May 24th, 2010
07:40 AM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Bob Graham and William K. Reilly

President Obama wants to investigate how to prevent future oil spills. To figure that out, this weekend Obama named Graham, pictured, and Reilly to head a new bipartisan National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

Graham was Florida's governor for two terms, followed by 18 years as a U.S. senator. Since retiring from the Senate in January 2005, he has served on several federal panels, including as chairman of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism.

Reilly was EPA chief in President George H.W. Bush's administration from 1989-93 and is chairman emeritus of the board of the World Wildlife Fund.

CNN Political Ticker: Obama announces oil spill commission

Sarah Ferguson

A British tabloid posted a video on its website Sunday that appears to show the Duchess of York accepting money from an undercover reporter in exchange for access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, a UK trade envoy.

Ferguson was filmed on hidden camera telling the News of the World reporter - who was posing as a wealthy businessman - that a payment of 500,000 pounds ($723,000) "opens doors" to Andrew.

In a statement Sunday, Ferguson apologized for the incident.

"I very deeply regret the situation and the embarrassment caused," the statement said. "It is true that my financial situation is under stress, however, that is no excuse for a serious lapse in judgment and I am very sorry that this has happened."

CNN: Video appears to show duchess selling access to Prince Andrew

Simon Monjack

The widower of actress Brittany Murphy was found dead at his California home five months after his wife died.

Monjack, 39, a British screenwriter, was found dead Sunday night in Hollywood, according to the Los Angeles County coroner's office. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Murphy, 32, died in December from a combination of pneumonia, an iron deficiency and multiple drug intoxication, a coroner said.

Monjack wrote and produced the film "Factory Girl," starring Sienna Miller and Guy Pearce. The 2006 movie told the story of the avant-garde and short life of socialite and Andy Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick.

CNN: Brittany Murphy's husband found dead

Andrew Cuomo

New York state's attorney general formally announced that he's running for the powerful position his father, Mario Cuomo, was elected to three times: New York governor.

New York's current governor, fellow Democrat David Paterson, said in March that he would not run this year for a full term.

Andrew Cuomo, 52, was secretary of housing and urban development in President Clinton's second term. He unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in New York in 2002, which was followed by a messy public divorce from his wife, Kerry Kennedy. Cuomo bounced back in 2006 to win the attorney general seat.

CNN Political Ticker: Cuomo officially jumps into N.Y. governor's race

CNN video: Cuomo eyes New York governor seat

Alexandra Rosenberg and Elizabeth Betterbed

For the first time, two women graduated with the two top highest honors in West Point's 208-year history.

According to the U.S. Army, 2nd Lt. Alexandra Rosenberg of New York earned the highest cumulative academic quality point average and was named the Class of 2010 valedictorian. Second Lt. Elizabeth Betterbed of Fox Island, Washington, graduated with the highest accumulative cadet performance score.

An Engineering Corps officer, Betterbed is also a Rhodes scholar recipient, a member of a team of mechanical engineers who helped develop a bionic foot, and a four-year letter winner and starter on the women's soccer team. This year was the 31st class to graduate women at West Point, and it included 136 female graduates.

U.S. Army: West Point class of 2010 celebrates landmark accomplishments

soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Fred

    Take this with a little salt, there are two different groups honored, the 'Honor Grads' and the 'Distinguished Grads". The 'Distinguished' have the highest CPA. But remember the all the music and band majors in the top ten in high school... You will probably find another 100 cadets within 0.05 points of GPA of her with more and tougher courses. Honor grads are determined by the Cadet Performance Score (CPS). That scoring method was recently changed from one-third Leadership, Physical, and Academic to downgrading the academic side to 25%. Cadets are chosen as Plebes (in their first year) for the Leadership program and that group real high in women and minorities and they get extra points for that. So you will find most of the 'Honor Grads' are from the Leadership Program. The Service Academies are very politically sensitive. picking and choosing what they want to show the public and do so and can easily rig the system to showcase. Look at the Academys photos and you'd think no white guys even attend. Please don't misunderstand, it is a great accomplishment to get through that program but don't think the process isn't political.

    May 24, 2010 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Market

      Fred – Is it just impossible for you to actually say they did a great job? Would oyu have done the same analysis if the two had been men?

      May 24, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. rh

    Good for them, if the men who work at West Point accept them, how dare any random man say they are not fit?

    As for easy courses etc., I would expect that an "easy course" at West Point would still be pretty f'ing difficult. I hope, anyway.

    May 24, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. Sassy Suzette

    Absolutely something to be proud of. 🙂 Congratulations, ladies!

    May 24, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  4. Kim

    I am pleased to see the number of supportive responses from men. I must admit, I expected a litany of negative and abusive comments on this article, and I am pleased that I was wrong. Thank you to all the gentlemen here who recognize women as valuable, intelligent beings who deserve the same opportunities as men. Although we are each different and bring our own strengths into life, we all have something we can contribute to the world, if allowed to do so. I am grateful to all the men and women who serve and protect us daily, so that I can express my views about this topic without fear.

    May 24, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jessica

    Is anyone else seeing the writing on the wall? Look at all the other nations that still keep women under lock and key – and tell me if you dont see them as backwards, ignorant and screwing themselves? Now look at America, where women are starting to excel – and potentially might surpass men in most areas (save for brute strength) and its not hard to see why other nations and peoples keep their feet on womens neck – embarrassment. Its embarrassing to realize the only TRUE edge you hold over another group of people is physical strength. The question is, how will men handle their new found status as underachievers? Remember, that most programs that got women in the door – didnt extend beyond the door. So, you cant exactly blame lack of opportunity, when women are being chosen over men – they arent choosing less intelligent men, over more intelligent men – just the best from if women are excelling, its because of opportunity, yes...but mostly because of their own hard work and merit.

    May 24, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Al

      These women are extraordinary but not uncommon. Women are heroes and achieve every day. As a man, I am glad we are finally realizing that for years women were denied the chance to contribute. Some of the insecure cavemen who have commented make me sick, but you're right Jessica, not all of us think like them.

      May 24, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. CATom

    Gotta keep things even don't want no lawsuits.

    May 24, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  7. MrpoliceMan

    To believe Woman were all about rainbows and butterflies, not, tactics and death. Only certain men attend these schools because they have a knack for this stuff. I highly doubt that woman really have the interest of such things. Many do it to compete against men. The woman still run the Native American tribes, just as they did for thousands of years, but look where it got them. As long as Men exist, expect that foot to be on your neck.

    A male feminist

    May 24, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Market

      "highly doubt that woman really have the interest of such things."
      Why? Guess what? Women are interested in the military, strategy, mathematics, analytics, medicine, law enforcement and a myriad of other occupations.

      May 24, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      "Many do it to compete against men."
      that is one of the most stupid things I have ever read. Yeah, a woman is going to spend all these years to excel and go through the military academy and then serve their country for many years after because they want to beat men???

      Sorry bub, but you men are not worth that much effort.

      Women do this for the same reason as men...leadership and service to country as a officer.

      May 24, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  8. ch

    So being an Engineering Corps officer, Rhodes scholar recipient, and member of a team of engineers who helped develop a bionic foot doesn't require more and tougher courses?

    May 24, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  9. Vicky

    My daughter gradutaed from The Citadel in Charleston SC and there few women in her class...unfortunatley they did not get the recognition they deserved in the work force after graduation...some of them were frowned upon and consi – edred gay-even though they were not.
    I am happy to see thay over the last 10 years this has changed in some of the service academies-you go ladies!!!

    May 24, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  10. Kevin Moore

    Having worn the Army uniform, I had female commanders and found them just as capable if not more so than a man. I had good superiors both male and female, also had bad ones of each gender. It isn't gender that determines capability, it is personality.
    I congratulate these officers on their success.

    May 24, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  11. Gyrogearloose

    Congratualations, Ladies. Ya done good.

    May 24, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  12. E

    With two brothers who are currently in service academies, I'm glad to see anyone graduate regardless of gender. It's a tough program for anyone so congrats to the ladies! Hopefully they can continue to excel in their careers. Still, major accomplishment so they should be proud.

    May 24, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  13. John

    I graduated USCGA and my hat is off to these ladies as well as their classmates who made it through what was a difficult 4 years to say the least. Most folks don't realize that the typical engineering student takes 5 years to graduate, but the academies crunch it into 4 (21 credit hours a semester is not uncommon), plus required participation in sports, plus military requirements that take a huge amount of time, plus a much higher than average load of core courses and professional you have some jerk just two years your senior who got too many wedgies in high school who now has his/her first taste of power over you, who goes out of their way to assert it at every turn. So just making it is pretty good, making it at the top is outstanding. I read Fred's comments and have to concede that yes, women and minorities do get some preferential treatment both overtly as with admissions, and less obviously through decisions made by those trying to show how forward leaning the academies are with women and minorities. Anyone who has been there probably has a story of how unfair this can be at times...but bottom line is that any officers that work hard, display good leadership and make the right decisions still do well in getting positions of higher responsibility, especially in the fleet (or I guess in the foxhole as the ground pounders would say) where leadership has always and still matters more than anything else.

    May 24, 2010 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  14. Dave

    Why is it we have to label an entire gender with phases like ‘Women are better than men’ or ‘Men are smarter than women’? These women accomplished a great deal and I applaud their efforts, like the men who came before them as well as the men and women who will follow them. We all respond each according to our natural gifts and talents. These women earned our respect and admiration; we need not diminish their accomplishments because they happen to be a different gender or because some percentage changed from what it was 20 years ago.

    Choosing a career in the military is not easy, you are not going to get rich, you’ll spend countless hours away from family, friends and loved ones, you are over worked, under paid and unappreciated for your contributions and yet for some it can be the most rewarding years of their lives. Sadly, far too many pay for our freedoms with the ultimate sacrifice and we as a nation will be forever in their debt.

    I come from a military family, my father is retired Air Force, I am retired Navy and my brother currently has 26 years active in the Army. To all the graduating members from any service academy, to the men and women in boot camp across the country and to those who now serve in our military, I well done! And Thank You!

    May 24, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rachel

    Some of these comments make me lose hope in the progress of our society. I think a congratulations is due, regardless of predisposed prejudices. Making it four years at the Academy is a rigorous process and so graduating in itself is a momentous ocassion. No one is saying that women are better; these two cadets did well beyond what was necessary and were rightfully rewarded. There are plenty of remarkable cadets too that were not rewarded. In any case, we should all be proud that we have such people leading the Army.

    May 24, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
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