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May 20th, 2014
04:41 AM ET

Libya Evacuation Decision 'Minute by Minute,' U.S. Official Says

The U.S. military has doubled the number of aircraft standing by in Italy if needed to evacuate Americans from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, CNN has learned.

A decision to evacuate as violence in the Libyan capital grows is "minute by minute, hour by hour," a defense official told CNN on Monday.

Fierce fighting swept across the city Sunday after armed men stormed the country's interim Parliament. Sporadic bursts of gunfire and blasts could still be heard on the outskirts of the capital Monday evening.

The violence appeared to be some of the worst since the 2011 revolution that ousted longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi.

In a move that could further inflame an already tense situation, the speaker of the interim parliament, Nuri Abu Sahmain, who is backed by Islamist forces, ordered troops known as the "Central Libya Shield Forces" to deploy to the capital Monday, the Libyan state news agency LANA reported.

The forces, mostly from the city of Misrata, east of Tripoli, are considered to be among the most powerful Islamist-affiliated militias. They have had long-running rivalries with the heavily armed Zintan militias when both groups were based in the capital.

Meanwhile, the Saudi ambassador to Libya announced that his country's embassy and consulate in Tripoli closed Monday because of the violence, and the staff has left Tripoli, according to the official Saudi Press Agency. The sites will reopen when the situation stabilizes, Ambassador Mohammed Mahmoud Al-Ali said, according to the report.

Turkey took similar measures, shutting down its consulate in Benghazi, Turkey's semi-official Anadolu news agency reported.

MORE on CNN.com

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May 19th, 2014
05:47 AM ET

More California Wildfires Are Contained

The Cocos Fire is slated to go down for the count on Sunday, after scorching almost 2,000 acres of land.

Crews battling that blaze and other wildfires in Southern California expect to have it 100% contained before the day is done. And many of the other fires should meet with the same fate soon, they say.

A shift in the weather pattern has put the wind at their backs, figuratively speaking, bringing in cooler winds and moist air from the Pacific Ocean.

That means that Cocos resident Eloisa will get to return home after taking up temporary residence on a green cot in a high school gymnasium.

The Red Cross had converted it into a fire shelter and lined up dozens of the cots in uniform rows and columns. Most of them were empty, and Eloisa, who didn't give her last name, was one of the few guests left inside.

She told CNN affiliate KGTV that she is not ready to leave because of a culinary delight she tasted there.

"I don't like Mexican food, but they had something called fajitas," she said. "Oh, I came for seconds."

Good food at shelters notwithstanding, many residents have been able to return home, as crews have tamed walls of fire.

It has put a mass exodus into reverse.

In all, 176,000 notices of evacuation had been sent throughout San Diego County via cell phone calls, e-mails, text messages and calls to homes and businesses.

MORE on CNN.com

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May 19th, 2014
05:32 AM ET

Balkans Flooding Sparks Mass Evacuation and Concerns Landmines Could Surface

Historic flooding in the Balkans sent tens of thousands of people scrambling to higher ground on Sunday and sparked concerns that landmines from the Bosnian war could surface in mudslides, putting rescuers' lives at risk.

"A vast number of landslides have worsened the situation and relief efforts," the Red Cross said, describing the rains as the "worst floods in more than a century."

"There are reports that landmines buried during the conflict and not yet removed are in some instances being shifted with the landslides, adding (to) the dangers of people living in the areas as well as rescuers," the Red Cross said.

In Serbia, the severe flooding has prompted the evacuation of at least 24,300 people.

Dragan Radovanovic, president of the Serbian branch of the Red Cross, said the number of people affected by the high water is actually much larger. Many people stayed in the houses or apartments, one rescuer told Reuters.

"Some people simply do not want to leave their homes," Novica Biorac, a volunteer from a rafting club in Raska, said. "We are trying to convince them to leave, but it's very difficult."

Water in some places was chest high as rescuers shouted up to people in buildings who are stranded.

One woman lowered a bucket, and a worker put a loaf of bread in it.

"Thank you, please come back again and also let us know what the time is. I have a clock but don't have any batteries," she shouted to the rescue team, according to Reuters.

Twelve bodies have been recovered in Obrenovac, about 35 kilometers (22.7 miles) from the capital of Belgrade, the Serbian government said Sunday evening. One of the 12 was someone who had already died "of natural causes," Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said, according to a government statement. Authorities estimate that 90% of the town has been flooded.

At least 13 people are dead in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Deputy Minister of Security Samir Agic said.

The toll is likely to go even higher, officials cautioned.

MORE at CNN.com

May 16th, 2014
05:09 AM ET

Wildfires Scorch San Diego County

In her 42 years of living in Southern California, Sophie Payne of Carlsbad has "never, never, never" witnessed so many wildfires at one time.

Three dozen raged overnight. Eight of them continued to burn Thursday in a patchwork across of San Diego County, ravaging 10,000 acres since Tuesday, and killing at least one person. Payne's hilltop house was an exhibit of their destruction: It was burned to the ground, except for a stone archway and several walls.

"This is my dream house, and what can I say," she said, looking at the destruction to the three-bedroom, four-bathroom house. "Now it's all gone."

Payne found some family keepsakes in a small safe, and while intact, the papers were charred at the edges. "It's just falling apart," Payne said.

Another family in Carlsbad similarly lost its house, but everyone - including the dog - survived.

"We walked up to this place, and it was like a bomb went off. I can't even explain to you how just horrific it was," Anya Bannasch told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" on Thursday.

"I've never seen anything like it. I pray for all the other families too out there that are going through this right now, because I know there's fires everywhere," she said.

Gay Walker was evacuated from her home in nearby Encinitas and doubted she would even be allowed to return by Friday. Police told her to evacuate immediately.

"It was an orderly evacuation, but it was reminiscent of something apocalyptic," Walker said.

The City of Carlsbad reported was what apparently the first fire-related death Thursday.

On its website, it said: "During a hot spot check, firefighters were alerted to a transient encampment in the area of Ambrosia and Calliandra. On checking the area, firefighters located a badly burned body. Further details about the deceased are unknown at this time and the investigation is ongoing."

MORE on CNN.com

May 16th, 2014
05:08 AM ET

Second MERS Case Confirmed in Netherlands

A second case of the potentially deadly MERS virus has been identified in the Netherlands, a spokeswoman for the country's National Public Health Institute told CNN. It comes one day after authorities confirmed the first case.

The cases in the Netherlands involve two family members who had traveled together to Saudi Arabia.

It is one man and one woman who contracted the disease, said Harald Wychgel, spokesman for the Netherlands ministry of health.

The health ministry, citing privacy reasons, did not provide additional details except to say that the pair shared a room for two weeks in Saudi Arabia.

Officials do not know if one person infected the other or if both became infected at the same location. One of the two, however, had visited a camel farm. It is estimated that nearly 75% of dromedary - or single-hump camels - in Saudi Arabia have come into contact with the MERS virus, researchers said in February.

"It is also known that both patients have underlying conditions that make them probably more susceptible to infection with this virus," the health ministry said in a statement.

The announcement comes as the World Health Organization said the spread of the virus has become more urgent, but at least for now, is not calling it a global health emergency.

The first cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome were diagnosed in the Arabian Peninsula in 2012. MERS attacks the respiratory system, and symptoms can lead to pneumonia or kidney failure.

There have been over 570 confirmed cases of MERS, including 171 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Many of the cases are in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Even without any official worldwide alert, Anne Schuchat, the head of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, acknowledges that "this is a relatively new virus that does have a high fatality rate," ample reason to pay attention. Authorities haven't pinned down all the details about how exactly it arose and how it spreads, though Schuchat said, "We don't have evidence right now that this is airborne ... the way the measles virus is."

Two cases have been confirmed in the United States. Both patients are health care providers who were working in Saudi Arabia. Those cases are in Indiana and Florida.

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10 Things You Didn't Know About Indra Petersons
May 16th, 2014
04:06 AM ET

10 Things You Didn't Know About Indra Petersons

Indra Petersons is a weather anchor and meteorologist for CNN contributing to all programming including 'Early Start' at 5am ET and 'New Day' at 6am ET. 

From earthquakes to asteroids, air turbulence to ocean currents, Indra's reporting doesn't just tell us what's happening outside, but why it's happening. It's nice having a self-proclaimed weather nerd around!

Here, Indra shares 10 things you didn't know about her:

1. Indra is the Hindu God of Weather but also just a place in Latvia. I got the second one

2. I rescued two dogs.  A pit bull and a chihuahua. The chihuahua runs the house

3. I’m either a health freak or a foodie, just depends on what day of the week it is or how fun the party is

4. My dad REALLY is a brain surgeon

5. My husband is a marine sniper

6. Latvian was my first language. I speak English but I do know what you’re saying about me in Spanish

7. In my free time I’m either traveling the world or at home scrapbooking it. Adventurous or a hermit?  You decide

8. I was playing the piano and skiing by age 3

9. Most of my friend’s say I’m the best guy friend they have, without the love of sports

10. You’ll know you’re in yoga with me when you hear the instructor remind the class, “some people aren’t genetically flexible,” but I bet I can do as many pull-ups as you can. Well, maybe round one

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Connect with Indra!

Instagram!

instagram petersons

Twitter!

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Facebook!

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Is severe weather happening where you are? Indra and iReport want to hear your story. Share your stories, photos and video, and we may request to feature them on 'New Day.'

10 Things You Didn't Know About John Berman
May 15th, 2014
09:43 AM ET

10 Things You Didn't Know About John Berman

John Berman is the co-anchor of 'Early Start' with Christine Romans at 4am ET and '@THISHOUR' with Michaela Pereira at 11am ET.

Oftentimes, he can be seen covering across all CNN day parts, including anchoring Anderson Cooper's show "AC360" at 8pm ET. All of which confirms for us that John Berman does not sleep.

Here, John shares 10 things you didn't know about him:

1. I have been thrown out of Yankee Stadium

2. I am not related to Chris Berman

3. I have seen Barry Manilow in concert

4. I was embedded with the 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines for the invasion of Iraq

5. I have seen Milli Vanilli in concert

6. I was once Peter Jennings' head writer

7. Started dating my wife in college when she was a costumer for a musical I was in

8. It was a drag show

9. I have seen KISS in concert

10. I don't really like concerts

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Connect with John!

Twitter!

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Instagram!

Facebook!

facebook berman 2

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When inspired, John does a segment at the end of '@THIS HOUR 'called 'Cable Outrage,' where he goes off on topics that irked him that week.

Here's one of our favorites on how John found out it's Daylight Saving Time (singular) and NOT Daylight Savings Time:

Have any idea for a 'Cable Outrage'? Tell John on Twitter using #CableOutrage!

 

May 15th, 2014
04:45 AM ET

Thousands Told to Flee San Diego Fires

San Diego County is hoping for a break Thursday - a day after wildfires ravaged the landscape, threatening homes, universities, a military base and a nuclear power plant.

"Let's hope for a calm day," said County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who marveled at the outbreak that saw San Diego go from one wildfire to nine, charring more than 9,000 acres.

Firefighters deployed across the country, jumping on every hotspot that flared up.

"It's been a pretty amazing day," she said Wednesday evening. "Everyone needs to be on high alert."

Temperatures cooled overnight and the winds calmed, giving those fighting the flames a bit of a break.

Additional air tankers and firefighting helicopters will join the effort Thursday, according to Jacob. She said she's certain more fires will spring up with the new day, but was praying they wouldn't.

The region is bone dry after months of little rainfall and temperatures are brutally hot, especially for May. Wildfire season typically peaks in over the summer and into the fall.

Thursday will be the hottest day of the week, according to theNational Weather Service, with forecast highs between 98 and 106.

We'll have the latest updates on "Early Start."

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May 14th, 2014
04:18 AM ET

Magic Johnson to Donald Sterling: Sell the Team

Magic Johnson has some advice for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling: Sell the team, take the money and enjoy the rest of your life.

A day after Sterling appeared on CNN slamming the NBA legend's character, his battle with HIV and his community outreach efforts, Johnson said Tuesday that he feels sorry for the 80-year-old billionaire.

"It's sad. It really is. I'm going to pray for this ... man," Johnson told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an exclusive interview.

Sterling's explosive CNN interview that aired Monday night was the first time he had spoken publicly since audio recordings surfaced last month of him making racist remarks. Reaction to the taped remarks came fast and furious, and the NBA responded with a lifetime ban for Sterling.

Johnson became an involuntary figure in the controversy after Sterling named him in the leaked recording.

"Admire him, bring him here, feed him, f**k him, but don't put (Magic) on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me," Sterling is heard telling friend V. Stiviano.

Johnson told Cooper he is still waiting for an apology from Sterling for getting roped into Sterling's fight with Stiviano, and Johnson called the Monday interview - in which Sterling directed another tirade at the NBA legend - "disturbing."

"What's really sad is, it's not about me," Johnson said. "This is about the woman you love outing you and taping you and putting your conversation out here for everybody to know. ... This is between you two, but then he wants to include me."

Johnson said he had only met with Sterling three or four times, and most of those discussions had focused on basketball. Johnson couldn't say if the Clippers owner has slipped mentally.

Sterling "seems like he's all there," Johnson said. "But the problem is, he's living in the stone ages."

MORE on CNN.com

10 Things You Didn't Know About Christine Romans
May 13th, 2014
03:59 AM ET

10 Things You Didn't Know About Christine Romans

Christine Romans is one busy lady! She co-anchors "Early Start" with John Berman weekdays at 4am ET, she is CNN's chief business correspondent and the host of "Your Money," CNN's Saturday business program airing at 9:30am ET.

Here, Christine shares 10 things you probably don't know about her:

1. I have been getting up before 3 am for five years

2. I feel like I have had jetlag for five years

3. My first job in business journalism was covering pork belly and hog futures

4. My first newspaper job was covering crime

5. I can't sleep on a plane

6. I avoid clichés like the plague

7. Je parle Francais

8. I have covered 4 presidential elections at CNN

9. I learned how to speed read in sixth grade

10. Olivia Munn’s character in The Newsroom is based on me

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Got a money-related question? Want some [very] early morning tweets in your feed? Connect with Christine!

Instagram!

Facebook!

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Twitter!

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See more content from Christine on CNN.com/YourMoney.

your money

For 10 things you probably don't know about our other morning anchors, visit New Day's page.

 

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