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May 2nd, 2014
04:38 AM ET

55 Colleges Under Investigation Over Handling Of Sexual Violence Complaints

Federal investigators are checking whether 55 colleges and universities illegally handled sexual violence and harassment complaints, the U.S. Department of Education said Thursday.

Such investigations have long been known, but this is the first time that the department has released a list of all probes currently under way.

The list includes colleges and universities in 27 states and in the District of Columbia.

"We are making this list available in an effort to bring more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights," said Catherine E. Lhamon, the department's assistant secretary for civil rights.

"We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue. I also want to make it clear that a college or university's appearance on this list and being the subject of a Title IX investigation in no way indicates at this stage that the college or university is violating or has violated the law."

Five schools promptly responded to CNN's request for response. The University of California, Berkeley said it will cooperate with the investigation and added that its chancellor had sent out a letter to campus saying sexual assault would not be tolerated.

"Much has been done to strengthen the campus' handling of these issues, but we understand that there is always room for improvement," the university statement said.

At the same time, reports of sex assault in the U.S. military are up by half, another startling annual figure around a problem the Pentagon believes is still under-reported.

But the Defense Department said the sharp year-over-year increase for fiscal 2013 largely reflected steps to encourage more people to come forward if they've been assaulted.

And Pentagon leaders acknowledged they've still got a long way to go, and have put special emphasis on getting male victims to file claims.

"The best way to combat this crime is to prevent it," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said after his department released the latest figures in a report.

We'll have the latest on both issues on "Early Start."

What do you think can be done to change this culture of sexual violence?

MORE on CNN.com

December 19th, 2013
05:59 AM ET

Dennis Rodman Set for Third Trip to North Korea

Dennis Rodman's latest round of controversial "basketball diplomacy" in a country ruled by one of the world's most repressive regimes is about to begin.

The former NBA star and a documentary crew are due to fly Thursday afternoon from China to North Korea, where he is to spend four days helping train a team of North Korean basketball players for a January exhibition in Pyongyang.

That January 8 exhibition - said to be against a yet-unannounced team of former NBA players - will celebrate the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whom Rodman has called a friend and a "very good guy" despite international condemnation of the country's human rights records.

Rodman's trip - sponsored by the UK-based online betting company Paddy Power - is the 52-year-old's third to North Korea.

Rodman said he struck a friendship with Kim, a basketball fan, during Rodman's first trip in February. After the two men sat next to each other watching a basketball exhibition in North Korea's capital, Rodman told Kim that "you have a friend for life."

Rory Scott, a Paddy Power spokesman, said earlier this month that December's trip is nonpolitical, but is intended "to prove once again that sport has the power to rise above all issues."

It's not clear whether Rodman will meet with Kim during the basketball training visit.

The trip comes at a time of political turmoil in the secretive nuclear-armed nation, ongoing tensions between North Korea and the United States and outcries over North Korea's human rights record.

Tensions in the region were ratcheted up as North Korea carried out a long-range rocket launch a year ago and an underground nuclear test, its third so far, in February. The U.N. sanctions that followed were met by a barrage of threatening rhetoric from Pyongyang.

Rodman was criticized over his first trip in part because it came during this period, in which North Korea was threatening missile strikes on the United States, South Korea and Japan.

The situation has calmed since. But in a sign of internal political upheaval, North Korea announced last week that the regime hadexecuted Kim's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who had been regarded as the country's second-most powerful figure. North Korea's official news agency accused him of trying to overthrow the state.

Rodman is "really important" to the North Korean regime, said North Korea expert and Forbes.com columnist Gordon Chang.

"Got to remember that Kim Jong Un needs to show that his regime, his government, is united, which it isn't," said Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World."

"With Dennis Rodman, we're going to see a lot of made-for-television events. Everybody's going to be smiling, everything will appear normal, and this will bolster the regime," Chang told CNN Newsroom on Wednesday.

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December 18th, 2013
11:28 AM ET

Numbers Announced for $636 Million Mega Millions Jackpot

This holiday season just got a lot merrier for at least two insanely lucky people.

Two tickets matched the winning numbers in Tuesday night's $636 million Mega Millions jackpot - splitting the second-largest prize in U.S. history, CNN's Alison Kosik reports.

One winning ticket was sold in Atlanta, and the other was sold in San Jose, California, lottery officials said.

The winning numbers were 8, 14, 17, 20 and 39, with a Megaball of 7. Twenty ticket holders will win $1 million after matching all the numbers except the Megaball.

Strong sales boosted the jackpot to $636 million from the previous estimate of $586 million, lottery officials announced late Tuesday morning.

That's tantalizingly close to the U.S. record - a $656 million Mega Millions jackpot split by three winning tickets in March 2012.

This jackpot was so large in part because Mega Millions became tougher to win. The prize rises with each miss, and no one had won it since organizers increased the pool of numbers to choose from - making astronomical odds even longer - in October.

The winning tickets were sold at Jenny's Gift Shop in a San Jose strip mall and a Gateway Newstand in the lobby of an office building near Atlanta's Buckhead area, lottery officials said.

In Florida, $8,000 worth of tickets were sold every minute from 9 to 10 a.m. Tuesday, CNN affiliate WFTS reported, citing lottery officials. Mega Millions tickets go for $1 each, though buyers choose to pay an additional $1 for the Megaplier option, which could multiply lesser, non-jackpot winning prizes.

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Filed under: Mega Millions