Program Note: Tune in for more on the story tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/05/09/seattle.mystery.death/art.jill2.stonge.family.jpg caption="Jill St. Onge died while vacationing with her fiance at a Thailand resort. "]
What started as a romantic Southeast Asia vacation for a Seattle couple ended with Ryan Kells preparing Friday to return from Bangkok carrying the ashes of his fiancee to give to her family in California.
"It's such a shock," Robert St. Onge told CNN about the death of his sister, Jill, who had been traveling with the man she planned to marry. "There was no way to hear last words or even see her because she has already been cremated."
The couple had been visiting Thailand at the end of a three-month journey during which the two had become engaged.
On April 26 in her online journal, the 27-year-old woman described the surroundings near where the Leonardo Dicaprio movie, "The Beach," was filmed.
Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear the latest on Carrie Prejean on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/05/11/ent.miss.california.usa/art.miss.calif.cnn.jpg caption="Miss California USA Carrie Prejean may lose her crown, a decision to be made by pageant owner Donald Trump."]
The Miss California USA controversy is playing out like one of Donald Trump's highly rated reality shows, with viewers waiting to hear whether he'll utter his famous phrase, "You're fired!"
While California pageant officials appointed Carrie Prejean's runner-up to temporarily take over her public duties, Trump, who owns the Miss Universe pageant, is set to announce Tuesday the final decision on whether Prejean will lose her crown for breaching her pageant contract.
The state organization's officials - who appear eager to say farewell to Prejean - have sent their recommendation to Trump for his consideration, Miss California USA Co-executive Director Keith Lewis said.
With or without a beauty queen title, Prejean said Monday, the controversy "has given me such a bigger platform" to talk about her beliefs.
The controversy began when Prejean, 21, declared her opposition to same-sex marriage in a response to a question during the national pageant stage last month. She finished as runner-up to Miss USA.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/05/10/stamp.prices/art.post.office.gi.jpg caption="The Postal Service said the price increases were needed because of rising production costs."]
CNN Financial News Producer
President Barack Obama says he has secured the commitment of several industry groups to do their part to rein in the growth in health care costs.
This pledge from the private sector could reduce the growth in health care spending by 1.5 percentage points a year, for a savings of $2 trillion over 10 years.
Overall, it could amount to a 20% reduction in the growth of health care spending. Six trade associations representing unions, hospitals, insurers and the drug industry have signed on to the commitment.
However, the savings depend in part on Congress passing health care reform this year.
GM may shuffle board
Another shakeup is reportedly in the works at General Motors.
The Wall Street Journal says the automaker has hired an executive search firm to help it find replacements for at least half of its 12 directors.
Since the government could end up with a controlling stake in a bankrupt or restructured GM, it’s expected to name some of the directors, as will the United Auto Workers Union. This move comes almost 2 months after the government ousted former GM CEO Rick Wagoner.
Separately, current GM CEO Fritz Henderson said today the automaker intends to keep its headquarters in Detroit, even though its U.S. operations are in far worse shape than some of its growing overseas units.
Henderson also repeated his earlier statements that he believes a bankruptcy filing is now “probable” as the company tries to reach agreements with creditors, the UAW and its dealership base to cut costs.
The company has been given until the end of the month by the Treasury Department to reach those agreements or file for bankruptcy.
Senate targets credit card rates and fees
Key negotiators in the Senate today reached a deal on legislation targeting credit card rates and fees.
The development could spur the bill to a Senate vote as early as this week, although the battle is far from over when it comes to reconciling the Senate’s bill with an earlier version that passed the House. President Obama said Saturday he'd like to have the bill on his desk by Memorial Day.
According to copies of the legislation distributed by lobbyists, the Senate's new bill is tougher than a similar bill passed in the House, and would, among other things, prevent those under 21 from getting a credit card unless they can prove they have an income stream to pay off debt or have their parent's signature. It would also ban gift card issuers from charging "dormancy fees" on cards redeemed too late.
USPS strives to survive
Finally, if the mail must go through, it's going to cost a little more. The United States Postal Service hiked the price of stamps today, as well as other delivery services.
But as the cash-strapped and debt-ridden agency fights for financial survival, it's considering much more drastic changes than adding 2-cents to the cost of a 42-cent stamp.
In testimony before the Postal Service's Board of Governors in January, Postmaster General John Potter said it "could become necessary to temporarily reduce mail delivery to only five days a week," from the current six-day service, which would effectively end Saturday delivery. The Postal Service estimates savings of $3.5 billion annually.
That’s significant, considering that in its most recent fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2008, the Postal Service reported a loss of $2.8 billion. And in the six months since then, losses accelerated to $2.3 billion.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/11/art.alqaeda.yemen.jpg caption="Al Qaeda training in Yemen."]
CNN Senior Middle East Affairs Editor
Eight independent newspapers were shut down last week by orders of the Yemeni Ministry of Information. Hundreds of people took to the streets in Sanaa and other major cities to protest the move, according to media reports. Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh accused the newspapers of “harming Yemen’s national unity.” In a televised statement, he said, “Some newspapers use exaggerated slogans under the pretext of democracy and shamelessly promote divisiveness.”
The move comes on the heels of recent news coverage about clashes in the south between security forces and farmers who claim they have been marginalized by the government. The south has been demanding its own Democratic Republic of Yemen since 1994. The separatist rhetoric has escalated in the past few months with groups and tribal leaders calling on the southern region to unify against the government of Ali Abdallah Saleh.
Before the newspaper closure, the US Embassy in Sanaa issued a statement expressing its “concern” over reports of “increasing incidences of political violence in southern regions of Yemen.” It stressed US support for a “unified Yemen” and called on “the Yemeni Government, the political parties, civil society organizations and all concerned citizens of Yemen to engage in dialogue to identify and address legitimate grievances.” The statement concluded with a recommendation for a peaceful resolution, “violence will not resolve these issues.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) expressed its alarm over the situation. "We are concerned about the ongoing ban on independent newspapers and call on the authorities to immediately end this censorship," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "Covering the ongoing conflict in the south is an essential journalistic function, and for authorities to ban this coverage is to criminalize journalism itself."
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Who says nobody likes former Vice President Dick Cheney? The ex-number two man in the White House left office with a 30 percent approval rating, but he still had quite a few fans waiting outside for him Sunday at CBS’ Washington, D.C. studios.
Cheney was a guest on CBS’ 'Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer,' where he continued to defend the Bush Administration’s use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. About a dozen people waited for him to come outside after his appearance.
Once Cheney exited the studios, he obliged one person in the crowd by signing a baseball. There’s no word on exactly why the fan wanted Cheney to sign a baseball.
If you remember, the former VP was booed loudly when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals’ home opener back in 2006.
After Cheney greeted the onlookers, he hurried back to his car but not before a CNN Radio producer could ask him why he is the one left to defend the Bush Administration. Cheney replied simply, “Because that’s what Vice Presidents do.”
Signing a baseball and defending the legacy of a Presidency; all in a day’s work for the now retired Dick Cheney.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/05/11/iraq.violence/art.camp.liberty.navy.jpg caption="U.S. Army troops get a safety briefing before departing Camp Liberty, Iraq, in December 2008."]
Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more on the shooting in Iraq on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
A U.S. service member in Baghdad opened fire on his fellow troops Monday, killing five people - including some U.S. service members - according to two senior defense officials.
The shooter is in custody, the officials said.
Three others were wounded in the incident which happened at 2 p.m. at the U.S. military base, Camp Liberty, in Baghdad, the officials said.
The U.S. military is not officially releasing details about the nationalities of the victims, or exactly how they died.
"The only thing we know at this time is five coalition force members were killed in the shooting," Maj. Jose Lopez, the senior press officer with Multi-National Forces Baghdad, said.