institutional data, we take this situation very seriously," college President Pamela B. Gann wrote in an e-mail Monday to students, faculty and staff.

Gann wrote that a lone administrator reported composite scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test that were exaggerated by 10 to 20 points. That employee, whom she did not name, has resigned, she said.

Such scores are often used in various comparisons of colleges across the country, including U.S. News & World Report's prestigious annual rankings.

There was no evidence that individual students' scores were altered, Gann's statement said.

Claremont McKenna, a private, coed college in Claremont about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, was listed ninth among U.S. liberal arts colleges in the magazine's most recent nationwide rankings.

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Filed under: Education • U.S.
January 31st, 2012
12:12 AM ET

Afghan police: Man kills wife for giving birth to daughter instead of son

Police in the northern Afghanistan province of Kunduz are looking for a man they say strangled his wife after she bore him a third child that was not a son.

Sher Mohammed, 29, married his 22-year-old wife four years ago, police said.

The couple had three daughters, the last of whom was born three months ago, said Khanabad district police chief Sufi Habib.

After the youngest daughter was born, Mohammed blamed his wife for not being able to deliver a boy, Habib said.

"Finally on Saturday, the man, with the help of his mother, first beat the woman and then strangled her to death," the police chief said.

Police arrested the mother but the son fled.

Khanabad is about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Kunduz city.

The report comes weeks after Afghan police said they rescued a 15-year-old girl who was locked up in the basement of her in-laws' house, starved, and had her nails pulled out.

The girl, Sahar Gul, was married off to a 30-year-old man last year. Authorities in the northern Baghlan province said the girl reportedly was tortured after she refused to submit to prostitution.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • World
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