Overheard on CNN.com: Could moon colonization play role in mankind's future?
A NASA photograph released this month shows the moon and the international space station.
January 30th, 2012
07:20 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Could moon colonization play role in mankind's future?

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.

You might have noticed some slight changes to our comments system on CNN.com today. (Blogs aren't affected.) That's because we just made some much-needed tweaks under the hood. Thanks for bearing with us as we get this new system working.

Imagine a colony on the moon. Two stories Monday revisited the idea, as mentioned by Newt Gingrich during Thursday's GOP debate in Florida. Many of our readers seem to be in favor of eventually doing this, regardless of their feelings about the candidate. But there was a bit of skepticism in the air.

A moon colony is a waste of money

David Frum's opinion piece blasting Gingrich's idea for a moon colony got a fairly heated response from our readers.

SteveOBoston: "Mr. Frum, while I understand your argument, with all due respect you would not be typing an article on the internet had there never been NASA. Science for pragmatic purposes exists to be sure, but science for the sake of the research itself can often have greater affect on humanity. In science, you cannot begin with the answer and work your way back to the question. You'd like to know what value the research has. It's impossible to answer that without knowing what we'll find."

Some said Frum was being shortsighted.

ndk415: "This is the type of article that future generations will dig up and giggle at, since the benefits, discoveries, and advancements (that weren't so apparent today) from what was learned by having humans live on another world will seem so obvious then."

Some readers were opposed to colonization, saying we do not have the resources at this time. FULL POST

January 30th, 2012
02:03 PM ET

Attorney general: Pardoned murderer found in Wyoming

[Updated at 2:17 p.m. ET] Joseph Ozment, a convicted murderer who was pardoned this month in a controversial move by outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, has been found in Wyoming, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced Monday.

Ozment was served at a hotel in Laramie, Wyoming, where he had been staying under another name, his office said.

"As our officers attempted service, Mr. Ozment fled in his girlfriend's vehicle but not before the vehicle made contact with one of our investigators," Hood said in a press release.  "That is when our officers asked for the assistance of the Laramie Police Department.  Mr. Ozment returned to the hotel on foot and ended up signing receipt of service in the presence of our two officers and two with the Laramie Police Department."

Ozment is one of four convicted murderers Barbour pardoned early this month. He did not appear at a court hearing in a case challenging the pardons. Hood said previously officials wanted to serve Ozment with a document telling him to appear in court.

Pardoned Mississippi murderer drops out of sight

According to a transcript of Ozment's confession to police, Ozment admitted being part of a robbery so he could have "Christmas money." He entered the convenience store with a friend who shot the clerk three times. The clerk, Rick Montgomery, crawled from around the counter and Ozment looked at him and shot him twice.

As he closed out his second term as governor, Barbour granted "full pardons" - meaning the convict's record is effectively wiped clean - to more than 200 people found guilty of a variety of crimes. All four of the convicted murderers he pardoned were serving life sentences and worked as trusties at the governor's mansion.

The move stirred outrage among relatives of the pardoned murderers' victims, among others. Hood has been particularly outspoken, earlier this month calling the pardons "a slap in the face to everyone in law enforcement and (saying) Gov. Barbour should be ashamed."

He also said Ozment and three other murderers did not meet the constitutional requirements to be granted a pardon, and he wants to see the men put back in jail to finish their life sentences.

Barbour has defended his pardons. He told CNN's John King that Ozment and the others have been rehabilitated.

"He has no obligation to do anything," Barbour said. "He's been pardoned. He's a free man."

So what will happen next?

"We said we would find him and we did," Hood said. "Now we will let the court decide what happens from here."

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Justice • Mississippi
January 30th, 2012
01:15 PM ET

Protesters vow to stand their ground at Occupy DC camp

Protesters occupying two Washington parks say they will stand their ground if National Park Service police come calling Monday to enforce a law against camping.

"I'm going to do the best I can to stay here," said Emily Margaret, who has been staying at Occupy DC's McPherson Park camp. "If they want to arrest me, they can."

A noon Monday deadline for protesters to remove camping gear from the McPherson Park and Freedom Plaza came and went with no immediate move by police.

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Filed under: Occupy Wall Street • U.S.
City council hopeful: 'My English is good enough'
Alejandrina Cabrera answers questions about her ability to speak English in Yuma County Court.
January 30th, 2012
01:11 PM ET

City council hopeful: 'My English is good enough'

When a judge ruled that Alejandrina Cabrera’s name couldn’t be on the ballot for City Council in San Luis, Arizona, because she couldn’t speak English well enough, it was not only a blow to her, but to her fellow citizens, Cabrera told CNN.

“When he took my right to be on the ballot he took away the right of the people who want to vote for me,” Cabrera said in an interview conducted in Spanish with CNN en Español.

A battle over Cabrera's run for office began when Juan Carlos Escamilla, the mayor of San Luis, said he was concerned that Cabrera might not have the proper grasp of the language for the job. Escamilla filed a lawsuit in December that asked a court to determine whether Cabrera's skills qualified her under state law to run for the council seat.

The fight began as a purely political one, with opponents seeking to block her from running for office after she tried to recall Escamilla from office twice, according to The New York Times. But it has turned into a firestorm in a town where many constituents have the same grasp of English as Cabrera. Those questions, and the political fight they stirred, led to a court hearing to determine whether Cabrera spoke English well enough to be able to run for office. The ruling was that she did not.

The issues at the center of this debate: Just how much English must you understand to run for a political office? And what does it mean to be proficient?

According to a judge, you need to know more English than Cabrera was able to demonstrate.

But by Cabrera's account, she's fluent enough to serve her community, and she isn't running for national office.

“I think my English is good enough to hold public office in San Luis, Arizona,” she told CNN.

“I am not going to help (at the White House)," she added. "I will be helping here.”


Overheard on CNN.com: Last words
What do people talk about before they die?
January 30th, 2012
11:52 AM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Last words

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.

A touching essay written by Kerry Egan, a hospice chaplain, inspired more than 3,000 comments about life, death and thereafter. Egan described her thoughts on what people say before they die, noting that many folks talk about their families and their feelings. Egan's assertion that she would rather take the time to listen than to press religion on the dying proved to be quite the conversation starter.

My faith: What people talk about before they die

Several readers wrote in to share their own experiences with death and dying.

charliegirl: "In the hours before my grandmother's passing away I helped her to be comfortable in the hospital bed. All the family was there but had gone out to eat. I stayed with her. I will always appreciate that moment when it was just the two of us. She uttered mainly words of pain, as she was in a lot of pain. I then proceeded to wash her dentures, not sure why. Then she she pointed towards me and said my mother's name. My mother had passed away close to two years before grandma. Later that night as all the family gathered around her, I sat by her in a small chair. She told me to lie beside her because she knows I am tired (I had driven 20 hours to get to her), but all I did was scoot closer in the chair and place her hand on my hand, and then she said she was ready to rest. Close to 6 a.m. the following day, she went to be with my mother and the Lord. Sometimes there are hardly any words, for the actions are felt throughout and that is where love is felt as well."

Many readers said they agreed with Egan's observations about the end of life.

marianne: "My dad died this weekend ... his last conversations were about his family and about his parents. There was no regret or hatred in his last days, only love and memories ... he didn't think he understood about God, but his loved showed that was not true ... he did understand because he loved."

But many readers also had some very serious reservations about Egan's story. FULL POST

Filed under: Overheard on CNN.com • Religion
X Games buzz: Flipping snowmobile, snowboarding perfection
Shaun White flies above the superpipe in Aspen, Colorado, Sunday night en route to a perfect 100 score and a gold medal.
January 30th, 2012
11:17 AM ET

X Games buzz: Flipping snowmobile, snowboarding perfection

The Winter X Games wrapped up in Aspen, Colorado, on Sunday night with two of the most buzz-worthy moments we've seen in the 16 years of the competition: a perfect score from one of the games' most famous and most decorated participants, and a first-ever feat in the admittedly short history of flying snowmobiles.

First, Shaun White. The two-time Olympic gold medalist added to his impressive haul of Winter X Games gold, this time in mint fashion on the snowboard superpipe, posting the first perfect score ever recorded at the Winter X Games.

White has won 17 medals - 12 of them gold - but Sunday's performance surprised even White himself, as he'd come to the competition with a sprained ankle that forced him to miss the slope-style competition earlier in the games, and doubting if he'd be able to try the superpipe.

In fact, he said he spent time before Sunday night's finals dunking his ankle alternately in buckets of hot and cold water to ease the swelling. And it worked.

"I got here and I said 'Wow, it feels better than this morning,'" White told reporters.

Better, indeed.

White locked up the gold with his first of three runs, wiped out on the second, sustaining a black eye in the process, and then put it all together for the final.


"I just came through and everything felt perfect," he said.

"I've been to so many X Games now and I will forever remember this getting that perfect score," White said.

Earlier, it was Heath Frisby earning gold by becoming the first participant ever to flip a 400-plus-pound snowmobile headfirst and bring it down to a perfect landing.


Frisby saluted family and friends for supporting him in attempting the stunt.

"My whole family, everybody, all my friends have been behind me through all this," ESPN.com quoted him as saying. "I know my grandma is watching - she must have gotten a little chill there. Grandpa, I love you, man. We got it. We got it."

Later he tweeted: "I can't even express how thankful I am that I have all you awesome friends and family. Going to bed I'm sore and feel a bit concussed."

Before even trying his trick, Frisby had to watch competitor Justin Hoyer suffer a crash that sent him to the hospital.

"Guys, it's all right, I've been waiting a year to do this. I am my own deal. This is a totally different trick and I'm ready," Frisby said then, according to ESPN.com.

The Games closed with celebrations after White's perfect run, but they opened on a more somber note, in remembrance of freestyle skier Sarah Burke, who died after a training accident earlier in the month.


Host Sal Masekela said the final night was what Burke was all about.

"She's probably looking down at us right now and she's smiling that Sarah Burke smile because this right here," Masekela said pointing to the superpipe course, "this was the spirit of Sarah Burke."

Gotta Watch: Big bundles of joy
A Massachusetts mother gives birth to a not-so-little bundle of joy.
January 30th, 2012
11:15 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Big bundles of joy

Call these babies “bundles of joy” all you want, just don’t call them little. Check out these videos of babies weighing in at more than 13 pounds!

Mother gives birth to a 13-pound baby – Iowa is known for creating “hearty stock.” Maybe it’s the corn or the wide-ranging farmland. Whatever it is, you can’t deny this mom produces some big boys. With her first child weighing close to 12 pounds, her second pushed the bar even further, weighing in at 13 pounds, 12 ounces. And get a load of the mom’s answer when the (male) reporter asks, “How’d it feel?”

A Texas-sized baby – Barely a few hours old and already this newborn boy had a nickname: “the Moose.” Weighing in at a whopping 16 pounds, who could blame people for the name. The little guy may be the fourth kid in the family, but he easily doubles each his siblings’ birth weights. Though he endured some medical issues early on, if you think his father is worried, think again. See if you can spot the twinkle in his eye when a future in sports is mentioned.

Football fans birth a lineman – New parents can be a bit naïve at times but perhaps thinking your 13 pound baby is normal size takes the cake. It took this Massachusetts couple several shocked expressions from doctors and nurses to realize they had a Super Bowl-sized baby. And just like the father of the above Texas baby, these New England Patriots fans see a football career in their child’s future.

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Filed under: Gotta Watch • Health • U.S.
January 30th, 2012
11:13 AM ET

Connecticut police chief to quit amid racial profiling probe

East Haven, Connecticut, Police Chief Leonard Gallo will retire following the arrests of four police officers for their alleged role in the mistreatment of Latinos, city officials said Monday.

The arrests stemmed from a federal investigation into racial profiling in the town.

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Filed under: Connecticut • Justice • Race
Source: Rescued aid worker on way to United States
Jessica Buchanan was rescued from her Somali captors by U.S. special forces.
January 30th, 2012
09:37 AM ET

Source: Rescued aid worker on way to United States

A U.S. citizen aid worker freed in Somalia last week after three months in captivity was headed to the United States on Monday via a commercial flight from Italy, a senior U.S. official said.

Jessica Buchanan, 32, was set to depart from Sigonella, Italy, the official said. It was unclear what time the flight was leaving.

U.S. military forces rescued Buchanan and Poul Thisted, 60, on Wednesday. The two were traveling in Somalia as workers for the Danish Refugee Council at the time of their kidnappings.

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Filed under: Somalia
January 30th, 2012
07:19 AM ET

Monday's live events

All eyes are on Florida for tomorrow's Republican presidential primary.  CNN.com Live is your home for all of the latest political news and views from the Sunshine State.

Today's programming highlights...

7:30 am ET - Gingrich's Jacksonville rally - GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich begins his day in Jacksonville, where he'll speak with supporters.  He'll also visit Pensacola at 10:00 am ET, Tampa at 1:00 pm ET, Fort Myers at 3:00 pm ET and Orlando at 6:00 pm ET.


Filed under: Elections • Politics • Republican Party
January 30th, 2012
06:35 AM ET

Trader accused of losing UBS $2.3 billion pleads not guilty

A trader accused of fraud over a $2.3 billion loss in unauthorized trading reported by Swiss banking giant UBS pleaded not guilty in a London court Monday.

The trader, Kwaku Adoboli, was ordered held in custody and his trial was scheduled to begin September 3.

Adoboli faces a charge of fraud by abuse of position between January and September 2011, and he also faces two counts of false accounting.

His lawyer said he was "sorry beyond words" in a previous court appearance in September.


Filed under: Courts • Crime • Switzerland • United Kingdom
January 30th, 2012
05:24 AM ET

Militants hit police station in Nigeria's north

Militants launched a fresh attack Monday in Nigeria's second largest city, Kano, which is already reeling from a series of bombings and shootings that killed more than 200 people earlier this month.

A police station in Mandawari was attacked at 6 a.m., just after the dusk-to-dawn curfew was lifted, police said. No one was hurt.

Hours earlier, gunmen on motorbikes hit a police station in Naibowa, killing two people. The Sunday evening attack lasted about 40 minutes, said Sani Abdu, a resident who lives close to the station.

No one immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion fell on the militant group Boko Haram, which has carried out multiple bombings and shootings across the north in recent days.

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Filed under: Nigeria • World
January 30th, 2012
04:48 AM ET

China cracks down on unrest ahead of Tibetan holiday

Thousands of Chinese security forces have flooded into an ethnically Tibetan area of southwestern China following large protests that led to violent, sometimes deadly, clashes with the police.

Amid anger and despair over Chinese rule, a series of recent self-immolations by Tibetans has spurred the unrest in the region ahead of the Tibetan New Year next month.

In an effort to contain the situation, China has sent in reinforcements to try to impose order on the scenic Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province. State media has also reported that outside rights groups and the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, are to blame for the troubles.

The violence appears to be the worst between ethnic Tibetans and the Chinese authorities since 2008, when deadly unrest in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, left at least 22 people dead.

Four hours west of the Sichuan capital of Chengdu, on the craggy mountain roads leading to Ganzi, police officers stopped all cars trying to enter the region over the weekend, checking identification papers and turning away reporters and those with foreign passports.

When asked why CNN reporters were not allowed to pass, a police officer said: "Don't you know what has happened there? It's not safe and you must leave."

Chinese residents in a local village near the checkpoint told CNN that police forces arrived Thursday, two days earlier than expected because of the tense situation in Ganzi, which borders Tibet and is home to a population that is nearly 80% ethnically Tibetan.

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Filed under: China • Tibet • World
January 30th, 2012
04:19 AM ET

UN considers resolution amid reports of heavy fighting in Syria

The U.N. Security Council will take up a draft resolution this week that calls on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and transfer power.

The move follows news that the Arab League suspended a mission to monitor whether al-Assad was abiding by an agreement to end a brutal crackdown against anti-government protesters.

Arab League Secretary General Nabil el-Araby arrived Monday in New York where he was scheduled to deliver the monitoring mission's findings to the Security Council the following day.

The news came amid opposition reports of renewed fighting Monday between Syrian forces and the rebel Free Syria Army in suburbs of the capital city of Damascus, where Syria forces have been battling to take back neighborhoods in Saqba and Maleiha.

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Filed under: Syria
January 30th, 2012
03:33 AM ET

Hinckley visitation hearing continues

Hearings will continue Monday to determine whether former presidential assailant John Hinckley Jr. should be allowed increased periods of visitation to his mother's home in Virginia and possible eventual release as a permanent outpatient.

Attorneys for Hinckley will get to question Dr. Raymond Patterson, whom federal prosecutors called as an expert witness in their effort to block the proposal from St. Elizabeths, the Washington mental hospital where Hinckley has undergone treatment for three decades.

Patterson testified in a federal court hearing last week that he was concerned to learn that Hinckley sometimes did not follow the hospital-approved itinerary for how he would spend his few hours of unattended time while in Williamsburg, Virginia. In several instances, Hinckley was supposed to go to movies, skipped them and then later told doctors back at his mental hospital in Washington that he had attended the movies.

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Filed under: Crime • U.S.
January 30th, 2012
03:10 AM ET

Official: Pakistan yet to decide on charges against doctor in bin Laden raid

Pakistan has not yet decided whether to try a Pakistani doctor for high treason for assisting the United States in gathering intelligence ahead of the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, a senior Pakistani government official said Monday.

"It's the federal government who will decide whether to try the doctor for high treason or not," the official said. "At this stage, the decision hasn't been taken to try the doctor."

The official did not want to be named because of the matter's sensitivity.

Dr. Shakeel Afridi helped the CIA use a vaccination campaign to collect DNA samples from residents of the compound in the city of Abbottabad to verify the terror leader's presence there ahead of the May raid.

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Filed under: Pakistan • U.S. • World
January 30th, 2012
02:46 AM ET

Occupy Oakland demonstrations, arrests inject new life into movement

Oakland City Hall was set to reopen Monday after municipal employees worked to clean up damage they said was caused over the weekend by Occupy protesters, about 400 of whom were arrested following clashes with police in this Northern California city.

The mass arrests, described by police as the largest in city history, appear to have injected new life into the Occupy movement as protesters in a number of American and European cities took to the streets Sunday to express their solidarity with the Occupy Oakland group.

"The Occupy movement will respond, as we have always responded: With an overwhelming show of collective resistance," Occupy Wall Street said in a statement posted on its website.

Occupy Oakland is part of a larger movement that began last year on New York's Wall Street and quickly spread across the globe. While the protesters have highlighted a number of causes, the overarching theme remained the same: populist anger over what activists portray as an out-of-touch corporate, financial and political elite.

From Philadelphia to Des Moines, there were reports of Occupy protesters taking to the streets in mostly non-violent demonstrations.

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Filed under: Occupy Wall Street
January 30th, 2012
02:25 AM ET

Report: Sudanese army free 14 kidnapped Chinese workers

The Sudanese army has freed 14 Chinese nationals who were kidnapped in the volatile South Kordofan state, the official Sudan News Agency said Monday.

The news agency quoted Ahmed Haroun, the state governor, as saying the workers were taken to neighboring North Kordofan and were in good condition.

The report did not mention the fate of the other 56 construction workers who militants had captured when they attacked a construction site in a remote area Saturday.

At the time, Alsawarmi Khalid, spokesman for the Sudanese armed forces, blamed the attacks on the Sudan People's Liberation Movement -North, a rebel force in the border region with neighboring South Sudan.

China confirmed the incident but did not say how many of its workers were among the group of 70 who had been taken.

South Sudan became the world's newest nation last year after decades of conflict with the north.

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Filed under: China • South Sudan • World
January 30th, 2012
01:11 AM ET

Obama to host Google 'hang out'

In the latest iteration of the administration's efforts to connect to supporters via social media, President Barak Obama will take part Monday in a Google+ 'Hangout," a chat room-like feature of Google+ that allows users to connect with each other via video connections.

The White House pledges the president will answer "several of the most popular questions" submitted through YouTube while some questioners will be invited to participate in a live conversation on Google+.

The latest social media push follows a Twitter town hall the president held over the summer. To the disappointment of some, the president merely answered pre-selected questions from Twitter users in that forum.

This time, the president's answers will show up on a video stream hosted by Google+ while participants can comment on his answers in real time.

The White House says the forum is an example of the president's commitment to "creating a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration."

But it remains unclear exactly how the White House will select the questions the president answers.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Google • Politics • U.S.
January 30th, 2012
01:07 AM ET

No reports of damages as coastal Peru hit by quake

A strong earthquake shook coastal Peru early Monday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

No tsunami warning was issued.

The magnitude 6.3 quake hit about 15 kilometers (9 miles) southeast of Ica, at a depth of 39.2 kilometers (24.4 miles).

Hotels in the area reported brief power outages, but no damage.

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Filed under: Earthquake • Peru • World
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