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August 13th, 2014
04:22 AM ET

Famed Actress Lauren Bacall Dies at 89

Actress Lauren Bacall, the husky-voiced Hollywood icon known for her sultry sensuality, died Tuesday. She was 89.

Robbert de Klerk, co-managing partner of the Humphrey Bogart Estate, said Bacall died in New York.

She was anointed a legend during her lifetime by the American Film Institute, but she wasn't fond of that, she told CNN's Larry King in an interview in 2005.

"I don't like the category. And to begin with, to me, a legend is something that is not on the Earth, that is dead," she said.

Legends were part of the past, and Bacall preferred the present.

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August 12th, 2014
05:32 AM ET

Robin Williams and the Dark Side of Comedy

By tradition, Drama is represented by two masks: the happy face of the comic muse Thalia and her sad counterpart, the tragic muse Melpomene.

If Drama were Robin Williams, you'd need a million more.

He was a mask of howling laughter, a mask of wide-eyed innocence. A sneer. A frown. Even, at times, a blank.

If it seemed like we knew what went on behind the many masks, it was because Williams' quicksilver mind and boundless talent possessed enough energy to blow them right off his face. He WAS Mork. He WAS Adrian Cronauer of "Good Morning, Vietnam." He WAS Patch Adams, and "Aladdin's" genie, and Mrs. Doubtfire.

But he was also the restrained Garp in "The World According to Garp," and the creepy Seymour Parrish in "One Hour Photo," and the firm but compassionate Sean Maguire in "Good Will Hunting," the performance that won him an Oscar.

It was that side of Williams - something raw and vulnerable, not something manic and boisterous - that made you wonder: who was he when he took off the mask?

On Monday, Williams was found dead in his home in Tiburon, California. He was 63. Coroner investigators suspect "the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia," according to a statement from the Marin County, California, Sheriff's Office.

It's a cliché, of course, the clown who laughs on the outside while crying - or dying - on the inside. It's Pavarotti's Pagliacci and Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp; Willy Wonka and Laurence Olivier's Archie Rice.

Show business history is filled with stories of comic kings who fought against depression and substance abuse, not always successfully. Jonathan Winters, Williams' hero, was institutionalized for a time. The effortless Dick Van Dyke once said he was "mostly drunk for 15 years." John Belushi and Chris Farley died of overdoses.

Mitch Hedberg, Freddie Prinze, Richard Jeni - all funny men, all gone before their time.

There's no question that comedy can be a form of escape - and recognition. Richard Pryor, one of the most brilliant comedians who ever strode on stage, was raised in a brothel, married multiple times, struggled with demons both societal and personal. He was ruthless - especially on himself.

Yet he was scathingly, mercilessly funny. It was comedy that drew blood, comedy as catharsis.

Chris Farley, on the other hand, grew up in a close-knit, comfortable clan - but also sometimes seemed to be running from something. His immersion in Matt Foley, the divorced motivational speaker who lived in a "van down by the river," was both hilarious and a little scary.

"We lose at least one great comic to suicide or ODs every year," tweeted comedian Michael Ian Black on Monday. "Our jobs are to communicate, but we seem to not know how to ask for help."

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Tony Stewart: Raising Smoke With a Hard Driving Life
August 12th, 2014
04:37 AM ET

Tony Stewart: Raising Smoke With a Hard Driving Life

Tony Stewart's profession is driving for millions of dollars a year in NASCAR races, but his hobby is racing against amateurs on dirt tracks for trophies.

Stewart, 43, started in go-carts when he was just 5 in Columbus, Indiana, 50 miles south of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

He rose through the ranks, winning the Indy Racing League championship in 1997 before moving to NASCAR two years later.

He's won three championships in NASCAR's top series - the Sprint Cup - and he's a co-owner of his racing team.

Other drivers started calling him "Smoke" because that's what they saw coming from his tires as he steered aggressively through turns on asphalt tracks.

While burning rubber wore down tire tread needed late in a race, it added to his reputation as one of the most competitive drivers, both behind the wheel and off the track.

Sponsors pay big bucks to display their logos on Stewart's No. 14 car because they know millions will watch it speed around the big track hundreds of times in a single event, as many as three dozen weekends a year.

His bad-boy antics, the fights and the words, make him stand out among dozens of other personalities in the sport.

Even the fans who boo him are watching. He shows up unshaven on race days in contrast to more polished drivers who are more careful with words and actions to avoid alienating sponsors and fans.

Winning, either on NASCAR's asphalt or unsanctioned dirt, is Stewart's goal. As he sacrifices valuable tire tread for track cred, he also puts great passion into his non-paying hobby, carried out at the risk of his big-money professional driving.

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Rescuers Pull Stranded Passengers From Six Flags Roller Coaster
August 11th, 2014
04:54 AM ET

Rescuers Pull Stranded Passengers From Six Flags Roller Coaster

Rescuers pulled stranded riders from a roller coaster at Six Flags America in Maryland on Sunday after the ride halted on the tracks.

A train on the Joker's Jinx roller coaster stopped near the top of the 79-foot-tall ride, fire officials said. It took more than four hours to get all 24 passengers back on the ground.

No one was injured, Six Flags spokeswoman Debbie Evans said.

Video from CNN affiliate WJLA showed rescuers slowly helping passengers to safety, one by one. Hours after the rescue operation began, Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor said all passengers were safe.

He posted a series of photos of the dramatic rescue on Twitter.

"Firefighters have reached the 1st car by tower bucket – each of 6 cars will be emptied slowly," he wrote.

See more on CNN.com

August 8th, 2014
04:49 AM ET

Cease-Fire Ends, Fighting Returns

Israel reported rocket fire from Gaza on Friday as a three-day cease-fire in the region came to an end without an agreement to extend it.

More than 18 rockets were fired at Israel after the 72-hour cease-fire expired at 8 a.m. Friday (1 a.m. ET), the Israel Defense Forces said. Two of the rockets were intercepted, 14 hit open areas and two came down in Gaza, the IDF said.

Hamas, the Islamic militant group that holds power in Gaza, said that Palestinian officials at talks in Cairo hadn't agreed to extend the truce but would continue negotiations.

But Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told CNN that the resumption of rocket fire means Hamas has "broken the fundamental premise of the talks in Cairo." Israel had said Thursday it was willing to extend the truce unconditionally.

Two militant factions who have fought alongside Hamas in Gaza, Islamic Jihad and the Al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades, said they had fired rockets at Israel on Friday.

It wasn't immediately clear how the Israeli military would respond to the rocket fire. The IDF pulled its ground forces out of Gaza on Tuesday but said they were maintaining "defensive positions" around the territory.

Roughly three hours before the truce was due to end, the IDF said two rockets fired from Gaza had hit southern Israel, without causing any casualties. "Terrorists have violated the cease-fire," the IDF wrote on Twitter.

It was unclear who in Gaza, where multiple militant factions are active, launched the two rockets, which landed near Eshkol in southern Israel.

Hamas denies responsibility for the rockets fired before the cease-fire ended, said Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the group. The allegations "are based on Israeli reports aimed at confusing the situation," the Gaza-based spokesman said.

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August 7th, 2014
05:47 AM ET

A Worried World Watches as Ebola Death Toll Rises; Liberia Declares Emergency

A nurse in Nigeria. A businessman in Saudi Arabia. A Spanish priest in Liberia.

With the World Health Organization announcing Wednesday that 932 deaths had been reported or confirmed as a result of Ebola hemorrhagic fever, Saudi Arabia joined the list of countries with suspected cases.

"This is the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said.

Nearly all of those deaths have been in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where more than 1,700 cases have been reported, according to WHO. The agency said 108 new cases were reported between Saturday and Monday in those countries and Nigeria.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has declared a state of emergency for 90 days because of the deadly outbreak, her office announced Wednesday.

"The scope and scale of the epidemic, the virulence and deadliness of the virus now exceed the capacity and statutory responsibility of any one government agency or ministry," she said in a written statement. "The government and people of Liberia require extraordinary measures for the very survival of our state and for the protection of the lives of our people."

She said Ebola is a "clear and present danger."

Concerns about the spread of the deadly virus escalated with Saudi Arabia reporting that a man died, apparently of the virus, after a trip to Sierra Leone, and Nigeria reported that a nurse died after treating someone believed to have contracted Ebola in Liberia.

WHO did not immediately confirm the deaths, and its count of Ebola cases does not include the two.

The Saudi man died Wednesday at a specialized hospital in Jeddah, the Saudi Ministry of Health said.

He had been in intensive care since late Monday "after exhibiting symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fever following a business trip to Sierra Leone," the ministry said in a statement.

The nurse in Nigeria had helped care for Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American man, who died in Nigeria after traveling there from Liberia, Nigeria's Ministry of Health said Wednesday.

See more on this developing story on CNN.com

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Russian Criminals Steal 1.2 Billion Passwords
August 6th, 2014
04:16 AM ET

Russian Criminals Steal 1.2 Billion Passwords

Russian criminals have stolen 1.2 billion Internet user names and passwords, amassing what could be the largest collection of stolen digital credentials in history, a respected security firm said Tuesday.

The news was first reported by The New York Times, which cited research from Milwaukee-based Hold Security. The firm didn't reveal the identities of the targeted websites, citing nondisclosure agreements and a desire to prevent existing vulnerabilities from being more widely exploited.

Hold Security founder Alex Holden told CNNMoney that the trove includes credentials gathered from over 420,000 websites - both smaller sites as well as "household names." The criminals didn't breach any major email providers, he said.

Holden said the gang makes its money by sending out spam for bogus products like weight-loss pills, and had apparently amassed its collection of digital credentials for that relatively innocuous purpose.

"It's really not that impactful to the individuals, and that's why they were under the radar for so long," Holden said. "They've ignored financial information almost completely."

But Holden said the gang's success at amassing passwords demonstrates that weak security procedures are common on websites of all sizes.

We'll have the latest information for you on "Early Start" at 5am ET.

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August 5th, 2014
05:08 AM ET

Israel Pulls Out of Gaza During Cease-Fire

The Israeli military said Tuesday that it has withdrawn its ground troops from Gaza for a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire in the conflict with Hamas.

"We have no forces within Gaza," Israel Defense Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told CNN.

Israel is implementing the Egyptian-brokered truce, which took effect Tuesday morning, from "defensive positions" outside Gaza, the IDF said.

Israeli officials had previously indicated they were winding down their ground operation in Gaza, which was aimed at demolishing Hamas' network of tunnels that extends under the border.

The Israeli military said Tuesday it had destroyed 32 of the tunnels, some of which were used by militants to launch attacks on Israeli soil during the four-week conflict.

Officials from the United Nations and United States, who have been pushing for a cease-fire for weeks, hope that the three-day pause will allow negotiations to take place for a more lasting peace.

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Water in Toledo, Ohio, Remains Undrinkable Pending More Tests
Ohio National Guard soldiers prepare to deliver water to Toledo residents after toxins were found in the city's water supply.
August 4th, 2014
04:31 AM ET

Water in Toledo, Ohio, Remains Undrinkable Pending More Tests

Residents of Ohio's fourth-largest city will have to wait a little longer to use their tap water.

Tests conducted by both the state and federal Environmental Protection Agency showed high levels of toxin levels in two neighborhoods in Toledo, Mayor D. Michael Collins said early Monday.

Instead of isolating the two neighborhoods, the Mayor said he'll keep the ban on drinking or using tap water in the entire city of Toledo until additional retests are completed. He declined to provide specifics on the name of neighborhoods in question and how high the toxin levels are.

"A majority of areas are satisfactory, but we have two areas of concern," he said at a news conference.

As many as 400,000 people were told not to consume, cook with or boil the tap water after a toxin called microcystin was found in the water supply Friday. Collins told reporters the advisories will remain in effect until further notice

Toledo's drinking water comes from Lake Erie, where a harmful algae bloom that causes microcystin has been growing.

The city has set up distribution centers for potable water, where members of the Ohio National Guard, fire officials and other first responders are giving out safe water.

About 350 Ohio National Guardsmen have been activated by the governor, according to a U.S. Defense Department official, adding that they have set up three Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit sites at two high schools and a police facility. The guardsmen have also delivered ready-to-eat meals, the official said.

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August 1st, 2014
07:11 AM ET

As Many As 80 Bodies May Still Be in Wreckage of MH17

Australian and Dutch investigators have arrived at the MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine for the second day of recovery efforts, CNN's Kellie Morgan reported on 'Early Start' Friday.

Officials said the investigation would take days, if not weeks.

The group of investigators is accompanied by monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, also known as OSCE.

Foreign experts at the site are seeking human remains from the crash; the Australian foreign minister said Thursday that there could be as many as 80 unrecovered bodies.

Efforts to reach the crash site had been previously stymied by heavy fighting between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian military.

Morgan reported that investigators were able to access the site after both the separatists and the Ukrainian military agreed to provide a safe corridor for entry.

Fighting surrounding the crash site, however, has remained intense, and the region is “very volatile,” according to Morgan.

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