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May 30th, 2014
04:55 AM ET

Sources: $2B Deal for Clippers

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has signed a binding agreement to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion from the Sterling family trust, a source familiar with the situation told CNN on Thursday night.

A second source, who was familiar with the negotiations, confirmed the terms to CNN.

The sale, negotiated by Shelly Sterling - co-owner with estranged husband Donald Sterling - will have to be approved at a NBA Board of Governors meeting. It was unclear whether a meeting set for Tuesday will go on, given Thursday's developments.

And the sale still may have to be approved by Donald Sterling, according to earlier comments by his attorney.

Maxwell Blecher told CNN earlier that his client would have to consent to a sale and wants to be vindicated by the NBA, which is in the process of terminating the Sterlings' ownership in the team for racist remarks Sterling made in an audio recording released online in April.

The NBA has damaged Sterling's reputation, Blecher claimed in a lengthy interview with CNN's "The Situation Room."

"They know he is not a racist," he said.

Blecher said Sterling is troubled by the charges of racism. He thinks of himself as an exemplary owner with a 33-year history of supporting the African-American community, Blecher said.

"He wants to be vindicated. He doesn't want his tombstone to say, 'Here lies Donald Sterling, racist.' And the NBA has the power to make that right," Blecher said, without saying what Sterling wants the league to do.

CNN reached out to Blecher for comment on news of the sale, but didn't immediately hear back.

Blecher said earlier that Sterling had no interest in selling the team, rather than passing it down to his heirs. When reminded that Sterling would make a huge profit on a sale, even after capital gains taxes, Blecher it should have been the billionaire businessman's decision when to part with the team. It's not about money, he said.

In April, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling, fined him $2.5 million and prompted the league's other 29 owners to begin proceeding to strip the longtime owner and his wife of the team.

Sterling is considering suing the NBA if he doesn't get the resolution he wants. Blecher said they weren't in a rush to file the lawsuit and were waiting in part in deference to Shelly Sterling as she negotiated the sale.

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Filed under: Donald Sterling • Steve Ballmer
May 29th, 2014
04:46 AM ET

MH370: 'Discounted as the Final Resting Place'

The 850 square kilometers scanned off the coast of western Australia in the hunt for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane are not the "final resting place of MH370," the agency leading the search said Thursday.

The search area is where four acoustic pings originally thought to be from the black boxes of the Boeing 777 were heard in early April.

"The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has advised that the search in the vicinity of the acoustic detections can now be considered complete and in its professional judgment, the area can now be discounted as the final resting place of MH370," a statement from the Joint Agency Coordination Centre said.

Unlikely to be from Flight 370

Hours earlier, a U.S. Navy official told CNN that the pings at the center of the search for the past seven weeks are no longer believed to have come from the plane's black boxes.

The acknowledgment came Wednesday as searchers wrapped up the first phase of their effort in the southern Indian Ocean floor without finding any wreckage from the jetliner.

Authorities now almost universally believe the pings did not come from the onboard data or cockpit voice recorders but instead came from some other man-made source unrelated to the jetliner that disappeared on March 8, according to Michael Dean, the Navy's deputy director of ocean engineering.

If the pings had come from the recorders, searchers would have found them, he said.

Dean said "yes" when asked if other countries involved in the search had reached the same conclusions.

"Our best theory at this point is that (the pings were) likely some sound produced by the ship ... or within the electronics of the Towed Pinger Locator," Dean said.

The pinger locator was used by searchers to listen for underwater signals.

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Filed under: MH370
May 28th, 2014
04:57 AM ET

2 Injured in Attack on U.S. Consular Vehicle in Afghan City of Herat

Two Americans were injured Wednesday in Afghanistan when a U.S. Consulate vehicle was attacked while traveling through the western city of Herat, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said.

The Americans were "lightly injured" and are being treated in a hospital in the city, it said.

The U.S. government is working with Afghan authorities to investigate the attack and bring those responsible to justice, it said.

Last week, four gunmen attempted to attack the Indian consulate in Herat. Two gunmen were killed in that incident but no one else was injured and the consulate building was not damaged.

The latest attack comes a day after President Barack Obamaannounced that he plans for 9,800 American troops, along with some allied forces, to remain in the country in 2015 if the Afghan government signs a security agreement.

MORE at CNN.com

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Filed under: Afghanistan
Are There Clues in the Flight 370 Satellite Data?
May 27th, 2014
04:26 AM ET

Are There Clues in the Flight 370 Satellite Data?

Data from communications between satellites and missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was released Tuesday, more than two months after relatives of passengers say they requested that it be made public.

Malaysian authorities published a 47-page document containing hundreds of lines of communication logs between the jetliner and the British company Inmarsat's satellite system.

The information provided isn't the whole picture but is "intended to provide a readable summary of the data communication logs," the notes at the start of the document say.

Some passengers' families, unsatisfied by official explanations of the plane's fate, say they want an independent analysis of the complex information, a process that could take some time.

"The first thing we're going to expect feedback on is does the data look right," said Sarah Bajc, whose partner, Philip Wood, was on the missing jet. "Is it as complete as we're being led to believe it is?"

She said, though, that she was "annoyed" that Inmarsat and Malaysian authorities hadn't released the raw data in its entirety.

"I see no reason for them to have massaged this before giving it to us," she said.

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Filed under: Flight 370 • MH370
Obama makes a surprise visit to Afghanistan
May 26th, 2014
04:33 AM ET

Obama's Surprise for Troops

President Barack Obama spent just over four hours in Afghanistan Sunday on an unannounced trip to visit with U.S. forces during the Memorial Day weekend. He thanked the troops for their service as the United States hands over responsibility to Afghan forces.

"Al Qaeda is on its heels in this part of the world, and that's because of you," Obama said.

He quickly added, "Everyone knows Afghanistan is still a very dangerous place."

The United States has been fighting in Afghanistan for more than 12 years, which is the U.S.'s longest war. "Last year marked a major milestone," the President said, as Afghan forces took increased responsibility for securing the country.

"For many of you, this will be your last tour in Afghanistan," Obama said to applause.

"And by the end of this year, the transition will be complete, and Afghans will take full responsibility for their security, and our combat mission will be over. America's war in Afghanistan will come to a responsible end."

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Filed under: Memorial Day • President Obama
2 Million Pounds  of Food Recalled
May 23rd, 2014
04:29 AM ET

2 Million Pounds of Food Recalled

This has been a big week for food product recalls and the risk of food borne illness.

Seven confirmed and three likely cases of E. coli infection linked to raw clover sprouts have been reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

The patients are all in either Idaho or Washington. Half the people who have fallen ill have been hospitalized.

Preliminary investigations indicate the likely source of this outbreak are raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts LLC of Idaho, the CDC said. The state departments of health in Washington and Idaho are telling consumers not to eat raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts.

Meanwhile, hummus and dip products totaling about 14,860 pounds are being voluntarily recalled by Lansal Inc. amid concerns about possible bacterial contamination.

At the same time, Sherman Produce is recalling some bulk and packaged walnuts sold to retailers in Missouri and Illinois.

These two recalls are precautionary measures against possible Listeria monocytogenes, which may cause serious and even fatal infections in people with weakened immune systems, such as the elderly.

No illnesses have been reported in connection with either recall, the respective companies said.

Both companies advise consumers who bought the recalled products to throw them out or return them for a full refund. The products should not be eaten.

Also this week, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service said 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products were being recalledbecause they could be contaminated with a strain of E.coli.

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May 22nd, 2014
05:49 AM ET

Kidnap Victim Found After 10 Years

Police in Santa Ana, California, have located a 25-year-old woman nearly a decade after her mother reported her missing.

Details on the case are scant, but here's what authorities are saying so far, based on what the victim has told them:

The mother reported to police in August 2004 that her then 15-year-old daughter disappeared along with her live-in boyfriend, identified as Isidro Garcia.

He had started to sexually assault the daughter in June 2004, Santa Ana police said. They did not name the victim.

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Iran Holds 'Happy' Video Director
May 22nd, 2014
04:10 AM ET

Iran Holds 'Happy' Video Director

ix people who were arrested in Iran for dancing in a YouTube video to Pharrell Williams' song "Happy" have been freed, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said Wednesday, citing a source close to the families.

The director of the video was not released, the group said.

One of the six announced that she was freed. "Hi I'm back," Reihane Taravati wrote on her Instagram account, thanking Williams and "everyone who cared about us."

The fan video is one of many to the hit song that has sold millions of downloads worldwide.

Tehran Police Chief Hossein Sajedinia ordered the arrests of the three men and three women for helping make an "obscene video clip that offended the public morals and was released in cyberspace," the Iranian Students' News Agency reported Wednesday. Authorities forced the young people to repent on state TV.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani seemed to think differently. "#Happiness is our people's right. We shouldn't be too hard on behaviors caused by joy," a tweet on his account said. It seemed to be quoting one of his comments from June 2013.

Pharrell Williams denounced the arrests.

"It is beyond sad that these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness," the Grammy Award winner said on his Facebook page.

Just like in the singer's original video, the Iranian fan version features a montage of men and women dancing to the song in a variety of settings.

Taravati gushed over the reaction to the video in the days before the Tuesday arrests.

"178K VIEWS thank you," she wrote on her Facebook page last week. She also posted a picture of people featured in the video on Instagram.

"People of Tehran are happy! Watch and Share Our Happiness!," Taravati wrote. "Let the world hear us! we are happy and we deserve to be!"

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Filed under: Free Happy Iranians • Happy
May 21st, 2014
06:07 AM ET

5 Things We Learned in Tuesday's Primaries

Six states held primaries on Tuesday, and once again anti-establishment candidates came up short in high-profile Republican showdowns.

That's a sharp difference with what we have seen over the last two election cycles, when establishment Republicans were overwhelmed by the insurgency in their own party and did little to stop it. But they appear to have turned the tables on the conservatives so far in this election cycle and have a string of victories to show for it.

Here are five things we learned Tuesday night:

1. Establishment GOP has learned to play ball: Since its birth in 2009, the tea party has had successes in primaries but those have given the GOP plenty of headaches and hurt its chances of winning back the Senate, effectively costing Republicans five winnable elections over the last two cycles.

This year, the establishment has had the upper hand in most contests against tea party-backed challengers. Showdowns on Tuesday in Kentucky, Idaho and Georgia kept that winning streak going.

In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell easily dispatched Matt Bevin, who enjoyed the support of tea party activists and anti-establishment groups. It was a similar story in Idaho, where eight-term Rep. Mike Simpson also beat back a similar challenge from the right. And in Georgia's free-for-all Republican Senate primary, the two finishers who now move onto a July runoff were considered the most acceptable to the establishment.

How did they do it?

The winners all ran smart campaigns and were fortunate that the losers stumbled. And outside help also made a difference. The pro-business U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent more than $4 million to support McConnell, Simpson and Rep. Jack Kingston, who will face off with businessman David Perdue in the Georgia runoff.

One reason for the winning streak: The establishment has learned how to play ball with the tea party.

"Every establishment candidate ran like a tea party candidate. It's hard to tell the difference this time around, because they had a uniting factor in opposing Obamacare but also united on issues like immigration and trade and climate change. The establishment Republican Party ran to the right this time," said CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

While Democrats argue that the move to the right will backfire on the GOP come November, midterm elections are traditionally low turnout affairs compared to presidential elections. And in such contests, the key to victory is often getting out the base.

MORE on CNN.com

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Filed under: CNN Politics • Primaries
May 20th, 2014
05:07 AM ET

Judge Lays Down Rules for Oscar Pistorius Psychiatric Tests

Oscar Pistorius must report for a month-long mental examination starting next Monday, the judge in his murder trial said Tuesday.

The trial will not resume until June 30, judge Thokozile Masipa said.

The testing was triggered by the testimony of a psychiatrist who said that the sprinter has suffered from generalized anxiety disorder since he was an infant, stemming partly from the amputation of both of his lower legs because of a genetic defect.

Pistorius is accused of murdering his girlfriend, the model Reeva Steenkamp, in his home last year.

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