Overheard on CNN.com: Some find parallels between Iraq, Vietnam
A U.S. Army soldier arriving in Kuwait after a final departure from Iraq last week.
December 15th, 2011
03:37 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Some find parallels between Iraq, Vietnam

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

vikingslost: "Welcome home Soldiers. May you find comfort and peace in the days and years ahead. America and its people are deeply indebted to you for your sacrifice and service. We love you and your families all. God Bless America."

gomezaddams2: "Thank you to all the soldiers for telling your stories. It really touches my heart to hear all of your experiences. I don't have any answers. But I wish you serenity and love."

An understated ceremony Thursday in Baghdad marked the end of the war in Iraq, nearly nine years since it started. More than 4,500 American troops have died in Iraq since 2003, as well as hundreds of troops from other coalition forces, and tens of thousands of Iraqis. Readers debated the ins and outs of the war with their comments, and thanked the troops for their service.

In their own words: 8 lives changed by the Iraq War

Readers read through eight iReporters' accounts of the Iraq war and lamented the perils of combat. They also debated the value of the soldiers' contributions. Most seemed to agree that regardless of their views on war, they would thank the soldiers. A few compared Iraq to Vietnam. Some commenters were connected to the military, if not soldiers themselves. FULL POST

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Filed under: Iraq • Overheard on CNN.com • World
Hubble telescope shows 'Snow Angel'
December 15th, 2011
02:43 PM ET

Hubble telescope shows 'Snow Angel'

Far, far away in an isolated part of the Milky Way lies a star nursery housing a celestial spectacle so beautiful that the Space Telescope Science Institute has taken to calling it a “Holiday Snow Angel."

Spectacular images and video released by the NASA-built observatory Thursday show a star-forming region in the constellation Cygnus (the Swan) nearly 2,000 light years from Earth.

In official terms, Sharpless 2-106 (doesn’t have the same ring, does it?) gets its looks from an extreme confluence of heat and motion and features a ring of particles that “acts like a belt,” according to a press release. The hourglass-like shape in the middle is created by gaseous particles orbiting the star.

Don't be fooled by the cute name, Hubble spokesman Ray Villard told CNN Thursday in an email.

"Though we nickname this a ‘Snow Angel’ there is nothing angelic about what's happening in the picture," Villard said. "A super-hot star much larger than our sun has twin blowtorches of hot gas shooting out into space. The star is destined for a short life and will then explode as a supernova, disintegrating everything around it."

FULL POST

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Filed under: NASA • Science • Space
U.S. satellite firm says it has first image of Chinese aircraft carrier
Digital Globe released this satellite image Wednesday, showing what it says is the first look at the Chinese aircraft carrier Varyag.
December 15th, 2011
10:49 AM ET

U.S. satellite firm says it has first image of Chinese aircraft carrier

A photograph of what is purported to be China’s first aircraft carrier has renewed speculation about its military intentions, according to news reports.

U.S. satellite imaging firm Digital Globe said Wednesday on its website that it had captured an image that appears to be the Chinese aircraft carrier Varyag during drills in the Yellow Sea.

The Varyag was reportedly constructed by the USSR in the 1980s but fell into the hands of the Ukraine. The Chinese purchased it sans weapons and navigation systems under the guise of wanting to turn the vessel into a casino, according to a BBC report in August.

Huntsman: China is 'no ally' of the U.S.

The sea trial is the second for the aircraft carrier, which roused international interest on November 29 when it left the port of Dalian in the Yellow Sea. Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said at the time that the military exercises were a "routine arrangement," Xinhua reported.

FULL POST

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Filed under: China • Politics • World
Gotta Watch: Best of Behar
December 15th, 2011
10:29 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Best of Behar

Today, HLN says goodbye to one of it's most entertaining programs, "The Joy Behar Show."  We will definitely miss Joy's infamous, and often hilarious interviews with celebrities, politicians and media figures.  In honor of the show's last day, we decided to put together a list of our all-time favorite clips.  Catch Joy's final farewell tonight at 10 p.m. ET on HLN with special guest Steve Martin.

Who’s Joy Behar? – Comedian Gilbert Gottfried tears Joy up over her show ending. You can even hear the show's crew cracking up off-camera.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Casey Anthony • Celebrity • Crime • Gotta Watch • Justice • Showbiz
December 15th, 2011
08:46 AM ET

Chirac found guilty on corruption charges

Former French President Jacques Chirac was found guilty Thursday on corruption charges stemming from his time as mayor of Paris and given a two year suspended sentence, a court in the French capital announced.

He was convicted of breach of trust, misappropriation of public funds and illegal use of influence, the Paris Court's press office said.

It was uncertain whether Chirac, 79, would appeal the verdict.

"We have to talk about it with the person concerned," said his attorney Georges Kiejman. "We'll know tonight if he accepts this decision or if on the contrary he wants to appeal."

Chirac was mayor of Paris, from 1977 to 1995, before he became president.

He had immunity from prosecution during the 12 years he was president of France, from 1995 to 2007.

He was accused - along with the other defendants - of using public money to pay people to work for his political party, the RPR, and to pay others to perform jobs that did not really exist.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Uncategorized
December 15th, 2011
08:24 AM ET

Putin defends election results

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday brushed off widespread criticism that the December 4 parliamentary elections in Russia were falsified.

He said their results "reflect the actual line-up of forces in the country, as well as the fact that the ruling force - the United Russia party - has lost certain positions."

In his traditional year-end question-and-answer program, televised live by state media, he said there is nothing new in the fact that the opposition is not happy with the election outcome.

"That happens every time and will be happening in the future. The opposition always struggles and takes every opportunity to sideline the authorities, to blame them and to highlight their mistakes. It is a totally normal thing."

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Russia • World
December 15th, 2011
08:06 AM ET

Cheap moonshine kills 102 in India

Authorities raided liquor vendors in eastern India Thursday, after at least 102 people died and more than 170 others were sickened from drinking moonshine, police said.

At least 100 people were hospitalized.

The victims were mostly poor villagers.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: India • World
December 15th, 2011
07:30 AM ET

Thursday's live events

Congress remains locked in a debate over spending and the proposed payroll tax cut extension.  Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the Capitol Hill standoff.

Today's programming highlights...

8:00 am ET - Golden Globe nominations announced - The best in film and TV are revealed as nominations are announced for the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

FULL POST


Filed under: Economy • Elections • Politics • Showbiz • Taxes
December 15th, 2011
05:38 AM ET

U.S. officially ends Iraq mission with flag lowering

(CNN) - The United States officially ended its eight-and-a-half year military campaign in Iraq Thursday, as the flag of the command was lowered in Baghdad.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Baghdad earlier Thursday morning for the ceremony.

Panetta is scheduled to speak at the event, along with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and U.S. Ambassador Jim Jeffrey.

President Jalal Talabani will also be present, among other top Iraqi officials, but it is not clear if Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will attend, an American official said.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: U.S. • World
December 15th, 2011
03:43 AM ET

Vermont fraternity suspended over rape survey

(CNN) The University of Vermont's Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity is under investigation after a survey surfaced online asking fraternity brothers who they would rape. 

The national Sigma Phi Epsilon organization said in a statement that "the fraternity has instructed the chapter to cease all operations, pending further investigation."  Adding that "any behavior that demeans women is not tolerated by the fraternity."

Leadership from the fraternity's national office was in Burlington Wednesday working with UVM administrators to look into the survey, which was discovered earlier this week, CNN affiliate WCAX reported.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: U.S.
December 15th, 2011
02:34 AM ET

Police: Moonshine kills dozens in India

(CNN)  At least 102 people have died and more than 170 have fallen ill in eastern India after drinking moonshine, police said Thursday.

The deaths occurred after several hundred people consumed the illegally-brewed, cheap liquor in West Bengal state on Wednesday, according to officer M. Das, who said he fears the toll may rise.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Justice • World
December 15th, 2011
01:07 AM ET

Executions, death sentences continue steady declines in 2011

The number of executions and death sentences nationwide continues a steady decline, according to a study released Thursday, matching dwindling public support for capital punishment in general.

Only 78 people have been sentenced to lethal injection so far this year, the first time that number has dropped below 100 since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Death sentences last year were at 112, and have declined by nearly 75% from 15 years ago, when more than 300 individuals were condemned.

The information center's annual report also showed only 43 people were executed in 2011, down three from last year, and a 56% decline from 12 years ago, when nearly a hundred people were put to death.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Crime • U.S.