Editor's note: This post is part of theÂ Overheard on CNN.comÂ series, a regular featureÂ that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
More than 4,000 comments (and counting) have been written about the story of an Atlanta couple who came upon hard times and high medical bills. Alan Bryant is a line cook at Ruth's Chris Steak House, where he cooks pricey steaks. His wife, Andono, is shown picking up groceries at a food co-op. Readers took a look at the story and offered their opinions in the comments section, encompassing a wide variety of views.
The most-liked comment on the story was posted by a reader defending the Bryants, saying that some people come into life with different circumstances than others. There was a response from another reader who had beaten the odds and said the Bryants had options they could have pursued.
chiefofsages: "It bugs me when people keep saying 'well, they should've gone to college and gotten an education rather than popping out kids,' or crap like that. The article says they were from lower-class families that very likely could not afford college. Even with grants, scholarships, etc. ..., it's still very expensive to attend. And if you need loans, you're screwed. Additionally, an education doesn't always mean you're guaranteed a job or safety. My sister has a bachelor's degree and two years later is making just over minimum wage. One of her best friends went for a master's degree and is still looking for a job. My other sister's co-worker (who held a master's degree as well) was let go because the economy sucks. So, please don't sit there and say that everything is their fault. Did they make some choices that could've negatively impacted their lives? Absolutely, I think they're partially to blame. Do I think that they're completely to blame and that they are victims of their poor decisions? Not a chance in hell."
Sebastian293: "At 13 I lived in a homeless shelter. I remember on more than one occasion that dinner consisted of boiled onions. I lived in Minnesota and for fourÂ years I made do with a fleece jacket we had bought at Kmart for $12. Don't tell me they were poor and could not go to college. There was financial assistance available, there were scholarships. I grabbed every opportunity and made sacrifices. In my junior year I took advantage of my state's post-secondary program and was sent to college for my junior and senior years. Friendships? Sacrificed. Leisure time? Sacrificed? I like to joke that I was taking finals in college while my classmates were at prom! I finished with a 3.93 and a lot of debt ($17k), but I did not major in basket weaving. I knew to study something practical, not fun. Am I a millionaire today? No. I make just under $50,000, which for the Midwest isn't so bad. So does it bug me when people say: 'Oh, they came from a poor background they can't help it'? Yes, it absolutely does." FULL POST
Editor's note: This post is part of theÂ Overheard on CNN.comÂ series, a regular featureÂ that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
" 'Survivor: New Hampshire' winds up this week. But not too long until 'Survivor: South Carolina.' No substance to these misnamed 'reality shows,' is there?
With the New Hampshire primary coming Tuesday, much will be said about campaign strategies and polls. But what about the people who are doing the voting? What exactly does this primary mean? We took a look at many CNN.com comments from the last week mentioning "New Hampshire" to figure out what our readers are saying about the Granite State.
What are you observing? If you live in New Hampshire, share your story on CNN iReportÂ and be sure to comment below.
Trying to predict the future
In the story about New Hampshire'sÂ independent streak, some readers said they felt the state was not representative of the overall populace.Â Some readers said they thought the New Hampshire primary would have some of the same issues as an Iowa primary in that it's a relatively small state. FULL POST
Snow in Alaska doesn't usually make big headlines, but even The Last Frontier has extremes.
Cordova, an isolated coastal town of about 2,000 people about 150 miles east of Anchorage, appears to be one of the hardest-hit locales, with the state National Guard reporting that it was sending Guardsmen and resources Monday after weeks of record snowfall left the cityÂ buried under 18 feet of the white stuff.
The state activated its State Emergency Operations Center on Friday to help Cordova handle the snow. The town had issued a disaster declaration earlier in the day.
Cordova is "isolated off the state highway system," according to the Guard, and the sea and airport are the only way in and out of the area. The National Guard sent resources to Cordova as conditions worsened and residents scrambled to dig themselves out Monday.
â€śCordova is continuing their outstanding job responding to several weeks of intense snowfall,â€ť John Madden, director of the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said in a statement. â€śCordova utilized all of their snow management resources to maintain emergency access but now face a new round of storms that will bring heavy snow and perhaps rain.â€ť
The most recent storm alone brought 42 inches of snow to the town, according to a news release from the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
Police and residents are combing through the town of Sidney, Montana, in hopes of finding a teacher who went missing after going for a morning run, leaving behind no trace besides a lone shoe, the city's police chief told CNN.
Schoolteacher Sherry Arnold, 43, left her home Saturday morning for a run along her normal path, but she never returned, Sidney police Chief Frank DiFonzo said.
DiFonzo said that teams have been searching areas around the eastern Montana town since Arnold's disappearance using dogs and aircraft. He said the National Guard was also assisting.
Police described Arnold asÂ 5 feet, 10 inches and 140 pounds with black hair. She wasÂ last seen wearing a blue sweatshirt with a white stripe and red nylon pants with black leggings.
Police are looking into different scenarios regarding Arnold's disappearance, but they believe she may have been abducted or possibly hit by a vehicle, DiFonzo said.
"Everything's accounted for, her personal things, her vehicle is accounted for," Bob Burnison, the assistant police chief,Â told CNN affiliate KRTV-TV in Great Falls. "We just feel that there's something drastic, either happened to her or something to that effect, why she wouldn't have made contact back."
A leopard whose urban-area attack led to the death of one man and injuries to two others was released in an Indian nature reserve on Monday, two days after the incident.
Officials from the Assam State Zoo in Guwanhati, where the attacks occurred, set the cat free in in a tiger reserve in Manas, according to an Agence-France Presse report in the Hindustan Times.
Three men were attacked on Saturday when the cat wandered in to a residential area of Guwanhati, a city of almost 1 million people in northeast India.
Some say Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow pulled off another miracle Sunday night, leading his team to a 29-23 overtime victory over the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers. They say "another miracle" because it was the fourth time this season Tebow led Denver to an overtime victory. And they say Tebow, a devout Christian, may need an even bigger miracle come Saturday in Foxboro, Massachusetts, where the New England Patriots will be an even bigger favorite to end the Broncos season than the Steelers were.
The Boston Herald on Monday morning is calling Saturday's game "a heaven-sent matchup," and the paper says that because it knows quarterback Tom Brady has made a career of taking the Pats to the promised land while Tebow has just gone through his first communion.
Outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour pardoned two men convicted of murder, a state official said Monday.
"David Gatlin and Joseph Ozment had received full pardons and they were released yesterday at 1 p.m.," said Suzanne Singletary, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Both men were serving life sentences, she said.
The families of the men's victims told CNN affiliates WAPT and WLBT they are outraged by Barbour's decision.FULL STORY
Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who has vowed to return to Pakistan and run for office despite authorities' threat of arrest, maintained in an interview Monday that he successfully led the nation while others failed.
Musharraf, in a speech to thousands of supporters in the southern city of Karachi via video link on Sunday, said the nation must decide whether it needs change or "the same faces."
Asked if he wasn't one of those old political leaders, Musharraf acknowledged to CNN that he is. "But the difference is, the other 'olds' have not performed," he said. "They have failed the country. They have tried thrice over ... I have tried once for 10 years and succeeded."FULL STORY
Police and protesters clashed across Nigeria on Monday amid a nationwide strike and widespread protests over a government decision that more than doubled fuel prices in the largely impoverished country.
Among other incidents, police reportedly fired on protesters in the northern Nigerian state of Kano, injuring at least 13 people, according to a physician who was among the protesters.
Demonstrators were gathered listening to speeches when police "suddenly came and some were shooting and some were throwing tear gas," Shehi Ali, vice chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association, told CNN.
Kano Police Commissioner Ibrahim Idris denied that officers fired on protesters. He said that officers were forced to use tear gas on a "miscreants and drug addicts" who had tried to storm the governor's residence.FULL STORY
At least one Shiite pilgrim was killed and 10 others wounded in a bombing south of Baghdad on Monday, officials said.
An Interior Ministry official said a roadside bomb struck pilgrims in Mahmoudiya south of the capital on Monday morning as the pilgrims were on foot heading to the southern city of Karbala.
Hundreds of thousands of Shiites are making their way to Karbala to commemorate the Arbaeen pilgrimage this weekend.
Arbaeen is the pilgrimage marking the end of a 40 day mourning period for the death of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, a seventh century imam and one of Shiaa Islam's holiest figures.
Since 2003, attacks blamed on Sunni extremists have often targeted the pilgrims - many of whom make a lengthy journey on foot to the Shiite holy city of Karbala.
Over recent days near daily attacks on pilgrims have left scores dead and wounded.FULL STORY
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
The number two and three searched terms on Google? Tebow and Tim Tebow.
It's surely all coincidence, but how many yards did Tebow throw for as he led the Denver Broncos to a 29-23 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL's divisional playoffs on Sunday night?
And what did Tebow have on his eye black as he led the Florida Gators to victory in the 2009 national championship game three years ago to the day of his performance in Denver Sunday night?
Answer: John 3:16.
And while were looking at numbers, let's look at dates, like December 25, the birth date of Jesus Christ and the man who caught Tebow's overtime pass and scored the winning touchdown Sunday night, 24-year-old Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.
In the next round of the NFL playoffs, Tebow, Thomas and their Broncos travel to New England to face the Patriots, a team that dominated them in Denver late in the regular season. The Patriots figure to be even bigger favorites than the Steelers were to defeat the Broncos Sunday night.
But don't count out Tim Tebow to produce some amazing numbers of his own.
The New Hampshire primary is just one day away, and CNN.com Live is your home for all the political news and views from the Granite State.
Today's programming highlights...
8:00 am ET - Gingrich breakfast - GOP candidate Newt Gingrich has a busy day today, starting with a breakfast meet and greet in Dover, New Hampshire.Â He'll conclude his day by hosting a BCS National Championship viewing party in Concord at 9:00 pm ET.
Unless governments in the Middle East stop offering "cosmetic changes" to calls for reform, they should brace themselves for another year of protests, Amnesty International warned Monday.
The protests and bloodshed will continue unless governments and the international community ensure the demonstrators' demands are addressed, the rights group said in a new report.
Protesters are not interested in "piecemeal" reforms, it said.
"With few exceptions, governments have failed to recognize that everything has changed," said Philip Luther, director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa.
"The protest movements across the region, led in many cases by young people and with women playing central roles, have proved astonishingly resilient in the face of sometimes staggering repression."
Protesters want accountability and change in governance, according to Luther.
The 80-page report is called "Year of Rebellion: State of Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa."
It highlights the success of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya in removing their longtime regimes, but underscores the need to institute democracy to ensure past actions are not repeated.
"The uprising in Tunisia brought significant improvements in human rights, but one year on, many consider that the pace of change has been too slow, with families of the victims of the uprising still awaiting justice," Amnesty said.
In Egypt, for example, military rulers are yet to deliver on demands of the revolution and are in some cases behind attacks that are "worse than under Hosni Mubarak" regime, the report said.
Amnesty warned that some governments "remained grimly determined to cling onto power" at all costs, citing an example of Syria.FULL STORY
The Yemeni cabinet has approved the draft of a law that will give President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his aides immunity from prosecution.
The draft was submitted to parliament for approval and is expected to be approved within days, said Yahya al-Arasi, a senior vice presidential aide.
Ghaleb al-Odaini, the spokesman for the opposition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), said the law will pass but expect lawmakers to make changes to it before approving it.
Under the terms of a Gulf Cooperation Council-brokered deal, Saleh has agreed to step down as president on February 21 in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
The law, if approved in its current form, will also give immunity to officials who worked under Saleh during his 33-year rule.
A day after the draft was approved, thousands of protesters rallied Monday in more than a dozen provinces against the proposal.
Some waved banners that showed a picture of Saleh holding a butcher knife in his bloodied hands.
Other, however, saw the merit in the proposal.
"We are against the immunity bill, but it will play a big role in ending the Saleh family rule in Yemen and give us a chance to build a new nation," said Abdullah al-Kuraimi, a youth activist in Sanaa.FULL STORY
Civil rights lawyers demanded the death penalty for former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Monday, joining prosecutor's calls for him to be executed.
"We merged our voice with the prosecutor's closing arguments from last week's hearing and demanded the death sentence to Mubarak, his former interior minister Habib El Adly, and four of his aides for killing hundreds of protesters and injuring thousands more," attorney Khalid Abu Bakr told CNN. "We have proof Mubarak is directly responsible for the killings along with El Adly and his aides."
The judge, Ahmed Refaat, has set aside Monday and Tuesday to hear from at least 10 civil rights lawyers. The defense is expected to make its closing arguments later in the week.
"The judge will then decide on a day to announce the final verdict," said Adel Saeed, the official spokesman of the General Prosecutor's office. "If he is fast, we may see a verdict before January 25th" - the day the Egyptian uprising began last year.
Last week, the Russian foreign ministry issued a statement, expressing its "deep concern" over the prosecutor's request for a death sentence to Mubarak and calling on Egypt to consider Mubarak's old age and poor health. Germany and France also issued statements of "concern."FULL STORY
Nigerian trade unions planned to join angry protests Monday against the government's decision to remove fuel subsidies in the continent's largest oil producer.
The decision on January 1 more than doubled fuel prices in a country where most of the population of about 150 million lives on less than $2 per day.
Labor union leaders have called for national strikes, and are planning a mass shutdown in the country starting Monday.
Citizens of Africa's most populous nation have staged "Occupy Nigeria" mass demonstrations since the decision, with police responding forcefully in some cases.
"I am not an economist, but it is clear common sense that the removal of fuel subsidy, even if it seems to be the easiest solution, is not even an option," said Hadiza Halliru, an Abuja protester.
"The fuel hike, which has doubled and even tripled in some states, would affect not only transportation but the price of food stuff, clothing, any form of direct labor, construction costs. But salaries still remain the same, which means everyone who directly pays bills will be affected, especially the middle class and the poor."
Many Nigerians view the subsidy as the only benefit of living in an oil producing country that has little infrastructure, poor roads, high unemployment and intermittent electric power.
"Though we know that in the long run, removal of subsidy will help the economy, for now it is a high profile lifestyle that is unbearable for most Nigerians and soon the poorer ones will die out," said protester Diane Awunah, who lives in Abuja.FULL STORY
The beheaded bodies of 10 Pakistani soldiers were found in a tribal region bordering Afghanistan on Monday, a senior government official said.
Militants kidnapped the soldiers after attacking an army checkpost in Orakzai Agency on December 21, said Khushhal Khan, a government official in the region.
No group has claimed responsibility, Khan said.
On Thursday, the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for killing 15 Pakistani security personnel.
Ihsanullah Ihsan, a spokesman for the militant group, said those killings were in response to a search operation for militants conducted in the country's Landi Kotal tribal area, where a number of women were arrested by Pakistani security forcesFULL STORY
American Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, on trial in Iran for espionage, has been sentenced to death, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported Monday.
A court convicted Hekmati of "working for an enemy country ... for membership in the CIA and also for his efforts to accuse Iran of involvement in terrorism," according to Fars.
Ahead of the verdict, his family and the United States denied the accusations against him.
Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine, was arrested in August while visiting his grandmother and other relatives, his family in Michigan said last month.
The Hekmatis said their son served in the Marines from 2001 to 2005. Later, he started his own linguistics company and contracted his services to the military as well as civilian businesses.
His military contracts included cultural competency training. He worked with troops at military bases to promote understanding of, and positive communication, with people of other cultures, his family said.
Fars reported that Hekmati said he worked for the U.S. Army for four years and later the CIA, where he was sent to Afghanistan and had access to secret documents.
Hekmati was supposed to give his information to the Iranians in two parts - the first part for free, and if they liked it he would ask for $500,000 for the second part, according to Fars.
Hekmati said he was to get a receipt from the intelligence ministry for the money, Fars reported. The judge speculated whether the receipt would later be used as evidence linking Iran to terrorist activities, the news agency said.
If Iran had paid, Hekmati told the judge, he would have kept the money and lived in Iran, according to Fars.FULL STORY
Iran started enriching uranium at a new nuclear facility in the north that is "immune to any military attack," according to a fundamentalist newspaper with ties to the nation's supreme leader.
"Based on reports we received yesterday, Iran has begun uranium enrichment at the Fordo facility at the height of the threats by foreign enemies," the semiofficial Kayhan newspaper said Sunday.
The Fordo nuclear enrichment plant is in the mountains of Qom province, where Iran says it has 3,000 centrifigues in operation.Â Another nuclear facility in Natanz is said to have 8,000 of the machines enriching uranium.