Congress gets (slow) applause for raising the debt ceiling
August 3rd, 2011
08:51 PM ET

Congress gets (slow) applause for raising the debt ceiling

It started with a proposal on Sunday from just another American waiting to see how Congress would handle raising of the nation's debt ceiling.

"When the debt deal goes through can we start a meme where we all make videos of ourselves slowly & sarcastically applauding our politicians?" software developer Chris Ashworth tweeted Sunday.

As sarcastic proposals are wont to do on Twitter, the notion caught on, and by Monday, Ashworth had the website, slowclapforcongress.com up and running with a message to Congress:

"For your leadership, your maturity, and your inspiring ability to perform the basic duties of your job, We applaud you.

Since then, 43 YouTube videos have been uploaded to the site, featuring, as promised, Americans clapping slowly, wearing expressions that range from dour to stern, disappointed, sad, even flinty at times.

The site has made Ashworth in a viral sensation, and he's quickly learning the ropes of instant stardom.

"Note to self: reporters are now actively reading (and quoting) my Twitter feed. Don't say stupid things."

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Filed under: Budget • Economy • Politics
'Police Academy' actor and NFL star Charles 'Bubba' Smith dies
August 3rd, 2011
06:41 PM ET

'Police Academy' actor and NFL star Charles 'Bubba' Smith dies

Former NFL star and movie actor Charles Aaron "Bubba" Smith has died, the Los Angeles Coroner's Chief of Forensic Examinations said.

Smith spent nine seasons in the NFL as a defensive end in the '60s and '70s. He's perhaps best known for his role as Moses Hightower in the "Police Academy" movies.

Police and fire officials were called to Smith's Baldwin Hils house after "he was found unresponsive," and pronounced him dead, said Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations and investigation for the coroner. The body will be taken to the coroner's office, where an autopsy will be performed to determine cause of death, Winter said.

SI.com: The NFL goes Hollywood

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Filed under: Showbiz
Yankees' A-Rod to be interviewed over illegal poker reports
August 3rd, 2011
06:04 PM ET

Yankees' A-Rod to be interviewed over illegal poker reports

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez will be interviewed in connection with reports that he participated in illegal poker games, an MLB spokesman said Wednesday.

"We take this very seriously and have been investigating this matter since the initial allegation. As part of the investigation, the Commissioner’s Office will interview Mr. Rodriguez," spokesman Patrick Courtney said.

The allegations, which were reported Thursday on RadarOnline.com, citing a Star magazine investigation, accuse Rodriguez of participating in at least two underground poker games. One allegedly was held in the Beverly Hills mansion of a record executive, where "cocaine was openly used" and a fight nearly broke out over a player refusing to pay more than $500,000, the report said.

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Filed under: Baseball • Sports
Overheard on CNN.com: We agree with China
China's leading credit rating agency Wednesday downgraded U.S. sovereign debt after putting it on negative watch last month
August 3rd, 2011
05:20 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: We agree with China

Comments of the day:

“I hate to admit it, but China is right on this one. Good thing they only downgraded us a notch.” – urwelcome

“Meanwhile, that credit agency has a sweatshop in the back, making American flags.” – AmericaIndia

China downgrades U.S. credit rating

China's leading credit rating agency Wednesday downgraded U.S. sovereign debt after putting it on negative watch last month. The Dagong Global Credit Rating Company, a privately held agency, lowered the United States to A+ last November and today announced a further downgrade to A , indicating heightened doubts over Washington's long-term ability to repay its debts. The Dagong chairman says he believes U.S. Democrats and Republicans were irresponsible and that "[The] downgrade simply reflects reality."

CNN.com readers weren’t happy about the news blaming both political parties for infighting and nearly failing to reach a deal on the debt ceiling. But some readers doubted the rating.

Guest said, “So . . . a privately held Chinese company downgraded the U.S. credit rating and now Chinese investors will be able to invest more at a cheaper price, thereby owning much more for their money than they already own? And having much more equity upon recovery? Please tell me that I am missing something here.”

InFormed99 said, “I guess China wanted their own financial 'mouthpiece' that they can control. No wonder they rated China first. China has it's own set of debt issues that will destabilize them, but they just don't talk about it.”

HOCKEYTlME said, “Why the hell are you all bashing China? I'm with them on this one. If any other country pulled what we did in the last couple of months, we would downgrade them too. That's just reality. We have spent irresponsibly over the last two decades and continue to do so. This self-complex of we're invincible and the world revolves around us has been doing nothing but dragging us down for the last decade.

McCainInFour responded, “China said it best: there's no more liquid market than the U.S. Federal Debt. And the Republicans want to make sure it is the largest, most stable debt market for a VERY long time (since there's no tax increase on the table). China has gotta LOVE the ‘new’ Republicans.”

stlrfan responded, “Yep can't blame this one on China. This one belongs solely to the lower/middle class Americans who voted for the TEA-Try Everything and Anything Party. Congrats TEA party. Your drumbeat for spending cuts just killed any chance of an economic recovery.”

Thomas2009 responded, “I agree with you HockeyTime, except I'd say our government has spent irresponsibly for a lot longer than two decades! At least since the late 1940s ... but it has gotten progressively worse.”

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Sexual assault cases raise concern at University of Michigan
Ann Arbor police released two composites based on victims' descriptions of their attackers.
August 3rd, 2011
03:56 PM ET

Sexual assault cases raise concern at University of Michigan

Parents and students of incoming freshman at the University of Michigan expressed concern this week in the wake of a series of sexual assaults near campus.

Six women were attacked within 11 days starting on July 15, said Lt. Angella Abrams of the Ann Arbor Police Department. In each incident, victims gave similar descriptions of their assailant, which yielded two composites.

In one incident on July 15, a woman reported that a man between 20 and 30 years old grabbed her as she spoke on her cell phone. The attacker - who she said had short, dark hair and olive skin - tried to drag her away, Ann Arbor police said. In another incident three days later, the victim said she was walking between two buildings on the edge of campus when a white man - about 20 years old and with dark hair and eyes - sexually assaulted her.

Though the number of perpetrators is unclear, police believe the incidents could be related but do not have any suspects in custody, Abrams said.

“There’s a common description,” Abrams said. “There’s a common M.O.  of what has occurred to the women. And we’re also talking an 11-day period (of) criminal sexual assaults on women that have a common theme. That is not something that occurs, generally. This is a very safe town. This is 11 days of sexual assaults of women. That is highly unusual. That has led us to believe that we have a predator or predators who is preying on women.”

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Filed under: Crime • Education
August 3rd, 2011
03:48 PM ET

UN condemns Syrian government crackdown on protesters

The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday condemned the Syrian government's crackdown on protesters. The council issued a presidential statement that condemns the widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities.

The announcement comes amid talks that began Monday in New York to address the crisis, and it would address what a White House spokesman is calling a "grotesque and appalling" situation.

It also comes as security forces brazenly advance into what residents there say is the heart of restive city of Hama, a center of discontent and bastion of anti-government protest where violent tensions have persisted for days.

U.N. Security Council prepares breakthrough statement on Syria
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Filed under: Syria • United Nations
Heat sickens children on basketball court
The temperature reached 102 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday in the St. Louis area.
August 3rd, 2011
03:07 PM ET

Heat sickens children on basketball court

Police responding to a call about four dead bodies on a Missouri basketball court found two adults and two children alive but suffering from exposure to the heat, CNN affiliate KSDK reported Tuesday.

Officers in Pine Lawn woke the adults, who said they were merely napping. But the two children, ages 3 and 4, were drenched in perspiration and urine and had steam rising from their bodies, KSDK reported.

The children were hospitalized. The woman, who is the children's mother, was arrested and may be charged with parental neglect, the station reported.

Pine Lawn is 10 miles northwest of St. Louis. The temperature in the area reached 102 degrees Tuesday, KSDK reported.

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Filed under: Heat • Missouri • St. Louis • Weather
August 3rd, 2011
02:26 PM ET

Woman survives 50-foot fall off wilderness cliff

Pamela Salant

A Oregon woman was in a Portland hospital Wednesday after falling 50 feet from a wilderness cliff, breaking her leg in two places and surviving more than three days on wild berries, caterpillars and creek water.

An Oregon National Guard helicopter pulled Pamela Salant, 28, to safety Tuesday afternoon, more than three days after she fell from the cliff after going on a hike in the Mount Hood National Forest, local media reported.

"She's beat up but she's alive, and she's going to be OK," Salant's boyfriend, Aric Essig, told CNN affiliate KATU-TV in Portland late Tuesday. "She had moments of being scared, but she said she had moments where she was just very determined. ... It was down to survival. She thought she was going to die."

The two had gone in separate directions around noon Saturday in search of a better campsite near Bear Lake, according to the TV station.

"I walked all around the lake expecting to meet up with her at some point, and I walked all the way back to the camp and just didn't see her," Essig told KATU. He called the sheriff's office after she hadn't showed up by Sunday morning.

Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler told KATU that searchers used two shoe prints found over the three days to determine the direction Salant traveled and narrowed their search from there.

A copter spotted her Tuesday afternoon sitting on a log near a creek. She had no camping equipment or survival gear with her when she got lost, deputies told CNN affilate KOIN-TV in Portland.

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Filed under: Hikers • Oregon
August 3rd, 2011
02:13 PM ET

Prosecution rests in Warren Jeffs' sex assault trial

The prosecution has rested its case in the sexual assault trial of polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs.

Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is charged with two counts of sexual assault on a child and one count of bigamy stemming from a 2008 raid on a ranch near Eldorado, Texas, operated by his church. He is expected to be tried on the bigamy charge later.


Filed under: Crime • Polygamy • Religion
Kitchen nuclear reactor a no-no. Who knew?
A man did nuclear experiments at home. “But they took all my stuff, so now I'm done," he said of authorities who checked on him.
August 3rd, 2011
01:46 PM ET

Kitchen nuclear reactor a no-no. Who knew?

Note to self: When building a nuclear reactor in the kitchen, don't ask nuclear regulatory authorities for advice.

A 31-year-old man in Angelholm, Sweden, was detained after police learned he was trying to build a device to split atoms in his apartment, the news site The Local reported. He was later released.

The man had mail-ordered radioactive waste from overseas and had procured some on his own by dismantling home smoke detectors, according to an interview in the local Helsingborgs Dagblad newspaper.

Just to be on the safe side, the man decided to write to the Swedish Radiation Authority to make sure his hobby was legal, he told Helsingborgs Dagblad. Authorities there told him they would send someone out to measure radiation levels in the kitchen.

"When they came, they had the police with them," he told the newspaper.

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Filed under: Crime • Energy • Nuclear • Sweden
August 3rd, 2011
11:47 AM ET

Feds bust child porn ring; 52 arrested

Seventy-two people have been charged in an on-line global child pornography ring, a federal law enforcement source said Wednesday. The official said 52 of those charged have been arrested.

The charges stem from an investigation launched in December 2009 that targeted more than 500 individuals around the world allegedly participating in Dreamboard, a private members-only on-line bulletin board operated to promote pedophilia and encourage sexual abuse of very young children, according to the Justice Department.

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Filed under: Crime
Eagles' player collapses from seizure
The Eagles say defensive tackle Mike Patterson suffered a seizure.
August 3rd, 2011
11:39 AM ET

Eagles' player collapses from seizure

Philadelphia Eagles player Mike Patterson collapsed from a seizure on the practice field Wednesday, the Philadelphia Eagles said.

"Patterson  was taken to Lehigh Valley  Hospital where he is being  tested to see why he experienced the seizure. Patterson has had no complications  from the seizure," the football team said on its website.

It is unknown whether the incident is heat-related, but it comes at a time when many states are dealing with sweltering temperatures and a few high school football players have died after falling ill with heat-related symptoms at practice.

The temperature was about 80 degrees during the Eagles' morning practice.

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Filed under: Football • Pro football
Gotta Watch: Cops' near-misses
An officer has to leap for his life in order to avoid being hit by a car.
August 3rd, 2011
11:37 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Cops' near-misses

Police officers have extremely dangerous jobs. But the trouble they face goes beyond suspect shootouts, hostage situations and common criminal mischief. Sometimes hitting the streets means facing crazy car challenges. You’ve gotta watch these officers' near-misses with vehicles, all of which were caught on tape. Luckily, these riveting, can’t-look-away-from videos ended with no serious injuries.
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Filed under: Crime • Gotta Watch
August 3rd, 2011
11:24 AM ET

Girl's hair-raising kidnap tale a hoax, police say

A 10-year-old girl in Hanover, Germany, told neighbors and police that a scissors-wielding man had tried to kidnap her and cut off her hair Tuesday, but that wasn't quite true.

In fact, it wasn't true at all, the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper reported.

After police spent several hours searching the girl's neighborhood for the perpetrator and guarding her house against his return, the girl admitted she had made the whole thing up.

The real story, the paper reported, was that the girl and her younger brother had found a pair of scissors in their basement and haphazardly cut off each other's hair. Realizing their parents would be upset, she told the kidnap story to a neighbor, who called police.

However, the police became skeptical when the girl's story changed after a couple of hours. She at first said the man had entered the house and confronted her; she later said she had run into him outside, and he followed her into the house, intent on stealing her hair.

The newspaper didn't say whether the girl would face any punishment from police - or her parents.

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Filed under: Crime • Germany • Hoax • Home invasion
Lost Hitchcock film found in New Zealand
The discovery of the 1923 film "The White Shadow" with Betty Compson offers scholars a chance to see early Alfred Hitchock.
August 3rd, 2011
11:15 AM ET

Lost Hitchcock film found in New Zealand

Researchers combing through a New Zealand film vault have found a lost work of legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock.

The film, titled "The White Shadow," was made in 1923 and released in 1924. It may be the earliest known work of Hitchcock, according to the National Film Preservation Foundation, which will help restore the movie along with the New Zealand Film Archive, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art and UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Only three reels of the six-reel film are known to have survived, according to the New Zealand Film Archive.

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Filed under: Movies • New Zealand • Showbiz
Eruption lights up sun's surface
The circled bright spot on the sun spewed X-rays and other interesting stuff toward Earth, observers say.
August 3rd, 2011
10:29 AM ET

Eruption lights up sun's surface

A spot on the face of the sun cut loose with an impressive eruption Tuesday, but observers don't think it will amount to much on Earth.

Tuesday's coronal mass ejection spewed tons of gas and radioactive material into space in the general direction of Earth. (You can watch a video of it here.) The solar material is expected to reach Earth sometime Friday, when it may trigger spectacular polar light shows, said Dr. Tony Phillips of Spaceweather.com. Ejections of this size can also cause minor radio interruptions in polar regions, according to the site.

Using observations from three spacecraft with different perspectives, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center constructed a 3-dimensional model that illustrates the solar material's travel through space.

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Filed under: Science • Space
On the Radar: Extreme weather, debt deal fallout, Mubarak trial, Syria unrest
Tropical Storm Emily is moving toward the Dominican Republic and Haiti in the Caribbean Sea.
August 3rd, 2011
07:36 AM ET

On the Radar: Extreme weather, debt deal fallout, Mubarak trial, Syria unrest

Tropical Storm Emily - The government of the Bahamas issued a tropical storm watch in preparation for Emily, the storm that continues to churn toward the northeastern Caribbean, according to the National Hurricane Center. Emily is expected to strengthen slightly before moving over the Dominican Republic and Haiti by late Wednesday.

Post-deal market watch - Tuesday saw the Dow's biggest one-day loss in two months as double-dip recession fears run rampant. What will Wednesday bring? Also, CNN correspondents look at some of those who likely will get squeezed by the debt-ceiling deal: hospitals, airports, job-seekers and students.

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Filed under: Economy • Egypt • Oklahoma • On the Radar • Syria • Texas • Tropical weather