Overheard on CNN.com: Davy Jones, did you make the last train to Clarksville?
Mark Stepaniak of Stuart, Florida, says he and some friends met Davy Jones just days before he died. Do you have memories?
February 29th, 2012
08:08 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Davy Jones, did you make the last train to Clarksville?

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 dug out my old Monkees album. Dusted off the B.I.C. turntable; cleaned the needle with rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip. Fired up the huge, ancient, Pioneer (two-channel) receiver. Threw the wax on the platter. The pops and clicks are part of 'Pleasant Valley Sunday.' Turned it up real loud. Memories never sounded so good."

Jones' death at 66 has sparked a massive amount of genuine, heartfelt comments. Daydream Believers, Clarksville residents and denizens of Status Symbol Land remembered meeting and idolizing the musician from The Monkees.

The Monkees' Davy Jones dead at 66

iReporter Mark Stepaniak of Stuart, Florida, just got to meet Davy Jones a few days ago. He and some friends went to The Black Marlin restaurant after a February 23 performance and caught up with the star, whose wife was in a show at the Lyric Theatre across the street. Stepaniak took the photo at the top of this post, which shows Rebecca Anderson and Sara Mullen posing with Jones, and decided to send it in to CNN. He has fond memories going back to childhood.

“As a kid, I would always watch their TV shows and would listen to their records, back when they were vinyl," Stepaniak said.

Below is the most-liked comment, a fond farewell to Jones. One replying reader pointed out that the other David Jones owes a little something to Davy.

MrBunbury: "Thank you for the music Davy, a true class act. They don't make 'em like you anymore. Rest in peace."

Ras137: "Actually they do, the music industry today pretty much functions the way the Monkees were created. Get a bunch of pretty people, have professional songwriters give them their material. Endlessly promote them. The ignorant masses buys it up. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Even with all that, you can't deny the greatness of some of their singles: 'I'm a believer,' 'Pleasant Valley Sunday,' 'Daydream Believer.' RIP Davy Jones. As a side note, without Davy Jones we would not have David Bowie (whose original name is David Jones, but changed to avoid confusion with this Davy Jones). So I guess we would have David Jones and the Spiders from Mars. Just seems wrong."

One reader recalled once meeting Jones. FULL POST

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Filed under: Celebrity • Music • Overheard on CNN.com • Showbiz • TV
Feds consider killing barred owls to save another type
The barred owl (pictured, left) could be targeted by the U.S. government to help save the northern spotted owl (at right).
February 29th, 2012
08:02 PM ET

Feds consider killing barred owls to save another type

A large owl from the eastern United States might pay for its intrusion into the West Coast if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has its way.

The service is considering an experiment in which it would kill or transfer some barred owls - sometimes referred to as the hoot owl, thanks to its call - as part of a plan to preserve the smaller northern spotted owl, the agency said in a report this week.

The U.S. government has listed the northern spotted owl, whose range includes British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California, as a threatened species since 1990. Its population declined by 40%  in the last 25 years, not only because of shrinking habitat, but also because the barred owl moved into the area starting in the late 1950s, the service says.

“Larger, more aggressive and more adaptable than the northern spotted owl, barred owls are known to displace spotted owls, disrupt their nesting and compete with them for food,” the service says on the Interior Department’s website. "Researchers have also observed instances of barred owls interbreeding with or killing spotted owls."

The service is now proposing killing or capturing barred owls in limited areas of the other owl’s range to see whether the removals allow the other owl’s population to bounce back.

The service is calling for one to 11 experiment sites in areas including national parks and recreation areas. Depending on the number of sites, the service would kill or transfer 257 to nearly 8,960 barred owls, according to the service’s environmental impact statement on the plan.


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Filed under: Animals • California • Nature • Oregon • Owls • Washington state
What an EF4 tornado is
A tornado touchdown early Wednesday left devastation behind in the Harrisburg, Illinois, area.
February 29th, 2012
06:57 PM ET

What an EF4 tornado is

A tornado that hit an Illinois city during a storm that killed at least six people there Wednesday has preliminarily been given a rating of EF4 – the second-most powerful on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, according to the National Weather Service.

A report indicated the tornado in Harrisburg, Illinois, had winds estimated at 170 mph. EF4 tornadoes have wind speeds between 166 mph and 200 mph.

The Enhanced Fujita Scale rates tornadoes by estimated wind speed, which is determined not by measurements, but by observations of the damage left behind, according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.

To get the wind speed, the weather service goes to “damage indicator” tables that describe the wind speeds that would be required to do certain types of damage to certain structures. For example, if the exterior walls of one- and two-family homes collapsed, but not the interior walls, the service would consult the one- and two-family home table and find that wind speeds of about 132 mph were needed to do that.

A tornado of 132 mph would have an EF2 rating, which encompasses tornadoes between 111 mph and 135 mph.

EF0 is the weakest Enhanced Fujita rating, and EF5 is the strongest. Below is a description of the categories, with the general kinds of damage that may be associated with them.


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Filed under: Illinois • Tornadoes • Weather
February 29th, 2012
05:35 PM ET

Covering the Ohio school shooting felt too close to home

Editor's note: The following is from CNN correspondent Martin Savidge, who has been covering Monday's school shooting that killed three students and injured two others in Chardon, Ohio.

I’ve covered more than enough school shootings. (One, by the way, is enough. But I’ve seen a half-dozen more.) So on Monday, sadly, maybe the headline of another wasn’t so shocking, but the location was: Chardon, Ohio. Unlike the other tragic places such as Jonesboro or Columbine, I know Chardon. I grew up in Northeast Ohio.

Right away, I called my wife's brother, who has two kids at Chardon schools. I got Bobby as he was waiting at the middle school to pick up his youngest son. I reached his wife as she was waiting at the elementary school to get their 18-year-old, who was evacuated there. You could hear the edge in their voices. I could also hear the anxious crowd of other parents talking in the background. Thankfully, both boys were all right, but five other students were not, and neither was the town I knew. I called CNN and volunteered to go.

Chardon sits about 30 miles east of Cleveland. It looks classic Norman Rockwell. There’s a still functioning old square with a courthouse and gazebo. Old homes date to the 1800s. The streets are two-lane and tree-lined. It’s where parents like to raise their kids, because they know they’ll be safe.

Locally, Chardon is known as the snow capital. They get lake-effect snow here. When a winter storm might drop 2 inches of snow to the west of Cleveland, it might drop 2 feet of snow on Chardon.

This winter, there hasn’t been much snow, and now Chardon's other constant, its safety, has disappeared.

When I arrived in Cleveland, I drove to my brother-in-law's house. His son, the senior, had been in constant contact as I traveled, telling me what happened and finding kids who were there and able to talk about it with CNN. Many kids were there in the cafeteria, hallways and classrooms. But now, hours later, the shock had set in, and most wouldn’t or couldn’t talk. Of course, we understood. But a few did want to let it out.

There was Ryan Doyle, the freshman who had study hall in the cafeteria, where it all began. He said the first gunshot sounded like the slap of a book hitting the floor. When he turned to see what happened, he saw the shooter with a gun extended toward a student on the ground. Then more shots. Ryan was struck by the sight of the muzzle flashes and that there were no words, no screams.

There was also Kaylee O’Donnell, who had been handing out papers in math class when the principal announced “Lockdown!” As she crouched on the floor, she thought it was a drill until she watched her teacher, Joseph Ricci, walk calmly to a closet and pull out and put on what the kids say was a bulletproof vest. He then slipped into the hallway, armed with only a hammer, to face the unknown and protect his students. He returned carrying a badly wounded student, Nick Walczack. Ricci and others comforted Walczak. Kaylee and several students prayed.

Finally, there was one other girl I interviewed. She’s 16, and her parents want her to remain anonymous. She was a rarity in Chardon because she had known the suspect, T.J. Lane, since middle school. Hers was the most compelling interview of all. She had the insight so many people wanted: What was T.J. like, and what had happened? She was our window into his world, and she spoke with an eloquence and wisdom far beyond her years. Most of all, she spoke with such soulful sadness of the “sweet” boy she befriended in middle school. He was different-looking and quiet; he was also funny. That was the T.J. Lane she once knew, the same T.J. Lane now accused of something she could not possibly understand.

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Filed under: Crime • Ohio
February 29th, 2012
05:34 PM ET

9 killed as storm system slashes central U.S.

[Updated at 5:34 p.m. ET] The death toll from a powerful storm system that spawned suspected tornadoes in the Midwest - and at least one with winds estimated at 170 mph - has risen to nine, authorities say. More than 100 people were injured.

[Updated at 12:14 p.m. ET] The death toll from severe weather sweeping through Kansas, Missouri and Illinois has risen to seven - five in Illinois, according to Harrisburg Mayor Eric Gregg, and two in Missouri.

[Updated at 11:31 a.m. ET] At least five people have been killed as a result of storms that hit the Midwest on Wednesday, authorities said, including three who were killed when an apparent tornado struck Harrisburg, Illinois, early Wednesday.

[Posted at 2:13 a.m. ET] Emergency teams combed the tiny Kansas community of Harveyville early Wednesday after severe weather raked the area, injuring at least nine people, state officials said.

Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency for the town of 236 people about 20 miles southwest of Topeka that was hit by an "apparent tornado" Tuesday night.

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Filed under: U.S. • Weather
Overheard on CNN.com: Readers debate open primaries after Michigan mischief, robo calls
What do you think about the GOP primaries thus far and the candidates' campaigning tactics?
February 29th, 2012
05:01 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Readers debate open primaries after Michigan mischief, robo calls

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.

Readers are talking about the tactics of Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum after the Michigan and Arizona primaries. Meanwhile, Democrats have been explaining some mischief as well. Readers compared the candidates and debated open vs. closed primaries.

Santorum flips on Dems voting in GOP primaries

Santorum's robo call encouraging Democrats to vote for him as a hit against Romney drew lots of ire.

Dan J: "Had it been a general election-style robo call, where Santorum highlighted his strengths and why he should be president (not just the Republican nominee), then it can be defended as attempting to attract all Americans, not just Republicans. That's fine. It wasn't that. Not even close. That makes him a hypocritical sellout sleazebag that clearly puts self before party, and self before country."

Another reader came to Santorum's defense.

CBS: "Santorum is asking Democrats who do not intend to vote for Obama (do you think there might be a few of those?) to become Republican and choose their candidate. He is not asking them to vote Republican so they can choose the weaker candidate so Obama has a better chance."

But some said Romney can't play innocent. FULL POST

Texas 'navy' to patrol the Rio Grande
Texas will deploy a fleet of six gunboats on the Rio Grande.
February 29th, 2012
02:11 PM ET

Texas 'navy' to patrol the Rio Grande

Texas is getting its own navy.

Next month, the state's Department of Public Safety will deploy the first of a fleet of six gunboats on the Rio Grande, the river that forms the border between the state and Mexico, CNN affiliate WFAA-TV reports.

The 34-foot-long boats, each powered by three, 300-horsepower outboard engines, will have bulletproof plating and six machine guns apiece, not unlike the river patrol boats the U.S. Navy used during the Vietnam War.

The vessels will be able to operate in as little as 2 feet of water, according to the report, and will work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to combat drug smuggling coming across the Rio Grande.

"They're finding out when those people are coming across, and one of the things they need to be able to do is interdict them on the water," Texas state Rep. Paul Workman told CNN affiliate KVUE-TV when the first of the boats, the JD Davis, was christened in December.

"If you're trying to suppress organized smuggling activity, there's no substitute for putting people on the ground," Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven C. McCraw said at the December ceremony. "The way they're operating right now, you need them on the water as well."

"It sends a message: Don't mess with Texas," Jose Rodriguez, a regional commander of the Texas Department of Safety, told WFAA.

The six boats will be named after Texas state troopers killed in the line of duty. The first was named after Jerry Don Davis, who was shot and killed in 1980. Another, to be commissioned Thursday in Austin, will be named in honor of  trooper David Irvine Rucker, who was killed in 1981, according to The Brownsville Herald.

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Filed under: Crime • Drug violence • Drugs • Texas
The Monkees' Davy Jones dead at 66
The Monkees' Davy Jones, shown here at the 2003 TV Land Awards, has died.
February 29th, 2012
01:50 PM ET

The Monkees' Davy Jones dead at 66

[Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET]  Davy Jones, whose charming grin and British accent won the hearts of millions of fans on the 1960s television series "The Monkees," died Wednesday, according to the Martin County, Florida, sheriff's office. He was 66.

A witness told authorities he was with Jones in Indiantown, Florida, when Jones "began to complain of not feeling well and having trouble breathing," the sheriff's office said in a statement.

Jones was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, authorities said.

A Martin County law enforcement source with knowledge of the case said Jones apparently suffered a heart attack.

Emperor and pope gave us leap year
Leap day is the perfect time to get airborne.
February 29th, 2012
12:38 PM ET

Emperor and pope gave us leap year

It's leap day, a once-every-four-years bonus you can thank Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory XIII for.

We add a day at the end of February every four years because it takes the Earth about 365.242 days to make a full orbit around the sun. So we take those .242 days, round 'em up slightly and present the world with February 29, an extra day of, well, work for me, campaigning for the GOP presidential hopefuls or, if you fancy yourself a CNN iReporter, leaping!

Open Story: Leap day around the world

We thank the Roman emperor Caesar and the 16th century pontiff for putting the day into place.

In 46 B.C., Caesar decreed that under the Julian calendar, a day would be added in any year evenly divisible by four. However, accounting for the rounding up, that got the Romans a little ahead of themselves as far as time goes,  according to no less of an authority on things involving watches and calendars than timeanddate.com.

That little discrepancy, which amounted to 11 minutes every year, had added up to 10 whole days by 1582, when Pope Gregory said he had no time for inaccuracies and created the Gregorian calendar, under which we mark our days to this day. Gregory also designated February 29 as the official leap day and set up some rules so that we'd never end up 10 days ahead of ourselves again.

Here's how that works: Leap year occurs in every year that is evenly divisible by four and every century year that is divisible by 400. Hence, while 1200 and 2000 were leap years, 1700 and 1900 were not.

This also means that in the United States, leap years are presidential election years, which means we can always look forward to that extra day of campaigning.

Four million people born on leap day

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Filed under: Earth • History • Science
Tornado captured on video ripping through Kansas
Storm damage in Harveyville, Kansas.
February 29th, 2012
12:21 PM ET

Tornado captured on video ripping through Kansas

Last night, a system of devastating storms swept through the Plains states, leaving trails of destruction in Missouri,  Illinois and Kansas.  Take a look at some storm-related video that's come in from the region, including one of a tornado touching down in one Kansas county.


Reno County, Kansas

Storm chasers capture footage of a tornado touching down in Reno County, Kansas. Watch the funnel cloud form and lightning flash in this nighttime video.


Harveyville, Kansas

— The small town of Harveyville, Kansas, was especially hard hit. This video shows the devastating damage that the town faces the morning after a suspected tornado struck.


Edgar Springs, Missouri

Residents of Edgar Springs, Missouri react to damage in their town. See a flattened burger shop and listen to one man describe what he did when he heard a tornado coming.

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Filed under: Illinois • Kansas • Missouri • Natural Disasters • Tornadoes • U.S. • Weather
February 29th, 2012
09:45 AM ET

North Korea approves missile, nuclear curbs, U.S. says

North Korea has agreed to a moratorium on nuclear activity at Yongbyon, its major nuclear facility, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday. North Korea also has agreed to a moratorium on long-range missile launches.

The announcement came Wednesday after a U.S. delegation returned from Beijing following a third exploratory round of bilateral talks.

In a statement, the State Department said the United States "still has profound concerns regarding North Korean behavior across a wide range of areas" but that today’s announcement "reflects important, if limited, progress in addressing some of these."

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Filed under: North Korea • World
February 29th, 2012
07:44 AM ET

Wednesday's live events

The Arizona and Michigan primaries may be over and done with, but Super Tuesday is now on the horizon!  CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - Rutgers cyber-bullying trial - The trial of a former Rutgers University student accused of bullying his roommate, who later committed suicide, continues in New Jersey.


Filed under: Crime • Elections • Politics
February 29th, 2012
07:30 AM ET

Report: Senior al Qaeda commander arrested in Egypt

A state media outlet in Egypt said Wednesday that authorities have arrested a senior al Qaeda commander named Mohamed Ibrahim Mekawy, who also is thought to go by the name Saif al-Adel.

Investigators were trying to determine whether the man they arrested is the same Saif al-Adel who was indicted for his role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Egypt • Terrorism
You don't know Jack! Brazilian cops bust man using Nicholson's face on fake ID
Brazilian Civil Police arrested a man after he attempted to open a bank account using fake documents with actor Jack Nicholson's photo on it.
February 29th, 2012
04:19 AM ET

You don't know Jack! Brazilian cops bust man using Nicholson's face on fake ID

Some people just can't handle the truth. Others have a tough time with the lies too.

Civil police in the northwest Brazilian city of Recife arrested Freire Sergio Ricardo de Barros on Tuesday for trying to open a bank account using fake documents.

Just a small problem: one of his fake government ID cards featured a photo of a stern-looking Jack Nicholson, one of the most-recognized men in the world.

And 41-year-old Barros looks nothing like the 74-year-old Oscar-winning American actor.

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Filed under: U.S. • World
'Desperate Housewives' trial starts
Actress Nicollette Sheridan is suing the creator-producer of her former show, "Desperate Housewives."
February 29th, 2012
02:13 AM ET

'Desperate Housewives' trial starts

Actress Nicollette Sheridan is expected to testify Wednesday about her claim that her "Desperate Housewives" character was killed off because she complained about mistreatment by the TV show's creator.

Testimony in Sheridan's wrongful termination lawsuit against series creator-producer-writer Marc Cherry and ABC begins before a Los Angeles jury Wednesday.

Several of Sheridan's former cast mates - including Eva Longoria, Marcia Cross, James Denton, Felicity Huffman and Neal McDonough - are on the list of witnesses expected to defend Cherry.

The suit contends that Cherry created "a hostile work environment" from the show's beginning in 2004.

"Cherry has a reputation for behaving in an extremely abusive and aggressive manner toward the individuals who work on the show, and is known for regularly demeaning the writers and staff in front of others on the show, including Sheridan," the suit says.

Cherry focused his hostility on Sheridan in the fifth season when "Cherry consistently behaved in a dismissive, demeaning and unprofessional manner toward Sheridan, not only in front of the other case and crew on the show, but before the public at large," it says.

This "hostility and aggression toward Sheridan culminated" on the set of the show on September 24, 2008, the suit says.

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Filed under: Celebrity • Showbiz • U.S.
Interpol arrests suspected 'Anonymous' hackers
A masked member of 'Anonymous' hacks the French presidential Elysee Palace website in this photo dated January 20.
February 29th, 2012
02:01 AM ET

Interpol arrests suspected 'Anonymous' hackers

Police in Europe and South America have arrested 25 alleged members of the "Anonymous" hacking group, Interpol said, amid a suspected attack on its own website by the group's supporters.

The arrests include four people in Spain, ten in Argentina, six in Chile and five in Colombia as part of a worldwide sweep carried out as part of Interpol operation "Exposure."

After Interpol announced the attacks, its website failed to load, a fact acknowledged by Anonymous on Twitter with the message interpol.int DOWN.

The Spanish police website also failed to load after it announced police had arrested four people in the country as part of the international action

Spanish police said the four suspects were accused of carrying out denial of service attacks, defacing the websites of political parties, institutions and companies, as well as publishing personal information relating to high-profile figures.

One of those arrested was a 16-year-old girl, who was allegedly part of international "sector 404," a hacking group which is believed to be linked to the attacks claimed by Anonymous. Police said the girl had been released to the custody of her parents.

Two of the others had been detained, while the third was released on bail, police said.

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Filed under: Crime • World
February 29th, 2012
01:54 AM ET

New Orleans police arrest 17-year-old in Good Samaritan shooting

New Orleans police have arrested a 17-year-old in connection with the shooting of a Good Samaritan who died in front of his two sons while trying to stop a carjacking.

Several tips from the community led to Tuesday's arrest of Kendall Harrison, who is accused of shooting Harry "Mike" Ainsworth, 44.

Ainsworth was with his two sons, ages 9 and 11, as they waited for a morning school bus on January 25.

When he saw a man carjacking his neighbor, Ainsworth ran to help, jumping on the hood of the car, police said.

The carjacker shot him through the windowshield, police said.

Wounded, Ainsworth staggered into a neighbor's yard where he collapsed.

The boys ran to him and sat by his side until emergency responders arrived. It was too late. The two sons witnessed their father die.

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Filed under: Crime • U.S.
February 28th, 2012
11:49 PM ET

3 missing after Coast Guard helicopter crashes off Alabama coast

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crashed Tuesday night in Mobile Bay in Alabama while on a training mission, the Coast Guard said.

Authorities rescued one passenger and were searching for three others, CNN affiliate WKRG reported.

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Filed under: Alabama
February 28th, 2012
02:45 PM ET

Portion of 9/11 remains dumped in landfill, report says

Unidentified human remains of people who died in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania eventually wound up in a landfill, the Defense Department said in a report Tuesday.

Parts of the cremated remains were handed over to a biomedical waste contractor and inadvertently dumped, the report said.

The September 11, 2001 attacks killed nearly 3,000 people in attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington and in the hijacking and crash of a commercial jet in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The Pentagon report explored the handling of human remains at a U.S. military mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

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Filed under: September 11 • Terrorism
February 28th, 2012
12:56 PM ET

French court overturns Armenian genocide denial law

A new French law making it a crime to publicly deny the Ottoman Empire's genocide of Armenians a century ago was ruled unconstitutional Tuesday by France's Constitutional Council.

The measure, which triggered condemnation from modern Turkey, was given final passage by the French Senate and signed into law by President Nicolas Sarkozy last month.

Sarkozy's office immediately issued a statement calling for a new version of the law "taking into account the decision of the Constitutional Council."

"The president believes that genocide denial is intolerable and must be punished in this regard," the statement said.

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Filed under: Armenia • France
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