February 28th, 2014
10:04 AM ET

At Roast for Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Did Arizona Legislator Go Too Far?

A lawmaker's remarks at a roast for Sheriff Joe Arpaio made audience members chuckle and applaud. But critics of the controversial Arizona sheriff say they aren't laughing.

Comments made by state Rep. John Kavanagh, they say, were racist jokes that used Latinos as the punchline.

The tumult comes after the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that has criticized Arpaio in the past, posted audio recordings from the recent roast on its website.

"Sheriff Joe is the kind of guy that you gotta love, as long as you have papers," Kavanagh quips in the recording.

"Going out with Joe is always an adventure," he continues, "because usually when we walk into a restaurant, most of the waitstaff and cooks dive out the back window, and when they don't, I never know what the hell's in my food."

It's comments like that, the law center claims, that show why conservatives have a hard time connecting with Latinos. "There is a fundamental lack of respect," the center said.

Kavanagh declined CNN's interview request. But in a written statement, he called the Southern Poverty Law Center's post a personal attack.

"The jokes I made at the Sheriff Joe Arpaio Roast, at his invitation, were satirical comedy. The jokes were not directed at minority group members but at the target of the roast - Sheriff Arpaio. The jokes were jabs against the sheriff based upon allegations of his department's engaging in racial profiling," Kavanagh said.

"The Southern Poverty Law Center edited out selected portions of a much longer roast on many topics not related to racial profiling. The humor was typical of roasts and had I made the same jokes against Sheriff Arpaio at their annual dinner, I suspect that they would have been laughing as much as this audience laughed. Likewise, had these jokes been made on a TV comedy or variety show, there would also be no controversy."

Kavanagh, a Republican, was a major supporter of Arizona's just-vetoed religious freedom bill and also supported its 2010 law cracking down on illegal immigration.

The clip posted online included about six minutes excerpted from remarks that lasted around 20 minutes at the roast. In his roast, Kavanagh also joked about Arpaio's age and other topics, including singer Justin Bieber's legal problems.

Arpaio, who calls himself America's toughest sheriff, told CNN there's no basis for allegations that Kavanagh is racist.

"It was a roast. John Kavanagh's my friend. I support him. He's not a racist. He's very funny," Arpaio said. "So, he made these comments, I can't speak whether he went too far."

The sheriff accused people criticizing the roast of having a double standard.

"Everybody's talking about him. What about all the activists and the civil rights (groups) that called me Nazi and Hitler? For four years, they've been doing that, on street corners and everywhere else," he said. "Why isn't there an uproar about going after me, calling me every name in the book? Why are they worried about just some roast?"

Last year, a federal court in Phoenix ruled that Arpaio's handling of people of Latino descent was not tough enforcement of immigration laws but instead amounted to racial and ethnic profiling. The judge later ordered a federal monitor to keep tabs on Arpaio's office and make sure officers weren't racially profiling anymore.

The monitor was also a subject of jokes during Kavanagh's roast.

"It's OK. I'm not the federal monitor," he said. "How many Hispanics did you pull over on the way over here, Arpaio, huh?"

Arpaio's tough, headline-grabbing punishments have earned him diehard supporters and fiery opponents.

He's issued pink underwear to the men detained in the county's jails and said he is saving taxpayers money by removing salt and pepper from prison meals.

In January, Arpaio said inmates who allegedly defaced American flags placed in their jail cells would be punished with a diet of bread and water.

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February 24th, 2014
01:51 PM ET

Man Dies, Dozens Hospitalized after Carbon Monoxide Leak at New York Mall

A restaurant manager died and one of his employees remained hospitalized after inhaling carbon monoxide at a Long Island mall, authorities said Sunday.

Another 26 people were treated and released after the incident, according to hospitals.

Police and emergency crews rushed to Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station, New York, on Saturday night after reports that a woman had collapsed in the basement of Legal Sea Foods. Once they arrived, they felt dizzy as well and determined that the cause was carbon monoxide poisoning, said police in Suffolk County, New York.

"Police evacuated the restaurant and found the manager, Steven Nelson, 55, of Copiague, unconscious in the basement," a statement said. "He was transported to Huntington Hospital where he was pronounced dead."

A sign on the restaurant's door Sunday said the building has been condemned as being unsafe and unfit for human habitation.

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February 3rd, 2014
10:00 AM ET

Report: Hotels Company Apparently Hacked

White Lodging - a company that maintains Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton and Westin hotel franchises - has apparently suffered a data breach that exposed guests' credit and debit card information in 2013, independent security researcher Brian Krebs said.

Banking industry sources noticed fraud among hundreds of cards that had been previously used at Marriott hotels, wrote Krebs, who first reported that Target had suffered a massive data breach around Black Friday last year.

"But those same sources said they were puzzled by the pattern of fraud, because it was seen only at specific Marriott hotels, including locations in Austin, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Louisville and Tampa," Krebs wrote.

"Turns out, the common thread among all of those Marriott locations is that they are managed" by White Lodging, he said.

White Lodging, which is based in Merrillville, Indiana, issued a statement Sunday night in response to the findings.

"An investigation is in progress, and we will provide meaningful information as soon as it becomes available," White Lodging said in a statement.

Marriott said it will continue to monitor the situation.

"We are working closely with the franchise management company as they investigate the matter," spokesman Jeff Flaherty said. "Because the suspected breach did not impact any systems that Marriott owns or controls, we do not have additional information to provide."

White Lodging is just the latest American business to investigate a security breach.

The hacking of Target's systems could be the largest breach in U.S. retail history. It affected up to 110 million customers, including 40 million credit and debit cards and up to 70 million customers' personal information.

The retailer discovered the breach in mid-December, notified customers several days later, and launched an investigation with the help of a private security firm and law enforcement.

Since Target's disclosure, high-end retailer Neiman Marcus announced over 1 million customer cards were compromised in a breach last summer.

And last month, crafts retailer Michaels said its systems may have been breached.

It isn't immediately clear if these possible attacks are related. Security experts have warned it is likely other companies were targeted by the hackers who hit Target.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke about a federal investigation at a Senate hearing last week.

"We are committed to working to find not only the perpetrators of these sorts of data breaches, but also any individuals and groups who exploit that data via credit card fraud," Holder said.

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October 15th, 2013
07:15 AM ET

Boy Drowns In Cruise Ship Pool

A 6-year-old central Florida boy drowned in a pool on a Carnival Cruise ship over the weekend after hasty efforts to resuscitate him failed, the cruise line said Monday.

The boy, of Winter Garden just outside of Orlando, was spotted underwater in a mid-ship pool by passengers Sunday, according to a police report and one witness account.

It occurred when the ship, the Carnival Victory, was returning from its last leg of a four-day Caribbean cruise, CNN's John Berman reports.

Passenger Deshaun Christian, 23, who witnessed the rescue, told CNN iReport that the incident caught people, enjoying music and dancing, off-guard.

Christian said a DJ discovered the boy struggling in the water and immediately stopped the music. A guest then jumped into the pool with his clothes on and pulled the boy out, followed by a crew member who unsuccessfully tried to revive the boy, Christian said. The boy was pronounced dead shortly after.

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