May 19th, 2011
09:45 PM ET

Ex-IMF chief indicted, granted bail: Join the Live Chat

Tonight on AC360°, famed criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos and CNN Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin join Anderson for a discussion of the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The ex-IMF chief is accused of sexually assaulting a New York City hotel maid.

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
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Filed under: Live Blog
Ex-IMF chief granted bail amid sexual assault allegations
May 19th, 2011
07:20 PM ET

Ex-IMF chief granted bail amid sexual assault allegations

New York (CNN) - Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was granted bail Thursday after being indicted on charges related to the alleged assault of a maid in his New York hotel Saturday.

"It's a great relief to the family to be able to have him with them," defense attorney Bill Taylor said to reporters outside the courtroom. He said his client would spend Thursday night at the jail on Rikers Island before being released Friday. The next court appearance, an arraignment, is slated for June 6.

Supreme Court Judge Michael Obus granted the bail on the condition that Strauss-Kahn post $1 million in cash, that he also post a bond for $5 million, that he surrender his travel documents and that he submit to home detention.

The announcement came shortly after his indictment on seven criminal charges was announced. They are: two counts of criminal sexual act, two counts of sexual abuse, and one count each of attempt to commit rape, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching.

In the charge of criminal sexual act in the first degree, Strauss-Kahn is accused of having "engaged in oral sexual conduct with an individual ... by forcible compulsion," the indictment says.

"Under American law, these are extremely serious charges," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance told reporters outside the courtroom. "The defendant was indicted on all the charges presented to the grand jury," he said.

Strauss-Kahn resigned from his IMF post on Wednesday.

As he entered the courtroom for the bail hearing, he looked at his wife, seated in the front row, and smiled.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
May 19th, 2011
06:45 PM ET

Obama announces 'new chapter' in U.S. Mideast diplomacy

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama on Thursday placed the United States squarely on the side of democratic reform in the Middle East and North Africa, declaring in a major policy speech that the wave of change sweeping the region "cannot be denied."

Addressing a global audience, Obama condemned the use of force against Arab Spring protesters by longtime allies and adversaries alike. He also said the eruption of demands for greater opportunity in Arab nations could be used to kick-start stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

At the same time, Obama applied his own pressure by declaring as policy the long-held idea that a future Palestinian state should be based on borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war.

In the past, the United States has unofficially supported a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict based on the borders in place prior to the war 44 years ago in which Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula. Obama became the first president to formally endorse the policy, but he acknowledged the need for modifications through the negotiating process due to conditions on the ground.

Obama also dismissed the notion of al Qaeda-style extremism appealing to future generations of Muslims, asserting that the organization was "losing its struggle for relevance" long before the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2.

The president's speech - the subject of intense speculation in recent days - was a long-promised overview of America's changing Middle East policy in the wake of the Arab Spring that started unfolding in Tunisia last December.

In recent months, Washington has often appeared to struggle to keep up with the pace of events not only in Tunisia, but also in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and elsewhere.

Administration officials have also wrestled with an Arab suspicion of U.S. motives fueled by decades of American support for the region's autocratic regimes.

May 19th, 2011
06:40 PM ET

Arnold Schwarzenegger puts movie comeback on hold

Los Angeles (CNN) - Arnold Schwarzenegger has placed his movie comeback on hold "until further notice" while the former California governor focuses "on personal matters," his lawyer said Thursday.

The announcement comes two days after the revelation that Schwarzenegger fathered a child with his former housekeeper.

"At the request of Arnold Schwarzenegger we asked Creative Artists Agency to inform all his motion picture projects currently under way or being negotiated to stop planning until further notice," entertainment attorney Patrick Knapp said in a written statement.

Schwarzenegger had been scheduled to start production in August on his first movie since leaving the governor's office in January.

"Governor Schwarzenegger is focusing on personal matters and is not willing to commit to any production schedules or timelines," Knapp said. "This includes Cry Macho, the Terminator franchise and other projects under consideration."

Schwarzenegger, who was once one of Hollywood's highest paid actors, appeared on his way to renewing a film career that was interrupted by his political career. The comeback plans will resume "when Governor Schwarzenegger decides," Knapp said.

His son by his former housekeeper is "a wonderful, very respectful, very intelligent young man," according to a neighbor who said she often spoke to him.

"He's very well centered and he's just not your everyday kid," said Marty Steelman, who lives next door to the Bakersfield, California, home that the boy and his mother moved into last summer.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
Beat 360° 5/19/11
(L to R) Sammi "Sweetheart" Gianicola, Deena Nicole Cortese, Ronnie Ortiz Magro, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, Paul "Pauly D" DelVecchio, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, Jenny "JWoww" Farley and Vinny Guadagnino attend a "Jersey Shore" photocall at Hotel Brunelleschi on May 19, 2011 in Florence, Italy. (Photo credit: Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images)
May 19th, 2011
06:07 PM ET

Beat 360° 5/19/11

Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite!

Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360°
May 19th, 2011
01:45 PM ET

Obama to al-Assad: Embrace democracy or 'get out of the way'

(CNN) - President Barack Obama's new blueprint for change in the Middle East slammed the Syrian government for "murder and mass arrests" and sent a blunt message to President Bashar al-Assad to get with democratic change.

In a wide-ranging speech about Middle East policy on Thursday, Obama touched on the fierce Syrian crackdown against the street demonstrations that have rippled across the country since mid-March.

Obama told an audience at the State Department that Syrians have displayed "courage in demanding a transition to democracy" but the regime "has chosen the path of murder and the mass arrests of its citizens."

"President Assad now has a choice: He can lead that transition, or get out of the way. The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests; release political prisoners and stop unjust arrests; allow human rights monitors to have access to cities like Daraa; and start a serious dialogue to advance a democratic transition. Otherwise, President Assad and his regime will continue to be challenged from within and isolated abroad," he said.

He also said that Syria has sought help from Iran "in the tactics of suppression."

"This speaks to the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime, which says it stand for the rights of protesters abroad, yet suppresses its people at home. Let us remember that the first peaceful protests were in the streets of Tehran."

Obama's speech was aired on Syrian state television.

On Wednesday, Obama imposed new sanctions against al-Assad and those around him, and earlier Thursday, Syria denounced the move, state TV reported.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Middle East
Report: Deadliest U.S. mining disaster in 40 years was due to failure of basic coal mine safety practices
At a memorial service in April 2010, the president and vice president paid their respects to the 29 men killed when an explosion ripped through the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. (Photo credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)
May 19th, 2011
11:05 AM ET

Report: Deadliest U.S. mining disaster in 40 years was due to failure of basic coal mine safety practices

(CNN) - A "perfect storm was brewing" in the Upper Big Branch coal mine in the weeks and days before a fireball tore through it on April 5, 2010, killing 29 miners and injuring one severely, according to a just-released report by the Governor's Independent Investigation Panel. The report describes in vivid detail the conditions at Upper Big Branch before, during and after the deadliest U.S. mine disaster in 40 years, and concludes the explosion was preventable and resulted from “failures in safety systems” at the mine in southern West Virginia.

The findings are based on physical examinations of the mine; regulatory records; the mine’s internal records; and more than 300 interviews with current and former mine employees, family members of miners, and state and federal mine regulators. One thing you won’t find in the 120-page report: testimony from the top people in charge of the mine; they invoked their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and refused to cooperate with investigators.

(Read the full report here: http://www.nttc.edu/ubb.)

Among the key findings: The Upper Big Branch mine lacked adequate ventilation; water sprays on equipment were not properly maintained and failed to function as they should have; and the mining company didn’t meet federal and state safety standards for the application of rock dust, a crucial tool in keeping highly explosive coal dust inert. FULL POST

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Filed under: 360º Follow • Mine Blast
May 19th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #850 'Over the falls'

Reporter's Note: President Obama is about to launch another great big Middle East speech. So I’m launching another letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

So you’re going to go wading above the treacherous Middle East falls again, are you? My, my, my. I don’t know what it is about that particular spot, but it draws presidents to it like a bug zapper draws mosquitoes. With roughly the same effect, I might add.

Perhaps you recall the last time you made a big speech about how we were going to improve relations with everyone over there. We were going to forge new friendships, strengthen old alliances, bring milkshakes to the desert; and it didn’t exactly work out that way. In fact, although a lot of things are happening on that part of the globe, it seems like most of that is despite everything we’ve tried, not because of it.

May 19th, 2011
08:45 AM ET

Video: Rough start for Gingrich campaign

Editor's note: CNN's Joe Johns reports on why some Republicans are livid at Newt Gingrich - so angry his candidacy may be in danger.

Related: Democrats highlight Gingrich controversy to GOP stance on Medicare

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
May 19th, 2011
01:30 AM ET

The Connection: Site aims to kick-start projects

Editor's note: CNN's Deborah Feyerick reports on Kickstarter.com, a site that helps artists connect with financial backers.

Filed under: The Connection
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