Overheard on CNN.com: 10 ways to rethink money's role in politics
Readers shared lots of ideas about the role of money in politics, and possible ways the system could be changed.
January 27th, 2012
10:20 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: 10 ways to rethink money's role in politics

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.

BlackDynamite: "You'll never get money out of politics. Political power is about as pure as Lindsay Lohan's sheets. What's important is the integrity of the voting process. Keeping things like the Florida Presidential election scandal of 2000 from happening, and avoiding computerized voting, which are far easier to compromise."

We asked people to share their thoughts on money in politics, and we got lots of great responses. Thank you all who commented. Just wanted to highlight some of the reaction. Yes, this is an "overheard" post based upon an "overheard" post. FULL POST

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Filed under: Economy • Elections • Overheard on CNN.com • Politics
Chad Ochocinco looking forward to first Super Bowl
Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco looks forward to being in his first Super Bowl
January 27th, 2012
09:51 PM ET

Chad Ochocinco looking forward to first Super Bowl

It has taken 11 years, but Chad Ochocinco, or Johnson for you old-schoolers, is finally going to the big dance, as he calls it. The only question remaining is will he actually play when his New England Patriots meet the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. Tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez and wide receiver Wes Welker were the primary ball catchers in the Patriots' offense this season. That trend continued during New England's two playoff wins. In his one and only pre-Super Bowl interview, Ochocinco opens up on how difficult his first season in New England was, whether he feels he deserves a Super Bowl ring and, of course, his passion for tweeting.

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Filed under: Pro football • Super Bowl
'Barefoot Bandit' gets 6.5 years on federal charges
January 27th, 2012
04:07 PM ET

'Barefoot Bandit' gets 6.5 years on federal charges

A judge in Washington state has sentenced Colton Harris-Moore, whom authorities dubbed the Barefoot Bandit, to six and a half years in prison on federal charges of stealing an airplane, piloting it without a license, burglarizing a bank and possessing a firearm as a fugitive.

The federal sentence will run concurrently with his state imprisonment of seven years and three months, the judge ruled.

Harris-Moore gained notoriety including 50,000 Facebook fans and a movie deal for leading authorities on a two-year manhunt while eluding capture in stolen boats, cars and planes, often while barefoot, authorities said. He once left chalk outlines of bare footprints at one crime scene and was finally arrested in July 2010 after he was captured in the Bahamas.

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Justice • Washington state
Overheard on CNN.com: Feisty Florida debate chock full of memorable moments
Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney sparred during Thursday night's Florida GOP debate.
January 27th, 2012
03:06 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Feisty Florida debate chock full of memorable moments

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.

Quite a debate was had on Thursday night ahead of the Florida GOP primary. Candidates sparred over a variety of issues, and the conversation was spirited both on stage and in our comments section.

On Romney's apparent air of dominance: Romney beats Gingrich at his own game

We saw our readers giving more praise for Mitt Romney after this debate than we have seen after other such events.

Phange: "Romney very clearly did what needed to be done yesterday. Not only did he make Newt look disheveled and decisively off-kilter, he presented himself as pragmatic and intellectual. With this being the last debate before the Florida primary, I think it's highly unlikely that Newt can recover in time to win the state."

sdpianomom: "One of my favorite moments; Romney praises his wife for her strength in battling cancer and MS. Then there's Gingrich, standing next to him, who cheated on his wives while they were battling those very same diseases."

Not everyone was buying what Romney was saying. FULL POST

Death sentence in Connecticut home invasion
Jurors convicted Joshua Komisarjevsky in October on six capital felony charges.
January 27th, 2012
02:47 PM ET

Death sentence in Connecticut home invasion

A judge in New Haven, Connecticut, sentenced a 31-year-old man to death Friday for his role in a deadly home invasion that killed a woman and her two daughters in 2007.

Jurors convicted Joshua Komisarjevsky in October on six capital felony charges. The 12-member jury had recommended death by lethal injection on each of the counts.

The man convicted of being Komisarjevsky's accomplice, Steven Hayes, was sentenced to death in 2010. Juries convicted the pair on charges that they beat and tied up Dr. William Petit Jr., raped and strangled his wife, molested one of their daughters and set the house on fire before trying to flee.

Petit is the sole survivor of the attack that killed his wife and two daughters.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Connecticut • Courts • Crime • Death Penalty • Justice
X Games kick off with tribute to fallen champ Sarah Burke
Sarah Burke competes in 2009's Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.
January 27th, 2012
01:01 PM ET

X Games kick off with tribute to fallen champ Sarah Burke

Just three weeks ago, Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke was preparing to defend her 2011 Winter X Games ski superpipe gold medal. On Thursday, athletes kicked off the 2012 event without her, memorializing the fallen skier with stickers, ribbons and a torchlit tribute.

Dozens of athletes with torches gathered on the top of a darkened Buttermilk Mountain halfpipe in Aspen, Colorado, and wordlessly skied to the bottom as part of a tribute during ESPN's Winter X Games broadcast Thursday night. Many then embraced Burke's relatives, who were waiting at the bottom.

See the Denver Post's video of the tribute

Burke, a four-time Winter X Games gold medalist credited with getting women's ski halfpipe into the 2014 Winter Olympics, died January 19 as a result of a training accident nine days earlier.

Thursday's tribute on the superpipe was part of a seven-minute segment dedicated to Burke on ESPN. A 90-second video showed performance highlights and old interview clips of the skier.

Burke, at the Winter X Games in 2009.

"She was a superstar with the humility of a rookie," one of ESPN's hosts for the Winter X Games, Sal Masekela, said before the video was shown. "She is the reason that women’s ski pipe is at Winter X, and why it will be in the Olympics in 2014. So if you are looking for her legacy, you will find it in all the faces that you see here tonight, and all those that line halfpipes and come-down mountains around the world for years and years to come."

FULL POST

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Filed under: Canada • Colorado • Skiing • Sports • Winter X Games
Stranded dolphins tracked to Maine coast, suggesting success in rescue op
Dozens of dolphins began washing ashore near Cape Cod, Massaschusetts, on January 12.
January 27th, 2012
12:48 PM ET

Stranded dolphins tracked to Maine coast, suggesting success in rescue op

It's too early to call the rescue near Cape Cod a success, but it looks like there's good news for a fifth of the dolphins that began washing ashore on the Massachusetts coast earlier this month.

The majority of the dolphins rescued during the "mass strandings" have survived and appear to be tooling about off the coast of Maine, according to a news release from the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Rescuers put satellite tracking tags on six of the 24 animals that they have rescued and released since January 12, when rescuers began finding dozens of common and Atlantic white-sided dolphins along a 25-mile stretch of shoreline.

As many as 100 dolphins may have been stranded during the episode, 50 of which were dead when they were discovered, wrote IFAW senior program coordinator A.J. Cady earlier this week. Three of the dolphins with tracking tags died after being released.

"We're all exhausted, muddy and unsure what tomorrow will bring," Cady wrote Tuesday, "but rest assured, if more dolphins strand, we'll do everything in our power to rescue and release them into open ocean."

FULL POST

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Filed under: Animals • Fish • Maine • Massachusetts • Nature • U.S.
January 27th, 2012
12:07 PM ET

Federal task force to investigate mortgage crisis misconduct

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday the creation of a wide-ranging federal task force to investigate those responsible for misconduct that led to the financial crisis related to the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities.

Holder said the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group will consist of more than 50 Department of Justice attorneys, analysts, agents and investigators around the United States.

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Filed under: Economy • Finance • Justice
January 27th, 2012
10:23 AM ET

Violence in Syria as U.N. Security Council to hold talks

[Updated at 2:44 p.m. ET] Deaths mounted in Syria on Friday as world powers plan crucial talks about the conflict there.

Soldiers and security forces killed 135 people on Thursday and Friday, said the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition activist group.

The group said most of the people were killed in Homs and dozens also died in Hama and Daraa. CNN cannot independently confirm events in Syria because it is limited from reporting on the ground. Of those reported dead, 18 were children and eight were women.

In violence Friday in the Daraa province town of Nawa, 11 civilians died at the hands of pro-regime militias. The assault occurred during a funeral procession for a high school student whom security forces killed Thursday.

"The regime's forces encircled the procession and responded with intense gunfire which led to additional martyrs. ... (President Bash al-Assad's) security forces and thugs raided the private hospital in the town and attempted to kidnap the wounded," the group said. It said activist Bashar Abu al-Sal, popular for leading chants in demonstrations, was among the 11 dead. Dozens also were wounded, it said.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Syria
January 27th, 2012
09:55 AM ET

Brazil search of collapsed buildings intensifies

Brazilian rescuers intensified their search for victims in the rubble of three collapsed buildings in Rio de Janeiro Friday, though they are yet to find any survivors.

Seven bodies have been recovered and 20 people are reported missing, the Rio de Janeiro fire department said, according to the state-run Agencia Brasil news agency.

It was not immediately clear what caused the collapse of a 20-story building and adjacent 10- and 4-story buildings on Wednesday night. Officials said they were investigating both the possibility of a gas leak and a structural failure.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Brazil
January 27th, 2012
09:50 AM ET

Obama to talk price of college at Michigan

College affordability takes center stage Friday for President Barack Obama as he makes the final stop on his road trip highlighting themes from the State of the Union address this week.

In his speech Friday at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Obama is expected to focus on programs designed to encourage states to shepherd college cost controls, as well as efforts to reform financial aid programs.

Obama wants to create a competitive $1 billion program to encourage states to make changes that help contain college tuition and leverage $10 billion a year in federal aid to hold costs down by providing more assistance to schools that hold tuition down and less to those that do not.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Barack Obama • Education • U.S.
January 27th, 2012
06:01 AM ET

Asteroid to pass close to Earth today

An asteroid about the size of a school bus will pass close to Earth today, but it poses no danger to the planet, NASA astronomers say.

The huge rock, called Asteroid 2012 BX34, will close to within about 36,750 miles of Earth, or about .17 times the distance between the Earth and the moon, according to a Twitter post from Asteroid Watch, which is operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Near Earth Object Office.

"It wouldn't get through our atmosphere intact even if it dared to try," an Asteroid Watch tweet says of the 37-foot diameter rock.

The asteroid makes its closest approach about 10:25 a.m. ET, according to NASA.

Check out NASA's orbit diagram of the asteroid and info on when it will again pass close to Earth.

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Filed under: Solar System • Space
January 27th, 2012
05:36 AM ET

Car bomb kills 31, wounds 60 in Baghdad

[Update 5:40 a.m. ET] The death toll in Friday's car bomb attack that targeted a Shiite funeral procession in Baghdad climbed to 31 people dead and 60 wounded, two police officials said.

[Posted 5:36 a.m. ET] A car bomb targeting a Shiite funeral procession in Baghdad on Friday killed at least 12 people and wounded 60 others, police officials said.

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Filed under: Iraq
Concordia cruise passengers to get $14,400
The Costa Concordia struck rocks and rolled over on January 13.
January 27th, 2012
05:12 AM ET

Concordia cruise passengers to get $14,400

Passengers of the Costa Concordia are expected to receive a compensation lump sum of 11,000 euros ($14,400) each, the Italian Association of Tour Operators said in a statement Friday.

The decision was reached during a meeting between Costa Cruises and consumer groups, the association said.

The massive liner struck rocks and rolled over onto its side in shallow waters off an island on Italy's Tuscan coast on January 13, leading to a panicked overnight evacuation and a number of deaths.

A 16th body was found by divers searching the ship Tuesday. Sixteen others are missing from the roughly 4,200 people aboard the cruise liner - 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members - at the time of the collision.

The captain of the ill-fated cruise ship is under house arrest and faces possible charges of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship.

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Filed under: Italy • Travel
January 27th, 2012
05:06 AM ET

Breast implant company's founder charged, attorney says

The founder of a French company that makes breast implants linked to a health scare was charged Friday with involuntary injury, his attorney told a CNN television affiliate.

Jean-Claude Mas, founder of Poly Implant Protheses, or PIP, has been released but is under judicial control, meaning he cannot leave France, attorney Yves Haddad said.

He has not been charged with the more serious offense of involuntary manslaughter.

Mas was arrested Thursday in Six-Fours-les-Plages, near Toulon in southern France, the French national police said.

His lawyer said Thursday his client is not feeling well and needs to see a doctor.

FULL STORY

Filed under: World
January 27th, 2012
04:32 AM ET

Truth Squad: Fact checking Thursday's debate

CNN examines statements by Republican presidential candidates during Thursday night's CNN/Republican Party of Florida debate in Jacksonville, Florida.

Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich both accused each other of having financial interests in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

The statements: "We discovered, to our shock, Gov. Romney owns shares of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Governor Romney made $1 million off of selling some of that. Governor Romney has an investment in Goldman Sachs, which is, today, foreclosing on Floridians." - Gingrich

"First of all, my investments are not made by me. My investments, for the last 10 years, have been in a blind trust, managed by a trustee. Secondly, the investments that they have made, we learned about this as we made our financial disclosure, have been in mutual funds and bonds. I don't own stock in either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. There are bonds that the investor has held through mutual funds. And, Mr. Speaker, I know that sounds like an enormous revelation, but have you checked your own investments? You also have investments through mutual funds that also invest in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac." - Romney FULL POST

January 27th, 2012
04:20 AM ET

Aborigine protesters burn Australian flag outside Parliament

A group of indigenous Australian protesters made headlines for a second day in a row Friday after they gathered outside the Australian Parliament and set fire to the country's flag.

The move came a day after security officers dragged Prime Minister Julia Gillard out of a Canberra restaurant after scores of angry protesters surrounded the building during a luncheon ceremony.

Aborigine leaders on Friday criticized the actions of the group, saying they jeopardized efforts to reconcile indigenous Australians with the broader society.

Video on the website of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. showed a circle of protesters outside Parliament in Canberra setting light to an Australian flag and chanting, "Always was, always will be Aboriginal land."

FULL STORY

Filed under: World
January 27th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

U.N. official abducted in Yemen released unharmed, officials say

A Norwegian U.N. official snatched from the streets of Yemen's capital city of Sanaa by armed tribesmen was released unharmed, Norwegian and Yemeni officials said Friday.

The official, who was not identified, was released following negotiations by Yemeni officials, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store said in a statement.

It was not immediately known what, if any, deal was struck by Yemen with the tribesmen for the official's release.

The official was kidnapped on January 15 by gunmen demanding the release of a jailed tribal leader, officials said.

FULL STORY

Filed under: World