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February 18th, 2014
05:29 AM ET

Iran Nuclear Deal Commitments Kept So Far, U.S. Official Says

Iran is rolling back parts of its nuclear program and getting relief from sanctions in return as an interim agreement aimed at gauging Tehran's willingness to curb its nuclear ambitions appears to be working with global powers gearing up for talks on Tuesday to forge a long-term pact.

"So far everyone, both Iran and all of the rest of us who provided some very limited, targeted sanctions relief have kept their commitments," Wendy Sherman, a senior State Department official and lead negotiator for the United States on the Iran deal, told Wolf Blitzer on Monday in an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room."

Sherman, the under secretary for political affairs, spoke from Vienna where talks on a comprehensive accord between Iran, the United States, Germany and other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are due to begin on Tuesday.

The six-month deal was reached in November and took effect in January.

The Vienna talks "will build on that first step, because we don't want it to be the only step," Sherman said.

"We go into this negotiation very clear eyed, very sober," she said. "It's going to be very tough."

Her comments came as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, said his country would not "renege" on the talks, but predicted they "will not lead anywhere."

"What I care about is what Iran does much more than what Iran says," Sherman said.

She added that any final deal will be contingent on Iran taking "concrete" verifiable steps that prevent it from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The United States and its allies believe Iran is aiming to develop a nuclear weapon, while Tehran has said it's atomic efforts are peaceful.

Sherman said she had seen recent Iranian reports that Russia has offered to build a nuclear reactor inside Iran in exchange for oil shipments, but did not offer a comment on whether or not that was a good idea.

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February 17th, 2014
05:33 AM ET

Reality Show Snake-Handling Preacher Dies - of Snakebite

A Kentucky pastor who starred in a reality show about snake-handling in church has died - of a snakebite.

Jamie Coots died Saturday evening after refusing to be treated, Middleborough police said.

On "Snake Salvation," the ardent Pentecostal believer said that he believed that a passage in the Bible suggests poisonous snakebites will not harm believers as long as they are anointed by God. The practice is illegal in most states, but still goes on, primarily in the rural South.

Coots was a third-generation "serpent handler" and aspired to one day pass the practice and his church, Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name, on to his adult son, Little Cody.

The National Geographic show featured Coots and cast handling all kinds of poisonous snakes - copperheads, rattlers, cottonmouths. The channel's website shows a picture of Coots, goateed, wearing a fedora. "Even after losing half of his finger to a snake bite and seeing others die from bites during services," Coots "still believes he must take up serpents and follow the Holiness faith," the website says.

On Sunday, National Geographic Channels spokeswoman Stephanie Montgomery sent CNN this statement: "In following Pastor Coots for our series Snake Salvation, we were constantly struck by his devout religious convictions despite the health and legal peril he often faced.

"Those risks were always worth it to him and his congregants as a means to demonstrate their unwavering faith. We were honored to be allowed such unique access to Pastor Jamie and his congregation during the course of our show, and give context to his method of worship. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."

In February 2013, Coots was given one year of probation for crossing into Tennessee with venomous snakes. He was previously arrested in 2008 for keeping 74 snakes in his home, according to National Geographic. Tennessee banned snake handling in 1947 after five people were bitten in churches over two years' time, the channel says on the show site.

On one episode, Coots, who collected snakes, is shown trying to wrest a Western diamondback out of its nook under a rock deep in East Texas. He's wearing a cowboy hat and a T-shirt that says "The answer to Y2K – JESUS."

The pastor is helped by his son and a couple of church members.

"He'll give up, just sooner or later," one of the members says. "Just be careful. Ease him out."

The group bags two snakes, which a disappointed Coots says hardly justifies the trip to Texas.

"Catching two snakes the first day, 'course we'd hoped for more," Coots says in the video. "We knew that the next day we was gonna have to try to hunt harder and hope for more snakes."

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February 14th, 2014
12:45 PM ET

Teddy Bear Sending Mixed Signals

The Vermont Teddy Bear Company is selling a 4.5-foot teddy bear that CNN's John Berman says is sending mixed messages. What do you think?

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February 14th, 2014
06:03 AM ET

No Flowers Yet? Blame the Snow!

If you haven't gotten Valentine's Day flowers yet, it could be because of a travel delay thanks to massive winter storm.

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February 13th, 2014
11:25 AM ET

Gas Explosion Sets Homes on Fire in Central Kentucky

A gas explosion destroyed three homes and injured at least two people Thursday in central Kentucky, CNN affiliate WHAS-TV reported.

The blast occurred in Knifley, a small, unincorporated rural community about two hours from Louisville.

The explosion blew out a crater and destroyed barns and cars, emergency management spokesman Greg Thomas told the Louisville affiliate.

One of the injured was taken to a local hospital.

The gas flame continued burning after the explosion.

Pipeline owner Columbia Gulf Transmission said it determined the pipeline had ruptured and noted reports of evacuations in the surrounding area.

The company said it cut off the flow of gas and is working with authorities to investigate the cause.

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February 12th, 2014
04:35 PM ET

Study Says Mammograms Do Not Save Lives- Dr. Sanjay Gupta Weighs in on @THIS HOUR

The debate over annual mammogram screenings continues this week, as follow-up data from a long-term study come under fire.

Researchers with the Canadian National Breast Screening Studyconducted a 25-year follow-up with their participants and concluded that "annual mammography in women aged 40 to 59 does not reduce mortality from breast cancer beyond that of physical examination or usual care when adjuvant therapy for breast cancer is freely available."

(Adjuvant therapy is treatment given after surgery; this can include chemotherapy, radiation or hormone treatments, according to the National Cancer Institute.)

The results were published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal. But several professional associations and experts have questioned the study authors' conclusions.

MORE. 

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February 12th, 2014
05:58 AM ET

They're Used to Rain But...

Britain's getting battered by historic flooding that has devastated parts of the English countryside. CNN's Jim Boulden reports.

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February 11th, 2014
09:28 AM ET

Distraught Mom: 'My Son is Missing'

“I put him in his crib, and now he’s not there. And there was a knife laying next to my bed.”

This excerpt from a 911 call is Brianna Marshall,  an 18-year-old mother who realized  her newborn  baby had gone missing.

Marshall called police distraught to report newborn Kayden Powell had disappeared.

Also gone, Kristen Smith,  her half-sister who's now charged with the abduction.

The FBI says  Smith confessed to taking the newborn and leaving him in a plastic storage bin.

Investigators say they found online conversations where she claimed to be pregnant.

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@THIS HOUR with Berman & Michaela Starts Monday!
February 7th, 2014
07:06 AM ET

@THIS HOUR with Berman & Michaela Starts Monday!

Starting Monday, February 10th, 2014,  tune-in to @THIS HOUR from 11am- 12p ET for the most interesting news stories of the day.

If you’re talking about it, so are we with anchors John Bermanand Michaela Pereira.

at this hour graphic

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February 7th, 2014
07:00 AM ET

Jay Leno's Farewell

n the 22 years that Jay Leno hosted the "Tonight Show" - give or take the spare months Conan O'Brien took the helm - O.J. Simpson was the celebrity most often used as the butt of Leno's jokes.

The TV veteran took aim at politicians and celebrities with equal zeal, landing family friendly barbs about Lindsay Lohan alongside wisecracks about Al Gore. (Interestingly enough, former President Bill Clinton was the biggest Leno target of all.)

But on Thursday, Leno departed "Tonight" with a simple, tearful farewell.

"It's fun to kind of be the old guy and sit back here and see where the next generation takes this great institution, and it really is. It's been a great institution for 60 years. I'm so glad I got to be a part of it, but it really is time to go, hand it off to the next guy. It really is," Leno said.

"And in closing, I want to quote Johnny Carson, who was the greatest guy to ever do this job. And he said, 'I bid you all a heartfelt goodbye.'

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