July 18th, 2012
05:47 PM ET

Mash-up: Terror, lightning, Mandela

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

Israel vows 'to settle the account'

A deadly explosion on a bus carrying Israeli tourists at an airport in Bulgaria is "clearly a terrorist attack," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday.

We are in a continued fight against them. We are determined to identify who sent them, who executed and to settle the account.

6-year-old photographer snaps nice shots

Yes, this photo was taken by a 6-year-old girl.

CNN iReporter Michael Butler shares a series of photos that his 6-year-old granddaughter, Rian Grace, took from her outing to the San Antonio Zoo with his wife. "I have a budding nature photographer on my hands. My little granddaughter saw my wife taking photos and asked if she could also," he says. "She took over 400 pics, but these were her best shots. She is only 6 years old and already has a pretty good eye."

Third time's a charm?

Bob Edwards gets hit by lightning for the third time - and lives to tell about it, CNN affiliate WSOC reports.


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Filed under: CNN Daily Mash-up
Michael Johnson bucks courts findings, says 'friend' Pistorius shouldn't compete in London
South Africa's Oscar Pistorius has qualifed to run the individual 400 meter and the 4x400-meter relay in London.
July 18th, 2012
05:19 PM ET

Michael Johnson bucks courts findings, says 'friend' Pistorius shouldn't compete in London

With pals like Michael Johnson, does Oscar Pistorius need enemies?

Johnson, the former U.S. Olympic speed demon who now provides commentary for BBC, appears to be making a smooth transition from his days as Nike's "world's fastest man" to world's biggest mouth this summer.

Coming on the heels of curious statements about the descendants of slaves being athletically superior, Johnson is now saying it's "unfair" if Oscar Pistorius, aka Blade Runner, competes against able-bodied runners when it's not clear whether he has an advantage, according to the Telegraph in London.

The South African runner and his carbon fiber prosthetics are slated to compete in the individual 400 as well as the 4×400 relay in this summer's London Games.

"I consider Oscar a friend of mine, but he knows I am against him running because this is not about Oscar. It’s not about him as an individual; it is about the rules you will make and put in place for the sport which will apply to anyone, and not just Oscar," said Johnson, who holds the world record in the 400 and is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the event.

The statement is in direct contention with scientists - and not just any scientists, but ones who actually monitored Pistorius as he ran the 400.


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Filed under: Olympics • Running • Sports • U.S. • United Kingdom
Overheard on CNN.com: Coal mining families aren't only ones facing shifts in industry
Amanda Sedgmer, with her kids in Hopedale, Ohio, worries about the survival of the coal industry and her family's way of life.
July 18th, 2012
04:16 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Coal mining families aren't only ones facing shifts in industry

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.

Two teams of producers are traversing the country as part of CNN Radio and CNN iReport's Embed America project. They're talking to voters about how the 2012 presidential election affects them, and focusing on issues identified during phase 1 of the iReport debate.

CNN visited Hopedale, Ohio, to meet iReporter Amanda Sedgmer. She's the mother of five children and the wife and daughter of a coal miner. Sedgmer told CNN she feared that if President Obama was re-elected, her family's way of life would be threatened. At the same time, competition from natural gas and a new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency are contributing to the demise of some coal plants. The resulting story garnered thousands of comments. One topic the readers discussed was how other fields have changed due to circumstances. Some offered messages of hope for Hopedale.

The war over coal is personal

The decline of auto manufacturing jobs in the Midwest left this reader out in the cold, and she offered advice to Sedgmer.

Jakes_momma: "Ms. Sedgmer, please don't blame the POTUS for the decline in coal production. The energy industry is changing. Coal was once king, now it's natural gas. That's not the government, that's industry moving on. If you and your husband are smart, you'll make a change quickly and leave the area, as much as it saddens me to tell you that. I've had to leave my childhood home of central Indiana when the auto industry shut plant after plant after plant in the city we lived in during the '80s. There are no longer good paying production jobs of any quantity in that area. We didn't wait until the last plant closed to leave, we sold our home and moved on. We would have loved to have had a GM job like our dads but it was not in our control. You may be voting for Romney but you would be wise to keep the Obama 2012 slogan in mind - 'Forward.' What is really in the future of the coal industry regardless of who is president is more closures. I think they have fracking in Ohio; that's the future (at least short-term). Good luck to you, your family and your area! It's hard and very sad to watch an industry change, even if it's better for all."

Some said readers should try to be understanding of the family.

Andrea Dawn Bignall: "If you were in their situation, you would probably do the same. They have kids to think about, and jobs are harder to come by nowadays. Yeah, its bad for the environment, but so is driving you car back and forth to work everyday. Put yourself in someone else's shoes."

One commenter asked if the family is lucky, in a strange way. FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Energy • Environment • Overheard on CNN.com • Politics
July 18th, 2012
12:40 PM ET

Penn State: Paterno statue decision due in days

A decision will be made on the future status of the embattled statue of former head football coach Joe Paterno "within seven to 10 days," Penn State spokesman David La Torre told CNN on Wednesday.

A small plane flew around the Penn State campus on Tuesday carrying a banner that read, "Take the Statue Down or We Will," a reference to the statue of Paterno outside Beaver Stadium.

The statue is among many vestiges left from Paterno's 46 years as head coach of the Nittany Lions, a run that ended in disgrace in November when he was fired in the wake of a sex abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

"I'm a Penn State employee that thinks we have failed miserably, and I'm sad for the damage that has been done, but this is just upsetting," Diane Farley, a PSU alumnus who spotted the plane on Tuesday told the Patriot-News of Harrisburg. "It's just stirring up everything."

Many people are calling for the Paterno statue to be torn down.


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Filed under: College football • Crime • Football • Jerry Sandusky • Joe Paterno • Justice • Penn State • Pennsylvania • Sports
July 18th, 2012
12:29 PM ET

USDA says 39 more counties are drought disaster areas

The USDA has designated 39 additional counties in eight states as primary natural disaster areas due to damage and losses caused by drought and excessive heat, CNN's Brianna Keilar reports.

During the 2012 crop year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 1,297 counties across 29 states as disaster areas, making all qualified farm operators in the areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans.

Worst drought since '50s may cost us all

The U.S. is facing the largest drought since the 1950s, the National Climatic Data Center reported Monday, saying that about 55% of the country was in at least moderate short-term drought in June for the first time since December 1956, when 58% of the country was in a moderate to extreme drought.

The hot, dry weather in June, which ranked as the third-driest month nationally in at least 118 years, according to the center, made the problem worse.

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Filed under: U.S.
Official: Six dead, 30 injured in explosion on Israeli tourist bus
Smoke rises over Bulgaria's Burgas Airport on Wednesday after an explosion on a bus carrying Israeli tourists.
July 18th, 2012
11:45 AM ET

Official: Six dead, 30 injured in explosion on Israeli tourist bus

[Updated at 2:24 p.m. ET] Six people were killed and 30 injured in an explosion on a bus carrying Israeli tourists at a Bulgarian airport, Vania Valkova, director of the Bulgarian interior ministry press office, said Wednesday.

She said Bulgaria's interior minister was considering all scenarios, including a terror attack.

[Posted at 11:45 a.m. ET] At least three people were killed in an explosion on a bus outside Burgas airport in Bulgaria, an interior ministry spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The Israeli foreign ministry said that the explosion occurred on a bus carrying Israeli tourists from the airport on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast and that there were a number of casualties.

It is not clear whether the explosion was the result of an attack, the foreign ministry said.

Vania Valkova, director of the Bulgarian interior ministry press office, was not able to confirm the nationalities of those killed.

The tourists' plane landed in Bulgaria at 5 p.m., the Israeli foreign ministry said. Valkova said the bus was in the parking zone when the blast occurred.

Israel's Channel 10 station reported that there had been a combined attack of gunfire and explosives outside Burgas airport.

Guy Ailer of Israel, who said he was on a nearby bus, told Channel 10 he saw bodies and injured people at the scene after the explosion.

- CNN's Stephanie Halasz and Jennifer Deaton contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Bulgaria • Israel
July 18th, 2012
10:48 AM ET

Planted explosive kills key members of Syrian president's inner circle, rebel leader says

[Updated at 11:25 a.m. ET] The U.S. government announced Wednesday a new round of sanctions against members of the Syrian government.

[Updated at 10:48 a.m. ET]  Syrian Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar was also killed in today's explosion during a meeting of ministers and security officials in Damascus, according to Syrian-run media. That brings the death toll in the attack to four key members of President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle.

[Updated at 10:01 a.m. ET] The Free Syrian Army says today's deadly blast targeting a meeting of ministers and security officials was a planted bomb and not a suicide attack as previously reported on Syrian-run media.

"It was an explosive device planted inside the meeting room and triggered with a remote control,"  the deputy head of the opposition Free Syrian Army, Col. Malek al-Kurdi, told CNN.

[Updated at 9:39 a.m. ET]  Hasan Turkmani, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's security advisor, was among those killed in the Damascus blast Wednesday, according to state television. Turkmani was Syria's former defense minister.

[Updated at 9:25 a.m. ET] The attack, during a meeting of ministers and security officials, was coordinated by several rebel brigades in Damascus, the deputy head of the opposition Free Syrian Army, Col. Malek al-Kurdi, told CNN.

The colonel told CNN that there is an "extensive" gun battle going on between defected officers, with the help of the Free Syrian Army against Assad's Republican guard and elite forces.

"We may see a breakthrough sooner than we expected," he said.

The most senior Syrian diplomatic defector Nawaf Al Fares, who was recently Syria's Ambassador to Iraq, told CNN he believed the attack was extremely significant.

"I think what happened today is a big and important operation that hit the heart of the regime. I believe the regime will escalate against the Syrian people, but at the same time it started getting weaker and weaker," he said. "The ability of the rebels to reach to this place in this way is a great achievement."

The attack represents "a massive psychological blow to the regime" and will accelerate al-Assad's "demise," said Anthony Skinner, an analyst with the think tank Maplecroft.

It could suggest that, after a 16-month relentless uprising, "the regime itself is crumbling," said Rime Allaf, an analyst with Chatham House.

Events on the ground in Syria show "a real escalation in fighting," said U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

It "tells us that this is a situation that is rapidly spinning out of control, and for that reason it's extremely important that the international community, working with other countries that have concerns in that area, have to bring maximum pressure on Assad to do what's right, and to step down and to allow for that peaceful transition. "

[Posted at 8:43 a.m. ET] Syria's defense minister and deputy defense minister were killed Wednesday in a blast at a national security building in Damascus, state media reported.

The attack brings the bloodshed in Syria well into President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle and could mark a pivotal point in the 16-month uprising.

Getting to know Syria's first family

 Defense Minister Dawood Rajiha and Deputy Minister Assef Shawkat - who is al-Assad's brother-in-law - were killed in the explosion during a meeting of ministers and security officials, state TV reported.

Next for Syria: Showdown or stalemate? | How the horror has unfolded

They are the highest-ranking Syrian officials killed in the uprising.

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Filed under: Syria
Massive ice island breaks off Greenland glacier
The 59-square-mile ice island that broke off Greenland's Petermann Glacier can be seen at the northern end of the glacier.
July 18th, 2012
06:44 AM ET

Massive ice island breaks off Greenland glacier

The Petermann Glacier before the ice island broke off this week.

An island of ice twice the size of Manhattan broke off this week from a Greenland glacier, a University of Delaware researcher reports.

The 59-square-mile (150 square kilometers) iceberg is the second massive loss for the Petermann Glacier in two years, researcher Andreas Muenchow reports. In 2010, an ice island four times the size of Manhattan was lost from the glacier.

‚ÄúWhile the size is not as spectacular as it was in 2010, the fact that it follows so closely to the 2010 event brings the glacier‚Äôs terminus to a location where it has not been for at least 150 years,‚ÄĚ Muenchow says in a university press release.

The researcher says its too early to blame global warming for the loss of Greenland ice, however.

‚ÄúNorthwest Greenland and northeast Canada are warming more than five times faster than the rest of the world,‚ÄĚ Muenchow says in the press release, ‚Äúbut the observed warming is not proof that the diminishing ice shelf is caused by this, because air temperatures have little effect on this glacier; ocean temperatures do, and our ocean temperature time series are only five to eight years long ‚ÄĒ too short to establish a robust warming signal.‚ÄĚ

Muenchow says the massive chunk of ice is expected to eventually enter the Nares Strait between Greenland and Canada, where it will break up into smaller icebergs.

That could take a while. Pieces of the 2010 calving can still be found along the Canadian coast as far south as Labrador, Muenchow said.

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Filed under: Science
July 18th, 2012
06:40 AM ET

Nazi war crimes suspect arrested in Hungary

An elderly man suspected of Nazi war crimes has been arrested in Hungary, prosecutors said Wednesday, after a worldwide Jewish rights organization discovered him living in Budapest.

Ladislaus Csizsik-Csatary is accused of sending more than 15,000 Jews to the Auschwitz concentration camp in the spring of 1944, the he Simon Wiesenthal Center said.

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Filed under: Hungary
July 18th, 2012
03:49 AM ET

Public service marks Mandela's birthday

South Africans celebrated Nelson Mandela's 94th birthday Wednesday by participating in good deeds nationwide to honor the legacy of the famous statesman.

The frail icon has not appeared in public for years, but he is celebrated worldwide on his birthday for his role in reconciling a country torn apart by apartheid.

In South Africa, citizens perform at least 67 minutes of public service on his birthday, a reference to the number of years he devoted to helping others.

In Mandela's childhood village of Qunu, festivities started early.

On the eve of his birthday Tuesday, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea, visited Mandela in the small southeastern village where he grew up and spends most of his time.

Clinton, whose presidential term coincided with Mandela's, hailed him as a "wonderful friend" and planted a tree in his honor during the visit.


Filed under: World
Blast kills 11 in northwestern Pakistan, official says
July 18th, 2012
02:59 AM ET

Blast kills 11 in northwestern Pakistan, official says

An improvised explosive device detonated in a village near the northern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Wednesday, killing 11 people traveling in a passenger van, a local government official said.

The van was traveling between two towns in the restive Federally Administered Tribal Areas of northwestern Pakistan when it hit the device, said Zakir Hussain, the commissioner of Kohat Division.

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Filed under: Pakistan
July 18th, 2012
01:31 AM ET

Kim Jong Un named marshal of North Korean army

North Korea said Wednesday that it had given the title of marshal of the army to its young leader, Kim Jong Un, the latest in a string of recent moves to reconfigure the top ranks of the military.

Kim, who is already referred to as "supreme commander" of the Korean People's Army, has been awarded the title of marshal by the reclusive regime's most powerful political and military bodies, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

The announcement follows the removal of the army chief, Ri Yong Ho, from all his government posts on Sunday, a decision KCNA said had been motivated by his "illness." A day later, North Korea promoted a little known general to the rank of vice marshal.


Filed under: Uncategorized