24 hours through the lens
October 2nd, 2012
06:42 PM ET

Mash-up: Crew crashes plane on purpose

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.

Prepare for impact

Hey, Bubba, watch me land this plane!

Actually, it wasn't some yahoo behind the stick of a 727. Professional pilots deliberately crashed the plane for scientific study.

Harrowing struggle to survive

At least 38 people are dead after two ferries collided during a holiday celebration Tuesday in Hong Kong's harbor. Survivors recounted the fear and chaos that followed the collision. One passenger told CNN affiliate i-Cable:

The water was suffocating me. My friend tugged with all her might and got my leg out. I was wearing a life jacket, so I floated up to the surface. I had swallowed a lot of water. I really thought I was going to die. Thinking about all those at the bottom who were stuck, they're not here anymore.

Calf rescued from mine shaft

Rescuers worked for several hours the pull a calf out of a mine shaft Monday in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, CNN affiliate WTAE reports. Professional and volunteer workers used an excavator to retrieve the animal from a 16-foot hole.

The calf's mother momentarily charged the dozens of people crowding the old mine shaft, according to WTAE. "We were a little nervous. Before darkness fell, she (the cow) kept trying to get up in here. Fortunately, she stayed away," Assistant Fire Chief Patrick Kromel said.

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24 hours through the lens
October 1st, 2012
06:10 PM ET

Mash-up: It's a nice day for a wall wedding

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.

iReporter Craig Smith saw dozens of couples getting married en masse.

I do, I do, I do, I do, I do, I do, I do ...

CNN iReporter Craig Smith of Orange County, California, was passing through China today on his way to Mongolia when he spotted a mass wedding of young Chinese couples near a section of the Great Wall. Today is a national holiday in China, and such ceremonies are common on holidays.

"The couples were happy and excited," he said. "They get married in these ceremonies because they do not have enough money for a private ceremony. Many of the parents kept having me take photos of their bride or groom since they did not have a photographer."

See more of Smith's festive photos here.

LeBron James of the Miami Heat did not endorse this message.

Don't take his talent there

Basketball star LeBron James has endorsed a lot of products over the years, but it seems safe to say he didn't willingly lend his name to this one. Police in a Philadelphia suburb say they busted a heroin dealer selling packets of the drug marked with a silhouette of a basketball player and the name "LeBron James," CNN affiliate philly.com reports.

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24 hours through the lens
September 27th, 2012
05:05 PM ET

Mash-up: Lil Wayne's legal mind

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.

Lil Wayne gives quite a performance

Faithful celebrate 'no matter where'

iReporter Theodros Arega captured vibrant images of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrating the annual Meskel religious festival in Stockholm, Sweden.

The festival commemorates what they believe is the finding of "the true cross" by St. Helena in the fourth century. The highlight of the festival is a Demera ceremony, where a massive bonfire is lighted and attendees celebrate with songs.

"Many Ethiopians who live abroad stick to their culture and tradition no matter where they live and how difficult it is," he said. "I'd never been to this beautiful celebration in Stockholm, and I was eager to document it."

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24 hours through the lens
September 26th, 2012
06:39 PM ET

Mash-up: Is that a squirrel in your shirt?

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.

Oh sure, blame it on the squirrel

Homes saved from brush fire at last minute

iReporter Andy Deane was relieved to see a helicopter crew dropping water on a brush fire in Murrieta, California, on Sunday, as the fire neared homes and Calvary Chapel Bible College, which is at the bottom of the hill.

"We have 500 students that all smelled the fire. We had all the students pray at 7 p.m. for the safety of the community and firefighters. The students' parents were calling concerned we would evacuate them, but the township told us that we were safe and it was not necessary," he said.

Deane shot some dramatic video of the copter, which you can view here.

Cute animal video alert

Fond memories of Andy Williams

CNN readers were quick to share their memories of watching Andy Williams on TV or in person and listening to his music, especially during the holidays. Williams, whose biggest hit was the ubiquitous elevator song "Moon River," died of bladder cancer Tuesday night at 84.

Solex
As a late baby boomer, I remember the Andy Williams specials and shows as a kid sitting on the floor of our living room watching our console TV - the kind that had a record player and radio as well.
My dad was a HUGE fan of his and I remember nothing but good things about him and his music.
Goodbye Andy - you finally crossed over Moon River.

Jon Herman
I lived and worked in Branson for 10 years.  When I worked at the movie theater, he would rent out a theater after hours on occasion for his employees.  He was great to talk with and down to earth.  His music was legendary, and he will be missed by many.  He helped build Branson to what it is now by building his theater.  Before Moon River theater, they were all small, cramped and low-budget theaters.  He shined up the place and put a new face on the town.

Step away from the smartphone

Tech-savvy Americans are forgetting how to do nothing, it seems. Christopher Lynn, an anthropology professor at the University of Alabama, compares tapping at smartphones to smoking a cigarette.

When you're habituated to constant stimulation, when you lack it, you sort of don't know what to do with yourself. ... When we aren't used to having down time, it results in anxiety. 'Oh my God, I should be doing something.' And we reach for the smartphone. It's our omnipresent relief from that.

On the horizon: Netanyahu at U.N., latest GDP report

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday amid tensions between his country and Iran. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also will speak to the gathering.

The Commerce Department and the Bureau of Economic Analysis will provide a snapshot of the U.S. economy with the release of second-quarter gross domestic product figures at 8:30 a.m. ET.

September 27 anniversaries

Mark McGwire

1954 - "The Tonight Show" premieres, with Steve Allen as host.

1959 - Typhoon Vera hits the Japanese island of Honshu, killing almost 5,000 people.

1964 - The Warren Commission investigating the John F. Kennedy assassination releases its report, concluding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

1998 - St. Louis Cardinals baseball player Mark McGwire hits his 70th home run, setting a Major League record.

September 27 birthdays

Meat Loaf

• Actor Wilford Brimley, 78

• Singer/reality star Meat Loaf, 65

• Baseball player Mike Schmidt, 63

• Actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, 62

• Singer/actor Shaun Cassidy, 54

• Singer Avril Lavigne, 28

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24 hours through the lens
September 24th, 2012
05:43 PM ET

Mash-up: Ahmadinejad addresses riots

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.

Piers Morgan interviews Iranian president

During an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad slammed an anti-Islam film that has provoked a violent reaction in the Muslim world. Ahmadinejad denounced the online film, "Innocence of Muslims," which portrays the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and killer. However, he also said random violence is not a good response.

[W]e condemn any type of extremism. Of course, what took place was ugly. Offending the Holy Prophet is quite ugly. This has very little or nothing to do with freedom and freedom of speech. This is the weakness of and the abuse of freedom, and in many places it is a crime. It shouldn't take place, and I do hope the day will come in which politicians will not seek to offend those whom others hold holy. We also believe that this must also be resolved in a humane atmosphere, in a participatory environment, and we do not like anyone losing their lives or being killed for any reason, anywhere in the world.

Readers weigh in on Ahmadinejad

The Iranian president also talked about his country's tensions with Israel, and about homosexuality, which in 2007 he said did not exist in Iran. As always, his remarks sparked passionate responses from CNN readers, to wit:

Ethan Marsh
Ahmadinejad is obnoxious because he portrays himself as this enlightened, reasonable person who thinks everyone should just be left alone to do whatever they want in their own country. But he is as hypocritical as any other world leader, if not more so. He complains here about a world where Israel can threaten Iran over suspected nuclear ambitions, yet Iran refuses to recognize Israel as a state and has said that he wants the current Israeli political regime to cease to exist. Iran also funds and supports militants on Israel's border who have thousands of rockets aimed at Israeli population centers. The idea that Iran just wants to live in peace and security with its neighbors is a fiction. I'm not saying Israel is not militaristic as well, but at least they don't pretend they're not.

wakeup7509
I am an American, and no big supporter of Ahmadinejad; however, any U.S. and Israeli foreign policy of sanctions and pre-emptive attack based on falsified information is completely wrong. An attack on Iran only stands to endanger Israel and the Iranian people. An attack on Iran could quite easily be the catalyst for WW3 and nuclear destruction should China and Russia become involved. Only the severely brainwashed would believe that containment, and undiplomatic solutions are the best course, continuing down this path of aggression could very well lead to a major world depression once the Strait of Hormuz is threatened, and at worse resulting in death and destruction worldwide, including America.

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24 hours through the lens
September 6th, 2012
06:36 PM ET

Mash-up: Life, the universe and everything

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.

Four minutes of timeless beauty

CNN iReporter John Eklund started a film project to capture the beauty of the American Pacific Northwest in June 2011. He finally finished his time-lapse video in August 2012.

"I choose to shoot locations that appeal to the way I would like to interpret the story of time," he said. "Here in the Pacific Northwest, there are endless opportunities to document the magnificence of the world around us. I have discovered that when time is the storyteller, a special kind of truth emerges."

Check out the beautiful time-lapse video here.

Atheist scientist on religious scientists

Biologist and author Richard Dawkins is a noted atheist who doesn't have much patience for followers of creationism or intelligent design. Here's a brief excerpt from a longer conversation Dawkins had with CNN's Light Years science blog.

Richard Dawkins is firm in his unbelief.

There are many very educated people who are religious, but they're not creationists. There's a world of difference between a serious religious person and a creationist, and especially a Young Earth Creationist, who thinks the world is only 10,000 years old.

If we wonder why there are still serious people including some scientists who are religious, that's a complicated psychological question. They certainly won't believe that God created all species or something like that. They might believe there is some sort of intelligent spirit that lies behind the universe as a whole and perhaps designed the laws of physics, and everything else took off from there.

But there's a huge difference between believing that and believing that this God created all species. And also, by the way, in believing that Jesus is your lord and savior who died for your sins. That you may believe, but that doesn't follow from the scientific or perhaps pseudoscientific that there's some kind of intelligence that underlies the laws of physics.

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24 hours through the lens
September 5th, 2012
05:22 PM ET

Mash-up: Moose on the loose

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.

Not a fan of paparazzi

Brent Olsen looked out his window in Westford, Vermont, and saw a bull moose placing a hoof on Olsen's car.

"I had run out in my shorts from the morning and I started hollering at it: 'Do not jump on my car, Mr. Moose,'" Olsen told CNN affiliate WCAX.

Once he was satisfied his car was safe, Olsen decided to shoot some video of the "cute" animal with ivy tangled in its antlers.

That's when the scene switched from a nature documentary to some kind of weird slasher movie. WCAX tells the rest of the story here.

How long can you hold your breath?

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24 hours through the lens
September 4th, 2012
05:39 PM ET

Mash-up: NOLA returns to abnormal

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.

The end of bin Laden

Former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette's book about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden was released Tuesday, feeding a public hungry for insider details and angering a Pentagon worried about classified information. In the book, Bissonnette (writing under the pen name Mark Owen) says he helped finish off bin Laden after the al Qaeda leader had been mortally wounded by another member of the team:

In his death throes, he was still twitching and convulsing. Another assaulter and I trained our lasers on his chest and fired several rounds. The bullets tore into him, slamming his body into the floor until he was motionless.

Ah, New Orleans

CNN iReporter Lynn Magnuson shot fun video of a ragtag group of "second line" musicians taking to the streets in the French Quarter of New Orleans after Hurricane  Isaac passed through the area.

"I was on my way home when I encountered the procession. Second lines are a part of the culture here, but several tourists on the street were quite surprised as the second line was totally spontaneous," Magnuson said. "I'm a musician myself and ended up tapping on a light pole to keep rhythm."

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24 hours through the lens
September 3rd, 2012
06:59 PM ET

Mash-up: Firefighters revive dog

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.

Firefighters revive dog

Firefighters in Richfield, Minnesota, were able to revive a dog pulled from a burning house, CNN affiliate KARE reports. No humans were home at the time, and a second dog died in the fire that destroyed the house, but firefighters are trained in animal resuscitation techniques, the station reported.

Massive fire overwhelms firefighters

A fire at a sprawling abandoned hotel in Oregon proved too much for firefighters, who turned out in large numbers but had to stay outside and fight it from there.

Apology by text doesn't cut it

MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle is one of the leading researchers looking into the effects of texting on interpersonal development, Time's Jeffrey Kluger writes. Turkle believes that having a conversation with another person teaches kids to think and reason and self-reflect.

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24 hours through the lens
August 27th, 2012
08:15 PM ET

Mash-up: Isaac, Armstrong and earthquakes

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.

With Katrina in mind, NOLA gets ready

The Donald on business and politics

Donald Trump - you've heard of him, right? - told Republicans they need to be "mean as hell" against the Democrats in this fall's campaign. He also talked about the challenges business titans such as himself and Mitt Romney can face when they wade into politics:

They've been tough. They've been competitive. They work. They built their business. And honestly, they have left people in their wake, and they've made enemies. ...
They can't really go out there. They can't put it together because all of those people that they beat consistently over a lifetime ... all of those people come back to haunt (them).

Strangers pay bill for sick baby's family

The parents of 4-month-old Paul Sennert must keep an oxygen machine running to keep him alive, but the Woodward, Iowa, family fell behind on their electric bills. When viewers of CNN affiliate KCCI in Des Moines got wind of the Sennerts' dilemma, they stepped up big-time. The family's account with the electric utility has gone from $270 in the red to $1,400 in the black, with that much more on hand to help defray medical bills.

Over the moon over Neil Armstrong

CNN iReporter Mike Black shared a table with astronaut Neil Armstrong.

CNN iReporter Michael Black met space pioneer Neil Armstrong at a NASA celebration in April. He describes Armstrong as humble, funny and informative.

"One of the people at my table asked him, 'What are your thoughts about your fame?' and he said, 'I don't deserve it,' " Black recalled.

Black said watching Armstrong's Apollo 11 moon landing inspired him to become a science teacher.

"When I was 10 years old, everyone wanted to be firefighters, policemen or astronauts. Apollo gave teachers the opportunity to say, 'This is what is possible' to students," he said.

Black said he is sad that Armstrong's death faded quickly from the headlines.

"He is one of the most famous people who will ever live," Black said. "Five hundred years from now, so much of history will be forgotten, but people won't forget about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon."

Earthquakes shake up the conversation

A "swarm" of hundreds of small earthquakes near the California-Mexico border Sunday didn't do much harm, but it did inspire some spirited exchanges among CNN.com users, including this amusing one aimed at comment-thread trolls:

Brewmaster04
Quick!! Relate this to politics and blame a political party!

TunaSalad
These earthquakes are clearly being caused by the massive debt (illustrated by a large bag of money) that California owes, sitting on the left side of the state and therefore causing the earthquakes.

CANEMAN
No, saving the hurricane heading to New Orleans for that!

Truck_In_Ditch
OBOMNEYQUAKES!

TunaSalad
Done!

On the horizon: Republican convention, consumer confidence

The weather-shortened Republican National Convention will get under way in earnest Tuesday in Tampa, Florida. Tuesday's schedule includes the nomination of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan for vice president, and speeches by former presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Mitt Romney's wife, Ann Romney.

The Conference Board will release its latest assessment of consumer confidence at 10 a.m. How confident are you feeling?

August 28 anniversaries

1955 - Black teenager Emmett Till is murdered by a group of white men in Mississippi after he supposedly whistled at a white woman.

1963 - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I have a dream" speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

1990 - Several weeks after invading Kuwait, Iraq declares the occupied country its new 19th province.

1996 - Prince Charles and Princess Diana officially divorce.

2006 - Fugitive polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is captured after a routine traffic stop near Las Vegas.

2008 - Barack Obama accepts the Democratic nomination for president.

August 28 birthdays

LeAnn Rimes

- Baseball player/manager Lou Piniella, 69

- Baseball pitcher Ron Guidry, 62

- Poet Rita Dove, 60

- Figure skater Scott Hamilton, 54

- Singer Shania Twain, 47

- Actor Jason Priestley, 43

- Singer LeAnn Rimes, 30

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August 23rd, 2012
05:30 PM ET

Mash-up: Tampa stripper confidential

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.

Naked ambition

Strippers in Tampa, Florida, are looking forward to next week's Republican National Convention. It's difficult for most folks to imagine what it's like to disrobe for a living, so the women who do it form close bonds. An exotic dancer, Go-Go, explains it in stark terms:

We see each other naked every day, so we kind of open up to each other.

Blind man mugged at gas station

A blind, wheelchair-using man from Rumford, Maine, tells CNN affiliate WMTW he fears a pair of men who robbed him won't face prosecution because he won't be able to identify them. The 31-year-old victim says he was outside a Lewiston gas station Tuesday night waiting for his brother when the men approached and asked for a cigarette. Things went bad from there.

Truck drags man in wheelchair

A man in a wheelchair was injured by a hit-and-run driver in Houston on Wednesday, CNN affiliate KTRK reports. Police say the victim was trying to cross the street in the early afternoon when he was struck. "I saw the truck coming and the truck hit the guy and I started screaming, 'Stop! Please stop! You've got a man under your car,'" said witness Jacquelin Pineda. Police say the man was dragged by a white pickup a few blocks until another driver pulled in front of the truck and blocked it.

Artists' canvas going away

CNN iReporter Ameer Hassoun shot some terrific photos of a graffiti hotspot in Long Island City, Queens, New York, that's slated to be demolished in September. He lives not far from the graffiti-covered warehouse that has long attracted artists from around the world to paint on its walls (with permission of the owner).

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24 hours through the lens
August 22nd, 2012
06:27 PM ET

Daily Mash-up: Tell the truth, shame the devil

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.

The truth about lies

Canards, lies and distortions are spread by repetition on the Internet, even by individuals and groups you may trust, the availability of fact-checking sites notwithstanding. University of Southern California psychology professor Jesse Graham says people have different motivations yet they all think that the truth is on their side:

It just spreads like a virus and no amount of debunking seems to stop it. It's frustrating to anybody that really cares about our democracy, that really wants this to be a civilized conversation, and that we can as a nation sort of agree on the direction to move our country forward.

Living large in a small space

Kristen Booth stretches out in her East Village apartment.

Having lived in a very cozy 214-square-foot East Village studio apartment for 13 years, CNN iReporter Kristen Booth says tight quarters are a given for New Yorkers.

"When I first moved in, I loved it. Heating and air conditioning costs are significantly less. It doesn't take nearly as much to keep the temperature right," she says. "Small spaces force one to not be a hoarder, though sometimes I still feel that way. Also, it generally proves that we really don't need as much as we think we do to live right. But I'd like to live a little larger at this point and have a bubble bath!"

People rally around dog shot in face

CNN Detroit affiliate WDIV reports that kindhearted people have pledged more than $15,000 to help Niko, a dog who was shot in the face Saturday by a home intruder. Niko's owner, Gail King, also was shot but is out of the hospital, and the only thing on her mind now is her loyal yellow Lab.

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24 hours through the lens
August 20th, 2012
06:33 PM ET

Mash-up: Women can take their swings

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.

Welcome to the club

Augusta National Golf Club has admitted its first female members, the private club announced Monday. The decision to admit former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and business executive Darla Moore ends a longstanding policy excluding women as members of the Georgia club, which hosts the prestigious Masters golf tournament every spring.

Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Billy Payne

These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well-known and respected by our membership.

Women's rights activist Martha Burk

They have chosen two groundbreaking women, two very prominent women, who are clearly equal in stature to the other members who are, of course, all male. I think it would have been a mistake to choose a lower-profile woman and basically make that statement that, yes, we're letting women in but they're not really going to be equal with the men.

Back off, Brits!

The USS Constitution, the frigate that fought off a British warship 200 years ago in the War of 1812, is still in fighting trim.

Loud and clear

On a slightly overcast day at Liberty State Park during New York City's Air Force Week, CNN iReporter John Dunstan captured this photo of the Air Force squadron the Thunderbirds performing a flyover. "It was such a great scene with the flags, the Statue of Liberty and the jet formation," he says. "I was pretty pleased to get this shot." We're pleased too.

Click on the image to see an eight-second video.

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August 16th, 2012
05:56 PM ET

Mash-up: Will you marry me?

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.

Creative proposals just keep on coming

Viral Internet videos seem to keep upping the ante for men who want to make marriage proposals in unusual ways. Tony Boga of Boston recruited his girlfriend's sisters to help round up a flash mob for his proposal at the Boston Public Library, CNN affiliate WHDH reports.

Meanwhile in Salt Lake City, a firefighter took advantage of his high position:

Not to be left out of the fun, CNN iReporter Jenifer Brennan of Hackettstown, New Jersey, was swept off her feet atop a Vermont mountain for yet another surprise proposal. She said her fiancé, Phil Crowley, spent more than a year planning the trip and had invited two of her best friends to come along with their husbands. While on a hike to the top of Mount Mansfield, a proposal was the last thing on her mind, she says.

Phil Crowley proposes to Jenifer Brennan atop Mount Mansfield in Vermont.

"I was in shock because I was not expecting it," she says. "I think public proposals are wonderful. It takes courage for a person to get on one knee and ask someone to marry them in the presence of others. Personally, once he was on his knee I lost sight of everyone and everything around me."

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August 15th, 2012
06:13 PM ET

Mash-up: Smoke climbs 30,000 feet

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.

That's not a volcano

About an hour into a flight from Portland, Oregon, to Chicago, CNN iReporter Dave Hanna of Albany, Oregon, saw a massive smoke plume from a wildfire. It looked like a volcanic eruption.

"I took the first shot of what looked like a big fire, but as we went further along it started to look like a volcano," he told CNN. "I am guessing the smoke went up 30,000 feet. Other passengers were looking out their windows as well."

West Nile virus widow grieves

Betty Best lost her husband, Howard, to the West Nile virus outbreak that has killed 16 people in Texas and 26 nationwide. She says she's ready to leave the Lone Star State - and perhaps this world - behind.

I don't have a lot of desire to hang around here now. And I hope my children understand. You've been with someone 65 years and you go put them in the ground and a part of you goes in there, too.

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August 14th, 2012
06:21 PM ET

Mash-up: Aniston, Clooney and Cosmo girls

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.

Why we're fascinated with Jennifer Aniston

Pepper Schwartz, a sociologist at the University of Washington and the author of 16 books on sexuality and relationships, takes an educated stab at why so many women are so intensely interested in the love life of actress Jennifer Aniston, who recently became engaged again, years after Brad Pitt dumped her for Angelina Jolie.

Aniston

There is an additional twist in Aniston's story that reassures us. Her failed marriage says to us that someone even more glorious than ourselves can be left, but her engagement tells us that there can be a Cinderella story at the end of the road: a mate who truly loves us, who wants to create a family, who will deliver security and unconditional love at last. Sure, it may last as long as the next headline, but we deeply hope love stays the course for her, because we want to believe that our own dreams will result in triumph over disappointment.

Come to class, get free shoes

The Detroit public school district hopes students who may not want to go to class will "just do it" on October 3. That's the day a head count will determine state and federal funding for some programs. To improve its chances, CNN affiliate WWJ reports, the district will offer a free pair of Nike shoes to every student who attends that day, thanks to a donation from Bob's Classic Kicks on Woodward Avenue.

Electric bill lights up her checkbook

Grace Edwards always knew her electric bills were way too high, but she couldn't get anyone - including the state utility regulator - to believe her. But at last the Cheshire, Connecticut, woman has prevailed, CNN affiliate CTNow reports. It turns out two street lights in her subdivision had been drawing power on Edwards' dime for 25 years. On Friday she received an apology and a check for more than $10,000 from Connecticut Light & Power.

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August 13th, 2012
05:33 PM ET

Mash-up: In the sky: Fireworks, meteors, a granny and a bobcat

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.

Well done, London, well done

The 2012 London Olympic Summer Games ended Sunday night in spectacular fashion, even if NBC saw fit to cut away from it in favor of a show starring a monkey.

Keep looking up

Fireworks weren't the only thing worth looking at in the sky. CNN iReporter Abe Blair, a professional photographer, shot pictures of the Perseid meteor shower over Crater Lake, Oregon, for six to seven hours Sunday night. But his patience paid off with this spectacular image of meteors lighting up the sky near the Milky Way. He used a low-power lamp to light the gnarled tree in the foreground.

"This was my first time watching a meteor shower and this was the image I was hoping to capture," he says. "It was fun to watch, but a little frustrating to photograph since you're not able to know exactly when and where the meteor would pass by."

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24 hours through the lens
August 9th, 2012
06:06 PM ET

Mash-up: If you give a moose a swing set ...

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.

Dangerous days in Aleppo

CNN's Ben Wedeman gives a harrowing account of a trip into the besieged city of Aleppo, Syria, describing snipers, street vendors selling their wares as bombs fall, and a spectrum of conditions and attitudes among civilians. An 11-year-old girl named Nahla told Wedeman that government forces keep bombing her neighborhood:

We're confused. We feel they want to attack us. We left this area before, then came back. Now we want to leave again, but we can't.

NASA spacecraft crashes and burns

Project Morpheus, a new NASA test spacecraft carrying a prototype moon lander, crashed and burned Thursday during a test flight at Kennedy Space Center, CNN affiliate WKMG reports.

Ruminants just want to have fun

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24 hours through the lens
August 8th, 2012
05:41 PM ET

Mash-up: 'Minutes of terror' in Times Square

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.

Campaign, please, hold the mud

The tenor of the presidential campaign has taken a sharp turn for the truculent in the last week or so, with unsubstantiated allegations and unflattering epithets flying across the camps. David Rothkopf, CEO and editor-at-large of the FP Group, publishers of Foreign Policy Magazine, and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, would like to see the candidates address things like the economy, Syria and gun control.

These are great issues calling for serious debate. And we actually have two candidates for president who are credible, serious men. But they are running a campaign that has the sensibilities and IQ of a typical middle school student council election. With the values of an episode of "Real Housewives" or "Big Brother."

Enjoying 'terror' on Times Square

People gather in New York's Times Square early Monday to watch a giant TV screen showing the Mars Curiosity rover landing. Click on the image for iReporter Navid Baraty's full gallery.

CNN iReporter Navid Baraty, a huge fan of astrophysics, says he wanted to be around others who were as excited as he was about watching the Mars Curiosity rover landing. As hundreds of onlookers flocked to New York's Times Square to see the historic landing unfold from a gigantic video screen, the whole experience took his breath away, he says. He says he had goosebumps when the rover finally touched down at 1:31 a.m. and people started chanting, "Science! Science! Science!" and "NASA! NASA! NASA!"

During the nail-biting "Seven Minutes of Terror," which NASA dubbed the landing sequence, cheers erupted with each successful transition the Mars rover made.

"Just seeing everyone collectively captivated by the live stream and huddled close together to hear the audio broadcast over their phones was so incredible," Baraty says. "Everyone was filled with excitement and wonder. The mood was intense. There really was a buzz of energy and excitement in the air. I think everyone was so proud to be taking part in such an incredible moment." FULL POST

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Photos: 24 hours through the lens
August 7th, 2012
05:51 PM ET

Mash-up: Rover on Mars, Jesus on a tortilla

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.

Here's something that works

Simon DeDeo is an Omidyar Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute, where he researches theoretical biology and physics. He tries to explain why space exploration, such as this week's landing of a rover on Mars, strikes such a chord with so many of us.

Maybe we saw something deeper in the successful landing of Curiosity. We experienced - even if vicariously - a group achieving unambiguous excellence. In a nation where a city like Detroit can nearly collapse, where consensus on important policy issues seems far off, where some of the "best and brightest" minds of finance have built fragile institutions, how is it possible that a large cast of scientists and engineers can pull off such a remarkable task?

One person's junk is a hoarder's treasure

Speaking of junk ...

Although computing power has made much of our progress in space possible, the death of the conventional personal computer may be imminent as technology marches forward. This prospect does not sit well with some of our readers, such as this one:

Dalcassian

Never, I tell you ... Never. I will chain myself to my PC. They can have it when they pry it from my cold dead hands. It's constitutional, the right to bear PCs.

Readers also turned a jaundiced eye toward the news that American judo athlete Nicholas Delpopolo had been thrown out of the Olympics after a failed drug test he blamed on inadvertently eating food that had been baked with marijuana.

pinay53

It appears the marijuana also caused him to lose any semblance of rationality.  That has to be the worst excuse I've ever heard, except for 'the dog ate my homework'.  If you want to be a pothead, live with the consequences.  "Oops, I ate a pot brownie."  This guy's credibility just went in the toilet.

Communal meal

There's a good restaurant in East Atlanta Village called Holy Taco. Maybe they could work out some kind of a deal with La Amistad Adult Daycare in Beeville, Texas, where Ernesto Garza discovered a startling image on his breakfast taco. CNN affiliate KENS has the rest of the story.

Sikhs continue on peaceful path

CNN iReporter Sonny Gill's photo shows Sikhs and supporters gathered for a candlelight vigil Monday in Palatine, Illinois. Click on the photo for more images from the event.

CNN iReporter Sonny Gill, 30, of Chicago is a member of a Sikh community in Palatine, Illinois. He took part in a vigil to honor the victims of the mass shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh temple.

"I personally went to the vigil to support our community and family of Sikhs who are going through this hard time. And to show that their strength is still here, regardless of these senseless acts," he told CNN. "The biggest thing that stuck out to me was that we received prayers and heard from various community members from different backgrounds and religions. That truly showed how united we are as Americans and that one person's act will not deter us from continuing down our path of welcoming peace."

On the horizon: Postal Service meeting, swing state poll

The U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors is expected to discuss Wednesday and Thursday the post office's failure to make its August 1 payment into a retiree health care plan, and the even bigger financial problems that default  indicates.

Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday to discuss results of a Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll focusing on the presidential swing states of Colorado, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Another Quinnipiac poll last week focused on Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

August 8 anniversaries

Nixon resigns, 1974

1876 - Thomas Edison patents the mimeograph.

1919 - Great Britain recognizes Afghanistan's independence.

1963 - Fifteen thieves in Great Britain make off with more than $6 million in what becomes known as "The Great Train Robbery."

1974 - President Richard Nixon announces he will resign in a national television address; he leaves office the next day.

1990 - Baseball star Pete Rose begins a five-month federal prison sentence for filing false income tax returns.

2011 - Standard & Poor's downgrades U.S. sovereign debt for the first time in history.

August 8 birthdays

Dustin Hoffman

- Swimming champion/actress Esther Williams, 91

- Singer/songwriter Mel Tillis, 80

- Actor Dustin Hoffman, 75

-  Singer/actress Connie Stevens, 74

-  Actor/singer Keith Carradine, 63

- U2 guitarist The Edge (Dave Evans), 51

- Tennis star Roger Federer, 31

- Princess Beatrice of York, 24

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