November 27

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September 3rd, 2014
06:09 AM ET

ISIS Beheading Video is Real, U.S. Says

A video showing American journalist Steven Sotloff being beheaded by terror group ISIS is authentic, U.S. officials said early Wednesday.

The Islamic militant group released the video Tuesday.

It shows the second beheading of an American journalist in two weeks, and blames President Barack Obama's decision to conduct airstrikes against the militant group in Iraq for the killing.

"The U.S. intelligence community has analyzed the recently released video ... and has reached the judgment that it is authentic," said Caitlin Hayden, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council. "We will continue to provide updates as they are available,"

In the video, Sotloff kneels in the desert, dressed in an orange prison-style jumpsuit. A masked "executioner" lords over him, wielding a knife.

The journalist speaks; the executioner speaks.

And then the horrific happens: the victim is beheaded.

"It is almost the exact same choreography," said Peter Neumann, a professor at King's College London, comparing ISIS videos showing the deaths of journalists Sotloff and James Foley. A video of Foley's execution was released last month.

The executioner appears to be the same person. The location of the two killings also appears to be similar.

Neumann suspects they took place in or around the Syrian city of Raqqa, one of the safest areas for ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State.

See more on this developing story on CNN.com

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Filed under: ISIS • Obama • Steven Sotloff
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.

See more on CNN.com

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July 1st, 2014
04:33 AM ET

Israel Hits Back After Teens Found Dead

Nineteen days ago, three Israeli teenagers, trying to hitchhike home from the southern West Bank, disappeared.

Monday afternoon, volunteers from a nearby Israeli settlement discovered their bodies in an open field not far from Hebron, a city in the southern West Bank.

The teens' disappearance - which Israel blamed on Hamas - had already worsened relations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The discovery threatens to make it worse.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the students had been "murdered in cold blood" by people he described as "animals."

"Hamas will pay," Netanyahu warned.

Hamas, the militant fundamentalist Islamic organization that operates in the West Bank and Gaza, denied it was behind the abductions.

If Netanyahu "brings a war on Gaza," the group warned, "the gates of hell will open to him."

MORE on CNN.com

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Filed under: Hamas • Israel
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.

MORE on CNN.com

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April 30th, 2014
04:51 AM ET

Oklahoma Stops Execution After Botching Drug Delivery; Inmate Dies

A vein on an Oklahoma inmate "exploded" in the middle of his execution Tuesday, prompting authorities to abruptly halt the process and call off another execution later in the day as they try to figure out what went wrong.

The inmate, Clayton Lockett, died 43 minutes after the first injection was administered - according to reporter Courtney Francisco ofCNN affiliate KFOR who witnessed the ordeal - of an apparent heart attack, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton said.

That first drug, midazolam, is supposed to render a person unconscious. Seven minutes later, Lockett was still conscious. About 16 minutes in, after his mouth and then his head moved, he seemingly tried to get up and tried to talk, saying "man" aloud, according to the KFOR account.

We have the latest on "Early Start," and you can see more on this story HERE.

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Filed under: death penalty • Oklahoma
April 2nd, 2014
05:39 AM ET

Powerful Earthquake Strikes Off Chile, Triggers Tsunami

A mighty 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern Chile late Tuesday, triggering small landslides, sapping power and generating a tsunami.

Four men and one woman died - two due to heart attacks and three crushed to death, said Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo.

About 300 prisoners escaped from the northern port city of Iquique in the immediate aftermath, he said.

The quake struck about 8:46 p.m. local time, some 60 miles northwest of Iquique. It had a depth of 12.5 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Chile's National Emergency Office asked everyone to evacuate the South American nation's coast. And residents complied.

"The fact is, we will know the extent of the damage as time goes by and when we inspect the areas in the light of day," Chile's President Michelle Bachelet said early Wednesday morning. "The country has faced these first emergency hours very well."

Residents in the port city of Antofagasta,calmly walked through the streets to higher ground as traffic piled up in some places.

"Many people are fearful after experiencing the powerful earthquake in 2010, so they immediately fled for higher ground when they heard the tsunami warning," said Fabrizio Guzman, World Vision emergency communications manager in Chile.

"There have been multiple aftershocks and communications have been cut off in many of the affected areas. So people are waiting in the dark hills not knowing what is to come, and hoping they will be able to return to their homes safely."

At one point, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued several tsunami warnings. All of them, including for Chile and Peru, were canceled early Tuesday morning. All tsunami watches, which once extended as far north as Mexico's Pacific coast, were called off as well.

Tsunami waves of more than 6 feet generated by the earthquake washed ashore on the coast of Pisagua, according to Victor Sardino, with the center.

Iquique, with a population of more than 200,000, saw waves 7 feet high.

Danger averted

An earthquake of the scale that struck Tuesday night is capable of wreaking tremendous havoc.

So, if the initial reports stand, Chile may have dodged a major catastrophe.

Landslides damaged roads in some regions. Power and phone outages were reported in others.

Chile is on the so-called "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines circling the Pacific Basic that is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

On March 16, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck 37 miles west-northwest of Iquique. A 6.1-magnitude hit the same area exactly one week later.

About 500 people were killed when a 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile on February 27, 2010. That quake triggered a tsunami that toppled buildings, particularly in the Maule region along the coast.

According to researchers, the earthquake was violent enough to move the Chilean city of Concepcion at least 10 feet to the west and Santiago about 11 inches to the west-southwest.

'No hazards' to U.S. coastline

The U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center worked Tuesday to determine the level of danger for Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California, as well as Canada's British Columbia.

Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, told CNN there is "clearly not going to be any hazards to the coastline of North America."

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for Hawaii, saying strong currents may pose a hazard to swimmers and boaters.

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Filed under: Chile earthquake • Earthquake
February 24th, 2014
12:19 PM ET

Up to Speed: Uncertainty Reigns in a Divided Ukraine

The turmoil in Ukraine has swept aside its president, brought about the release a prominent opposition leader and raised fears the country could break apart.

After the bloodshed in the streets of Kiev last week - the deadliest violence Ukraine has suffered since its independence 22 years ago - the political twists and turns came thick and fast over the weekend.

As a new week begins, uncertainty has taken a hold in the divided nation as Ukraine tries to reshape its political landscape.

An arrest warrant has been issued for ousted President Viktor Yanukovych over the killings of civilians, a government official said Monday. But officials don't know where he is.

Click here for what you need to know to get caught up.

December 12th, 2013
10:34 AM ET

Teen Gets Probation for DUI Wreck That Killed 4

To the families of the victims, Ethan Couch was a killer on the road, a drunken teenage driver who caused a crash that left four people dead.

To the defense, the youth is himself a victim - of "affluenza," according to one psychologist - the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for the boy.

To a judge, who sentenced Couch to 10 years' probation but no jail time, he's a defendant in need of treatment.

The decision disappointed prosecutors and stunned victims' family members, who say they feel that Couch got off too easy. Prosecutors had asked for the maximum of 20 years behind bars.

"Let's face it. ... There needs to be some justice here," Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter, told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" on Wednesday night.

"For 25 weeks, I've been going through a healing process. And so when the verdict came out, I mean, my immediate reaction is - I'm back to week 1. We have accomplished nothing here. My healing process is out the window," he said.

Lawyers for Couch, 16, had argued that the teen's parents should share part of the blame for the crash because they never set limits for the boy and gave him everything he wanted.

According to CNN affiliate WFAA, a psychologist called by the defense described Couch as a product of "affluenza."

He reportedly testified that the teen's family felt wealth bought privilege, and that Couch's life could be turned around with one to two years of treatment and no contact with his parents.

Couch was sentenced by a juvenile court judge Tuesday. If he violates the terms of his probation, he could face up to 10 years of incarceration, according to a statement from the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's Office.

Judge Jean Boyd told the court she would not release Couch to his parents, but would work to find the teen a long-term treatment facility.

"There are absolutely no consequences for what occurred that day," said Boyles. "The primary message has to absolutely be that money and privilege can't buy justice in this country."

His wife, Hollie Boyles, and daughter, Shelby, left their home to help Breanna Mitchell, whose SUV had broken down. Brian Jennings, a youth pastor, was driving past and also stopped to help.

All four were killed when the teen's pickup plowed into the pedestrians. Couch's vehicle also struck a parked car, which then slid into another vehicle driving in the opposite direction.

Two people riding in the bed of the teen's pickup were tossed in the crash and severely injured.

One is no longer able to move or talk because of a brain injury, while the other suffered internal injuries and broken bones.

"There is nothing the judge could have done to lessen the suffering for any of those families," said defense attorney Scott Brown, CNN affiliate KTVT reported.

"(The judge) fashioned a sentence that is going to keep Ethan under the thumb of the justice system for the next 10 years," he said. "And if Ethan doesn't do what he's supposed to do, if he has one misstep at all, then this judge, or an adult judge when he's transferred, can then incarcerate him."

Earlier on the night of the accident, June 15, Couch and some friends had stolen beer from a local Walmart. Three hours after the crash, tests showed he had a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit, according to the district attorney's office.

"We are disappointed by the punishment assessed but have no power under the law to change or overturn it," said Assistant District Attorney Richard Alpert. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and we regret that this outcome has added to the pain and suffering they have endured."

It is very rare, but not impossible, for prosecutors to challenge the sentence on the ground that it was too lenient, CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin said.

"To give him a pass this time given the egregious nature of his conduct - four deaths - is just incomprehensible," she said.

It is unfair that other young defendants without the same wealth could end up in jail for a lot less, said Hostin, of CNN's "New Day" morning show.

"I think in terms of policy, this really flies in the face of our criminal justice system," she said. "There have to be consequences to actions, and that is what our system is about, even for juveniles."

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