Exhumation of Illinois lottery winner begins
A crew works on exhuming the body of Urooj Khan from a Chicago cemetery Friday morning.
January 18th, 2013
09:15 AM ET

Exhumation of Illinois lottery winner begins

Workers have begun the process of exhuming the body of an Illinois lottery winner who authorities believe was poisoned.

A crew is digging at the north-side Chicago gravesite of Urooj Khan, whose July death at age 46 came one month after he became a $1 million winner on an Illinois lottery scratch ticket.

Investigators initially ruled Khan's manner of death natural, and Khan was buried. But after being prompted by a relative, the medical examiner's office in Cook County, Illinois, did more in-depth toxicology tests on the blood that the office had, and eventually determined there was a lethal amount of cyanide in Khan's system.

Police are now investigating Khan's death as a murder, and they want to use the exhumation to determine how the cyanide entered Khan's system. No arrests have been made in the case.

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Filed under: Crime • Illinois • Lotto
January 17th, 2013
07:46 PM ET

British PM: Prepare for possible bad news in Algeria hostage crisis

  • Algerian military has freed four foreign hostages at a BP gas plant in Algeria, according to Algerian media; a fifth hostage also is free, Irish government says
  • Some American hostages also have been freed, but others are still unaccounted for, U.S. officials say
  • Reports: Hostage-takers claimed to be holding more than 40 people; Algerian Press Service says two hostages killed Wednesday

[Updated at 7:46 p.m. ET] Although an Algerian military raid against the hostage-takers wrapped up on Thursday, a senior U.S. official stresses that more military operations could be coming.

"There are still hostages, and there are still terrorists," the official said, according to CNN's Elise Labott. "So tomorrow is another day."

[Updated at 5:51 p.m. ET] British Prime Minister David Cameron has warned his compatriots to prepare for "bad news ahead" related to kidnapping of dozens of hostages at a BP gas plant in Algeria.

"It is a fluid situation, it is ongoing," Cameron told the Reuters news agency. "But I think we should be prepared for the possibility of further bad news, very difficult news, in this extremely difficult situation."

FULL POST

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Filed under: Algeria • Mali • World
January 16th, 2013
06:16 PM ET

FAA grounds U.S.-registered Dreamliners over fire risk

U.S. regulators have ordered airlines to ground all U.S.-registered Boeing 787 Dreamliners until a fire risk linked to batteries aboard the jetliners is fixed.

The move comes on the day that two Japanese airlines, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, grounded their fleets of the 787 Dreamliner. That move came after an ANA 787 made an emergency landing in Japan after a battery alarm signal activated on the plane.

United Airlines is the only U.S. carrier flying Dreamliners. They have six.

"Before further flight, operators of U.S.-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration that the batteries are safe and in compliance," the FAA said Wednesday evening.

The Dreamliner has been beset by a string of mechanical and other problems for months, including reports of an oil leak, a fuel leak, engine cracks and a damaged cockpit window. Also, the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a January 7 battery fire aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 at Logan International Airport in Boston.


Dreamliner battery problems worry experts most

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Air travel • FAA • Travel
Obama announces 23 executive actions, asks Congress to pass gun laws
President Obama signs gun-violence-related executive actions following an announcement at the White House Wedensday.
January 16th, 2013
02:32 PM ET

Obama announces 23 executive actions, asks Congress to pass gun laws

  • President Barack Obama announces 23 executive actions on gun control, separately asks Congress to pass gun-control laws
  • Obama asks Congress to pass laws that would: require background checks on all gun sales; restore a ban on "military-style assault weapons"; ban gun magazines with capacities of more than 10 rounds; and toughen penalties on people who sell guns to those who can't have them
  • Below are the latest updates as they come to us. Also, you can read our full story, and check out details of Obama's plan.

[Updated at 2:32 p.m. ET] The National Rifle Association of America has issued a statement responding to Obama's announcement:

"Throughout its history, the National Rifle Association has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership. Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority. The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law. We look forward to working with Congress on a bi-partisan basis to find real solutions to
protecting America's most valuable asset - our children.

"Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy."

[Updated at 12:43 p.m. ET] Senate Democratic leadership sources tell CNN that passing any new legislation will be extremely difficult because more than a dozen vulnerable Democrats from conservative states will probably resist much of what the president is pushing, according to CNN's Dana Bash.

These Democratic sources say the most likely legislation to pass will be strengthening background checks, since it is the least overt form of gun control and it also appeals to gun rights advocates' emphasis on keeping guns away from people with mental health and criminal problems.

[Updated at 12:42 p.m. ET] Reaction to Obama's announcement is starting to come in. From Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, whose state was the site of the December 14 school massacre that prompted Obama to examine gun control steps:

"In the hours after the worst of our fears were confirmed, in the midst of the grief and sorrow over the loss of 20 innocent children and six dedicated educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there was one question on the minds of people across Connecticut and around the nation: How do we make sure this never happens again? Today the president took the critical first step toward answering that question. The common sense measures he proposed today are something that we should all be able to agree on, and I want to commend him and the vice president for their work on this issue."

From Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner:

"House committees of jurisdiction will review these recommendations. And if the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that."

[Updated at 12:22 p.m. ET] The announcement is over, and Obama is signing the 23 executive actions. These actions are in addition to laws that Obama wants Congress to pass. Here, according to the White House, are the 23 executive actions that he and his administration will do:

1. "Issue a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system."

2. "Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system."

3. "Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system."

4. "Direct the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks."

FULL POST

Police: Student suspected of shooting college employee
St. Louis police were called to Stevens Institute of Business and Arts following a shooting there Tuesday.
January 15th, 2013
05:38 PM ET

Police: Student suspected of shooting college employee

[Updated at 5:38 p.m. ET] A part-time student at a business and arts college in St. Louis shot and wounded a school employee Tuesday before wounding himself at the institute, St. Louis police said.

The suspect, who apparently shot himself, and the Stevens Institute of Business and Arts employee were taken to a hospital, where they were in surgery Tuesday afternoon, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson said.

Police officers responding to a 911 call found the employee, identified only as a man in his late 40s, wounded in the school in downtown St. Louis. Officers then found the wounded suspect in a stairwell, as well as a handgun that investigators believe was used in the shooting, Dotson said.

Other students, faculty and staff members "headed for the doors" after the shooting and were taken to "an offsite location" to be interviewed by investigators, Dotson said.

[Initial post, 3:59 p.m. ET] Two men have been taken to a hospital in critical condition after a shooting at a St. Louis business college Tuesday, St. Louis fire Capt. Dan Sutter said.

A suspect was in custody after the shooting at Stevens Institute of Business and Arts, according to a St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officer.

No names or details about the injuries were immediately released. Check this page for updates.

Read more from CNN affiliate KMOV and CNN affiliate KSDK.

January 15th, 2013
01:29 PM ET

French president on Mali: We needed to stop the rebels

[Updated at 1:29 p.m. ET] Islamist rebels would have taken Mali's capital had France's military not intervened in the African nation in the last few days, French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday.

"If we had not taken up our responsibility and if on Friday morning we had not acted with this intervention, where would Mali be today?" he asked.

The French defense minister told CNN that up to 800 troops are in Mali to help Malian forces in an offensive against Islamist militants, and that up to 1,700 total French forces - including the 800 in Mali - are involved in a variety of capacities, such as offering logistical support from various French military bases across Africa.

Hollande, speaking on a visit to the United Arab Emirates, said France intends to "make way as quickly as possible" for an African force.

Read more about France's military intervention, which began Friday.

Obama to announce gun plans tomorrow
January 15th, 2013
01:15 PM ET

Obama to announce gun plans tomorrow

It didn't take long for U.S. President Barack Obama to decide how he wants to try to reduce gun violence.

Obama (pictured) and Vice President Joe Biden will announce Obama's plan for reducing gun violence on Wednesday, the White House said Tuesday afternoon. Biden had given recommendations to Obama after leading a task force on the issue last week.

Obama's proposal will be comprehensive, and will include legislative options for banning assault weapons as well as steps to address high-capacity magazines and federal background checks, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Obama and Biden will be joined by children from around the country who wrote letters to the president, Carney said.

What proposals do you want to see to reduce gun violence? Share them at CNN iReport, Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below.

Obama: Gun lobby 'ginning up' fear

January 11th, 2013
12:22 PM ET

CDC: Flu still 'elevated' in U.S., but may be decreasing

The number of states reporting high levels of influenza activity has dropped, but flu activity still remains "elevated" in most of the United States, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

Twenty-four states and New York City are reporting high levels of influenza activity as of the week ending January 5 - down from 29 states the previous week, the CDC's Dr. Thomas Frieden said.

"It may be decreasing in some areas, but that's hard to predict ... influenza activity ebbs and flows," Frieden said.

National Institutes of Health: Flu deaths rising among children

Had a flu shot? You'll be OK - maybe

How to protect others when you cough, sneeze

Opinion: In the future, get vaccinated earlier

Police: Teen shot 1 classmate, missed another in California high school
Police officers were called to the school at about 9 a.m. local time Thursday.
January 10th, 2013
09:15 PM ET

Police: Teen shot 1 classmate, missed another in California high school

  • Student, 16, walked into class late and fired at two classmates with 12-gauge shotgun, critically wounding one and missing the other at Taft (California) Union High School on Thursday morning, police say
  • Teacher was struck in head with pellet, but is OK, sheriff says
  • Police: Suspect put gun down after teacher and "campus supervisor" talked to him; wounded student airlifted to hospital

[Updated at 7:09 p.m. ET] An armed police officer is assigned to the school but he wasn't at the school at the time of the shooting because snowfall in the area prevented his arrival, authorities said.

[Updated at 7:03 p.m. ET] A mother of a student witness recalls the moment that her daughter called her after the shooting: "She was telling me, 'Mom, get here, there’s blood everywhere," the woman CNN affiliate KERO.

[Updated at 5:55 p.m. ET] Here's more quotes from Kern County Sheriff Don Youngblood, from the news conference earlier this afternoon, about the teacher and the campus supervisor who apparently talked the suspect into dropping his weapon:

“When (the teacher) started a dialogue, the shotgun, he said, was pointed in several different directions. He is unsure how many rounds were fired … . He said as the dialogue started with him and the campus supervisor, who was just outside the room, the student was still armed with the shotgun. They, I think, probably distracted him in a conversation, allowing students to get out of the classroom and ultimately talking the student down.”

Youngblood added: "To stand there and face someone that has a shotgun - who has already discharged it and shot a student - speaks volumes for these two young men, and what they may have prevented. They could have just as easily tried to get out of the classroom and left students, and they didn't. They knew not to let him leave that classroom with that shotgun, and they took that responsibility on very serious, and we're very proud of the job they did."

The school district's superintendent told reporters that the school's staff had just reviewed lockdown procedures earlier Thursday morning.

[Updated at 5:42 p.m. ET] The news conference ended more than an hour ago, but we wanted to give you some longer quotes from officials about how a teacher and a "campus supervisor" - a campus monitor on the school's staff - talked to the suspect until, authorities say, the suspect put down the weapon.

After the suspect shot one student and missed another, "the teacher at that point was trying to get the students out of the classroom and engaged the shooter - who had numerous rounds of shotgun shells … in his pockets - engaged the suspect in conversation," Kern County Sheriff Don Youngblood said.

“A campus supervisor showed up, was outside the classroom, and together they engaged in conversation with this young man, and at one point he put the shotgun down, and police officers were able to take him into custody,” Youngblood said.

Here's what Taft Police Chief Ed Whiting said about the teacher and the campus supervisor:

"We want to really commend the teacher and a campus supervisor for all they did to bring this to a very quick resolution before anybody else was harmed. ... They did a great job in protecting the kids, and we can't thank them enough for what they did today."

U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, whose district includes Taft, also praised the teacher.

"I first want to commend the teacher. I think he saved many lives today. His actions, his time, his ability of what he did (to) protect the students there," McCarthy said.

McCarthy also praised law enforcement for responding quickly. Youngblood said Taft police officers were at the school within 60 seconds of a 911 call.

FULL POST

Biden to make gun recommendations by Tuesday
Vice President Joe Biden is heading a task force that is meeting this week with numerous groups about gun violence.
January 10th, 2013
12:50 PM ET

Biden to make gun recommendations by Tuesday

Vice President Joe Biden appears to be taking his boss's demand for a quick recommendation on gun violence seriously.

Biden said Thursday that he will give recommendations to President Barack Obama by Tuesday on how to reduce gun violence in the United States. Biden is heading a task force that is meeting with numerous groups this week, including some for and some against stricter gun controls.

Obama, following a shooting that killed 20 children and six women at a Connecticut elementary school in December, had set a January deadline for the recommendations. Read more about the task force here.

Biden on Wednesday: Obama exploring executive orders to combat gun violence

How U.S. gun laws have evolved


Opinion: 3 areas Biden, NRA can agree

Seau had brain disease, examination suggests
Junior Seau committed suicide May 2 in his Oceanside, California, home.
January 10th, 2013
10:29 AM ET

Seau had brain disease, examination suggests

A deeper examination of the late NFL linebacker Junior Seau's brain suggests he had traumatic brain disease after all, the National Institutes of Health says.

An examination suggests Seau had the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the NIH said Thursday.

"On initial examination the brain looked normal but under the microscope, with the use of special staining techniques, abnormalities were found that are consistent with a form of chronic traumatic encephalopathy," the NIH said in a statement.

There was also a small part of his brain with "evidence of scarring that is consistent with a small, old, traumatic brain injury," the NIH said.

Seau's May 2012 death was classified as a suicide. In August, an autopsy showed no apparent signs of damage.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Football • Pro football • Science • Sports
85 hurt in New York ferry crash
January 9th, 2013
06:32 PM ET

85 hurt in New York ferry crash

  • 85 people hurt in Wednesday morning ferry crash at lower Manhattan pier, two critically, authorities say
  • Ferry was carrying passengers from New Jersey to New York City's Pier 11 near Wall Street
  • Below are the latest updates as they come to us. You also can read our full story.

[Update 6:32 p.m. ET] Eighty-five people were injured in the crash, including people who were treated and released at the scene, according to Charles Rowe, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman.

Two people had been listed in critical condition, but now authorities are saying only one person's condition remains critical.

[Update 1:46 p.m. ET] Coast Guard records indicate that the same Seastreak ferry has been involved in prior crashes, including one in 2009 when the vessel slammed into a New Jersey dock and tore a 2- to 3-foot gash in the starboard bow of the vessel.

A year later, a collision with a dock pile punctured a hole in the port side of the same boat.

[Update 12:33 a.m. ET] Seastreak LLC, the company operating the ferry, has released a statement on its website. In part, it says that "our thoughts and prayers are with those that were injured."

"Seastreak LLC will work closely with the federal, state and local authorities to determine the cause of the accident," the statement says.

[Update 12:28 a.m. ET] Two of the 57 hurt passengers are critically injured, authorities say.

[Update 11:43 a.m. ET] U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, releases a statement saying that National Transportation Safety Board chairwoman Deborah Hersman assured him "that this serious accident will receive a full and thorough investigation."

“Ferry systems are crucial for New Jersey commuters, and the public must have every assurance that the ferries they ride are operating safely. I have every confidence in Chairman Hersman and the NTSB, and I know they will conduct a first-rate investigation so we can take steps to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

FULL POST

Solis resigns from cabinet; Holder, others to stay
January 9th, 2013
05:19 PM ET

Solis resigns from cabinet; Holder, others to stay

We're learning a bit more about who is - and isn't - going to be in President Barack Obama's second-term cabinet.

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (pictured) has submitted her resignation, CNN learned Wednesday. She said in a letter to colleagues that she discussed the matter with her family over the holidays in California has "decided to begin a new future."

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, meanwhile, will remain in the cabinet for now, a White House official tells CNN. It's unclear how long Holder will stay into a second term, but the official said he and Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki are not expected to leave in the near future.

Obama's cabinet: Who's in, who's out?

FULL STORY
January 9th, 2013
02:10 PM ET

Baseball writers elect no one to Hall of Fame

For only the eighth time in their annual elections and the first time since 1996, baseball writers have elected no player to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The 2013 ballot marked the first year of eligibility for several players who have been named in the probes of performance-enhancing drug use in the Major Leagues, including all-time home-run champ Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens. Several of the voters said the results were a reflection of the sport's "steroid era."

Seven-time All-Star Craig Biggio came closest to induction, getting votes on 68.2% on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballots. To get inducted into the Hall of Fame, players need votes on 75% of ballots.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Baseball • Sports
ESPN apologizes for Musburger comments on quarterback's girlfriend
Former Miss Alabama USA Katherine Webb drew just as much attention as her boyfriend Monday night
January 8th, 2013
05:29 PM ET

ESPN apologizes for Musburger comments on quarterback's girlfriend

The attention that Brent Musburger gave to the girlfriend of Alabama's quarterback during last night's championship college football game apparently made ESPN a little uncomfortable.

ESPN on Tuesday afternoon apologized for the play-by-play man's gushing about Katherine Webb's beauty as the network showed her in the stands at the game Monday night.

"We always try to capture interesting storylines and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test. However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that," ESPN said.

CNN was not able to reach Musburger for comment through ESPN.

"Wow, I'm telling you, quarterbacks - you get all the good-looking women. What a beautiful woman. Wow!" Musburger said during one of his several in-game comments. Webb subsequently became an Internet sensation as Alabama trounced Notre Dame. Read more about Musburger's comments, the public's reaction, and the reaction from Webb herself.

January 8th, 2013
04:15 PM ET

Gay wife excluded from military club says she’d still join

A woman who says she believes a private military spouses club excluded her because she’s gay says she’d still join the group if it reverses its decision.

“I would go tomorrow,” Ashley Broadway, the wife of U.S. Army Lt. Col. Heather Mack, told CNN's Brooke Baldwin on “CNN Newsroom” Tuesday afternoon. “Wherever we were stationed, I was a volunteer of some sort. Between my educational background, my volunteerism, my energy, my enthusiasm to help all military families, I would absolutely be elated to. If anything, I would like to be a part of the group so that they can see that my family is no different than their families.”

Broadway applied to the Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses after she and Mack - who married in Washington, D.C. - moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Broadway says the club told her she couldn’t join because she doesn’t have military identification.

Read more about Broadway's attempt to get into the club.

January 8th, 2013
01:15 PM ET

NRA sending representative to White House meetings on gun violence

The National Rifle Association will send a representative to the White House's meetings this week on gun violence, an NRA spokesman said Tuesday.

The group received an invitation late Friday, and "we are sending a rep to hear what they have to say," NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said.

Another major gun rights group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), will also participate in the meetings, which are slated for Wednesday and Thursday

Days after last month's shooting massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, President Barack Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden to lead a task force that would give recommendations to prevent another mass shooting. The president gave the group a deadline of "no later than January."

FULL STORY
January 8th, 2013
12:36 PM ET

Morgan on fiery Alex Jones interview: ‘Startling,’ ‘deluded’

Social media still is buzzing about last night’s explosive “Piers Morgan Live” interview with radio host Alex Jones. This morning, Morgan says the fiery exchange only helped his case for stricter gun control.

“I can’t think of a better advertisement for gun control than Alex Jones’ interview last night,” Morgan told “CNN Newsroom” late Tuesday morning. “It was startling, it was terrifying in parts, it was completely deluded. It was based on a premise of making Americans so fearful that they all rush out to buy even more guns.

“It showed no compassion whatsoever to the victims of gun shootings, and the kind of twisted way that he turned everything into this assault on the Second Amendment is exactly what the gun rights lobby people do. And it’s a lie. It cannot be allowed to continue.”

Jones, on Morgan’s show to talk about petition he started to deport Morgan back to the UK for expressing his views on gun control, warned that "1776 will commence again if you try to take our firearms." As of noon Tuesday, "Alex Jones" was trending on Twitter.

Read more about Jones' appearance on Morgan's show.

January 8th, 2013
11:59 AM ET

Chinese man pleads guilty in major pirated software case

A Chinese national accused of operating a website that distributed more than $100 million worth of pirated software has pleaded guilty in the case, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday morning.

The case involving Xiang Li, 36, of Chengdu, China, is "one of the most significant cases of copyright infringement ever uncovered — and dismantled — by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations," ICE said Tuesday.

The defendant, who operated Crack99.com, was arrested by undercover U.S. agents in Saipan in 2011 and pleaded guilty late Monday to conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and wire fraud, ICE said Tuesday.

FULL STORY
Obama's re-election is made official
Vice President Joe Biden read the results during a joint legislative session on Friday afternoon in Washington.
January 4th, 2013
03:08 PM ET

Obama's re-election is made official

Remember that presidential election we had two months ago? The electoral college has followed through.

Lawmakers on Friday counted the electoral college's votes on Friday, and the results were as expected: 332 votes for Obama and his running mate, Vice President Joe Biden; and 206 votes for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Biden, in his role as the Senate's president, read the results of the electoral college's votes - actually taken in December, more than a month after Election Day - in a joint legislative session in the U.S. House.

While Obama awaits his January 21 inauguration, he'll be making new picks for his cabinet. High-profile vacancies are expected to include secretary of state, secretary of defense and treasury secretary.

Big cabinet decisions loom as Obama vacations

Obama’s cabinet: Who’s in, who’s out?

Obama, GOP lay out hard lines for tough talks ahead

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