Alaska town digging its way out after record 18 feet of snow
Several homes in Cordova, Alaska, are buried after weeks of record snowfall.
January 9th, 2012
03:33 PM ET

Alaska town digging its way out after record 18 feet of snow

Snow in Alaska doesn't usually make big headlines, but even The Last Frontier has extremes.

Cordova, an isolated coastal town of about 2,000 people about 150 miles east of Anchorage, appears to be one of the hardest-hit locales, with the state National Guard reporting that it was sending Guardsmen and resources Monday after weeks of record snowfall left the city  buried under 18 feet of the white stuff.

The state activated its State Emergency Operations Center on Friday to help Cordova handle the snow. The town had issued a disaster declaration earlier in the day.

Cordova is "isolated off the state highway system," according to the Guard, and the sea and airport are the only way in and out of the area. The National Guard sent resources to Cordova as conditions worsened and residents scrambled to dig themselves out Monday.

“Cordova is continuing their outstanding job responding to several weeks of intense snowfall,” John Madden, director of the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said in a statement. “Cordova utilized all of their snow management resources to maintain emergency access but now face a new round of storms that will bring heavy snow and perhaps rain.”

The most recent storm alone brought 42 inches of snow to the town, according to a news release from the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

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Milwaukee hopes images of dead can heat up cold cases
Police use composites, like this from a 1969 California murder victim, to ID remains, but some jurisdictions are taking it further.
January 4th, 2012
01:56 PM ET

Milwaukee hopes images of dead can heat up cold cases

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office is taking a drastic and admittedly desperate step in its effort to clear cold cases, some stretching back to 1970.

Law enforcement officials have long posted sketches or clay models  - and more recently, digital reconstructions - of unidentified persons in hopes that a friend or loved one might recognize the deceased and help police identify them. Taking its lead from Las Vegas, Milwaukee County is taking it a step further and releasing actual photos of the deceased.

It sounds gruesome - and it is, if you peruse the Milwaukee medical examiner's unidentified persons site - but forensic investigator Michael Simley says that in the 17 cases featured, authorities have run out of options.

"They were born with a name, and they deserve to have that name in death," Simley said. "This is the best way to get that information out there to the public."

Just because bodies are found in Milwaukee County doesn't mean the deceased lived there. They may have been a homeless transient or perhaps a visitor, so Simley wanted to create a database anyone could search.

It's a twist on the U.S. Justice Department's NamUs system, which is a database of unidentified human remains. The database, which contains more than 8,000 cases, is searchable by sex, race, body features, dental information or other characteristics.

There are many systems like NamUs. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, South Carolina Coroner's Association, New York State Police, Texas Department of Public Safety and even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are among the law enforcement entities that post their John and Jane Does online, but they rely on reproductions of the deceased.

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Filed under: Crime • Georgia • Italy • Justice • Nevada • New York • South Carolina • Technology • Texas • U.S. • Wisconsin
Ex-Bear Sam Hurd freed on $100,000 bond as drug case heads to Texas
Sam Hurd, seen here making a play earlier this season, was arrested in Rosemont, Illinois, on drug charges this week.
December 16th, 2011
08:03 PM ET

Ex-Bear Sam Hurd freed on $100,000 bond as drug case heads to Texas

[Updated at 8:03 p.m. ET] Sam Hurd was released on a $100,000 cash bond late Friday afternoon.

His case will now be handled by the federal court for the Northern District of Texas. Hurd waived his probable cause hearing so his case will move to a grand jury, which will decide whether to indict him, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Sean Jensen, an NFL Columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, told CNN that the Chicago Bears organization was blindsided by the arrest of one of the most "cordial, friendly and accountable" players in the clubhouse.

"Everybody throughout this building is shocked by this revelation the other day. The team didn't know anything of it until Thursday morning when Sam Hurd wasn't in the usual receiver meeting. That's when they started asking around and figuring out what happened," Jensen said.

[Posted at 3:49 p.m. ET] A judge granted Sam Hurd a $100,000 bail in a federal drug case that alleges the ex-Chicago Bears receiver conspired to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth or mairjuana and cocaine for distribution in the Chicago area, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Judge Young B. Kim set the bail amount Friday afternoon hearing in federal court, where Hurd appeared in an orange prison jumpsuit with his feet chained together, the paper reported.

Hurd looked to the gallery, where his father and wife, Stacee, sat, as he entered the courtroom, the paper said. He spoke only to say “Yes, sir” to Kim’s questions.

[Posted at 3:23 p.m. ET] Bears GM Jerry Angelo announces the team has cut player Sam Hurd.

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Filed under: Crime • Drugs • Football • Illinois • Marijuana • Pro football • Sports • Texas • U.S.
Green Bay Packers offer team stock, sort of, to Cheesehead nation
Something tells us these ladies and gentlemen might be interested in $250 shares of Packers stock.
December 6th, 2011
11:34 AM ET

Green Bay Packers offer team stock, sort of, to Cheesehead nation

Congratulations, Packers fans! Those of you who've had your fill of Brett Favre bobbleheads and foam hats resembling Swiss cheese can now shell out $250 for something about as worthless.

The front office is billing it as a chance to become a team owner, an opportunity to be part of history, your chance to show you believe in "the great American story." The Green Bay Press-Gazette, on the other hand, is reporting that the team needs $143 million to add 7,000 seats plus a new sound system, scoreboards, entrances and elevators to storied Lambeau Field.

The good news is the Packers are making sure there is a way to receive the certificates by Christmas Eve, but Packers fans may think they're ordering anvils when they see the $25 shipping-and-handling fee. Seriously, what do these things weigh?

I guess if you think about it, the 20th-most valuable sports franchise in the world (at $1.02 billion, according to Forbes) asking average Joes to shell out $250 per stock certificate to help expand a stadium isn't much of a departure from the great American story. What does Occupy Green Bay think of all this?

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Filed under: Brett Favre • Economy • Football • Pro football • Sports • U.S. • Wisconsin
Jaguars' owner cans coach Jack Del Rio, announces team sale to businessman
Jack Del Rio, seen in 2006, is out as the Jaguars' coach, and owner Wayne Weaver, right, may follow.
November 29th, 2011
02:42 PM ET

Jaguars' owner cans coach Jack Del Rio, announces team sale to businessman

For a 3-8 team that has done little to turn heads this season, there was plenty of news coming out of the Jacksonville Jaguars' clubhouse Tuesday as owner Wayne Weaver fired his coach, then announced he would step aside himself.

Jack Del Rio, 43, became the team's second coach in 2003. Though the Jags made the playoffs in 2005 and 2007, they won only one postseason game under Del Rio.

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will take the helm for the rest of the season, according to the Jaguars' website, which notes that the defense has been one of the few bright spots for the team this year, "currently ranking fourth in the NFL and fourth in pass defense."

The bigger news, however, may have been Weaver's announcement that he had agreed to sell his team to Shahid Khan, an Illinois businessman. The deal must be approved by the league and other team owners.

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Lions' Suh gets two-game suspension after Thanksgiving stomp on Packer
Ndamukong Suh argues with a referee after being ejected from the Thanksgiving Day game against the Packers.
November 29th, 2011
01:12 PM ET

Lions' Suh gets two-game suspension after Thanksgiving stomp on Packer

Ndamukong Suh was not in the holiday spirit during the Detroit Lions' 27-15 loss to the undefeated rival Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving.

Now, barring an appeal, the Lions defensive tackle will miss two games without pay for stomping Evan Dietrich-Smith, and at least one observer believes Suh should give thanks for the suspension.

If you were in a tryptophan haze and missed or forgot the altercation, you can check it out here. The video shows Dietrich-Smith block Suh to the ground before Suh turns him over, shoves his helmet into the turf and, as two Packers intervene, stomps Dietrich-Smith's arm while the Packers offensive lineman is lying on the ground.

Suh's reaction after the incident drew almost as much criticism as the act itself. He said he was trying to catch his balance and didn't intentionally step on Dietrich-Smith. You can decide for yourself after watching the aforementioned video, but Suh backtracked from this defense, which critics say was weaker than the New York Giants' on Monday night.

Later, via Facebook, Suh apologized, saying, “My reaction on Thursday was unacceptable. ... I made a mistake, and have learned from it. I hope to direct the focus back to the task at hand - by winning.” He also called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and apologized for his behavior, according to ESPN.

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After exec's arrest, St. Louis paper slams Alabama on immigration, courts Mercedes
Mercedes, Alabama's largest exporter, says it's responsible for 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region.
November 23rd, 2011
12:35 PM ET

After exec's arrest, St. Louis paper slams Alabama on immigration, courts Mercedes

It’s not often that a newspaper can attack another state, pontificate on a hot-button national issue and deliver a targeted economic development pitch in one go.

That’s what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board did Tuesday with its open letter, “Hey, Mercedes, time to move to a more welcoming state.”

News surfaced this week that police in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, recently pulled over a man because of a problem with a tag on his rental car. The man, who was German, didn’t have handy what the state considers proper identification, so he was arrested under a provision of Alabama’s immigration law, which is considered the strictest in the land.

Turns out, the man was Detlev Hager, a 46-year-old Mercedes-Benz executive traveling on business. About 10,000 people in the region rely on the company for their livelihood, according to Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, which happens to be the state’s largest exporter.

Hager – one of 66 people charged with not having proper identification since October 1 – had his charges dropped after an associate tendered Hager's passport and German driver’s license, the Tuscaloosa News reported.

Not before the Post-Dispatch took its shot, though.

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Filed under: Alabama • Auto Industry • Automobiles • Civil Rights • Courts • Economy • Immigration • Jobs • Politics • U.S.
Sorting through the mess that may have ended the NBA season
With Monday's NBA news, it's increasingly unlikely that hoops fans will see their favorite stars this year.
November 15th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

Sorting through the mess that may have ended the NBA season

It appears to be a whine-off between warring clans of out-of-touch rich guys. With the NBA owners and players both opting for bombast over balance in their overtures, it’s difficult to see exactly what happened Monday afternoon.

This much is certain: The NBA offered players a deal and threatened that if they didn’t bite, the deal would get worse. The National Basketball Player’s Association didn’t vote on the proposal, disclaimed interest in its union (ending collective bargain negotiations) and is threatening to file a class-action antitrust suit against the NBA. The chance of a 2011-2012 season is now slimmer than your likelihood of hitting a full-court sky hook blindfolded.

This much is uncertain: everything.

The players and owners lose a great deal of control in the courts. The range of possibilities is now vast. It could be as simple as a judge ordering both sides back to the bargaining table, or it could result in billions in damages that owners say could bankrupt the league and play out in the courts for years.

Remember, this isn’t a strike, and the players will make the case in court that the league lockout prevented them from playing, i.e. earning a paycheck. They will be represented, in part, by David Boies, an attorney with some lofty antitrust credentials.

Move past NBA Commissioner David Stern’s talk of “nuclear winter” and the players’ and NBPA ex-executive director Billy Hunter’s chatter about strong-arming and ultimatums, and it appears both sides played hardball a little too well.

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Former Penn State player: 'This is something Joe wouldn't tolerate'
Freddie Scott II, seen here playing in 1994, ranks among Penn State's top 10 in career receptions and receiving yardage.
November 9th, 2011
03:02 PM ET

Former Penn State player: 'This is something Joe wouldn't tolerate'

Former Penn State University players have come to their old coach's defense amid news that Joe Paterno will be stepping down in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal involving one of his former assistants.

Paterno's detractors are alleging the players are faithfully circling the wagons, just like any program would in the wake of the defamatory developments disgracing the university this week, but one ex-Nittany Lion says that isn't so.

Former NFL player Freddie Scott II was en route to a panel discussion at a Baptist children's home in Nashville on Wednesday when he took time to chat with CNN via telephone about his coach and alma mater. The panel was scheduled to discuss the church's role in helping children at risk.

Scott, who played under Paterno from 1993 to 1995 and is considered one of the school’s best-ever receivers, concedes that, to a degree, college football teams have a culture of protecting the program.

At Penn State it’s different, he said.

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Remembering some classic chokes
Distraught Atlanta Braves players sit in the dugout after the Philadelphia Phillies pulled ahead 4-3.
September 29th, 2011
04:31 PM ET

Remembering some classic chokes

The Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals won wild card berths in the playoffs after dramatic victories Wednesday thanks to some major-league choking.

Trailing 7-0 to the American League East champion New York Yankees in St. Petersburg, Florida, the Rays launched an astonishing comeback to win in the 12th inning. The Rays' victory capped a remarkable turnaround, with the Florida-based team having been nine games behind the Red Sox on September 3.

There was similar drama in the National League, as the Cardinals capitalized on the Atlanta Braves' 4-3 loss to the National League East champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Cardinals beat Houston 8-0 to earn the other wild card spot.

Naturally, the teams' massive letdowns led to a large discussion of the biggest chokes in history. It'd be easy to count down the biggest ones in sports history (ahem, Bill Buckner), so instead, we're taking a look at pop culture and business to bring you the products and companies that put a whole lot of hype behind something, only for it to massively fail.

Let us know what other cultural and business "chokes" we may have missed in the comments below.

New Coke

It has long been the epitome of a total marketing fail. On April 23, 1985, after some apparently insanely misleading taste tests, Coca-Cola trotted out a new formula for its tried-and-true flagship soft drink. It had been 99 years since Coca-Cola had tampered with the recipe, and the company quickly learned to appreciate the “if-it-ain’t-broke” adage.

By June, the soft drink king was receiving 1,500 outraged calls a day. Even Coca-Cola had trouble completely spinning it to its advantage, saying consumers “had a deep emotional attachment to the original, and they begged and pleaded to get it back.” The company relented on July 10 – that’s 78 days later, folks – and presented Coca-Cola Classic – i.e. the original formula – to the delight of millions. New Coke was left to the cult following of Max Headroom.

Watch Bill Cosby introduce the product:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4YvmN1hvNA&w=450&h=350%5D

And now, you can see Pepsi's brilliant commercial rebuttal.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_hvOBnsirI&w=450&h=350%5D

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Studies cite link between booze sales, inner-city violence
Sociology professor Robert Parker says two University of California, Riverside studies link alcohol sales and violent crime.
September 28th, 2011
01:47 PM ET

Studies cite link between booze sales, inner-city violence

Two studies published this month suggest the availability of booze - and in one city, single servings of alcohol - is linked to violent crime rates.

University of California, Riverside researchers used federal crime data for offenders between the ages of 13 and 24, and then used census and economic data to determine the density of beer, wine and liquor stores in 91 major cities.

"Taking into account other factors known to contribute to youth homicide rates – such as poverty, drugs, availability of guns and gangs – the researchers found that higher densities of liquor stores, providing easy access to alcoholic beverages, contributed significantly to higher youth homicide rates," said a news release from the university.

The second study isn't so broad and doesn't deal solely with young people. It looked at San Bernardino, California, and "generally found higher rates of violent crime in neighborhoods around alcohol outlets that allot more than 10% of cooler space for single-serve containers."

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Filed under: California • Crime • Drugs • Illinois • Maryland • U.S.
September 20th, 2011
10:22 AM ET

Toobin: Troy Davis could be 'out of options' after clemency denied

Editor's note: Jeffrey Toobin, CNN's senior legal analyst, offered his immediate reaction Tuesday to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole's decision to deny clemency to death row inmate Troy Davis.

The creativity of defense attorneys aside, convicted police killer Troy Davis appears "out of options," Toobin said.

Davis' attorneys pleaded with the board, telling it that seven of nine witnesses who testified against their client had recanted or changed their testimony. The board also heard the defense assert that witnesses have come forward to say someone else was responsible for the 1989 murder of Savannah, Georgia, police officer Mark MacPhail.

But the board, which also denied clemency to Davis in 2008, was not swayed.

"This has been an extraordinary legal saga since the murder in 1989, and two years ago the United States Supreme Court did something it almost never does - instructed a District Court in Georgia to take another look at the case, hold a hearing," Toobin said.

A Savannah judge did just that, Toobin said, and issued a 170-page opinion saying that, despite the recanted testimony, "there is no substantial doubt cast on the verdict as far as this judge could tell." In short, Toobin said, the judge sided with the jury that originally found Davis guilty.

"I know lawyers can be very creative, but I think Troy Davis is really out of options. ... I never can underestimate the creativity of lawyers, but certainly, based on what I can see, based on my familiarity with the law, I think he will be executed (Wednesday)."
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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Death Penalty • Georgia • Justice • Supreme Court • U.S.
September 15th, 2011
03:21 PM ET

663,000 names on petition protesting Troy Davis' execution

Supporters of convicted cop killer Troy Davis say time is running out.

Unless something dramatic happens, Davis will die by lethal injection next week for the 1989 murder of Savannah, Georgia, police officer Mark MacPhail.

Davis, 42, is set to be executed at 7 p.m. Wednesday, and 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.

Many people fighting for Davis' life are feeling the pressure.

"We honor the life of Officer MacPhail," said Edward DuBose, Georgia state conference president of the NAACP, but he added, "You cannot right a wrong by offering up Troy Davis, who we believe is not the person responsible."

The NAACP joins several groups advocating for Davis, who also counts former President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pope Benedict XVI and singer Harry Belafonte among his defenders.

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SEC votes to include Texas A&M; Baylor cries, Whoa, partna!
Aggies celebrate their win over the rival Texas Longhorns last year. It's unclear if they can yet celebrate a move to the SEC.
September 7th, 2011
03:17 PM ET

SEC votes to include Texas A&M; Baylor cries, Whoa, partna!

The votes are in, but it appears there is still at least one hurdle in Texas A&M University's lengthy endeavor to join the Southeastern Conference.

The school said a week ago that on June 30 it will would vacate the Big 12 Conference, of which it has been a member since before the 1996-97 season. There was rampant speculation that the Aggies would join the powerhouse SEC, but President R. Bowen Loftin last week said only that he hoped the exit process was "as amicable and prompt as possible."

On Wednesday, the president issued a statement saying he was pleased the SEC presidents and chancellors voted Tuesday night to accept A&M as their 13th team.

"However, this acceptance is conditional, and we are disappointed in the threats made by one of the Big 12 member institutions to coerce Texas A&M into staying in the Big 12 Conference," Loftin wrote. "These actions go against the commitment that was made by this university and the Big 12 on September 2. We are working diligently to resolve any and all issues as outlined by the SEC."

Seems like the process will be neither prompt nor amicable.

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Filed under: College football • Football • Sports • Texas • U.S.
Report: Astro trash poses increasing dangers to spacecraft, satellites
It seems prescient now that an artist in 1978 performed this rendering to highlight the danger of orbital debris.
September 2nd, 2011
09:43 AM ET

Report: Astro trash poses increasing dangers to spacecraft, satellites

It sounds like the theme of a 1980s video game, but the National Research Council say NASA should seriously consider ways to better tackle the problem of space debris.

In a 180-page report out this week, the council said NASA, partly because of slashed funding, is facing mounting pressure to find ways to lessen the dangers "posed by abandoned equipment, spent rocket bodies, and other debris orbiting the Earth." Oh, and meteoroids, too, an ex-NASA department head added.

Some models show that the amount of debris has reached a “tipping point,” meaning there is enough junk already in orbit that it could keep colliding, creating more debris and endangering spacecraft, satellites and the International Space Station.

The council said debris has already destroyed satellites, and the space station recently experienced a near miss. CNN reported another close call in March 2009.

Where is Bruce Willis when you need him?

Read the full post on CNN's Light Years blog
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Texas A&M Aggies on their way out of Big 12, but to where?
Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill may be the last quarterback to skipper the Aggies as members of the Big 12 Conference.
August 31st, 2011
12:35 PM ET

Texas A&M Aggies on their way out of Big 12, but to where?

Texas A&M University took another step Wednesday in its bid to leave the Big 12, notifying its conference that it had submitted an application to join another league, according to a news release.

There has been ongoing speculation that the Aggies might join the Southeastern Conference, a premier athletic conference that can boast the past five national football champions. However, the Texas A&M news release did not say which conference it had applied to join.

Should the application be accepted, the Aggies will vacate the Big 12 Conference on June 30, the university said.

University President R. Bowen Loftin told conference Commissioner Dan Beebe in a letter that it was in the school's best interest to join another conference.

"We appreciate the Big 12's willingness to engage in a dialogue to end our relationship through a mutually agreeable settlement," Loftin wrote. "We, too, desire that this process be as amicable and prompt as possible and result in a resolution of all outstanding issues."

The Aggies have been a part of the Big 12 since the conference was expanded from the Big Eight ahead of the 1996-97 season. The 49,000-student institution situated in College Station enjoyed record athletic success last year, scoring nine conference championships and four national titles, according to the university.

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On the Radar: Atlantic storms, Libya and Petraeus' promotion
Route 107 is seen destroyed after floodwaters receded Tuesday in Bethel, Vermont.
August 31st, 2011
08:34 AM ET

On the Radar: Atlantic storms, Libya and Petraeus' promotion

Irene recovery under way as Katia forms - States in the Northeast - particularly Vermont, New Jersey and New York, which saw the worst of Irene's wrath - were struggling with basic recovery efforts: rebuilding roads and bridges, restoring power and stemming the flow of floodwaters after Hurricane Irene struck this weekend. The Passaic River in northern New Jersey was still making the town of Little Falls look more like Niagara Falls. A resident in Montclair said the Passaic was high before Irene, but after the hurricane's rains, "the river began to rage."

One Vermont town hit hard by Irene decided to look for a silver lining. Some Pittsfield residents - there are only 427 of them in all - decided to throw a barbecue. Homes were underwater and roads were impassable, but they nonetheless gathered at a local park for hot dogs and hamburgers. Said Jason Evans, owner of the ski town's Clear River Tavern, "No one in this town was expecting the flooding to be what it was, and we've all gotta eat."

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Katia was strengthening in the Atlantic Ocean and threatening to become a hurricane by Wednesday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said. Early Wednesday, the storm was almost 1,000 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands, moving west-northwest at 21 mph. Katia could grow into a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph by Saturday evening, forecasters said. It is too early to say if or when the storm will make landfall.

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Filed under: District of Columbia • Hurricane Irene • Hurricane Katrina • Hurricanes • Libya • Military • Natural Disasters • New Jersey • New York • Pentagon • Tropical weather • U.S. • Vermont • Weather • World
Irene death toll in U.S. hits 27
Signs stick out of a submerged neighborhood Monday in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey.
August 29th, 2011
10:20 PM ET

Irene death toll in U.S. hits 27

Flooding emerged as a major concern Monday for states hit by Irene, which hit the East Coast as a hurricane and then a tropical storm over three days.

Even as Irene weakened to a tropical storm, authorities warned that its impact was not waning, especially in Vermont.

"Many Americans are still at serious risk of power outages and flooding, which could get worse in coming days as rivers swell past their banks," President Barack Obama said Sunday, adding: "The recovery effort will last for weeks or longer."

Officials said the storm had knocked out power to more than 4 million people and was responsible for at least 27 deaths.

Check out our Open Story, read the full CNN Wire story and follow the latest developments here:

[Updated at 10:20 p.m.] Personnel in a state police helicopter on Monday rescued 21 people who had been stranded by post-Irene floodwaters in a Prattsville, New York, house, a local official said.

The group was stranded at a house that was cut off when all the bridges near it were washed out after torrential rains flooded homes and businesses and left the Catskill Mountains town of Prattsville largely cut off from the outside world.

Emergency workers rescued 87 people from the Prattsville area a day earlier, including 25 people who were stranded at a motel for hours after 70 mph wind gusts grounded aircraft.

[Updated at 7:32 p.m.] Vermont's governor warns that further flooding and loss of life related to Irene are likely for his state. Although small brooks have crested, large rivers have not, he said.

"It's just devastating," Gov. Peter Shumlin said. "Whole communities under water, businesses, homes, obviously roads and bridges, rail transportation infrastructure. We've lost farmers' crops," he said. "We're tough folks up here but Irene ... really hit us hard."

Three people are reported to have died in Vermont as a result of the storm. The nation's death toll from Irene is at 27.

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Rescuers in China hear 'knocking' as they scramble to save 22 coal miners
Rescuers prepare to enter a flooded coal pit last week to rescue trapped workers in China's Hengtai coal mine.
August 29th, 2011
11:49 AM ET

Rescuers in China hear 'knocking' as they scramble to save 22 coal miners

Rescuers struggling to save 22 miners trapped underground in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province reported hearing "knocking sounds" within the mine early Monday, according to state-run media.

The report from the Hengtai coal mine, which has been flooded for a week, came about 2 a.m. after rescuers knocked on the sides of a 900-foot-deep hole that was drilled Sunday to make contact with the miners. The knocking is believed to be a response from the miners, Xinhua reported.

Relief supplies including food, a lamp, pen and paper were lowered down the hole, and something shook the rope to which the package was tied, but when rescuers brought the package back to the surface, it remained unopened, Xinhua said.

Forty-five miners were working Tuesday when the flooding occurred. Nineteen miners escaped, Xinhua reported, and rescue workers are attempting to pump water out of the mine.

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Filed under: China • Coal mining • Mine accidents • Mining • World
August 26th, 2011
02:31 PM ET

Live blog: Hurricane warning issued for New York, surrounding coastal areas

Hurricane Irene will parallel the Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts Friday as it approaches a Saturday landfall in North Carolina.

Officials in counties and cities along much of the East Coast ordered evacuations.

Follow the latest developments here, or read the full CNN Wire story:

[Updated 11:00 p.m.] New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said cats and dogs would be welcome at the emergency shelters set up for people fleeing the storm.

“If you have your pet bring them with you. … No one should be staying in their homes in an endangered area because they feel like they can't bring their pets with them," Christie said.

Mark Lavorgna, a mayoral spokesman, confirmed that pets are allowed in the 91 emergency evacuation shelters set up in preparation for Hurricane Irene. But “we strongly, strongly argue against it,” he said. “We urge people to bring their pets to friends or familiy’s houses or shelters outside Zone A, but if people need to bring them they can,” said Lavorgna. “They should come leashed and muzzled.”

[Updated 10:36 p.m.] North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue told CNN's Anderson Cooper that the state was prepared but cautious. "We urge people to just be really aware. It doesn't sound like a huge storm right now - 50 mile-an-hour winds - but we think it's going to stay over our state 10 or 12 hours and that's where the problem becomes," she said.

Perdue then referenced reports of a bowl-shaped part of the low-lying coastline that is especially vulnerable to high waters.

"That bowl that you were talking about earlier full of water, it's going to dump somewhere, and when it dumps there's going to be a surge of water and who knows what'll happen," Perdue said.

Irene targets heavily populated, least prepared urban areas

[Updated 10:23 p.m.] The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island will be closed Saturday through Monday because of Hurricane Irene, according to Jane Ahern, public affairs chief of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island.

All units of the Gateway National Recreation Area, Governor’s Island and all National Park sites in Manhattan will be closed to visitors Saturday and Sunday, with a chance of opening Monday depending on storm damage and a safety assessment.

“The safety of our visitors and employees is our top priority at this time,” said National Parks of New York Harbor Commissioner Maria Burkes. “Our park employees are currently working diligently to protect park resources per our Emergency Response Plans.”

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[Updated 10:05 p.m.] Russell Honoré, the general famous for his management of the federal government's military response to Hurricane Katrina, told CNN's Piers Morgan Friday night that local authorities were right in calling for mass evacuations in low-lying areas along the Eastern Seaboard.

“I think we have had a cultural shift in government because, working with hurricanes for about the last 10 to 12 years while I was in uniform, local governments and governors were reluctant to make that decision to evacuate because of the impact [of what would happen] if they evacuated people and the storm didn’t come," he said. "But the options of not evacuating people, with the warnings that we have now and the accuracy of prediction, (it) needs to be done,” Honoré said.

[Updated 9:53 p.m.] Maryland's Martin O'Malley was one of several East Coast governors to declare a state of emergency in advance of the storm. Residents of low-lying areas in the state were told to evacuate ahead of what the governor called "a very dangerous and potentially deadly hurricane."

The governor said Friday that "anybody that thinks that this is a normal hurricane and that they can just stick it out is being both selfish, stupid and also diverting essential public safety assets away from the task at hand, which is safeguarding lives and getting people out of the way."

[Updated 9:40 p.m.] The Port Authority has announced the closing of five airports - JFK International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, Teterboro and Stewart International - to all arriving passenger flights, international and domestic, starting at noon Saturday.

[Updated 9:15 p.m.] Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center, spoke to CNN’s Anderson Cooper Friday night, stressing the strength and size of the storm heading toward the Northeast.

“For some folks this will be the most significant event perhaps in 20 years from a tropical system,” Rappaport said.

He said unlike typical storms that follow a similar trajectory and curve move toward the sea, Irene"s forecast track comes very close to the shore.

"That means all the weather that's usually, in this case, worst to the east will be much closer to the metropolitan areas this time around," Rappaport said, "and in fact will definitely hit the southern New England area and since there are strong winds, high surge right near the center of the storm, we'll see some of that along the East Coast as well."

[Updated 8:53 p.m.] “The core of the hurricane” was barreling toward the North Carolina coast Friday night, the National Weather Service said in a bulletin. “The hurricane is forecast to move near or over the Mid-Atlantic Coast Saturday night and move over southern New England on Sunday.”

The weather service said maximum sustained winds would remain near 100 mph - a category two hurricane - and wouldn’t weaken until some time Sunday.

“Interests in southeastern Canada should monitor the progress of Irene,” the weather service said.

 [Updated 8:38 p.m.] The Giants-Jets game, originally scheduled for Saturday, has been postponed until Monday, the NFL said in a press release.

"Along with the NFL office and the Jets, we have closely monitored the hurricane and the forecast and its potential impact on our area for the past several days," said Giants President and CEO John Mara. "After conferring with (New Jersey) Governor (Chris) Christie, (Jets owner) Woody Johnson and (NFL) Commissioner (Roger) Goodell, we have determined the best course of action for the safety and well being of all is to move the game to Monday night."

See other events postponed or canceled

[Updated 6:33 p.m.] With public transportation halted due to the incoming storm, all Broadway performances on Saturday and Sunday have been canceled, according to Paul Libin, chairman of the Broadway League.

“The safety and security of theatregoers and employees is everyone's primary concern,” Libin said. “As a result of the suspension of public transportation by government authorities in preparation of Hurricane Irene, all performances will be cancelled on Saturday, August 27th and Sunday, August 28th.”

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CNN on the ground: 'Good Night, Irene' and 'Go Away, Irene'

[Updated 6:08 p.m.] The mayor of Annapolis, Maryland, declared an emergency and announced that more police officers will be on patrol in the city.

Police Chief Michael Pristoop warned residents to take police orders seriously. “Everyone needs to be prepared for the worst," he said. "I encourage everyone to evacuate the low-lying areas of Annapolis before Saturday afternoon. Make sure you secure your homes and belongings.  Once we begin to feel the affects of the hurricane, everyone should stay off the streets as wires and trees may come down. Don't put yourself in harm's way and don't put our emergency personnel in a position that could have been avoided."

Obama: Irene likely to be 'historic'

[Updated 5:47 p.m.] President Barack Obama has declared an emergency in New York as the state and surrounding region brace for Hurricane Irene’s impact.

Obama’s order mobilizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and means federal aid will be used to buoy state and local relief efforts in preparation for the storm.

[Updated at 5:00 p.m.] A hurricane warning has been issued from north of Sandy Hook to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts, including New York, Long Island, Long Island Sound, coastal Connecticut and Rhode Island, Block Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

[Updated at 4:34 p.m.] Greyhound said it has delayed or canceled several East Coast routes in preparation for the storm.

Some routes originating in New York; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Richmond, Virginia; Washington, D.C. and Raleigh, North Carolina, have been either pushed back or canceled, the company said on its website.

[Updated at 4:15 p.m.] The Red Cross plans to open shelters and dispatch more than 200 mobile feeding vehicles to the East Coast to aid people in the storm's path, the organization said on its website.

KFOR: Oklahomans help with Hurricane Irene

"The Red Cross is moving volunteers, vehicles and supplies, getting ready for a response effort that spans nearly the entire East Coast," Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, said in a statement on the site. "We want everyone in the storm's path to get ready as well by getting a disaster kit, making a family emergency plan, and listening to local officials regarding evacuations."

[Updated at 2:31 p.m.] Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said his city, which is under hurricane warning, will not order evacuations but urged residents, especially those in flood-prone areas, to use common sense and evacuate if necessary.

Significant localized flooding is expected, he said, as are power outages that could last for several hours or even days. He said the city will open three shelters Saturday evening with a maximum capacity to accommodate 6,000 people.

[Updated at 2:26 p.m.] The first family will accompany President Barack Obama when he departs Martha's Vineyard to return to Washington on Friday evening, a White House spokesman said.

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[Updated at 2:21 p.m.] American Airlines has tentatively canceled all flights in the Washington area from noon Saturday to noon Sunday, said spokesman Ed Martelle. The airline has also canceled all flights at Raleigh-Durham International Airport scheduled for Saturday.

JetBlue has canceled almost 900 flights in the Northeast ahead of the storm. Most of those are Sunday and Monday flights out of the New York metro area and Boston, said spokesman Mateo Lleras.

[Updated at 2:10 p.m.] Hurricane Irene's winds have dropped to 100 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

As of 2 p.m., the service reported, the hurricane was about 300 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, moving north at 14 mph.

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[Updated at 2:01 p.m.] New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said low-lying sections of the city, mostly along the city's waterfront, are under mandatory evacuation orders. The mandatory evacuations, which affect all five boroughs, are the first in New York's history, he said.

Click here to see the areas being evacuated.

[Updated at 1:50 p.m.] Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said 30 agencies are coordinating ahead of Hurricane Irene’s weekend arrival. The state is taking several precautions, he said, including drawing down state reservoirs to provide additional capacity in the event of torrential rains.

Residents should make certain they have supplies and enough food, water, batteries and necessary medications to last for a couple of days.

The worst of the storm is expected Saturday night into Sunday, Patrick said, and downed trees and power lines are expected. He urged residents to stay off the roads. If travel is a must, try to complete it Friday before the storm arrives, he said.

As for air travel, the governor said, as of now, Logan International Airport will remain open, but there will “undoubtedly” be service interruptions.

Patrick said he was aware that this is one of the last summer weekends and said boaters and swimmers should be cautious about riptides and strong currents.

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