Overheard on CNN.com: How to defy a tornado
April 28th, 2011
06:43 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: How to defy a tornado

Exchange of the Day:

“I'm from New Jersey and I actually never heard anyone blame anything on God there. It was pretty refreshing.” - shanker67

“Apparently you've never visited a story on Texas.” - slimjoe51

Southern storms: 'I don't know how anyone survived'

Hundreds of people were killed when a storm front swept tornadoes into six southern states. Alabama was hardest hit. Some drew comparisons to the "super outbreak" of tornadoes of 1974, when 148 tornadoes were reported in 13 states and 330 people died.

Exopolitics said, “I've never heard so many tornado sirens in my life! This year has been really bad and yesterday was one of the scariest days of my life.”

Dano973 said, “ I moved out to southern California for work three months ago. My wife, family and friends are still back in Georgia. Last night was terrifying for everyone, including myself. I'll trade one major earthquake for what they're going through this spring. This is the fourth severe storm in the past month...”

judyblueeyes said, “One of the predicted effects of climate change is more severe weather all over the world. Could this be a factor in these tornado outbreaks?”

Some CNN.com readers called for stronger buildings, such as houses structured for Category-5 resistance. But rhquad said “Those Cat 5 homes are built for 100-mph winds. Even moderate tornadoes can far exceed that. If you wanted a tornado-proof house, you'd have to design for winds over 350 mph.”

mslman71 said, “The probability of being hit by a tornado is so incredibly small that the extra cost is simply not warranted. While the loss is terrific for these people, more will die driving to work in the next week than from the worst outbreak of tornados in however many years."

RadarENG said, “Brick buildings stood no chance in Tuscaloosa. Many of the brick buildings are gone.”

schnuptz said, “Storm shelters are what save lives, not homes.”

GTsxtysix said, “ I think we need to seriously rethink the way we build our homes and offices, even if only to make just one room a survivable shelter. Otherwise, we basically have to learn to live with Mother Nature occasionally coming to town and tearing it to shreds.”


What about Clinton's birth certificate? Bush's? Ford's? Kennedy's?
President Barack Obama released his birth certificate Wednesday to defuse claims he was born on foreign soil.
April 28th, 2011
01:46 PM ET

What about Clinton's birth certificate? Bush's? Ford's? Kennedy's?

The controversy over President Barack Obama’s citizenship sharply divided America before the White House decided to release his long-form birth certificate Wednesday.

Some remain unconvinced he's a U.S. citizen. To many, the issue had already been settled. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll last month indicated that three out of four Americans believe Obama was probably or definitely born in the USA. More than 40 percent of Republicans held opposite sentiments.

Often accompanied by accusations of racism, a common cry among those defending Obama is, “Did past presidents make their birth certificates public?”

An interesting question, for sure, so I decided to have a look back over the past 50 years. The short answer is yes, some indeed did. The long answer? Birth certificates for past presidents are squirrelly things and not the easiest to find.


Storms obliterate parts of South
Water sprays from rubble left by severe storms in Alabama.
April 28th, 2011
01:46 PM ET

Storms obliterate parts of South

Hundreds of people are dead after massive storms tore through several southern states. These videos show some of the worst damage.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama, may have been hit the hardest. Cars are totaled and homes have been stripped of their roofs or reduced to debris.


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Filed under: Alabama • Georgia
'Empire Man' Elmer Lynn Hauldren dies at 89
Elmer Lynn Hauldren provided the voice of the "Empire Man" for nearly 40 years and became synonymous with the brand.
April 28th, 2011
12:45 PM ET

'Empire Man' Elmer Lynn Hauldren dies at 89

The man behind the memorable radio and TV jingle "5-8-8, 2-300, Empire!" has passed away.

Elmer Lynn Hauldren died Tuesday at his Evanston, Illinois, home, according to his family, the Chicago Tribune reports.

He was 89.

On Wednesday, the flooring company acknowledged the impact of his nearly 40-year career.

“Lynn was truly passionate about the Empire brand," Steve Silvers, Empire Today's CEO, said in a statement. "He has made an indelible mark on advertising history with his creativity and warmth."

Hauldren started working for Empire in the early 1970s after the company's owner requested him for TV spots, the company said. Soon, Hauldren would provide the voice of the "Empire Man" and become synonymous with the brand. He wrote and performed the jingle with the a capella group the Fabulous 40s.

Hauldren did more than voice-over work. He was also a member of the singing quartet Chordiac Arrest.

Hauldren was humble about his notoriety. According to the Tribune, he downplayed his fame: "People are good-natured," he said, "but once in a while they'll grab at you and say, 'Here's that carpet dude!' or 'Hey! Aren't you somebody?' I always hope folks understand I'm not a celebrity. I'm just a TV pitchman, a glorified salesman."

On the Web, users sent a stream of well wishes to Empire's Twitter and Facebook feed.

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Filed under: Illinois • U.S.
April 28th, 2011
12:38 PM ET

Live blog: Storms kill 184 in Alabama, 272 across South

[Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET] U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday called the loss of life from storms in the American Southeast "heartbreaking," and said that the "federal government will do everything we can to help (people affected by the deadly storms) recover."

We are "ready to help in any possible way," he said.

iReport: Share photos, video of the tornado aftermath


[Updated at 3:14 p.m. ET] The death toll from severe weather in Alabama has reached 184, and the death toll in Tennessee has risen to 33, authorities said Thursday. The overall death toll is 272 people in six states.

[Updated at 12:38 p.m. ET] The death toll from severe weather in Alabama has reached 162, Alabama Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Yasamie August said Thursday. The overall death toll is as many as 247 people in six states.

[Updated at 12:33 p.m. ET] The death toll from severe weather in Georgia is at 14, Gov. Nathan Deal said Thursday. There are now as many as 234 people dead in six states.

[Updated at 11:53 a.m. ET] In the DeKalb County, Alabama town of Rainsville, 25 bodies were recovered near one parking lot in the center of town, said Israel Partridge, a local business owner who teaches search and rescue and volunteered to help the Rainsville Fire Department Wednesday night. Rainsville Police Chief Charles Centers confirmed the 25 dead, adding eight were in one trailer park. Many people are unaccounted for, Centers said.

Partridge said one tree that had been uprooted and tossed still had a dog alive, tied to it. Partridge said he freed the dog and gave it to a family to take care of.

[Updated at 10:20 a.m. ET] Thirty people have died in Tennessee as a result of severe weather, according to the Tennessee Emergency Operations Center. The death total from a wave of powerful storms that struck the South is now as many as 231 people in six states.

[Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET] The Tennessee Valley Authority reports that Wednesday's storms knocked out 90 large power transmission lines, only 13 of which were back in service by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

More than 322,000 customers of 49 TVA distributors were without power Wednesday morning, the TVA said in a press release.

That number could rise as crews conduct further assessments of damage, TVA said.

[Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET] Eight people have died in Virginia as a result of severe weather, the governor's office said Thursday, bringing the overall death toll from storms across the South to 202 people in six states.

Were you affected by the tornadoes? Share your images, stories with CNN iReport.

[Updated at 8:34 a.m. ET] The death toll from severe weather in the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is now at 36, Mayor Walter Maddox said Thursday, putting the overall death toll across the South at 194.


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Filed under: Alabama • Georgia • Tennessee • Tornadoes • U.S. • Weather
Gotta Watch: 'Birthers' here to stay
Donald Trump disputes the existence of a CNN poll with John King.
April 28th, 2011
11:40 AM ET

Gotta Watch: 'Birthers' here to stay

Even as the president jokingly proclaimed he was carrying an ID to prove his citizenship, it seems the "birther" movement just won't let up. These are the latest fiery interviews that seem to be fueling the movement.

'Blowhard and a phony' – Those are some strong words for Donald Trump from New York Times journalist Christopher Byron. Last night,  Trump continued to question President Obama while sparring with CNN's John King . This is Byron's fierce analysis of the feud.

[cnn-video url="http://cnn.com/video/?/video/bestoftv/2011/04/28/exp.am.intv.byron.cnn"%5D


Thursday's most intriguing people
Buckingham Palace has released the official portrait of Prince William and Kate Middleton, as photographed by Mario Testino.
April 28th, 2011
11:06 AM ET

Thursday's most intriguing people

Mario Testino

In 1997, the Peruvian fashion photographer snapped Princess Diana in various gowns at her home in Kensington Palace. The gowns were to be sold at a charity auction, and the photos were to be part of the program. Diana, who did not know Testino personally, was so enchanted by his work that she chose him instead of an official royal photographer for the project.

When the portraits appeared in the July 1997 issue of Vanity Fair, they were praised for their portrayal of the princess as stylish, confident and playful. A month later, Diana was dead and the portraits would become the last enduring images of the most photographed woman in the world.

Buckingham Palace on Thursday released the official portrait of Diana’s son, Prince William, and bride-to-be Kate Middleton, as photographed by Testino. This is the second time Testino has photographed the couple since their engagement. The black-and-white images are fresh, classic and sophisticated. Diana would not have had it any other way.

Kathy Vitzhum

She enrolled in her first college course in 1992, when her boss said he’d reward her for getting an education. At the time, Vitzhum was a working mom with children ages 6 and 8 years old. As NPR reports, Vitzhum had no intention of getting a degree. Then, her father stepped in and made her promise to finish, even if she didn't finish until she was 50.

After 19 years of college, the 48-year-old will be a marshal Friday at Iowa State University’s graduation ceremony. She’ll graduate summa cum laude with a degree in accounting.

"I've been doing this so long, I don't think I'll know how not to do it," Vitzhum told Iowa State University’s news service. "It almost gives me anxiety to not know what I'm doing this summer."

Raymonde Brison

She lives on a fixed income and cannot travel to Texas to visit her terminally ill son. Yet when Brison, 81, found more than $2,800 in cash in the parking lot of her Chicago-based doctor’s office this month, she didn’t even think of keeping it.

After she turned the money in to local police, a retired city worker named Lester Franklin contacted her. He’d dropped the money, had been contacted by police and wanted to give her a $500 reward.

Brison will use the money to fly to Texas to see her dying son. “I believe in the Book,” Franklin told the Chicago Sun-Times this week. “If you do good, something good happens to you.”

Steve Carell

Fans of "The Office" will gather at the set one last time as the buffoonish Michael Scott appears in his final episode Thursday evening. NPR offered a summary Thursday of the actor's greatest lines as the lovable boss from hell:

“Everybody likes new inventions — new technology. People will never be replaced by machines. In the end, life and business are about human connections, and computers are about trying to murder you in a lake.”

“To run an office, you need men and women. You know why? Because you need to have that crazy sexual tension to keep things interesting.”

“There is honor in losing, which is, we all know, completely ridiculous. But there is, however, honor in making a loser feel better.”

“Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy — both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”

Thursday's live video events
April 28th, 2011
07:51 AM ET

Thursday's live video events

Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the devastating storms that struck the Southeast United States.

Today's programming highlights...

Continuing coverage - Severe weather hits Southeast

11:00 am ET - NASA spaceflight briefing - What will human spaceflight consist of in a post-shuttle environment?  NASA hopes to answer those questions when it unveils the four companies selected for the next round of the Commercial Crew Development initiative.


Filed under: Elections • Military • On CNN.com today • Politics • Republican Party • Space
On the Radar: NFL draft, earthquake drill, space update
Auburn's Cam Newton is expected to be the first pick in Thursday's NFL draft.
April 28th, 2011
06:48 AM ET

On the Radar: NFL draft, earthquake drill, space update

NFL draft: The National Football League holds its draft of college players Thursday night, with Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton the favorite to be picked No. 1 overall by the Carolina Panthers.

In his mock draft, SI.com's Don Banks says the Panthers, who earned the top pick with a league-worst 2-14 record in 2010, would trade out of the top spot if they could, but that is unlikely.

"They will pick Newton, but they'll do so with a queasy feeling in the pit of their stomachs. They know he carries risk, but they also feel they have to roll the dice and take the quarterback who has the potential to make the biggest possible impact," he writes.

The draft comes amid an off-season of labor strife in the league. A federal judge this week ruled league owners must resume business and end a lockout of players from team facilities. Owner appeals of that ruling are ongoing.

So when their names are called at Radio City Music Hall in New York City Thursday night, the collegiate stars won't know when they might first don the uniform of their NFL team or even if there will be an NFL season in 2011.

The first round of the draft begins at 8 p.m. and can be seen on the NFL Network. Second and third rounds are Friday at 6 p.m. and the fourth through seventh rounds are Saturday at noon.

Earthquake drill: Residents of 10 states from Oklahoma to South Carolina will practice earthquake safety drills as part of the Great Central U.S. Shakeout.

Organizers say more than 3 million people will participate in the event, scheduled to begin at 10:15 a.m. local time. Participants will practice the "drop, cover and hold on" technique to protect themselves in the event of an earthquake.

Government agencies, schools and universities, hospitals and businesses in Iowa, Illinois, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky join Oklahoma and South Carolina in Thursday's event. Indiana did its drills last week.

Voyager update: NASA updates the mission of its twin Voyager spacecraft on Thursday morning.

Since their launch 33 years ago, the spacecraft have traveled 10 billion miles to the edge of our solar system and are now heading toward interstellar space.

Besides sending information on their journey back to Earth, the spacecraft carry "a collection of images and sounds from Earth as a message to possible life elsewhere in the galaxy," NASA says.

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Filed under: Earthquake • Football • Natural Disasters • Pro football • Solar System • Space • Sports
Tornado survivors' stories: Flying Jeeps, moving earth, neighborhoods gone
Some of the worst damage from Wednesday's tornadoes was in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
April 28th, 2011
01:57 AM ET

Tornado survivors' stories: Flying Jeeps, moving earth, neighborhoods gone

[Updated at 9:57 p.m. ET] More than 280 people have been killed by the wave of violent weather that has swept across the South the past two days.

Survivors told of entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble and the terror of tornadoes ripping through their homes and businesses.

Here are the voices of some survivors:

Shortly before a massive tornado tore through her Tuscaloosa, Alabama, neighborhood on Wednesday, Lucy Arnold Sykes decided the weather was ominous enough to shelter her 3-year-old and 6-year-old children in a bathtub.

"I ran in with the kids and kind of joked (to my husband), 'Don't make fun of me for putting the kids in the bathtub, but I think this is serious,' " she told CNN's "The Situation Room" on Thursday. "He went out for one last look, and … he came back in with kind of a strange look on his face, and he said, 'It's right outside the door.' "

Have the tornadoes affected you? Share your stories, photos and video

The edge of the tornado passed across the street, but the wind tore apart a corner of the house, sent a tree crashing onto the roof, broke nearly all the windows and flipped her vehicle from the curb onto her front lawn.

The family is OK and stayed with friends on Wednesday night.

"(The kids) want to know when they’re going to go back home. I don't think that will be anytime soon. We're going to be looking for a new house," she said.


April 27th, 2011
11:41 PM ET

Live blog: 42 killed in Southern storms; heavy damage in Tuscaloosa

An apparent tornado cut through the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, area shortly after 5 p.m. CT (6 p.m. ET).

[Updated at 11:41 p.m. ET] Three deaths have been confirmed in Ringgold, Georgia, after severe storms moved through late Wednesday, bringing the five-state death toll from Tuesday night's and Wednesday's storms in the South to 42, according to authorities.

In Ringgold, eight people were taken to a hospital, according to Gary Sisk with the Catoosa County Sheriff's Department. There was no word on the severity of the injuries, he said.

The town in northwest Georgia was hit particularly hard. One tornado appeared to remain on the ground for at least a mile, said Sisk, adding that some buildings were completely demolished.

At least 25 people have been killed in Alabama, including 15 in Tuscaloosa; at least 11 were killed in Mississippi; one was killed in Arkansas; and one other person was killed in Georgia, according to authorities.

[Updated at 11:23 p.m. ET] An apparent tornado struck the northern Georgia community of Ringgold in Catoosa County, damaging multiple structures including a hotel, which has collapsed, Georgia Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Crystal Paulk-Buchanan said. Information on injuries in Ringgold wasn't immediately available.

An apparent tornado also was reported in southern Georgia's Walker County, where 30 homes were destroyed, Paulk-Buchanan said.

[Updated at 11:02 p.m. ET] Storm-related deaths have now been reported in Tennessee and Georgia, bringing the five-state death toll from Tuesday night's and Wednesday's storms in the South to 39, according to authorities.

One person was killed in Trenton in Georgia's Dade County, and at least one person was killed in Tennessee, officials in those state said.

At least 25 people have been killed in Alabama, including 15 in Tuscaloosa; at least 11 were killed in Mississippi; and one was killed in Arkansas, according to authorities.

[Updated at 10:28 p.m. ET] At least 15 people were killed in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Wednesday as severe storms swept through the city, Mayor Walter Maddox told reporters.

Statewide in Alabama, at least 25 people in died as a result of storms and tornadoes, the state's emergency management director told CNN Wednesday. At least 11 people were killed in Mississippi and one was killed in Arkansas as a result of the storms.

In Tuscaloosa, hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed, and hundreds more were damaged, Maddox said. Dozens of roads are impassable, he said. Maddox said the city's infrastructure had been "decimated," noting that thousands of residents were without power.

Video from CNN affiliates there showed a massive whirling cloud darkening the sky as it approached Tuscaloosa shortly after 5 p.m. CT.

The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa has canceled classes and suspended normal operations for Thursday, the university said on its website.

[Updated at 10:17 p.m. ET] At least 11 people were killed in Tuesday night's and Wednesday's severe storms in Mississippi, the state's emergency management agency reported Wednesday. This brings the three-state death toll from the Tuesday-Wednesday storms in the South to 37.

In Mississippi, more than 40 injuries have been reported by local officials as a result of the storms, the agency said, and the number of deaths could rise.

At least 25 people have been killed in Alabama, and one was killed in Arkansas, according to authorities.


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Filed under: Alabama • Arkansas • Georgia • Mississippi • Tennessee • Weather
Widow 'overwhelmed' by news that husband delivered baby Obama
Ivaless Sinclair says husband David Sinclair, who died in 2003, never mentioned his connection to President Obama.
April 27th, 2011
07:29 PM ET

Widow 'overwhelmed' by news that husband delivered baby Obama

The widow of the doctor whose signature is on President Obama's birth certificate was honored to learn of her husband's role in bringing the future president into the world and hoped the document would end debate over his citizenship.

"It is a great thrill and a great honor and I had no idea," Ivalee Sinclair, an Obama supporter, said Wednesday in a phone interview from her home in Honolulu, Hawaii.

"I was just overwhelmed with the news."

David Sinclair's name appears as the attending physician on the live birth certificate that the White House released Wednesday in response to doubts over his citizenship. The "birther debate" has waxed and waned since Obama's presidential campaign, returning with renewed vigor last week due in large part to the efforts of billionaire entrepreneur Donald Trump.


Wednesday's intriguing people
Leon Panetta was a congressman and President Bill Clinton's chief of staff before becoming CIA director.
April 27th, 2011
03:24 PM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Leon Panetta

The CIA director will be President Barack Obama's nominee to succeed Robert Gates as defense secretary, a senior defense official and another U.S. official said Wednesday.

Panetta will be named as a nominee for U.S. defense secretary, CNN has confirmed. Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, will be tapped as Panetta's replacement at the CIA, a senior defense official said.

Panetta is a prolific public servant. For 14 years, he was a U.S. congressman from California, ultimately becoming chairman of the House Budget committee. He later was director of the Office of Management and Budget and then President Bill Clinton's chief of staff. Early in his career, the Santa Clara University alum was an aide to a U.S. senator and an assistant in the government’s civil rights unit in the 1960s. Panetta won a an Army Commendation Medal while serving as an Army intelligence officer from 1964-1966.


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Filed under: Barack Obama • Libya • Lindsay Lohan • Military • Most Intriguing People • Politics • U.S.
'World's largest tailgate party' expected at Endeavour's final launch
Space shuttle Endeavour will launch on its final mission Friday.
April 27th, 2011
02:21 PM ET

'World's largest tailgate party' expected at Endeavour's final launch

There could be as many as 700,000 people gathered to witness space shuttle Endeavour's final mission in Central Florida on Friday afternoon.

"I'm thinking this is like the world's largest tailgate party," said Rob Varley, the executive director of the Space Coast Office of Tourism.

The launch will come at 3:47 p.m. ET.

Crowds are already pouring into the beachside towns surrounding the Kennedy Space Center, Varley said. Tickets for specialized tours of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex are sold out, but general tours are still available.

One of the most high-profile spectators will be U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, wife of Endeavour commander Mark Kelly. Giffords is recovering from a gunshot to her head after a man attacked her and killed several others at a January political event in Arizona. She departed a Houston, Texas, rehabilitation facility Wednesday on her way to Florida.

President Obama is also expected to attend the launch.

By comparison, February's launch of the shuttle Discovery on its final mission drew about 450,000 spectators.

Anyone still toying with the idea of traveling to the area to see the event should know roadways will be crowded. Come and camp out early, Varley suggested.

Though Friday will mark the last time Endeavor flies, there will be one more shuttle flight scheduled before the program ends this summer.

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Filed under: Shuttle • Space
Overheard on CNN.com: Readers respond to birth certificate
President Barack Obama says the country does not "have time for this kind of silliness."
April 27th, 2011
01:36 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Readers respond to birth certificate

Comment of the morning: "(President Barack) Obama just pulled out his Trump card." - Cavemullah

Obama releases original long-form birth certificate

Doubters that President Barack Obama was born in the United States, led recently by possible Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, got their answer Wednesday when the White House released Obama's original birth certificate. "Birthers" have insisted that Obama was born overseas - possibly in his father's home country of Kenya - and therefore may be constitutionally ineligible to serve as president. Obama said Wednesday that he released his original birth certificate because the country does not "have time for this kind of silliness."

Many CNN.com readers expressed frustration that the president was put in the position of having to show his birth certificate at all.

CrunkSwaggaG said, "I think Donald Trump and about half of the Republican Party owe President Obama a sincere apology." flatbushfred said, "Obama shouldn't have had to do this. It's blatant racism." LPLove said, "No president in history has ever been treated this way. The birthers are nothing more than racists wrapping themselves in the flag. Disgusting." harryball said, "I feel bad for this guy. When was the last time a president was forced to show his birth certificate two years into his presidency? Oh that's right, never. Even as president, black people are still being treated as second-class citizens."

Watch an iReporter's response

About Trump’s role in the controversy, CNN.com readers had plenty to say:

icecold12 said, "Now Trump has to live up to his end of the deal and deliver his income tax information and net worth. Obama called his bluff and I bet he folds." BobSacamano said, "I'd like to know how much debt Trump has discharged throughout his life by claiming bankruptcy. How many millions has he stiffed his investors and creditors for?"

USAlegend said, OBAMA: "On Your Face Sucker, Here is my Birth Certificate.’ TRUMP: "Well......huh.....hmmmm....But this doesn't prove that you are not a Muslim."

And now that the original certificate has been released, many CNN.com readers said it still won’t be enough for birthers.

W2ATL said, "This really won't matter. These clowns will have some new madness to cry about in three hours." livingston1 responded, “Really, do you think it will take that long? That kind of hate blinds them to any sense of reason.” Nagaina said, “Countdown to someone claiming the long form birth certificate is an 'obvious forgery'...3...2...1.” BubbaSponge said, “Now hopefully the birthers will give it a rest once and for all!!” TikiGawd said, “Nah, they'll start a movement saying Hawaii isn't really part of the United States because it's 'overseas.' " iroshi said, “It's a shame the ‘birthers’ can't focus on an issue that is actually important. For instance, the national debt, unemployment, taxes, etc. What an incredible waste of time and money this has been.”

Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video. 

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Gotta Watch: Born in the USA
President Obama releases his long-form birth certificate to quiet rumors about his citizenship.
April 27th, 2011
11:48 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Born in the USA

After years of speculation and several major media outlets debunking claims, President Obama moved to put rumors about his birth certificate to bed by releasing the long-form document. While this may quiet some of the noise from some so-called "birther" conspiracy theorists, it may not be enough for others. In today's gotta watch we take a look at some of the most vocal "birthers" and their years-long quest to see Obama's birth certificate. And if you're still not sure what all the stink is all about, we've got a cheat sheet here.

The born conspiracy? – "Birther" movement leader Orly Taitz has been very vocal about her doubts concerning the president's birth place. She even took the issue to a California court. She said her goal was to find out if Obama was U.S. citizen and to hold a special presidential election if he wasn't.


April 27th, 2011
11:01 AM ET

Giffords boards flight ahead of husband's space shuttle launch

A plane believed to be carrying U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords departed Houston on Wednesday morning. Giffords is scheduled to attend the Friday launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, commanded by her husband, Mark Kelly, from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Her staffers put a picture taken from the plane on Twitter, saying she "is looking forward to some time away" from TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

Kelly and Endeavour’s five other crew members arrived at the center’s shuttle landing facility on Wednesday afternoon in T-38 training jets, two days ahead of the shuttle's launch. Giffords, his wife, has been recovering from a January gunshot to the brain but was cleared by doctors to attend Friday's liftoff.

Endeavour commander: Giffords 'more than medically ready' to see launch

April 27th, 2011
10:07 AM ET

Obama releases original long-form birth certificate

The White House released copies of President Barack Obama's original long-form birth certificate Wednesday, seeking to put an end to persistent rumors that he was not born in the United States.

The certificate states, as Obama's advisers have repeatedly said, that the president was born at Honolulu's Kapiolani Hospital on August 4, 1961. Doubters insist Obama was born overseas - possibly in his father's home country of Kenya - and may be constitutionally ineligible to serve as president.

"We do not have time for this kind of silliness," Obama told reporters at the White House. "I've been puzzled at the degree to which this (story) just kept on going."

"Normally I would not comment on something like this," the president said. But the country has "some enormous challenges out there" and that it will not be able to effectively meet "if we're distracted."

See full certificate | How Obama got document | Your take?

On the Radar: 'Amazingly explosive' storms, more divorces, Syria, volcano
Little Rock, Arkansas, residents clean up the damage Tuesday after violent storms knocked out power to thousands of homes.
April 27th, 2011
09:17 AM ET

On the Radar: 'Amazingly explosive' storms, more divorces, Syria, volcano

Storms slam South - Another round of severe weather is expected to slam the eastern third of the country Wednesday, hours after a series of tornadoes, baseball-size hail and flooding left a trail of destruction.

People were reported trapped in homes in Marshall County, Alabama, after a possible twister struck there Wednesday morning, said Lee Rosser, a logistics specialist for the county Emergency Management Agency. There were also reports of people trapped at a nearby campground, he said.

In Mississippi, three people died overnight as severe weather swept the state, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday.

The storm system claimed at least one life Tuesday night in Sharp County, Arkansas, bringing the death toll to 11 in that state since Monday.

The Storm Prediction Center said there's a high chance of severe weather on Wednesday across portions of northern Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia and in southern Tennessee.

"The storms are just amazingly explosive, and they're covering a very large area," said Greg Carbin with the storm center in Norman, Oklahoma.


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Filed under: Economy • Syria • U.S. • Weather
Shake-up in Obama's national security team
CIA Director Leon Panetta will replace Robert Gates as defense secretary, sources say.
April 27th, 2011
07:58 AM ET

Shake-up in Obama's national security team

President Barack Obama plans to announce Thursday he is nominating CIA Director Leon Panetta as defense secretary, Gen. David Petraeus to head the CIA and Ryan Crocker as the new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan in what will be the most extensive reshaping of the Obama national security team to date, sources tell CNN.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics
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