December 28th, 2012
11:05 PM ET

Congressional watchdog may cease to exist

The Office of Congressional Ethics investigates possible misdeeds by lawmakers, but it may not have the support to continue operating. CNN's Joe Johns reports.

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Filed under: Congress
December 28th, 2012
07:30 PM ET

Letters to the President #1439: 'Taking stock'

Reporter's Note: Each day since he took office, I have written to President Obama. He has been equally dedicated to acting like he never reads my letters, but I’m onto him…

Dear Mr. President,

So here we are with the year rapidly dying down again and what do we have to show for ourselves? Oh sure, you scored a big re-election victory and I dazzled the kids with some nifty parlor tricks, but often at this time I find myself asking: What lasting gains have I realized in the past twelve months?

Well, for starters I would say I am in overall pretty good health. My return to serious running has been good in virtually every way. I sleep better, feel more energetic, and have a resting heart rate of about 50 bpm. And if some sort of terrorist attack threatens my safety, I can run a flat fifty miles away without stopping. Not bad.

I don’t think I have picked up any new, bad habits. I probably work too hard and go to bed too late. I still enjoy too many sweets, but I don’t drink or smoke.

On the other hand, I have not picked up a lot of new, good habits either. My attempts at learning Spanish still consist largely of turning on CNN Espanol, squinting and saying “que?” I have produced almost no decent drawings or paintings, and my piano and guitar playing are weak to say the least. My attempts at violin, which have never risen above the level of pathetic, have now descended into the category of virtually criminal.

I’ll easily admit that I allowed my sense of humor to suffer a bit this past year, but I blame that on you…or rather on the economy that you keep saying is getting better. I have looked at the numbers. I know you are right. But I also know that the progress is excruciatingly slow, much slower than you predicted, and it’s hard to be jolly amid all that.

I think I need to focus more on my family in the coming year. The pressures of the job, of the election, of the NHL lockout (Ha! Kidding!) have all taken time away from the homefront, I fear. I’m going to do something about that in 2013. More family meals. More trips to the beach. More walking the dog. All good stuff.

And what about you? Yes, I realize that you are President, but we can all improve in some way. So what do you think you should make better in 2013? Think about it, and give me a call. If you’re short on ideas, I have some. Ha!


December 28th, 2012
01:41 AM ET

Cooper to Griffin: No nudity on NYE 2013

Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin are getting ready for their New Year's Eve show by looking back at a moment that will go down in Times Square history.

They return for their sixth year hosting the special coverage on Dec. 31 at 10 p.m. ET

Read more about this year's New Year's Eve show and tweet your messages, resolutions, and greetings using #cnnnye for a chance to see them on air.

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Filed under: Kathy Griffin • New Year's Eve 2013
December 28th, 2012
01:35 AM ET

Voice inside Syria detained

A Syrian activist, Zaidoun, was detained by secret police in Syria along with his younger brother, according to his family. He risked his safety many times to speak out on AC360° in order to expose the massacre in the country. Zaidoun also talked of the importance of justice and freedom. In one interview, he told Anderson Cooper,"This is our chance of life to get our freedom. We've been dreaming of this moment for the past 40 years."

Zaidoun's family created a Facebook page for supporters.

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Filed under: Syria
December 28th, 2012
01:27 AM ET

KTH: Arrest in Newtown charity scam case

Federal authorities arrested a 37-year-old Bronx woman on Thursday after she allegedly concocted a ruse in the wake of the Connecticut mass shooting and posed as a relative of one of the slain children.

Nouel Alba is accused of using her Facebook account to solicit money from those wanting to donate to victims' families, claiming that the money was to be used for a "funeral fund," according to a U.S. Justice Department statement.

The donors apparently transmitted the money to a PayPal account controlled by Alba, who later allegedly lied about the scam to federal investigators, prosecutors said.


December 28th, 2012
01:24 AM ET

CT Attorney General: Scam allegations are shocking

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen talks about the "despicable" crimes committed by scam artists who exploit tragedy.

One woman, Nouel Alba, was arrested by the FBI on charges of lying to federal agents investigating fraudulent fundraising. CNN had questioned Alba about emails soliciting donations for the funeral of a 6-year-old victim of the Newtown school shooting.

Jepsen is not prosecuting Alba, but she cold face additional charges. "If found in violation of Connecticut state law, she could be prosecuted criminally or civil law as well, but the federal government is after her," says Jepsen. "The full weight of that office is substantial."


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Filed under: Connecticut School Shooting • Crime
December 28th, 2012
01:15 AM ET

KTH: The making of the fiscal cliff problem

Keeping Them Honest, Democrats and Republicans vowed to work to get the fiscal house in order, but no progress has been made.

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Filed under: Congress • Economy • Fiscal Cliff • Keeping Them Honest • President Obama • Taxes
December 28th, 2012
01:14 AM ET

Berger: Do research before donating

In light of alleged scams to exploit the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the president of Charity Navigator, Ken Berger, talks about the crimes and offers advice to donors.

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Filed under: Connecticut School Shooting
December 28th, 2012
01:12 AM ET

Why both sides want to go over the cliff

Ross Douthat and Charles Blow discuss what's motivating Democrats and Republicans in the stalled fiscal cliff talks.

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Filed under: Congress • Economy • Fiscal Cliff • President Obama • Raw Politics • Taxes
December 28th, 2012
12:30 AM ET

Limo driver: Uber 'saved the day'

A service that connects limo drivers to passengers is changing transportation in some cities. CNN's Tom Foreman reports.

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Filed under: Technology