March 9th, 2012
09:44 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Best videos of the week

Some of this week’s top stories showcase the beauty of expectant mothers as well as the power of mother nature. A solar flare spat a massive blast of radiation and electromagnetic waves toward Earth. Solar flares can spark power grid outages, knock out high frequency radio broadcasts and throw your GPS out of whack.


Solar storm heads for Earth

A solar storm sends highly-charged particles toward Earth at 3-4 million mph.


Teen loses driver's license forever

A judge explains why he banned a teen from ever getting a Rhode Island driver's license as a result of an accident.


Helicopter crash caught on tape

Everyone survived a helicopter crash during at TV stunt in Arizona.


Tornado's power seen from basement

New video shows, at a terrifyingly close angle, the power of a tornado that ripped apart West Liberty, Kentucky.


Jessica Simpson bares all for Elle

Singer Jessica Simpson poses nude and pregnant for Elle magazine. CNN's Erin Burnett reports.

Filed under: Uncategorized
March 9th, 2012
07:22 PM ET

Overheard on Readers debate sudden rise of 'KONY 2012,' online activism

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.

An organization called Invisible Children has been aiming to make Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony a household name. He certainly has attracted a good amount of attention. Our readers debated the sudden discussion.

As criticism surfaces, 'KONY 2012' gains momentum faster than Susan Boyle

Some readers were in support of the movement, and they started discussions with other readers.

tinwatchman: "On the one hand, yes, some concerns about the charity funding this. Yes, they seem to be spending an awful lot of money on filmmaking and promotions. On the other hand, the day before yesterday, no one had heard of Joseph Kony. You can fault their methods. But you can't fault their results."

sarahH: "Yes, they are good at making money. People had heard of Kony when he was committing these crimes, it just didn't register because they had more important things to do. They needed a hipster white guy telling them they can change the world by hitting a like button to care. This is progress? Where were you freaks when this was actually happening?"

America314: "Better cause than golden parachutes."

This commenter said they think it is all a fad. FULL POST

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Filed under: Overheard on • Uganda • World
Pawn shops' popularity rises with TV shows, down economy
The Van Nuys Pawn Shop in Los Angeles is seeing an increasing number of customers turn to it for short-term loans.
March 9th, 2012
06:43 PM ET

Pawn shops' popularity rises with TV shows, down economy

For years, pawn shops have had a seedy and hopeless connotation: people pawning items for short-term loans because they can’t get a loan from a bank or don’t qualify for mainstream credit. But over the past five years or so, pawn shops have had a whole new light shed on them.

In this down economy, especially with high credit-card and bank-loan interest rates, pawn shop business is up. Pawn popularity also is up because of reality shows like the History Channel’s "Pawn Stars."

(Click the audio player to hear more on this story from CNN Radio's Jim Roope)

"Pawn Stars" features the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas and its owner, Rick Harrison, who says pawning is banking at its most basic.

"You give collateral on a loan; (if) you don’t pay it back, you lose your collateral, and that’s the end of it," Harrison said. "There is no turning you into a credit reporting agency. There’s no suing you, no garnishing your wages. It’s just that simple."

Cesar Salgato, manager of Van Nuys Pawn in Los Angeles, says that over the past four or five years, his business has increased 60%.

"A lot of the middle class and upper middle class is starting to pawn," Salgato said. "It's incredible, the amount of money that goes out for meeting mortgages and meeting payroll."


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Filed under: Economy • Showbiz • TV
Soccer standout, homecoming queen tries out for LSU football
Ex-LSU soccer star Mo Isom would like to bring her kicking talents to one of the best football programs in the nation.
March 9th, 2012
04:57 PM ET

Soccer standout, homecoming queen tries out for LSU football

Mo Isom already has been quite a presence at Louisiana State. The first LSU athlete to be voted homecoming queen, she was one of the top goalkeepers in the Southeastern Conference for four years, displaying not only useful shot-stopping skills but also the type of powerful kicks that score goals from the other end of the soccer field.

Now she’s trying to show her kicking power translates to that, ahem, other kind of football. The one on the gridiron, where LSU fields one of the best programs in the country.

Isom, a 21-year-old whose collegiate soccer career wrapped up last fall, is one of a few students trying out for placekicker on LSU's football team - last year's national championship runners-up - this month.

She faces gigantic odds. LSU is returning its starting field goal kicker - Drew Alleman, who tied for the nation’s best field goal percentage at 88.9% last year - and kickoff specialist James Hairston.

But she made some long field goals and deep kickoffs in tryouts this week, and she says she’d be ready to take some big hits in one of the nation’s premier football conferences, the SEC.

“Do you see my size?” Isom told CNN affiliate WBRZ on Thursday, the second day of placekicker tryouts at LSU. “Everyone thinks that I am the average size and weight of a female. I am 6-foot-1, almost, and weigh about 190 pounds. Yes, I just said that on camera. It is all muscle."


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Filed under: College football • Football • Louisiana • Sports
Sarah Palin's key moments
Sarah and Todd Palin on election night November 4, 2008
March 9th, 2012
04:13 PM ET

Sarah Palin's key moments

HBO Films' much-anticipated movie "Game Change" premieres Saturday, March 10 at 9pm. The movie follows the rise and fall of John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign with Sarah Palin as his running mate. Ed Harris and Julianne Moore star as McCain and Palin.  CNN and HBO are both owned by Time Warner.

Both McCain and Palin have criticized the movie, even though both have said they have not seen it. Palin's own SarahPAC has posted an official statement calling the movie "at best historical fiction," and has posted a rebuttal trailer.

Here are some of Sarah Palin's key moments from 2008.  Bryan Monroe, Editor of, offers his take on what these moments meant for the McCain-Palin ticket, and for politics.


2008: Palin: I'm an outsider

Gov. Sarah Palin makes her acceptance speech on September 3, 2008 at the RNC.


2008: Palin: Don't question Israel

As the campaign progressed, Sarah Palin stumbled.


2008: Tina Fey, Sarah Palin meet on 'SNL"

America embraced Tina Fey's portrayal of Mrs. Palin in comedy skits on "Saturday Night Live."


2008: Sarah Palin's last pre-election speech

On November 3, 2008, Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin delivered her last speech to voters the night before election day.

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Filed under: Politics • Sarah Palin
Overheard on Dear government, my omelet was delicious this morning
A surveillance program monitors "bad" words on Facebook and other social-media sites, a privacy group's lawsuit reveals.
March 9th, 2012
03:36 PM ET

Overheard on Dear government, my omelet was delicious this morning

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.

"Drone came by yesterday. I was sitting on the can. Asked what I was doing...snapped a few pics. I flushed. 'Why do you want to know?' 'Just doing my job, sir ... just wondering what you were doing.' 'Look suspicious?' 'Not sure ... you were sitting, not standing, right?' 'Right,' I said. 'I'll put that in my report ... why did you flush so fast?' 'I was done.' 'You know that can't be verified, sir.' 'Sorry,' I said. 'We'll be watching,' it said. Then it left. Yes, without another word, it flew away and disappeared into the blue, afternoon sky like the brilliant cyber creature that it surly was."
–Floyd Mills

Comedian Dean Obeidallah wrote a column expounding on the government's Twitter searches. Readers responded with comedic takes of their own.

The government is reading your tweets

Some suggested we ought to watch the government.

rlowens1: "Perhaps, we can clean up Washington, if we insist that all candidates for public office, should they be elected, consent to have ALL of their communications monitored for the duration they are in office? Sure, it infringes on their civil rights. But, isn't that ok, as long as it furthers the public interests and improves security for us all? That is the argument they're using on us."

Others wanted to sabotage the effort.

FoxTS: "So in short, everyone should make sure to use 5-7 of these words in at least two posts every day. Thus making this data mining project all but useless."

ENDFEDNOW: "Smallpox, virus, nerve gas, anthrax, dirty bomb, radioactive, nuclear facility, and hummus ought to do the trick... ;-)"

rlowens1: "No, that would just make it more expensive."

Imagine your breakfast on a billboard.

Japan ends whaling season 70% below quota
The Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker clashes with Japanese whaling vessels this week in the Antarctic.
March 9th, 2012
02:12 PM ET

Japan ends whaling season 70% below quota

Japan's whaling fleet was headed home from the southern ocean after ending its annual Antarctic hunt with only a third of its expected catch, news reports from Japan said Friday.

The hunt ended three days ago with a catch of 266 minke whales and one fin whale, officials from Japan's Fisheries Agency said, according to one report from Australia's ABC news online.

The Sea Shephed Society, which sent a fleet of vessels to the southern ocean to block the hunt, proclaimed victory on its website.

"Operation Divine Wind is over! The Japanese whalers are going home!" the Sea Shepherd headline read.

"There are hundreds of whales swimming free in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary that would now be dead if we had not been down there for the last three months. That makes us very happy indeed," Sea Shepherd's Paul Watson is quoted as saying on the organization's website.

News of the Japanese whaling fleet's withdrawal comes four days after the Institute of Cetacean Research, which oversees the Japanese whaling program, reported a confrontation between the Japanese ships and Sea Shepherd's ship Bob Barker. The Bob Barker fired more than 40 flares and aimed a "high-powered" laser beam at the Japanese ships for more than 50 minutes, the institute said in a news release.

Watson said that with the high-seas showdown, "the whaling season was effectively over for the season."

Japan hunts whales every year despite a worldwide moratorium on whaling, utilizing a loophole in the law that allows for killing the mammals for scientific research.

Sea Shepherd said it would be back to block the Japanese fleet if it returns this year.

“If the Japanese whalers return, Sea Shepherd will return. We are committed to the defense of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary,” Watson said on the website. “No matter how long it takes, no matter how risky or expensive. The word 'sanctuary' actually means something to us and that something is worth fighting for.”

Japan hands over whaling activists to Australia

Drones used to fight whaling fleet

Japan: Tsunami reconstruction funds go to whaling

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Filed under: Animals • Environment • Japan • Whales
March 9th, 2012
01:00 PM ET

Magnetic stress relievers called health danger for kids

A 3-year-old girl had emergency surgery after 37 of them perforated her stomach and intestines. A 12-year-old Australian had her bowel torn in four places after swallowing five of them.

They are powerful pea-size magnets marketed as stress relievers for harried adults but called a safety risk for children by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The magnets are sold under the brand names Buckyballs and Nanospheres among others.

"We want parents to be aware of the danger associated with these innocent-looking magnets," safety commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a November statement. "The potential for serious injury and death if multiple magnets are swallowed demands that parents and medical professionals be aware of this hidden hazard and know how to treat a child in distress."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission then reported 22 incidents involving the magnets from 2009 through October. "Of the reported incidents, 17 involved magnet ingestion and 11 required surgical removal of the magnets. When a magnet has to be removed surgically, it often requires the repair of the child's damaged stomach and intestines," the commission statement said.


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Filed under: Australia • Colorado • Consumer safety • Health • Oregon
For $2,500, Brooklyn artist invites 1% to take home complaints of the 99%
An Armory Show attendee examines Sebastian Errazuriz's Occupy Chairs in New York.
March 9th, 2012
11:03 AM ET

For $2,500, Brooklyn artist invites 1% to take home complaints of the 99%

Sebastian Errazuriz is at it again, making political statements with his art. This time, the target is the 1% - of which he may be a member when the art exhibit is through.

The Chilean-born artist used placards from the Occupy Wall Street movement as his muse and painted some of the movement's slogans onto wooden fold-out chairs. The acrylic paint messages include, "Hungry? Eat a Banker," "Kill Corporate Greed" and "Too Big to Fail is Too Big to Allow."

"The artist wishes to support the 99% by inviting collectors (representing the 1%) to purchase the complaints as art or furniture, thus introducing the ideas of one group into the homes of another and at the same time getting the rich to support the cause of the 99%," a news release states.

There are eight Occupy Chairs, and 10 of each design. The eight designs are on display at the Cristina Grajales Gallery booth at the Armory Show, an annual modern art fair in Manhattan that began Thursday and runs through the weekend.

Though Errazuriz, 34, doesn't shy away from bold statements - such as, say, planting 1,100 crosses under the Brooklyn Bridge to highlight the number of deaths in New York each week - his latest endeavor made him nervous.

"I honestly didn't know if the 1% would buy the Occupy Chairs or feel attacked and insulted," he said. "The other gallery people looked at us like, 'What the hell are (they) doing bringing protest signs to an art fair focused on collectors who are obviously all 1%?' "


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Filed under: Art • Chile • Economy • New York • Occupy Wall Street • Protest • U.S.
Affiliate roundup: 'Home Alone' house sold; girl fights California governor's animal shelter plan
The Winnetka, Illinois, house that helped child actor Macaulay Culkin rise to fame in "Home Alone" has a new owner.
March 9th, 2012
10:49 AM ET

Affiliate roundup: 'Home Alone' house sold; girl fights California governor's animal shelter plan

A sampling of Friday morning's headlines from some CNN affiliates nationwide:

WBBM: 'Home Alone' house goes for nearly $1.6 million

The Illinois house where the 1990 box-office hit "Home Alone" was filmed has been sold for $1.59 million, CNN affiliate WBBM-TV in Chicago reports. The sellers owned the Winnetka, Illinois, house when the movie was shot there. No word if the residence comes with Macaulay Culkin's improvised anti-burglary systems.

KSWB: Fourth-grader campaigns against shelter bill

A San Diego-area girl is collecting hundreds of signatures to fight a state proposal that would hasten the euthanizing of shelter animals, CNN affiliate KSWB-TV in San Diego reports. To save money, California Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed requiring shelters to wait three days before euthanizing stray animals, as opposed to the current six-day wait. Hannah Conway, 9, responded with the "Animals Don’t Have Voices But Kids Do" campaign.


Filed under: U.S.
March 9th, 2012
07:39 AM ET

Friday's live events

The race to the Republican presidential nomination remains up in the air. 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: Elections • Politics • Republican Party
March 9th, 2012
06:05 AM ET

Syria says 'terrorists' armed with Israeli-made weapons, accuses Turkey of smuggling

The opposition accused Syrian forces Friday of storming villages to chase down and kill soldiers who defected, while President Bashar al-Assad's government claimed the attacks targeted "terrorists" carrying Israeli-made weapons used to kill civilians.

The virulent see-saw allegations of atrocities in the hard-hit western province of Hama come as world leaders and humanitarian organizations rankle over how to staunch a crisis that has left thousands dead.

By early Friday morning, at least two people had been killed in fighting, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition rights group. That followed news Thursday that at least 62 people were killed, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition network.

Opposition groups urged thousands Friday to take to the streets in Syria as part of weekly anti-government protests, which have been routinely targeted by security forces since they first began a year ago. Al-Assad's brutal crackdown on demonstrations calling for political reforms led to an uprising demanding the ouster of the regime.

Al-Assad has denied opposition claims of killing civilians, saying his forces are targeting terrorists and foreign fighters.

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Filed under: World
March 9th, 2012
03:33 AM ET

Baby found dead in trunk of car in Maryland

A newborn baby was found dead in the trunk of a car in southern Maryland on Thursday night, authorities said.

Relatives of the car's owner said they were cleaning out the trunk and found the body of an infant, according to Lt. Steve Jones of the Calvert County Sheriff's Office.

The car was parked outside a home in Prince Frederick area.

Investigators are questioning the vehicle's owner, Jones said.


Filed under: Crime • U.S.
March 9th, 2012
01:38 AM ET

Creditors agree to Greek bond deal

Creditors have agreed to a plan to restructure Greek government bonds - a move that was vital to the financial future of the country - Greek government officials said Friday.

The monumental deal means Greece has cleared its final hurdle to qualify for the €130 billion bailout program from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

More than 85% of private bondholders agreed to the deal, Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in a statement


Filed under: Economy • World
March 9th, 2012
01:25 AM ET

U.S. envoy upbeat on North Korean food aid after talks

 A U.S. envoy expressed optimism that food aid would find its way to those in need in North Korea after two days of talks with officials from Pyongyang, but it remained unclear when the shipments might begin.

Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, met with North Korean representatives in Beijing to thrash out the details of a plan to allow the resumption of food aid to the North.

"We resolved the administrative issues that we were concerned with," King said Thursday before leaving for Washington to report the results of the discussions. He described the meetings as "very productive, positive talks."

Filed under: Politics • World