Comments: Hunka' hunka' burning love for Elvis endures 35 years after his death
Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley had a historic meeting on December 21, 1970.
August 16th, 2012
07:24 PM ET

Comments: Hunka' hunka' burning love for Elvis endures 35 years after his death

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.

Sometimes readers ask about our stories. Today, a reader commenting on a story about a man accused of faking his own death happened to mention the 35th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death.

"How do they decide what article gets to be the top story? Today is the day Elvis died. Lisa Marie and Priscilla greeted the fans at Graceland today. Now this is not a lead story either but it's not even a story to CNN. I don't know ... sorry to complain."

Thanks for your comment, Guest. CNN affiliate WMC covered the Graceland event, and that story was put up on the entertainment page. If you really want to travel back in time, CNN iReport received numerous photos and videos about Presley in honor of what would have been Presley's 75th birthday in 2010.

But those aren't the only places you'll find Elvis on People have been talking about Presley all over the place.

Remembering the King: When Nixon met Elvis

The photo at the top recalls the 1970 meeting between Richard Nixon and Presley. The CNN Political Ticker took a look at the historic convergence. Here's what one reader had to say:

myviewis: "I like this part because it's 2012 and we are still having this problem with the flag losing respect and the country. Presley was adamant that he 'wanted to be helpful' and that he wanted to 'restore some respect for the flag which was being lost.' "

Meanwhile, reader Sniffit theorized that "Elvis is hiding in a trailer in Area 51" with various items and people. Hard to say for sure. There are plans in place to put together an Elvis hologram.

Yet another place you might find Elvis - granted, not a Presley - is at border crossings. FULL POST

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Filed under: Celebrity • Comments • Music • Politics • Showbiz
August 16th, 2012
05:56 PM ET

Mash-up: Will you marry me?

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.

Creative proposals just keep on coming

Viral Internet videos seem to keep upping the ante for men who want to make marriage proposals in unusual ways. Tony Boga of Boston recruited his girlfriend's sisters to help round up a flash mob for his proposal at the Boston Public Library, CNN affiliate WHDH reports.

Meanwhile in Salt Lake City, a firefighter took advantage of his high position:

Not to be left out of the fun, CNN iReporter Jenifer Brennan of Hackettstown, New Jersey, was swept off her feet atop a Vermont mountain for yet another surprise proposal. She said her fiancé, Phil Crowley, spent more than a year planning the trip and had invited two of her best friends to come along with their husbands. While on a hike to the top of Mount Mansfield, a proposal was the last thing on her mind, she says.

Phil Crowley proposes to Jenifer Brennan atop Mount Mansfield in Vermont.

"I was in shock because I was not expecting it," she says. "I think public proposals are wonderful. It takes courage for a person to get on one knee and ask someone to marry them in the presence of others. Personally, once he was on his knee I lost sight of everyone and everything around me."


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Filed under: CNN Daily Mash-up
What's behind baseball's run of perfect games?
Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez celebrates after striking out the final batter in a perfect game Wednesday at Safeco Field.
August 16th, 2012
01:41 PM ET

What's behind baseball's run of perfect games?

When Felix Hernandez struck out Tampa Bay's Sean Rodriguez on Wednesday, the Seattle Mariner completed a remarkable achievement, just the 23rd perfect game in 15 decades of major league baseball.

What might be equally remarkable is three of those 23 perfect games have been tossed this year, with a quarter of the season left to play.

In June, the San Francisco Giants' Matt Cain frustrated 27 straight Houston Astros in a 10-0 victory.

And in 2012's first perfect game, the Chicago White Sox Philip Humber breezed past 27 straight Mariners. Like Hernandez's, Humber's completed gem came at Seattle's Safeco Field.

Add to the perfect games, three other no-hitters this season, and you have even the most casual of baseball fans asking, what makes 2012 so perfect for pitching?


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Filed under: Baseball • Sports
August 16th, 2012
12:11 PM ET

U.N. ending observer mission in Syria, French envoy says

The United Nations observer mission in Syria will expire this weekend and will not be extended, France's Ambassador to the UN, Gerard Araud, told reporters Thursday.

The news comes as the Syrian government pounded the country's largest city Thursday, using aerial forces to shell neighborhoods and intensifying the siege that has become a focal point of the country's civil war.

CNN inside Syria: Nobody imagined it would turn into this

Meanwhile, in neighboring Lebanon, another person was kidnapped in an incident believed to be linked to the violence in Syria.

At least 158 new deaths were reported across Syria on Thursday, according to the opposition Local Coordination Committees in Syria. The deaths include 50 in Aleppo.

They also include 60 unidentified bodies found in Qatana, a Damascas suburb, the LCC said. The bodies, found in a landfill, "seem to have been executed in a massacre by the regime's army," the group said.

At least eight people were killed and more than 50 wounded when shells struck near an Aleppo bakery where people had lined up to buy bread, said Ahmad al-Zaeem, a commander in the rebel Free Syrian Army. At least 150 people have been wounded in the latest violence in Aleppo, he said.

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Filed under: Syria
'Fierce Five' gymnasts show off skills
U.S. women's gymnastics team showing off their gold. London 2012 Olympics
August 16th, 2012
11:48 AM ET

'Fierce Five' gymnasts show off skills

The U.S. women’s gymnastics team captured America’s hearts with their gold-medal routines at the 2012 London Games. Gabby Douglas’ "flying squirrel" performance and McKayla Maroney’s near-miss on the vault have us interested in all aspects of their lives. Now they’re back in the U.S. making their news and talk show rounds. Check out these Gotta Watch moments.


Colbert gives ‘Fierce Five’ task

See what task has the girls doing flips on “The Colbert Report.” Who sticks the best landing?


McKayla Maroney is ‘not impressed’

McKayla Maroney has tumbled her way to the site tumbler for her signature scowl photo on the medal stand. Watch her react to photo shopped pictures of her next to Justin Bieber.

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Filed under: Gotta Watch • Olympics • Sports
August 16th, 2012
11:39 AM ET

Gunmen execute 20 Shiites in Pakistan

Gunmen ambushed a passenger van convoy Thursday in northwest Pakistan and executed 20 Shiite Muslims in an apparent sectarian attack, a police official told CNN.

"The gunmen forced the victims to step out of the vans, checked their identity cards, then shot them dead," said the police official, Sher Akbar.

The attack took place in the district of Mensehra, about 100 miles north of the capital, Islamabad.

The vans were traveling from Rawalpindi to Gilgit, a popular tourist city in the mountainous region of northern Pakistan with a large Shiite population.

In recent years, the northern regions of Pakistan have seen very little sectarian violence but this year, attacks targeting Shiites have increased.

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Filed under: Pakistan
August 16th, 2012
11:31 AM ET

UK court rules against paralyzed man in 'right to die' case

A British man left paralyzed by a catastrophic stroke seven years ago lost his High Court battle Thursday to gain a legal right to end his life when he chooses.

Tony Nicklinson's condition means it is impossible for him to take his own life - and he wants the legal right to have a doctor take his life without fear of prosecution.

But while expressing sympathy for his situation, the High Court ruled that such a significant change to the law - involving overturning the ban on voluntary euthanasia - would have to be decided by lawmakers.

The judges also rejected a similar challenge to the law brought by a second man suffering locked-in syndrome, named only as Martin.

"The Court recognised that the cases raise profoundly difficult ethical, social and legal issues, but it judged that any change to the law must be a matter for Parliament to decide," a statement from the court said.

The ruling upset Nicklinson, who cried as his wife, Jane, told the waiting media that the family was "bitterly disappointed" and would file an appeal.

In the meantime, her husband will have to continue living as he is, or starve himself to death, she said.

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Filed under: Assisted suicide • Health • United Kingdom • World
August 16th, 2012
10:39 AM ET

Besieged Syrians in 'horrific' spot as kidnappings continue in Lebanon

The Syrian government pounded the country's largest city Thursday, using aerial forces to shell neighborhoods and intensifying the siege that has become a focal point of the country's civil war.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Lebanon, another person was kidnapped in an incident believed to be linked to the violence in Syria.

At least 89 people were killed across Syria on Thursday, according to the opposition Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCC). The deaths included 49 in Aleppo.

At least eight people were killed and more than 50 wounded when shells struck near an Aleppo bakery where people had lined up to buy bread, said Ahmad al-Zaeem, a commander in the rebel Free Syrian Army. At least 150 people have been wounded in the latest violence in Aleppo, he said.

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Filed under: Syria • World
August 16th, 2012
09:33 AM ET

The highs and lows of SCRABBLE: A cheater overshadows a record champion



Those two drastically different words couldn't describe more perfectly the highs and lows of this year's National SCRABBLE championship which saw one player break two winning records and another casting a shadow over the tournament by being the first person ejected from it.

Nigel Richards, 45, posted his third consecutive and fourth overall championship, setting two new records, according to the SCRABBLE tournament's website. The New Zealand-born security analyst, who now lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia , finished with a record of 22-9.

But his highly touted achievement in the SCRABBLE world was overshadowed by two of those precious blank tiles that are so valuable because they can be used as any letter you like.

That's because one of the top youth players in the country was kicked out of the Division 3 National SCRABBLE Championship Tournament on Tuesday for cheating, according to John D. Williams Jr., the executive director of the National SCRABBLE Association.

It's something organizers say has never happened in the tournament's 30 years of competition.

During the 24th round of the annual tournament in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday, the director was called over to a Division 3 game, a lower level of competition than what Richards won. A young teen was under suspicion by other players, according to Williams, who noted the tournament has a self-policing policy.

It seems the player, who officials have not named, was hoping to get a little extra help but was foiled.  The player had won a game and took two blanks as the tiles were gathered and put in the grab bag. When his next competitor stepped in to play, the opponent asked that the tiles be counted. Two were missing.

"It was discovered that two blanks were not put into the tile bag as they should have been when the board was cleared off to start the game," according to the SCRABBLE tournament's website. "The player was questioned and admitted to taking them."


August 16th, 2012
09:28 AM ET

2 police killed, 2 wounded in Louisiana 'ambush'

Two Louisiana police officers were killed and two wounded Thursday morning in what state police are calling an ambush.

The four deputies from the St. Johns Baptist Parish office were shot as they were directing traffic outside the Bayou Steel Plant in LaPlace, Louisiana, State Police Sgt. Ann Dusang said.

"They were ambushed," Dusang said. "Two have been killed and two hospitalized."

Dusang said a search was under way for the gunman.

Read coverage from CNN affiliate

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Filed under: Crime • Louisiana
Ecuador grants asylum to WikiLeaks founder Assange
Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks website, is interviewed in London on October 8, 2011.
August 16th, 2012
08:44 AM ET

Ecuador grants asylum to WikiLeaks founder Assange

Ecuador has granted asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño said Thursday.

The UK, meanwhile, has said it will not grant safe passage out of the country to Assange, who has been holed up inside Ecuador's embassy in London.

Assange has been holed up at the embassy since petitioning for asylum in June. He is seeking to avoid being sent to Sweden over claims of rape and sexual molestation, and said he fears that if extradited, Swedish authorities could hand him over to the United States.

Assange was arrested in Britain in 2010 because Swedish authorities wanted to question him about the allegations. Two women have accused Assange of sexually assaulting them during an August 2010 visit to Sweden in connection with a WikiLeaks release of internal U.S. military documents. Assange denies the allegations and argues they are retribution for his organization's disclosure of American secrets.

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Filed under: Ecuador • Julian Assange • United Kingdom • WikiLeaks • World
7 Americans among 11 killed as NATO copter crashes in Afghanistan
This UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in Afghanistan is believed to be similar to the helicopter that crashed on Thursday.
August 16th, 2012
08:31 AM ET

7 Americans among 11 killed as NATO copter crashes in Afghanistan

[Updated at 8:31 a.m. ET] Seven American service members were among the 11 people killed in the helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan Thursday, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said. The other four were Afghans.

[Updated at 8:28 a.m. ET] A NATO helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan Thursday killed at least 11 people, including three Americans, the alliance's International Security Assistance Force said.

ISAF said three were U.S. Forces-Afghanistan service members. The others include four ISAF service members, but it is not clear what their nationalities are.

Three members of the Afghan National Security Forces and an Afghan civilian interpreter also died. The cause of the crash is under investigation, ISAF said in a news release.

The ISAF helicopter was a UH-60 Black Hawk. The precise location of the crash was not released.

[Posted at 7:57 a.m. ET] Afghan and coalition service members were among 11 people killed Thursday when a NATO helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • World
August 16th, 2012
07:41 AM ET

Thursday'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...

8:00 am ET (est.) - Julian Assange learns asylum fate - Ecuador is expected to announce whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be given asylum in the South American country.


Filed under: Ecuador • Elections • Julian Assange • On today • Politics • WikiLeaks
August 16th, 2012
07:18 AM ET

CNN inside Syria: Nobody imagined it would turn into this

Editor's note: CNN's Ben Wedeman and crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access of foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry. Wedeman, who used to live in Aleppo, has spent time over the past two weeks in the city of more than 2 million people where rebels and government forces are fighting. Below is an edited account of what Wedeman saw in Aleppo. Read more from CNN inside Syria.

What we saw during our trips in Aleppo were not images of the city I knew: The shelling, the snipers, the destruction. I never imagined this city would be standing in the middle of warfare. Nobody imagined it would turn into this.

Some parts of Aleppo are complete battle zones. Shells and rubble litter the streets. Cars are blown to pieces.

This beautiful city is where we raised my daughter for her first years from 1990 to 1993. When I was at work my wife went everywhere shopping with my daughter and going to markets.

As we drove quite close to the neighborhood where I used to live, one in government control, I took a quick look and noticed it looked mostly the same. I quickly refocused, concerned for our safety. A government checkpoint was coming up on the right. FULL POST

August 16th, 2012
04:21 AM ET

Wildfires roast western states

Blistering hot temperatures will blast the normally tepid Pacific Northwest again Thursday as dozens of wildfires burn across large sections of the western United States.

The mercury is expected to soar near triple digits in Portland, Oregon, with Seattle forecast to reach the lower 90s, the National Weather Service said. The coastal region is roasting under an excessive heat warning.

At least 70 large fires were burning across 13 states west of the Mississippi River, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center. California had the most with 13, followed by Nevada with 12 and Idaho with 10, the center said.

The Marines joined the fight on Wednesday, with helicopter units from California joining U.S. Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units from Colorado, Wyoming, North Carolina and California in fighting the fires by air. The Marine units will help fight fires around San Diego.

In California alone, 8,000 firefighters were fighting a dozen fires, the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Wednesday. The state issued a burn ban, saying only some campfires are allowed.

Conditions could worsen in some places over the next few days. The National Weather Service said a weather pattern developing in parts of Oregon could produce conditions favorable to "explosive fire growth."


Filed under: U.S. • Weather
August 16th, 2012
02:22 AM ET

Winning ticket for $337 million Powerball bought in Michigan

Somebody in Michigan may be very happy soon.

Lottery officials say a winning ticket for the estimated $337 million Powerball jackpot was purchased in Michigan. Also there were eight tickets that won the $1 million Match 5 prize. Two of those tickets were bought in Indiana, the others were purchased in Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Virginia, lottery officials said.

The winning numbers were 6,27,46,51,56 and 21.

Why you keep playing the lottery

The prize for the national lottery, which is held in 42 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia, swelled Saturday after no one hit all six numbers.

The game's largest prize to date was $365 million, which was awarded in 2006 to a group of eight co-workers at a Nebraska meat-packing plant.

In 2005, a group of four in Oregon won a $340 million jackpot, considered the second largest.

virginia lottery


Filed under: U.S.
August 16th, 2012
02:21 AM ET

Penn State to host sex abuse conference

In the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, embattled Penn State University is hosting a sexual abuse conference and says boxer Sugar Ray Leonard and Elizabeth Smart will give speeches.

The conference will be held on October 29 and 30 and comes after the well-publicized scandal that culminated with the conviction of Sandusky, a former assistant Penn State football coach on multiple charges of sexual abuse of young boys.

"Over the last nine months, Penn State has made a commitment to becoming a leader in the research, prevention, and treatment of child sexual abuse, and we have taken a number of steps to ensure that our communities are safer," Penn State President Rodney Erickson, said in a message promoting the conference.

Leonard, a boxing icon, is known for his lightning fast hands, legendary fights and recently for his role in several reality television shows. But last year in his autobiography, Leonard delivered the surprising admission that early in his career he was sexually abused by an unnamed Olympic boxing coach.

Smart made headlines in 2002 when she was kidnapped from her Utah home at age 14 and held captive for nine months. Her kidnapping stunned the nation, and the media covered the monthslong search to find her. Her abductor, Brian David Mitchell, sexually abused her during her time in captivity, and is serving life in prison for the kidnapping and assault.


Filed under: Crime • Justice • Sports • U.S.
August 16th, 2012
02:18 AM ET

Former special forces officers slam Obama over leaks on bin Laden killing

A web video featuring former special forces officers criticizes President Barack Obama for taking too much credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden and allowing classified information about the raid to become public.

The ad also includes former Navy SEALs.

The organization behind the ad, the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund, has posted the 22-minute web video on its website. A spokeswoman says the group has raised about $1 million toward an advertising campaign in some key swing states.

Over a picture of Obama, the video's narrator says that the group's mission is to stop politicians from using sensitive intelligence about the bin Laden raid and other clandestine programs for political benefit.

In a series of interviews, former military and intelligence officers accuse Obama of seeking political gain by disclosing successful secret operations.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics • U.S.