Russian TV claims Putin assassination plot foiled
A group in Odessa, Ukraine, has confessed to a plot to kill Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, according to a state-run TV report.
February 27th, 2012
04:39 AM ET

Russian TV claims Putin assassination plot foiled

A plot to assassinate Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has been foiled, Russia's state-run Channel One TV reported Monday, less than a week before presidential elections that Putin is expected to win.

Citing unnamed sources, the report said a group of plotters was arrested in the Ukrainian city of Odessa in early January and, after weeks of questioning, confessed to planning to kill the Russian leader.

The TV report included what it said was a confession by a fixer associated with the two men who were seized in Odessa.

"The final task was to go to Moscow and carry out an assassination attempt on the premier Putin," the man, Adam Osmayev, said.

The plot allegedly involved a plan for a suicide bomber, and was organized by Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov, Channel One reported.

CNN has not independently confirmed the existence of the plot.

The announcement comes a week ahead of this Sunday's presidential election.

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Stratfor calls WikiLeaks e-mail release 'deplorable'
Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gather in southeast London in February 2011.
February 27th, 2012
02:23 AM ET

Stratfor calls WikiLeaks e-mail release 'deplorable'

The private intelligence firm Stratfor called the release of 5 million of its e-mails by WikiLeaks a "deplorable, unfortunate and illegal breach of privacy."

"Some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic," the Texas-based firm said. "We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them."

In a statement released early Monday in Europe (Sunday evening ET), WikiLeaks promised a raft of juicy disclosures about Stratfor, which promotes itself to corporate and government clients as a source of intelligence on international affairs.

WikiLeaks, a website that facilitates the leaking of confidential information, says the documents will be released through a network of more than 25 news outlets and activist groups in the coming weeks.

The first document out was titled "The Stratfor Glossary of Useful, Baffling and Strange Intelligence Terms," featuring brief and sometimes humorous definitions and blunt assessments of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement.

Others focused on speculation about the health of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and who was behind a suspected campaign of sabotage against Iran's nuclear program

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Filed under: U.S. • WikiLeaks • World
North Korea: Ready to go to war with U.S., South Korea
This undated photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on Monday shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspecting units under the command of the Korean Peoples' Army 4th Corps, stationed in the southwestern sector of the front at an undisclosed location in North Korea.
February 27th, 2012
12:44 AM ET

North Korea: Ready to go to war with U.S., South Korea

North Korea said it's ready to fight a war with the United States and South Korea as the two allies kicked off their annual joint military drills Monday, according to state-run media.

"Hundreds of thousands of troops are poised for a war carrying nuclear war equipment," North Korea's KCNA news agency reported, saying Pyongyang considers the drills to be practice for a preemptive strike on the North.

The international community has been negotiating with North Korea over its nuclear program for years.

The most recent talks between North Korea and the United States ended Friday with little visible progress. They were the first high-level talks since the death of North Korea's longtime leader, Kim Jong Il, in December and the subsequent transition of power to his youngest son, Kim Jong Un.

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February 27th, 2012
12:08 AM ET

Car bomb attack near NATO base in Afghanistan kills 9, authorities say

Authorities say a suicide bomber detonated a car full of explosives Monday near a NATO-led International Security Assistance Force base at Jalalabad airport in eastern Afghanistan, an attack that follows a week of deadly violence spurred by the burning of Qurans at a U.S. base.

At least nine people were killed and 12 wounded in the early morning explosion near the airport's front gate, Gen. Abdullah Hazim Stanikzai, the provincial police chief, said.

There were no reports of ISAF casualties, Air Force Capt. Justin Brockhoff, an ISAF spokesman, said.

Authorities could not immediately confirm whether the attack was motivated by the burning of the Muslim holy book.

U.S. officials, including President Barack Obama, have apologized for the burning and called it inadvertent. A military official - speaking on condition of anonymity, given the sensitivity of the issue - said the materials were from a detainee center's library and had "inscriptions" that appeared to be used to "facilitate extremist communications."

Such statements, or explanations, haven't stopped protests from Muslims in Afghanistan, who believe the Quran is the word of God.

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Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days
February 26th, 2012
05:32 PM ET

Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days

Here is a look at some of the stories that CNN plans to follow this week:

Polls show tight GOP races in Michigan, Arizona

A recent surge in support for GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum gets important tests this week in Michigan and Arizona, both of which hold primaries on Tuesday, one week before the Super Tuesday contests in 10 states.

A poll taken late last week showed that the overall front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, was leading Santorum 39% to 35% among likely primary voters in Arizona. In Michigan, recent polls show Romney and Santorum neck-and-neck.

Also this week, Wyoming will announce the results of its 20-day caucus process on Wednesday. And Washington state's caucuses are scheduled for Saturday.

Santorum has led Romney in national polling in recent days, thanks in part to strong primary and caucus performances in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri earlier this month. But by Sunday, Santorum's lead was down to 1 percentage point in one poll, with Romney closing the gap after a debate in Arizona on Wednesday.

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February 26th, 2012
03:50 AM ET

Latest attack on Nigerian church kills at least 3

At least three people were killed Sunday in the latest attack on Christian churches in Nigeria.

Police said a car packed with explosives rammed into the compound of the Cocin (Church of Christ) headquarters in Jos, police said.

Some church members emerged from the scene covered in dust.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack.

Nigeria has suffered a rash of attacks on churches in the past year.

In December, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in several northern states following a series of Christmas Day attacks on Christian churches.

Eighteen people were killed in the bombing of a church in Madalla, according to Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency. The militant Islamist group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for that attack.

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February 26th, 2012
03:37 AM ET

Official: Gunman in killing of U.S. soldiers identified as Afghan intelligence officer

gunman who shot two American officers inside the highly secured Afghan Ministry of Interior was identified Sunday as a junior intelligence officer with ties to a Pakistani religious school, an Afghan counter-terrorism official said.

The gunman who remained at large was identified as Abdul Saboor, an employee in the ministry's intelligence department, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

"We believe it was 100% linked to the Quran burning because of the religious background of this junior officer. He spent two months in a Pakistani madrassa," the official said.

Saturday's killing of the American officers prompted Gen. John Allen to order several hundred NATO-led International Security Assistance Force advisers to withdraw from ministries in Kabul as a precaution, raising questions about a U.S. military plan that plans to focus on the use of small teams of military advisers as it withdraws troops.

"For obvious force protection reasons, I have also taken immediate measures to recall all other ISAF personnel working in ministries in and around Kabul," Allen said.

Allen's order for ISAF advisers to withdraw includes the interior and defense ministries, among others, the U.S. official said.

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February 26th, 2012
02:04 AM ET

Cruise line: 22 passengers robbed in Mexican seaside resort

(CNN) - Twenty-two Carnival Cruise Lines passengers were robbed of valuables and their passports during a shore excursion in the Mexico seaside resort of Puerto Vallarta, cruise officials said late Saturday.

The passengers were robbed Thursday during a guided trail excursion, according to a statement released by the cruise line.

The cruise line did not provide details of the robbery, saying only that there were no injuries and the tour was suspended on future sailings under further notice.

"Carnival is working with guests to reimburse them for lost valuables and assist with lost passports or other forms of identification," the statement said.

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February 26th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Syrian constitutional referendum starts, but violence doesn't stop

In what the government touts as a move toward reform, Syria's constitutional referendum kicked off Sunday to widespread skepticism that the regime would stop slaughtering civilians.

The referendum on a draft constitution began in polling centers across the country Sunday morning, Syrian state-run TV reported.

But the unabated violence on the ground indicated nothing has changed in the nearly year-long onslaught by government forces.

At least 100 people were killed on the eve of the vote, almost half of them in Homs, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists.

And on Sunday morning, rockets fell once again on the besieged Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, another opposition activist group

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Syria • World
February 25th, 2012
04:22 PM ET

U.S. drone crashes in Pakistan

A U.S. drone crashed Saturday in Pakistan's tribal region, U.S. and Pakistani officials said.

The cause of the crash was unknown, but a U.S. official denied reports that the drone had been shot down.

Two Pakistani intelligence officials told CNN that witnesses in North Waziristan reported the crash near the village of Machikhel. The Pakistanis had only these witness accounts to go by, and were working to verify the crash and its causes with its own sources, the officials said.

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February 25th, 2012
04:19 PM ET

Red Cross fails to negotiate more Homs evacuations

The Red Cross failed to reach a deal with Syrian authorities and opposition members Saturday for a break in fighting so wounded people could be evacuated from the besieged city of Homs, an agency spokesman said.

"There has been no evacuation from Homs today. We simply could not reach any kind of agreement," International Committee of the Red Cross spokesman Saleh Dabbakeh said from Damascus.

He said the ICRC will continue trying to negotiate for access.

The frustrated talks took place one day after Syrian forces agreed to a brief cease-fire in Homs to allow Red Crescent volunteer crews to evacuate seven wounded people, ICRC spokesman Hisham Hassan told CNN in a telephone interview. Twenty Syrian women and children, who were not hurt, were also evacuated, he said.

The ICRC has urged combatants to stop fighting for two hours each day to deliver humanitarian aid to Homs and other cities.

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February 25th, 2012
07:13 AM ET

Syrian forces pound opposition centers amid calls for cease-fire

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces pounded resistance strongholds Saturday, the opposition said, raising questions about what immediate effect a plan by world powers to end the violence will have in the hardest-hit areas.

At least 33 people were killed Saturday across Syria, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition groups. Casualties included 17 people killed in the besieged city of Homs, the group said. The city at the center of resistance has endured more than three weeks of daily shelling.

Reports of renewed violence followed news Friday that dozens of countries agreed to increase pressure on al-Assad while laying groundwork for a political transition in Syria not unlike the international planning that preceded the fall of Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi last year.

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February 25th, 2012
04:56 AM ET

King's son-in-law testifies in fraud scandal

The son-in-law of Spain's King Juan Carlos arrived in court to testify before a magistrate Saturday as a suspect in a fraud scandal that has created unprecedented problems for the popular royal family.

Inaki Urdangarin, who was granted the title of Duke of Palma when he married the king's youngest daughter, Princess Cristina, in 1997, is under investigation for allegedly diverting public funds that were earmarked for his foundation for private use.

Urdangarin, with a serious look on his face and flanked by his lawyer, stopped briefly to make a statement to a group of reporters who were allowed inside a court-designated security zone.

"I am here today to demonstrate my innocence," Urdangarin said. "During these years I have carried out my responsibilities and have made decisions in a correct manner and with total transparency. My intention today is to clear up the truth about the facts."

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February 25th, 2012
04:41 AM ET

Nelson Mandela admitted to hospital in South Africa

South African anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela was admitted to hospital Saturday following an abdominal complaint, the government said.

"Madiba has had a longstanding abdominal complaint and doctors feel it needs proper specialist medical attention," President Jacob Zuma said in a statement.

The former president - affectionately known by his clan name Madiba - last appeared in public in the closing ceremonies of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Despite his rare appearances, Mandela, 93, retains his popularity and is considered the founding father and hero of South Africa's democracy.

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February 25th, 2012
02:43 AM ET

Yemen swears in new president after Saleh's longtime rule

Yemen swore in its new president Saturday, cementing a power transfer deal reached in November to end months of protests and violence over outgoing leader Ali Abdullah Saleh's longtime rule.

Abdurabu Mansur Hadi - who served as Saleh's vice president and became acting president in November in an agreement brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council - was sworn in Saturday in front of Yemen's parliament. Members of the parliament erupted in applause.

Saleh, who led Yemen for 33 years, was wounded in a June assassination attempt at his presidential palace during battles between government troops and tribal fighters.

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Filed under: Arab Spring • World • Yemen
February 25th, 2012
02:38 AM ET

Freelance cameraman provides a rare glimpse into Homs, Syria

A freelance cameraman who visited Homs recently put together a video that provides a rare glimpse of life in the embattled city and an even rarer close-up of the opposition movement in Syria.

At the headquarters of the government secret police, the cameraman - who uses the name Mani to avoid retribution by the government if he returns - finds himself in the thick of a battle. Some 200 members of the Free Syrian Army, made of military defectors, are involved in the attack. They explode a bomb below a rooftop position, where government snipers are trapped.

Mani's camera follows opposition fighters as they enter the government building, where room-to-room and stairwell-to-stairwell fighting ensues.

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Syria • World
February 25th, 2012
02:26 AM ET

7 firefighters injured after 'fire ball' in Maryland house

Seven firefighters were hospitalized after a house fire in Riverdale, Maryland, authorities said.

The fire broke out at a one-story, vacant house shortly after 9 p.m. Friday, the Prince George's County Fire Department said Saturday.

"Preliminary reports indicate that firefighters had initiated an interior attack on the fire when a sudden rush of air, fanned by high winds, entered from the rear of the house either from a door or window being opened or broken out," the fire department said in a statement. "The sudden addition of a large amount of fresh air into the fire environment created a 'fire ball' inside, engulfing the firefighters."

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Filed under: Maryland • U.S.
February 24th, 2012
09:26 PM ET

After U.S. visit, Yemen's Saleh returns to Sanaa

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has returned to his residence in Sanaa, a spokesman for the country's embassy in Washington said late Friday.

Saleh had been in the United States for medical treatment for wounds suffered in a June assassination attempt at his presidential palace during battles between government troops and tribal fighters.

He was expected to return to Yemen in time for the inauguration of the next president.

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February 24th, 2012
09:13 PM ET

CNN prime time: Revealing Palin e-mails, fake Denny's boss helps himself

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Palin e-mail mentions divorce

“I can’t afford this job,” says Sarah Palin in newly-released e-mails that reveal frustration over legal costs and bring the health of her marriage into question.

Close

Santorum: Romney on wrong team

Rick Santorum escalates his rhetoric, accusing Mitt Romney of false attacks and playing for the wrong team.

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Fake Denny's boss cooks himself a burger

Talk about fake it ‘til you make it. A guy walks into a Denny’s, claims he’s the new boss, goes to the kitchen and cooks himself a burger and fries.

February 24th, 2012
03:52 PM ET

S.F. airport checkpoint closed over suspicious package

A security checkpoint that serves passengers intending to board Delta Airlines flights at San Francisco International Airport has been closed because of a suspicious package, an airport spokesman said Friday afternoon.

Authorities are investigating the package, said Mike McCarron, the airport's director Of community
affairs Mike McCarron.

Flights were continuing as normal, he said.

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Filed under: Air travel • California • Travel
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