Overheard on CNN.com: Readers want to think about victims, not shooter
Many readers said they want to pay tribute to the victims of the Aurora, Colorado, shooting.
July 23rd, 2012
08:43 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Readers want to think about victims, not shooter

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.

After the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, that left 12 dead and dozens injured, readers are pondering what this incident means to them. Many of them want most to pay tribute to those who lost their lives. If you knew one of the victims, please consider sharing your story at CNN iReport.

Remembering the Colorado shooting victims

Some of our commenters were people who said they knew the victims.

Christa Leary: "Jesse Childress was a wonderful friend and colleague with a wonderful sense of humor and a love for the Broncos that he never let me forget. You were taken from us too soon. We miss you Jesse."

One reader was touched by the life of the youngest one.

Janet J: "My heart is literally in pieces. Words cannot express, words are not enough to describe the pain and agony I am feeling for these victims and their loved ones they've left behind. As hard as it is to not give this evil attention; how do you not? Trying to make sense of something that should not and does not make sense is what we are trying to do. ... Good luck to us. The most important thing is we not forget these beautiful souls. I will read their stories from time to time. We cannot let evil prevail ... we will walk in this darkness toward the light that will shine brightly one day. Veronica, your life was taken much too soon, before you could really get to know this world. You are in a better world now. May God give these families, their friends and the rest of society the strength, courage and faith to be able to see past this tragedy. Console them, console us and show yourself strong."

This person came to know more about one of the victims after her death. FULL POST

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Filed under: Colorado • Crime • Overheard on CNN.com • U.S.
July 23rd, 2012
05:16 PM ET

Mash-up: Penn State, great pilot, dry lake

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.

Harsh penalties for Penn State

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, the NCAA on Monday announced a $60 million fine against Penn State and took 14 seasons of football victories away from the late coach Joe Paterno. The school was also banned from the postseason for four years and will lose 20 football scholarships a year for four seasons.

Ed Ray, chairman of the NCAA's executive committee, said:

The corrective and punitive measures the executive committee and the Division I board of directors have authorized should serve as a stark wake-up call to everyone in college sports.

Air Force pilot shows mad skilz

This was no video game. An Air Force pilot landed a huge cargo plane at a Florida airport whose runway is nowhere near long enough for such a big aircraft. Watch the aviator's impressive work:

[cnn-video url=http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2012/07/23/mxp-big-plane-little-airport.hln]


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Filed under: CNN Daily Mash-up
July 23rd, 2012
05:04 PM ET

Do sanctions alter history books on Penn State and Paterno's legacy?

The NCAA's actions on Monday seem to be about more than just punishing Penn State's future football teams for the school's role in the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

In addition to the fines, bans and other sanctions it handed down that will hurt the storied program for a long time, in some eyes, the NCAA has wiped out almost all of the success of teams under coach Joe Paterno starting the moment he learned about Jerry Sandusky's actions but didn't do anything about it.

"Obviously, the 1998 date was selected because that's when the first reported incidents of abuse occurred and that's when the failure to respond appropriately began," NCAA President Mark Emmert said during a news conference on Monday. "And that was the point of time from which one could make an argument, of course, that the failures began inside the institution, so it seemed to both me and the executive committee that that was the appropriate beginning date."

Emmert's message was clear: The NCAA was choosing to punish a culture of silence, a culture that protected the program above all moral obligations and those responsible for making it that way.

Vacating wins has long been a debate in all sports. And so there is no surprise that the NCAA's ruling on Monday sent the debate over the decision to vacate the wins into a tailspin. But it raised questions about the implications the sanctions will have on past and current players, Paterno's legacy and ultimately Penn State's place among the best football programs.

Some say you can erase the wins, but it is an empty punishment that does nothing to move the university forward and doesn't ultimately change the facts. Others say it is the best way to punish a school: by wiping out a massive chunk of its history.

ESPN analyst and lawyer Jay Bilas told CNN that while the Penn State situation is egregious, the NCAA failed in doling out the penalties to the right people.

He believes the NCAA hammered the institution but failed to really hit those he believes are responsible, including former President Graham Spanier, former Athletic Director Tim Curley, former Interim Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Gary Schultz and Paterno.

“All any of them had to do was communicate (the Sandusky reports) to someone else. And all of them chose to be silent,” he said. “That’s unforgivable and unconscionable. The suggestions or implication that the football culture made them abandon their human decency is kind of offensive. Football didn’t do that; that was done by four individuals in positions of authority that could not be counted upon to do the right.”

And the message sent by the NCAA and Penn State based on the consent decree, Bilas believes, is that the culture of football was at fault, and so that institution should be punished. But Bilas believes that message neglects to get at the really heart of the issue.

“Putting this off on football just glosses over the fact that individuals were at a fault here, and they are not being held to account,” he said.

Bilas said he understood the frustration and anger of current and former Penn State players who say that by punishing the institution, the NCAA was punishing them, too.


NCAA Penn State sanctions: Who pays the price?
Readers react to the NCAA sanctions levied against Penn State University, including stripping wins from coach Joe Paterno.
July 23rd, 2012
02:47 PM ET

NCAA Penn State sanctions: Who pays the price?

The sex abuse scandal that rocked the Penn State University community and football fans across the nation culminated Monday in an unprecedented fine of $60 million levied against the school and severe sanctions for the Division I football program.

NCAA gives Penn State 'stark wake-up call'

The Nittany Lions are banned from the postseason for four years and will lose 20 football scholarships a year for four seasons, NCAA President Mark Emmert said. The NCAA also took away 14 seasons of football victories from the late coach Joe Paterno.

Money raised from fines will be used to start a charity supporting programs that serve the victims of child sexual abuse, Emmert said.

Penn State has accepted the NCAA's decision, and university President Rodney Erickson said it will not appeal.

But CNN.com readers had much to say on the penalties incurred and whether or not justice is being served. You can join the conversation on Facebook, CNN.com or CNN iReport. Here are what some had to say:


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Filed under: Justice • Overheard on CNN.com • Pennsylvania • Sports • U.S. • Uncategorized
Five experts: What happens to Penn State football?
Large crowds and Penn State victories at Beaver Stadium may be a thing of the past, college football experts say.
July 23rd, 2012
01:29 PM ET

Five experts: What happens to Penn State football?

Saying it is "a stark wake-up call to everyone involved in college sports," the NCAA announced a $60 million fine against Penn State University on Monday and took away 14 seasons of football victories from the late Joe Paterno.

The school's football team was also banned from the postseason for four years and will lose 20 football scholarships a year for four seasons, NCAA President Mark Emmert said.

Emmert said the unprecedented fine will be paid over five years to fund programs that serve the victims of child sexual abuse.

The Big Ten Conference also acted Monday, ruling Penn State ineligible for its conference title football game and saying the Nittany Lions' share of bowl revenues for the next four seasons - approximately $13 million - will be donated to charities that "protect children."

So what does that mean for the future of Penn State football? Five experts weigh in:

Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel says a year of the "death penalty," a complete ban on football, would have been preferable to the sanctions Penn State received.

"It could've been abolished for a year, continued mostly business as usual and been back long before these recruiting sanctions will endure," Wetzel writes of Penn State football.

"It's nearly impossible to recruit a great or even good player when he knows he can't participate in the postseason until he is, at best, a senior. Any player worth his scholarship wants to compete for championships. Penn State players can't. So why wouldn't recruits just go to Michigan or Alabama or wherever?"

Dan Levy, national lead writer for the Bleacher Report, calls the sanctions "murder by suicide, college football style."

"Make no mistake: The NCAA sanctions are a death knell for Penn State football," Levy writes.

"The NCAA stepped in to make it virtually impossible for Penn State to field a competitive team this year, next year or any year in the next half decade," Levy says. "If that's not death, what is?"

Fox Sports' Jason Whitlock lines up with Wetzel and Levy.

"The sanctions cripple Penn State football. The four-year bowl ban, four-year scholarship reductions and the freedom granted to current players to transfer immediately without penalty or simply decline to play while maintaining their scholarships will make Penn State the Vanderbilt of the Big Ten," Whitlock writes. (Vanderbilt is a longtime doormat in the powerhouse Southeastern Conference.)


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Filed under: College football • Football • Joe Paterno • Penn State • Sports
July 23rd, 2012
12:11 PM ET

Death penalty decision months away, DA says

Editor's note: The man accused of opening fire in a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, is set to make his first court appearance Monday, giving the public its first look at the suspect since his arrest in an attack that authorities say was planned months in advance. We're live blogging the court appearance, which begins at 11:30 a.m. ET.

[Posted at 12:11 p.m. ET] The district attorney's press conference has concluded.

[Posted at 12:11 p.m. ET] Carol Chambers, Arapahoe County district attorney, on Monday urged anybody who still has information that may be pertinent in the case to contact the police or the district attorney's office.

[Posted at 12:09 p.m. ET] Asked by a reporter if any medication or sedatives had been provided by the jail to Holmes, Chambers said she had no information about it.

[Posted at 12:07 p.m. ET] "It's still a very active and ongoing investigation," Carol Chambers, Arapahoe County district attorney, said Monday.

[Posted at 12:06 p.m. ET] Domestic terrorism charges would not be something state prosecutors would consider in the case, Carol Chambers, Arapahoe County district attorney, said Monday.

[Posted at 12:04 p.m. ET] Victims' families will be consulted before a decision is made on seeking the death penalty for Holmes, Carol Chambers, Arapahoe County district attorney, said. That decision is months away, she said.

[Posted at 12:02 p.m. ET] Carol Chambers, Arapahoe County district attorney, said "there is no such thing as a slam dunk case" and prosecutors would be working hard to prove the charges against James Holmes.

[Posted at 11:45 a.m. ET] Holmes' hair was dyed a bright orange during his court appearance Monday.

[Posted at 11:41 a.m. ET] Holmes' expression has changed little during the court hearing. He has mostly been staring off into space.

[Posted at 11:34 a.m. ET] Formal filing of charges will be Monday, July 30, at 9:30 Colorado time, the judge says.

[Posted at 11:32 a.m. ET] Holmes didn't look at the judge as the hearing started, just down as he was read his rights.

[Posted at 11:31 a.m. ET] James Holmes appears before Judge William B. Sylvester. He is wearing a maroon jumpsuit.

[Posted at 11:27 a.m. ET]  The public information officer for Colorado courts tweets that the district attorney in the James Holmes case will hold a press conference after the hearing.


Big Ten adds to NCAA sanctions
Students at Penn State react to the NCAA announcement of sanctions against their school's football program.
July 23rd, 2012
11:53 AM ET

Big Ten adds to NCAA sanctions

Editor's note: The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced a $60 million fine against Penn State University on Monday and banned its football team from the postseason for four years. The school will also forfeit all football wins from 1998, NCAA President Mark Emmert said. That decision strips the late Joe Paterno of the title of winningest coach in major football college history.

[Updated 10:53 am ET] The Big Ten conference added its own sanctions against member Penn State after the NCAA announced its penalties on Monday.

Penn State will not be allowed to participate in the Big Ten conference title game for the same four years in which it is banned from post season bowl games by the NCAA. Penn State will also not be allowed to share in the conference's bowl revenues for those four years, about a $13 million hit, according to a Big Ten press release. That money will be donated to children's charities, the release said.

[Updated 10:36 am ET] The NCAA sanctions against Penn State include the following restrictions on scholarships it can offer:

"Penn State must also reduce 10 initial and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period."

That means the football program can only offer the equivalent of 15 full scholarships to incoming freshmen or transfer students per year for four years beginning with the 2013-14 academic year and can only offer 65 full scholarships total each year beginning with the 2014-15 academic year. Scholarships may be divided among players as partial scholarships.

Former Penn State player Derek Moye says the vacating of victories ordered by the NCAA can't erase his memories of what he has been a part of:

[tweet https://twitter.com/dmoye6/status/227410096861372416%5D

Former Penn State player A. Q. Shiplet tweets a picture of rings he won at Penn State:

[tweet https://twitter.com/aqshipley/status/227414666773667841%5D

[Updated 10:20 am ET] Former Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark tweets on his reaction to the NCAA sanctions:

[tweet https://twitter.com/CaptainClark17/status/227392203893395456%5D

[Updated 10:03 am ET] A statement from current Penn State head football coach Bill O'Brien on the NCAA sanctions:

"Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as Head Coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the University forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence. I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead.  But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.

I was then and I remain convinced that our student athletes are the best in the country.  I could not be more proud to lead this team and these courageous and humble young men into the upcoming 2012 season. Together we are committed to building a better athletic program and university."

[tweet https://twitter.com/PeteThamelNYT/status/227403294006456320%5D

Do you think the NCAA penalties against Penn State were fair? Share your view with CNN iReport.


July 23rd, 2012
11:28 AM ET

Attacks in Iraq kill at least 76 people, officials say

The death toll from several attacks across Iraq rose Monday to 76, Interior Ministry officials said.

Dozens were wounded.

The deadliest attacks happened in the town of Taji, roughly 20 miles north of Baghdad, where a car bomb and four roadside bombs exploded in a residential complex, killing 32 people and wounding 43, authorities said.

In another attack, at an Iraqi military base north of Baghdad, militants armed with mortars and small arms killed at least 15 soldiers, according to the officials.

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Filed under: Iraq
July 23rd, 2012
07:37 AM ET

Monday's live events

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

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - NCAA announces Penn State sanctions - One day after the Joe Paterno statue was removed outside Beaver Stadium, the NCAA will reveal "significant, unprecedented" penalties against Penn State University over the Jerry Sandusky scandal.


Filed under: College football • Football • Jerry Sandusky • Joe Paterno • On CNN.com today • Penn State • Politics
New report criticizes TEPCO over Fukushima nuclear crisis
A TEPCO worker explains the situation at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, February 28, 2012.
July 23rd, 2012
04:16 AM ET

New report criticizes TEPCO over Fukushima nuclear crisis

A Japanese government report Monday heaped fresh criticism on the operator of the nuclear power plant where a disastrous accident was set off last year by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the country.

The measures taken by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the plant operator, and the Japanese nuclear regulator to prepare for disasters were "insufficient," the report by a government-formed panel of investigators said, and the response to the crisis was "inadequate."

The crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant spewed radiation and displaced tens of thousands of residents from the surrounding area in the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.

Even now, more than one year after the disaster began, TEPCO doesn't seem to be making much effort to clearly investigate the causes of the accident at the plant, the 10-member panel, led by Tokyo University engineering professor Yotaro Hatamura, said in the report Monday.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Earthquake • Energy • Japan • Natural Disasters • Nuclear • Tsunami
11 die when packed pickup truck crashes in Texas
The truck crashed on Interstate 59 near Goliad.
July 23rd, 2012
04:06 AM ET

11 die when packed pickup truck crashes in Texas

A Ford pickup truck crammed with nearly two dozen people crashed in southeastern Texas Sunday evening, killing at least 11 people and injuring 12 others.

At least six of the victims were airlifted to hospitals in San Antonio and Corpus Cristi, said Trooper Gerald Bryant of the Texas Highway Patrol. Their conditions were not immediately available.

The F-250 was headed north on U.S. Highway 59 when it left the road near the unicorporated town of Goliad - about 90 miles southeast of San Antonio - and rammed into two large trees, he said. The victims were both men and woman and ranged in age from children to adults.

Bryant said the weather was dry and clear at the time of the crash and there was no evidence of alcohol at the scene. No other vehicles were involved in the accident, he said.

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Filed under: U.S.
July 23rd, 2012
04:06 AM ET

South Sudan runner is an Olympian without a country

Even though he will not compete in the London Olympics under his country's flag, South Sudan native Guor Marial basks with pride as the first athlete from the world's youngest nation in the global arena.

The marathon runner was born in what is now South Sudan, which split  from Sudan last year and does not yet have a national Olympic body.  He is a permanent resident of the United States,  where he fled 11 years ago to escape the bloody conflict between the two neighbors that left millions dead.

The 28-year-old does not hold U.S. citizenship, and rejected an offer to run under Sudan's flag following the nation's bitter divorce with his homeland.

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Filed under: Sports • U.S. • Uncategorized • World
Attack on Iraqi base leaves at least 15 soldiers dead, officials say
Iraqi police and pedestrians look at the shell of a car, one of a series of car bombs targeting army and police patrols.
July 23rd, 2012
04:06 AM ET

Attack on Iraqi base leaves at least 15 soldiers dead, officials say

Gunmen attacked an Iraqi military base north of Baghdad early Monday, killing at least 15 soldiers, officials from the Ministry of Interior said.

The attackers used mortar rounds and small arms to target the base in the town of Dhuluiya, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Baghdad, the officials said.

At least three people were wounded in the attack in the predominantly Sunni community, the officials said.

While overall attacks have dropped off in Iraq since the height of violence in 2006, insurgents have routinely targeted Iraqi security forces.

In a separate attack Monday, a series of bombings targeted a residential area in Taji, on the northern outskirts of the Iraqi capital, killing at least seven people and wounding 28, the officials said.

The blasts included a car bomb and three roadside bombs, they said.

In western Baghdad, a roadside bomb wounded three people, the officials said.

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Filed under: Iraq • World
The Jackson strife: Family bickers over whereabouts of Michael's mom
July 23rd, 2012
04:05 AM ET

The Jackson strife: Family bickers over whereabouts of Michael's mom

Katherine Jackson, reported missing Saturday by her nephew, told a law enforcement officer in Arizona Sunday that she was "fine," a source close to the investigation said.

But Michael Jackson's three children still have not heard from their grandmother a week after she left the Calabasas, California, home where she lives with them, according to Katherine Jackson's lawyer.

The lack of contact with the Jackson family matriarch led her nephew Trent Jackson to file a missing person's report with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department late Saturday, Jackson attorney Sandra Ribera said.

It is the latest chapter in a messy dispute between several of Jackson's children and her advisers over her finances and legal affairs.

Jermaine Jackson, in a statement posted on Twitter Sunday night, said the children were not "being 'blocked' from speaking with Mother," who he said "is safe and well in Arizona with her daughter and our sister, Rebbie, resting up on doctor's advice."

"She is merely an 82-year-old woman following doctor's orders to rest-up and de-stress, away from phones and computers," he tweeted.

His statement did not explain why Paris Jackson, the 14-year-old daughter of Michael Jackson, was rebuffed in several attempts to reach her grandmother on the phone. That led Paris to post messages on Twitter early Sunday pleading for help in finding her.

"yes, my grandmother is missing," Paris tweeted. "i haven't spoken with her in a week i want her home now."

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Filed under: Michael Jackson • U.S. • World
July 23rd, 2012
02:03 AM ET

Drew Peterson goes on trial in 3rd wife's death; 4th wife still missing

Jury selection begins Monday in the murder trialof former Chicago-area police officer Drew Peterson, who is accused of killing his third wife and is the leading suspect in the disappearance of his fourth.

Opening statements are scheduled for next week. Peterson's defense attorney Joel Brodsky told CNN's sister network In Session that he expects the trial to last about a month.

Peterson, 58, is charged in the 2004 death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. He also remains under investigation in the October 2007 disappearance of fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.

In April, an Illinois appellate court ruled that prosecutors can use potentially incriminating statements made by Savio and Peterson's still-missing wife against him - a key development in the case.

The ruling overturned an earlier judge's decision that forbid prosecutors from using eight statements made by Savio before her death and by Stacy Peterson before her disappearance.


Filed under: Crime • U.S.