March 5th, 2012
05:58 PM ET

Overheard on Limbaugh's comments symbolize extreme partisanship

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Iconic conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh is in hot water for calling Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a "slut," and many of our readers are incensed about the comment and about the polarization of politics in general.

iReporter Omekongo Dibinga of Washington said he believes Democrats should think twice before rushing to benefit from Limbaugh's remarks.

Democrats are wrong for profiting off of Limbaugh

omekongo: "As a Georgetown alum and a human being, I was appalled by Limbaugh's comments. I'm almost equally appalled at the manner which political parties use comments like these to raise money. I know this has always been the case, but the hyper-partisanship that we see today magnifies this to a greater degree."

He also expressed his belief that misogyny is prevalent in society.

"Limbaugh is just the latest example of the disdain this country has for women. It has to end if we really care about future generations of women."

iReporter Thema Bryant-Davis of Los Angeles, California, said women are growing more and more frustrated. FULL POST

Former Mets star Lenny Dykstra sentenced to three years in prison
Lenny Dykstra, nicknamed "Nails" for his tenacity, led the New York Mets to a World Series championship in 1986.
March 5th, 2012
04:24 PM ET

Former Mets star Lenny Dykstra sentenced to three years in prison

Former New York Mets star Lenny Dykstra was sentenced Monday to three years in prison after a California judge denied his motion to withdraw his plea. He pleaded no contest in October to three counts of grand theft auto and filing a false financial statement.

Dykstra, a three-time Major League Baseball All-Star who led the New York Mets to a World Series championship, admitted his loss was more than $100,000, according to a statement from the district attorney's office.

Beginning in January, Dykstra, 48, and two co-defendants tried to lease various high-end automobiles from several area dealerships by providing fraudulent information and claiming credit through a phony business, prosecutors said.

A criminal complaint contended that Dykstra and Robert Hymers, 27, his accountant, provided information from a man they claimed was a co-signer, but who had not authorized his name to be used.

Leases were not approved at two dealerships, but the pair and Christopher Gavanis, 30, a friend of Dykstra's, drove off with three cars at one company by providing fraudulent information to a dealer, Deputy District Attorney Alex Karkanen said.

McCain calls for airstrikes in Syria
March 5th, 2012
02:51 PM ET

McCain calls for airstrikes in Syria

Sen. John McCain has called for the United States to lead an international effort to protect the Syrian population by carrying out airstrikes on Syrian government forces.

McCain said the U.S."should lead an international effort" to help protect key population areas in Syria using airstrikes, during remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

"To be clear: This will require the United States to suppress enemy air defenses in at least part of the country," McCain said. “The ultimate goal of airstrikes should be to establish and defend safe havens in Syria, especially in the north, in which opposition forces can organize and plan their political and military activities against Assad.

"These safe havens could serve as platforms for the delivery of humanitarian and military assistance – including weapons and ammunition, body armor and other personal protective equipment, tactical intelligence, secure communications equipment, food and water, and medical supplies. These safe havens could also help the Free Syrian Army and other armed groups in Syria to train and organize themselves into more cohesive and effective military forces, likely with the assistance of foreign partners."

March 5th, 2012
02:08 PM ET

March tornado outbreak a sign of things to come?

The early-striking, intense storm system that hit the country last week has many people wondering if this year's spring could be a repeat of the violent season we saw last year.

U.S. tornado outbreaks happen nearly every year, but outbreaks of this magnitude and the outbreak at the end of April 2011 are rare.

“A March tornado outbreak of similar scope to (the recent one) occurs roughly once a decade," according to Russell Schneider, the director of NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

This chart compares the number of tornado warnings during the April 2011 tornado outbreak and last week's storms.

Prior to April 2011, the U.S. last saw an outbreak of that magnitude in April 1974, when 148 tornadoes swept across 13 states, killing 330 people, and injuring 5,484. The outbreak on April 27 and 28, 2011, is the second deadliest outbreak in U.S.history, since records have been kept. It resulted in 320 deaths as 305 tornadoes swept across four states.

Currently, the death toll from Friday’s outbreak stands at 39, with the latest death being 15-month-old Angel Babcock who passed away Sunday afternoon from injuries sustained during the Henryville, Indiana, EF4 tornado. 

As surveys of the hard-hit areas are completed, the confirmed count could continue to rise. So far, this recent outbreak saw 128 reports of tornadoes across 12 states, with 45 of those tornadoes being confirmed.

This graphic shows the number of tornado reports associated with last week's outbreak.

These current statistics make March 2, 2012, one of the deadliest March days since 1994. If the death toll rises, this could be the worst March outbreak, which will not be confirmed until the National Weather Service completes its local damage assessments.

Given the severity of this recent outbreak, does this actually mean that we can expect another harrowing spring for tornadoes?


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Filed under: Tornadoes • Weather
March 5th, 2012
12:46 PM ET

Vandalized WWII-era graves in Libya to be restored

Two World War II-era cemeteries that were vandalized over the weekend by armed men in Benghazi will be restored, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission said in a posting on its website.

Hundreds of gravestones marking the bodies of Christian and Jewish soldiers were kicked from their locations, many of them broken, in the Benghazi War Cemetery and the Benghazi British Military Cemetery, the CWGC said. "Both cemeteries will be restored to a standard befitting the sacrifice of those commemorated at Benghazi, but this could take some time because we will need to source replacement stones," the organization said.

"We will also need to be sure that it's safe for the detailed work to be carried out, but in the meantime we will ensure that temporary markers are erected over the graves. We have no reports of any maintenance staff being injured in the attack."

Britain urged Libya's new leadership Sunday to investigate the desecration of the more than 200 Commonwealth war graves that were vandalized, acts filmed and posted on YouTube.

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Filed under: Libya
March 5th, 2012
12:30 PM ET

Obama and Netanyahu focus on Iran's nuclear program

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday their nations stand together in their efforts to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon.

The two leaders met at the White House to discuss Iran's nuclear program and other Middle East issues amid talk that Israel may attack nuclear sites in Iran.

In comments to reporters before the meeting, Obama said both he and Netanyahu prefer a diplomatic solution to the Iranian issue.

However, Obama made clear - as he did in a speech to the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Sunday - that military force remains an option in the effort to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

Netanyahu said he welcomed Obama's "strong speech" on Sunday and noted that Iran considers the United States the "great Satan" and Israel the "little Satan."

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Iran • Israel • Politics • U.S.
Around the U.S.: Tornado 'miracle babies;' bees invade Spring Training
This photo shows damage to a North Carolina home from a tornado. Three children were thrown from the home during the storm.
March 5th, 2012
11:56 AM ET

Around the U.S.: Tornado 'miracle babies;' bees invade Spring Training

Below is a sampling of Monday morning's headlines from some of CNN's affiliates nationwide:

WSOC: 'Miracle babies' out of hospital after being sucked up by tornado

When a Tornado ripped through Latonya and Tyrone Stevens' Mecklenburg County home it hurled three of their children into the air.

The roof of their North Carolina home was ripped off by mighty gusts of wind as storms rolled through and the structure was destroyed.

"The next thing I remember is I was sitting on the top of the house with my oldest twin Ashley and everything was gone," Latonya Stevens told CNN affiliate WSOC.

One child was found under the rubble of the home. Another was thrown close to a nearby highway. A third child wound up in a neighbor's yard.

“His room is in the front of our house, so he had to go clear across the back yard and over the fence,” Tyrone Stevens told WSOC.

Doctors at a local hospital are calling the children "miracle babies" since they are now safe and were able to leave the hospital.

Read more about the Stevens' miracle and see photos of the damage

KPHO: Bees attack during Spring Training

Normally it is a good thing when people are buzzing about your team during Spring Training. But it is a bit different when the actual buzzing is thanks to a swarm of bees that forced more than a 40-minute delay during a game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale, Arizona.


March 5th, 2012
11:56 AM ET

Syria in crisis: Gruesome violence escalates as attacks expand across country

Editor's Note: After nearly a year of conflict in Syria, opposition activists say regime forces are ramping up lethal action across the country.

The following is a look at where the conflict in Syria stands, how it started, and how other nations are reacting.

Violence increases as cities are pummeled

At first the brutality of the attacks seemed isolated. There were harrowing accounts of devastating shelling, sniper fire and executions in the Syrian city of Homs. There were bodies strewn about the streets. Remaining families huddled in makeshift shelters hoping to somehow make it out alive.

And now, the people of Homs are not the only ones.

The brutal campaign of death is spreading in a fresh wave of violence, opposition activists tell CNN’s Nic Robertson.

While earlier attacks seemed focused on specific areas, like the neighborhood of Baba Amr in Homs, Robertson reports that now the violence and death seem to be widespread throughout the country. You could name nearly any major city in the north, south, east or west of Syria now and find tales of slaughter and unrelenting violence coming from each of them.

First there was the rocket attack on the western city of Rastan over the weekend. But now the regime’s lethal attention has apparently turned to cities across the country, opposition activists said.

It appears the Syrian regime is stepping up raids and arrests just about everywhere, detaining hundreds of civilians in the past two days, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, an opposition activist group, said Monday.

And perhaps tactics inside Syria are changing too. Videos show a disturbing development that seems to indicate jihad has come to Syria. The videos show varying attacks in different parts in Syria, mainly on government forces, that closely resemble jihadist attacks that are the hallmark of al Qaeda. They are recorded by a cameraman and fully capture the carnage.

It could be seen as a sign that Syria's protests are morphing into an armed uprising. The Syrian government has long claimed that it is fighting terrorists. But so far, few of the opposition fighters have fit the stereotype of terrorists. Most activists are unarmed, and the Free Syrian Army has denied links with Islamic extremism.

Western officials say al Qaeda in Iraq has sent a small number of fighters into Syria. Their experience makes them some of the most effective fighters against the Syrian military, but their presence also makes international intervention even more problematic. It means the fledgling Free Syrian Army may be graduating to more ambitious attacks.

A group that released one of the videos calls itself The Nusra Front to Protect the Levant. And this seems the most credible claim of responsibility for one of the most devastating attacks yet on the Syrian military.

This new trend could mean even more violence, as a more armed and ambitious opposition tries to fend off fresh waves of attacks from the Syrian regime.

A battle destroys Baba Amr; fresh claims of executions

For weeks we’ve heard about horrific actions inside Homs and its Baba Amr neighborhood, where CNN reporters witnessed some of the brutality firsthand. Baba Amr had been one of the more prominent pockets of anti-regime resistance before many of the activists retreated following nearly three weeks of constant shelling.


March 5th, 2012
11:35 AM ET

Monday's live events

The race to the Republican presidential nomination continues tomorrow with Super Tuesday. Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

8:25 am ET - Romney meet and greet - GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney spends his day in Ohio, where he'll meet with voters in Canton.  He'll also hold town hall-style meetings in Youngstown at 12:00 pm ET and Zanesville at 6:30 pm ET.


Filed under: Elections • Politics • Republican Party
March 5th, 2012
11:14 AM ET

Taliban link Afghan attack to Quran burning

A suicide bomber blew himself up at an entrance to Afghanistan's Bagram Airfield on Monday, an attack the Taliban called revenge for the burning of Qurans by U.S. troops there last month.

The blast at the base, north of Kabul, killed two civilians and wounded two others, Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Seddiqi said.

A Taliban spokesman claimed 12 U.S. soldiers, including Special Forces members, and nine Afghans were killed in the blast, part of the group's "revenge campaign" for the Quran burning.

An Afghan official, however, said two personnel from the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan were wounded, and a spokesman for the mission, the International Security Assistance Force, said initial reports suggested no ISAF casualties.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • U.S. • World
Holder to make case for targeting Americans in terror hunt
March 5th, 2012
07:38 AM ET

Holder to make case for targeting Americans in terror hunt

After months of promises from the Obama administration, Attorney General Eric Holder Monday will finally lay out at least some of the legal arguments that the Justice Department developed to support its targeted killing of a U.S. citizen with alleged terrorist ties in Yemen last year.

One official familiar with the speech said it was doubtful Holder would mention by name Anwar al-Awlaki, who was targeted in a September drone attack. Another American who was active in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Samir Khan, was not the target of the strike but was with al-Awlaki and killed at the same time.

Both the operation and the legal opinion that supported it remain classified.

Another official familiar with the speech confirmed the attorney general will discuss the legal framework on the use of lethal force. The official, who asked not to be identified because the speech is still under wraps, said the targeted-killing issue is just one aspect of a broad-ranging look at national security issues from a legal perspective.

March 5th, 2012
03:39 AM ET

Killing by Syrian regime moves across country Monday, opposition says

After pummeling the city of Rastan over the weekend, government troops turned their lethal attention to cities across the country Monday, opposition activists said.

One person was killed by indiscriminate gunfire by regime forces in the southern province of Daraa, said the Syrian Network for Human Rights, an opposition activist group.

And in northern Syria, one man was killed by security forces in the Aleppo countryside, the network said.

The latest violence came as rebel forces claimed they had driven out the army in Rastan - but also ceded that most of their own fighters had retreated from the besieged city.


Filed under: Syria • World
March 5th, 2012
02:38 AM ET

Chinese premier touches on military, economy

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao underlined the Asian giant's regional military ambitions and economic challenges Monday in a speech that opened the annual meeting of the country's legislators.

China intends to further tailor its military to ensure it is able to prevail in conflicts in its vicinity, Wen said in a speech to the National People's Congress, a 10-day gathering in Beijing of about 3,000 delegates from across the country.

"We will enhance the armed forces' capability to accomplish a wide range of military tasks. Most important is to win local wars under information-age conditions," Wen said.


Filed under: Chile • World
March 5th, 2012
02:36 AM ET

Checkpoint attacks kill 23 Iraqi police

Gunmen in SUVs opened fired on numerous checkpoints in iraq's Anbar province early Monday, killing at least 23 police, authorities in Ramadi and Baghdad said.

One of the attackers was killed in the shootouts with officers, according to police officials, who said the rest of the gunmen - dressed in Iraqi security forces uniforms - fled to unknown locations.

The gunmen opened fired on each checkpoint after claiming to have papers for the arrest two officers from the city.


Filed under: World
March 5th, 2012
02:34 AM ET

Iran at front and center of Obama, Netanyahu discussions

What to do about Iran and its nuclear program?

That question is expected to dominate discussions Monday when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington.

The meeting between the two leaders comes amid growing international concern after Israel made clear it considers a nuclear-armed Iran a threat to its existence and has suggested a pre-emptive strike on Iranian nuclear infrastructure.

Tensions between Israel and the West have risen dramatically in recent months over its nuclear program, after a nuclear watchdog agency found that Iran was increasing its uranium enrichment capacity and could be developing nuclear weapons.


Filed under: Politics • U.S. • World