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December 8th, 2008
01:54 PM ET

Tracking deadly viruses spread from animals to humans

Program Note: CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril returns this year to examine the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Lisa Ling travel to the front lines of this worldwide battle.
Watch Planet In Peril: Battle Lines Thursday 9p ET

We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.
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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/africa/12/08/pip.zoonotics/art.monkeypox.cnn.jpg caption="Coy contracted monkeypox through contact with bush meat. She'll be quarantined for weeks - there's no cure."]

Anderson Cooper

The animals are gone.

Deep in a remote region of Cameroon, we are following two hunters looking for bush meat - forest animals they can kill to feed their families. They've spent hours in the forest already, but all the traps they've set are empty. They will have to push deeper into the forest and they may be hunting for days.

Last year, rising food prices touched off riots around the world, killing dozens of people. Unable to afford basic supplies, communities in Central Africa are increasingly turning to the forests for food. In doing so, hunters expose themselves to hidden dangers – microscopic pathogens living in the blood of forest animals.

Most of the viruses are harmless, but some are potentially deadly when passed to humans. Scientists point out there's nothing new about these viruses. What is new is the frequency of people's contact with them and how easily they can now be spread around the world.

World-renowned epidemiologist Dr. Nathan Wolfe is following the hunters.

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Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Planet in Peril
December 8th, 2008
12:43 PM ET

Ex-Blackwater guards charged with manslaughter

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/CRIME/12/08/iraq.blackwater.indictment/art.dustin.heard.blkwtr.cnn.jpg caption="Dustin Heard, an ex-security guard from Blackwater Worldwide, surrenders Monday in Salt Lake City, Utah."]

Five former security guards from Blackwater Worldwide have been indicted on charges of voluntary manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter, and weapons violations, Justice Department officials announced Monday.

The 35-count indictment charges each of the former guards with 14 counts of manslaughter, 20 counts of attempted manslaughter, and one count of using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime.

If convicted, the defendants would face a maximum of 10 years in prison for each manslaughter count, seven years in prison for each count of attempted manslaughter, and a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence for the firearms charge.

A sixth former security guard - Jeremy P. Ridgeway of California, 35 - has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and attempt to commit manslaughter.

The charges stem from a September 16, 2007, shooting incident in a Baghdad square in which 17 Iraqis were killed, Justice Department officials announced Monday.

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Filed under: Iraq • Justice Department • T1
December 8th, 2008
12:20 PM ET

EU to launch first anti-piracy operation

Hunting Pirates: A NATO warship on anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden.
Hunting Pirates: A NATO warship on anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden.

The European Union will launch its first naval operation Tuesday, protecting vessels from pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia, EU policy chief Javier Solana announced Monday.

EU foreign ministers approved the mission during their regular meeting in Brussels on Monday. Solana said the operation is "very important" because EU vessels will be operating "in a place in the world that everybody's looking at because of the new problems related to piracy."

"It's very important that we have taken that decision to launch it tomorrow," he added.

The EU naval force will take over the role of escorting United Nations World Food Program vessels carrying food and relief supplies to war-torn Somalia, an EU news release said.

Its mandate, which is spelled out in several U.N. Security Council resolutions, also will include "the protection of vulnerable vessels cruising off the Somali coast, and the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast," the news release stated.

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Filed under: Pirates
December 8th, 2008
12:02 PM ET

What unites James Bond and dead monkeys

Program Note: CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril returns this year to examine the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Lisa Ling travel to the front lines of this worldwide battle.
Watch Planet In Peril: Battle Lines Thursday 9p ET

We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.
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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/08/art.pip.natureconservatory.jpg caption="A boy in the Upper Guinean Rainforest in coastal West Africa prepares to cook a small monkey."]
Editor's Note: M. Sanjayan is a lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that seeks to preserve species by "protecting the land and waters they need to survive."

M. Sanjayan
The Nature Conservancy

I am watching a 10-year-old boy carefully burn the fur off a dead monkey. And I'm learning again why nature is the ultimate safety net for the world's rural poor, about one sixth of the world's population.

I'm in a little village sunk into the rain forests of Sierra Leone, West Africa, amidst a landscape pitted with the scars of a horrific civil war. The monkey is a white-nosed guenon, a relatively common crop-raiding monkey in these parts.

It will soon be food. Every bit from nose to tail will be thrown into a pot, along with some meager vegetables and a few drops of palm oil, to create a stew yielding about two spoons of meat protein per person, gauging from the small crush watching the boy's delicate handiwork. It's a small monkey in a big pot.

And it's not an uncommon sight. Spend time observing the daily rituals of rural village life in a developing country, and you will be impressed by the magnitude and diversity of services people derive from their immediate surroundings - otherwise known as nature.

From food to fresh water, fiber to wood for fuel, animal fodder to fruits and nuts, and even soil fertility - all are given freely by nature, and all are nearly always taken for granted.

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December 8th, 2008
11:58 AM ET

Greece rocked by third day of riots

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/europe/12/08/greece.riots/art.alexandros.grigoropoulos.ap.jpg caption="An undated photo of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, whose death has sparked riots across Greece."]

Violent clashes between police and protesters erupted for a third day in Greece Monday as anger over the fatal police shooting of a teenager continued to rage through major cities.

Riot police fired tear gas at youths attacking shops and a police station in the port city of Thessaloniki, The Associated Press reported.

Running battles also broke out in Veria, a town 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of Thessaloniki, while violence was reported in the central city of Trikala, AP said.

Major protests were expected later in five Greek cities, including Athens, Thessaloniki, Larissa, another central city, and on the island of Corfu.

There were scenes of destruction across the Greek capital after police apologies and the arrest of two officers in connection with the shooting failed to halt unrest on Sunday.

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Filed under: Riots
December 8th, 2008
11:46 AM ET

Pakistan militant group builds web of Western recruits

Sebastian Rotella
Los Angeles Times

The Pakistani extremist group suspected in the Mumbai rampage remains a distant shadow for most Americans. But the threat is much nearer than it seems.

For years, Lashkar-e-Taiba has actively recruited Westerners, especially Britons and Americans, serving as a kind of farm team for Islamic militants who have gone on to execute attacks for Al Qaeda, a close ally. The Pakistani network makes its training camps accessible to English speakers, providing crucial skills to an increasingly young and Western-born generation of extremists.

Briton Aabid Khan was one of them. When British police arrested him at Manchester International Airport on his return from Pakistan in June 2006, they found a trove of terrorist propaganda and manuals on his laptop that the trial judge later described as "amongst the largest and most extensive ever discovered." The haul included maps and videos of potential targets in New York City and Washington.

One video, shot deep in Pakistani extremist turf, shows the then-21-year-old Khan with a grinning young man who says he's from Los Angeles - a mysterious figure in a case that apparently illustrates Lashkar's dangerous reach.

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Filed under: al Qaeda • India Attacked • Pakistan • Terrorism
December 8th, 2008
11:29 AM ET

Ex-Blackwater guards surrender in Utah

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/CRIME/12/08/iraq.blackwater.indictment/art.dustin.heard.blkwtr.cnn.jpg caption="Dustin Heard, an ex-security guard from Blackwater Worldwide, surrenders Monday in Salt Lake City, Utah. "]

Five former security guards from Blackwater Worldwide turned themselves in to federal authorities Monday in Salt Lake City, Utah, over charges stemming from the 2007 shootings in Baghdad that killed 17 Iraqis.

The Justice Department on Monday plans to charge the former guards with manslaughter and a weapons charge of using a machine gun while committing a crime of violence, a source with knowledge of the investigation said.

A sixth Blackwater guard tied to the incident has reached a plea deal with the government, a source said.

The Justice Department ordered the guards to surrender by Monday or face arrest. One of the guards is from Utah.

The sources said that defense attorneys decided to have all of them surrender in one location rather than in their home states or in Washington, where the federal grand jury handed up the charges last week.

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Filed under: Iraq • Justice Department
December 8th, 2008
10:48 AM ET

The Shot: Facing the music?

A computer user has a new twist on "facing the music."


Filed under: T1 • The Shot
December 8th, 2008
10:31 AM ET

Crime Blotter: Murders and video

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/10/art.crimeblotter.jpg]

Compiled by Gabriel Falcon
AC360 Writer

Welcome to the 360 Crime Blotter.

Some of the best crime writing comes from cops on the beat. But it’s not fiction. It’s fact, put down on paper in incident reports. We’re going to bring you their first-hand accounts. Taken from police department web sites, the official submissions run the gamut from mundane misdemeanors to the most serious of felonies. They all show what police officers across the country face 365 days a year. So let’s get started:

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16 arrested Wednesday in methamphetamine investigation

Law enforcement officers arrested 16 people Wednesday as the result of a two-year investigation into methamphetamine manufacturing rings.
Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have been investigating the two groups, which have also been involved in other criminal offenses, including burglary, assaults, forgery and homicide.

DPS Narcotics officers in Midland, as well as the Texas state troopers, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshal Service, the Odessa Police Department, the Midland Police Department, the Ector County Sheriff’s Department, the Ward County Sheriff’s Office and the Monahans Police Department served arrest warrants at numerous locations Wednesday. The Howard County Sheriff’s Office, the Midland County Sheriff’s Office and Kermit Police Department have also assisted in this investigation.

FULL POST


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
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