February 4th, 2013
10:30 PM ET

Officials: Rescued 5-year-old is 'laughing, joking, playing, eating'

A 5-year-old boy held hostage nearly a week is safe and the Alabama man who held him hostage is dead, law enforcement officials say.

[Update 10:30 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama called FBI Director Robert Mueller to compliment him for the role federal law enforcement officers played in resolving the hostage situation in Alabama today, a White House official told CNN. "The president praised the exceptional coordination between state, local, and federal partners, and thanked all the law enforcement officials involved during the nearly week-long ordeal for their roles in the successful rescue of the child."

[Update 10:17 p.m. ET] Law enforcement officials in Alabama expressed gratitude and relief at the successful conclusion of the week-long hostage ordeal in Midland City.

At a 9 p.m. news conference, Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said getting the 5-year-old hostage out alive was the goal of everyone on the scene.

"This is a very special child," Olson said. "He's been through a lot, (and) by the grace of God he's OK. ...

"I'm a father, a lot of these men and women that's been sacrificing tireless hours, they're parents as well. It's a relief to be able to reunite mother and child."

The boy, whose name is Ethan, is with his mother at a local hospital, said Steve Richardson, special agent in charge of the FBI's Mobile regional office.

"Ethan is laughing, joking, playing, eating - the things you would expect a normal 5-year-old child to do," Richardson said.

The officials refused to divulge any details of the rescue operation, saying they expect to need to employ the same tactics in another situation someday in the future.

Olson said officials believed Ethan was in danger.

"That's why we went in - to save the child," he said.

[Update 5:46 p.m. ET]

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley issued the following statement:

"Shortly after 3 p.m., I spoke with Col. Hugh McCall of the Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security Director Spencer Collier.  They informed me that law enforcement had breached the bunker, the child was safe and the abductor was killed.

"I want to thank the law enforcement, first responders and all additional personnel who worked tireless hours to bring this situation to a resolution.  They performed heroic efforts, and they should be praised for how they handled themselves in a professional manner.

"I am thankful that the child who was abducted is now safe.  I am so happy this little boy can now be reunited with his family and friends.  We will all continue to pray for the little boy and his family as they recover from the trauma of the last several days.

"At the same time, we also want to remember the family and friends of the bus driver - Charles Poland, Jr.  This man was a true hero who was willing to give up his life so others might live.  We are all inspired by his courage and bravery.

"I ask everyone across the state - and the nation - to continue to lift up these families and the entire Midland City community in your prayers."

[Earlier updates] Steve Richardson, the FBI's special agent in charge of the local office, said at a brief news conference that negotiations with Jimmy Lee Dykes had "deteriorated" during the past 24 hours, and that Dykes had been observed holding a gun.

At 3:12 p.m. CT, FBI agents entered the bunker and safely recovered the young hostage, Richardson said.

He said Dykes was dead and the child appeared to be physically unharmed. He did not say how Dykes died.

Richardson and other law enforcement officials declined to answer any questions.

The abducted boy, whose name is Ethan, has been taken to a hospital about eight miles from the place where he had been held hostage, Alabama Rep. Steve Clouse told CNN.

"Finally, this nightmare has come to an end," he said.

A neighbor of Dykes' said Monday he heard it end.

"I heard a big boom and then I heard, I believe I heard, rifle shots," Byron Martin told CNN. "Literally made me jump off the ground."

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Filed under: Alabama • Crime • U.S.
February 4th, 2013
09:30 PM ET

Catholic hospital says it was 'morally wrong' to argue fetus is not a person

A Catholic hospital in hot water for claiming in a Colorado court that a fetus is not a person backtracked on Monday, saying it was "morally wrong" to make the argument while defending itself in a wrongful death lawsuit.

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Filed under: U.S.
Ahmadinejad jokes he'd volunteer to go to space
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looks at a space monkey Monday on Iran's National Day of Space Technology in Tehran.
February 4th, 2013
01:47 PM ET

Ahmadinejad jokes he'd volunteer to go to space

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad joked he is so serious about making sure Iran advances technologically that he'd volunteer to go to space for his country if needed.

"I am ready to be the first human to be sent to space by Iranian scientists,” he said after meeting Monday with Iranian space scientists, according to the semi-official Mehr News Agency.

The president's comments, made in jest, came a week after the state's semi-official Fars News Agency said Iran had "sent a monkey to the orbit, brought it back to the Earth and retrieved the animal and the relevant data successfully."


February 4th, 2013
11:33 AM ET

23 killed, dozens wounded in Iraq suicide bombing

At least 23 people were killed and 49 were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up among members of a local Awakening Council in Taji, Iraq, on Monday.

Dozens of members of the council had lined up outside an office to receive monthly paychecks when the attacker detonated an explosive vest in the crowd. Most of those killed or wounded were members of the council, or al-Sahwa. Taji is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Baghdad.

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Filed under: Iraq • World
February 4th, 2013
11:23 AM ET

Crane barges on way to stricken U.S. warship

One of two crane barges needed by salvage crews to help lift a stranded Navy minesweeper off a reef in the Philippines has arrived and another one is on the way, a Philippine news agency reports.

"The crane barge, Smit Borneo, arrived off Puerto Princesa Sunday morning. Another one, much bigger, is expected to arrive anytime soon," Philippine Coast Guard Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena told the news agency.

The warship USS Guardian ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef on January 17. Waves have battered the vessel since, badly damaging it.

Navy experts say the only way to safely move it off the environmentally sensitive reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is to cut it into pieces and lift those pieces off the reef with heavy cranes.

The U.S. Embassy also is organizing efforts with local authorities for restoration of the reef. The U.S. is offering a $100,000 grant to a Philippine university to "support coral restoration research at Tubbataha Reef," the embassy said in a statement.

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Filed under: Philippines • World
February 4th, 2013
11:17 AM ET

Malala speaks for first time on camera: 'God has given me this new life'

[Updated at 11:17 a.m. ET] We've just received video that shows Malala Yousufzai speaking for the first time on camera since she was shot.

"I'm getting better day by day," she said, citing the prayers of her supporters. "Because of these prayers God has given me this new life."

[Posted at 9:57 a.m. ET] Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai who was shot in the head by the Taliban is doing very well after two operations over the weekend and will not require further surgery, her doctors said today.

"She has no long-lasting brain injuries ... the brain is healing very well," her neurosurgeon Anwen White told reporters in Birmingham, England.

Body found under parking lot is King Richard III, scientists say
Royal remains: Skull of the skeleton found at the Grey Friars excavation in Leicester.
February 4th, 2013
08:55 AM ET

Body found under parking lot is King Richard III, scientists say

DNA tests have confirmed that human remains found buried beneath an English car park are those of the country's King Richard III.

British scientists announced Monday they are convinced "beyond reasonable doubt" that a skeleton found during an archaeological dig in Leicester, central England, last August is that of the former king, who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.

Read more: The king and the parking lot

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Filed under: United Kingdom • World
Soccer match-fixing probe extends to 380 games
European Champions League matches are among those under investigation, Europol said Monday.
February 4th, 2013
07:59 AM ET

Soccer match-fixing probe extends to 380 games

The beautiful game's ugly underside was exposed on Monday as one of Europe's senior crime fighters revealed hundreds of games are under investigation in what he described as "a sad day for European football."

Recent match-fixing scandals have centered on South Korea and South Africa, but Europol believes the highest levels of the game are now no longer safe with alleged corruption in two Champions League matches discovered, including one played in England, with 680 games in all being probed across the globe.

Read More: Match-fixing a 'soccer disease'

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Filed under: Sports • World
February 4th, 2013
07:32 AM ET

Monday's live events

President Obama will deliver his fourth State of the Union address before Congress on February 12.  Watch CNN.com Live for all of your political coverage.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - John Kerry reports to work - New Secretary of State John Kerry is keeping busy as he starts his job.  He'll speak with State Department employees in Washington on his first full weekday in his post.


Filed under: Barack Obama • On CNN.com today • Politics
February 4th, 2013
04:50 AM ET

#BlackoutBowl generates social media moment for jokesters, advertisers

Call it the Super Bowl MVP - the most valuable power outage.

For 35 bewildering minutes Sunday night, the Super Bowl showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers ground to a halt when half of the lights in the New Orleans Superdome went out.

Players stretched on the field. The more than 71,000 fans in attendance did the wave.

And with no immediate explanation for the outage, social media lit up.

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Filed under: California • Facebook • Maryland • New Orleans • Technology • Twitter • U.S.