Overheard on CNN.com: 10 ideas to improve voting, elections
Voters cast their ballots November 4, 2008, at Centreville High School in Clifton, Virginia.
January 3rd, 2012
05:47 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: 10 ideas to improve voting, elections

Editor's note: Overheard on CNN.com is a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community. If you voted in the Iowa caucuses, tell us your story on CNN iReport. Or put yourself on video and share your insights on the GOP race, and participate in the comments area below.

Readers found a CNN opinion piece about why we vote on Tuesdays (hint: a horse and buggy are involved) and took it all one step further, coming up with creative ideas for how to improve the voting system in the United States.

Why vote on Tuesdays? No good reason

Our question for you: If you could run an election however you wanted, what changes would you make and why? Here's a few ideas readers were sharing. Let us know what you think.

1. Change the voting day: The argument several readers made was that people have trouble voting during the week, so having a designated day off would make voting easier. They batted around ideas including having a designated holiday and voting during the weekend. Many said a holiday is the best way:

EDYVAN: "The day for General Election should be a national holiday. The primaries should be a state holiday."

MeAgain2000: "I agree with you, and I believe that it should be on a weekday and not inside a weekend."

msacks: "I've been so turned off by our political process, the idea of having a holiday for elections makes me sick."

But a few suggested weekends, too. FULL POST

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Filed under: Elections • Overheard on CNN.com • Politics
Baby, it's cold outside at last
Kentucky had two multivehicle accidents Monday, including a 30-vehicle pileup that shut down southbound I-75 in Grant County.
January 3rd, 2012
03:20 PM ET

Baby, it's cold outside at last

Are you experiencing winter weather? Share your images.

Admit it. You were wondering when to pull out the winter coat. The wait is over. A bone-chilling arctic freeze swept through much of the South and Northeast on Tuesday.

It was the first sign of a winter that had played coy up until then. Weather conditions around the nation emphasized that a new year had indeed begun. Gone were the balmy afternoons and Windbreaker jackets that we needed up until recently. It was the first day back to work for many across the United States and baby, it’s cold outside at last.

FULL POST

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Filed under: U.S. • Weather
Jim Huber: Death of a sports poet
Jim Huber died this week at age 67.
January 3rd, 2012
11:44 AM ET

Jim Huber: Death of a sports poet

Editor's note: CNN senior executive producer Michael Schulder had the chance to chat many times with Jim Huber when their paths crossed at the CNN offices in the 1980s. He wishes he'd gotten to know Huber better.

Once you get Jim Huber’s voice in your head, you can never get it out.

Who would want to?

Jim Huber wrote lullabies that could open your eyes.

His essays on sports and life were short.  But never rushed.

And, before I even Googled him Monday night, as soon as we learned he had died at the age of 67, I knew that no matter what sample of his work the Internet giant’s algorithm spun out, I would feel as if I were learning something nobody else had ever conveyed.

Golf was Huber’s main beat for many years.  He saw way beyond the fairway.

So when a 22-year-old Irishman named Rory McIlroy won the U.S. Open last year just two months after going into the final round of the Masters with a huge lead, only to self-destruct in the final holes  Huber captured the magnitude of the comeback.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Obituary • Sports
Gotta Watch: Celebrity action figures
A Steve Jobs action figure may go on the market next month.
January 3rd, 2012
11:19 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Celebrity action figures

Decades ago, the most popular action figures or dolls may have been G.I. Joe and Barbie, but companies are now branching out into ever-broader territory. Today's dolls are based on everyone from a tech company CEO to members of the first family. Not every idea sits well with the public, though. You've Gotta Watch these action figure ideas that fell flat.

Apple action figure — Apple fanatics can now buy an eerily realistic Steve Jobs action figure. This $99 doll from In Icons stands 12 inches tall and is expected to go on sale in February in the U.S. It comes complete with Jobs’ signature black turtleneck and jeans attire. Last year, a different Jobs doll was discontinued after the manufacturer was threatened with legal action.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Apple • Barack Obama • Games • Gotta Watch
January 3rd, 2012
10:05 AM ET

Israeli, Palestinian officials meet in Jordan to relaunch negotiations

Israeli and Palestinian representatives are holding talks in Jordan Tuesday in an effort to relaunch negotiations between the two sides after more than a year of deadlock.

Israel's special envoy, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat are meeting in Amman with representatives of the Middle East Quartet - made up of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.

Peace talks between the two sides fell apart more than a year ago over disagreements on the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Israel • Jordan • Palestinians
January 3rd, 2012
08:57 AM ET

Taliban ready for talks, purported spokesman says

The Afghan Taliban are prepared to open an "office outside the country for talks with foreigners," a purported spokesman for the movement said in a statement released Tuesday.

The statement could signal the Taliban's public willingness to talk to the United States for the first time.

Calling himself "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan spokesman," Zabiullah Mujaheed said the Taliban has a "preliminary agreement with Qatar and other respective sides."

The Taliban are asking for the release of prisoners from the United States detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for opening the office, he said.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Afghanistan • Taliban • World
January 3rd, 2012
08:47 AM ET

Murder probe after body found on queen's estate

Police launched a murder investigation Tuesday after a woman's body was found on Queen Elizabeth II's estate in Sandringham, in the English county of Norfolk.

Officers were alerted Sunday by a member of the public who found the remains while walking in the woods by the village of Anmer, near the town of King's Lynn, Norfolk police said.

Police said the area had been sealed off while forensic investigations are carried out. An autopsy will be conducted later Tuesday.

The cause of death is not yet known. Police did not say how long the remains might have been on the estate but said they would be looking at cold cases as part of the probe.

Sandringham House, at the heart of the 20,000-acre rural estate, is where the royal family traditionally gathers to celebrate Christmas.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Crime • Queen Elizabeth II • United Kingdom
January 3rd, 2012
08:31 AM ET

Clashes erupt between Libyan militias

Clashes erupted Tuesday in Libya's capital between militias from Tripoli and Misrata, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

The clashes were over control of a building that previously housed an intelligence center under former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, said Col. Abdul Monem al-Tunsi, spokesman for the ministry.

Al-Tunsi said he was traveling in eastern Libya, but has received reports the situation is "on its way to being resolved." However, he said, there may be injuries in the clashes.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Libya
January 3rd, 2012
07:43 AM ET

Tuesday's live events

After months of campaigning, spending and debating, the Iowa caucuses are today.  It's the unofficial launch of the 2012 presidential campaign, and CNN.com Live will be there for all of the results and reactions to the race.

Today's programming highlights...

8:55 am ET - Romney rallies supporters - GOP candidate Mitt Romney makes a final push to supporters in Des Moines, Iowa.

FULL POST


Filed under: Elections • Iowa • Politics
January 3rd, 2012
06:28 AM ET

Daughter of former Iranian leader gets prison time

Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former Iranian president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was sentenced to six months in prison for making anti-government statements, semi-official Mehr News Agency reported Tuesday.

Hashemi was arrested last year for taking part in anti-government protests, and the announcement of her sentence comes as parliamentary elections near.

Her father, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, is a powerful cleric and former parliament speaker. In the past, Rafsanjani has been one of the government's most vocal critics.
Rafsanjani served two terms as president from 1989 to 1997, and is still widely believed to be one of the wealthiest and most politically powerful men in Iran.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: World
January 3rd, 2012
05:46 AM ET

Huge crowds protest Hungary's new constitution

Tens of thousands of people protested against Hungary's new constitution in Budapest Monday night, demanding that Prime Minister Viktor Orban resign.

Crowds outside the city's opera house called the prime minister "Viktator" - a pun on "dictator" - as Orban and other dignitaries attended a gala inside.

Lasting nearly five hours, the protest was organized by opposition parties and civil society groups who say the new constitution is anti-democratic.

American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed similar concerns last year, pushing Orban to commit to "the independence of the judiciary, a free press, and governmental transparency."

Orban and other officials left the gala celebrating the new constitution through back doors to avoid the demonstration.

The new constitution, which took effect on January 1, omits "republic" from Hungary's official name, and includes several paragraphs which Amnesty International says violate international human rights.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Hungary
January 3rd, 2012
05:43 AM ET

Police: 3 blasts rock Pakistan; appear to be unrelated

Blasts in three cities across Pakistan occurred within minutes of each other on Tuesday, killing at least four people and wounding 23, officials said.

Police official Tahir Ayub said the blasts appeared to be unrelated.

No one has claimed responsibility, authorities in the three cities said.

In the first incident, a suspected suicide bomber detonated himself on a deserted road on the outskirts of the northeastern city of Gujrat, police said.

"It seems like he may have set the bomb off by mistake," said police official Mudassar Ali.

Minutes later, a second blast went off in a bustling market area in Peshawar in northwest Pakistan. The bomb was placed on a motorcycle in the basement of a commercial building, police said. It killed one and injured 23.

In the third incident, unknown assailant fired a rocket into a busy market area in a Landi Kotal, a town in Pakistan's tribal Khyber Agency, said Khalid Mumtaz Khumbi, an administration official.

Three people died in the explosion, Khumbi said.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Pakistan • World
January 3rd, 2012
05:02 AM ET

Cold and snow to blast Southeast

For the many who basked in the surprisingly warm winter days recently, it may be time to break out the heavy coats.

The bone-chilling cold is back with a vengeance.

As northern Michigan digs itself out from Monday's blizzard, cold temperatures are predicted the Southeast to hit Tuesday.

Winter weather warnings were in effect Tuesday for parts of West Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee, according to the National Weather Service.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: U.S. • Weather
January 3rd, 2012
04:43 AM ET

Minister: Turkey to compensate families of air strike victims

Turkey says it will compensate the families of 35 civilians killed last week in a military airstrike in a Kurdish area on the border with Iraq.

"This will be realized immediately, within several days," Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Monday.

"We extend our condolences again," Arinc said. "Of course, there are big things our government will do for the families, for those who survived. One of these is, as also defined by law, is paying compensation."

On Friday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he regreted the deaths, calling the incident "a sad outcome."

Pledging a full investigation, Erdogan said those killed late Wednesday were smuggling cigarettes and fuel, with almost half of them below the age of 20.

Erdogan said Turkey's military had been monitoring the area because it was in constant use by terrorist groups and that security forces had become suspicious because of the size of the group and number of donkeys used.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Turkey • World
January 3rd, 2012
04:42 AM ET

Afghan officials say they're ready to send tortured girl abroad for treatment

Afghan officials said Tuesday they are ready to send abroad for treatment a 15-year-old girl who was locked in the basement of her in-laws' house and tortured.

Sediq Sediqqi, a spokeman for the interior ministry, said they would defer to Sahar Gul's doctor on whether she should be sent to India for further treatment.

Meanwhile, police have arrested Sahar's father-in-law, but her husband is still eludes them.

Earlier, officials also arrested her mother-in-law and her sister-in-law.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Afghanistan • World
January 3rd, 2012
04:13 AM ET

The Iowa caucus: 6 months, 13 debates, millions of dollars in the making

After six months of campaigning, 13 Republican presidential debates, and millions of dollars spent to flood the airwaves with ads, voters finally get a say in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

Tuesday night, Iowa Republicans will gather at 809 caucus sites across the state, casting ballots for their party's presidential nominee.

The caucuses, the first contest in the primary and caucus calendar, most likely will not determine the eventual nominee, but they will shape the race for the White House and will be closely watched by the national press corps and Republicans nationwide.

Mitt Romney, making his second bid for the nomination, tops most national polls, and spoke confidently at a Monday rally of his chances to win the party's nomination.

"We're going to win this thing with all of our passion and strength, and do everything we can to get this campaign on the right track to go across the nation and to pick up other states and to get the ballots I need and the votes I need to become our nominee," he said in Marion.

Romney's language on Monday was the strongest to date when discussing his odds. While the former Massachusetts governor hasn't spent much time this cycle campaigning in Iowa, he has stepped up his efforts in recent weeks. Romney wraps up his Iowa campaigning on Tuesday.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Politics • U.S.
January 3rd, 2012
04:12 AM ET

Tunisia ex-leader faces trial over killings

Tunisian ex-President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, who was ousted in the first uprising of last year's Arab Spring, faces a military tribunal Tuesday for his alleged role in the death of protesters in January 2011.

Ben Ali, who fled the country, is being tried in absentia along with dozens of former senior officials.

The trial will focus on who gave orders for snipers to shoot protesters, an emotionally charged question in the north African country.

The former president has already been tried and convicted in absentia for his role in a 1991 case in which 17 servicemen were accused of plotting a coup against his regime, the agency Tunis Afrique Presse said in November.

A Tunisian military court sentenced him to five years in prison, the state-run Tunisian News Agency said November 30.

The defense plans to appeal, it added.

Egypt's former president, Hosni Mubarak, is on trial in his own country over the killing of protesters during the urprising that forced him from power weeks after Ben Ali fled Tunisia.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: World
January 3rd, 2012
04:09 AM ET

Part-time deputy who nabs arson suspect hailed a hero

A reserve sheriff's deputy who draws a paltry salary of $1 a year is being hailed a hero for bringing to an end what authorities are calling one of the worst arson sprees in Los Angeles history.

Shervin Lalezary, an Iranian-born lawyer who moonlights as a deputy, was among hundreds of law enforcement officers who spent the last four days looking for the person accused of setting a rash of car and building fires across the city.

Early Monday, Lalezary pulled over a van in Hollywood driven by a man who resembled a person seen in a surveillance video near the scene of one fire.

With the help of back up officers, he then arrested the driver, Harry Burkhart.

"I'll give him a raise of another dollar a year," Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca joked Monday evening.

"This is one of the most significant arrests anyone can make - regular or reserve - in the history of law enforcement, " Baca added. "And this will follow him for the rest of his life."

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Crime • Justice • U.S.
January 3rd, 2012
04:01 AM ET

Iraqi lawmakers reconvene amid political turmoil

The crisis-plagued Iraqi Parliament reconvenes Tuesday just over a week after a key Shiite bloc criticized the government and called for early elections.

Iraq is mired in a political crisis that has raised fears of a return of the sectarian bloodshed that nearly tore the country apart during the intensely violent years following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Before lawmakers went on a brief break at the end of last month, the bloc loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for the dissolution of Parliament and early elections.

The political turmoil erupted just days after U.S. troops withdrew from the country and as a fresh round of violence flared in Baghdad.

In an online statement, the head of the Sadrist parliamentary bloc Baha'a al-Araji said Iraq is facing a new era with problems that rob the nation of stability and sovereignty.

The Sadrist bloc serves as a key ally of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite.

Al-Maliki managed to forge a fragile coalition and secure a second term in office because of backing from followers of al-Sadr, the powerful leader of the notorious Mehdi Army that fought some of the fiercest battles against U.S. forces.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Iraq • World
January 3rd, 2012
02:29 AM ET

Rights group: Cuban prisoner dies during hunger strike

A Cuban prisoner who went on a hunger strike because he was not part of the government's recent mass pardon has died, a human rights leader said Tuesday.

The prisoner, Rene Cobas, died Sunday of a heart attack, after authorities at the Boniato Prison, near Santiago, disregarded a doctor's recommendation that he be moved to a provincial hospital, said Elizardo Sanchez.

Sanchez, who heads island's independent Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, said his group plans to investigate whether the military authorities at the prison were criminally negligent in their inaction.

Cobas had gone on strike immediately after President Raul Castro announced the latest round of amnesty on December 23. Cobas called the pardons "exclusive and limited," Sanchez said.

The decision to release 2,900 prisoners followed "numerous requests" from their family members and religious institutions, and was a humanitarian gesture, Castro said last month.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Cuba • World
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