April 5th, 2012
09:40 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Emergency plane landings

The U.S has entered an unprecedented era of safer skies, according to industry experts, but not every plane landing has been perfect.

On Monday, 2,000 feet above the ground in Wisconsin, an 80-year old woman was forced to land a twin-engine Cessna after her pilot husband lost consciouness. You've "gotta watch" how this gutsy grandmother landed the plane.

Her successful landing reminds us of other daring attempts pilots have made during emergency landing situations. Watch how commercial pilots recently landed their impaired planes in Arizona, New York and Poland.


Elderly passenger lands plane

In Wisconsin, an 80-year-old woman takes over the controls of a plane after her pilot husband falls unconscious.


US Airways jet crash lands

Video from the Coast Guard shows the US Airways jet crash-landing into the Hudson River.


Hole forces a Boeing 737 to land

CNN's Ted Rowlands reports on the Southwest flight that made an emergency landing because of a hole in the fuselage.


Emergency landing in Poland

CNN's Hala Gorani reports on the LOT Polish Airlines flight that made an emergency landing in Warsaw, Poland.

April 5th, 2012
09:36 PM ET

CNN prime time: Kid-free zones on planes, 'nothing left' for Santorum


Specter: No point in Santorum continuing

Arlen Specter is mincing no words when it comes to whether or not Santorum should throw in the towel.


Flights with a no-child zone

When it comes to kids on airplanes, don't get Richard Quest started.


Swain: 'Hoodies feed into stereotype'

Boyce Watkins and Carol Swain argue the aspect of race in the Martin case and the movement to boycott Sanford, Florida.

Overheard on CNN.com: Panda sex drive, robotic squirrel and a Beltway Batman
Edinburgh's male giant panda, Sunshine, enjoys a meal in December. Sadly for Sunshine, sex isn't on the menu.
April 5th, 2012
07:48 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Panda sex drive, robotic squirrel and a Beltway Batman

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

The following three stories are all a bit - or a lot - bizarre, but they've gotten a really interesting reader response. Check out the comments from readers.

Why panda sex is so complex

Pandas have a reputation for being picky maters with a narrow window of opportunity. Conservationists in Scotland were hoping panda pals Sweetie and Sunshine would take their courtship to the next level, but alas, nothing came of it. Readers had lots of suggestions to improve the process.

"Throw a bottle of wine, a pair of cuffs and a copy of 'Fifty Shades of Grey' in the cage, that should get her going," said NorCalMojo.

Some suggested that pandas need to mate if they want to survive, and if they can't mate, we humans need to help them along. "Oh, just get the turkey baster already," wrote commenter Paul. CNN.com's Elizabeth Landau responded to the following reader's comment.

Harry: "Either artificially impregnate the female panda or let them go extinct. If they only have a three-day-a-year window for reproduction then it's pretty clear that they won't survive as a species with humans around. So either we save it ourselves or let it go bye-bye.

elandau: "A number of readers asked about artificial insemination in pandas. This is a common practice for captive pandas, veterinarian Copper Aitken-Palmer tells us. For instance, every baby panda born at Zoo Atlanta has been the result of artificial insemination, and most groups with giant pandas in the United States, Europe and China participate in assisted reproduction techniques."

Is the panda beyond help? FULL POST

Filed under: Animals • Environment • Overheard on CNN.com • Science • Scotland • Snakes • World
Olbermann sues Current TV days after firing
April 5th, 2012
06:30 PM ET

Olbermann sues Current TV days after firing

Television personality Keith Olbermann sued his former employer, Current TV, on Thursday, claiming breach-of-contract, unfair dealing and disparagement in an action filed in California Superior Court.

Current TV's co-founders, including former Vice President Al Gore, ousted Olbermann (pictured) last week.

"This action is necessary as Current has repeatedly and willfully breached its written agreement with Olbermann," the lawsuit said, "often continuing to do so after receiving specific notices to cure such breaches.

"In its most recent breach, Current unilaterally, and without cause, terminated its Agreement with Olbermann. Current's sudden and public termination of Olbermann was the latest in a series of increasingly erratic and unprofessional actions undertaken by Current's senior management," the lawsuit said.

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Filed under: Courts • Lawsuit • TV
Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout gets 25-year sentence
The life of Viktor Bout is considered to have inspired the 2005 Nicolas Cage movie "Lord of War."
April 5th, 2012
06:00 PM ET

Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout gets 25-year sentence

Convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was sentenced Thursday to 25 years behind bars by a federal court in New York.

"I am not guilty," Bout said through a translator. "I never intended to kill anyone. I never intended to sell any arms to anyone. God knows this is the truth."

Last year Bout, who's been dubbed "the merchant of death" by his accusers, was convicted on four counts of conspiracy to kill Americans, acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles and provide material support to a terrorist organization.

He had faced the possibility of life in prison.

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Justice • New York • Uncategorized
Connecticut men's hoops team banned from next year's NCAA tourney
The Huskies, who won the 2011 men's title against Butler, will not be in the 2013 tourney.
April 5th, 2012
03:45 PM ET

Connecticut men's hoops team banned from next year's NCAA tourney

[Updated at 5:20 p.m. ET] The University of Connecticut men's basketball team cannot compete for next year's national championship after the NCAA denied the school's appeal of a postseason ban based on its athletes' academic performance, the university said Thursday.

The Huskies earlier had been ordered to sit out the 2013 NCAA tournament, because of its past players' sub-par academic performance rate. Led by longtime coach Jim Calhoun, the program had won that tourney last spring and, thus, captured the national title.

The University of Connecticut appealed that decision, but to no avail, NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson confirmed.

"It is disturbing that our current players must pay a penalty for the academic performance of students no longer enrolled," University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst said in a statement. "No educator or parent purposefully punishes young people for the failings of others."

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Filed under: Basketball • College basketball • Connecticut • Sports
Most Augusta patrons seem untroubled by male-only membership policy
The 2012 Masters Tournament gets under way Thursday morning in Augusta, Georgia.
April 5th, 2012
02:14 PM ET

Most Augusta patrons seem untroubled by male-only membership policy

Augusta, Georgia (CNN) - Ask women at Thursday's first round of the Masters Tournament whether they'd paid attention to the controversy over Augusta National's male-only members policy, and you get a quick reply.

"We were just talking about that," one woman said.

Ask them if they think change is needed, and you get divergent opinions.

"I surely believe women should play golf anytime and anywhere they want to," said Linda Hines of Birmingham, Alabama. "Equality for all, pay and golf."

Why the controversy?

IBM sponsors the tournament, and the club has always extended membership to the company's officers. But IBM's new CEO is a woman, Virginia Rometty. Critics have called on Augusta National to offer her its traditional green jacket.

But Hines, who said she loves golf, believes any change at Augusta must come from within. She said she didn't like the scene in 2003 when Martha Burk, then leader of the National Council of Women's Organizations, led protests outside of Augusta.

"The board of directors has to have an open mind," she said. "Times are a changing."

Speaking to the media Wednesday, club chairman Billy Payne didn't indicate that times would be changing at Augusta.

"All issues of membership are now and have historically been subject to the private deliberation of members," Payne said. "That statement remains accurate; it remains my statement."

Elizabeth Walters of Wilmington, North Carolina, who was at Thursday's first round with her two children and mother, was fine with that approach.

Walters said she sees no need for Augusta to open membership to women and would not let the controversy detract from the tournament.

"It's a wonderful tradition, and I'm happy to be here," she said.

She also said her husband is from Augusta, making her familiar with the area.

"I've never had anyone that I've met here who has a problem with the way things are," she said.

Her mother, Nancy Mengelt, is from Madison, Wisconsin, a liberal area where "we usually have a problem with something," she said.

But she said she had no problem with male-only Augusta National.

"I like all the traditions. I support that," she said.

Support for Augusta came from Down Under, too.

"The club should stick to tradition and not allow women to become members," said Ro Brownie, attending the Masters after flying in from Sydney, Australia.

Brownie said if IBM's Romelty isn't a golfer and doesn't want to play here, she should put a stop to the hubbub.

"She should wave it away," Brownie said.

Ashley Mohrman said she's a member of "a very old conservative club" in Massachusetts, which changed its rules to allow women to become members with their husbands. And it has recently admitted a same-sex couple, she said. But she's not troubled by the Augusta stance.

"I don't think it is a problem for most people," she said.

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Filed under: Golf • Sports
April 5th, 2012
01:34 PM ET

Holy traffic stop! Violation highlights Beltway Batman’s good deeds

Baltimore (CNN) - Lenny Robinson is still getting acclimated to his 15 minutes of fame. When he pulled up to Baltimore's Sinai Hospital in a black Lamborghini decked out head to toe in a custom Batman outfit, he was greeted by a crush of reporters, news photographers and giddy hospital staff armed with smartphones snapping pictures.

Robinson became a viral video sensation last month when police pulled him over in full costume. ¬†The dashboard camera in the Montgomery County, Maryland, police cruiser caught the entire scene, including the officer calling for back up. ‚ÄúYou can send me Robin if you wish,‚ÄĚ the officer snickered to dispatch before asking the driver, ‚ÄúWhat‚Äôs your name other than Batman?‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúLenny,‚ÄĚ Robinson replied from the driver‚Äôs seat in a cape and Batman headdress.

The police pulled over Robinson’s car because instead of a Maryland license plate, he had the Batman logo. He likes his outfit and car to look just right when he visits hospitals across Washington and Maryland to cheer up terminally ill children. Once police heard that and saw that the official license plate was inside the car, Robinson was on his way both to the hospital and Internet stardom. Last week a local paper unmasked the caped crusader with a front-page article detailing the charitable work done by the 48-year-old father of three.

Parked outside Sinai in a valet lot where expectant mothers come at delivery time, the Robinson Batmobile gleams. The black Lamborghini is customized with yellow trim and tricked out with the Batman logo nearly everywhere, including on the floor mats, the door jams and the monster rims. A collection of "Batman" themes blasts out from the stereo. Robinson grins from ear to pointy ear, fielding interviews and breaking away to pick up a sick child, say hello and cheer them up.

Upstairs, Hope for Henry is having its annual superhero celebration.


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Filed under: Maryland
April 5th, 2012
11:58 AM ET

U.N. pressures Syria to heed peace plan

Top U.N. officials and the Security Council leaned on the Syrian regime Thursday, urging it to fully carry out a peace plan it promised to heed.

Syria said Thursday that it had taken several steps to comply with a peace plan championed by U.N. envoy Kofi Annan, including the withdrawal of troops from three regions and the expansion of Red Cross humanitarian access.

But more needs to be done, U.N. officials say, with imposing a cease-fire at the top of the agenda.

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Filed under: Syria • United Nations
April 5th, 2012
11:25 AM ET

UK broadcaster Sky News admits e-mail hacking

UK news channel Sky News said Thursday it had authorized its journalists to hack into the e-mail of individual members of the public on two occasions.

John Ryley, head of Sky News, said the instances involved suspected criminal activity.

"We stand by these actions as editorially justified and in the public interest," he said in a statement. "We do not take such decisions lightly or frequently."

An external review is under way of e-mail records at the broadcaster at its own instigation, he said, but no grounds for concern have yet been found.

"Sky News is committed to the highest editorial standards. Like other news organizations, we are acutely aware of the tensions that can arise between the law and responsible investigative journalism."

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Filed under: Media • United Kingdom
April 5th, 2012
11:10 AM ET

Sandusky hearing postponed because of ongoing probe

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky briefly appeared in a Pennsylvania courtroom Thursday before the judge adjourned the hearing, saying that court decisions will be postponed because the grand jury investigation is still ongoing.

Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge John Cleland said deliberations Thursday would be "premature," after Sandusky's attorney called for child sex abuse charges to be dropped over a lack of more specific evidence regarding the alleged victims.

Attorney Joe Amendola also withdrew motions accusing police of entering Sandusky's home illegally.

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Filed under: Jerry Sandusky • Penn State • Pennsylvania
April 5th, 2012
11:08 AM ET

Justice Department faces deadline from Texas judges

The Justice Department has until 1 p.m. ET Thursday to answer fundamental constitutional questions dealing with the health care law championed by President Barack Obama in an escalating political battle that has embroiled all three branches of government.

Administration officials said Wednesday they were deciding how to respond to an order from a three-judge appeals panel that is hearing a challenge to the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Department lawyers were told by the judges to explain whether federal courts could intervene and strike down congressional laws as unconstitutional. Such a power has been guaranteed since the Supreme Court's landmark 1803 ruling in Marbury v. Madison.

The appellate panel's order came after one of the three judges appeared to be deeply concerned by the president's comments this week, in which Obama challenged the Supreme Court not to take what he called an "unprecedented" step of overturning the health care law.

The White House tried to defuse the ideological firestorm Wednesday, saying the president's words were misunderstood.

The three judges are Republican appointees from the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, meeting in Houston. They were hearing a challenge to the health care law from physician-owned hospitals, despite the fact the Supreme Court is deciding constitutional questions in separate cases.

The high court's rulings expected in June would take precedence over any other courts hearing similar appeals.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Health Care • Health care reform • Justice • Politics • U.S.
April 5th, 2012
11:03 AM ET

Kony sequel is out and firing back at critics

A famously viral and controversial video that turned an African warlord into a household name in February now has a sequel.

On Thursday morning, the San Diego-based organization Invisible Children released "Beyond Famous." Coming in at 19 minutes - about 10 minutes less than the group's first video - the sequel addresses media criticism of the first "Kony 2012" video, which caught fire on Twitter and was reportedly viewed on YouTube 100 million times. It also explains what politicians in Washington and in Africa have done in the past month since the original "Kony 2012" video.

The second video continues to advocate for the capture of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army. Formed in the 1980s, the LRA is a sectarian military and religious group that operates in Uganda and South Sudan. As its leader, Kony recruited child soldiers and committed numerous atrocities include raping and maiming civilians, experts say. Kony is at large.

Ben Keesey, Invisible Children's executive director, told CNN the makers of the first video said they wanted to explain the plight of children affected by the LRA. The video hung its narrative on 30-something American filmmaker Jason Russell, his friendship with a young Ugandan boy who had escaped from the LRA, and Russell's young son, Gavin.

At one point in that video, Russell tells his son on camera that there are bad guys like Kony in the world. The child reacts as any child would - incredibly scared. Russell, who recently had a public meltdown, is not part of the sequel.

Critics blasted the video as overly simplistic.

"We made the first video intentionally for a young Western audience, and therefore it was a priority that the video keep their attention," Keesey told CNN on Thursday. "This (new) video goes deeper. I think people will respond."

The sequel opens with soundbites from critics of the first video. The voices of various pundits and media personalities say "simplified" a couple of times. Mid-sentence soundbites from journalists, several of them on CNN, round out the beginning of the video.

Keesey narrates, explaining the creation of the campaign, its progress and ongoing efforts to stop the LRA. Part two essentially rehashes what was in the first video, but Keesey notes that officials from the United States to Africa have spoken recently about their desire to stop Kony or have signed measures aimed at stopping him. He adds that the African Union recently announced plans to deploy 5,000 troops to hunt down Kony.

The United Nations, meanwhile, said in late March that attacks by Kony's army are increasing.

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Filed under: Africa • World
April 5th, 2012
07:42 AM ET

Thursday's live events

Some say the race to the GOP presidential nomination has been decided, but others warn it's not done yet.  CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

11:30 am ET - White House briefing - Spending and the devastating Texas tornadoes will likely top Jay Carney's agenda with the White House press corps.


Filed under: Elections • On CNN.com today • Politics • Republican Party
April 5th, 2012
04:38 AM ET

Indian authorities propose prisoner swap with Maoist rebels

Indian authorities offered to free 27 prisoners in return for the release of an Italian citizen and a local legislator held hostage by Maoist rebels in the eastern state of Orissa.

The chief minister of Orissa, Naveen Patnaik, appealed in a statement Wednesday to the left-wing insurgents to release the Italian Paolo Bosusco and the state lawmaker Jhina Hikaka immediately, requesting they be "unharmed and in good health."

Bosusco and another Italian tourist, Claudio Colangelo, were abducted in the province's Kandhamal district on March 14. Colangelo was set free 11 days later, but Bosusco has remained captive.

The guerillas also kidnapped Hikaka, a member of the state's legislative assembly.

Patnaik specified that 23 prisoners would be freed to secure Hikaka's release and the other four for Bosusco's.

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Filed under: India • Italy
April 5th, 2012
04:07 AM ET

Sandusky due in court as lawyers seek to dismiss charges

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky will be in a Pennsylvania courtroom Thursday as his lawyers argue that child sex abuse charges against him be dismissed.

Sandusky, 68, a longtime defensive coordinator for the Nittany Lions, faces more 52 counts involving sexual acts with 10 boys, dating back to 1994. Prosecutors allege he met some of the victims through a charity he created for underprivileged children.

Sandusky has pleaded not guilty, and remains under house arrest until his trial begins June 5.

Ahead of Thursday's hearing, Sandusky's lawyers filed a 95-page motion on March 22 that addresses several issues:

- The defense argues the allegations against Sandusky are so vague and non-specific that he cannot prepare and present a defense, which violates his right to due process.

- They say that in regard to some of the victims, prosecutors cannot establish sufficient proof; in some, the statute of limitations has run out.

- The defense also claims prosecutors have not turned over all the evidence. Once it is, the defense says it can lead to a revised motion to dismiss.

- They also say they need more time to prepare for the trial.

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Filed under: Crime • U.S.
April 5th, 2012
03:09 AM ET

Connecticut Senate votes to do away with death penalty

The Connecticut Senate voted 20-16 early Thursday morning on a bill that would do away with the death penalty and make the state the fifth in five years to abolish capital punishment.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is also expected to pass.

It enjoys majority support in each chamber of the state legislature, which are both Democrat-controlled, and would replace death penalty sentences with life imprisonment.

Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, has vowed to sign the measure into law should it reach his desk, his office said.

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Filed under: U.S.
April 5th, 2012
02:33 AM ET

Justice Department to sue Arizona sheriff after talks fall through

The Justice Department is preparing to sue Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known internationally as "America's toughest sheriff," saying talks between the two sides have fallen through.

The Obama administration and Arpaio's Maricopa County Sheriff's Office had been in the midst of settlement talks, after the Justice Department accused it of systematically discriminating against Latinos.

As part of the settlement, the department wanted Arpaio to allow an independent monitor to oversee reforms at his office. The Justice Department called it a "key, non-negotiable requirement."

The two sides were scheduled to meet Wednesday, but Arpaio called off the meeting at the last minute, the Justice Department said.

"We believe that you are wasting time and not negotiating in good faith," said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin Jr. in a letter Arpaio's legal counsel.

It added: "MCSO's refusal to engage in good faith negotiations requires us to prepare for civil action."

Arpaio shot back, saying he would not "surrender" his officer to the federal government.

"Appointment of an outside monitor essentially usurps the powers and duties of an elected Sheriff and transfers them to a person or group of persons selected by the federal government," he said in a statement Tuesday.

"And so to the Obama administration, who is attempting to strong arm me into submission only for its political gain, I say, 'This will not happen, not on my watch!'"

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Filed under: Arizona • Joe Arpaio • World
April 5th, 2012
02:01 AM ET

U.S. Coast Guard to sink Japanese boat washed away by tsunami

The U.S. Coast Guard has deployed a ship to sink a fishing trawler that was swept away more than a year ago by the tsunami off the coast of Japan and is now adrift near Alaska.

The crew of the coast guard's 110-foot CG Cutter Anacapa plans to assess the deserted trawler's condition Thursday morning, said Chief Petty Officer Kip Wadlow.

If its assessments are satisfactory, the crew will attempt to sink the vessel, named the Ryou-Un Maru, with the 25-millimeter cannon on board the cutter, Wadlow said.

The rust-stained trawler is part of a giant debris field in the Pacific Ocean that was generated by the devastating wall of water that struck northeastern Japan following a magnitude 9 earthquake on March 11, 2011.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Alaska • Canada • Japan • U.S.
April 5th, 2012
01:40 AM ET

Upper Big Branch mine to be permanently sealed

The Upper Big Branch coal mine, where 29 people were killed in a blast two years ago Thursday, will be permanently sealed by the summer.

Crews will seal with concrete the portals that allow entry to the mine, plug boreholes and cap mine fan shafts, said the mine's new owners Alpha Natural Resources.

"Though two years have passed, everyone still has vivid memories of the tragedy and the suffering the miners' families endured," said company Chief Executive Officer Kevin Crutchfield. "For all of us in the mining industry, it is a solemn reminder of why we must always put safety first in everything we do at work and at home."

The explosion at the West Virginia mine on April 5, 2010, was the deadliest U.S. mine disaster since 1972, when 91 men died in a fire at the Sunshine Mine in Kellogg, Idaho.

In a December report,the Mine Safety and Health Administration found a methane ignition that set off flammable coal dust was the immediate cause of the 2010 explosion.

But it also blamed the "unlawful policies and practices" of then-mine owner Massey Energy Co., which it said "promoted and enforced a workplace culture that valued production over safety."

Alpha Natural Resources bought Massey in 2011 and has agreed to a $209 million settlement to avoid prosecution. The deal includes payments of $1.5 million to each family that lost a member in the blast.

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Filed under: Mine accidents • U.S.
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