September 17th, 2012
12:52 PM ET

Giant panda at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo gives birth

A 14-year-old gave birth Sunday night, and Monday was on her way to becoming a reality TV star.

The teenager is Mei Xiang, the female giant panda at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. It was her second successful pregnancy with 15-year-old Tian Tian, the zoo's male giant panda, in seven years.

"We are thrilled that Mei Xiang had a successful pregnancy since 2005," said Dennis Kelly, the zoo's director. "I'm cautiously optimistic as we haven't seen the cub yet, but we know that Mei is a good mother. Like everyone else, I’m glued to the panda cam for my first glimpse of the cub!”

Kelly isn't the only one watching the "panda cam" that monitors the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat. So many people are trying to get a glimpse of the new cub that the streaming video online is getting jammed. You can try to access the view here or from the zoo's website. MTV and TLC, take notice.


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Filed under: Animals • China • District of Columbia
What to know about Eric Holder
June 27th, 2012
02:37 PM ET

What to know about Eric Holder

The U.S. House will proceed with a vote Thursday on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Holder has been cited for withholding documents in the "Operation Fast and Furious" weapons operation.

Fast and Furious was a federal operation that involved agents' allowing illegal sales of guns believed to be destined for Mexican drug cartels. The idea was to track the sellers and purchasers, but things went awry when weapons found at murder scenes were traced back to the program.

Fast and Furious: By the numbers

As the proceedings continue with Holder, here's a bit of background on his time as Attorney General, as well as a timeline of the events involving Fast and Furious. (For an in-depth breakdown, you can also read more about the Fast and Furious investigation, which started with an agent's death.):


May 21st, 2012
05:20 AM ET

French police to open inquiry into new allegations against Strauss-Kahn

French prosecutors have widened an investigation into former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn's alleged participation in a prostitution ring.

Authorities said Monday that Lille police will open a preliminary inquiry into acts alleged to have taken place between 15 and 18 December 2010 in Washington D.C..

CNN was waiting to hear back from Strauss-Kahn's lawyers Monday morning.

The French newspaper Liberation reported earlier this month that the allegations stemmed from statements made by two women it describes as "escort girls," who were interviewed by Belgian police as part of an investigation into a prostitution ring run out of the Carlton Hotel in Lille, near France's border with Belgium.

According to the newspaper's account of the depositions, the women said they had accompanied two associates of Strauss-Kahn on a visit to Washington, where they had stayed at the W Hotel.

One of them alleged that Strauss-Kahn had used force against her during a sexual encounter at the hotel, despite her protests.

The newspaper did not specify how it obtained the statements. CNN could not independently confirm the report.

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Filed under: District of Columbia • Dominique Strauss-Kahn • France • Justice
'Go-Go' pioneer Chuck Brown dies
Chuck Brown arrives at the Grammy Awards in February 2011.
May 16th, 2012
05:46 PM ET

'Go-Go' pioneer Chuck Brown dies

Chuck Brown, known as the "Godfather of Go-Go," a genre blending funk, jazz and soul and other musical forms, died Wednesday, his manager said.

Brown, 75, died at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, manager Tom Goldfogle said. The performer, whose career spanned four decades, died of multi-organ failure from sepsis.

"Go-Go" originated in Washington, D.C., in the 1970s.

Brown, with the Soul Searchers, had a big hit with "Bustin' Loose." The guitarist and singer became a familiar figure on stage with his brim hat and sunglasses.

According to CNN affiliate WJLA, Brown had recently postponed numerous shows due to failing health.

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Filed under: Celebrity • District of Columbia • Music • Showbiz
Obama: Same-sex couples should have right to marry
President Obama told ABC on Wednesday that gays should have the right to get married.
May 9th, 2012
03:03 PM ET

Obama: Same-sex couples should have right to marry

President Barack Obama said in an interview with ABC that "it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."

With his Wednesday announcement, the president reversed his longstanding position on the issue. It came on the heels of his own vice president and education secretary saying they were in favor of gay marriage.

According to an ABC blog post, Obama further described his thought process as an "evolution" that progressed as he discussed the issue with staff members, gay and lesbian service members and his own family.

He said he thinks Americans are growing increasingly comfortable with the concept of gay marriage and cited his own daughters' views on the matter.

“It’s interesting, some of this is also generational,” he said. “You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents.

"And Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them, and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”

Read CNN's full coverage of President Barack Obama's stance on gay marriage
May 1st, 2012
11:56 AM ET

New probes launched into prostitution scandal

A fourth congressional committee will look into the Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia, joining the acting inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security as well as internal reviews by the agency, the military and the White House.

The top legislators on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said Tuesday they sent a letter to Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan asking for information on the incident last month in Cartagena, Colombia, that has resulted in nine agents resigning or in the process of being forced out.

=Three other Secret Service agents were cleared of serious misconduct, and the military is investigating the alleged involvement of 12 service members.

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Filed under: District of Columbia
Overheard on 'This was my space shuttle moment,' reader says of Discovery
iReporter Danny Mills went to the beach to see the shuttle pass by. "I will look forward to visiting her new home one day soon."
April 17th, 2012
01:51 PM ET

Overheard on 'This was my space shuttle moment,' reader says of Discovery

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

Star-struck space lovers gazed skyward Tuesday to watch space shuttle Discovery's journey to Washington after a series of nostalgic fly-bys on the back of a NASA Boeing 747. The flight departed from Florida's Kennedy Space Center en route to Dulles International Airport in Virginia. It will spend its retirement at a Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum facility in Chantilly, Virginia.

Space shuttle Discovery arrives in Washington

The photo at the top was shot by rocket technician Danny Mills of Cape Canaveral, Florida, who joined several other iReporters in documenting the shuttle's journey from point A to point B. Mills went over to Cocoa Beach to see the shuttle. He used an often-mentioned word to describe his feelings.

"There's a lot of life left in the shuttles, and everyone I talked to this morning feels the same," he said. "We're really sad to see them stop flying. It was really bittersweet." FULL POST

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Filed under: District of Columbia • Florida • Overheard on • Science • Shuttle • Space • U.S. • Virginia
April 6th, 2012
04:09 PM ET

Marion Barry's remarks on Asians' 'dirty shops' ignite criticism after primary win

[Updated Friday at 4:09 p.m. ET] Washington Councilman Marion Barry said Friday he could've rephrased his controversial remark about "dirty" Asian businesses in his district, but he refused to back down.

He said his adrenaline was flowing after Tuesday's primary victory, when he made the comment, and that he merely was trying to convey that the business community in his Ward 8 needs a new attitude. Asians run a large percentage of the ward's stores and small shops, he said.

“I said something that I probably could have phrased differently. What you mean is the same. You’re not going to have people who are exploiting us in this community. They’re going to be part of the community. We welcome all businesspeople here … but give us some jobs.”

Several lawmakers, including the D.C. mayor and some of Barry's fellow council members, condemned his remarks - criticism Barry downplayed earlier this week. CNN's Athena Jones, who interviewed Barry on Friday, also spoke to Korean shop owner Helen Lee, who said she was angered by the councilman's castigation.

"We work really hard to keep our facility clean and to serve, like, this community. We've been here for over 20 years now," said Lee's daughter, Miriam. "So it's really insulting for him to come out of the blue and say that we're dirty and that, you know, we should be replaced, basically because we've been here for so long."

Told of the Lees' sentiments, Barry again disregarded the criticism, saying, "Leadership requires leadership."

"If she’s mad at me, tell her put some money in this community. Hire some people in this community. Give money to various organizations in this community, " he said. "If she’s mad, then do something about it.”


Performer addresses his Apple controversy with theater audience
Mike Daisey, the performer of "The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," had his story retracted by "This American Life."
March 28th, 2012
08:51 PM ET

Performer addresses his Apple controversy with theater audience

A monologist whose story about Apple and factories in China has come under fire took questions from the public about the controversy Tuesday night in the Washington theater that held the debut for his piece.

Solo artist Mike Daisey has had plenty to say since it was revealed that he made up some things in “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” his tale of horrid labor conditions inside the Chinese manufacturer that makes Apple products.

A lot of it has been: “I’m sorry.”

The public radio show “This American Life” had run a version of his story, adapted from his theater show, and then retracted it this month after learning that he had fabricated information about his visits to the factories. Daisey has since taken a pummeling in the news media.


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Filed under: District of Columbia
February 17th, 2012
01:57 PM ET

Police: Suicide attack on U.S. Capitol foiled

U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI on Friday arrested a Moroccan man who was planning a suicide attack on the Capitol, police and a federal law-enforcement official said.

The man received what he thought was a vest with explosives, but the materials in the vest had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement, Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said.

He was arrested as soon as he accepted the vest from undercover officers, the federal law-enforcement source said.

The man had been closely monitored as part of a lengthy and extensive undercover operation, police said, adding U.S. Capitol Police had been "intimately" involved in the investigation.

The public was never in danger, police said.

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Filed under: Crime • District of Columbia • Terrorism
January 31st, 2012
10:50 AM ET

Protesters struggle to stay awake on first night of sleeping ban

Occupy DC protesters struggled to stay awake overnight but vowed to stay strong Tuesday in the first full day of a camping ban enforced by U.S. Park Police.

"I had more fun in the park last night than the whole time I've been here," said Amanda Rickard, who is among the protesters staying at McPherson Park in Washington. "We were out here playing guitar, singing, playing drums, Scrabble, card games, you know, just stuff to keep us busy so we can stay here and stay awake."

But one protester said he wouldn't be surprised if the mandate against camping gear and sleeping in the park takes its toll on protesters.

"To be honest, I don't know how long we can keep this up," protester Kevin Whiley said after a sleepless night.

Park police began enforcing the ban on Monday after months of tolerating the Occupy camps at McPherson Park and Freedom Plaza. Police moved through the parks on Monday, asking protesters to remove camping gear and be sure to leave a tent flap open at all times.

D.C. moves to adjust divorce law for same-sex marriages
Same-sex marriages are recognized in only a handful of jurisdictions nationwide.
January 11th, 2012
12:31 PM ET

D.C. moves to adjust divorce law for same-sex marriages

The Washington City Council is on track to make it easier for same-sex couples who got married in the District of Columbia to get divorced.

D.C. Councilman Phil Mendelson proposed the legislation after hearing reports that same-sex couples who wed in the District were being denied divorces after moving to jurisdictions that don't recognize same-sex marriages. The District of Columbia began allowing same-sex marriages in 2010. But those marriages are recognized in only a handful of places, meaning divorce proceedings can't be started in many places that haven't recognized the marriages in the first place.

"I received a number of reports from couples or attorneys about this impossible situation," Mendelson told the Washington Examiner.

Mendelson's bill removes a six-month waiting period during which someone seeking a divorce must reside in the District, provided the marriage occurred in the District in the first place.

The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington has applauded Mendelson's bill.

"This bill fills a gap in the law created by our being ahead of the historical curve. None of us celebrates the dissolution of a marriage, but equality under the law must extend to every contingency. The lack of a clear legal mechanism for divorce can make an unhappy situation much worse for all involved," Rick Rosendall, the alliance's vice president for political affairs, said in a statement.

The bill was co-sponsored by seven other members of the 13-member council, meaning final passage is likely.

Approval by the mayor or an override of a veto is required, as is a 30-day congressional review period, before the measure can become law.

December 4th, 2011
05:27 PM ET

Police order structure taken down at Occupy DC

U.S. Park Police surrounded a wooden structure erected Sunday by Occupy DC protesters, with a standoff ensuing and several arrests being made, according to witnesses.

The structure was built overnight in McPherson Square as a place where protesters could stay warm in the winter and hold their daily General Assembly meetings, according to Wade Simmons, one of the Occupy demonstrators.

Police ordered the structure taken down around noon Sunday, a post on the Occupy DC website reported, but about a dozen people remained perched on top of or inside the building, which was donated by a father-son architect team. As many as 200 people gathered at the park to watch the standoff.

Police put up barriers around the structure and cordoned off nearby streets with yellow tape as protesters chanted, "This is a nonviolent movement," and, "Put the pepper spray away."

White House shooting suspect to be charged with assassination attempt
Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez was arrested in Pennsylvania. Investigators allege he was involved in a shooting outside the White House last week.
November 17th, 2011
02:33 PM ET

White House shooting suspect to be charged with assassination attempt

A man accused of firing shots near the White House last week will be charged with attempting to assassinate the president or a member of his staff, a federal prosecutor said Thursday.

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, of Idaho, was arrested in western Pennsylvania on Wednesday. Investigators believe he was involved in a shooting Friday night that may be responsible for two bullets found on the White House exterior on Tuesday, according to the Secret Service.

One bullet hit a window and was stopped by bulletproof glass, and another was found on the White House exterior, the Secret Service said.

Ortega-Hernandez will be charged with attempted assassination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jimmy Kitchen said at Ortega-Hernandez's first federal court hearing Thursday.

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Filed under: Crime • District of Columbia
Man arrested in probe of White House bullets
A bullet is believed to have hit an exterior window on the south side of the White House.
November 16th, 2011
02:09 PM ET

Man arrested in probe of White House bullets

Authorities have arrested a man who allegedly was involved in a shooting incident that may be responsible for two bullets found this week at the White House, the U.S. Secret Service said.

Police arrested Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez near Indiana, Pennsylvania, the U.S. Secret Service said. Authorities say they believe he was involved in a shooting that happened near the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday night.

Two bullets were found Tuesday, including one that hit an exterior White House window and was stopped by bulletproof glass, and another found on the White House exterior.

Ortega-Hernandez is in the custody of the Pennsylvania State Police.

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Filed under: Crime • District of Columbia
October 6th, 2011
09:43 AM ET

Suspicious object reported near Capitol being sent to Quantico

[Update at 10:35 a.m.] The U.S. Capitol Police are preparing to transport the suspicious item into a specialized truck operated by the bomb squad, USCP spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Schneider told CNN.

The item will be transported with a Virginia State Police escort to Quantico, Virginia, where it will be rendered safe. FBI spokeswoman Lindsay Godwin said the item is being transported because it is dense and law enforcement authorities were having difficulty X-raying it.

Schneider said the area around the Capitol reflecting pool will remain closed until the scene is cleared.

[Posted at 7:56 a.m.] U.S. Capitol Police are responding to a suspicious object Thursday near the Capitol reflecting pool.  Police told CNN the object is a pipe with wires and end caps.

This story is developing. We'll bring you more information as soon as we get it.

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Filed under: Crime • District of Columbia
October 1st, 2011
02:17 PM ET

Ultimate Fighting comes to Washington

Politics has been called a blood sport, so it's not too much of a stretch for Washington to be hosting its first Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday.

Still, mixed martial arts was once a sport that Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, tried to get banned because of its violent nature.

Today, with safer guidelines in place, the sport is thriving and has a huge following in the U.S. and a growing audience globally.

Saturday's event  is being held at Verizon Center with 10 bouts on the card.

UFC president Dana White tells CNN that Washington is ripe for the sport.

"Anytime we go into a new market, whether it's here in the United States or somewhere else around the world, it's always exciting... I expect D.C. to be very good for us," said White. "This is the most exciting live sporting event you will see in all of sports."

"I don't care what color you are, what country you come from, or what language you speak," White said, "We're all human beings. Fighting is in our DNA. We get it and we like it. This thing works everywhere."

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Filed under: District of Columbia • Sports
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.

September 13th, 2011
04:49 PM ET

Obama's push for jobs act will last months, officials say

High school students chanted "pass this bill" to a rousing speech Tuesday by President Barack Obama touting his $447 billion jobs plan, while senior administration officials said the push for Congress to approve the legislation would last months.

White House spokesman Jay Carney, meanwhile, opened the door to Obama's proposal getting passed in pieces, rather than as a single package.

"If Congress were to send a portion of the American Jobs Act, the president would, of course, not veto it," Carney told reporters. "He would sign it and then he would return to press the Congress to get the rest of the job done."

The plan unveiled last week and presented to Congress on Monday calls for targeted tax cuts, infrastructure spending and new job training assistance that would be paid for by ending tax loopholes for corporations and American families earning more than $250,000 a year.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • District of Columbia • Ohio • Politics
September 10th, 2011
04:09 PM ET

Official dedication of MLK Memorial to be held October 16

The official dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, which was postponed because of Hurricane Irene last month, will be held on October 16, Harry Johnson Sr., head of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Foundation, said Saturday.

The date was set in consultation with the White House as President Barack Obama is expected to speak at the ceremony.

The dedication of the $120 million memorial was to coincide with the 48th anniversary of the historic March on Washington and King's famed "I Have A Dream" speech on August 28. But while many of the weekend events went ahead, the centerpiece dedication was postponed as the East Coast hunkered down for the battering winds and rains of Hurricane Irene.

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Filed under: District of Columbia • U.S.
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