Overheard on CNN.com: George Takei, plus other stuff commenters like
George Takei, best known for his role as Mr. Sulu in "Star Trek," spoke with CNN's Geek Out blog.
January 4th, 2012
06:18 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: George Takei, plus other stuff commenters like

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.

"It's true. The original fans called themselves 'Trekkers.' When I was a kid watching the reruns in the late '70s, I thought it was 'trekkie' too, but people kept correcting me. I don't think it's really an insult anymore because we can all call ourselves whatever we want."
–Jon

CNN wrote up a profile on Mr. Sulu himself, George Takei, for the Geek Out blog. Readers responded with heartfelt anecdotes about the "Star Trek" original series star. We read through some comments from that story and followed here with other things readers liked, as well as a few things that made them go "hmmmmm."

Hooray: George Takei

Maverick: "I met him at a convention near St. Louis once...he was shorter than I imagined, but powerful in presence. He and Nichelle Nichols were the most gracious and accommodating guests I have EVER had the great fortune to meet. He treats everyone with dignity and respect, and never seems to tire speaking to fans, though he's answering the same questions thousands of times. And that voice ... ooh, that voice!"

EarlGrayHot: "He has always seemed like a really nice guy. I read his autobiography and found it quite interesting. I don't see how anyone can diss him. There is nothing creepy about him. Long live George and Sulu!"

Hmmmmm: Rick Santorum's sweater vest

Innkahoots: "His sweater won't make a very good president either." [Editor's note: Ouch!]

Hooray: Nickelback FULL POST

January 4th, 2012
06:16 PM ET

Los Angeles arson suspect charged with 37 counts

A German man arrested in Los Angeles early Monday after a string of 52 fires - mostly in parked cars - was charged Wednesday with 37 counts of arson, prosecutors said.

Harry Burkhart, 24, was due to appear in a Los Angeles court Wednesday in connection with one of the worst arson sprees in the city's history.

"After reviewing the available evidence, we filed 28 counts of arson of property and nine counts of arson of an inhabited structure," Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon. "The current charges relate to arson fires at 12 locations in Hollywood, West Hollywood and Sherman Oaks between December 30 and January 2."

No one was hurt in the fires, but property damage costs are likely to reach $3 million, authorities said. Burkhart is also under investigation for arson and fraud in his home country, a prosecution official in Germany said.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Arson • California • Crime • Germany • Justice • Los Angeles • Uncategorized
Man says passport copied on iPad gained him entry into U.S.
January 4th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Man says passport copied on iPad gained him entry into U.S.

[Updated at 5 p.m. ET Friday] U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the "assertion that a traveler was admitted into the U.S. using solely a scanned image of his passport on an iPad is categorically false."

The Canadian man who made the claim had a driver's license and a birth certificate, "which the [U.S. border officer] used to determine identity and citizenship in order to admit the traveler into the country," CBP said in a statement released this week.

Scanned images are not accepted forms of identification, the CBP said.

[Initial post, 4:01 p.m. ET Wednesday] Forgot your passport? There’s an iPad for that.

At least in the singular case of a Montreal photographer who left home without the important document on his way to the United States. Martin Reisch said he was able to show a scanned copy of his passport to an American border guard and was given entry into the U.S., according to news reports.

To be sure, the incident was not without trepidation. "There was a slight hesitation; he didn't really seem like he was impressed," Reisch told CBC News. But the guard soon gave him back his iPad, and he was on his way to Vermont.

But isn't this a technological breakthrough? Could this be the Apple-white dawn of a new age of digital facsimile?What would Steve Jobs have thought?

“He’d probably say: ‘Here’s something to work on for the future.’ Maybe have some kind of digital certification or encryption to let people travel like this,” Reisch told The Montreal Gazette.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Canada • U.S. • World
Overheard on CNN.com: Who will lead GOP after indecisive Iowa caucuses?
The very close result of the Iowa caucuses got a lot of readers talking about the Republican Party's strategy.
January 4th, 2012
02:53 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Who will lead GOP after indecisive Iowa caucuses?

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.

By a slim margin of just eight votes, Mitt Romney came out ahead of Rick Santorum and Ron Paul in the Iowa caucuses. It was a historic result, and commenters had lots to say as they tried to identify the trajectory of the Republican Party.

5 things we learned from the Iowa caucuses

Some readers said the result reflected poorly on Romney, despite his win.

lesfender: "Hardly a win for Romney. He basically did the same as last go around. Santorum should be considered the true winner, with Ron Paul second. He doubled his turn out from last time around. Romney, while I believe will be the final choice, is hardly a winner.

DJRickyV: "Between a candidate Romney and incumbent Obama, I see a close race but Obama by a nose. Romney has some compelling ideas but still has to find something in his record that trumps that outsourcing albatross."

Lots of commenters were abuzz about Ron Paul's finish in the top three, whether supporting or opposing. FULL POST

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Filed under: Elections • Mitt Romney • Overheard on CNN.com • Politics
Milwaukee hopes images of dead can heat up cold cases
Police use composites, like this from a 1969 California murder victim, to ID remains, but some jurisdictions are taking it further.
January 4th, 2012
01:56 PM ET

Milwaukee hopes images of dead can heat up cold cases

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office is taking a drastic and admittedly desperate step in its effort to clear cold cases, some stretching back to 1970.

Law enforcement officials have long posted sketches or clay models  - and more recently, digital reconstructions - of unidentified persons in hopes that a friend or loved one might recognize the deceased and help police identify them. Taking its lead from Las Vegas, Milwaukee County is taking it a step further and releasing actual photos of the deceased.

It sounds gruesome - and it is, if you peruse the Milwaukee medical examiner's unidentified persons site - but forensic investigator Michael Simley says that in the 17 cases featured, authorities have run out of options.

"They were born with a name, and they deserve to have that name in death," Simley said. "This is the best way to get that information out there to the public."

Just because bodies are found in Milwaukee County doesn't mean the deceased lived there. They may have been a homeless transient or perhaps a visitor, so Simley wanted to create a database anyone could search.

It's a twist on the U.S. Justice Department's NamUs system, which is a database of unidentified human remains. The database, which contains more than 8,000 cases, is searchable by sex, race, body features, dental information or other characteristics.

There are many systems like NamUs. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, South Carolina Coroner's Association, New York State Police, Texas Department of Public Safety and even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are among the law enforcement entities that post their John and Jane Does online, but they rely on reproductions of the deceased.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Crime • Georgia • Italy • Justice • Nevada • New York • South Carolina • Technology • Texas • U.S. • Wisconsin
January 4th, 2012
01:56 PM ET

Not-guilty plea in Indiana girl's slaying

A man accused of killing a 9-year-old Indiana girl with a brick and dismembering her body with a hacksaw made an initial appearance in a Fort Wayne, Indiana, court Wednesday.

Michael Plumadore, 39, faces one count each of murder, abuse of a corpse and moving a body from the scene of a crime in the killing of Aliahna Lemmon.

Plumadore pleaded not guilty at the hearing, said Robyn Niedzwiecki of the Allen County prosecutor's office. His next court hearing was set for January 18, and a public defender will be appointed to represent him.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Indiana
Gotta Watch: CNN 'After Dark'
January 4th, 2012
12:58 PM ET

Gotta Watch: CNN 'After Dark'

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Filed under: Elections • Gotta Watch • Iowa • Media • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Republican Party • Rick Perry • TV • Twitter • U.S.
Day of extremes in U.S. weather
Winter wear was beachwear as cold temperatures invaded Miami Beach.
January 4th, 2012
12:23 PM ET

Day of extremes in U.S. weather

Mark down January 4 as one strange day for weather in the United States. The extremes were topsy-turvy.

While Floridians were experiencing record low temperatures, Montanans were seeing record highs that are normal for April or October.

Forecast highs in the upper 50s in Montana were expected to break records in Lewistown, Great Falls, Harve and a handful of other places, according to the National Weather Service.

Similar highs were forecast Wednesday for large portions of Florida.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Alaska • Florida • Hawaii • Montana • U.S. • Weather • Winter weather
Tons of dead fish appear on, then disappear from Norwegian beach
A dog walks among tons of dead herring that washed up on a beach at Kvaenes in northern Norway on New Year's Eve.
January 4th, 2012
11:02 AM ET

Tons of dead fish appear on, then disappear from Norwegian beach

Tons of dead herring that washed up on a Norwegian beach on New Year's Eve are now gone, and no one is sure how they got there or where they went.

Local resident Jan-Petter Jorgensen told Norway's TV2 he went to look at the thousands and thousands of fish after seeing a Facebook posting about them, according to a report on The Foreigner.

Joregensen said it was fortunate the icy cold prevented the mass of dead fish from raising a stink.

“It is 15 degrees below zero today, so the cold means they don’t smell. Nevertheless, the smell will be pretty intense in the long run,” he said, according to The Foreigner report.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Animals • Fish • Norway
Romney, Santorum share top spot in Iowa GOP caucuses
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum each got roughly 25% support in Tuesday's Iowa GOP caucuses.
January 4th, 2012
09:59 AM ET

Romney, Santorum share top spot in Iowa GOP caucuses

The first real voter decision of the 2012 Republican presidential election season is in, and it's a split one. Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum each got roughly 25% of the support from Iowa's caucuses Tuesday night, with Romney edging Santorum by just eight votes.

It was the closest GOP presidential vote in history, tighter than the 1936 South Dakota primary, which Alf Landon won by 257 votes.

Get the full story on the Iowa caucuses.

And check out an analysis of where the GOP nomination race is headed from here from CNN political director Mark Preston.

We may know more about that direction in a few hours.

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who got 5% of the votes in the Iowa caucuses, has announced she'll hold a press conference at 11 a.m. ET in West Des Moines, Iowa. Look for live coverage on CNN TV and CNN.com.

And Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who earned 10% of the Iowa votes, said he's headed back to the Lone Star State to reassess his candidacy.

Meanwhile, dive into the numbers behind Tuesday's caucuses in the CNN.com entrance polls page.

And for complete coverage of Iowa and the entire 2012 presidential campaign, go to CNN.com/politics.

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Filed under: Iowa • Politics • Republican Party
January 4th, 2012
09:01 AM ET

Ecuador court upholds $8.6 billion ruling against Chevron

An Ecuadorian appeals court upheld an $8.6 billion ruling against oil giant Chevron stemming from claims that the company had a detrimental impact on Amazonian communities where it operated.

The judgment against Chevron is the latest in 19 years of litigation between Amazon residents and Texaco, which was later purchased by Chevron.

A three-judge panel handed down the ruling Tuesday, nearly a year after receiving the case, the state-run Andes news agency reported.

In addition, the appeals court ruled that Chevron must publicly apologize to Ecuador, and if it fails to do so, the fine will be doubled to nearly $18 billion, Andes reported.

In a statement, Chevron said the appeals court ruling "is another glaring example of the politicization and corruption of Ecuador's judiciary that has plagued this fraudulent case from the start."

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Ecuador • Lawsuit
#CNNAfterDark lights up Twitter
January 4th, 2012
08:59 AM ET

#CNNAfterDark lights up Twitter

What happens when news anchors and political pundits get punchy after watching caucus results until the wee hours of the morning?

#CNNAfterDark happens. And the internet takes notice.

The fictional show title was rolled out by Anderson Cooper and other CNN anchors and reporters as things got loopy while they watched Republican election results from Iowa slowly trickle in.

The Twitter hashtag #CNNAfterDark became a “trending topic,” meaning it was one of the most discussed things on the social-media site at that moment. So did #EdithAndCarolyn – a pair of local Republican officials in Iowa who brought sass and style to a pair of phone interviews. (Or was it #CarolynandEdith? It’s all a bit of a blur).

FULL POST

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Filed under: Politics • TV
January 4th, 2012
07:52 AM ET

Syrian opposition plans 'huge operation,' commander says

The Free Syrian Army plans to kick off "huge operations" this week against President Bashar al-Assad's regime, the force's commander, Col. Riad al-Assad, said Wednesday.

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Filed under: Syria
January 4th, 2012
07:39 AM ET

Wednesday's live events

The Iowa caucuses have come and gone, but now the focus turns to next week's New Hampshire primary.  CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views in the race to the White House.

Today's programming highlights...

10:00 am ET - Huntsman in New Hampshire - GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has focused his campaign on New Hampshire in recent months, and he hopes that focus will lead to a strong performance in next week's primary.  He holds a town hall-style meeting in Pittsfield.

FULL POST


Filed under: Elections • New Hampshire • Politics • Republican Party
Sickle cell trait keeps Steelers' safety out of playoff game
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark led the team in tackles this season.
January 4th, 2012
06:18 AM ET

Sickle cell trait keeps Steelers' safety out of playoff game

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark, one of the team's leading defenders, won't play in Sunday's NFL playoff game in Denver because physical exertion in the city's mile-high altitude may aggravate Clark's sickle cell trait.

"Looking at data and all the variables he is at more risk, so we're not going to play him. It's just that simple," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday, according to CNN affiliate WPXI-TV.

"If he is in any more danger than any of the other 21 men on the field, then we err on the side of caution," Tomlin said at a news conference.

"It is a big game for us, but it is a game," he said.

After a 2007 game in Denver, Clark had his spleen and gall bladder removed and lost 30 pounds from sickle cell complications.

But Clark told ESPN he thought he could play in Denver this weekend despite the risks.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Colorado • Pro football • Sports
January 4th, 2012
05:13 AM ET

Kazakhstan extends state of emergency in oil town

Kazakhstan extended a state of emergency in the oil town of Zhanaozen, the site of deadly clashes, to the end of this month, state media said Wednesday. 

Initially, authorities had issued a 20-day state of emergency after the December 16 clashes that left 16 people dead.
At least 80 people were injured in the clashes between police and striking oil workers in the  town, according to state media.

The trouble came as the former Soviet republic celebrated its 20th anniversary of independence and prompted concern that unrest might spread across the oil rich Central Asian nation.
The protest was part of a long-running dispute over low pay and the sacking of some workers.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: World
January 4th, 2012
04:49 AM ET

Official: 1 killed, 9 hurt in series of blasts in Iraq

A nine-year-old girl was killed and nine other people wounded in a series of explosions Wednesday morning in the Iraqi city of Baquba, an official said.

The bombs were left outside the homes of security force members and local government officials in different parts of Baquba, said Muthanna al-Timimi, member of the Diyala provincial council's security committee.

Five bombs detonated in quick succession, he said.

Baquba, northeast of the capital Baghdad, is the capital of Diyala.

While violence has drastically dropped in Iraq in recent years, attacks against security forces remain a common occurrence

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Iraq • World
January 4th, 2012
04:34 AM ET

Official: Los Angeles arson suspect under investigation in Germany

A German man due to appear in a Los Angeles court Wednesday in connection with one of the worst arson sprees in the city's history is also under investigation for arson and fraud in his home country, a prosecution official in Germany said.
Harry Burkhart, 24, was arrested in Los Angeles early Monday after a string of 52 fires - mostly in parked cars - since Friday. He faces an arraignment hearing Wednesday morning.
No one was hurt in the fires, but property damage is likely to reach $3 million, authorities said.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: World
January 4th, 2012
03:35 AM ET

Myanmar cuts sentences for independence day

Myanmar's military rulers marked the country's independence day by commuting sentences and apparently releasing more than 30 prisoners, but opposition activists said Wednesday that the moves were unsatisfactory.
The United States also urged the nation to make greater efforts to improve its human rights record.
A decree by President Thein Sein, published Tuesday in a state-run newspaper, grants amnesty to prisoners "for the sake of state peace and stability, the rule of law, national consolidation" and humanitarian grounds. It reduces death sentences to life imprisonment; cuts sentences longer than 30 years down to 30; limits terms of 20-30 years to 20 years; and reduces shorter prison terms by 25%.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: World
January 4th, 2012
01:20 AM ET

North Chicago mayor suspends chief of police

The mayor of North Chicago placed the city's police chief on leave and hired a retired officer to lead an investigation into six cases of alleged excessive use of force by police over the past 18 months.
Police Chief Michael Newsome is on paid administrative leave, Mayor Leon Rockingham Jr. said Tuesday.
"I do think that is something that we do need to look into and make sure that things are being done properly in our police department," Rockingham said. "There's a lot of things that have come to light that I think does warrant us to take a second look."
In addition, the gender and race of the people involved in the incidents will be investigated, and reporting requirements will be tightened, he said.
"I think that we, as the city of North Chicago, do need to make sure that the residents and people who are coming into our community are being handled properly," he said.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: U.S. • World
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