Hikers presumed dead after falling over Yosemite waterfall
Waterfalls like Yosemite's Vernal Fall have been swollen by near-record snowmelt in the high Sierra.
July 20th, 2011
09:30 PM ET

Hikers presumed dead after falling over Yosemite waterfall

[Updated 9:30 p.m. ET] Three Yosemite National Park tourists are presumed dead after climbing over a guardrail into the Merced River, park officials said Wednesday.

"So far we have seen no clues or no evidence of any of the bodies," said Kari Cobb, a spokeswoman for Yosemite National Park. "We are presuming that all three of them are dead ... we will scale up the search once the water levels have receded and we can insert crews to look for the bodies in the river safely."

Ramina Badal, 21, and Hormiz David, 22, both of Modesto, California; and Ninos Yacoub, 27, of Turlock, California, had hiked the popular Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Fall at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Vernal Fall is 317 feet high. The Mist Trail is the most popular trail in Yosemite National Park and attracts between 1,500 and 2,500 people a day, according to Kari Cobb, a spokeswoman for Yosemite National Park.

Witnesses unsuccessfully urged the hikers to return to shore as they watched them step into the swift, cold water about 25 feet from the cliff's edge, park officials said.

There are signs at the head of the trail that warn of danger and fast-moving water, the park said.

"Visitors that want to go around guardrails ... it's up to them," Cobb said. "It's something that does happen and it's completely up to the visitor to know what safety concerns are around and take responsibility for their own actions."


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Filed under: California
Overheard on CNN.com: Birth control should be free
The Institute of Medicine, an independent advisory group, says insurance should offer free birth control and sex education.
July 20th, 2011
04:52 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Birth control should be free

Comment of the day:

“Yes, yes, yes, yes. The UN should be funding planes to fly over all countries dropping the Pill. Overpopulation of this planet is by far the greatest threat to mankind.” –tommas

New report recommends full coverage

Contraceptives, sterilization and reproductive education should be covered by health insurance plans with no cost to patients under the health care reform law, a new report by the Institute of Medicine recommends. Birth control and how it’s obtained remains controversial among anti-abortion groups, but most CNN.com readers agreed with the report.

wrgbiv said, “Am I the only one who is COMPLETELY behind this idea?” VinoBianco responded. “Nope! I fully support free birth control, this is an excellent idea. thumos888 said, “Nope, many of us are. We're just baffled by the idiots who argue that preventing unwanted pregnancies will some how increase insurance costs.” gregsbenidic said, “I really REALLY hope not. This would be the best money the government has spent in my life time. No question.”

Gnatter said, “Better availability to birth control means less demand for abortions. Right to Lifers should support this unless they believe that sex is only for procreation. Social conservatives should support this for the same reason. But they won't.”

PaleinPDX said, “The cost of birth control is FAR less than the cost to raise a child. Especially an unwanted one - for whatever reason.”

doughnuts said, “A lot of the comments on this story have gone a long way toward confirming something that I have suspected for quite a while. The ‘Pro-Life’ folks aren't really interested in saving fetuses from being aborted. They're really only interested in punishing women for having sex.”

Guest141414 responded, “Women who have sex without protection or the use of contraceptives are engaging in a practice with very well-known consequences. Why should someone else be forced to pay in order to remove the natural consequences of a choice? Personal responsibility goes a lot further than demanding that someone else bail you out.” FULL POST

Three MIA World War II soldiers finally laid to rest
Army Pfc. Lawrence N. Harris, Cpl. Judge C. Hellums and Pvt. Donald D. Owens were buried in a single casket Wednesday.
July 20th, 2011
03:16 PM ET

Three MIA World War II soldiers finally laid to rest

Three World War II soldiers were finally laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday after almost seven decades missing in action.

The men were buried together in a single casket with full military honors. Their remains were only recently identified through the efforts of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC).

Army Pfc. Lawrence N. Harris of Elkins, West Virginia., Cpl. Judge C. Hellums of Paris, Mississippi, and Pvt. Donald D. Owens of Cleveland were fighting with their unit, the 773rd Tank Destroyer Battalion, on October 9, 1944, during the final battle for control of the Parroy Forest in eastern France, according to the Department of Defense.

All three were killed when their M-10 tank destroyer came under enemy fire.

“Evidence at the time indicated the remains of the men had been destroyed in the attack and were neither recovered nor buried near the location," according to a Department of Defense press release.

Then, in November 1946, a French soldier discovered the M-10 debris and human remains while working in the forest. The American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) took control of the remains, which were buried as unknowns in what is now the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium.

Despite further searches for human remains on behalf of the AGRC, the Parroy Forest was thought to be void of human remains until 2003, when a French citizen exploring the area discovered Hellums’ identification bracelet and more human remains. A JPAC team working in Europe took control of the items in April 2006 and then returned to the site, recovering “more human remains, personal effects, and an identification tag for Owens,” according to the press release.


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Filed under: Military
Great white jumps on to research boat
The 1,100-pound great white shark sits in the stern of a South African research boat.
July 20th, 2011
01:15 PM ET

Great white jumps on to research boat

Shark researchers in South Africa didn't have to go far Tuesday to find a specimen - a 10-foot great white shark leaped into the back of their boat. And rather than a story of the big one that got away, this is a story of a big one they couldn't get rid of.

The boat, from Ocean's Research in Mossel Bay on South Africa's southern coast between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, was chumming in the waters around Seal Island and monitoring the activity of four sharks as part of an ongoing study, researchers reported on their blog.

“Next thing I know I hear a splash, and see a white shark breach out of the water from the side of the boat hovering, literally, over the crewmember who was chumming on the boat's port side,” field specialist Dorien Schroder wrote on the blog. He pulled the crewmember to safety while others jumped out of the way of the 1,100-pound shark.


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Filed under: Animals • Sharks • South Africa
Report: Marine to get Medal of Honor for Afghanistan actions
Dakota Meyer participates in a celebrity shooting tournament earlier this year.
July 20th, 2011
12:32 PM ET

Report: Marine to get Medal of Honor for Afghanistan actions

A Marine who braved enemy fire alone to retrieve the bodies of his fallen comrades will be awarded the Medal of Honor, Marine Corps Times reports.

Dakota Meyer, who now lives in Austin, Texas, will be the first living Marine to receive the nation's highest military honor since the Vietnam War. Two living Army soldiers, Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry and Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, have received the medal in the past year.

Meyer will be recognized for his actions on September 8, 2009, in Ganjgal, a remote Afghan village near the border with Pakistan. As his unit of 13 U.S. service members came under attack by a force of 50 heavily-armed insurgents, Meyer, a corporal at the time, repeatedly ran through enemy fire to recover the bodies of fellow American troops.


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Filed under: Marines • Medal of Honor • Military
 Leopard on the loose
July 20th, 2011
09:03 AM ET

Leopard killed after mauling six in India

Officers shot and killed a leopard after it strayed into a village and attacked six people in West Bengal, India, according to media reports.

The leopard attacked a woman and two men, The Australian reported.

People in the densely populated slum village of Prakash Nagar climbed onto rooftops as forestry officers pursued the big cat and vice versa, Sky News reported. Several attempts to tranquilize it failed.

Things seemed to calm down after the leopard sought refuge in bushes, but it leaped out at three officers, Sky News reported. An officer finally wounded the animal, and it later died at a veterinary clinic.

One forestry officer was reported critically injured.

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Filed under: Animals • India • Leopards
Deep sinkhole opens under woman's bed
The sinkhole under a Guatemalan woman's bed is about 40 feet deep.
July 20th, 2011
07:34 AM ET

Deep sinkhole opens under woman's bed

The first step out of bed could have been a big one.

A woman in Guatemala City reports that a sinkhole, 40 feet deep and almost 3 feet across, opened under her bed Monday.

"When we heard the loud boom we thought a gas canister from a neighboring home had exploded, or there had been a crash on the street," Inocenta Hernandez, 65, said in an Agence France-Presse report.

"We rushed out to look and saw nothing. A gentleman told me that the noise came from my house, and we searched until we found it under my bed," AFP quotes Hernandez as saying.


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Filed under: Guatemala
July 20th, 2011
06:27 AM ET

Iran says it shoots down U.S. 'spy drone'

Iran has brought down a U.S. "spy drone" flying near its Fordo nuclear enrichment plant in Qom province, state-run media reported Wednesday.

The date of the incident has not been disclosed, and three U.S. officials said there was no indication or information that a U.S. drone was downed.

State-run Press TV reported the development, citing a Tuesday story from another website - javanonline.ir.

Ali Aqazadeh Dafsari, an Iranian lawmaker, said air defense units of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down the drone, Press TV reported, citing javanonline.ir

Dafsari, who is a member of parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said that the craft was on a mission to identify the plant's location and collect information about the facility for the CIA.

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Filed under: Iran
On the Radar: Heat warnings, Israeli deportations, Somalia famine
A man lies down next to the fountains at Columbus Circle in New York on Tuesday to try to beat the heat.
July 20th, 2011
06:02 AM ET

On the Radar: Heat warnings, Israeli deportations, Somalia famine

Three things you need to know today.

Heat warnings: The dangerous heat wave baking the central United States is expected to extend to the East Coast by the end of this week, the National Weather Service says.

The weather service on Tuesday declared "excessive-heat" warnings in 13 states - Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin - through Friday.

Parts of six other states - Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas - are under heat advisories through at least Wednesday, the weather service said.

Cities already are under heat watches for the rest of the week include Grand Rapids, Michigan; Memphis, Tennessee; Taunton, Massachusetts; Wilmington, Ohio; Detroit and Pontiac, Michigan; State College, Pennsylvania; New York City; Baltimore and Washington.

"Heat-index values" - how hot it feels outside - have been running more than 125 degrees in the worst-hit areas. The scale designed to describe how intense the heat feels takes relative humidity into account along with temperature.

Israeli deportations: Fifteen foreigners aboard the Gaza-bound boat Dignite were being deported out of Israel on Wednesday, Israeli officials said.

"Some of them have already left this morning and the rest will fly out during the day," said Sabin Hadad, spokeswoman for the Israeli Interior Ministry.

The Dignite - carrying 10 activists, three crew members and three journalists - is affiliated with the Free Gaza Movement.

Israeli naval forces Tuesday successfully took over the boat, which was intent on breaking what the activists call the "siege of Gaza," without violent resistance.

Somalia famine: The United Nations on Wednesday declared a famine in parts of southern Somalia amid the worst drought in 60 years, which has sent thousands walking for days to neighboring countries in search of food.

About  5,000 Somalis have been fleeing weekly in scorching temperatures to refugee camps in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.

"Nearly half of the Somali population - 3.7 million people - are now in crisis, of whom an estimated 2.8 million people are in the south," said Mark Bowden, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia.

The United Nations declared a famine in southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle.

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Filed under: Gaza • Israel • On the Radar • Somalia • U.S. • Weather • World