Comments: Remembering 'Horshack' actor, adding 'f-bomb' to dictionary
"Welcome Back, Kotter" fans are mourning the loss of Ron Palillo, who died of a heart attack Tuesday at 63.
August 14th, 2012
09:44 PM ET

Comments: Remembering 'Horshack' actor, adding 'f-bomb' to dictionary

Editor's note: We're listening to you. Every day, we spot thought-provoking comments from readers. What follows is a look at some of the most talked-about stories of the day.

Today we're hearing about a wide variety of things on, including coffeemaking techniques and python management. We're highlighting a few stories today with comments that caught our eyes.

1. Remembering 'Horshack'
2. Hypersonic test flight
3. Lost my kid in public
4. Jennifer Aniston
5. 'F-bomb' and other words

1. Ron Palillo, TV's 'Horshack,' dead at 63

Horshack was a beloved persona from "Welcome Back Kotter." Readers are mourning Ron Palillo, who played the 1970s TV character. For some, it's a generation thing.

Irv Kaage: "A sad day for all Sweathogs and a day that makes us all feel a little older."

Horshack paved the way for others who would dare to act like high school students, says this person.

SuthunYankee: "Hello. How are you? MY NAME is ARNOLD HORSHACK! He had many imitators: Urkel, Screech, etc. ... But Horshack was the best. R.I.P."

Or, more specifically ...

Maverick2591: "He was one of the first television nerds who made being a nerd cool. Everything else is superfluous ... Ron was decent and passionate, and he will be missed."

We heard from a couple of people who had gotten to meet Palillo, including one person who says they work at the G-Star School for the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida. Palillo taught acting at the charter high school. FULL POST

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Filed under: Celebrity • Comments • Showbiz • TV
August 14th, 2012
06:21 PM ET

Mash-up: Aniston, Clooney and Cosmo girls

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.

Why we're fascinated with Jennifer Aniston

Pepper Schwartz, a sociologist at the University of Washington and the author of 16 books on sexuality and relationships, takes an educated stab at why so many women are so intensely interested in the love life of actress Jennifer Aniston, who recently became engaged again, years after Brad Pitt dumped her for Angelina Jolie.


There is an additional twist in Aniston's story that reassures us. Her failed marriage says to us that someone even more glorious than ourselves can be left, but her engagement tells us that there can be a Cinderella story at the end of the road: a mate who truly loves us, who wants to create a family, who will deliver security and unconditional love at last. Sure, it may last as long as the next headline, but we deeply hope love stays the course for her, because we want to believe that our own dreams will result in triumph over disappointment.

Come to class, get free shoes

The Detroit public school district hopes students who may not want to go to class will "just do it" on October 3. That's the day a head count will determine state and federal funding for some programs. To improve its chances, CNN affiliate WWJ reports, the district will offer a free pair of Nike shoes to every student who attends that day, thanks to a donation from Bob's Classic Kicks on Woodward Avenue.

Electric bill lights up her checkbook

Grace Edwards always knew her electric bills were way too high, but she couldn't get anyone - including the state utility regulator - to believe her. But at last the Cheshire, Connecticut, woman has prevailed, CNN affiliate CTNow reports. It turns out two street lights in her subdivision had been drawing power on Edwards' dime for 25 years. On Friday she received an apology and a check for more than $10,000 from Connecticut Light & Power.


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Filed under: CNN Daily Mash-up
Toy thief wanted to rip off stores in all 50 states, police say
Michael Pollara, 46, and Margaret Pollara, 70, were tracked down because of their use of a rewards card, police say.
August 14th, 2012
01:43 PM ET

Toy thief wanted to rip off stores in all 50 states, police say

Police in Florida say they have busted a mother-and-son team whose goal was to steal thousands of items from toy stores in every state and then sell them online for millions of dollars.

Police say Michael Pollara, 46, and Margaret Pollara, 70, would go into toy stores and pick out big boxes containing cheap toys, then replace the cheap contents with more expensive toys including Harry Potter Lego sets, Leap Pads, and InnoTabs. They would then go to the checkout line, where cashiers would ring up the box for the marked price, not knowing that inside were toys worth hundreds or thousands of dollars, according to police.

"(Michael Pollara) made it a goal of his to steal from all 50 states within one year, which he was very proud of," Broward Sheriff's Office Sgt. Rick Rossman said during a press conference.

The pair had stolen merchandise worth at least thousands of dollars from 139 Toys R Us locations across 27 states, according to the arrest affidavit. And then there were all the other stores, including Kmart, CVS and other retailers they had hit.


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Filed under: Crime • Florida • U.S.
August 14th, 2012
01:26 PM ET

Mom: Texas shooter had mental health issues

The gunman who killed two others before police ended his life in a shootout near Texas A&M University had been battling mental health issues on and off for years, his mother said.

Police say Thomas Caffall, known to his family as "Tres," killed a constable and a bystander and injured four others before police fatally shot him.

His mother, Linda Weaver, said the family became worried after Caffall quit his job in January and announced that he would never work again.

"We had been very concerned about him," Weaver told CNN.

Caffall had withdrawn from the family, and the fear was that he might attempt suicide, his mother said.

But she never imagined that her son would hurt anyone else, or that his end would come so violently.

"Losing a child is a parent's worst nightmare. This is worse," she said.

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Filed under: Crime • Texas
Soccer stars Ribery, Benzema accused of soliciting underage prostitute
Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery, along with another soccer player, will face a trial after being accused of soliciting a prostitute.
August 14th, 2012
12:21 PM ET

Soccer stars Ribery, Benzema accused of soliciting underage prostitute

Soccer players Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema will face a trial for allegedly soliciting an underage prostitute, according to the Paris prosecutor's office.

Andre Dando, the investigating magistrate, told CNN that  "some of the defendants will be prosecuted for 'aggravated pimping', although I cannot disclose which ones at this time."

Dando said that the trial is months away and would likely carry over into 2013.

Ribery plays for Bayern Munich and Benzema plays for Real Madrid. Both are members of the French national team.

The case emerged earlier this year after police raided a night club near the Champs Elysees in Paris and detained 18 girls on suspicion of prostitution.

One of the girls, Zahia Dehar, appeared on the cover of Paris Match in April and told the magazine she had sexual relations with several players on the national team, including Ribery, whom she had met at the club. She said in the interview she hadn't told them she was younger than 18 at the time.

In an initial court hearing on the case, Ribery admitted he had sex with Dehar but insisted he did not know she was a minor. Benzema has made no public comment.

Mutant butterflies a result of Fukushima nuclear disaster, researchers say
This image from a study on Fukushima's impact on butterflies shows wings mutated by the radiation.
August 14th, 2012
10:35 AM ET

Mutant butterflies a result of Fukushima nuclear disaster, researchers say

In the first sign that the Fukushima nuclear disaster may be changing life around it, scientists say they've found mutant butterflies.

Some of the butterflies had abnormalities in their legs, antennae, and abdomens, and dents in their eyes, according to the study published in Scientific Reports, an online journal from the team behind Nature. Researchers also found that some affected butterflies had broken or wrinkled wings, changes in wing size, color pattern changes, and spots disappearing or increasing on the butterflies.

The study began two months after an earthquake and tsunami devastated swaths of northeastern Japan in March 2011, triggering a nuclear disaster. The 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.

In May 2011, researchers collected more than 100 pale grass blue butterflies in and around the Fukushima prefecture and found that 12% of them had abnormalities or mutations. When those butterflies mated, the rate of mutations in the offspring rose to 18%, according to the study, which added that some died before reaching adulthood. When the offspring mated with healthy butterflies that weren't affected by the nuclear crisis, the abnormality rate rose to 34%, indicating that the mutations were being passed on through genes to offspring at high rates even when one of the parent butterflies was healthy.

The scientists wanted to find out how things stood after a longer amount of time and again collected more than 200 butterflies last September. Twenty-eight percent of the butterflies showed abnormalities, but the rate of mutated offspring jumped to 52%, according to researchers. The study indicated that second-generation butterflies, the ones collected in September, likely saw higher numbers of mutations because they were exposed to the radiation either as larvae or earlier than adult butterflies first collected.

To make sure that the nuclear disaster was in fact the cause of the mutations, researchers collected butterflies that had not been affected by radiation and gave them low-dose exposures of radiation and found similar results.

"We conclude that artificial radionuclides from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant caused physiological and genetic damage to this species," the study said.


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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Animals • Insects • Japan
August 14th, 2012
09:53 AM ET

France: Rioting in Amiens leaves police hurt, buildings damaged

Sixteen police officers were injured in violent clashes with young people in the city of Amiens in northern France overnight, authorities said Tuesday.

Three public buildings were also badly damaged during several hours of disorder, CNN affiliate BFM-TV reported.

Amiens Mayor Gilles Demailly told BFM that the damage amounted to millions of euros.

The scene in the wake of the disorder was one of desolation, he said.

Images from the neighborhood showed burned-out cars and the charred wreckage of a kindergarten and a sports center.

Clashes were reported in the same area Sunday night, BFM reported. The latest violence, involving about 100 young people, broke out late Monday evening and carried into the early hours of Tuesday.

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Filed under: France • World
August 14th, 2012
09:42 AM ET

21 dead, 45 injured in string of suicide bombings in Afghanistan, official says

At least 27 people died and 80 were injured in a series of attacks Tuesday afternoon in Zaranj, the capital of the southwestern province of Nimruz, Afghanistan, a government spokesman said.

The first in a series of apparent suicide bomb attacks hit a government petrol station, killing and injuring some people, provincial government spokesman Omar Balusch said.

After those victims had been evacuated to the hospital, a second bomb exploded there, causing more injuries and deaths, including some who had been injured in the initial attack, Balusch said.

Two other attackers were shot dead by police after using hand grenades in attacks against various targets. Security forces in the province arrested three other bombers who were planning attacks, Balusch said.

Sporadic gunfire could still be heard inside the city Tuesday evening, Balusch said.

The attacks come one day after police arrested two other would-be attackers in Nimruz.

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Filed under: Afghanistan
August 14th, 2012
09:28 AM ET

Yemen elite forces attack Defense Ministry, source says

Hundreds of Republican Guards loyal to Yemen's former president attacked the Defense Ministry building near the center of the capital city Sanaa on Tuesday, a Defense Ministry official said.

Four people were killed and nine others injured in the attack, said the official, who did not wish to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

Clashes continued into the afternoon between Defense Ministry security officers and hundreds of Republican Guard forces as heavy explosions were heard throughout the Yemen capital, eyewitnesses said.

The clashes are inching closer toward the center of the capital, the eyewitnesses added.

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Filed under: Yemen
August 14th, 2012
07:45 AM ET

Tuesday's live events

The two major parties will come together in the next few weeks to make their presidential tickets official. Live is your home for all the action from the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

Today's programming highlights...

11:15 am ET - Biden in Virginia - Vice President Joe Biden is back on the campaign trail this morning.  He'll make remarks at the Institute for Advanced Learning in Danville, Virginia.


Filed under: Elections • On today • Politics
Former Tajik warlord surrenders after standoff
Pamiri people in New York on Wednesday protest the military operations in Tajikistan.
August 14th, 2012
04:40 AM ET

Former Tajik warlord surrenders after standoff

Tolib Ayombekov, a former opposition warlord believed to have been behind the killing of a top security general, surrendered to Tajik authorities early Tuesday, ending a three-week standoff, a government spokesman said.

In a statement aired on Badakhshan TV, Ayombekov said he turned himself in to end the violence in Khorog, Pamir - the capital of the Gorno-Badakshan region in eastern Tajikistan.

More than 40 people were killed and many residents were displaced in recent fighting. Also communications with the outside world have been virtually severed during the fighting between Ayombekov's forces and government troops.

The cutoff of cell phone and Internet service began late last month. Aid workers, some of whom had satellite telephones, were evacuated.

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Filed under: World
August 14th, 2012
02:12 AM ET

Wildfire threatens 100 homes in Washington state

A wildfire in Washington has firefighters calling for backup and forced evacuations in an area in the central part of the state.

The blaze, that started Monday afternoon, has scorched about 800 acres and threatens some 100 homes, the Washington State Patrol said

Authorities have started evacuations and asked state firefighters to assist local departments in extinguishing the fire, according to the State Patrol.

The blaze is located near the city of Cle Elum in Kittitas county, an area about 80 miles southeast of Seattle.

It is unclear what caused the fire.

One home was burned in the blaze, CNN affiliate KIRO-TV reported.


Filed under: U.S. • Weather
August 14th, 2012
02:11 AM ET

Regional group votes to suspend Syria; rebels claim downing of jet

Foreign ministers of Islamic countries have agreed to suspend Syria from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a non-binding vote that sets the stage for the group's two-day emergency summit in Saudi Arabia.

Syria is one of the main items on the agenda of the Mecca meeting, which opens Tuesday. The ministers met in Jeddah ahead of the summit.

"There is an agreement to support the Syrian people and standing by their side, we are agreeing on freezing the membership of Syria until it retains its balance," Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafiq Abdul Salam said, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

The heads of state must approve the suspension before it can take effect.


Filed under: World