Official: Obama to turn over legal advice on targeted killings
An MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft vehicle sits in a shelter at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, after a mission Nov. 10, 2008.
February 6th, 2013
07:55 PM ET

Official: Obama to turn over legal advice on targeted killings

Amid new controversy over the administration's targeted killing of American citizens overseas, President Barack Obama has yielded to demands that he turn over to Congress classified Justice Department legal advice seeking to justify the policy, an administration official said.

The president's move comes on the eve of confirmation hearings Thursday for his CIA director nominee John Brennan and amid complaints from senators, including several Democrats, about secrecy surrounding the drone policy.

"Today, as part of the president's ongoing commitment to consult with Congress on national security matters, the president directed the Department of Justice to provide the congressional Intelligence committees access to classified Office of Legal Counsel advice related to the subject of the Department of Justice White Paper," an administration official said.

Read the full story here.

Tuesday: Memo backs U.S. using lethal force against Americans overseas

Opinion: When are drone killings illegal?

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics
February 6th, 2013
07:41 PM ET

'Star Wars' makeup master Stuart Freeborn dead at 98

Stuart Freeborn, the "Star Wars" makeup artist who helped create Chewbacca, Yoda, Jabba the Hutt and the otherworldly creatures in the trilogy's famous barroom scene, has died, Lucasfilm said Wednesday.

He was 98.

A creature effects artist, Freeborn also worked on other film classics and was responsible for creating the apelike human ancestors in the "Dawn of Man" sequence in "2001: A Space Odyssey."

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Filed under: Movies • Showbiz
Senate panel's vote on Hagel nomination won't come Thursday
February 6th, 2013
06:29 PM ET

Senate panel's vote on Hagel nomination won't come Thursday

[Updated at 7:14 p.m. ET] The Senate Armed Services Committee's vote on former Sen. Chuck Hagel's nomination to be secretary of defense won't happen as soon as the panel's chairman had hoped.

CNN had previously reported that the panel's vote could have come has early as Thursday. But the committee's chairman, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, said Wednesday that the vote still had not been scheduled.

"I had hoped to hold a vote on the nomination this week, but the committee’s review of the nomination is not yet complete," Levin, D-Michigan, said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. "I intend to schedule a vote on the nomination as soon as possible.”

The move came after Republicans demanded more financial information from Hagel, including details about compensation for speeches he delivered since leaving Capitol Hill.

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Filed under: Politics
February 6th, 2013
04:02 PM ET

Insurance company to sue Lance Armstrong for millions in bonuses

The fallout from Lance Armstrong's admission that he used performance enhancing drugs and blood doping continues.

a sports insurance company that paid the disgraced former cycling champ more than $10 million in bonuses plans to file a lawsuit to recover its money, an attorney for SCA Promotions told CNN on Wednesday.

Jeffrey Tillotson said SCA has already asked Armstrong for the money back.

"We made our demand for the return of the money we paid him for winning the Tour de France races where the titles were stripped," Jeffrey Tillotson told CNN's Ashleigh Banfield. "Mr. Armstrong and his legal team have not complied with that demand."

Read more about the pending lawsuit here.

Armstrong admits doping in Oprah interview

Lawyer: Armstrong open to 'truth and reconciliation' commission, not USADA

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Filed under: Cycling • Lance Armstrong • Sports
February 6th, 2013
02:58 PM ET

Navy minesweeper might be on reef until April

Removing a stranded U.S. minesweeper from an environmentally delicate reef off the Philippines may take until April, the state-run Philippines News Agency reported Wednesday, citing the Philippines Coast Guard.

The U.S. Navy is preparing to extract the USS Guardian from the Tubbataha Reef, a Philippine national park and UNESCO World Heritage site where the 224-foot-long ship ran aground on January 17.

The Navy plans to cut the 1,312-ton minesweeper into pieces and then, with the help of two contracted crane ships, lift the pieces and carry them away.

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Filed under: Philippines
New Mexico teen indicted in family killings
Nehemiah Griego, 15, is being charged as an adult in the deaths of his parents and three siblings.
February 6th, 2013
12:53 PM ET

New Mexico teen indicted in family killings

A teenager accused of gunning down his parents and three siblings in their New Mexico home last month has been indicted on five counts of murder.

Investigators said Nehemiah Griego, 15, had hoped to go on a killing spree and die in a shootout with police.

A Bernalillo County grand jury also indicted Griego on Monday on three counts of intentionally caused child abuse and three counts of death of a child under 12, charges that relate to the killing of his two sisters and brother. Griego is being charged as an adult, prosecutors announced.

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Filed under: Crime • New Mexico
February 6th, 2013
10:34 AM ET

Boy Scouts delay vote on gay membership ban

We're going to have to wait a bit longer to see whether the Boy Scouts will drop their across-the-board ban on openly gay members.

The Boy Scouts of America on Wednesday delayed its vote on a proposal to let local troops decide whether to allow openly gay members and leaders.

The organization, which had been expected to vote Wednesday, said it needs more time to get input from its members. The vote will now be held in May.

"After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy," the group said Wednesday morning.

"To that end, the executive board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns."

Read more about the delay here.

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Filed under: Boy Scouts • Gay and lesbian
Pentagon chief warns of 'readiness crisis' over spending cuts
February 6th, 2013
10:30 AM ET

Pentagon chief warns of 'readiness crisis' over spending cuts

Furloughed workers, reduced combat readiness, shrunken naval operations and cuts to Air Force flying hours and weapons maintenance.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta listed those consequences as he provided a stark warning Wednesday about the effects of impending budget cuts on the military. The result, he said, would be "the most serious readiness crisis" faced by the military in over a decade.

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Filed under: Military • Pentagon • U.S.
February 6th, 2013
09:37 AM ET

Mexican police have 'strong leads' in Acapulco rapes

[Updated at 12:20 p.m. ET] Marcos Juarez, the principal investigator for the prosecutor of Guerrero state and lead investigator on the case, says investigators know the identities of the men described as perpetrators, and that some if not all of them are under surveillance.

[Posted at 9:37 a.m. ET] Mexican authorities have strong leads in the investigation of the rape of six Spanish tourists in Acapulco, and arrests could be made as early as this week, a government official with knowledge of the case told CNN today.

Masked gunmen broke into a beach bungalow on the outskirts of Acapulco and raped six women tourists after tying up a group of men with cell phone cables and bikini straps, officials said Tuesday.

The victims are Spanish nationals, ranging in age from 20 to 34, Mexican authorities said.

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Filed under: Crime • Mexico • World
February 6th, 2013
08:47 AM ET

Injured ski star Vonn thanks doctors, fans

Injured ski champ Lindsey Vonn is thanking medical staff and fans for their help and support after she suffered a season-ending injury in a fall at the Alpine Ski World Championships in Austria on Tuesday.

Vonn sustained a "complex knee injury" when she crashed during the opening day of the championships, doctors said.

Now the 28-year-old Olympic gold medalist is saying "thank you" to members of the medical team who treated her after her crash in Schladming.

"First off I want to say thank you to the amazing medical staff that cared for me. I plan on returning to Vail as soon as I can to have the necessary surgeries. I am also grateful to my fans for the the outpouring of support, which has really helped me stay positive. I can assure you that I will work as hard as humanly possible to be ready to represent my country next year in Sochi," Vonn said in a statement released by her publicist.

Watch: Vonn interviewed in 2010

The Russian city of Sochi will play host to the Winter Olympics in February 2014.

Read more: Victorious Vonn closes on World Cup record

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Filed under: Sports • World
USPS ending Saturday delivery of letters, first-class mail
February 6th, 2013
08:15 AM ET

USPS ending Saturday delivery of letters, first-class mail

The U.S. Postal Service will end Saturday home delivery of letters and other first-class mail, but will still deliver packages, starting in August.

This story is developing. We'll bring you the latest from our colleagues as soon as we get it.

Opinion: Save the Postal Service from collapse

Goodbye, Postal Service?

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Filed under: Postal Service
February 6th, 2013
07:38 AM ET

Wednesday's live events

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

Today's programming highlights...

10:00 am ET - Briefing on U.S. Postal Service changes - Changes are afoot at the struggling U.S. Postal Service, but no one is sure what that means.  Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe may provide details at a morning briefing.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Congress • On today • Politics • Postal Service
Report: Protesters storm political offices after opposition leader assassinated in Tunis
Tunisians gather around an ambulance carrying opposition leader Chokri Belaid, who officials said was assasinated outside his home.
February 6th, 2013
07:13 AM ET

Report: Protesters storm political offices after opposition leader assassinated in Tunis

[Updated at 7:07 a.m. ET] Protesters stormed several offices of Tunisia's ruling political party Wednesday after a prominent opposition leader was assassinated outside his home in Tunis, Tunisian Interior Minister Ali Al-Areed told Tunisia State TV.

"I call everyone in Tunisia and our intellectual elite not to allow the chaos to takeover and we urge the security forces to track down these perpetrators and bring them to justice," he said.

The protests took place in offices of the party al Nahda across the country, he said.

[Posted at 5:13 a.m. ET] A Tunisian opposition figure was shot dead Wednesday morning outside his home in Tunis, Tunisian State TV reported.

Chokri Belaid, was a leader of the Popular Front coalition.

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Filed under: Tunisia
Out with the iron, in with the cat: Monopoly has a new token
February 6th, 2013
04:37 AM ET

Out with the iron, in with the cat: Monopoly has a new token

[Posted at 2:20 p.m. ET] The iron's out and the cat's in Hasbro's latest update to its iconic Monopoly board game, the company announced Wednesday.

The company invited Monopoly fans to vote on which of its icons would be dropped in favor of a new one "that's more representative of today's Monopoly players," Eric Nyman, senior vice president for Hasbro Gaming, said at the start of the campaign last month.

The boot, iron and wheelbarrow drew the least support from fans, while the Scottie dog received the most support.

[Posted at 4:37 a.m. ET] Will the boot get the boot? What about the iron or the wheelbarrow?

This was the online drama that played out as the Monopoly "Save Your Token" campaign passed its midnight deadline with all three classic tokens in danger of banishment from the game board - no longer able to pass GO or collect $200.

"I think this is wrong," said John Ebejer, one of many fans with passionate posts on Monopoly's Facebook page. "Someone is gonna lose their favorite token."

Hasbro, maker of the board game available in 111 countries and 43 languages, is replacing one of the tokens with one "that's more representative of today's Monopoly players," Eric Nyman, senior vice president for Hasbro Gaming, said at the start of the campaign last month.

The new token - either a diamond ring, guitar, toy robot, cat or helicopter - will be unveiled Wednesday morning by the toymaker on the "Today Show" and is expected to make its debut in mid- to late 2013. Game fans also voted for their favorite replacement token.


Filed under: U.S.
February 6th, 2013
04:31 AM ET

Above ground and safe, Ethan turns 6

As far as birthday milestones go, 6 isn't an age that gets the kind of enthusiastic treatment that parents reserve for when a child turns 1 or comes of age at 12.

But Ethan turns 6 on Wednesday after surviving an unimaginable ordeal, and Midland City, Alabama, wants to make sure it's a birthday worth remembering.

He was freed Monday after being hostage underground for six days.


Filed under: Justice • U.S.
February 6th, 2013
04:04 AM ET

Boy Scout leaders to vote on ending ban against gay membership

The polarizing debate over whether Boy Scouts of America should allow gay members could culminate with a vote on a new policy Wednesday.

But no matter which way the vote goes, activists on both sides aren't going to be satisfied.

The controversy pits leaders of religious groups that sponsor about 1 million Boy Scouts against activists who want the organization to end its ban on openly gay Scouts and Scout leaders.


Filed under: Boy Scouts • U.S.
German education minister loses Ph.D. over plagiarized thesis
February 6th, 2013
03:23 AM ET

German education minister loses Ph.D. over plagiarized thesis

Her doctoral thesis dealt with how we form our conscience. Turns out she plagiarized chunks of it.

A university stripped Germany's education minister of her Ph.D. on Tuesday, after a blogger caught the plagiarism and spent months vigilantly presenting the evidence to the public.

Annette Schavan is the second minister in conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet who has this embarrassing distinction.

Former defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg stepped down in May 2011, after large passages of his dissertation were found to have been directly copied from other sources.

At the time, Schavan sharply criticized Guttenberg publicly for his shortcomings, according to German media reports.

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Filed under: Education • Germany • Social media • Technology • World • World Update
February 6th, 2013
01:56 AM ET

Trump sues Maher for $5 million for orangutan sex joke

It's best not to monkey around with Donald Trump - or maybe that's a bad choice of words.

The billionaire real estate mogul is suing millionaire comedian Bill Maher for $5 million.


Because Maher said - in jest, as comedians are wont to do - that he would donate $5 million to a charity if Trump could prove he wasn't the "the spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan."

"I'm not saying it's true," Maher said told Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" last month.

"I hope it's not true, but unless he comes up with proof ... I'm willing to offer $5 million to Donald Trump that he can donate to a charity of his choice - Hair Club for Men; The Institute for Incorrigible Douche-bag-ery. Whatever charity."

Maher picked the figure after Trump, long a skeptic of President Barack Obama's citizenship, offered to give $5 million to the charity of Obama's choice if the president publicly released his college transcripts in addition to his passport records ahead of last year's elections.



Filed under: Barack Obama • U.S.