NCAA clarifies transfer rules for Penn State football players
A player exodus is widely expected in the wake of harsh sanctions against Penn State.
July 24th, 2012
09:31 PM ET

NCAA clarifies transfer rules for Penn State football players

The NCAA on Tuesday spelled out how it is relaxing some rules to allow Penn State football players to transfer to other schools after the governing body of college athletics announced unprecedented sanctions Monday.

The Penn State football program, one of the top programs in the NCAA's major-school division, may be crippled by the sanctions announced Monday in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal and subsequent cover-up. The program is losing 20 scholarships a year and cannot play in postseason bowl games for the next four years, which is expected to drive many of its best athletes to other schools.

"The NCAA recognizes that current football student athletes will be negatively impacted by the Penn State sanctions," said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs. "We want to allow those eligible student athletes as much flexibility as possible while still being mindful of some of the transfer safeguards our membership has put in place." FULL POST

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Filed under: College football • Jerry Sandusky • Penn State • Sports
Overheard on  So long, Sherman; thanks for the laughs
Sherman Hemsley, who played combative, high-energy entreprener George Jefferson, died Tuesday.
July 24th, 2012
08:30 PM ET

Overheard on So long, Sherman; thanks for the laughs

Funnyman Sherman Hemsley died Tuesday at 74. The comedian, best known for his role as George Jefferson on classic TV shows "All in the Family" and its spinoff,  "The Jeffersons," leaves behind a legacy of laughs that has CNN's audience reminiscing about a different age of television and saying thanks for all the smiles.

A true entertainer

Carolae:  What a loss for the entertainment industry. George and "Weezie" were great together on "The Jeffersons." It was one of those shows that made you feel good when you weren't. You couldn't help but love him .. especially his walk and his craziness! Am hoping that TV Land channel or another channel will run "The Jeffersons" for a week. ... My condolences to his family.

SandraC:  He wasn't just an actor, but a professional singer. He even released a single "Ain't That a Kick in the Head"

R.I.P. Mr. Sherman, thank you for everything.

TV's golden age

puppetmaster: Mr. Hemsley will be missed dearly - I used to watch him and Weezy all the time as a kid. I guess I will have to watch some reruns to pay tribute the "Man,"  "The Legend," "George Jefferson." I loved that show ...  Prayers for his family and friends ...


July 24th, 2012
08:20 PM ET

Overheard on One-eyed Olympics mascots 'creepy,' but giant mouse OK?

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.

The run-up to the London Olympics has had its share of moments by far, but one of the most unusual things about 2012 is the pair of one-eyed um, creatures, known as Wenlock and Mandeville. As the story goes, they were created out of magical droplets of steel left over from the Olympic Stadium. presented a quiz of other odd or controversial mascots throughout the years, but readers had plenty of interesting ways of describing the monocular duo.

Olympic mascots: Cute or creepy?

Too sci-fi for the Olympiad?

Wastrel Way: "If these things had been in a '50's horror movie it would now be considered a classic."

Oh, snap.

tradster: "Creepy mascots and that Olympic tower is an eyesore. Leave it to British to make the Olympics a platform for their eccentricity. I say draw in two eyes and call that one eye a nose, and voila, you've got Snoopy."

But talking rodents are another thing altogether.

nonamevot3r: "Not Creepy, unusual, and why is a six-foot talking rat (Mickey Mouse) not creepy? It was a nice idea to anthropomorphize something other than an animal for a change; two blobs of steel left over from the building of the stadium trying to join up with their friends at the stadium seems to be a very sensible idea. We were promised a number of short films of their travels around the country to get to Stratford in time for the Olympics; it is shame that these don't seem to have made it onto the TV apart from in a negative sense. Go Wenlock, go Manderville."

If you're going to be in London, be sure to share the sights and sounds of the Olympics on CNN iReport. But these folks say they can't bear to watch the games unfold. FULL POST

July 24th, 2012
08:13 PM ET

New Yorkers debate ban on giant sodas at public hearing

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to ban the sale of large, sugary drinks was heavily debated at a public hearing Tuesday at the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Long Island City, Queens.

The mayor, while not present, has been at the heart of the debate since May, when he announced he wanted to ban the sale of any sugary, nondairy beverage greater than 16 ounces at New York City restaurants, delis, movie theaters and street carts. The ban would not apply to grocery or convenience stores.

The proposal has people fizzing over the idea that the mayor wants to control their freedom of choice. Bloomberg says the ban is part of a long-standing effort to fight obesity.

According to the Health Department, more than half of New York City adults are overweight, and more than 20% of the city's children (in grades K-8) are obese.

The department argues that sugary beverages go hand-in-hand with obesity. Sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest source of sugar in the average American's diet, with nearly 43% of added sugar intake, the department says.

A 20-ounce sugary soft drink contains the equivalent of 16 packets of sugar, according to the Health Department.

"What this proposal is about at its core is the health of New Yorkers," New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, who supports the ban, said Tuesday. FULL POST

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Filed under: Food • Health • New York
'Jeffersons' star Sherman Hemsley dies at 74
Sherman Hemsley pictured with Isabel Sanford, who played his wife on the TV comedy series "The Jeffersons."
July 24th, 2012
06:37 PM ET

'Jeffersons' star Sherman Hemsley dies at 74

Sherman Hemsley, who played the brash George Jefferson on "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons," died Tuesday at age 74, his booking agent said.

Hemsley played Jefferson, a wisecracking owner of a dry cleaner on "All In the Family" from 1973 until 1975, when the spinoff "The Jeffersons" began an 11-season run.

Hemsley also played Deacon Ernest Frye in the sitcom "Amen."

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Filed under: Celebrity • Showbiz
July 24th, 2012
04:53 PM ET

Mash-up: Beckham bombs, naughty tags

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.

That's a big haboob

CNN iReporter Jessica Backofen says she looked up and saw a huge brown cloud rolling in over the mountains near Phoenix and captured photos of the dust storm from her car. "The winds were gusting pretty hard, so I made sure to park in a lot away from any tall trees," she said. "It was like a scene from 'The Mummy' or 'Hidalgo,' with the giant sandstorms in the deserts of the Middle East. Within 10 minutes, my position was enveloped in the cloud. The sun was almost completely blocked out, which is quite a feat in the desert. It was very intense!"

She hitched her dreams to Sally Ride's rocket

CNN iReporter Cynthia Falardeau, a 47-year-old nonprofit executive director and professional fundraiser in Vero Beach, Florida, said the late astronaut Sally Ride inspired her to follow dreams big enough to fail.

"Sally Ride is an icon to me and to all American women to dream. She was a pioneer to encourage small-town girls to think big. Most of all she got me to wonder how I fit into the world and what I had to contribute."

Follow the link to read Falardeau's entire essay.

David Beckham photobombs fans

Admit it. You'd react the same way. At least if you were a young British soccer fan. Or a woman. FULL POST

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Filed under: CNN Daily Mash-up
President of Ghana dies
John Evans Atta Mills
July 24th, 2012
01:06 PM ET

President of Ghana dies

The president of the West African nation of Ghana, John Evans Atta Mills, has died, the president's chief of staff said in a statement Tuesday.

He died at a military hospital Tuesday afternoon, the statement said.

Mills was a former law professor and served as Ghana's vice president from 1997 to 2000. He ran for president unsuccessfully in 2000 and 2004 before winning the election in 2009.

U.S. President Barack Obama met with Mills when he visited Ghana in July 2009. Obama praised Ghana as a model for democracy and stability when Mills visited Washington this year.

"Ghana has become a wonderful success story economically on the continent," Obama said. "In part because of the initiatives of President Mills, you've seen high growth rates over the last several years. Food productivity and food security is up. There's been strong foreign investment."

Part of a former British colony, Ghana was among the first African countries to gain its independence, in 1957. It endured a series of coups before a military dictator, Jerry Rawlings, took power in 1981. Rawlings led Ghana through the transition to democracy about 10 years later.

Share your memories with CNN iReport.

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Filed under: Ghana
July 24th, 2012
11:26 AM ET

Henson, Huckabee take sides in Chick-fil-A same-sex marriage controversy

[Updated at 6:36 p.m. ET] The comments about same-sex marriage made by Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy a week ago continue to generate controversy this week, with politicians and fantasy creatures, well at least their handlers, weighing in.

"Guilty as charged," Cathy was quoted as saying in the Baptist Press last week when asked about his company's support of the traditional family unit as opposed to same-sex marriage.

"We are very much supportive of the family - the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business," Cathy was quoted as saying.

That stance didn't go over well with the Jim Henson Co., whose Jim Henson's Creature Shop toys have been served up in Chick-fil-A's meals for kids. Jim Henson Co. is named after the creator of the Muppets, though the company transferred the Muppets' rights and ownership to the Walt Disney Co. in 2003, according to Jim Henson Co.

"The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors," the company said in a posting on its Facebook page.

"Lisa Henson, our CEO, is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-fil-A to GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation)," the Henson Co.'s posting said.

The posting, which is dated Friday, had drawn more than 10,000 likes and 2,000 comments as of Tuesday morning.


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Filed under: Fast Food • Gay and lesbian • Religion • Showbiz
Former Penn State president: I was abused as kid, wouldn't ignore Sandusky allegations
Graham Spanier was fired from his position as president of Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
July 24th, 2012
10:00 AM ET

Former Penn State president: I was abused as kid, wouldn't ignore Sandusky allegations

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier said he would never have ignored accusations of child sex abuse on campus because, among other things, he "personally experienced massive and persistent abuse as a child," according to a letter he sent to the school's board of trustees.

"It is unfathomable and illogical to think that a respected family sociologist and family therapist, someone who personally experienced massive and persistent abuse as a child, someone who devoted a significant portion of his career to the welfare of children and youth... would have knowingly turned a blind eye to any report of child abuse or predatory sexual acts directed at children," Spanier said in the letter - which was dated Sunday and obtained by CNN Tuesday.

While Spanier has not been criminally charged in the case, an investigation by ex-FBI chief Louis Freeh concluded that he helped university officials conceal allegations of sexual abuse against the former assistant football coach.

Spanier disputes these findings in his letter, saying "at no time during my presidency did anyone ever report to me that Jerry Sandusky was observed abusing a child or youth or engaged in a sexual act with a child or youth."

Sandusky was convicted in June of sexually abusing young boys over a 15-year period.

More on the Penn State scandal:

Paterno loyalists: Sanctions excessive

Ex-Penn State pres: I was abused

History books, Paterno's legacy altered?

Penalties won't be school's final payout

Opinion: Will players stick around?

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Filed under: Jerry Sandusky • Penn State
July 24th, 2012
09:41 AM ET

Inside Syria: A Syrian town's 'Street of Death'

Editor's note: CNN's Ivan Watson and crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access on foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry. Check out more from CNN inside Syria.

Atareb, Syria (CNN) - After months of fighting, the regime's men finally abandoned this strategic crossroads.

President Bashar al Assad's troops left behind a bullet-riddled ghost town patrolled by rebels and a handful of shell-shocked residents.

Fighters had renamed the stretch of the Bab el Hawa highway, which ran through the center of town, the "Street of Death." Until recently, they said anyone who dared set foot on it became a target.

A mini-graveyard of burned-out armored personnel carriers sat next to the main municipal building, which served as a base for government soldiers. Several weeks after rebels captured the town, the building's walls were still decorated with pro-regime graffiti proclaiming frightening ultimatums: "Either Bashar or we'll burn this city" and "Bashar or nothing."

"This used to be a very classy area. ... The Turks would come here to see our village," said a fighter named Abdullah Behri, who was treated in a hospital in nearby Turkey after losing his left eye to shrapnel during a battle here last May.

"Now it has all turned to hell," he said, pointing at the town's deserted streets.

Ochocinco becomes Johnson again
Chad Johnson and Evelyn Lozada, shown here in February 2011, have an upcoming reality show on VH1.
July 24th, 2012
08:33 AM ET

Ochocinco becomes Johnson again

Ochocinco is a fine last name for a bachelor but apparently not a married man, so the Miami Dolphins wide receiver who had legally changed his name to match his uniform number is back to Johnson again.

"Ocho-cinco" represents Johnson's number, 85, in Spanish.

"Chad Ochocinco has officially changed his name back to Chad Johnson," says a posting on Johnson's website,

Johnson made the name change official at the Broward County Courthouse in Florida on Monday, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.


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Filed under: Celebrity • Football • Pro football • Sports
July 24th, 2012
08:22 AM ET

Former Cameron aide, Murdoch ally charged with phone hacking

British prosecutors said Tuesday they will charge eight journalists with illegally eavesdropping on voice mail, including a former aide to British Prime Minister David Cameron and a close confidant of media baron Rupert Murdoch.

Cameron's former director of communications Andy Coulson is among eight journalists facing charges, as is Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Murdoch's News International.

The names of the suspected hacking victims announced by the Crown Prosecution Service include some of the world's biggest celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Paul McCartney, soccer star Wayne Rooney and actor Jude Law.

Coulson and Brooks are former editors of the defunct Murdoch tabloid the News of the World, which was shut down last year in the face of public outrage at the hacking scandal.

Brooks, who will be charged with conspiracy to intercept voice mails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, vigorously denied the charges, saying she was "distressed and angry."

July 24th, 2012
07:51 AM ET

Tuesday'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...

8:40 am ET - International AIDS Conference - Doctors, experts and activists gather in Washington for the International AIDS Conference, the first to be held in the U.S. in more than two decades.


Filed under: AIDS • Elections • Health • On today • Politics
UK to deploy 1,200 more troops for Olympic security
Military personnel were called in to beef up security for the Olympics.
July 24th, 2012
07:04 AM ET

UK to deploy 1,200 more troops for Olympic security

The British government will deploy an extra 1,200 troops for Olympics security, Sports Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced Tuesday, on top of 3,500 already called up specially this month after security contractor G4S said it would not be able to supply the number of guards it promised.

The Games begin on Friday.

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Filed under: Olympics • United Kingdom
Earhart searches find no obvious signs of her plane
Amelia Earhart with her navigator, Capt. Fred Noonan, before their fateful flight in which they disappeared.
July 24th, 2012
05:53 AM ET

Earhart searches find no obvious signs of her plane

A team of searchers looking for proof that Amelia Earhart crashed on a remote Pacific atoll 75 years ago were on their way back to Hawaii Tuesday without any concrete evidence to prove the aviation pioneer crashed on Nikumaroro.

"Big pieces of airplane wreckage were not immediately apparent," the group behind the search, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, said on its website.

"As is usually the case with field work, we’re coming home with more questions than answers. We are, of course, disappointed that we did not make a dramatic and conclusive discovery, but we are undaunted in our commitment to keep searching out and assembling the pieces of the Earhart puzzle," the website said.

The TIGHAR group left Honolulu on July 3 on its ninth effort to search for wreckage of the Lockheed Electra that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were flying when they disappeared on an around-the-world flight in 1937.


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Filed under: Aviation • History • U.S. • World
July 24th, 2012
03:20 AM ET

Official: Trap in Colorado suspect's home had 30 homemade grenades, gasoline

The suspect in last week's deadly shooting rampage at a crowded Colorado movie theater boobytrapped his apartment with more than 30 homemade grenades and 10 gallons of gasoline, a law enforcement official who viewed video from inside the apartment told CNN Monday night.

The sophisticated set up at the Aurora home of James E. Holmes was meant to harm, or possibly kill, anyone who entered - and tested the skills of bomb squad members charged with clearing it.

"Imagine that fireball ... you would have an explosion that would knock down the wall of (nearby) apartments," the official said. "That flame would have consumed the entire third floor (of the apartment complex)."

"By the time a fire truck would have arrived, they would have arrived to a building that would have been completely consumed in flames."

The grenades were wired to a control box in the kitchen, which bomb technicians disabled with the help of a remote-controlled robot that squirted water on it.

"It looked like spaghetti," according to the official, who said it resembled setups that are used in Iraq and Afghanistan, but rarely in the United States.

The control box has been sent to Quantico, Virginia, for forensic analysis at the FBI laboratory, the official said.


Filed under: Crime • Justice • U.S.