February 14th, 2012
09:48 PM ET

CNN Prime Time: Valentine's Day alternatives, Houston money woes?

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Children trained for suicide attacks

Two children have been rearrested in Afghanistan for being prospective suicide bombers, CNN's Barbara Starr reports.

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Did Whitney have financial problems?

A panel of experts discusses whether or not Whitney Houston was struggling financially at the time of her death.

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The RidicuList: Valentine's Day

CNN's Anderson Cooper adds Valentine's Day to the RidicuList and offers up some cheap alternatives.

Overheard on CNN.com: Santorum's views stir debate about women's roles
Readers are debating the views of Sen. Rick Santorum as the GOP presidential race presses on.
February 14th, 2012
08:19 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Santorum's views stir debate about women's roles

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.

Writer Stephanie Coontz posits that presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum's views about women come straight from the ultra-olden days in an opinion article on CNN.com on Tuesday. Her story got thousands of comments.

Santorum's stone-age view of women

The most-liked comment was about women's rights and ambitions, which many of our readers said could be in danger under a conservative president.

abcdef54321: "Conservative women make me sorry that American liberals worked so hard for so long to give women the vote, to allow them to own property, to allow them to wear pants, to give them equal pay, to protect them from sexual harassment at work, to give them access to abortions, to allow them to use birth control, to encourage them to seek advanced education, and to allow them to serve in the military. Conservative women vote every November for men who would pay them less than men, outlaw abortion, outlaw birth control, perhaps outlaw divorce, repeal child nutrition programs, repeal child health programs, repeal laws protecting them from sexual harassment, make it harder for them to get a college degree, and close public schools. Go figure."

But then, here's what a reader identifying as one of those conservative women had to say:

not1not99: "Well, I was an American liberal and I am now an American conservative. I am college-educated, I have a good job, I've never been on welfare and my husband loves me as Christ loves the church. I am not oppressed, beaten, ignorant, or chained to the kitchen (actually I love to cook!). I have my own ideas, thoughts, and opinions that are not my husband's but conclusions based on facts that I research on my own. The people I associate with are other college-educated moms who have made the choice to stay home, raise and educate their children instead of leaving that responsibility in someone else's hands (public school system, day care). They respect my choices, I respect their choices. However, in retrospect I would have rather have stayed home, and raised and educated my children.

"Our choice is our choice. Not out of ignorance or some distorted or perverse sense of 'obedience to our husbands.' Husbands that choose to dominate their wives come from all sorts of different backgrounds, conservative and liberal. So stop being childish, pointing fingers and playing silly stereotyping games."

Several commenters talked about the many difficult challenges involved in staying home with the kids.

FULL POST

After winning the Internet, Kate Upton takes SI’s swimsuit cover
Kate Upton, 19, is the cover model of Sports Illustrated's 2012 swimsuit issue, which hit stands Tuesday.
February 14th, 2012
05:33 PM ET

After winning the Internet, Kate Upton takes SI’s swimsuit cover

It’s not like Kate Upton wasn’t noticed before That Dance on the interwebs. The teenage model’s career was setting up nicely with her first appearance on the inside pages of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue last year the magazine named her rookie of the year and photo shoots with Guess and Victoria’s Secret.

But after her SI debut, she became an Internet sensation, fueled in part by buzz from the 2011 edition and social media and, yes, by the YouTube video that has taught about 3 million people how to do her version of the Dougie.

Upton, 19, is now on the cover of SI's 2012 swimsuit edition, which hit stands Tuesday. As The New York Times has noted, her quick path to one of modeling's coveted achievements seems to have been facilitated by the fame she achieved in short order on the Web.

Exhibit A is the Dougie video, which hit the Web last spring, just weeks after her first swimsuit issue appearance. Upton was in the stands at a Los Angeles Clippers game when the Cali Swag District song "Teach Me How to Dougie" started playing. With ESPNLA.com writer Arash Markazi manning a camera, Upton started dancing in her seat.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Celebrity • Showbiz
February 14th, 2012
03:15 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Waffle House dates, meaty gifts beat out fancy Valentines

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.

"So glad I'm an unique snowflake and we don't celebrate this day. 'Oh, I love you more than anything on THIS day only!' We pick a random day to celebrate, and it works for us."
Canada: America's Hat

Many of our readers are eschewing stereotypical Valentine's Day celebrations, saying dinner at Waffle House and other humble trimmings are perfect for love.

Scattered, smothered, covered, cuddled, kissed Valentine's Day at Waffle House

One reader swears by the restaurant chain.

Rebecca: "Waffle House has long been my Sweetie's and mine's 'secret' Valentine's destination. Good food, great service (none is better than Ms. Pat in North Augusta, South Carolina!), and a fun lively atmosphere all at a reasonable price! The perfect thing for lovers of all ages and purse sizes!"

Some found lasting love there.

Jason: "I proposed to my wife at a Waffle House in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Amazingly, she said yes and we are married nine years now."

Don't forget about Taco Bell. (One of our readers drew the line at Cracker Barrel, but it probably has some fans as well.) FULL POST

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Filed under: Food • Holidays • Overheard on CNN.com
Valentine's, a day for lovers and haters
Germany is for lovers: A woman strings balloon hearts to a fence Tuesday in Berlin.
February 14th, 2012
12:12 PM ET

Valentine's, a day for lovers and haters

At least one CNN.com reader thinks we're grouping Valentine's Day with that other special day the Mayan calendar predicts is coming this year the end of the world.

The reader was responding to a report from CNN's Thom Patterson, who looked into how Valentine's Day, and our idea of romance, has changed with the advent of texting, reality shows and social media. Emory University English professor Mark Bauerlein wonders whether Facebook has killed the love letter.

"Romance is alive and well, I see it all the time and deliver on it all the time. To suggest that there is anything wrong with 21st-century love is ridiculous and somewhat arrogant of the experts to tell people how to conduct a romance, something that is very personal, private and unique.

"More doomsday garbage from CNN!" wrote commentator notbobslc.

Now, I'm no expert on doomsday. I'm just a humble, middle-aged, married-with-children blogger, and you can see what category of Valentine's observers I fit into, according to CNN's Emanuella Grinberg. (BTW, Honey, I hoped you liked the heart-shaped cheesecake. I think the kids put it in the fridge, near the back, on top of the milk and the sweet tea, so be careful when you take those out or the cake might fall into the leftover curry, which was delicious. Now that's middle-aged romance, people!)

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Filed under: Food • Holidays
February 14th, 2012
10:36 AM ET

Inside Syria: Fearful residents prepare for a bloody battle

Editor's note: CNN's Arwa Damon is reporting from inside Syria , where the government has been placing restrictions on international journalists and refusing many of them entry at all. Residents and opposition activists say they fear for their lives as shelling and snipers leave them trapped.

CNN is not disclosing Damon's location for her safety. Below are dispatches from her on what she's seeing and hearing from residents in the area.

It’s an incredibly intense situation here. It’s also incredibly emotional. Anger is running at an all-time high, as are frustration and desperation. People that we've been talking to, every single one of them has some sort of horrific nightmare or story, and some of them are still too afraid to talk about it publicly with their names attached to it.

One man we met, he had four members of his family executed as government forces, he said, were raiding their village. And he wanted to tell the story – he wanted to put out the images of loved ones. He was afraid because he said at the same time his uncle had been detained.

A lot of the younger generation, we’re talking to university students, they've all had to drop out and people repeatedly keep expressing how difficult it is for them to try to keep going, because they’re quite simply exhausted and they have lost so many loved ones.

Every single step that they take of every single day involves a phenomenal amount of plotting, whether it's something simple like trying to get a loaf of bread or something more complicated like trying to get someone who’s been wounded to some sort of medical care.

Food, medicine low in Homs

In the areas where the government crackdown is at its worst, people say there are snipers positioned on every single street corner. You could hardly cross a main thoroughfare without coming across a government sniper. And then of course there are all of the tanks and the government checkpoints.

'Everyone is waiting to die' 

FULL POST

Whitney Houston's funeral at Newark's New Hope Baptist Church on Saturday
Whitney Houston sings at the 2009 American Music Awards.
February 14th, 2012
10:17 AM ET

Whitney Houston's funeral at Newark's New Hope Baptist Church on Saturday

Whitney Houston's funeral will be held at noon on Saturday at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, according to Carolyn Whigham, the owner of the Whigham Funeral Home.

The body of pop superstar Whitney Houston arrived late Monday at the New Jersey funeral home handling her arrangements, borne by a hearse and escorted by police.

The body arrived at Teterboro Airport and was taken to Whigham Funeral Home in Newark. A large crowd was gathered at the funeral home. Cissy Houston, the singer's mother, was waiting inside, police said.

FULL STORY
Italy prosecutors appeal decision to overturn Knox conviction
Amanda Knox thanks her supporters in Seattle, Washington after returning to the U.S. after her murder conviction in Italy was overturned.
February 14th, 2012
10:07 AM ET

Italy prosecutors appeal decision to overturn Knox conviction

Prosecutors in Italy lodged an appeal Tuesday against the acquittal of American student Amanda Knox in the murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

A secretary for prosecutor Giuliano Mignini confirmed to CNN that the appeal had been filed, but said Mignini was not immediately available for comment.

Knox and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted of murder in 2009 but cleared when they appealed the verdicts in October.

In legal paperwork published in December, the judge in the case wrote that the jury had cleared the pair for lack of evidence proving they were guilty.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Amanda Knox • Italy
February 14th, 2012
08:22 AM ET

Three dead, two dozen wounded in Iraq explosions

A car bomb exploded Tuesday outside a popular restaurant in eastern Mosul killing three people and wounding 19 others, a health official said.

Most of the dead and wounded were civilians, Salaheddin Thanoon, the head of the health directorate, told CNN. Three Iraqi soldiers were among the wounded, Thanoon said.

The incident happened about 12:30 p.m. on a busy commercial street near the University of Mosul.

Mosul is about 220 miles (350 kilometers) north of the capital city of Baghdad, where another bombing Tuesday left six people wounded.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Iraq • World
February 14th, 2012
08:03 AM ET

Taliban will not talk peace with Karzai government, spokesman says

(CNN) - The Taliban have met with U.S. officials to discuss possible peace talks, but do not want to negotiate with Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government, a Taliban spokesman said Tuesday.

The spokesman's comments, rejecting a key American condition, could potentially derail American efforts for Afghans to reach a negotiated end to the decade-long war.

In an e-mail response to questions from CNN, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid denied previous reports that the Taliban had been invited to meet with the Karzai government in Saudi Arabia, saying that talks with what he called a "puppet" government were pointless.

"We have never been asked to attend talks with Karzai administration officials in Saudi Arabia, but even if we are asked to attend, we won't because (the) Karzai government is a puppet and unauthorized, and meeting with them will not be beneficial in solving the issue," Mujahid wrote in a message from an e-mail account regularly used by the Taliban to issue statements.

FULL STORY
February 14th, 2012
07:52 AM ET

Tuesday's live events

The race to the Republican presidential nomination continues on February 22 with a GOP debate in Phoenix, Arizona.  CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

9:30 am ET - Pentagon budget hearing - President Obama's proposed budget for next fiscal year is the focus of several Capitol Hill hearings this morning.  Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will defend the Pentagon's budget request before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

FULL POST


Filed under: Budget • Economy • Elections • Politics • Republican Party
February 14th, 2012
07:50 AM ET

Syrian residents say they're bracing for full-blown war

Fear and horror paralyzed residents in the Syrian city of Homs Tuesday, with snipers preventing anyone from moving and heavy shelling blasting through the air, opposition activists said.

"The snipers are even targeting those who intend to get bread from the bakeries," said one activist, who uses the pseudonym Abu Omar.

"They are shelling randomly - why, I don't know," said another activist, identified only as Omar for security reasons. "There is no place here in this city that is a safe house or shelter or a basement. You have to be lucky to stay safe."

At least six civilians were killed by shelling in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition activist group.

While U.N. diplomats slammed the Syrian regime for the country's mounting bloodshed, residents wondered out loud what the implications of total war might be.

"Everyone we've been talking to ... believes that the country is heading towards, or already is in, a full-blown war, and recovering from that is going to be incredibly challenging," said CNN's Arwa Damon, who reported from inside Syria early Tuesday.

She spoke from an opposition safe house, describing a near constant flow of people and information. CNN is not disclosing her exact location because of concerns for her safety.

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Filed under: Uncategorized
February 14th, 2012
04:37 AM ET

US official detained at airport in Pakistan

An employee at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad was detained at the Peshawar airport in Pakistan on Tuesday after bullets were found in his luggage, police said

Authorities found 17 bullets in the luggage, said Shabeeh ul Hassan, a Peshawar police official.

The man was released after it was confirmed that he worked for the embassy, Hassan said.

"The individual enjoys diplomatic immunity," Hassan said.

FULL STORY

Filed under: World
February 14th, 2012
03:35 AM ET

Syrian residents say they're bracing for full-blown war

As U.N. diplomats slam the Syrian regime for the country's mounting bloodshed, residents wondered out loud what the implications of total war might be.

"Everyone we've been talking to ... believes that the country is heading towards, or already is in, a full-blown war, and recovering from that is going to be incredibly challenging," said CNN's Arwa Damon, who reported from inside Syria early Tuesday.

She spoke from an opposition safe house, describing a near constant flow of people and information. CNN is not disclosing her exact location because of concerns for her safety.

"What a lot of people are realizing and accepting at this stage is that this is going to be a bloody battle - that more lives are going to be lost," Damon said.

FULL STORY

Filed under: World
China's leader-in-waiting to meet with Obama
February 14th, 2012
03:19 AM ET

China's leader-in-waiting to meet with Obama

Vice President Xi Jinping of China, the man set become the country's next paramount leader, is scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama and other officials on Tuesday during a U.S. visit that is likely to help burnish Xi's statesmanly credentials at home and abroad.

The planned meetings have thrust Xi, who is expected to become head of the ruling Communist Party later this year, onto center stage in both the American and Chinese news media. Hu undertook a similar visit 10 years ago as he was being groomed for the top job.

But beneath the carefully choreographed presentation of the high-profile meetings lies a range of contentious issues on which Xi has little incentive to give ground, including trade and China's growing military presence.

"I think he's going to be be tough with a smile on his face," said James McGregor, senior counselor for the communications firm APCO Worldwide in China. "He's gonna appear to be a very friendly man. But he has to be tough because he's still talking to an audience back here."

The subject of Xi's five-day trip and what it portends for U.S.-Chinese relations in the coming years has received heavy coverage in state-run media in China.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Barack Obama • Economy • Politics • U.S. • World
February 14th, 2012
02:21 AM ET

Houston's family prepares for funeral

A hearse and a large police procession arrived just before midnight Tuesday at a New Jersey funeral home that is handling the funeral arrangements for Whitney Houston.

The hearse was escorted by police from Teterboro Airport to Whigham Funeral Home in Newark as a large crowd gathered. Cissy Houston, Houston's mother, was inside the funeral home, waiting, police said.

And as Houston's grieving family members prepared for her funeral, the exact cause of Houston's death remained a mystery.

Despite widespread media speculation, a Los Angeles County coroner official Monday downplayed the suspicion that drugs played a major role.

FULL STORY

Filed under: U.S.