New survey's big surprise: China’s Great Wall much longer than previously estimated
The Great Wall of China, as seen near Beijing in March of this year.
June 6th, 2012
10:59 PM ET

New survey's big surprise: China’s Great Wall much longer than previously estimated

China’s first comprehensive measurement of its Great Wall shows it to be 13,170 miles long - thousands of miles longer than previous estimates - state news outlet Xinhua reported this week.

The length of the Great Wall of China - actually a non-contiguous series of defensive systems involving walls, natural barriers and trenches, built from 475 B.C. to 1644 in various areas to fend off invaders - was determined through surveys that began in 2007 at the direction of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

Partial results of the survey, announced in 2009, showed that the wall systems built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) were 5,499 miles (8,851 kilometers) long, Xinhua reported.

Teams then were instructed to identify and measure pre-Ming Dynasty wall systems throughout China. They found them to be 7,671 miles (12,345 kilometers) in length, said British researcher and author William Lindesay, who studies the Great Wall.

“The figure just announced (13,170 miles, or 21,196 kilometers) is a combination of the length of the Ming plus (the) length of pre-Ming Great Walls,” Lindesay wrote to CNN in an e-mail Wednesday.

The British Broadcasting Corp. reported in 2009 that before the initial survey results were announced, the wall’s length was commonly estimated at about 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers).


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Filed under: Architecture • China
Overheard on Ray Bradbury was 'very down to Earth,' or maybe Mars
Sam Green of Burbank, California, shared this photo of his son meeting Ray Bradbury in 2008.
June 6th, 2012
08:42 PM ET

Overheard on Ray Bradbury was 'very down to Earth,' or maybe Mars

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.

"Once you've read Bradbury, can you ever look at a tattoo the same way again?"

The death of Ray Bradbury brings to mind many great books, and here at CNN, a few memorable interviews. His characters set books alight in the dystopian "Fahrenheit 451," populated colonial Mars in "The Martian Chronicles" and danced on the tattooed markings of "The Illustrated Man." But there's more, too, and CNN iReporters and readers were eager to share their tributes to the famed, prolific author.

Sci-fi author Ray Bradbury dies

Film producer John Dayton of Los Angeles says he has worked with Bradbury on some projects. He has a photo showing him with his daughter Alexandra at Ray Bradbury's home last year.

"'Ray was my inspiration and surrogate father," Dayton said. "He taught me to latch onto my dreams, and blessed my life in general."

Chris Kacher of London says he counts Ray Bradbury as a friend. He sent along a photo that was taken in 2010, but he had been reading the author's work for awhile.

"Ray Bradbury talked about how he would write a few pages each day. At the time (back in the early 1990s), he said he only skipped this daily writing ritual twice - once for his wedding, and once when he was in hospital. In terms of sci-fi, his 'Fahrenheit 451' is a seminal work about what could be if we're not careful, akin to George Orwell's '1984.' Both works left a deep impression on my young, developing mind when I was a young teen."

Gene Beley of Stockton, California, sent along a photo of Ray Bradbury in 1968. He has taken many photos of the author over the years.

"Ray was MUCH more than a sci-fi writer, and this is almost an insult to him to ask this question," Beley said. "He was the most underrated writer in all mediums."

David Nitchman of Scarborough, Maine, talked about the breadth of Bradbury's work. FULL POST

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Filed under: Celebrity • Overheard on
June 6th, 2012
05:50 PM ET

CNN Mash-up: Chronicling Mars and Venus

The CNN Daily Mash-up is a roundup of some of the most interesting, surprising, curious, poignant or significant items to appear on in the past 24 hours. We top it with a collection of the day's most striking photographs from around the world.

Ray Bradbury mourned and celebrated

The death of acclaimed speculative fiction author Ray Bradbury evoked an appreciation from literary critic Gene Seymour, as well as a fond memory from CNN religion writer John Blake. Within his essay, Seymour quotes Argentine poet Jorge Luis-Borges, who in his introduction to his Spanish-language translation of "The Martian Chronicles," asked:

What has this man from Illinois done, I ask myself when I close the pages of his book, that episodes from the conquest of another planet fill me with horror and loneliness?

Many of our readers felt the same way about Bradbury, who wrote the anti-censorship classic "Fahrenheit 451." This comment is typical:


This is a sad day for all devoted science fiction fans. I even met my spouse in the science fiction aisle of my local bookstore. One of my children just read "Fahrenheit 451." The poor kid was horrified to even think of a world without the pleasure of settling down comfortably to read a good book. Thank you, Mr Bradbury, for sharing your literary talent with all of us. Bibliophiles around the world will miss you. My most sincere condolences to Ray's family and friends.

You can read more comments on iReport.

The Venusian Chronicles

It seems appropriate that on the day the author of "The Martian Chronicles" passes on, we're seeing hundreds of CNN iReporter images of Venus as it made its transit across the disc of the sun. You can ooh and aah over them here.

Here is NASA's view of the transit of Venus:


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Filed under: CNN Daily Mash-up
June 6th, 2012
03:01 PM ET

Joe Frazier's gym, post offices on 'endangered historic places' list

[Updated at 5:42 p.m. ET] A Philadelphia gym where boxing great Joe Frazier trained and historic post offices nationwide are among the United States’ most endangered historic places, according to an annual list that a preservation group released Wednesday.

The 25th annual "America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places," released by the nonprofit National Trust for Historic Preservation, lists what the group says are examples of important buildings, districts or landscapes that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.

The list includes the converted three-story brick Philadelphia warehouse where Frazier, a two-time heavyweight champion who handed Muhammad Ali his first professional loss in 1971's "Fight of the Century," trained throughout his career, according to the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.


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Filed under: U.S. • U.S. Postal Service
June 6th, 2012
02:47 PM ET

Japanese dock from tsunami drifts, lands on Oregon beach

Residents near Agate Beach in Oregon were shocked when they saw a 66-foot long dock had washed ashore.

The massive dock was spotted earlier in the week floating offshore, a mile north of Newport, according to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. And upon closer examination it was clear that it wasn't just your ordinary ocean debris. The placard, bearing Japanese writing,  gave them a hint.

A metal placard bearing Japanese writing was found attached to the dock.

Instantly the question was: Is this another giant piece of debris from the tsunami in Japan last year that's made its way to U.S. shores? It certainly wouldn't have been the first time - and likely won't be the last.

Debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan began showing up on western U.S. shores  in recent months.

After some testing and translation officials confirmed that the derelict dock was indeed debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan, the parks department said, citing the Japanese Consulate in Portland.

The parks department said they were able to trace the dock back to Japan after having the local Japanese consulate translate the placard which reveals a company name, location and phone number. Havel added that tires on the dock were determined to have come from a company in Japan. And officials testing plants and wildlife found on the dock learned they were native to Japan.

At first residents were told to stay away from the giant dock, which is 7 feet tall and 19 feet wide.

The dock, made of concrete and metal, posed concerns about whether it might be radioactive at first. Oregon parks spokesman Chris Havel told CNN that officials tested the dock for radiation but the tests were negative.

There have been concerns that tsunami debris from Japan could be contaminated by radiation because of problems at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said that it is unlikely that radioactive material will make landfall in North America.

Read more about other tsunami debris and radiation concerns:

Japanese man claims motorcycle that washed up in Canada

U.S. Coast Guard sinks Japanese boat washed away by tsunami

Japanese boat washed away in tsunami spotted more than a year later

Low levels of Fukushima cesium found in West Coast tuna

- CNN's Linda Hall, Shawn Nottingham and Casey Wian contributed to this report.

Favorite quotes from Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451'
June 6th, 2012
01:36 PM ET

Favorite quotes from Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451'

Ray Bradbury, science fiction author of classics like "Fahrenheit 451," "The Martian Chronicles" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes" died Tuesday night at the age of 91. His books and short stories sparked a devoted fan following over the years.

"Fahrenheit 451," published in 1953, was Bradbury's novel on censorship, and the defiance needed to defeat it. Readers discovered the object of censorship through his protagonist, Guy Montag, who was a fireman with a simple job: Burning books.

Montag never questioned why books or the houses where they were found should be burned, until he met a 17-year-old girl and a professor, who told of a past where people were not afraid and a future where people could think, according to Bradbury's web site.

The story is a favorite of fans, and the quotes remain relevant today.

On Bradbury's site, there was a message board post that asked fans about their favorite quotes from the book, and why.

The post began with a quote from Capt. Beatty, Montag's boss, a man who once loved books, only to turn his back on them.

“Out of the nursery into the college and back to the nursery; there’s your intellectual pattern for the past five centuries of more.” FULL POST

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Filed under: Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury, author of 'Fahrenheit 451,' dead
June 6th, 2012
11:08 AM ET

Ray Bradbury, author of 'Fahrenheit 451,' dead

Ray Bradbury, author of "Fahrenheit 451"  and other science fiction classics, has died, according to a statement from his representative at HarperCollins.

“Yes, Mr. Bradbury died peacefully, last night, in Los Angeles, after a lengthy illness," the statement said.

Bradbury's books, including "The Martian Chronicles" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes,"  and 600 short stories predicted everything from the emergence of ATMs to live broadcasts of fugitive car chases.

iReport: Share your tributes to Bradbury | Bradbury on God, 'monsters and angels'

- CNN's Carolyn Sung contributed to this report.

June 6th, 2012
10:10 AM ET

U.S. helicopter believed shot down in Afghanistan; 2 killed

[Updated at 10:23 a.m. ET] The U.S. believes one of its armed helicopters was shot down over Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing both crew members on board, a U.S. military official said.

"It is likely that the helo today was brought down due to enemy small arms and RPG fire," the official said. The chopper was a U.S. Army OH-58 Kiowa Warrior reconnaissance helicopter. It went down over Ghazni province.

In a statement, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the downing of the helicopter, saying a rocket was used.

"After the rocket hit it, the helicopter came down and took fire," said an e-mail sent by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid.

June 6th, 2012
09:36 AM ET

Did Miss Pennsylvania quit because pageant rigged, or she opposed transgender entries?

Miss Pennsylvania says she has given up her state crown because the Miss USA pageant was fixed, but organizers say an e-mail she sent this week shows she quit because of her disapproval over allowing transgender participants.

"I will relay to you the reasoning behind my resignation. I witnessed another contestant who said she saw the list of the Top 5 BEFORE THE SHOW EVER STARTED proceed to call out in order who the Top 5 were before they were announced on stage," Sheena Monnin wrote on her Facbeook page Tuesday.

"Apparently the morning of June 3rd she saw a folder lying open to a page that said 'FINAL SHOW Telecast, June 3, 2012' and she saw the places for Top 5 already filled in."

Monnin said she waited to see how things would play out.

"After it was indeed the Top 5 I knew the show must be rigged; I decided at that moment to distance myself from an organization who did not allow fair play and whose morals did not match my own," she wrote on Facebook.

But the Miss Universe Organization said that while Monnin did resign following Sunday night's pageant, her description of the events and why she quit is false.

"The Miss Universe Organization can confirm the resignation of the Pennsylvania titleholder after she did not place in the Top 16 at the Miss USA pageant. In an e-mail to state pageant organizers (below), she cited the Miss Universe Organization’s policy regarding transgendered contestants, implemented two months ago, as the reason for her resignation," the organization said in a statement. "Today she has changed her story by publicly making false accusations claiming that the pageant was fixed; however, the contestant she privately sourced as her reference has vehemently refuted her most recent claim.

"We are disappointed that she would attempt to steal the spotlight from Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island on her well-deserved Miss USA win."

According to the e-mail released by the Miss Universe organization, Monnin sent her resignation after 4 p.m. ET Monday before writing on her Facbeook page, saying the organization had strayed by allowing transgender participants in the pageant.


June 6th, 2012
09:03 AM ET

D-Day: Take a moment to remember

It was 68 years ago today that D-Day, one of the most decisive battles, marked the beginning of the end for World War II. On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops swept up the fortified beaches of Normandy, France, helping to defeat the Nazi regime in Europe.

But it was not without great loss. Nearly 10,000 troops were killed or wounded. It is the largest seaborne invasion in history.

The invasion's code name was Operation Overlord, commanded by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. He wanted the troops to land in Normandy because it was west of where the German troops and artillery were gathered.

The invasion was initially planned for June 5, 1944, but rough seas forced a postponement. Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword were used as code names for the landing beaches.

D-Day itself is code, as well: D-Day and H-Hour stand for the secret time/day an operation is scheduled to begin. FULL POST

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Filed under: France • History • Military • U.S. • Veterans
June 6th, 2012
08:33 AM ET

Federal raid targets drug trafficking at Puerto Rico's main airport

Hundreds of federal and state agents were conducting sweeps of Puerto Rico's main airport Wednesday in an anti-drug trafficking operation, officials said.

In addition, there were raids in the commonwealth's capital, San Juan, said Laila Rico, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno told CNN en Español that 42 arrest warrants have been issued, not all of them in Puerto Rico. He said some arrests would be made in the mainland United States.

The raid was taking place at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, just outside San Juan.

Related indictments, expected to be unsealed Wednesday, deal with the use of the main airport and other airports to traffic drugs, Fortuno said.

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Filed under: Drugs • Puerto Rico
Report: Miley Cyrus engaged to 'Hunger Games' star
Miley Cyrus is engaged to her off-and-on boyfriend of three years, "Hunger Games" star Liam Hemsworth, People magazine says.
June 6th, 2012
08:23 AM ET

Report: Miley Cyrus engaged to 'Hunger Games' star

Miley Cyrus is engaged to her off-and-on boyfriend of three years, "Hunger Games" star Liam Hemsworth, People magazine reported Wednesday.

"I'm so happy to be engaged and look forward to a life of happiness with Liam," the 19-year-old Cyrus told People.

The two met when they co-starred in "The Last Song" in 2009, according to the magazine. The broke up the following year, then reunited less than a year later.

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Filed under: Uncategorized
Jury selection to resume in Sandusky trial
Jerry Sandusky arrives at court for jury selection in his upcoming trial.
June 6th, 2012
08:19 AM ET

Jury selection to resume in Sandusky trial

About 100 more potential jurors are expected to show up for questioning Wednesday as attorneys select a jury in the case of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach charged with child rape.

Nine jurors have already been chosen for the panel. The five men and four women include an engineer, a high school teacher, a doctor, a retired Penn State professor, a retired school bus driver and a Penn State student who works part-time for the university's athletic department.

About 220 potential jurors reported for duty Tuesday, after the court whittled the number to about 600 based on answers to questionnaires sent to prospective jurors' homes. Of those, about half were sent home and asked to return Wednesday.

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Filed under: Jerry Sandusky • Penn State
June 6th, 2012
07:39 AM ET

Wednesday's live events

The race to the presidency now turns toward the general election in November. Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.

Today's programming highlights...

10:00 am ET - Federal budget outlook hearing - America has been dealing with high budget deficits for some time.  Will that change?  The director of the Congressional Budget Office testifies on that issue this morning.


Filed under: Elections • On today • Politics
June 6th, 2012
06:22 AM ET

Google warns users of state-sponsored hacking

Google has started warning users when it thinks they may be targets of government-sponsored hackers, the Internet giant announced.

Users whose accounts are compromised get a message at the top of their browser saying: "Warning: We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer."

Google declined to say how it could tell that governments were behind the hacking attempts, or to say which governments it blamed.

"We can't go into the details without giving away information that would be helpful to these bad actors, " Google security engineering vice president Eric Grosse said in a post on the company's website on Tuesday.

"But our detailed analysis - as well as victim reports - strongly suggest the involvement of states or groups that are state-sponsored," he said.

Getting the warning does not mean a user's account has been hacked, the company said, but that Google believes the account has been a target of phishing, malware or other hacking tools.

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Filed under: Google • Technology • U.S. • World
June 6th, 2012
06:19 AM ET

Suicide attacks kill 21 in southern Afghanistan

Suicide bombers struck a busy market in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing at least 21 people and leaving dozens wounded, authorities said.

The bombings injured at least 50 others, said Abdul Razaq, a provincial police chief.

A first bomber on a motorcycle detonated his explosives near a restaurant in a busy market in Kandahar city, according to the police chief. The market is crowded with civilians and truck drivers, most of them transporting NATO supplies.

When residents flooded the area after the first attack, a second bomber blew up his explosives in the crowd, causing more casualties, Razaq said.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • World
June 6th, 2012
03:01 AM ET

Top senators call for hearings after recent leaks of classified information

Top senators are calling for a hearing on the  "continuing leaks of classified information" allegedly from the White House after a recent  media report detailed a U.S. cyber warfare targeting Iran's nuclear facilities.
A report in The New York Times on Friday  provided classified details of the U.S cyber attack.
Since the beginning of his term, President Barack Obama secretly ordered cyber attacks targeting computers that run Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities, the Times reported, attributing the information to the program's participants.
Senators John McCain and Dianne Feinstein, a Republican and a Democrat respectively, discussed the possibility of holding  hearings to address the leak of information.


Filed under: Politics • U.S.