On the Radar: Obama on appointment; van der Sloot case; jobs report
President Obama sparked controversy with his appointment of Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
January 6th, 2012
08:26 AM ET

On the Radar: Obama on appointment; van der Sloot case; jobs report

Three stories to know about Friday:

Obama addresses Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after controversial appointment - U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to make remarks at the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington on Friday, just days after he decided to make a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the agency - a move protested by congressional Republicans.

Republicans say the move was unconstitutional because the Senate technically has met every three or four days over the holiday period and therefore was not in recess.

However, Senate Democrats defended the appointment, arguing the president's constitutional authority to fill top government posts outweighed whether Congress was technically in session or not. At issue is a disagreement over the meaning of the term "recess." The Constitution states the president can make recess appointments but fails to dictate how long a recess is. Legal experts have debated the point for years.


On the Radar: Obama at Fort Bragg; payroll tax; SAG nominations
December 14th, 2011
08:15 AM ET

On the Radar: Obama at Fort Bragg; payroll tax; SAG nominations

Three stories to watch today:

Obama at Fort Bragg to speak about Iraq war's end

With the withdrawal of virtually all U.S. troops from Iraq due to be completed just days from now, President Barack Obama is expected to speak about the war’s end to soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on Wednesday.

The speech is scheduled to be delivered at about noon ET.

As of two weeks ago, more than 10,000 U.S. troops were deployed in Iraq, down from 170,000, and the number was dropping daily. Iraqi security forces, including army and police officers, are to assume full responsibility for the country's security by the end of the year under a deal agreed to by Iraq and the United States.

The withdrawal will bring to an end the war that began in 2003 with the toppling of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Only about 150 U.S. troops are expected to remain after the December 31 deadline, a U.S. official told CNN, though a large private security force will protect the thousands of State Department workers and contractors staying behind after the withdrawal deadline.

Obama announced the troop withdrawal in October, cutting some units’ deployments short. His announcement followed news that negotiations to extend the deadline broke down after Iraq's top political leaders refused to grant U.S. troops legal immunity, opening up the prospect of service members being tried in Iraqi courts and subjected to Iraqi punishment.

Payroll tax cut extension

Expect to hear more about a showdown Wednesday between congressional Democrats and Republicans regarding a possible extension of a Social Security payroll tax cut and a possible extension of federal jobless benefits.

On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled House passed a GOP plan that would extend the payroll tax cut and jobless benefits, and also speed the process for government approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Congressional Democrats generally want to extend the tax cut and jobless benefits, but are opposed to this plan because of the pipeline and other provisions.  The Senate is expected to defeat this particular plan.

Time is running out for the possible extensions, with Congress scheduled to leave Washington for its holiday recess at the end of the week.

The payroll tax break, which was enacted last year, cut workers’ Social Security payroll tax rate to 4.2% on the first $106,800 in wages this year, instead of the normal 6.2%. With that cut, people making $50,000 this year will take home an additional $1,000. Unless the break is extended, it will expire after December 31.

SAG nominations

Award-season nominations continue Wednesday morning with the announcement of candidates for the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The 9 a.m. ET nomination announcement will be carried live on TNT and online at TNT.tv and TBS.com. The SAG show, which presents 13 awards for acting in film and television, will be held on January 29 in Los Angeles.

On Tuesday, the Critics' Choice awards had its turn for nominations. George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jean Dujardin, Michael Fassender, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt were nominated for best actor; Viola Davis, Elizabeth Olsen, Meryl Streep, Tilda Swinton, Charlize Theron and Michelle Williams were nominated for best actress.

Golden Globe nominations are set for Thursday.

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On the Radar: Fast and Furious hearing, EU summit, ex-coach's accuser
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is set to testify about Operation Fast and Furious before a House panel Thursday.
December 8th, 2011
08:22 AM ET

On the Radar: Fast and Furious hearing, EU summit, ex-coach's accuser

Three things to follow Thursday:

Fast and Furious hearing: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder faces what is expected to be a stormy congressional hearing on a flawed gun sting operation known as Fast and Furious.

Holder on Thursday is due to testify in front of a House panel investigating possible wrongdoing in the operation, which was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The progam, which began in 2009, allowed illegally purchased firearms to be taken from gun stores in Arizona across the U.S.-Mexico border to drug cartels. The intent was to monitor the flow of weapons to their ultimate destination.

However, hundreds of weapons were lost or unaccounted for, and a storm of outrage erupted when two of the missing weapons were found at the site where Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed last December.

About 1,400 internal documents about the operation were delivered to three congressional committees last week. One Republican senator on Wednesday called on Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer to resign, alleging that Breuer had been dishonest with Congress about his knowledge of Operation Fast and Furious.


On the Radar: Baseball playoffs, prostate screenings, Korea curfew
The St. Louis Cardinals celebrate Wednesday after beating the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Four of their series.
October 7th, 2011
06:31 AM ET

On the Radar: Baseball playoffs, prostate screenings, Korea curfew

Three things you need to know today.

Baseball playoffs: With the Detroit Tigers eliminating the New York Yankees in Game Five of an American League Division Series Thursday night, the American League Championship Series is set with the Tigers vs. the Texas Rangers. Attention on Friday turns to two Game Fives in the National League Division Series.

At 5:07 p.m. ET, the Arizona Diamondbacks visit the Milwaukee Brewers. Trends would seem to make the Brewers the favorites in this one. The home team has won the previous four games in the best-of-five series. SI.com's Joe Lemire takes a look at the stats and the momentum shifts in this series.

At 8:37 p.m. ET, the St. Louis Cardinals visit the Philadelphia Phillies. The Cardinals got into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, when they beat Houston and the Atlanta Braves lost to the Phillies in extra innings. Philadelphia was the preseason favorite to represent the National League in the World Series. SI.com's Ben Reiter writes that if the Cardinals can get contributions from some of their lesser-known players as they have so far in this series, they could send the Phillies home without championship rings.

Prostate screenings: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force will soon recommend that men not get screened for prostate cancer, according to a source privy to the task force deliberations.

The task force is set to recommend a "D" rating for prostate specific antigen, or PSA, testing. Such a rating means "there is moderate or high certainty that the service has no net benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits," according to the group's website. The task force is set to propose this recommendation Tuesday, and then allow for a comment period before issuing a final recommendation.

According to a draft copy of a report scheduled to be released Monday, a review of studies shows screening with the PSA blood test results in "small or no reduction" in prostate cancer deaths.

Korea curfew: U.S. troops in South Korea face a 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. weekend curfew for the next month after two U.S. service members have been accused of raping  local girls in the past month.

The commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Gen. James D. Thurman, said the curfew would be in place from midnight to 5 a.m. Monday to Friday and from 3.a.m. to 5 a.m. on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. It will be in place for the next 30 days, Thurman said.

"Given the incidents that have occurred over the last several months, I'm reinstating the curfew to assess current conditions," Thurman said.

Military officials had rescinded the previous curfew on July 2, 2010. That curfew had been in place for nine years.

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Filed under: Baseball • Crime • Health • Health Care • Military • On the Radar • South Korea • Sports
On the Radar: Texas fire, Wall Street protest, Halloween costumes
A firefighter works among the rubble of a Bastrop County, Texas, home in September.
October 5th, 2011
06:01 AM ET

On the Radar: Texas fire, Wall Street protest, Halloween costumes

Three things you need to know today.

Texas fire: Firefighters in Bastrop County, Texas, continue to battle on Wednesday a blaze that sprang up Tuesday near where fire destroyed more than 1,500 homes in September.

About 1,000 acres were burning with multiple street evacuations, according to Sissy Jones, spokeswoman with the Bastrop County sheriff's office.

"We have had to evacuate 30 homes in the area," John Nichols, public information officer with the Texas Forest Service, told CNN. A highway in the area was closed because of the fire, he added.

The area that was burning is in the northeast portion of the county near the town of McDade, Texas. The cause of the fire was unknown, authorities said.

Wall Street protest: Labor unions were poised Wednesday to join the Occupy Wall Street protest as similar demonstrations were springing up outside New York City.

"These young people on Wall Street are giving voice to many of the problems that working people in America have been confronting over the last several years," Larry Hanley, international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which has 20,000 member in the New York area, told CNN.

Transport Workers Union Local 100 spokesman Jim Gannon said the Occupy Wall Street movement, which denounces social inequities in the financial system and draws inspiration from the Arab Spring revolutions in Africa and the Middle East, has advanced issues that unions typically support.

Meanwhile, a Twitter account called Occupy Boston mentions a city-wide college walkout there Wednesday. The Massachusetts Nurses Association says "hundreds" of the city's nurses will rally with the Occupy Boston protestors on Wednesday. The Nurses Association says the protest will be part of the opening day activities for a national nursing convention being held in Boston.

Halloween costumes: Charlie Sheen, the former star of TV's "Two and a Half Men" who was fired from the popular sitcom earlier this year, is the most popular Halloween costume for 2011, CNNMoney reports.

Top choices for women include Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Snooki from the "Jersey Shore," the report says, citing figures from Spirit Halloween, the country's largest seasonal Halloween retailer.

As for kids' costumes, expect to be seeing a lot of Angry Birds on your doorstep on Halloween night, the report says.

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Filed under: Charlie Sheen • Fire • Halloween • Holidays • Natural Disasters • On the Radar • Protest • Showbiz • Texas
On the Radar: NBA labor talks, California weather, Hawaii surfing
Derek Fisher, president of the National Basketball Players Association, speaks at a press conference last week in New York.
October 4th, 2011
05:58 AM ET

On the Radar: NBA labor talks, California weather, Hawaii surfing

Three things you need to know today.

NBA lockout: The start of the NBA season could depend on what happens at a pivotal meeting Tuesday between the owners and the players in New York.

National Basketball Players Association President Derek Fisher put it like this Monday: "We are aware of the calendar. We know our backs are against the wall in terms of regular season games and what those consequences will be."

Added NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver: "We can only say we are running out of time so many times. We are getting close to the point where we are going to lose the rest of the preseason and have to start canceling regular season games."

The sometimes bitter NBA labor struggle and lockout has now stretched to three months.

Meanwhile, some of the league's top agents are urging players not to back down in the negotiations, SI.com's Sam Amick reports.

Tuesday's meeting starts at noon ET.

California weather: Temperatures in inland areas of California could be 15 to 30 degrees lower than normal over the next few days as two weather systems moving down the West Coast from the Gulf of Alaska hit the state.

The first on Tuesday will bring light rains and snow above 8,000 feet in the mountains, the National Weather Service says.

The second storm moving into the state Wednesday and Thursday will bring the big temperature drop as well as light to moderate rain west of the mountains, gusty winds and snow at elevations above 6,500 feet, forecasters said.

School surfing: Surfing, which is synonymous with the culture of Hawaii, is expected to get formal approval Tuesday as a sanctioned sport when the state board of education meets.

The proposal, if approved, would sanction surfing as a sport available in all 46 high schools in the island state.

"High schools have had surf clubs for years with informal competitions," explained Alex de Silva, a spokesman for the State Board and Department of Education.

The idea was originally proposed in 2004 but didn't go far "because we are in a tight budget situation like nearly every other school system," said de Silva. But now the plan is to seek outside corporate support for the program.

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Filed under: Basketball • California • Hawaii • NBA • On the Radar • Sports • Surfing • Weather • Winter weather
On the Radar: GOP primary shakeup, jittery investors, baseball playoffs
It looks like the GOP presidential candidates are going to chase primary votes in Florida earlier than the RNC would like.
September 30th, 2011
10:55 AM ET

On the Radar: GOP primary shakeup, jittery investors, baseball playoffs

Three things to know today:

GOP primary shakeup

Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning is expected to announce Friday that the state will move its GOP primary date to the end of January, which will probably cause a chain reaction of scheduling changes by the four states that typically open the nomination process. According to state officials, the Florida commission set up to examine potential election dates is expected to move Florida's primary to January 31, moving the state’s primary to the No. 1 slot, at least temporarily, on the Republican Party’s primary schedule.

The move would be the second consecutive presidential election that Florida has moved its primary date in front of its traditional March spot. In the 2008 race, the state chose to hold its primary on January 29, and the Republican National Committee responded by docking Florida of half of its delegates. The RNC wants only four states – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina – to hold their primaries or caucuses before Super Tuesday, and says that any state that chooses to move in front of those four will lose some of its delegates.

Florida’s primary shuffle has once again caused a stir among GOP leaders in the first four “carve-out” states, with New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner telling the Portsmouth Herald that he will do “whatever it takes” to ensure that the state remains at the front of the process to protect “the little guy." Nevada officials have responded similarly, saying that they might move the state’s caucuses up as early as January 21.


On the Radar: Baseball's wild-card races, Obama roundtable, Loughner hearing
Red Sox relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon and catcher Ryan Lavarnway celebrate getting the last out against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday.
September 28th, 2011
05:57 AM ET

On the Radar: Baseball's wild-card races, Obama roundtable, Loughner hearing

Three things you need to know today.

Wild card races: Major League Baseball goes into the final day of the 2011 regular season with the wild-card playoff spots up for grabs.

In the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox each won their games Tuesday night to remain tied at 90 wins, 71 losses, with one game to go in the 162-game regular season. The Red Sox, who beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-7 on Tuesday, face the Orioles again tonight in Baltimore. The Rays, who beat the New York Yankees 5-3 on Tuesday, host the Yankees in St. Petersburg, Florida.

In the National League, the Atlanta Braves fell to the Philadelphia Phillies 7-1 on Tuesday while the St. Louis Cardinals soared past the Houston Astros 13-6. The Braves and Cardinals are tied at 89 wins, 72 losses and face the same opponents Wednesday night. The Braves are at home against the Phillies and the Cardinals are in Houston.

SI.com's Joe Lemire looks at Tuesday's results and how the final day of the regular season shapes up.

Obama roundtable: President Barack Obama will answer questions about issues in the Hispanic community during an online roundtable Wednesday morning.

The event will be moderated by Jose Siade, Yahoo's editor-in-chief for U.S. Hispanic and Latin America. Obama will respond to questions submitted by readers of Yahoo, MSN Latino, and AOL Latino/Huffington Post Latino Voice on issues that affect the Latino community.

The president is expected to address the economy, education, health care and immigration.

The event called "Open for Questions With President Obama" or "El Presidente Obama Te Responde" will be streamed live on the White House website.

Giffords shooting suspect: Jared Loughner, charged in the Arizona shooting rampage that killed six people and wounded congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, faces a competency hearing Wednesday.

Loughner is scheduled to be at the hearing in Arizona to decide whether he should remain committed in Missouri or if he is competent to stand trial.

Loughner's hearing starts Wednesday afternoon in Tucson.

He is charged in the shooting rampage January 8 at a shopping center parking lot in Tucson that left six people dead, including a child and a federal judge. Thirteen others were wounded, including Giffords, a Democrat from Arizona.

The suspect could receive the death penalty if convicted.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Baseball • Courts • Crime • Justice • On the Radar • Sports
On the Radar: Philippine typhoon, Washington Monument, Australia military
Resident rescue a pig from a flooded Manila street on Tuesday.
September 27th, 2011
06:01 AM ET

On the Radar: Philippine typhoon, Washington Monument, Australia military

Three things you need to know today.

Philippine typhoon: As many eight people were dead and almost 2 million without power as Typhoon Nesat slammed into the Philippines with torrential rains and winds up to 87 mph.

Among the dead were a grandmother and her three grandchildren killed when a wall of their home collapsed on them, the Philippine Star reported. They were among eight killed across the country, according to a report on Inquirer.net.

In metro Manila, 1.9 million of Manila Electric Co. were without power, according to a report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The typhoon, known in the Philippines as Pedring, made landfall about 190 kilometers (120 miles) north of Manila about 5 a.m. Tuesday (5 p.m. Monday ET), according to the Philippine national weather agency. The storm was dumping up to 25 millimeters (1 inch) of rain per hour as it moved across the country.

Nesat was expected to cross the archipelago and head toward southeastern China.

Washington Monument: Architect/engineers will rappel down the sides of the Washington Monument on Tuesday, looking for damage caused by the August earthquake in Virginia.

The National Park Service announced Monday that experts have completed an interior assessment of the monument and found it to be structurally sound.

To get a closer look at the outside of the structure, architect/engineer/rappellers from the firm of Wiss, Janney and Elstner, the architectural firm hired by the National Park Service, will scale the outside of the structure to get a closer look.

Their "difficult-access team will install climbing ropes and safety lines on all four sides of the monument, then clip on to those lines and exit the monument from the windows at the observation level," Vogel said. Weather permitting, they will climb up the pyramidion and then descend the length of the monument looking for exterior damage.

Women in combat: Women in the Australian armed forces will be able to serve in front-line combat roles, the government said Tuesday.

The new plan will be phased in over a five-year period.

Australia's decision makes it one of only a few countries in the developed world with no restrictions for women in combat. Canada and Israel are among the other nations that allow so.

The United States prevents women in serving in certain combat roles.

On the Radar: 787 delivery, Palestinian statehood, Washington Monument
A 787 painted in ANA colors lands in Japan after a July test flight.
September 26th, 2011
06:01 AM ET

On the Radar: 787 delivery, Palestinian statehood, Washington Monument

Three things you need to know today

ANA Dreamliner: Boeing delivers its first 787 Dreamliner today, handing over the airliner to All Nippon Airways at a ceremony at Boeing's facility in Everett, Washington.

You can follow the events live on Boeing's website beginning at noon ET, 9 a.m. Pacific.

The plane is the first commercial airliner to be made mostly of carbon composites or super durable plastic. Those materials mean a lighter plane that Boeing says could use 20% less fuel than conventional airliners, making way for a more environmentally-friendly and cost effective aircraft option for airlines.

So far, according to Boeing, the manufacturer has more than 800 orders for the 787 Dreamliner, which has a list price of about $200 million each.

The interior of the plane also sports a variety of upgrades. Gone are traditional plane window shades. Instead, a button on the window allows passengers to gradually darken their surroundings.

All Nippon Airways has ordered 55 Dreamliners.

Palestinian statehood: The historic Palestinian bid for statehood goes before the United Nations Security Council Monday, where it looks set for a largely symbolic debate in the face of a promised American veto.

Lebanon's Nawaf Salam, the Security Council president for this month, said he circulated the letter of application to all 15 members of the Security Council last week.

While a U.S. veto would block the bid for full U.N. membership, the General Assembly could still vote to upgrade the status of Palestinians, who currently hold the status of non-voting observer "entity."

The body could change that status to permanent observer "state," identical to the Vatican's standing at the United Nations.

Washington Monument: National Park Service officials will hold a news conference Monday afternoon to offer details on damaged sustained by the Washington Monument during the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the East Coast on August 23.

The service has been working with an engineering firm to determine the extent of the damage and what it will cost to fix it.

The monument has been closed to the public since the earthquake.

On the Radar: Palestinians' bid, falling satellite, wobbly stocks
September 23rd, 2011
10:20 AM ET

On the Radar: Palestinians' bid, falling satellite, wobbly stocks

Three things you need to know today:

Palestinians' expected bid for full U.N. membership

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (pictured) is expected to submit a formal request for full U.N. membership for his territories on Friday, the day he is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly. He's expected to speak sometime after 11 a.m.

The bid seems unlikely to succeed because the United States has vowed to block a Palestinian membership application should it reach the U.N. Security Council.  The Obama administration has expressed concern that Palestinian action at the United Nations could intensify conditions on the ground and delay already stalled negotiations with Israel.

A successful vote would not lead to an established Palestinian state with defined borders, but it would afford the Palestinian government an upgraded international status, allowing them to pursue legal actions against Israel.


On the Radar: Nurses' strike, Obama speech, Taiwan arms
Health care workers walk a picket line outside a Kaiser Permanente facility in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
September 22nd, 2011
06:32 AM ET

On the Radar: Nurses' strike, Obama speech, Taiwan arms

Three things you need to know today.

Nurses strike: Almost 23,000 nurses at hospitals in northern and central California won't report to work on Thursday as they stage a one-day strike to protest concessions demanded by hospitals that the nurses say will hurt their role as patient advocates and cut their health and pension benefits.

The strike by members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United targets hospitals operated by Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente as well as Children's Hospital in Oakland.

Among their grievances, the  nurses say job concessions sought by Sutter Health would require them to report to work when ill, endangering patient health, according to a statement on the union's website.

At Kaiser, nurses are striking in sympathy with co-workers who face cuts in their health coverage and retirement plans, the nurses' union says.

Complaints at Children's Hospital include cuts to health care plans that would make it too expensive for nurses to bring their own kids to Children's for treatment, according to the union statement.

See a list of affected facilities.

Obama jobs speech: President Barack Obama head to Cincinnati on Thursday to pitch his $447 billion jobs bill – a combination of infrastructure spending, tax cuts and aid to state and local governments.

He'll speak with the Brent Spence Bridge as a backdrop. The span across the Ohio River carries one of the country's major trucking routes, but it is in need of $2.4 billion in repairs, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The bridge links the constituencies of the top two Republicans in Congress - House Speaker John Boehner's district is on the Ohio side while Kentucky is home of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and winning Ohio's 18 electoral votes in 2012 could be pivotal to Obama's re-election.

Taiwan arms: China warned the United States Thursday that a multi-billion dollar arms sales to Taiwan will create "severe obstacles" between Beijing and Washington, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

"The wrongdoing by the U.S. side will inevitably undermine bilateral relations as well as exchanges and cooperation in military and security areas," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun said, according to Xinhua. Zhang summoned U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke to lodge a protest.

The $5.3 billion arms package includes upgrades to Taiwan's F-16 fighter fleet, a five-year extension of F-16 pilot training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona and spare parts for the upkeep of three different planes used by the Taiwanese, according to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. The deal is part of the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • California • China • John Boehner • Kentucky • Ohio • On the Radar • Taiwan
On the Radar: Executions in Georgia and Texas, Obama at U.N.
Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed Wednesday evening in Georgia.
September 21st, 2011
06:00 AM ET

On the Radar: Executions in Georgia and Texas, Obama at U.N.

Three things you need to know today.

Georgia execution: Supporters of death-row inmate Troy Davis have vowed to continue fighting to stave off Wednesday's scheduled execution, despite a decision by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to deny clemency.

"We're calling on anyone who has any power to stop this grave injustice from occurring." Laura Moye, campaign director for Amnesty International USA, said at a news conference.

Davis is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Jackson, Georgia, for the 1989 shooting death of off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail.

The parole board declined to grant Davis clemency Tuesday following a hearing Monday in which it heard testimony calling into question physical evidence and witness statements that a Chatham County jury relied on in convicting Davis in 1991. In Georgia, only the board - not the governor - has the right to grant clemency.

Since Davis' conviction, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Davis' supporters say the original witnesses were fearful of police and spoke under duress.

One of three men convicted for his involvement in the infamous dragging death of a black man 13 years ago is scheduled to be executed Wednesday.

Texas execution: Lawrence Russell Brewer, 44, is scheduled to die by lethal injection in the killing of James Byrd.

Brewer and two other white men chained the 49-year-old black man to the back of a pickup truck and dragged him to death on a country road near Jasper, Texas.

Accomplice John William King also was sentenced to death and is awaiting an appeal. A third man, Shawn Berry, received life in prison.

Obama at U.N.: President Barack Obama will lay out the U.S. view of the "seismic change" seen around the world in the past year, particularly in the Arab world, when he speaks to the United Nations on Wednesday, aides said.

National Security Council strategic communications director Ben Rhodes said the sweeping changes across the region will take up much of Obama's address to the General Assembly on Wednesday morning and "speak to the momentum of democratic change in the world."

"There's been a seismic change in the past year, and I think the discussions today underscore that," he said.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Death Penalty • Georgia • Justice • On the Radar • Texas • United Nations
On the Radar: Japan typhoon, SeaWorld hearing, Listeria deaths
Rescue workers transport evacuees through floodwaters in Nagoya, Japan, on Tuesday.
September 20th, 2011
06:24 AM ET

On the Radar: Japan typhoon, SeaWorld hearing, Listeria deaths

Three things you need to know today.

Japan typhoon: About 80,000 residents have been ordered to flee and more than 1 million people were urged to evacuate Nagoya, a city in central Japan, Tuesday as a typhoon was expected to hit the area.

Despite the evacuation warnings, a little more than 60 people had evacuated the city by Tuesday afternoon, the city government said. More were expected to leave in the evening as the storm came closer.

Typhoon Roke was packing winds of 185 kph (115 mph) and was predicted to make landfall with heavy rain some time Wednesday, said CNN meteorologist Jennifer Delgado.

The storm was expected to hit south of Osaka and could drench some areas with about 250 mm (10 inches) of rain, Delgado said.

Two areas in the Nagoya were ordered to evacuate because of the threat of flooding from the Shonai River, officials said.

SeaWorld hearing: A federal hearing continues Tuesday to determine whether SeaWorld Orlando should be charged with a willful violation in the 2010 death of killer whale trainer Dawn Brancheau.

Monday was the first day of the hearing at the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford, Florida.

In February 2010, as park guests watched in horror, Brancheau, 40, was pulled into a SeaWorld pool and drowned by a 12,000-pound killer whale named Tilikum. Brancheau had been sitting on the Shamu Stadium's pool edge during a private show.

After a lengthy investigation, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration - the federal agency that works to prevent workplace injuries - cited SeaWorld of Florida in August 2010 for willfully endangering employees by not taking proper safety precautions.

Listeria deaths: Up to seven deaths in four states may be linked to a Listeriosis outbreak that the Centers for Disease Control believes originated at a cantaloupe farm in Colorado, the Denver Post reports.

The deaths have been reported in Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Missouri, according to the Denver Post report. Overall, 35 cases are reported in 10 states, the Post said.

Jensen Farms recalled its cantaloupe harvest on September 14, the Post reported.

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Filed under: Animals • Colorado • Consumer safety • Florida • Food • Japan • On the Radar • Tropical weather • Weather • Whales
On the Radar: U.N. health meeting; Davis hearing; home-invasion trial
Campaigns against smoking are one way to fight non-communicable diseases, the World Health Organization says.
September 19th, 2011
06:39 AM ET

On the Radar: U.N. health meeting; Davis hearing; home-invasion trial

Three things you need to know today.

U.N. health meeting: For only the second time in the history of the United Nations, the General Assembly will hold a meeting on a health issue.

The body convenes in New York on Monday to discuss non-communicable diseases. Each year 36 million people worldwide die of non-communicable diseases, the World Health Organization reports. Those include cancer, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes and chronic respiratory disease. That's 63% of all deaths worldwide, the agency says.

The aim of the two-day U.N. conference is "to adopt a concise, action-oriented outcome document that will shape the global agendas for generations to come," according to the WHO's website.

Eighty percent of deaths from non-communicable diseases occur in low- or middle-income countries, the WHO says. On Sunday, the organization released a study saying that low-income countries could introduce strategies and treatments to fight non-communicable diseases that would cost just $1.20 per year per person. Some of those strategies include anti-smoking campaigns, reduce salt content in food and public awareness programs about diet and physical activity.

Troy Davis hearing: Georgia's parole board will convene Monday morning to hear a last-minute appeal by Troy Davis, who is set to die by lethal injection for the murder 21 years ago of a Savannah police officer.


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Filed under: Connecticut • Crime • Health • Justice • On the Radar • United Nations
On the Radar: No school in Tacoma, rally for Davis, bill for Anthony
Teachers walk a picket line Wednesday in Tacoma, Washington.
September 16th, 2011
05:50 AM ET

On the Radar: No school in Tacoma, rally for Davis, bill for Anthony

Three things you need to know today.

Tacoma school strike: Classes are suspended again Friday in Tacoma, Washington, after teachers voted to continue their strike, in defiance of a a court order to stop.

Rich Wood, the spokesman for the Tacoma teachers union, said teachers voted Thursday to continue their strike despite a judge's Wednesday order. At a union meeting Thursday afternoon, 1,478 teachers voted to keep striking, Wood said, adding that 107 voted "no" or abstained. He said teachers were concerned about how Judge Bryan Chushcoff would react to their defying his order.

The Tacoma School District did not return a call seeking comment, but a message posted on the district's website said school for 28,000 students would be suspended again Friday, as it has been all week.

Rally to stop execution: The Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network plans to hold a candlelight vigil Friday for convicted cop killer Troy Davis at Atlanta's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. Sharpton will speak at the rally at 7 p.m. ET.

Davis, 42, is set to be executed at 7 p.m. Wednesday by lethal injection next week for the 1989 murder of Savannah, Georgia, police officer Mark MacPhail.

But since his 1991 conviction, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted or contradicted their testimony. No physical evidence was presented linking Davis to the killing of the policeman.

Supporters Thursday delivered a massive petition containing more than 663,000 signatures in support of clemency for Davis to Georgia officials.

They're worried that won't be enough, as all legal appeals have been exhausted and only Gov. Nathan Deal or the state Pardon and Parole Board can call off Wednesday's execution. The board denied clemency in 2008.

Bill for Anthony: Casey Anthony owes authorities just under $98,000 for the costs of investigating the disappearance of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in 2008, a Florida judge ruled Thursday.

The decision means prosecutors are set to recoup less than one-fifth of the more than $516,000 that they had sought. The state had argued that if it were not for the 25-year-old Orlando woman's lies, investigators wouldn't have had to expend the time and money to find her daughter's body.

They searched for five months, eventually finding Caylee's skeletal remains in woods less than a mile from her grandparents' Orlando home.

Orange County Superior Court Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. found Anthony is liable for expenses incurred from July 15, 2008, when Caylee was reported missing, to September 29 of that year, when authorities ended their missing-person case and opened a homicide investigation.

Filed under: Casey Anthony • Civil Rights • Crime • Death Penalty • Education • Justice • On the Radar
On the Radar: Clemency sought, Marine honored, congressmen to be sworn in
Troy Davis faces death by lethal injection on September 21.
September 15th, 2011
06:41 AM ET

On the Radar: Clemency sought, Marine honored, congressmen to be sworn in

Three things you need to know today.

Clemency sought: The NAACP and Amnesty International on Thursday will deliver petitions with thousands of signatures seeking clemency for convicted killer Troy Davis to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Davis, 42, is set to be executed on September 21 for the murder an off-duty Savannah police officer more than two decades ago.

Since Davis' conviction in 1991, seven of the nine witnesses against him have recanted their testimony. No physical evidence was presented linking Davis to the killing of the policeman.

The rights groups contend there is too much doubt about Davis' conviction to let the execution proceed.

"Troy Davis could very well be innocent," Amnesty International says on its website.

Medal of Honor: Dakota Meyer will receive the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday, becoming the first living Marine to get the medal for actions in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Meyer repeatedly ran through enemy fire to recover the bodies of fellow American troops during a firefight in Afghanistan's Kunar province in 2009.

Meyer ultimately saved the lives of 13 U.S. Marines and soldiers, and 23 Afghan soldiers, according to the Medal of Honor account on the Marine website. He also is credited with killing at least eight Taliban insurgents.

Swearing in: The two newest members of Congress, Republicans Mark Amodei of Nevada and Bob Turner of New York, will be sworn in on Thursday, two days after they won special elections in Nevada and New York respectively.

Amodei's election was expected. Republicans have represented Nevada's 2nd congressional district - which covers almost the entire state, except the southern tip and the Las Vegas metropolitan area - since it was created in 1983.

But Turner, a former cable TV executive, defeated Democratic state assemblyman David Weprin 54% to 46% in New York's 9th congressional district, giving the GOP control in a district where Democrats have a 3-to-1 voter advantage.

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Filed under: Congress • Crime • Death Penalty • Justice • Marines • Medal of Honor • Military • On the Radar • Politics
On the Radar: Possible N. Korea defectors, Minnesota fire, Thailand floods
A Japanese patrol craft tows a boat that allegedly carried nine North Koreans to Japanese waters.
September 14th, 2011
05:40 AM ET

On the Radar: Possible N. Korea defectors, Minnesota fire, Thailand floods

Three things you need to know today.

North Korea defectors: Nine possible North Korean defectors who sailed to Japan were moved to a refugee facility in the southern part of the country Wednesday afternoon, according to government officials.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujiwara said the nine people would be temporarily held at an immigration facility. Earlier in the day, Fujiwara disputed local reports that they would be sent to South Korea.

The small wooden boat carrying nine men, women and children onboard claiming they were from North Korea was spotted off Japan's western coast Tuesday morning.

A fisherman saw the boat drifting about 25 kilometers (15 miles) off the coast of Noto peninsula of Ishikawa prefecture and reported it to authorities.

It is rare for North Korean defectors to sail to Japan's coast. According to coast guard records, there have been only two other cases.

Minnesota fire: A wildfire in a northeast Minnesota woodland grew by nearly tenfold Tuesday, giving off a pall of smoke that stretched from the Canadian border to southern Wisconsin.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton called in National Guard helicopters to assist firefighters as the Pagami Creek fire, in the remote Superior National Forest, spread from about 11,000 acres on Monday to more than 100,000 by Tuesday afternoon, said Doug Anderson, a spokesman for the firefighting effort.

The blaze started in mid-August after a lightning strike, but jumped about 16 miles eastward on Monday - "unprecedented for northern Minnesota," said Lisa Radosevich-Craig, another spokeswoman for the fire command.

No injuries were reported and no buildings had been destroyed, but 36 homes in the nearby community of Isabella were evacuated as a precaution, she said.

Thailand floods: Heavy rains  and flooding have killed at least 87 people in Thailand in recent months, local authorities said.

The deaths occurred between July 29 and September 12, according to the Interior Ministry.

Flooding is still affecting 16 provinces, with Phichit   in the north among the hardest-hit.

Twenty-three people died in  Phichit province, mostly from drowning, according to officials.

On the Radar: Wildfires, GOP debate, jobs speech and Lee's remains
Thomas Polly tries to open a fireproof gun safe with his father at their burned home Wednesday near Bastrop, Texas.
September 8th, 2011
06:38 AM ET

On the Radar: Wildfires, GOP debate, jobs speech and Lee's remains

Texas fires - Wildfires continue to rage in Texas. One fire near the Texas capital has charred thousands of acres as of Thursday and prompted evacuations as officials bring in more resources to help local emergency crews. Authorities are working to pinpoint the cause of the fire in Bastrop County, which has killed at least two people. An elite search team is helping local officials look for victims. The fire near Austin started Sunday and has spread across 33,000 acres, forcing the evacuations of at least 5,000 people, officials said. At least 576 homes have been destroyed in the county and that total is expected to increase, officials say. Watch hundreds of animals be rescued

Republican debate ahead of jobs speech - GOP candidates took turns blasting President Barack Obama at the latest Republican presidential debate Wednesday night.  It was Texas Gov. Rick Perry's first debate since entering the race last month and he and Mitt Romney went at each other over job creation, Social Security and other issues. The CNN tea party debate is Monday. That debate will likely be informed by whatever Obama says tonight in an anticipated speech about how he's going to create jobs. CNN will carry the speech live at 8 p.m. ET. It's unclear how much Obama's plan will cost. Some are figuring as much as $400 billion. It includes large investments in infrastructure and unemployment assistance.

What's left of Tropical Storm Lee - The remnants of Tropical Storm Lee are dumping heavy rain and prompting flood advisories from Washington, D.C., to western New England. Several rounds of heavy rain are in store for much of the region the next couple of days, with an additional 2 to 6 inches forecast - and in isolated cases as much as 10 inches, according to the National Weather Service. "These rains may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," a weather service advisory said. Watch for updates on Lee and other storms on the National Hurricane Center's site.

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Filed under: Elections • On the Radar • Politics • Republican Party • Texas • Tropical weather
On the Radar: Texas fires, IHOP shooting, Knox trial
An iReporter captures an intersection in an Austin neighborhood.
September 7th, 2011
06:51 AM ET

On the Radar: Texas fires, IHOP shooting, Knox trial

Wildfires raged across Texas early Wednesday as they have each of the last 295 days, charring nearly 120,000 acres in the last week alone.
"I cannot emphasize enough to Texans in the impacted areas the importance of heeding all warnings from local officials, especially evacuation orders, as these fires are mean, swift and highly dangerous," Gov. Rick Perry said. The largest fire, near Austin, has spread across 33,000 acres, claiming two lives and forcing the evacuations of at least 5,000 people.

Another person has died from the shooting rampage that occurred Tuesday at an IHOP near Carson City, Nevada, officials said early Wednesday. A gunman carrying a variant of an AK-47 rifle opened fire on uniformed Nevada National Guard members as they were having breakfast. In all, 11 people were shot, and the gunman turned his weapon on himself.

There's more from the Amanda Knox hearing in Italy. On Wednesday, a forensic expert testified that DNA on the knife used to kill British student Meredith Kercher could not have been from blood. Carlo Torre, one of Italy's best-known forensics experts, presented a detailed technical argument about the DNA on the knife as Knox appeals her 2009 conviction for the murder of her housemate. Prosecutors contend there were traces of Knox's genetic material on the handle and Kercher's in a tiny groove on the blade. Kercher's semi-naked body was found in the house that she and Knox shared in Perugia, Italy. For complete coverage of the Knox case, click here.

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Filed under: Amanda Knox • Crime • Nevada • On the Radar • Texas
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