Baylor University quarterback Robert Griffin III has won the 2011 Heisman Trophy.
Griffin bested a field of finalists that included Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Louisiana State cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and Alabama running back Trent Richardson. The award was announced Saturday night in New York.
The award, which honors the most outstanding player in college football, is voted on by hundreds of media members and past winners.
Griffin has passed for 3,998 yards this year and accounted for 45 touchdowns (36 passing, nine rushing). Griffin is the first Baylor player to receive the Heisman Trophy.FULL STORY
With virtually all American troops scheduled to be out of Iraq by the end of the year, thousands of them are coming home this month – many of them sooner than expected, to the delight of their families.
As of last week, more than 10,000 U.S. soldiers were deployed in Iraq, down from 170,000, and the number was dropping daily. Iraqi security forces, including army and police officers, are to assume full responsibility for the country's security by the end of the year under a deal agreed to by Iraq and the United States.
The withdrawal will bring to an end the war that began in 2003 with the toppling of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Only about 150 U.S. troops are expected to remain after the December 31 deadline, to assist in arms sales, a U.S. official told CNN, though a large private security force will protect the thousands of State Department workers and contractors staying behind after the withdrawal deadline.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced the troop withdrawal in October, cutting some units’ deployments short. His announcement followed news that negotiations to extend the deadline broke down after Iraq's top political leaders refused to grant U.S. troops legal immunity, opening up the prospect of soldiers being tried in Iraqi courts and being subjected to Iraqi punishment.
The following is a collection of reports from troop homecomings across the country:
Last large group of Lewis-McChord troops returns
The final large group of troops from Washington state’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord returned home from Iraq on Tuesday, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
One hundred seventy troops from the 17th Fires Brigade and 62nd Medical Brigade filed off a plane and into a building for a homecoming ceremony, SeattlePI.com reported.
One of the 170, Staff Sgt. Michael Welsh, told CNN he had ended his fourth deployment.
“Just proud of what we did, and hopefully we won’t have to do it again,” he said.
Over the course of the nearly nine-year war in Iraq, the base lost 200 soldiers and one airman as a result of combat, disease or accident in Iraq, SeattlePI.com reported.'
Maine ‘Troop Greeters’ welcome final waves of Iraq soldiers
A group that has been greeting troops at a Maine airport since 2003 is doing its part to give the final waves of Iraq soldiers a hearty welcome home.
The Maine Troop Greeters gather at the Bangor International Airport – a transfer stop for some military flights – whenever they hear of an inbound troop flight.
As soldiers leave their plane for a brief layover at the airport, greeters line up to shake their hands and welcome them to U.S. soil.
“It’s our pleasure to welcome them and to make their stay here as comfortable and as friendly as possible,” greeter Clayton Dodge said.
The group operates a lounge where troops can use prepaid cell phones to make calls to family and friends.
“It means a lot that people are supporting us. It shows that we’re doing something right, that somebody actually cares,” Spc. Stasha McDonald said.
Fort Hood troops, families relieved Iraq deployments over
At a homecoming ceremony for troops early this month at Fort Hood, Texas, service members and relatives were excited not only for the return, but also because of the knowledge that the days of deployments to Iraq were over.
Troops were treated like rock stars, entering the ceremony room through a gate and manufactured smoke.
“Everyone tried to make the speeches very, very short, because the highlight was seeing these troops rush into the arms of their loved ones, hugging, kissing, trying to catch up over what’s been missed over the last 10 months,” CNN’s Chris Lawrence reported.
Maj. Mike Ianucilli said that there is “a sense of peace knowing there’s one less opportunity for us to be separated from our families.”
“We know we still have our operations going on in Afghanistan, and other contingency operations as they come up, but to know that what has consumed so much of our careers recently as a profession, to know that that’s not there looming over us is certainly peace of mind,” he said.
National Guard welcomed home in San Mateo
In San Mateo, California, members of the California National Guard returned from Iraq to warm greetings from loved ones in early December.
“I can’t put it into words,” said Spc. Leonardo Ramirez, with an arm around his wife, Ria. “We’ve been gone for such a long time. Just happy to be back home.”
Texas soldier surprises daughter on field at football game
In early November, Sgt. Luis Cardenas – just home from Iraq - surprised his daughter at a high school football game in San Antonio, after not seeing her for a year. CNN affiliate KSAT reports in the video above.
Baltimore (CNN) – It’s a long way and more than three centuries from Château de Bagatelle in France to an entertainment district in Baltimore. That’s how far David Silverman’s passion has come.
An improvised billiards game at the chateau evolved into modern pinball. And if it’s pinball, David Silverman is bound to have it.
Silverman is set to open his National Pinball Museum in Baltimore in the New Year. Visitors will get to play all they want of 65 or so games, with another 90 on display. That’s just a fraction of Silverman’s collection, which is mostly stored in warehouses and buildings on his property in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The museum opened last year in a Washington shopping mall, but Silverman had to find new digs when the mall operators decided to gut the place.
(Click the audio player to hear CNN Radio's Bob Costantini report on Silverman and the silver ball)
Thanks to a thriving landscape business, Silverman has been able to engage in his hobby of collecting pinball games. The museum is a labor of love.
“Without question, the artwork,” Silverman quickly replies when asked what makes a good “table” as pinball aficionados sometimes call the sport. “I think the artwork to me is critical. Good shots, good ramp shots, good knockdowns (targets). The rules [should be] complex enough that I really want to dig into trying to find out how to get a higher score.”
The struggle for women's rights against the backdrops of the Arab Spring and democratic progress in Africa will be recognized by this year's Nobel Peace Prize on Saturday at a ceremony unlikely to repeat controversy seen last year.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Leymah Gbowee, a social worker and peace campaigner from the same country, will share the prize with Tawakkul Karman, an activist and journalist who this year played a key opposition role in Yemen.FULL STORY
A small plane crashed near the Philippine capital Saturday after its pilot requested an emergency landing, killing at least 13 people, CNN affiliate ABS-CBN reported.
The plane started a fire that scorched a nearby school and about 50 homes near Manila, a local mayor told the affiliate.
At least 20 other people were injured.FULL STORY
A Palestinian man shot in the face with a tear gas canister during a West Bank demonstration died Saturday morning, according to protest organizers.
Mustafa Tamimi, 28, was among dozens of protesters who gathered in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on Friday for a weekly protest against the encroachment of a nearby Israeli settlement.
The protest turned violent when minor clashes erupted between Israeli military personnel and the protesters.FULL STORY
Radioactive water leaked inside a nuclear power plant in southwestern Japan, the Kyodo News Agency said Saturday.
However, no radioactive materials leaked outside of the facility operated by Kyushu Electric, the agency reported.
The plant, which is in Saga Prefecture, resumed power generation in November after a nearly month-long stoppage.
The Memphis police and the Amateur Athletic Union have launched an investigation after two players alleged that the leader of a local youth sports organization molested them decades ago.
The two players were interviewed by the ESPN's show "Outside the Lines" and the story is scheduled to be aired at 10 a.m. Sunday.
A story on ESPN.com said the players allege that Robert "Bobby" Dodd inappropriately touched them and abused them sexually while they slept in hotel rooms during tournaments.