Editor's note: In this piece, CNN Senior Executive Producer Paul Varian looks back on the career of longtime reporter Marie Colvin, who was one of two Western journalists killed Wednesday while covering an uprising in Syria. Varian and Colvin were colleagues at United Press International before Colvin joined London's The Sunday Times.
After a week plus of the intense coverage afforded the nation’s latest tragic celebrity death, it’s a poignant time for those of us in the news media to pay homage to three of our own, lost in the killing zones of Syria.
The legacy left by Anthony Shadid of the New York Times, Marie Colvin of The Sunday Times of London and French photographer Remi Ochlik is one of unyielding dedication to getting the story – illustrated and in up-close detail – and getting it out to the rest of the world.
I first met Colvin when she was a pup, covering the New Jersey statehouse for United Press International, wholeheartedly in love with the news, eager to grow as a journalist and excited about her prospects for the future.
She soon moved to New York City, the police beat and the kinds of human interest stories unique to New York, but her ambition was more worldly.
She wanted to be a foreign correspondent and, as UPI's foreign editor, I helped her make the first step toward achieving that goal – a slot on the international desk when UPI shifted its world headquarters to Washington in 1983.
A bit on the Bohemian side even then, she took up residence on a houseboat in the Potomac and settled in for a stint on the graveyard shift where her closest brush with danger each night was her 3 a.m. run to an all-night next door coffee shop whose patrons included strippers, street hookers, their pimps and other unsavory sorts who populated what was then D.C.'s most notorious red light district.
She thrived on coffee, and that was the only place you could get it.
[Updated at 11:18 p.m. ET] A jury late Wednesday recommended a prison sentence of 26 years for former University of Virginia lacrosse player George Huguely, convicted of second-degree murder and grand larceny in the death of his ex-girlfriend, Yeardley Love, who also played lacrosse at Virginia.
The judge has the option of accepting that sentence or imposing a lesser one. The recommendation is 25 years on the murder count and one year for grand larceny.
The jury's verdicts were read earlier Wednesday. Sentencing has been scheduled for April 16.
Huguely, 24, was found not guilty on the most serious charge – first-degree murder – in the May 2010 death of Love, 22. He was acquitted on several other charges, including robbery and breaking and entering to commit larceny.
The sentencing range for a second-degree murder conviction is between five and 40 years.
A medical examiner ruled that blunt force trauma killed Love, and authorities alleged Huguely caused it during an altercation at Love's off-campus apartment, where a roommate found her dead days before graduation.
A defense attorney told jurors during closing arguments in Charlottesville, Virginia, that Huguely contributed to Love's death, but did not kill her and had no intent to do so.
[Initial post, 6:07 a.m.] Jury deliberations are expected to begin Wednesday in the trial of a former University of Virginia lacrosse player accused of fatally beating his ex-girlfriend.
George Huguely contributed to his ex-girlfriend's death, but did not kill her and had no intent to do so, his attorney said during closing arguments Saturday.
"Yes, George contributed to her death. But no, he didn't kill her ... he left there with her alive, and that is not in dispute. There was no intentional killing, because she wasn't dead when he left," defense attorney Francis Lawrence said.FULL STORY
Editor's note: Lea este artículo en español/Read this article in Spanish
[Updated at 11:35 p.m. ET] A train packed with rush-hour commuters plowed head-on into a barrier at a Buenos Aires station Wednesday morning, killing 50 people and injuring hundreds more, officials in Argentina said.
The train failed to stop as it should have, and slammed into the barrier at Once station at Plaza Miserere shortly after 8:30 a.m. local time, rail service owner Buenos Aires Trains said.
Video of the crash aired by Argentina TV station C5N shows people waiting on a platform as the train's front section passes them and the camera. The train then comes to a violent halt, apparently because the front section hit the barrier farther down the track.
The crash caused the train's second section to be pushed 6 meters into the first section, Transportation Secretary Juan Pablo Schiavi said, according to the Buenos Aires Herald. (See animated simulation of wreck from C5N)
Other video from the scene showed rescuers prying open windows of the twisted train to reach trapped passengers. Crews carried bleeding victims on stretchers through the busy station; some victims were taken to area hospitals by helicopter.
Argentina's president declared a two-day period of mourning.
"The government and people of Argentina give their solidarity and weigh the pain felt by the families of the victims," President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said in a statement declaring the mourning period. Memorials will be held outside Argentina's Government House and Olivos, the presidential residence, the state news agency Telam reported.
"Never in my life had I seen anything like this," Schiavi told reporters hours after the accident.
Shaken passengers told reporters the crash sounded like a bomb blast.
"Suddenly I heard a bang, and many people fell on top of me. I think I had more than 10 people above me. I got out as quickly as I could," a passenger named Esteban told state news agency Telam. "I only saw injured people and heard screams."
Another passenger, identified only as Fabian, said he "flew 15 (meters) forward due to the impact," the Buenos Aires Herald reported.
"I had people piled on top of me. None of us could move,” Fabian said, according to the Herald.
Another passenger told C5N that shortly before impact, when passengers noticed the train wasn't stopping, some started to shout to others that they should run to the back.
The first two cars of the train – crammed with commuters – were most affected by the crash.
Passengers emerged bruised, some with serious injuries, Schiavi said. More than 460 were hospitalized.
The crash injured more than 600 people, the state-run Telam news agency reported.
Family members flooded local hospitals, clamoring for information about missing loved ones.
Officials were investigating the crash, which was one of the nation's worst in decades.
They will use GPS data, security camera footage, audio recordings from the driver's cabin and maintenance records in their investigation, Schiavi said.
The train stopped at other stations on its route, and data shows that it slowed down as it approached the Once station, Schiavi said.
"It stopped 14 times, and the last time, it didn't stop," he said.
The packed train was traveling at 26 kilometers per hour (16 mph) when it entered the station, he said.
"We do not know what happened in the last 40 meters," he said.
The train's 28-year-old driver had just started his shift and had a good record, the transportation minister said.
Earlier Wednesday, Schiavi said authorities believed there were problems with the train's brakes that caused it to smash into a barrier at the station.
Buenos Aires Trains, which runs the rail service, said it was cooperating with the federal investigation.
"The company sends its condolences to the family members of the deceased passengers and remains very concerned about the health of all the injured people," the firm said in a statement.
Wednesday's crash was among the worst in Argentina's history, Telam reported.
In 1970, 200 people died when two trains crashed north of Buenos Aires.
Eight years later, 56 people were killed when a train hit a truck in Argentina's Santa Fe province, the state news agency reported.
Last September, a crash involving two passenger trains and a bus in Buenos Aires killed at least 11 people.FULL STORY
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.
Millions of Catholics mark the the beginning of the Lenten season by attending Ash Wednesday church services and receiving ashes on their foreheads. Some Catholics leave the mark on all day, while others choose to wipe it off. Religious scholars told CNN that either option is fine.
Some people were curious what GOP presidential hopefuls Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich would do - both are Catholic and are scheduled to participate in Wednesday's debate in Arizona.
The question generated an interesting discussion about displays of faith in politics and in daily life.
Many commenters, including those who identified themselves as Catholics, said it didn't matter to them if the candidates wore the ashes, and some like Alan wondered why we were even bringing it up.
"Why is this even an issue! It will have nothing to do with the debate, election or anything else. CNN just likes to make an issue out of nothing. I am Catholic, I got my ashes, now do you really think I care which one of the candidates did or did not elect to get theirs, NO, NO, NO."
Phil in KC says he doesn't expect Gingrich or Santorum to have the ashes during the debate.
"They'll be so busy sweating, it will all be wiped off by the time the cameras roll. And that's if the make-up lady doesn't remove it first.
The bigger question is, why do I care?"
We now know President Obama can sing. President Clinton's a sax man. President George W. Bush? Well, we may not go as far as to call him a drummer, but we've seen him drum (He dances, too!).
Are we on the verge of seeing a presidential supergroup? Probably not. But after Obama took the mic at last night's celebration of blues music at the White House, we're turning the amps to 11 for this Gotta Watch featuring performing presidents.
President Obama joins B.B. King, Mick Jagger and other blues and rock legends at a performance in the White House.
President George W. Bush dances and beats a drum at an Africa Malaria Day gathering at the White House on April 25, 2007.
With Clarence Clemons, President Clinton performs the classic, "Night Train," on the saxophone at his inaugural ball.
The four major GOP presidential candidates gather in Arizona tonight for the latest Republican debate. CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.
Today's programming highlights...
10:00 am ET - Obama museum remarks - President Obama will begin his day at the construction site for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, where he will make remarks.
British Prime Minister David Cameron will hold talks at 10 Downing Street on Wednesday to discuss racism in football following several high profile incidents in the English Premier League.
"We simply cannot brush this under the carpet," Cameron said, writing in The Sun newspaper. "I've no doubt that football will crack this problem — and the Government stands ready to do anything it can to help."
Racism has been in the spotlight after cases involving some of football's most-famous players and figures.FULL STORY
Two Western journalists were killed Wednesday in the Syrian city of Homs amid heavy shelling from government forces, opposition activists said.
The Sunday Times of London said one of the journalists reportedly killed was staffer Marie Colvin - the only British newspaper journalist inside the besieged Syrian enclave of Baba Amr.
Colvin was on air with CNN on Tuesday night, recalling how she watched a young boy die after his house was struck by shelling.FULL STORY
Singing sensation Adele continued rolling in the prizes at the Brit Awards in London, but she made headlines Wednesday for something else: she gave the middle finger when she was cut off during the live broadcast.
The British star, who raked in six Grammys last week, won best album at the Brits for "21," which featured the hit single "Rolling in the Deep."
But when Brit host James Corden cut her speech short Tuesday night, she made the rude gesture.FULL STORY
Hundreds of Indonesian police officers charged into a prison in Bali on Wednesday to subdue rioting inmates who had set a building on fire and thrown stones at firefighters.
The police arrived at Kerobokan Prison late Tuesday to ensure that no prisoners escaped during the rioting, said Ketut Untung Sayoga, the deputy chief of police in Bali, but did not enter the facility until daylight broke Wednesday.
Three inmates were wounded, one of them shot in the leg by a rubber bullet, Sayoga said.
The riot took place in a separate block from the one housing foreign inmates. None of the 60 foreign prisoners were harmed, Sayoga said.FULL STORY
An Indiana lawmaker who opposes celebrating the centennial anniversary of the Girl Scouts of America says the group "sexualizes" young girls, promotes homosexuality and is a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood.
In a letter sent to members of the Republican Caucus, Indiana State Rep. Bob Morris said many parents were "abandoning the Girl Scouts because they promote homosexual lifestyles."
"As members of the Indiana House of Representatives, we must be wise before we use the credibility and respect of the 'Peoples' House' to extend legitimacy to a radicalized organization," he said, warning them not "to endorse a group that has been subverted in the name of liberal progressive politics and the destruction of traditional American family values."
In the Febraury 18 letter, obtained by CNN affiliate WRTV-TV, Morris lobbied lawmakers to oppose a nonbinding resolution celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts.
Morris was the only member not to sign the measure.FULL STORY
Lindsay Lohan's probation should end next month, clearing the way for the actress to revive her acting career possibly playing Elizabeth Taylor in a made-for-TV movie.
Lohan appears in court Wednesday for a judge to check her progress, but she's gotten glowing probation reports for the last two months.
Lohan's "on the home stretch" to completing her 480 hours of community service - most of it cleaning up at the Los Angeles County morgue - on schedule next month, her publicist Steve Honig said.
Once she's done, Lohan will be released from the strict probation requirements that started five years ago after two drunk driving convictions. She should have finished two years ago, but it was extended after several probation violations, including missed counseling sessions, failed drug and alcohol tests and a shoplifting conviction.
Stints in jail and court-ordered rehab cost Lohan acting jobs, but the light at the end of the strict probation tunnel appears in sight for Lohan.
Lohan travels to New York next week to host NBC's "Saturday Night Live" on March 3. It's her fourth time hosting the show, but the first since her legal troubles began in 2007.
She appears close to signing a deal to play the lead in a Lifetime network movie about legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor, who died last year.FULL STORY
Kevin Rudd, the Australian foreign minister, has resigned, his office said Wednesday, amid speculation that he may mount a leadership challenge to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The Australian news media has been abuzz in recent days with reports that Rudd was considering contesting Gillard's leadership of the governing Labor Party.
Gillard unseated Rudd as prime minister in June 2010 after he lost support within the party.
Ranya Alkadamani, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, confirmed that Rudd had resigned while in Washington.FULL STORY
Twenty-seven days. That's how long it has been between the 19th and 20th Republican presidential debates.
But that ends Wednesday, when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas face off at a debate hosted by CNN and the Republican Party of Arizona at the Mesa Arts Center.
A lot has changed in the battle for the GOP nomination since the last debate, a CNN-Republican Party of Florida showdown in Jacksonville on January 26. Romney went on to win big in Florida and Nevada, while Gingrich, who had just scored an impressive victory in South Carolina, faded fast.FULL STORY
Kim Dotcom, the millionaire founder of the file-sharing website Megaupload, was released on bail Wednesday after a judge said he didn't appear to have enough money to flee.
Under one of the largest anti-piracy crackdowns ever, the U.S. Department of Justice is seeking to have Dotcom, also known as Kim Schmitz, and three co-workers extradited to face charges including conspiracy to commit racketeering and conspiracy to commit copyright infringement.
Last month, U.S. authorities shut down Megaupload's websites and announced indictments against Dotcom and six other people connected to the site, accusing them of operating an "international organized criminal enterprise responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of copyrighted works."
They say Megaupload generated more than $175 million in illegal profits through advertising revenue and the sale of premium memberships.FULL STORY
A 42-year-old immigrant from Rwanda, who is accused of lying her way into the United States after allegedly participating in the 1994 genocide that left up to 800,000 people dead, is going on trial in a New Hampshire federal court.
Jury selection is set to begin Wednesday in the case of Beatrice Munyenyezi, who allegedly committed fraud in 1995 by denying her alleged involvement in mass rape, murder and kidnappings in Rwanda a year earlier.
Prosecutors allege Munyenyezi, who is now a U.S. citizen, intentionally lied on a refugee questionnaire and naturalization documents about her role in the infamous slaughter, in which ethnic Hutu militants butchered their Tutsi counterparts over a three-month period.
They say Munyenyezi, a Hutu, was a member of an extremist group associated with a paramilitary organization that set up roadblocks and targeted fleeing Tutsis and their sympathizers.
One of the roadblocks was set up outside the Ihuriro Hotel - an establishment owned by her husband's family, according to the indictment.
The mother of three is allegedly married to former militia leader Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, who was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to life in prison last year.FULL STORY
Five people were killed in a suburban Atlanta spa Tuesday night in a shooting that police said appeared to be a murder-suicide.
Police in Norcross, Georgia, got the call to the Su Jung Health Spa around 8:45 p.m. and found four people dead when they arrived. A fifth who was wounded but conscious later died at a hospital, said Capt. Brian Harr.
Authorities believe one of the victims is possibly the suspect, but Harr noted that the investigation is still in its early stages. He was not aware of a possible motive in the shootings.
Police didn't immediately release the names of the victims.FULL STORY
Fish and plankton collected from the Pacific Ocean near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant contain elevated levels of radioactive materials, but below levels that pose a threat to public health, researchers reported Tuesday.
Levels of the long-lived nuclear waste cesium-137 were 1,000 times higher in seawater samples taken three months after the accident than they were before the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi, said Nicholas Fisher, a marine science professor at New York's Stony Brook University. Zooplankton, which get carried by currents, collected in those waters had levels of cesium-137 and the shorter-lived cesium-134 that were on average 40 times higher than the surrounding water, he said. They also had much higher levels of a radioactive form of silver produced by nuclear reactions.
But the readings amounted to a fraction of the amount of radioactivity sea life is exposed to from naturally occurring potassium in seawater, Fisher said.
"The total radiation in the marine organisms that we collected from Fukushima is still less than the natural radiation background that the animals already had, and quite a bit less," he said. "It's about 20%."
The findings were among several reports on the Fukushima Daiichi accident that were presented at an ocean science conference in Salt Lake City held this week.FULL STORY