OBAMA . . .THIS JUST IN.


CNN

EXCLUSIVE: President Barack Obama told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday that some of the country’s largest corporations have signed on to a White House plan to boost the hiring of the long-term unemployed. The President will make a formal announcement on Friday.

“What we have done is to gather together 300 companies, just to start with, including some of the top 50 companies in the country, companies like Walmart, and Apple, Ford and others, to say: Let’s establish best practices,” Obama said in the exclusive interview, which will air on CNN over the next two days.

Obama’s move is in line with his pledge to use executive action on his agenda items that he hasn’t been able to get through Congress. The President announced on Tuesday that he was boosting the minimum wage for employees of federal government contractors through executive action.

Tapper’s interview airs on CNN’s “New Day” at 6 a.m. ET on Friday and will run in full on “The Lead with Jake Tapper” at 4 p.m. on Friday.

Get complete coverage of breaking news on CNN TV, CNN.com and CNN Mobile.

Sochi Workers Faced Rampant Abuses Building Olympic Sites


World

The Sochi Olympics are the most expensive in history with an estimated $50 billion price tag, as cost overruns and corruption have driven the cost to record levels. Human rights activists say workers who built the Olympic sites have paid a high price in the form of delayed wages, dire working conditions and in some cases violent abuse.

Human Rights Watch has documented widespread abuses at Olympic construction sites since 2009.  Workers who built the massive Sochi Olympic sites over the past six years have found their wages delayed or unpaid, according to interviews conducted with dozens of migrant workers.

Inspections in December 2013 of more than 500 companies developing the Sochi sites revealed that several failed to pay their employees a total of 277 million rubles (US$8.34 million), said Deputy Prime MinisterDmitry Kozak, in charge of the government’s Olympic preparations.

Russian authorities vowed that these employers would pay back…

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New NYC Mayor Drops Stop-and-Frisk Appeal


U.S.

New York City said Thursday it would drop its appeal of a court ruling that it reform the police’s controversial stop-and-frisk program, potentially ending a protracted legal and political battle that divided the city.

A judge ruled last year that the New York Police Department was discriminating against blacks and Hispanics in the way it implemented its stop-and-frisk strategy, in which officers stop people on the street, question them and sometimes frisk them. Then-mayor Michael Bloomberg appealed, crediting stop-and-frisk with the city’s historic declines in crime.

Newly-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio, who made opposition to the tactic a centerpiece of his campaign, is now seeking to drop the appeal, the Associated Press reports. His new police commissioner, Bill Bratton, has also promised to better collaborate with communities that have complained about abuse of stop-and-frisk.

But the legal battle isn’t quite over. Police unions are seeking to intervene and carry out…

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New York Police Bust Super Bowl Prostitution Ring


U.S.

New York police say they have arrested 18 operators of a high-end drug trafficking and prostitution ring planning to deliver “party packs” of cocaine and prostitutes during Super Bowl weekend. The suspects are charged with conspiracy, narcotics sales, promoting prostitution and money laundering among other crimes, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Thursday.

The arrests came after a nearly year-long undercover investigation of a crime ring that police say was laundering its money through a clothing wholesaler, a wig wholesaler, a limousine service and a beauty supply wholesaler. The 11-month investigation involved physical and electronic surveillance.

Authorities estimate the operation made millions of dollars through high-end prostitutes and drug sales in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Long Island, and Queens, as well as several other states. The suspects allegedly made their money by supplying wealthy johns visiting from out-of-town with large quantities of cocaine brought by one prostitute (what was known as “the party…

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Prosecutors Seek Death Penalty for Boston Bombing Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev


U.S.

Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that they will seek the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty, but the decision to seek the death penalty is not surprising. “The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

The bombings occurred at the marathon finish line in April 2013, killing three people and wounding more than 260. Dzhokhar’s brother and alleged accomplice Tamerlan died during a police shootout following the search for suspects.

The brothers were Chechens from Russia who were living in the Boston area. Prosecutors allege that the two planted the bombs as retaliation against U.S. military action against Muslims.

A trial date has not been set yet.

(MORE: “Capturing the Real Face of Terror: Photographing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev”)

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Son of the Year Award Goes to This Guy Who Surprised His Mom With Super Bowl Tickets


NewsFeed

Vicki Harris has been a Seattle Seahawks fan for nearly three decades and, thanks to her son, is going to the Super Bowl this year.

In a lengthy description on YouTube, Mike Harris, 29, talks about how his family has been proud season ticket holders. The moment he saw prices dropping for Sunday’s big game, Harris and his father bought them for his mom and had them sent to his house. When she came over to visit, the package arrived, and she started weeping tears of joy. “I’m excited to go see the game, but there was nothing more meaningful than to see my mom’s reaction that I’ve shared in the video,” Harris said.

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What the Guilty Verdict Means for Amanda Knox


World

A court in Italy has found Amanda Knox guilty of murdering British student Meredith Kercher in the Italian city of Perugia in 2007. The court also found her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito guilty.

The decision came after 11 hours of deliberation by judges. Knox has been sentenced to 28 years in prison.

The decision comes more than two years after Knox, a Seattle native who was studying abroad in Italy when the murder happened, and Sollecito were acquitted on appeal by another Italian court. Knox and Sollecito spent four years in jail following their arrests. Knox now lives in Seattle. She had declined to attend the trial, but said in an interview with Italian state TV earlier this month that she would be waiting for the decision at her mother’s house, “with my heart in my throat.” After the verdict Thursday, she said in a statement “frightened and saddened.”

“This…

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“My Sweet Lord,” Concert For George (High Quality)


Happy New Year to Our Chinese Friends!


Chinese-New-Year-2014-Horse-7

“An ‘All In’ Guide to Christie’s troubles”


MSNBC

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