Mississippi man pleads guilty to hate crimes charge
James Anderson, 49, died in June after allegedly being beaten by a group of white teens and run over by a truck.
January 3rd, 2013
05:25 PM ET

Mississippi man pleads guilty to hate crimes charge

A Mississippi man pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal hate crime charge in connection with a group of young men and teenagers that carried out racial attacks against African-Americans in 2011.

Joseph Dominick, 21, from Brandon, entered a guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Mississippi, to one count of conspiracy to commit federal hate crimes.

Dominick and others began in the spring of 2011 to harass and assault African-Americans in Jackson and the surrounding area, according to the FBI.

In one case, Dominick was part of a group that used a sling shot to hurl metal ball bearings at several African-Americans, a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice said. The young men also threw glass beer bottles at African-Americans, the news release said.

On June 25, 2011, Dominick attended a party in Puckett, about 45 minutes from Jackson, where members of the group discussed going to the Mississippi capital to find African-Americans to harass, authorities said. While seven white men went in two trucks that night to Jackson, Dominick wasn't among them.

James Craig Anderson, 47, a black man, died after he was beaten and run over in the early morning hours of June 26, 2011. The truck was driven by Deryl Dedmon, a member of the group, prosecutors said.


Transocean to pay $1.4 billion for role in Gulf oil spill
Fire boats battle a fire at the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon on April 21, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana's coast.
January 3rd, 2013
02:43 PM ET

Transocean to pay $1.4 billion for role in Gulf oil spill

[Posted at 2:43 p.m. ET] We've just gotten a statement from BP with their reaction to the Transocean fine. BP agreed in November to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay penalties in relation to the incident.

"Today's settlement between Transocean and the United States underscores what every official investigation has found: that the Deepwater Horizon accident resulted from multiple causes, involving multiple parties.

In settling, Transocean has acknowledged that it played a significant role and has responsibility for the accident. Transocean is finally starting, more than two-and-a-half years after the accident, to do its part for the Gulf Coast.

Unfortunately, Halliburton continues to deny its significant role in the accident, including its failure to adequately cement and monitor the well."

[Posted at 1:00 p.m. ET] Offshore drilling firm Transocean will pay $1.4 billion in fines and penalties in connection with the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Transocean owned and provided a crew for the Deepwater Horizon rig, where an explosion in 2010 killed 11 men and triggered the worst maritime oil spill in U.S. history. The well was capped three months later, but not before millions of barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf.

Transocean was contracted by BP, which leased the rig and directed staff onboard. BP agreed in November to plead guilty to criminal charges in connection with the incident and pay $4.5 billion in government penalties.

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Filed under: Louisiana
January 3rd, 2013
01:43 PM ET

'I think I'll be OK,' Sandy Hook student says after first day

Abby Swansiger was a little nervous about heading back to school for the first time since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, so she asked her mom to come with her.

Sarah Swansiger said that things went off without a hitch in her daughter's kindergarten class, and everyone was making sure parents and kids felt comfortable at their new school.

"Honestly, it was like the first day of school," Swansiger said, noting there were a few things that were different. "There were counselors; there were therapy dogs. There was a little bit of anxiety, but everyone was ready to get back in the swing of things."


Boehner re-elected House speaker after day of drama swirled around him
House Speaker John Boehner gives a thumbs up on the House floor before being re-elected to his post.
January 3rd, 2013
01:41 PM ET

Boehner re-elected House speaker after day of drama swirled around him

It appears House Speaker John Boehner was right - he had no reason to worry about being re-elected to his post this year.

There were certainly rumbles and grumbling after furor that there was no vote on Sandy aid during the fiscal cliff. That prompted some GOP members to speak out with extremely harsh words about Boehner. That anger was quickly defused after Boehner promised a vote would take place on that aid this Friday.

A few republicans chose to at least make a symbolic statement during today's vote: either by not voting for Boehner or nominating someone else. (One member nominated Colin Powell. Yes, non-members can actually serve if they have enough votes.)

Still, with the votes from 220 members, Boehner will again lead the House and the Republican majority.

Read more about some of the drama that has surrounded Boehner lately:

Christie: Boehner wouldn't take my calls

Republicans pledge to back Boehner, reversing earlier outrage

Christie hammers Boehner by name for Sandy funding delay 

Boehner's f-bomb for Reid

January 3rd, 2013
01:39 PM ET

Dozens more killed across Syria

[Updated, 1:39 p.m. ET] The number of people killed Thursday in Syria amid the civil war there has reached 131, including 14 children,
according to the Local Coordination Committee in Syria, a Syrian based opposition activist network.

Fifty-six of those killed were in the Damascus suburbs, according to the network.

[Initial post, 12:21 p.m. ET] One hundred seventeen people were killed across Syria Thursday amid that country's civil war, according to the Local Coordination Committee in Syria, a Syrian based opposition activist network.

Thursday's reported death toll came a day after the United Nations said Syria's overall death toll since March 2011 surpassed an estimated 60,000 people.

Filed under: Syria
New lawmakers being sworn in on Capitol Hill
January 3rd, 2013
12:34 PM ET

New lawmakers being sworn in on Capitol Hill

It is a new day on Capitol Hill and a new session.

And along with a slew of items to deal with there are some important changes going on: specifically your new lawmakers. This year sees more women and more Latinos in our chambers than ever.

And right now, happening live on CNN, Vice President Joe Biden is swearing in those that will become new senators.


January 3rd, 2013
11:51 AM ET

Britain extradites terror suspect to United States

Britain extradited a man wanted by U.S. authorities for alleged terrorism offenses Thursday, police in London said, more than two years after he was detained.

Abid Naseer, 26, was put on a plane bound for the United States at Luton Airport, north of London, after having been handed over to U.S. officials.

Naseer, a Pakistani national, was arrested in northern England in July 2010 by British police officers acting on a provisional extradition arrest warrant issued at the request of the U.S. government.

He had been held at London's high-security Belmarsh prison since his arrest, London's Metropolitan Police said.

U.S. authorities want him to stand trial on charges of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, conspiracy to provide material support to such an organization, and conspiracy to use a destructive device.

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Filed under: Terrorism • United Kingdom
January 3rd, 2013
08:16 AM ET

One step towards normalcy: Sandy Hook kids are back in school

A first step towards normalcy and a first step towards healing. That's what parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School are hoping for today as they drop their kids off at school for the first time since an unimaginable tragedy.

Many things will be different for these kids. They won't be attending Sandy Hook Elementary, which police say remains part of an ongoing investigation into Adam Lanza, the gunman who also killed his mother before opening fire at the school and killing 20 children and six adults.

Instead the children are expected to travel to Chalk Hill Middle School in the nearby town of Monroe, where a green-and-white banner greeting the children hangs on a fence. There will also be other familiar items to welcome the kids: furniture and rugs like the ones in their old school. And then there are the security changes: more cameras and locks.

All of those are steps officials across the state of Connecticut have helped make happen in hopes of making school a welcoming place for these children again.

January 3rd, 2013
08:01 AM ET

Indian court charges gang-rape, murder suspects

Five men accused of gang-raping a 23-year-old Indian woman on a New Dehli bus have been formally charged with rape, murder and kidnapping, senior police official Suman Nalwa told CNN.

The attack on the woman, who died from severe injuries last week, has appalled and enraged many Indians, prompting widespread debate over the way the country handles sexual assaults and the treatment of women in Indian society. The trial is expected to begin this week.

iReport: What's your reaction to how India handles sexual assaults?

Misogyny in India: We are all guilty

Opinion: End culture of rape in 2013

2 drone attacks kill 15 in Pakistan
Attacks by suspected U.S. drones have increased in recent years. (U.S. Airforce/File)
January 3rd, 2013
03:17 AM ET

2 drone attacks kill 15 in Pakistan

Two suspected U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan left 15 people dead, including an anti-U.S. Taliban commander, multiple Pakistani intelligence officials told CNN Thursday.

The first attack, by a drone that fired two missiles, targeted 11 suspected militants in South Waziristan, a tribal area on the border with Afghanistan. Mullah Nazir, a Taliban commander, was killed in the strike, along with 10 others, intelligence officials said.

A second attack left four more people dead in North Waziristan, including Pakistan Taliban commander Shah Faisal, intelligence officials confirmed.


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Filed under: Pakistan • World
Obama signs fiscal cliff bill into law
President Barack Obama makes a statement alongside Vice President Joe Biden in the White House Briefing Room following the bill's passage by the House. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
January 3rd, 2013
12:35 AM ET

Obama signs fiscal cliff bill into law

President Barack Obama has signed into law the bill to avert the fiscal cliff.

The new law preserves the Bush-era tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 and couples making less than $450,000 per year, and extends unemployment benefits.

The Senate passed the bill Tuesday morning and the House passed it Tuesday night.

The White House received a copy of the bill late Wednesday afternoon, a senior administration official told CNN. Obama, on vacation with his family in Hawaii, directed the bill be signed by autopen.

Read the bill (pdf).

How they voted: House | Senate

Is the autopen legal? Read the Justice Department's opinion (pdf).

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics