Badminton disqualifications: Players allegedly tempted by own rules
China's Yu Yang, left, and Wang Xiaoli were two of the eight badminton players disqualified from the Olympics this week.
August 1st, 2012
10:53 PM ET

Badminton disqualifications: Players allegedly tempted by own rules

Until this week, badminton probably wasn’t one of the sports that Americans generally linked to cheating and international scandal. More like backyard cookouts and college fitness classes.

Even the college gym types, though, understand there’s an unspoken agreement between participants: Championship or practice, competition or graduation requirement, you will not intentionally lose to a worthy opponent.

Players might balk at this if they’re rewarded for shunning victory. That’s allegedly what was at play this week when four pairs of female badminton players were disqualified from the Olympics, accused of trying to lose their last qualifying-round matches to face easier opponents in the knockout stage.

The players appear to have denied paying spectators of the competitive matches they’d come to see. The London Olympic organizing committee’s chairman, Sebastian Coe, said the incident was depressing and unacceptable.

But it’s not the first time that this has happened in a tournament’s group stage. And it’s not even the only time in these very Games that a team tried not to win.

The coach of Japan women’s Olympic soccer team acknowledged that it intentionally avoided scoring in its third and final group game, a 0-0 draw with winless South Africa on Wednesday, according to The Independent.

Japan would have won its four-team group with a victory. But a draw put it in second, just enough to qualify for the knockout stage.

Japan’s coach says he did it to ensure the team didn’t travel across the United Kingdom. Second place meant it would start the knockout round in Cardiff, Wales, where the squad already was. The winner of Group F, in contrast, will play its first knockout game in Scotland.

“It was important not to move to Glasgow but to stay here and prepare for the next match,” Japanese coach Norio Sasaki said, according to The Independent.

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Filed under: China • Indonesia • Olympics • South Korea • Sports
24 hours through the lens
August 1st, 2012
05:08 PM ET

Mash-up: Crop circles, Twitter Olympics

The CNN Daily Mash-up is a roundup of some of the most interesting, surprising, curious, poignant or significant items to appear on CNN.com in the past 24 hours. We top it with a collection of the day's most striking photographs from around the world.

Twitter Olympics change the game

CNN tech reporter John D. Sutter writes, "Wasn't this supposed to be the 'Twitter Olympics,' where everyone rejoiced in the digital-era magic of hearing directly from the world's best athletes and scrolling through a global, real-time conversation about what must be the planet's most 'Kumbaya'-like sporting event?"

Well, yes. But things don't always go as planned, as evidenced by some athletes' questionable tweets and the groundswell of digital criticism for NBC's coverage of the Games.

CNN readers have at least as many opinions about Twitter as they have about the Games.

RabbitMan196

Twitter is not one of those things that makes the world a better place.  Knowing people's knee-jerk reactions to things is not news, or even interesting.

Sybaris

It may not make the world a better place but it puts a real face on the world. People are just not as nice as they pretend to be.

Anoran

Arab Spring? Just because it doesn't make -your- world a better place doesn't mean the end result isn't positive.

PSAGuy

It's the thing the younger generation does not get....yet.  They are eons ahead of us old timers with the technology...no 2 ways about it.  But they don't yet understand the ramifications of the technology. Nothing happens in a vacuum. There are consequences for not understanding the public nature of all this technology. It's one thing to know how to drive a car.......quite another to understand "the rules of the road" however.

American pie

CNN iReporter Lynn Jones got pied herself at a big cream pie fight in Dallas.

During a bid to break the Guinness World Record for the largest shaving cream pie fight, CNN iReporter Lynn Jones joined more than 700 people in Dallas plastered in globs of shaving cream. Describing it as a chaotic, fun and party atmosphere, she says it was a thrilling event that she didn't want to miss.

"It was so much fun, and I would do this again in a heartbeat," she says. "One guy at one point said I didn't have enough shaving cream on me, so his pie went on the top of my head. I was laughing the entire time."

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August 1st, 2012
05:01 PM ET

Tribute: My friend, il maestro Gore Vidal

Editor's note: Jay Parini is a poet, novelist, biographer and critic. He is the author of more than 20 books, ranging from poetry and nonfiction to biographies as well as collections of essays. In 2009, his novel "The Last Station" was turned into an Academy Award-nominated film. Film adaptations of "Benjamin’s Crossing" and "The Passages of H.M." are under way.

For a long time now I've been thinking about the day Gore Vidal would die, as we've been close friends for three decades. I knew I would miss him terribly, and I do – although he hasn’t been dead for a day yet.

We met a few decades ago in southern Italy, where I lived for a period in a small house overlooking the Amalfi Coast – a magical place, with astonishing views of the sea and a lemon grove behind us. I was writing a historical novel, set in the coal country of Pennsylvania, in the 1920s, and reading historical novels to get ideas, especially those by Vidal – he had been a favorite author of mine from my days in college, when I first read "Julian" and "Washington, D.C."

At the time, I didn't even know he lived on the Amalfi Coast, nor that - in fact - I had rented a house in a garden below his imposing villa, which perched on a cliff like a swallow’s nest. (Gore had lived there since 1972 with his lifelong companion, Howard Austen.)

By chance, soon after my arrival, I asked a local newsagent who lived in the big villa, assuming it was some feudal lord. He said: "Gore Vidal, il maestro!" He explained that Vidal stopped by every afternoon to buy a paper and have a drink next door. Somewhat taken aback, I left a note for him:
'Dear Mr. Vidal, I'm an American writer who has moved to town. If there is any chance to meet you, I would be delighted.' I left my address but hardly expected to hear from him. Much to my amazement, he knocked on my door a few hours later, saying: "Parini, come for dinner."

That night I went for dinner, and I kept going. Over time, we became close friends, and he would read a good deal of what I wrote and comment in detail, offering shrewd criticism and encouragement. I would read drafts of things that he wrote, too, and we talked endlessly about the craft of writing.

He really did seem to know everything there was to know about this. Once, for instance, I was sitting with him and said: “I'm writing a novel in which two characters talk about Kierkegaard for about 20 pages. Can I get away with this?" With a twinkle, after a slight pause, he replied, "You can do that. But only if these characters are sitting in a railway car, and the reader knows there is a bomb under the seat."

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August 1st, 2012
02:15 PM ET

Police release composite image of Bulgaria bus bomber

Bulgarian police released a composite image Wednesday of the man accused of carrying out a suicide bomb attack on a bus at Burgas airport last month, in which five Israeli tourists and the Bulgarian bus driver died.

The image shows the face of a clean-shaven young man with short dark hair, a pale complexion and brown or green eyes.

It was created by applying "modern technologies and techniques" to the data collected, the police said in a statement.

Anyone with more information about the man pictured is urged to contact the authorities.

More than 30 other Israelis were injured, some seriously, in the terror attack two weeks ago. The Israelis had arrived from Tel Aviv to take a vacation at a resort on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast.

The bomb is believed to have been concealed in a backpack the suicide bomber placed on a bus in a parking lot outside the airport.

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August 1st, 2012
01:32 PM ET

If Michael Phelps were a country...

[Updated at 4:02 p.m. ET Saturday]

He would be No. 51 in the all-time medal count, tied with Egypt and Portugal with 22 total medals.

 He'd have more Twitter followers (1,000,497) than Fiji has in total population (890,057).

He'd be making more money than certain entire countries. He is estimated to make $100 million over the course of his lifetime. This is more than twice the estimated GDP of the Tuvalu Islands ($37,470,000).

 He'd be liked on Facebook (5.8 million times) more times than the total number of Internet users in Greece (4,971,000).

Phelps, born in 1985, would be older than several countries including Namibia, Slovakia, Serbia, Kosovo, and South Sudan.

– Phelps, standing 6-foot-4, would be taller than the average Dutch man (6 feet), considered to be the world’s tallest people.

We say this, of course to highlight the legacy of Phelps, who won his 22nd medal on Saturday, extending his record of most Olympic medals won all-time.

Phelps, who began swimming at age 7 to emulate his sisters, set individual world records 29 times, and he still holds records in six events.

He has wrapped up a career as the most decorated Olympian ever, perhaps the greatest ever. Some commentators will argue the cases of track and field's Carl Lewis, who missed an Olympics because of a U.S. boycott, or distance runner Paavo Nurmi, who won 12 medals. Some might argue for Bjorn Daehlie, the Norwegian cross-country skier. And there's gymnast Larisa Latynina, whose 18 medals are now second all time.

Vote in the poll below if you think Michael Phelps should be considered the greatest Olympian ever. We plan to keep adding to this list so let us know in the comments if you have any similar "if Michael Phelps were a country" comparisons and we'll check them out.

August 1st, 2012
12:10 PM ET

More than half of U.S. counties now disaster zones due to drought, officials say

More than half of all U.S. counties have been designated disaster zones, the Department of Agriculture reported Wednesday, blaming excessive heat and a devastating drought that's spread across the Corn Belt and is contributing to rising food prices.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday declared disaster zone designations for an additional 218 counties in 12 states because of damage and losses caused by drought and excessive heat.

The states are Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming.

Nearly three-quarters of the nation's cattle acreage is inside a region hit by drought, as is about two-thirds of the country's hay acreage, the agency reported.

USDA researchers added that an average of 37% of the nation's soybeans were last week ranked from very poor to poor, the lowest quality recorded since a massive drought in 1988.

More on the drought

Food prices climbing

Corn prices hit record as crops shrivel

Opinion: Extreme weather and a changing climate

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Filed under: U.S. • Weather
August 1st, 2012
11:47 AM ET

More Ebola deaths in Uganda, officials say

Two more people have died in Uganda's Ebola outbreak, officials working at a hospital said Wednesday.

This brings the death toll to 16 people. They died in an outbreak that began in the Kibaale district in western Uganda.

One of the two latest deaths was of a 14-year-old boy whose nine relatives also have died in the outbreak in the district's Nyanswiga village, where the first case is thought to have been.

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August 1st, 2012
11:24 AM ET

Legal analyst: Why Colorado shooting suspect was charged in 'unusual' way

Editor's note: Paul Callan is a CNN legal contributor, a criminal defense attorney and a former New York homicide prosecutor,  including in the "Son of Sam" case. He is a senior partner at Callan, Koster, Brady & Brennan, LLP. Callan spoke with CNN about the charges that Aurora, Colorado, shooting suspect James Holmes is facing.

Can you explain the charges James Holmes is facing?

Paul Callan: Colorado prosecutors have charged the defendant, James Holmes, with 142 counts of criminal conduct for his alleged role in the Colorado movie theater massacre. The staggeringly large number of serious charges is not surprising given the number of victims in the case. (Twelve people were killed and 58 others injured.)

While prosecutors could have proceeded with a more streamlined case, they have elected the safer route of charging as many crimes as possible as the prosecution begins. The case can be streamlined later on if problems develop in proving some of the crimes listed. Additional charges may also be lodged in the future relating to the incendiary devices found by law enforcement authorities at Mr. Holmes' apartment.

Why is Holmes facing two charges for each person who was either killed or injured in the shooting? Is there a strategy behind this?

Callan: Prosecutors have elected to assert two counts of first-degree murder for each person who was killed as a result of the hail of gunfire in the Aurora movie theater. This approach is somewhat unusual.

The first of each of the murder counts alleges that Holmes “after deliberation” intentionally caused the death of his victims. This is the traditional premeditated murder charge that is used in cases of intentional murder throughout the United States. Prosecutors will seek to prove that the murders were planned and that Holmes formed an “intent” to kill his victims before pulling the trigger.

A second more unusual first-degree murder count was added for each victim charging that the manner in which the killings took place evinced "... an attitude of universal malice manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life. …” In many states, this is called a “reckless indifference” murder and is quite different from intentional, premeditated murder. It requires an act of callous and reckless indifference to the value human life which causes death.

An example might be a drunken driver who speeds down a busy city sidewalk, striking and killing pedestrians in the process. Even though the killings may not have been planned or even intended, the conduct is so grossly reckless and maliciously indifferent to the possibility that someone might be killed that the law says it is just as bad as premeditated murder. In fact, in Colorado intentional murder and extreme indifference murder both carry the same potential sentences: life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Prosecutors have hedged their bets by adding the “extreme indifference” counts because proving the intent to murder each individual victim may be problematic. Some victims may have been killed by ricochets, or it is even possible that Holmes’ weapon was aimed at the screen when some of the fatal shots were fired. We won’t really know all of the details until the evidence is presented.

Should Holmes' lawyers assert that mental illness prevented him from forming the specific intent to kill particular victims, these additional counts will give jurors an alternative theory of guilt. Firing a weapon of any kind in a crowded theater would easily constitute an act of “extreme indifference” murder under Colorado law.

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A dozen thoughts from Gore Vidal
August 1st, 2012
10:59 AM ET

A dozen thoughts from Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal, the eclectic author who faithfully chronicled the major shifts and upheavals in the United States in books, essays and plays, has died. He was 86.

Here are a dozen of his best quotes, as gathered by The Gore Vidal Pages.

"Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies."

"It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail."

"I can understand companionship. I can understand bought sex in the afternoon, but I cannot understand the love affair."

"Never pass up a chance to have sex or appear on television."

"A narcissist is someone better looking than you are."

"Write something, even if it's just a suicide note."

"You know, I've been around the ruling class all my life, and I've been quite aware of their total contempt for the people of the country."

"I suspect that one of the reasons we create fiction is to make sex exciting."

"The United States was founded by the brightest people in the country - and we haven't seen them since."

"Every four years the naive half who vote are encouraged to believe that if we can elect a really nice man or woman president everything will be all right. But it won't be."

"The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so."

"There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise."

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Filed under: Celebrity • Obituary
8 badminton players thrown out of Olympics for trying to lose
Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China are ranked No. 1 in the world.
August 1st, 2012
08:49 AM ET

8 badminton players thrown out of Olympics for trying to lose

Eight female badminton players were thrown out of the Olympics on Wednesday for trying to lose matches the day before, the Badminton World Federation announced after a disciplinary hearing.

"After a hearing this morning before the BWF’s Disciplinary Committee the following pairs were disqualified: Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang (China); Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari (Indonesia); Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na (Korea); and Ha Jung Eun and Kim Min Jung (Korea)," read a statement from the Badminton World Federation.

The players from China, South Korea and Indonesia were accused of playing to lose to face easier opponents in future matches.

How group stages may tempt athletes to throw games

The Indonesian and South Korean pairs appealed the decision, the BWF said, and a decision on their appeals is expected later on Wednesday.

The eight players concerned had all already qualified for the quarterfinals of the tournament before the final matches of the group stage on Tuesday night.

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Filed under: Olympics • Sports
August 1st, 2012
07:45 AM ET

Wednesday's live events

The race to the presidency now turns toward the general election in November.  CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - GSA mismanagement hearing - Allegations of mismanagement and wasteful spending continue to fester within the General Services Administration, and a House committee will look into the claims this morning.

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Filed under: Elections • On CNN.com today • Politics
A look back at Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal said he was a once-famous novelist who was relegated to going on TV because people "seldom read anymore."
August 1st, 2012
02:13 AM ET

A look back at Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal, an eclectic author who chronicled major cultural shifts in the United States in books, essays and plays, has died at his Los Angeles home. He was 86. Here's a quick look back on his life:

* Birth date: October 3, 1925

* Birth place: West Point, New York

* Birth name: Eugene Luther Vidal, Jr.

* Parents: Eugene,aviator and educator, and Nina (Gore) Vidal

* Education: Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire, 1943

* Military service: U.S. Army, July 1943 – February 1946, Warrant Officer

Other Facts:

* Grandfather T. P. Gore helped write the state constitution of Oklahoma and was one of the first senators elected to represent the state.

* Began writing under the name Gore Vidal in high school, taking Gore after his maternal grandfather.

* At different times, both Vidal and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis were the stepchildren of Hugh Auchincloss. He was married to Nina Gore Vidal first, then to Janet Bouvier, Jackie O's mother.

* Ran for Congress twice and lost.

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