Gotta Watch: Baby Darth unmasked; Beijing underground; robber says please
Volkswagen's new ad icon Max Page also stars in ABC's "The Young and the Restless"
February 7th, 2011
10:23 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Baby Darth unmasked; Beijing underground; robber says please

The force of advertising be with you - The pint-sized Darth Vadar who appears in a Volkswagen commercial is now a big star after his Super Bowl debut. And just when you thought the little guy can't get any cuter, he takes his mask off and reveals he is overcoming a congenital heart condition. I think I just heard the country sigh a collective "Awwww."

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Filed under: China • Football • Gotta Watch • Pro football • Sports • TV • Uncategorized • Washington state
Monday's intriguing people
Slim Amamou, Tunisian minister of youth and sports, arrives for a ministers session on January 20 in Tunis.
January 24th, 2011
02:28 PM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Slim Amamou

The dissident blogger said he was being psychologically tortured in Tunisia earlier this month, according to several media outlets. He was reportedly told that screams emanating from beyond a wall in an Interior Ministry office were the cries of his family members being tortured.

Today, Amamou is Tunisia’s minister of youth and sports – a fitting role reversal for a cog in Tunisia’s lightning-fast, social media-fueled revolution.

The 33-year-old CEO of a Web development company was arrested January 6 with another blogger and accused of being part of a conspiracy to destroy government sites, Al-Jazeera reported.

He was released January 13, the day before President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled the country. Minutes before the Cabinet was announced, Amamou was offered a position in the interim government, Al-Jazeera said.

He has since been using his blog as well as his Facebook and Twitter accounts - the same weapons he used to sound off about government abuses and his own arrest - to send out reports on the new government, even on closed-door meetings, The New York Times said. His postings are in French, Arabic and, sometimes, English.

His first conflict with the Constitutional Democratic Rally, Ben Ali’s party, was over his failure to wear a tie, The Times said.

“I like the minister of justice,” he tweeted later. “I am going to wear a tie just to please him.”

He also caught some flak from his followers when he said the members of the president’s party shouldn’t be rejected from the government. It’s a coalition government, he wrote, so people won’t be in total agreement over its makeup, The Guardian in London said.

As for criticism aimed at his transition from revolutionary to minister, he said it is not a career move. He is doing it for his country and to keep an eye on the interim government until elections can be held. He also wants to persuade other Cabinet members to sign up for Twitter, The Times reported.

“It is similar to an underground artist who signs with a major label and is criticized by the purists and the masses,” he wrote, describing the criticism.

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Oprah's big secret is ...
Oprah Winfrey is to reveal a family secret on her talk show Monday.
January 24th, 2011
10:48 AM ET

Oprah's big secret is ...

Oprah Winfrey has a half sister who she didn't know existed.

Much hoopla has surrounded the queen of talk who has been owning her final season with big interviews and an adventurous vacation Down Under. But her promise to reveal a personal family secret on air Monday may be the ultimate show tease.

In a promo for the episode, Winfrey said the secret "shook me to my core."

Overnight, there was an overwhelming amount of Web buzz about what the secret could be. "Oprah secret" is one of the most popular Google searches Monday. Most speculation appears to center on guesses about a half sister.

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Filed under: Oprah Winfrey • Showbiz
On the Radar: Jared Loughner in court, Oprah's secret, 'Palestinian Papers'
Jared Lee Loughner, 22, is suspected of a mass shooting in Arizona earlier this month.
January 24th, 2011
10:19 AM ET

On the Radar: Jared Loughner in court, Oprah's secret, 'Palestinian Papers'

Alleged Arizona shooter in court - The 22-year-old who allegedly gunned down 19 people, killing 6, at a political event for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will be in court Monday at 1:30 p.m. Tucson, Arizona, time. Jared Lee Loughner will appear before a federal judge to face murder charges.  Judge Larry Burns of the U.S. District Court for Southern California, based in San Diego, will preside. All of Arizona's federal judges recused themselves because one of the gunman's victims was Arizona's chief federal judge, John Roll of Tucson.

Loughner had already been in court shortly after the January 8 shooting to face charges on three counts of attempted murder related to survivors of the rampage: Giffords, who was shot in the head, and two of her aides, Rob Barber and Pamela Simon. Much has been reported concerning Loughner's apparent odd behavior and other red flags before the shooting. What will Loughner's defense be like?

Meanwhile, Giffords' condition continues to improve. She recently began rehab at a Texas facility.

Oprah's big secret Oprah Winfrey has said she will reveal a deep family secret on her show today. Chat rooms and blogs are buzzing about what it could be. She says during a promo for the episode: "I was given some news that literally shook me to my core. ... I was keeping a family secret for months, and you're going to hear it straight from me."

"Palestinian Papers" revealed - The Al-Jazeera TV network has published what it says are documents showing that Palestinian negotiators agreed to relinquish large tracts of East Jerusalem to Israel over the past several years during peace talks. The trove of more than 1,600 secret Palestinian papers that the Qatar-based news agency released on Sunday, along with Britain's Guardian newspaper, is not part of a WikiLeaks cable dump. The records detail an "increasingly desperate yet futile effort by Palestinian negotiators to tempt Israel into a deal by conceding more and more ground, while pleading in vain with U.S. officials for help. And in the longer term, they could even prove politically fatal to chief Palestinian negotiator Saeeb Erekat and his boss, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas," according to Time's analysis. The magazine breaks down what the papers could mean for the peace process.

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Filed under: Arizona • Gabrielle Giffords • Michigan • On the Radar • Oprah Winfrey
Funeral remembers Shriver's love of others, service
January 22nd, 2011
01:40 PM ET

Funeral remembers Shriver's love of others, service

Almost 50 years to the day that President John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address asked Americans to get involved by doing good, family and friends bade farewell Saturday to R. Sargent Shriver, who helped lead the way.

Former President Bill Clinton referred to Kennedy's famous line, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

Shriver, Clinton said at a funeral Mass in Potomac, Maryland, gave the perfect example of public service, both at the bright-eyed beginning of the 1960s and the cynical end of the decade and in the early 1970s.

"He showed up every day and found joy in life," Clinton said of Shriver, first director of the Peace Corps, and a force - with his late wife - behind the Special Olympics. Shriver was Kennedy's brother-in-law.

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Filed under: Bill Clinton • Joe Biden • Maryland • Oprah Winfrey
Raw 'Skins': The drama and legal issues of MTV's new show
The cast of MTV's new show "Skins." The show has sparked controversy whether the "edgy" has gone too far.
January 21st, 2011
09:30 AM ET

Raw 'Skins': The drama and legal issues of MTV's new show

Brian Stetler, has reported on the controversy surrounding MTV's new drama 'Skins' and is a writer for the New York Times.

The series, based on the popular U.K. show of the same name, has been billed as "edgy" in how it tells the by now familiar story of foul-mouthed high school teens who spend a lot of time seeking sex and drugs.

Stetler speaks to CNN's Kiran Chetry about the investigations into child pornography the Justice Department and Congress are calling for.

Marquee blog: What's the verdict on 'Skins'?

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Filed under: Showbiz • TV • TV-American Morning
Wednesday's intriguing people
Former "American Idol" contestant Alex Lambert's homelessness has been greatly exaggerated, a rep says.
January 19th, 2011
12:30 PM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Alex Lambert

The "American Idol" Season 9 semifinalist created a buzz Tuesday with a rant on Twitter that seemed to say he was homeless:

"O my goodness yall! I have been crashin behind buidings and sleepin outside but I dont want nobody to feel sorry for me! I'm a grown (expletive) man"

Naturally, people understood that to mean the 20-year-old singer from Texas was living full-time on the streets.

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Filed under: Hawaii • Health • Illinois • Montana • Most Intriguing People • Music • Showbiz • TV • War
On the Radar: Golden Globes, Tunisia revolution, Arizona shooting and Wiki
The cast of "Glee" poses after winning the Golden Globe for best television series (comedy or musical.)
January 17th, 2011
10:17 AM ET

On the Radar: Golden Globes, Tunisia revolution, Arizona shooting and Wiki

Golden Globes - The Golden Globes show launched the Hollywood awards season with 26 trophies handed out by an array of stars. For "Social Network"  and "Glee" it was a good night.

Take a look at who took home the awards, watch the winners' reactions, get a glance at the fashion and flair from the red carpet, and take a peek at our full gallery of stars on the big night. We'll also be looking at the reaction to one man of the hour - the host, Ricky Gervais - and whether his expected but over-the-top routine was hit or miss for the stars and critics.

Tunisia in crisis - A new Tunisian government could be announced Monday, one day after the country's army clashed with armed gangs and remnants of ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's personal guard.

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Filed under: Celebrity • Facebook • Gabrielle Giffords • Julian Assange • Movies • On the Radar • Showbiz • TV • WikiLeaks
On the Radar: Arizona girl's funeral, RNC meeting, big ships in New York
Christina Green, 9, was the youngest victim of the Arizona mass shooting.
January 13th, 2011
10:19 AM ET

On the Radar: Arizona girl's funeral, RNC meeting, big ships in New York

Funeral for Tucson girl - A memorial service will be held Thursday for Christina Green, 9, the youngest victim of the Arizona mass shooting.

Christina was born on September 11, 2001. For her service, two firetrucks will raise their ladders and connect a U.S. flag nearly destroyed in the 2001 terror attacks in New York. The flag will form an archlike design, which the girl's family will walk under before entering the church.

Christina will be buried in a custom-made casket donated by Trappist monks from a monastery in Iowa.

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Filed under: Arizona • Crime • Elections • Gabrielle Giffords • Michael Steele • On the Radar • Politics • Sarah Palin • TV
'Jeopardy!' to pit human champs against IBM computer
December 14th, 2010
02:26 PM ET

'Jeopardy!' to pit human champs against IBM computer

Call it the digital age's John Henry showdown. But this time, it's "Jeopardy!," not a train tunnel, and an IBM computer instead of a steam shovel.

The iconic game show announced Tuesday that it will pit Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, its all-time most successful contestants, against "Watson," an IBM computing system, in a series of battles next year.

The showdown, to be aired February 14-16, will feature two matches to see if a machine can compete in a contest that will require it to interpret real-language questions (or, in "Jeopardy!" parlance, answers), research them and answer quicker than the flesh-and-blood champs.

"After four years, our scientific team believes that Watson is ready for this challenge based on its ability to rapidly comprehend what the 'Jeopardy!' clue is asking, analyze the information it has access to, come up with precise answers, and develop an accurate confidence in its response," David Ferrucci, the scientist leading the IBM Research team that has created Watson, said in a written release.

"Beyond our excitement for the match itself, our team is very motivated by the possibilities that Watson's breakthrough computing capabilities hold for building a smarter planet and helping people in their business tasks and personal lives."

Watson's software is powered by an IBM Power7 server and, according to developers, is optimized to process complex questions and render answers quickly.

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Former Food Network chef sentenced in murder plot
December 13th, 2010
02:19 PM ET

Former Food Network chef sentenced in murder plot

The former host of the Food Network's "Calorie Commando" was sentenced Monday to nine years in a California prison after he had earlier pleaded "no contest" to soliciting two homeless men to kill his wife, said Los Angeles Superior Court spokeswoman Elizabeth Martinez.

Juan-Carlos Cruz's wife was also in court during the sentencing, Martinez said.

Fertility issues were at the center of Cruz's motivation in the murder-for-hire plot to kill his wife, according to sources close to the couple.

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Filed under: California • Courts • Crime • Justice • Showbiz • TV
November 18th, 2010
11:09 AM ET

SI.com: Longoria-Parker divorce drama

NBA star Tony Parker and actress Eva Longoria are divorcing.

Tony Parker is making news, and not for his 21 points against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. The San Antonio Spurs point guard and his wife, actress Eva Longoria, have called it quits after seven years of marriage, citing irreconcilable differences, though Parker is rumored to have cheated.

Granted, it's not the most shocking development in athlete-celebrity relations. There are plenty of hookups, divorces and everything in between when these two worlds collide. But what does make this story a little more intriguing is the identity of the alleged "other woman."

Basketball drama aside, Thursday night football action is coming your way:

Chicago Bears vs. Miami Dolphins (8:20 p.m., ET) - Down to their third-string quarterback, the Dolphins face an uphill battle against the Bears at Sun Life Stadium. But don't underestimate Tyler Thigpen. With 20 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, Miami could have a lot worse to work with.

By The Numbers

17 - age of Juan Agudelo, the youngest member of the United States national soccer team to score a goal in the modern era. Just six days away from his 18th birthday, Agudelo scored his historic goal during a friendly against South Africa.

82 - number of games Greg Oden has played in since making his NBA debut four seasons ago. The Trail Blazers center will miss the rest of the season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee Friday. SI.com's Zach Lowe discusses Oden's future in Portland on his blog, The Point Forward.

11 - number of consecutive games the New York Islanders have lost. Their most recent disappointment came against the Tampa Bay Lightning on the night of new coach Jack Capuano's debut.

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Filed under: Basketball • Eva Longoria • Hockey • Pro football • Showbiz • Soccer • Sports
November 15th, 2010
02:13 PM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Garry Trudeau

The creator of "Doonesbury" is celebrating his 40th anniversary drawing the politically and socially charged comic strip.

He is making the media rounds in support of two books being published: “40: A Doonesbury Retrospective” and “Doonesbury and the Art of G.B. Trudeau.”

The comic strip, which is more likely to appear on the op-ed page of a newspaper than in the comics section, routinely skewers those on the political landscape. Trudeau’s loyal readership has led to the strip being published in 1,500 newspapers around the world since it was first published on October 26, 1970.

Collections of his cartoons have filled almost 60 books and have sold more than 7 million total copies. His 1975 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning made him the first comic strip artist to win the award.

His comic has sometimes earned him a reputation as a left-winger, but a column in The Boston Globe pointed out that Trudeau’s jabs can target anyone.

“I’ve always thought he was an equal-opportunity balloon-popper,” wrote Alex Beam. “Anybody who figured out that John Kerry was a narcissistic blowhard as a Yale undergraduate is someone who sees the world through a wide-angle lens, taking in all azimuths of social and political tomfoolery.”

Several media outlets are paying homage to Trudeau and his drawings this week. NPR is one of the few media outlets to have gotten an interview with oft-reclusive Yale graduate.

The radio network offers a condensed retrospective of Trudeau’s work as well as several anecdotes from the artist. In one, the 62-year-old recounts how he became syndicated shortly after his strip appeared on campus.

“It's a ridiculous story, and it nauseates my children,” Trudeau says, “that I would find my life's work six weeks into it.”

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October 30th, 2010
07:28 PM ET

Insanely Sane: Humor brought everyone together

Okay, there’s no way to write this article without name dropping. To cut to the chase, I know Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and you don’t.

I used to work for The Daily Show and the Colbert Report as the audience warm up act.  Not a bad day job.
But knowing the hosts didn’t mean I got to parade on stage at Saturday’s “Rally for Sanity and/or Fear.” I was in the audience with the thousands of fans, reporting on the events for CNN.

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Filed under: Jon Stewart • Stephen Colbert
October 30th, 2010
03:32 PM ET

Stewart, Colbert preside over lighthearted, star-studded rally

Assisted by a colorful cast of characters, Comedy Central funnymen Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held a raucous rally on the National Mall Saturday in typical fashion before a cheering throng of
supporters.

Amidst all the hilarity, however, the "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" carried a message about Americans turning their backs on hate and working together to make the world a better place.

Stewart and Colbert staged a mock battle, with Stewart supporting peace and sanity and Colbert promoting fear before a crowd that stretched nearly the length of the mall, most of the distance between the Capitol and the Washington Monument.

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October 28th, 2010
03:15 PM ET

WebPulse: Scary politics, meatheads, Rocky's 'tranny'

We're five days out from midterm elections and three days away from Halloween. Let's get this fear wagon moving, shall we?

'Daily Show,' the morning after - President Obama's congenial yet somewhat tense conversation with Jon Stewart is one of the most viewed 30 minutes online today. Obama is trying to avoid what would be a scary scenario to the Dems if the Republicans sweep the polls. Heck, it could be a virtual GOP wave on Tuesday, writes CNN contributor John P. Avlon.

Obama's appearance was just part of his campaign to inspire voters, particularly the younger ones who helped put him in office (and apparently a lot of guys who watch the Daily Show). It also comes in the days before the Washington rallies "A Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" that Stewart and comedian foil Stephen Colbert are hosting this weekend.

The rallies don't seem to have spooked Republicans so much as some of their own candidates. The search term "Karl Rove" was at the top of Google Trends, leading to stories about President Bush's former senior adviser saying Sarah Palin lacks "gravitas."

Does Rove not get how frightening a pit bull can be?

Oooh ... WebPulse is in transition heaven right now ... Let's talk about meatheads.

Vegetarians beware - We're not sure if this meathead recipe is trending, but it should be. So gross, so creative, so stinky. Pinch your nose like the many critics of last night's "Glee." "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" never sounded so lame as it did on the show, Gawker says. The Huffington Post said the show neutered "Rocky" by replacing the word "transsexual" with "tranny." Changing the lyrics to a classic musical? A scary statement on today's generation if you ask us. Next thing you know those kids will pose half-naked in a national men's magazine.

(Mega-fancy) House on the Hill - If $5 is all you can spare for a magazine, you'll be pretty well freaked out by this home built by Asia's richest man. It's in Mumbai, overlooking the city's slums. It has 27 floors for his family of six, three helipads, a 168-space parking lot, a pool, health club and an ice room with man-made flurries. Jeez, and we thought our rent was too damn high.

October 28th, 2010
09:54 AM ET

On the Radar: Anti-gay official, Obama on 'Daily Show'

School official mocks gays –A school board official in Arkansas is facing fierce criticism for allegedly writing hateful comments about gay people on his Facebook page, including that he wanted gay people to commit suicide, the Advocate reports.

According to the national newspaper, Midland School District Vice President Clint McCance wrote "queer" and "fag" repeatedly, promised to disown his own children if they were gay, and stated that he enjoys "the fact that [gay people] often give each other AIDS and die."

State officials have strongly condemned the comments, saying that the school district tries to foster an environment of tolerance and safety from bullies. Because McCance is elected he cannot be fired.

He's up for re-election Nov. 2 and is running unopposed, according to The Advocate.

Obama on The Daily Show - President Obama had a serious conversation with The Daily Show's Jon Stewart less than a week before Tuesday's midterm elections. Stewart called the president's legislative progress "timid," a contrast to Obama's more aggressive style of campaigning. In a gentle way, Stewart challenged Obama about whether the president has lived up to the big promises he made in 2008. Many who missed the show last night are watching this morning.

Halloween lanterns recalled –– The Consumer Product Safety Commission and Dollar Tree Stores are recalling 682,000 battery-operated lantern skulls, ghosts and pumpkins that can overheat. The bulb in the lanterns poses fire and burn hazards to consumers, according to the agency.

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Filed under: Arkansas • Facebook • Halloween • Jon Stewart • Politics
October 27th, 2010
04:45 PM ET

WebPulse: Sheen, 'Fatties,' and the Dark Knight

Charlie Sheen outside a Colorado courthouse on an unrelated matter in August.

Sheen back to work - WebPulse is trying to get today's post out quickly in case Charlie Sheen comes in the newsroom and tries to throw our computer across the room. Man! Everyone is reading about the actor who allegedly trashed his room at New York's Plaza Hotel. He was found  drunk  early Tuesday morning and was taken to a hospital, a source told People.

The incident was a bad reaction to medication, according to Mark Burg, Sheen's rep. Burg added that the "Two and A Half Men" star is heading back to work this week, and looking forward to it.

"Charlie will be working this week doing a cameo role, playing himself, in a small movie as a favor to a friend and has every intention of going back to work on 'Two and a Half Men' on Tuesday," Burg told People.

A Big Question – A Marie Claire writer is apologizing for writing a column earlier this week titled "Should 'Fatties' Get a Room?" Maura Kelly, who is now saying she suffered from anorexia, mused: "I think I'd be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other ... because I'd be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything." Outrage, outrage, everywhere. Magazine readers responded with 28,000 e-mails. The blogosphere lit up. Kelly was apparently writing in response to CNN.com's Lisa Respers France article this week about a new television show  featuring overweight people. Respers France explains what she thinks of Kelly's column.

Should it be socially acceptable to make fun of fat people? Respers France asks. We say no. That's what Charlie Sheen is for.

(Pow!) New 'Batman' named – A group of creatives pow-wow in a Hollywood office.

Cool Person Number 1: What should we call the next "Batman" movie?

Cool Person Number 2: "'Batman vs. the World?' "Dude, Where's My Leather Unitard?" "Oh, Michael Keaton, Where Art Thou?"

Cool Person Number 1: No. It shall be called "Dark Knight...Rises."

And, scene. That's the big news from the superhero movie franchise front, according to an LA Times interview with director Christopher Nolan. Bam! Wham! Boom! Eh, yeah, we suppose.


Filed under: Celebrity • Charlie Sheen • Showbiz • Web Pulse
October 27th, 2010
10:34 AM ET

On the Radar: Tsunami deaths, bad weather, French bill

indonesia.tsunami

Indonesian officials pray over recovered bodies Wednesday on North Pagai Island.

Death toll in Indonesia quake, tsunami - The death toll from a 7.7-magnitude earthquake that struck off Indonesia has risen to 272, officials said. Another 412 are missing after the Monday quake, which triggered a tsunami. It's unclear how many are dead or injured because information is still trickling in from remote parts of Indonesia, a country of myriad islands. There were reports of some villages being "flattened," according to the disaster management center in West Sumatra.

Massive storm system heads east - The eastern third of the U.S. can expect another blustery day as severe storms stretch from the South to Delaware, the National Weather Service said. Wind could affect air traffic in the upper Midwest and sections of the Ohio Valley. Several states, including North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Indiana, are cleaning up after storms this week spawned 24 possible tornadoes. Watch video from inside a tornado

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Filed under: Air travel • Earthquake • France • Indonesia • Jon Stewart • Kentucky • Louisiana • On the Radar • Politics • Tornadoes • Weather
October 11th, 2010
10:34 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

The five most popular stories on CNN.com in the past 24 hours, according to NewsPulse.

Toll on miners' body a concern: As the world awaits the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners from a copper mine, medical concerns arise. Some of the men have shown signs of anxiety and some have had minor cardiac issues, a Chilean official said. But there's also concern about what the isolation and confinement could do to their eyes, and their stomachs.

Hershel Walker is still a beast: For a long time, college football legend and Heisman Trophy winner Hershel Walker has been somewhat of a physical freak of nature.  "I'm in better shape than I've ever been in," said Walker, who's creeping toward 50 years old. Somethings never change.

Oprah Winfrey blasts verdict: The talk show maven said she was not satisfied with the acquittal of a woman accused of abusing students at her South African girls school. Tiny Virginia Makopo, 30, was found not guilty of allegations that she improperly touched several teenage girls when she was a matron at the campus near Johannesburg, the South African Press Association reported Monday.

Now you too can have more fun - in the sun: A Lithuanian firm called Olialia - pronounced "ooh-la-la" - has announced that it intends to build a resort in the Maldives that will employ blonde women only.

Cops: Boyfriend's arrest cracks cold case: More than a decade after high school sophomore Leah Freeman vanished from the street near her home in Coquille, Oregon, police say they have found her killer. A grand jury concluded it was her boyfriend, after police looked into the cold case a second time.

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