October 9th, 2012
12:24 PM ET

Victims angrily confront Sandusky at sentencing

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, 68, was sentenced to no less than 30 years and no more than 60 years in prison at a hearing on Tuesday. It is, effectively, a life sentence.

Sandusky was convicted in June of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, and faced a maximum of 400 years in prison.

Four of Sandusky's victims were in court with their families. The victims were emotional as they addressed the court and faced down the convicted pedophile.

Sandusky remained stone-faced, while his family looked down during the victims' testimony. Matt Sandusky, an adopted son of Jerry Sandusky who at the end of the trial accused the former coach of abusing him, was not in the courtroom, CNN's Laura Dolan reported. Matt Sandusky's birth mother, Debra Long, sat in the back row of the courtroom.

One of Sandusky's victims, known as Victim No. 5, addressed the court during his sentencing.

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When football, same-sex marriage and politics collide
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo is becoming well-known off the field for his support of same-sex marriage.
September 8th, 2012
02:48 PM ET

When football, same-sex marriage and politics collide

In his 10th NFL season, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo is catching more attention for his political views than his special teams talents. And after a Maryland politician slammed his views on same-sex marriage, other NFL players are stepping up to defend Ayanbadejo's freedom of speech.

Ayanbadejo is a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage. He filmed video shorts for Equality Maryland and even wrote about same-sex marriage for the Huffington Post in 2009.

State lawmaker and minister Emmett C. Burns Jr. is a self-described Ravens fan, but in a letter sent to team owner Steve Bisciotti, Burns said it was "inconceivable" that Ayanbadejo was publicly endorsing same-sex marriage.

In the letter, written on August 29 and obtained by Yahoo! Sports, Burns wrote, "Many of my constituents and your football supporters are appalled and aghast that a member of the Ravens Football Team would step into this controversial divide and try to sway public opinion one way or the other. Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment and excitement.

"I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as a National Football Franchise Owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions. I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing."

In March, Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley legalized same-sex marriage in Maryland, but the law doesn't take effect until 2013.

Amid the political convention-themed tweets filling his profile, Ayanbadejo responded on his Twitter page with this: "Football is just my job it's not who I am. I am an American before anything. And just like every American I have the right to speak!"

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Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days
September 2nd, 2012
07:29 PM ET

Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days

Here is a look at some of the stories that CNN plans to follow this week:

Labor Day

It's estimated that 33 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles during Labor Day weekend, according to AAA. Unfortunately, gas prices will be high for those trips but are expected to drop off after Monday.

The extended weekend being the last blast of summer for many, beaches, pools and even backyards will be full of people celebrating. For more information on Labor Day, catch up on the holiday by the numbers.

CNN's food blog, Eatocracy, will also be on hand with great tips and recipes to make the holiday even more tasty. And CNN Money will have the latest information on how those gas prices will affect you during and after Labor Day.

Democratic National Convention in Charlotte

After Republicans had their say and Clint Eastwood addressed an empty chair at last week's RNC in Tampa, attention shifts to the Democratic National Convention at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The convention runs Tuesday through Thursday.

Exactly one week after Ann Romney spoke on behalf of her husband, first lady Michelle Obama will have a headlining role at the DNC, speaking on behalf of "what drives (President Barack Obama) every day." Former President Bill Clinton will give the nominating address on the final night of the convention.

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Taking a break for Labor Day
September 2nd, 2012
10:31 AM ET

Taking a break for Labor Day

On Monday, people across the United States will be sending the summer season a final salute as they celebrate Labor Day's extended weekend.

Grills will be fired up, opening games of the college football season will be rehashed and vacations will be squeezed into the calendar for one last hurrah until the winter holidays.

Just beware that in the middle of all the celebrating, gas prices will be higher and travelers will make traffic heavy. But don't worry - the gas prices, according to CNNMoney, are expected to drop back down.

As for our coverage,  Eatocracy is on hand with not only the best hot dogs for your backyard shindig, but an entire collection of the best tips and recipes for the ultimate summer send-off. CNN Money also has a gallery of Labor Day getaways on one tank or less to ease your spending woes.

Want to know the real, embattled history of this holiday that gives us an extra relaxing day off of work? Author and historian Kenneth C. Davis spells it out in his eloquent opinion piece - and just why we shouldn't take this September 3 for granted. Also, get to know Labor Day by the numbers.

Grab your Labor Day weekend forecast here and if you're still stumped on where to go, JD Rinne of Jetsetter.com share her picks with us for last-minute getaways.

We'd also like to know how you'll be spending your Labor Day - where you're going, what you're cooking, who you're spending it with. Do you have any traditions you observe every year? Did Davis' history of Labor Day surprise you? Let us know in the comments below.

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Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days
August 26th, 2012
07:43 PM ET

Ahead of the curve: The next 7 days

Here is a look at some of the stories that CNN plans to follow this week:

Republican National Convention in Tampa

Setting the stage for the race to November, The Tampa Bay Times Forum hosts the Republican National Convention. The Republican National Committee canceled the program's first day because of Tropical Storm (soon to be Hurricane) Isaac. The convention will convene on Monday and then immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said.

The convention has been scheduled to culminate Thursday with Mitt Romney accepting the GOP nomination for presidential candidacy. However, a GOP source confirmed to CNN late Sunday afternoon that Republican Party officials are considering extending their convention by a day.

Once considered Romney's fiercest competitor for the Republican presidential nomination, Rick Santorum will speak at the RNC. Also expected to speak are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and  Ann Romney, the candidate's wife.

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How to watch the Perseid meteor shower
Share your photos of the Perseid meteor shower with us on CNN iReport, like this one from Greg Ochoki in 2011.
August 11th, 2012
03:12 PM ET

How to watch the Perseid meteor shower

Hundreds of shooting stars and fireballs will fill the skies over the northern hemisphere on Saturday and Sunday night as Earth passes through a stream of debris from the Comet Swift-Tuttle - otherwise known as the Perseid meteor shower.

The Perseids have presented a scintillating display for 2,000 years, according to NASA. The comet Swift-Tuttle orbits the sun once every 133 years, which means that every August, the earth passes through a the comet's debris field. The ice and dust, accumulating over a thousand years, burns up in our atmosphere to create the meteor shower.

This year's display will be even more awe-inspiring than years past because the brightest planets in our solar system will be in the middle of it all. Jupiter, Venus and the crescent Moon will align as the shower peaks. And just as the shower is beginning to wane on August 13, the planets will be at their brightest, according to NASA.

The meteor shower will peak on the night of August 12, with at least a hundred shooting stars visible per hour. NASA scientists advise that although they can be seen any time after 10 p.m., the best time to spot a flurry of meteors will be during the darkest part of the night, in the early hours before dawn.

If you live in an urban area, you might want to drive a little ways to avoid the distraction of the city lights, which can make the meteor shower seem faint. Scientists from NASA also said that camping out in the country can triple the amount of visible meteors.

Thinking of counting all of the shooting stars? If so, NASA would like for you to let them know. They have developed an app for the Android and iPhone that allows stargazers to count every meteor they see, and report the results in a scientific way that will be valuable to NASA. The data will allow scientists to study and model the debris stream of the meteor shower.

If you already plan to stay up all night in anticipation of the meteor shower, join the online chat with astronomer Bill Cooke and his team from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center on Saturday night. From 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., ask them your burning questions about the meteors filling the night sky.

And don't forget to grab your camera before you head out. Meteor showers are a great opportunity for time-lapse videos and long-exposure photography, allowing your shots of the night sky to turn into van Gogh-like paintings of this starry spectacle. Share what you capture with us on CNN iReport and your photos and videos could be featured on CNN.

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Southwest Airlines promo glitch charges customers for flights aplenty
August 4th, 2012
03:13 PM ET

Southwest Airlines promo glitch charges customers for flights aplenty

[Update: 4:40 p.m. ET] Southwest Airlines has updated their Facebook page with information for customers affected by a computer glitch that has caused excessive credit card charges for countless people taking part in a 24-hour deal on Friday, and according to our readers writing in, during normal transactions as well .

"Information and update for Customers who recently experienced multiple bookings in error:

The overwhelming response from Customers who took advantage of our August 3 limited time offer launched to celebrate three million Fans on Facebook, created website performance issues at various times during the day. We realize that some Customers were charged more than once for the same reservation and we want to ensure you that we have all hands on deck, actively working to process refunds for any duplicate charges incurred.

Here is a status of those efforts:

First, we want you to know that we are working to identify duplicate bookings and charges and are proactively cancelling those additional reservations, actively processing refunds to the Customer. In order to process the refunds as quickly as possible, we have called in additional staff to support these efforts.

For those Customers who used debit cards and have received overdraft fees as a result of the additional charges, we will process a reimbursement for all overdraft fees that were caused by duplicate charges from Southwest for a single purchase. If you incurred overdraft fees, please fax documentation of those fees via a letter from your bank or a copy of your account showing the fees to 877-506-0154.

Southwest Airlines is committed to providing Customers with exceptional service both online and onboard. It is our goal to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and minimize any inconvenience to you, our valued Customers."

When Southwest Airlines offered a limited-time promotion on Friday to celebrate reaching three million fans on Facebook, it seems they accidentally racked up duplicate charges on the credit cards of their loyal customers.

The LUZ2LIKE promo code was meant to offer customers 50% off when booking a round-trip with their "Wanna Get Away" fares during seven specific travel dates in the fall. The promo, which arrived by e-mail to customers, only lasted until midnight on Friday.

On Saturday, their Facebook page was flooded with differing stories describing the trials, unresolved issues and even a few happy endings for customers trying to shake off the excess charges. Some lucky folks even posted that they sailed on through the process without a glitch.

When Southwest became aware of the problem, they offered a statement on Twitter, and a similar, expanded version on their Facebook page.

"Thank you for your excitement in taking advantage of the limited-time offer we shared today in celebration of reaching three million Fans on Facebook. Due to the overwhelming response, we experienced some site performance issues at various times throughout the day. We apologize to our Customers for any inconvenience and are proactively cancelling any duplicate itineraries that may have occurred."

Bobi Fox, a customer who wanted to take advantage of the promo code, shared her experience with CNN. She purchased directly off of Southwest's website.

"Customers who purchased tonight got no tickets, no confirmation, and many, like me, were charged on their credit cards repeatedly until credit card companies stopped the purchase process – some customers say they have been called by their credit card companies questioning fraud purchases," she said. " My credit card might be typical, my purchase was repeated 9 times (cost in excess of $2300 for a one pair of round trip tickets from STL to SLC).  This is not unlike what everyone else is experiencing.  Current wait time hold with Southwest customer service:  More than two hours."

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July 14th, 2012
03:25 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Forget uniforms, U.S. Olympians would be better off 'naked'

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Just days after the U.S. Olympic team's opening ceremony uniforms were unveiled, it was also revealed that American designer Ralph Lauren's creations were, in fact, not born in the U.S.A. To our readers, the iconic partnership of Lauren with Team U.S.A. seemed like a guarantee that America's best athletes would be sporting homegrown threads as they represented their country at the London games.

However, this is also not the first time we've encountered mother country disconnect when it comes to Olympic uniforms. Australia's uniforms were made in China, and in 2008, Canadian uniforms came from China, as well. In 2002, American athletes sported berets to the Winter Games in Salt Lake City made by Canadian company Roots.

Our readers took to the comments with outrage that addressed not only the shock factor of the news itself, but what it meant for declining American manufacturing, supporting our own country on multiple platforms and even just how un-American the uniforms appeared in the released photo. Some expressed a little more negativity when it comes to an outsourcing attitude that has developed across the country.

One commenter echoed what many readers felt initially upon seeing the headline.

Ken Ewan: What the hell is happening in the United States? Where is our national pride? Make it happen! It's no wonder we are losing out on the trade deficit with China!

Like the decline of the American automotive industry, readers felt that this was only one thread in the unraveling state of our textile industry. We even released a list of products made in America, which commenters are also adding to, to show how people can still "buy American."

Our commenters were quick to point out their knee-jerk reaction to the style of the uniforms themselves - no matter where they were made.

Wyckette: Ralph Lauren may be an "iconic" American designer, but he certainly isn't "modern."  These outfits look like they could have been worn when Gatsby was written.  The committee needs to find a designer who will be a "supporter" (does that mean donates the uniforms free-of-charge?) and who can produce a design which reflect the effort the athletes exert to win and the nation they represent.  Oh, and someone who can find a manufacturer in America who can produce these for less than $1600 per uniform.

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Filed under: China • Olympics • Overheard on CNN.com • Sports • U.S.
Top five Friday the 13th incidents
July 13th, 2012
02:54 PM ET

Top five Friday the 13th incidents

Whether you're just a little more cautious today because of various Friday the 13th superstitions, historically, the day hasn't always turned out to be, well, normal.

Here's our wrapup of the top five worst Friday the 13ths.

In 1939, the Black Friday brush fires began in Australia. The fires ended January 20. They left 71 people dead, 1,000 people injured and 3,000 homeless.

In October 1972, the Andes flight disaster left 16 survivors after two months.

In January 1989, the Friday the 13th virus struck hundreds of IBM computers in Britain.

In 1996, Tupac Shakur died September 13 of gunshot wounds sustained a week earlier.

And in January, the Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground on the island of Giglio, Italy, killing at least 30.

Today, as part of our coverage, CNN Radio's new Soundwaves blog is also featuring a podcast about tempting fate on this date, as well as a little history of how the superstition came to be. It also questions the kind of experiences people have had on this rare day.

The Belief Blog also has a breakdown, written by Connecticut College professor Stuart Vyse, exploring why exactly we fear Friday the 13th and how superstitions manifest themselves.

It's also National French Fry Day, so do with that what you will.

Let us know how your Friday the 13th goes, and what superstitions you have in the comments below.

July 12th, 2012
12:18 PM ET

Reactions to Penn State report flood social media

Penn State University bashers and supporters alike took to Twitter and Facebook on Thursday when the report on an internal probe into the school's child sex abuse scandal was released.

Lavar Arrington, a former Penn State player, responded on Twitter after reading the report.

The probe found that top university officials, including former President Graham Spanier and then-head football coach Joe Paterno, concealed child sex abuse by ex-assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky  and showed a "total and consistent disregard" for his victims. The concealment was meant to "avoid the consequences of bad publicity," the report said.

Penn State leaders disregarded victims, 'empowered' Sandusky, review finds

The probe's leader, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, said that ex-athletic director Tim Curley consulted with Paterno following allegations against Sandusky and "they changed the plan and decided not to make a report to the authorities."

Key players in the Penn State report

This, the report found, resulted in a failure to protect Sandusky's victims or warn the public about his behavior.

How the Sandusky case unraveled

Heated conversations immediately began on Penn State's Facebook page.

"The only important part of that report are the recommendations for the FUTURE! We need to all take a lesson from this, learn from some mistakes and use the recommendations to move on to make PSU a stronger place. It makes no sense discussing what happened in the past and what emails were sent. Complaining about the past does not make for a strong future!" Joey Schwartz wrote.

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July 7th, 2012
02:14 PM ET

Ringo Starr on peace, love and turning 72

Dancing and playing drums on stage for 55 years has been kind to musician Ringo Starr. On Saturday he turned 72, and as Starr has advocated for the past five years, he encourages everyone to pursue "peace and love" on "the seventh of the seventh" this July.

It's a lifestyle he advocates in the first track on his new album, "Ringo 2012," called "Anthem," which Starr identifies as an anthem for peace and love.

One of two living members of the Beatles and winner of nine Grammy Awards, Starr is on the road touring with the All Starr band. The band, formed in 1989, features a rotation of celebrity musicians. The current grouping is the 13th version of the band.

"Everybody has to have a hit to be in the band," he told CNN. "We have a very cool lineup, and it's a diverse lineup. But when you put it all together, it works, and I don’t know that when it starts."

The All Starr Band includes Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie from Santana, Steve Lukather from Toto, Richard Page from Mr. Mister with saxophonist Mark Rivera and drummer Gregg Bissonette.

With friends such as these, the show's set lists are rolling out hits like "Rosanna," "Broken Wings," "Hello It's Me," and "Black Magic Woman," in addition to Starr's hits on his own and with The Beatles. The tour also includes promoting his 17th solo studio recording, "Ringo 2012."

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July 6th, 2012
09:00 PM ET

What's going on at Wimbledon this weekend

History was made on Saturday when American Serena Williams defeated Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, to win the 2012 Wimbledon's women's singles final. This is Williams' seventh finals appearance for the Grand Slam tournament, and her fifth Wimbledon win.

Williams and her sister, Venus, also defeated the Czech Republic's Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in the women's doubles final. The sisters have five singles titles each, and now, five doubles titles.

In the men's doubles final, Briton Jonathan Marray and Denmark's Frederik Nielsen beat Sweden's Robert Lindstedt and Romania's Horia Tecau. Marray's victory gave Britain its first men's doubles champion since 1936 and according to the Wimbledon blog, Nielsen is the first Danish player to win a Grand Slam title, ever.

"Oh my God I can't even describe..." Williams said after her singles win, according to the Wimbledon live blog. "I thank Jehovah for letting me get this far. I almost didn't make it , two years ago I was in hospital... It's so worth is and I'm so happy. I never dreamt of being here again. You just never give up."

Williams was in the hospital recovering from a pulmonary embolism 18 months ago.

Close

Serena Williams wins 2012 Wimbledon

Serena Williams wins her 5th Wimbledon singles title, beating Agnieszka Radwanska CNN's Amanda Davies reports.

When asked if age 30 is the new 20, Williams replied, ""Oh my God, of course. Hello? I've been saying it all week: mentally I'm kind of 12, 13. I've always wanted everything Venus has had so... I had to copy you again, sorry!"

Radwanska was noticeably disappointed about losing out on her chance to snag her first Grand Slam tournament win.

"I'm still shaking so much, so I think I have the best two weeks of my life you know?" Radwanska said. "Of course she played too good today. I already have great memories from 2005 when I won junior Wimbledon. I think it was not my day today but I will just try next year and we'll see. Thank you very much for the support. Thank you so much."

The men's doubles match proved to be historic. Nielsen is the first Danish man to make the Wimbledon finals since 1955, when his grandfather played in the singles final. Marray was the first British man to play in the men's doubles final since 1960.

"We can't believe it. It's tough to sink in. I don't know what to say," Marray said afterwards.

On Sunday, Andy Murray will go head to head with Roger Federer in the men's singles final.

The last time a Briton reached the Wimbledon men's singles final, the photos taken of the event were in black and white.

On Friday, Andy Murray became the first one in 74 years. Now, he’s up against six-time champion Roger Federer for the final on Sunday. No matter who wins, history will be made. If Murray wins, during this year of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, you can bet the pubs will be full on Sunday night. If Federer wins, he will join American Pete Sampras and Briton William Renshaw atop the list of all-time men's singles champions.

The Wimbledon finals bring all of the drama to resounding conclusion, in crushing defeat or resounding victory, for two women and two men.

Perhaps you dine on strawberries and cream every summer in your best white outfit in honor of the international event. Or you’re just tuning in to see if Murray makes it in one of those gripping human-interest sports stories viewers like to seize on.

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July 4th, 2012
09:17 AM ET

Celebrating Independence Day in every way

Summer fare will sizzle on the grill and fireworks will light the night sky as America celebrates its 236th Independence Day on Wednesday.

And in Coney Island, someone will attempt to wolf down the most hot dogs, with buns, in 10 minutes for prize money and the Mustard Belt in the yearly Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.

This year, hot dog-eating records smashed

CNN is featuring a wealth of star-spangled content today, so be sure to check out our coverage:

Our series on American Exceptionalism kicked off over the weekend with rich, provocative stories that speak to myriad interests:

The power of American Exceptionalism

2012 winner must unite America on ideals

Photos: Faces of citizenship

America may not be perfect, but we love it anyway

Nationality, identity and the Pledge of Allegiance

Travel: Where to find exceptional America

Dual nationals: When one passport isn't enough

iReport: Naturalized citizens explain why they're American by choice

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July 3rd, 2012
04:31 PM ET

As temperatures sizzle, fireworks are even more risky

With wildly high temperatures, wicked weather and wildfires across the country, there are more warnings than usual posted about fireworks safety this year. In addition to harming themselves, people are also in danger of lighting up their entire neighborhoods.

"What people don’t realize is while they’re setting off fireworks and sparklers in this hot, dry heat or wind, that fires can move very quickly, putting their neighborhood directly in threat," said Mike Apicello, a spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

"Look for open, wide spaces to ignite fireworks, and stay away from fire fuels such as grass, which in this type of heat, cure out really fast. And with the high winds, all it takes is an ignition, even in an urban environment. A bottle rocket on a shake roof would ignite a fire very rapidly.

"Our fire resources are going to be very busy across the nation this July Fourth, so please use caution," he said.

In the event of high winds, drifting embers can easily start a fire, so if it's too windy for you to safely ignite, it's best to set the sparklers aside for another day.

Apicello advises checking locally before you do anything, adding that fireworks are not allowed in national parks.

After all, fireworks aren't legal everywhere. CNN Radio reports in this podcast about where you can and can't ignite them.


Each year, more than 100 fireworks-related injuries are reported to hospitals, according to the National Council on Fireworks Safety.

Last year alone, 65% of those injuries happened, not surprisingly, during the 30 days around the Fourth of July, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported.

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July 3rd, 2012
01:36 PM ET

Andy Griffith: A life remembered

Actor Andy Griffith, the friendly face who played across people's living rooms as Sheriff Andy Taylor on "The Andy Griffith Show" and Ben Matlock on "Matlock," has died at the age of 86, Sheriff J.D. "Doug" Doughtie of Dare County, North Carolina, said Tuesday.

Did he bring a smile to your face or warmth to your heart? Did you get to meet him? Share your images of you meeting Griffith or send us a fan video with your ode to the actor on CNN iReport. The best stories could be part of CNN's coverage.

Here's a look at Griffith's timeline and body of work:

Personal:

■ Name: Andrew Samuel Griffith

■ Birth date: June 1, 1926

■ Birth place: Mount Airy, North Carolina

■ Parents: Carl Lee, a carpenter, and Geneva (Nunn) Griffith

■ Marriages: Cindi (Knight) Griffith (1983 – present)

Solica Cassuto (1973 – 1981, divorced)

Barbara Edwards (1949 – 1972, divorced)

■ Children: Adopted with Edwards: Andrew Samuel Jr. (1957 – 1996)

Dixie Nan (1960)

■ Education: University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, B.A., 1949

■ 1960 – 1968: Star of "The Andy Griffith Show" as Sheriff Andy Taylor

■ 1986 – 1995: Plays seersucker suit-wearing lawyer Ben Matlock in "Matlock"

■ Emmy, Grammy and People's Choice Award winner

Other Facts:

■ The town Mayberry in "The Andy Griffith Show" is based on Mount Airy, North Carolina, Griffith's hometown.

■ In 1983, Griffith is stricken with Guillain-Barre syndrome and is partially paralyzed, but mostly recovers after rehabilitation.

■ In 2000, he suffers a heart attack and undergoes quadruple bypass surgery.

FULL POST

June 30th, 2012
02:35 PM ET

Will 2012 be the hottest summer on record?

Nearly 52 record-high temperatures for 2012 have been reached in the past seven days, according to CNN meteorologist Sean Morris.

Summer has definitely arrived in the United States with record-breaking temperatures soaring into the triple digits, and relief is slow to follow. The sizzling heat may not subside for a week, possibly longer.

From Kansas to Washington, heat warnings, watches and advisories spanned 730,000 square miles, affecting about 100 million people on Friday alone.

Excessive heat warnings were posted for 12 states, from Nebraska to New Jersey, on Friday by the National Weather Service.

As fierce thunderstorms battered their way across the Midwest to the Atlantic Seaboard on Friday night, the wicked weather caused mass power outages, leaving residents to suffer the heat without air conditioning.

Deaths possibly related to the heat are still being investigated. People are checking on their neighbors, and cities are putting cooling centers into place and extending pool hours.

The temperatures soaring above 100 degrees are nowhere near normal for this time of year in the United States, Morris said.

But we've experienced hideously hot ones before the dog days of summer officially set in before.

Last year - which was declared the hottest summer on record  in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico by The Weather Channel - featured some wicked days.

In its list of all-time record highs, The Weather Channel reported that Childress, Texas, climbed to 117 degrees on June 26 last year, beating any temperature on record for any month, dating back to 1893.

Borger, Texas, and Gage, Oklahoma, both hit 113 degrees on June 26, while Fort Smith, Arkansas, hit 115 degrees on August 3.

If the temperatures are climbing dangerously high in your city, be sure to check our five tips to survive extreme heat.

How are you beating the heat in your area? Let us know in the comments below.

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Instagram down in mass power outage
June 30th, 2012
12:12 PM ET

Instagram down in mass power outage

Breakfasts everywhere went undocumented on social media Saturday morning because photo-sharing site Instagram is still down after a line of powerful storms caused mass power outages across the Midwest  and Atlantic Seaboard on Friday night.

Fierce thunderstorms and high winds, some topping 80 miles per hour, whipped across Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Washington and Virginia, leaving debris, hot temperatures and no power to combat the record-breaking heat.

In addition to Instagram, Mashable and Forbes reported that on Friday night Netflix and Pinterest, powered by Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud, also were down because of weather affecting the region. The majority of those accounts, and the sites themselves, appear to be up and running again.

However, on Saturday morning, people were still taking to Twitter and Facebook, complaining or poking fun at the impact of Instagram, based in northern Virginia, going dark.

Some tweets encouraged people to enjoy the blackout by leaving technology behind for the weekend, that it's OK to eat breakfast and drink coffee without sharing a photo of it with the rest of the world via social media. Other tweets joked that many people would go undocumented on Facebook or Twitter as long as Instagram was down because of the site's various photo-enhancing filters.

A similar conversation ensued when Twitter experienced a widespread outage on June 21, its largest since October 2011.

More on social media:

Photos: Our mobile addiction

When losing e-mail is like a snow day

Instagram: My addiction and affliction

Viral vigilantism, Tony Hawk style

Instagram and the rise of photo apps

Instagram wants photos to be seen beyond 10-hour window

How to behave on Instagram

Do you fly into a panic when your favorite social media site goes temporarily dark? Or does it allow you to disconnect? Let us know in the comments below.

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What to know about Eric Holder
June 27th, 2012
02:37 PM ET

What to know about Eric Holder

The U.S. House will proceed with a vote Thursday on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Holder has been cited for withholding documents in the "Operation Fast and Furious" weapons operation.

Fast and Furious was a federal operation that involved agents' allowing illegal sales of guns believed to be destined for Mexican drug cartels. The idea was to track the sellers and purchasers, but things went awry when weapons found at murder scenes were traced back to the program.

Fast and Furious: By the numbers

As the proceedings continue with Holder, here's a bit of background on his time as Attorney General, as well as a timeline of the events involving Fast and Furious. (For an in-depth breakdown, you can also read more about the Fast and Furious investigation, which started with an agent's death.):

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Open Thread: What is your private island dream?
Lana'I, the sixth-largest island in Hawaii, is home to luxury resorts such as the Four Seasons.
June 21st, 2012
10:37 AM ET

Open Thread: What is your private island dream?

If you're like billionaires Richard Branson or Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, buying an island and claiming it to be your personal paradise is just another way to invest in happiness.

Ellison has bought about 98% of Lana'I, the sixth-largest island in Hawaii. That's 140 square miles of personal getaway, confirmed by Hawaii's governor, but no one's talking about how much it went for just yet. And it just happens to be more than 1,000 times larger than Branson's Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands.

Oracle CEO buys Hawaiian island

The package deal includes two luxury resorts, two golf courses, two clubhouses and 88,000 acres of land, according to a document filed with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. It's also full of gorgeous scenery and pineapples as well. Some residents have said they hope that Ellison, who has a deep love of nature, will give the island an economic lift.

If you could buy any island, which one would it be? What would you do with it, and how would you use it?

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Father's Day, by the numbers
It's estimated that 94 million Father's Day cards are exchanged annually, according to Hallmark.
June 17th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Father's Day, by the numbers

Every year on the third Sunday in June, we celebrate Dad with his own day.  The idea sprang from the mind of one woman who thought that fathers, just like mothers, deserved their own holiday. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, celebrated the first Father's Day on June 19, 1910 - her father's birthday.

In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge publicly supported a national Father's Day, and in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed it a national holiday. Following up in 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a permanent U.S. Father's Day into law, observed on the third Sunday in June.

Father's Day is also the fourth-largest card-sending occasion. Here's a breakdown of the other intriguing numbers that follow this holiday.

70.1 million – The estimated number of fathers in the United States

24.7 million – The number of married men with children under 18 at home in the United States

1.7 million – The number of single fathers in the United States in 2011.

170,000 – The number of single fathers raising three or more children.

176,000 – Estimated number of stay-at-home dads in the U.S. in 2011.

94 million – Estimated number of Father’s Day cards exchanged annually, according to Hallmark.

$117.14 – Estimated amount that the average person will spend on Father’s Day gifts in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation.

$12.7 billion – Estimated amount that consumers will spend on Father’s Day cards and gifts in 2012.

1910 – The first Father’s Day is celebrated in Spokane, Washington.

1972 – The year President Richard Nixon signed the law that designates the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.

Just for fun – daddies, papas and fathers

92 – Age of Les Colley of Australia at the birth of his son Oswald in 1992. He holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest man to father a child.

0 – Number of children fathered by Presidents George Washington, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, James Buchanan and Warren Harding.

$1.22 billion – Estimated sales at pizza restaurant Papa John’s in 2011, according to Hoovers.com

1 – Highest chart position on the Billboard Hot 100 for “Papa Don’t Preach” by Madonna.

$15 – Cost of a loaf of “Papa Don’t Peach” bread made by Breadwinner bakery in Atlanta.

3 – Number of awards won by the Temptations’ song “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” at the 1972 Grammy Awards.

50 – Number of years the Rolling Stones have been together with Mick Jagger as lead singer.

7 – Number of children fathered by Mick Jagger.

Here on CNN.com, we're also celebrating "Dear Old Dad" with our special coverage. Be sure to check this ultimate guide to the stories that pay tribute to Dad, whether he's no longer with us or enjoying Sunday's holiday on the couch with his favorite meal, and his favorite people.

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