Overheard on CNN.com: Political power sometimes brings sexual temptation
Readers are talking about former White House intern Mimi Alford, who said she had an affair with John F. Kennedy.
February 6th, 2012
09:08 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Political power sometimes brings sexual temptation

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.

"And now we know why he was Clinton's hero ..."
–John Golde

Mimi Alford, now a grandmother, says in a new book that she lost her virginity to former President John F. Kennedy in 1962. Thus began an 18-month affair that changed the course of her life. Readers debated the particulars of the story, as well as society's sexual mores.

Former intern: Book details Kennedy affair

Our readers talked about the temptation that sometimes comes along with an extraordinary amount of power. The most-liked comment was followed by biting responses:

smgltr: "It's hard to believe we had a president who was such a sexual predator. I'd suggest the relationship between Alford and Kennedy was less an "affair" and more a "rape." How many teenage girls could refuse the President of the USA ? Who would she scream for ?"

JohnRJohnson: "Even she admits that it was consensual. She was not a child, even though she says she was a virgin."

cattnippy: "If it were me, I would have screamed until my lungs gave out. And I would not have accepted that it was something I had to do. Apparently your standards are a lot lower than mine. And we have no idea exactly how low this woman's standards are, do we?"


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Filed under: Overheard on CNN.com • Politics
February 6th, 2012
03:12 PM ET

U.S. working 'at every level' to resolve NGO dispute with Egypt

U.S. aid to Egypt could suffer if Egypt persists in prosecuting 43 people, including 19 Americans, in a crackdown on nongovernmental organizations, White House and State Department officials said Monday.

"We have underscored how serious a problem these actions are. We have said clearly that these actions could have consequences for our relationship, including regarding our assistance programs," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland reiterated the message moments later in a separate briefing. She declined to speculate about possible consequences but said the dispute "is a very, very difficult situation in terms of the support we want to provide Egypt."

Egyptian authorities carried out 17 raids on the offices of 10 NGOs in December. A spokesman with the general prosecutor's office said the raids were part of an investigation into allegations that the groups had received illegal foreign financing and were operating without a proper license.

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Filed under: Egypt • U.S.
February 6th, 2012
03:02 PM ET

Shrinking polar ice caps may be to blame for frigid Europe

Europe's deadly cold snap may have a lot to do with shrinking amounts of ice in the Arctic, a recent study suggests.

Nearly 300 deaths have been reported across the continent, with snow accumulations not seen in five decades reported in some places. Warsaw, Poland, has seen 11 days of temperatures well below average, with a coldest reading of 35 below zero Fahrenheit.

As warmer air rises into the stratosphere over the Arctic, colder surface air moves south bringing storms to Europe.

Scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Potsdam, Germany, say the frigid, snowy European winter has its origins in a warm Arctic summer.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that July 2011 was the fourth-warmest July on record. A warm summer in the Arctic cuts the amount of sea ice. NOAA reports that sea-ice levels last July were the lowest in three decades.

The effect is twofold, the Wegener scientists report.

First, less ice means less solar heat is reflected back into the atmosphere. Rather, it is absorbed into the darker ocean waters. Second, once that heat is in the ocean, the reduced ice cap allows the heat to more easily escape into the air just above the ocean's surface.

Because warmer air tends to rise, the moisture-laden air near the ocean's surface rises, creating instability in the atmosphere and changing air-pressure patterns, the scientists say.

One pattern, called the Arctic Oscillation, normally pushes warm Atlantic air over Europe and keeps Arctic air over the poles.

But in mid-January this year, the Arctic Oscillation abruptly changed, allowing the jet stream to plunge into Siberia and push cold and snowy weather over much of Europe.

Similar situations have emerged the past two years.

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2012/02/06/sot-nr-chance-europe-deep-freeze.cnn"%5D

Check out some more reports on what this winter's been like, both in the U.S. and around the world:

Frigid weather helps cost Romania's prime minister his job

What's behind America's warm winter?

Overheard on CNN.com: M.I.A.'s flipped bird takes flight after Super Bowl
M.I.A.'s middle finger was definitely not missing in action during the Super Bowl halftime show Sunday night.
February 6th, 2012
02:57 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: M.I.A.'s flipped bird takes flight after Super Bowl

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.

"Obscenity mars Super Bowl halftime show? I think you meant Super Bowl halftime show mars obscenity. No gesture, cursing, or wardrobe malfunction could be nearly as offensive as that 'music' was to my ears."

It's amazing how one little finger can say so much, without actually speaking. M.I.A.'s centermost digit performed its own Super Bowl halftime show, inviting obligatory morning-after comparisons to the infamous Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" of yore. Lots of people are talking about it. Commenters, too.

Middle finger 'malfunction' mars Super Bowl halftime show

A quote from Devon Soltendieck of Montreal got people riled up.

"Can we all stop pretending #MIA flipping the Finger during the halftime show is offensive in 2012?" he asked. That got people talking.

IdahoJ: "Yeah, it is. Ever gotten the bird from another driver on the highway? Or flip it at someone who cuts ahead in a line? So yeah, we can brush it off, but we don't like it when it's us who are on the receiving end ... Point is, what's the point? All it did was cheapen the act IMO ... If obscene gestures and language is what people want to see, more power to them. Personal choice. Just stand in front of your mirror at in the privacy of your own home, make all the rude gestures and abuse yourself verbally all you want."

Saresudog: "IdahoJ, when people do that to me, I just laugh at them. When you get angry you're just empowering the person. If you have such low self esteem that a simple gesture or word angers you, than you got some real big problems. I don't know how you survive in this cruel world. Funny how we teach children about 'sticks and stones,' but a lot of adults don't seem to understand the concept. One reader said he's heard and probably said worse, but doesn't want that kind of stuff on TV. Others wondered if the whole thing was such a big deal."

Some said they've seen and done worse, but they were still bothered. FULL POST

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Filed under: Celebrity • Football • Music • Overheard on CNN.com • Pro football • Showbiz • Sports • Super Bowl • TV
Gotta Watch: Racing with donuts, beer
A man crushes four donuts down into a more managable bite.
February 6th, 2012
12:54 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Racing with donuts, beer

To many of us, completing a running race is tough enough. But for others, just running the race isn't enough. Sometimes you've got to add something fun into the mix.  In today's Gotta Watch, we look at three races that won't be featured in this summer's London Olympics.

Five miles, 12 donuts – We did the math on this charity event involving Krispy Kreme donuts and a five-mile run. Participants run 2.5 miles, then have to eat a dozen donuts before resuming their run.  Think you could complete this race?
[cnn-video url=http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2012/02/06/krispy-kreme-challenge.wncn]


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Filed under: Dogs • Gotta Watch • Running • Sports
Did record-setting Super Bowl live up to the hype?
Giants quarterback Eli Manning celebrates winning his second Super Bowl against the Patriots.
February 6th, 2012
11:39 AM ET

Did record-setting Super Bowl live up to the hype?

The Super Bowl set a new record for total viewers and simultaneous tweeting, with 12,233 tweets a second during the final three minutes of the game, that saw the Giants score and Tom Brady fail to hit the Hail Mary pass for the win.

The Super Bowl was watched by 111.3 million people, according to Nielsen, topping last year's game to secure the slot at the top for the most watched show in U.S. history.

And when you've got that many people watching and a virtual water cooler like Twitter, you don't have to wait until the next day to play Monday morning quarterback. It's more like the-second-after quarterback.

[tweet https://twitter.com/twitter/status/166378382660079618%5D

The total social media traffic for the Super Bowl and the hoopla surrounding it, taking into account Twitter mentions, public Facebook posts, GetGlue check-ins, and Miso check-ins, topped out at more than 17 million interactions, according to social media engagement company Trendrr. (67% of those tweets and posts were positive, a good sign for the league, and NBC.)

See the best tweets from the game

And what drove that? Perhaps a mix of the culture behind the Super Bowl itself, or maybe the clashing of two teams from places that couldn't despise each other more? Maybe it was the rematch of the last Super Bowl that Tom Brady admits he wishes he could forget? Or was it another unbelievable, just-barely-kept-it-inbounds catch by the Giants Mario Manningham to keep Big Blue alive in the waning minutes of the game?

[tweet https://twitter.com/twitter/status/166366481926455297%5D

Or, well, maybe it was Madonna.  We knew there'd be jokes about her age, there were the required "I hope she doesn't break a hip" tweets before she went on. And there were some flimsy parts were Madge looked as though she might have to eke out the rest of her performance.

Madonna's halftime: What's the verdict?

But there was also the expected will there be another "wardrobe malfunction?" I don't think there was an expectation that America would be flipped the bird by rapper M.I.A..

Whether you loved Madonna's mash-up heavy performance or absolutely deplored it, viewers said everything you thought about it, again sending Twitter into a frenzy.

[tweet https://twitter.com/twitter/status/166366322295443456%5D


February 6th, 2012
11:18 AM ET

United States orders new Iran sanctions

The United States has moved to block assets of Iran's government and financial institutions, saying they had engaged in "deceptive practices," President Barack Obama's administration announced Monday.

An executive order signed Sunday by Obama blocks all assets of the Iranian government and banks held in the United States, according to John Sullivan, a Treasury Department spokesman.

Previously, recipients of Iranian funds covered by U.S. law were required to "reject" such transactions, according to the Treasury Department.

"I have determined that additional sanctions are warranted, particularly in light of the deceptive practices of the Central Bank of Iran and other Iranian banks to conceal transactions of sanctioned parties, the deficiencies in Iran's anti-money laundering regime and the weaknesses in its implementation, and the continuing and unacceptable risk posed to the international financial system by Iran's activities," Obama said in a statement to Congress released by the White House.

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Filed under: Uncategorized
February 6th, 2012
10:31 AM ET

One dead, dozens injured in fifth day of Egypt clashes

Violent clashes near Egypt's Interior Ministry on Monday left at least one person dead and 72 injured, a health ministry official said.

The man died of a gunshot wound, said Dr. Hisham Shiha, deputy health minister. Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim denied that officers were using anything but tear gas in confrontations with demonstrators.

Among those injured Monday was Salma Said, a prominent pro-democracy blogger who was reportedly shot in the face with bird shot by a police officer. Images of Said, her face and leg appearing to be bloodied, were circulating on the Internet.

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Filed under: Egypt • World
February 6th, 2012
08:51 AM ET

U.S. closes embassy in Syria

The U.S. State Department shuttered its embassy in Syria and pulled out its remaining staff Monday after the government refused to address its security concerns, senior State Department officials tell CNN.

The officials said 17 employees, including Ambassador Robert Ford, left the country. Two employees flew out of the Syria last week by commercial air, with the rest of them, including Ford, traveling by convoy Monday morning to Jordan. Most of the staff were evacuated earlier in the year, and the diplomatic team was further reduced in December.

The Syrians were notified about the decision to pull the staff and shutter the embassy after the employees were out of the country, the officials said.

The officials said the deterioration of the situation in the country made it impossible for the embassy to continue operations and for the staff to remain.

"The government is getting stretched beyond its ability to control the various elements of violence in the country," one senior official said.

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Filed under: Syria
February 6th, 2012
07:33 AM ET

Monday's live events

The GOP presidential candidates are now setting their sights on Tuesday's primary in Missouri, as well as caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota.  CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

11:00 am ET - Santorum on health care - GOP hopeful Rick Santorum will discuss his plans for America's health care crisis when he speaks in Rochester, Minnesota.


Filed under: Elections • Politics • Republican Party
February 6th, 2012
06:07 AM ET

Palestinian factions Hamas, Fatah reach unity deal

Rival Palestinian political factions Fatah and Hamas named President Mahmoud Abbas the head of an interim unity government during a televised signing ceremony Monday.

The deal was signed in Doha, Qatar, by Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who said last month he plans to step down from his post.

"The Palestinian reconciliation is no longer a Palestinian interest but also an Arab interest," Abbas said.

"Both parties are serious in moving forward to fold the page of strife between both parties and to strengthen the Palestinian national unity government," according to Meshaal.

Independent Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti said the agreement represents progress.

"What we see is a slow movement, and we hope that this meeting will give a push to reconciliation to go faster," he said. "I hope that the most important thing that this agreement will lead to is actual activation of real democratic system and that all obstacles that are still in the way of election will be removed."

The deal comes amid increased pressure from various Arab countries and Turkey for Hamas to distance itself from the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.


Filed under: World
February 6th, 2012
05:55 AM ET

President: Tuareg fighters from Libya stoke violence in Mali

Tuareg tribesman who reportedly fought for Moammar Gadhafi in Libya have returned to Mali with weapons, stoking violence and forcing thousands to flee, Mali's president said.

The development, announced by President Amadou Toumani Toure in a speech broadcast on state TV over the weekend, is perhaps the most-significant regional fallout to date from the end of former Libyan leader's regime.

The fighters returning from Libya have blended into the National Movement for Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA) and renamed northern Mali as the Azawad, the name of the region home to a majority of the Mali Tuareg.

During the address, Toure blamed freshly-armed fighters returning from Libya for attacks on military patrols outside the northeastern town of Aguelhoc, which has become a flashpoint in the struggle between the military and the rebels.

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Filed under: Uncategorized
Hearing set for Italian cruise ship captain under house arrest
Francesco Schettino faces possible charges of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship.
February 6th, 2012
05:18 AM ET

Hearing set for Italian cruise ship captain under house arrest

A closed-door hearing to determine whether the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship should remain under house arrest is set for Monday.

Francesco Schettino faces possible charges of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship after the vessel struck rocks and rolled onto its side in the waters off the Italian island of Giglio on January 13.

Sixteen bodies have been recovered, and 16 people remain missing from the roughly 4,200 people who were aboard the cruise liner.

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Filed under: Italy • Justice • World
Queen Elizabeth celebrates 60 years on throne
Queen Elizabeth II smiles as she leaves church in King's Lynn on Sunday.
February 6th, 2012
04:31 AM ET

Queen Elizabeth celebrates 60 years on throne

Sixty years ago Monday, a 25-year-old woman visiting a remote part of Kenya got a message that her father had died.

She cut her trip short and flew home to London. Prime Minister Winston Churchill met her at the airport - because with her father dead, she had become Queen Elizabeth II.

Celebrations of her Diamond Jubilee, marking six decades on the throne, officially begin Monday and continue through June, when London will mark the anniversary of her coronation with festivities including up to 1,000 boats sailing up the River Thames.

On Monday, the queen thanked the public "for the wonderful support and encouragement that you have given to me and (my husband) Prince Philip over these years."

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Filed under: World
PETA's killer whale 'enslavement' lawsuit goes to court
A killer whale performs at Sea World in Orlando on March 30.
February 6th, 2012
04:19 AM ET

PETA's killer whale 'enslavement' lawsuit goes to court

Lawyers for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will face off against those with SeaWorld in a Southern California federal court Monday after the animal rights group filed a lawsuit to declare that five killer whales are being held in slavery or involuntary servitude in violation of the 13th Amendment.

SeaWorld has called the lawsuit a baseless publicity stunt by PETA, which is known for provocative advertisements and public demonstrations on behalf of animal rights.

PETA filed the 20-page compalint in October on behalf of the whales - Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Kasatka and Ulises.

A PETA statement at the time contended that constitutional protections against slavery are not limited to humans.

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Filed under: Animals • Justice • PETA • U.S. • Whales
February 6th, 2012
03:33 AM ET

More GOP caucuses next stop for front-runner Romney

With former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney coming off his second straight victory, the race for the GOP presidential nomination heads to three states holding caucuses this week.

Romney's triumph Saturday in the Nevada caucuses, following his convincing triumph last week in Florida, bolstered the perception that he may be unstoppable in his second bid for the GOP nomination.

In Nevada, Romney led with 48% support, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 23%, Rep. Ron Paul had 18% and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum had 11% , according to incomplete results from vote counters at caucus sites and the state's Republican Party.

Romney's strong showing has Gingrich plotting a Southern revival, while Santorum and Paul seek stronger showings in upcoming caucuses.

The next contests take place Tuesday, with caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado and a non-binding primary in Missouri.

Only Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who finished last in Nevada, was on the campaign trail Sunday with events in Minnesota.

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Filed under: Politics • U.S.
February 6th, 2012
03:23 AM ET

Official: Missing woman's husband blows up house to kill himself, 2 sons

Shortly before he set fire to his Puyallup, Washington, house and killed himself and his two sons, Josh Powell - a suspect in the 2009 disappearance of his wife - apparently sent a three-word email to his attorney.

It said simply: "I'm sorry. Goodbye."

It was a tragic end to a puzzling case that began two years earlier in West Valley City, Utah, with the disappearance of 28-year-old Susan Cox-Powell and devolved into a bitter custody dispute between Powell and his wife's parents.

Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer accused Powell of committing murder-suicide, saying Sunday's fire "was done intentionally."

"This was all on him," Troyer said. "He set this up. He did it."

The sheriff's department has copies of the e-mail Powell sent to his attorney as well as family and friends that said "he couldn't live with what was going on," Troyer said.

While a medical examiner had yet to definitively identify the bodies, the sheriff's spokesman said "we believe it is the three of them."

"This was something that was done deliberately and intentionally, and the plan was carried out very quickly," he said.

The events appeared to have been set in motion days earlier when a judge refused Powell's petition to regain custody of his children and instead ordered he undergo a number of psychological evaluations - an order that came after authorities turned up child pornography in the home he shared with his father.

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Filed under: Crime • U.S.
February 6th, 2012
03:20 AM ET

China disputes reports of self-immolations by Tibetans

The Chinese authorities have contested reports that three Tibetans set themselves on fire last week in a remote area of southwestern China.

The conflicting accounts followed an increase in security measures by the Chinese authorities in Ganzi, an ethnically Tibetan area of Sichuan Province, in response to violent protests that took place last month.

The unrest has been fueled in part by reports of a string of self-immolations by Tibetans over the past year amid anger and despair over Chinese rule.

Radio Free Asia, a U.S.-based nonprofit group, reported over the weekend that the three Tibetans had set fire to themselves on Friday morning in a village known as Phuwu and that one of them had died as a result. The group, which broadcasts in Asian countries that it says lack "full and free news media," attributed the information to unidentified sources.

According to Radio Free Asia, Phuwu is in the county of Seda in Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, which is home to a population that is nearly 80% Tibetan. Seda is known by Tibetans as Serthar.

Free Tibet, a London-based organization that campaigns against Chinese rule in the Tibetan region, also reported the self-immolations on its website. It did not specify where it got the information from.

But Global Times, an English-language newspaper run by the Chinese Communist Party, published an article Monday that disputed that version of events. It cited local government officials as saying that no self-immolations had taken place recently.

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Filed under: China • Tibet • World
February 6th, 2012
03:10 AM ET

College lacrosse player's murder trial begins in Virginia

The trial of a University of Virginia lacrosse player who is accused of fatally beating his ex-girlfriend is expected to begin Monday.

George Huguely faces charges including first-degree murder in the May 2010 death of Yeardley Love, a 22-year-old senior who was also a lacrosse player.

Police were initially called to Love's off-campus Charlottesville apartment by a roommate who reported "a possible alcohol overdose," said Police Chief Tim Longo at the time.

"It was quickly apparent to them this young lady was the victim of something far worse," Longo said.

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Filed under: Crime • Sports • U.S. • Virginia
February 6th, 2012
03:07 AM ET

Activist: 'We're really tired of talk' as rockets blast through Syrian city

Intense blasts echoed through the ravaged Syrian city of Homs on Monday after a weekend bloodbath ended in hundreds of deaths there, local activists said.

"It is horrible. Especially today, it is horrible," said Abu Omar, a local activist who said the Syrian army was attacking without warning. "Usually they are using mortars. They are now using rockets in the sky. We can see them in the sky."

At least 30 people were killed Monday in Homs, according to another opposition activist, identified as "Danny," and a doctor at at a field hospital in the city's Baba Amr neighborhood.

The Syrian government has stepped up its brutal crackdown after the U.N. Security Council's failed Saturday to pass a resolution condemning the regime, activists said.

"The U.N. gave them the green light to inflict more violence," Danny said. "If it wasn't for the U.N., they wouldn't have did this. It gave them the OK to kill more. If the U.N. had done something about this, this regime would be a little bit scared."

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Syria • United Nations • World
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