Thursday's intriguing people
Petra Ecclestone, 22, has reportedly bought a 123-room mansion, raising a question among observers: Why?
June 23rd, 2011
11:41 AM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Petra Ecclestone

Perhaps The Daily Beast's source put it best: "Why would a 22-year-old want this?" The heiress is rumored to have purchased the California mansion of the late Aaron Spelling, which was listed for $150 million. Ecclestone - known as the “Paris Hilton of Britain” - is the youngest daughter of Formula One racing CEO Bernie Ecclestone, who has a net worth of $4.2 billion. The sale of the Spelling home reportedly went for $85 million in cash, raising questions as to why the young Ecclestone would want a 123-room house that design experts say needs updated interiors, according to The Daily Beast. One theory is that the house is for one of her father’s wealthy friends. A real-estate source told The Daily Beast, “It doesn’t make sense. It will take years of painstaking construction, designing, and decorating to get the house right.” FULL POST

Thursday's intriguing people
Tim Thomas, 37, says winning the Stanley Cup is "a dream come true."
June 16th, 2011
01:01 PM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Tim Thomas

The 37-year-old Boston Bruins goal-tender is regarded as a key the component in helping his team achieve last night’s historic Stanley Cup win against the Vancouver Canucks. It has been a long ride for Thomas, who started his first NHL game at 28 and became a regular goalie at 31. At one point, his parents sold their wedding rings to raise money for his hockey career, and a young Tim sold apples door-to-door, according to the Boston Globe.

"Every night, all season long, he always gave us a chance," Bruins coach Claude Julien told the Globe.

The Stanley Cup win is the first for the Bruins in 39 years.

“This is literally a dream come true, just like it is for everyone on this team,’’ Thomas said. “At 37, this might be my only shot to win it.’’


Thursday's intriguing people
Tareke Brhane, once a refugee, is an international humanitarian worker.
June 2nd, 2011
01:03 PM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Tareke Brhane

Six years ago, the native of Eritrea survived 10 days crossing the Sahara Desert, a failed trip to Italy by sea, and months in Libyan jails — including time in the notorious Kufra prison — before he finally found refuge in Italy. Today, he works for Save the Children on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, where he and other humanitarian workers have greeted an estimated 30,000 African refugees in the past three months. Brhane recalled his journey from refugee to humanitarian worker to CNN's Ivan Watson.

Richard Covino

The Boston paramedic is a lieutenant with Boston Emergency Medical Services and a full-time firefighter for the Massachusetts Port Authority, a double duty that caused his suspension from his positions. Now, he will head back to work after both agencies reinstated him. Before his April suspensions, Covino was working up to 100 hours a week and earning about $200,000 a year, according to the The Boston Globe. Last year, there were at least five occasions where he was paid for working both jobs at the same time. State officials say that although he has been reinstated to both roles now, Covino is no longer allowed to swap shifts, which made it possible for him to work so many hours.

Joshua Kaufman

An enterprising crime victim from Oakland, California, says he got his stolen laptop back with the help of Tumblr, Twitter and a photo-taking app. The day that his computer was stolen in March, Kaufman says, he told the Oakland Police Department and started tracking his laptop using Hidden, a program that identifies a computer's location and allows owners to secretly take pictures of users. Weeks passed, and Kaufman wasn't satisfied with the slow pace of the police investigation, so to get some attention, he set up an account on the blogging service Tumblr titled "This Guy Has My MacBook." There, he posted pictures of a man using his laptop. Kaufman also began to tweet about his predicament, which attracted media attention. Finally, on Tuesday, Oakland police reportedly told Kaufman they were on their way to apprehend a suspect. Kaufman used Twitter to give a play-by-play of his detective work, at one point tweeting, "ARRESTED! An Oakland police officer just called me to let me know that they arrested the guy in my photos! BOOYA!" Kaufman says he got his laptop back Wednesday.

Tuesday's intriguing people
Gen. Martin Dempsey has been nominated to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
May 31st, 2011
12:09 PM ET

Tuesday's intriguing people

Gen. Martin Dempsey

The Army’s Chief of Staff was nominated by President Obama on Monday to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dempsey, who became the new Army chief of staff last month, has extensive combat experience. He helped train Iraqi security forces in Iraq and also served as acting commander of U.S. Central Command overseeing U.S. military operation in the Middle East, Persian Gulf, and Central Asia.

Known for his keen sense of humor, Dempsey sometimes begins his public speeches by singing songs, like “New York, New York.”

The general also calls soldiers in the U.S. and overseas directly every week to get their opinions on life in the Army.


Thursday's intriguing people
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara won the conviction of a Wall Street hedge fund manager this week.
May 12th, 2011
10:46 AM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Preet Bharara

The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York announced Wednesday that a jury had found billionaire hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam guilty of conspiracy and securities fraud in one of the most high-profile insider trading prosecutions in a decade. Known for his tough campaign against insider trading, Bharara once worked for Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York.

Tiffany Smalley

When she receives her college diploma later this month, the Harvard University student of Native American descent will be the first Wampanoag to graduate from the school since 1665. Smalley will join two of her ancestors, Joel Iacommes and Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, the sons of Wampanoag tribal leaders who entered Harvard in 1661. At this year's commencement ceremony, the university will grant a posthumous degree to Iacommes, who was killed in a shipwreck just before graduation. Almost 350 years later, Smalley will accept the diploma on his behalf.

Adam Foster

The 30-year-old engineer from upstate New York is accused of stealing handcuffs in Dubai and has been detained there for four months. Foster went to the United Arab Emirates in January on a business trip. He was arrested after reportedly keeping a pair of handcuffs that he found on the ground. According to Foster's Facebook page, he was whipped, beaten and forced to confess to stealing handcuffs from police. He now faces two to seven years in prison in the UAE.

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Filed under: Crime • Dubai • Education • Most Intriguing People
Thursday's intriguing people
Moussa Koussa fled to London on Wednesday and said he had resigned as Libya's foreign minister.
March 31st, 2011
10:52 AM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Moussa Koussa

Libya's foreign minister and its former intelligence chief shocked the diplomatic world Wednesday with his sudden defection to the United Kingdom.

According to CNN homeland security analyst Fran Townsend, Koussa played a key role in planning and executing the Pam Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. He also was integral in negotiating the dismantling of Libya's weapons of mass destruction program.

"Koussa is one of the most senior figures in [Libyan leader Moammar] Gadhafi's government, and his role was to represent the regime internationally," a British government official said in a statement, "something that he is no longer willing to do."


Rolling Stone on Wednesday published the most revealing interview with singer Rihanna since her 2009 battery incident with then-boyfriend Chris Brown.

In a risqué photo spread, the singer defined her self-imposed boundaries with Brown, despite agreeing to end a restraining order that she feels has hurt him professionally.

Most eye-opening however, was the singer's acknowledgment that she is prone to masochism in her sexual relationships, and via her multiple tattoos and piercings. She attributed it to verbal abuse from her father and the stress of her career.

"It's not something I am proud of, and it's not something I noticed until recently," she told Rolling Stone. "I think it's common for people who witness abuse in their household. They can never smell how beautiful a rose is unless they get pricked by a thorn."

Gregory Hollister

The retired U.S. Air Force colonel has obtained what he believes is a copy of President Barack Obama's draft documents from 1980 by impersonating the president to the Selective Service Office.

According to a news report in the Colorado Springs Gazette, which was originally reported in the blog Gratewire, Hollister used a private investigator to obtain what may be the president's Social Security number, and then impersonated Obama to obtain the documents.

Further buoying Hollister's suspicions are reports that the Social Security number obtained begins with 042. That, says Hollister, would mean Obama was born in Connecticut, not Hawaii as long stated.

While critics say Hollister has violated many federal statutes, he maintains his innocence.

"I was very meticulous and made sure everything I did was compliant with the law," he told the Gazette.

Alye Pollack

A YouTube video posted March 14 by the 13-year-old from Westport, Connecticut, in which she speaks out about bullying, has gained nearly 50,000 views.

During her plea, Pollack says that name-calling is a large part of the problem. She emphasizes her point by writing the vulgarities on paper with crayon and showing them to her audience.

"I used to be really, really confident," Pollack says in the video, "and now, not so much because people use these words."

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Connecticut • Libya • Most Intriguing People • Music • Rhianna • Showbiz • Terrorism • United Kingdom • YouTube
Monday's Most Intriguing: Yemeni leader, Japan's power chief, record-setting runner
Yemen's Minister of Human Rights Huda al-Ban photographed in 2008.
March 21st, 2011
11:30 AM ET

Monday's Most Intriguing: Yemeni leader, Japan's power chief, record-setting runner

Huda al-Ban

Yemen's human rights minister resigned from her position Saturday after 44 demonstrators were killed in clashes with the government. Al-Ban said the Yemeni government committed a "horrible, cowardly, and perfidious crime." Others have resigned from their posts as well, including Yemen's ambassador to the United Nations and the head of the state news agency who is also a member of the ruling party.

Masataka Shimizu

The head of Tokyo Electric Power Co. has reportedly not appeared in public in a week, raising questions about whether he has control of the nuclear crisis in the country. The 66-year-old has not yet visited the Fukushima Daiichi plant in north Japan which is spewing radioactive smoke.  It was damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Three hundred workers are struggling to cool the reactors. According to Reuters, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan was overheard asking TEPCO executives, “What the hell is going on?” On Monday another reactor began emitting smoke at the plant, making it the third reactor, a nuclear official said. Workers had been trying to stop two other reactors from smoking, including a reactor that has fuel containing a small percentage of plutonium mixed with the uranium in its fuel rods which experts say could cause more harm than regular uranium fuels in the event of a meltdown. is live blogging the crisis in Japan.

Markos Geneti

The 26-year-old Ethiopian braved one of the worst storms ever to hit on marathon day in Los Angeles, California, and ran away with first place, and a record win on Sunday. Geneti shocked everyone even more because he had The win was all the more impressive because Geneti had never raced a marathon before - 26.2 miles. He ran through shin-deep puddles in 2 hours, 6 minutes, 35 seconds, breaking the race record by almost two minutes, according to the L.A. Times.  The weather proved tough for other competitors. Many were taken to the hospital and treated for hypothermia, officials said.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Health Care • Japan • Most Intriguing People • Running • Yemen
Friday's intriguing people
Kelly Gneiting prepares to wrestle during the 2005 USA National Sumo Championship in North Bergen, New Jersey.
March 18th, 2011
10:55 AM ET

Friday's intriguing people

Kelly Gneiting

The 40-year-old sumo wrestler, who weighs 405 pounds and has a 60-inch waist, is training to run 26.2 miles in the Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday. Should he manage it, Guinness World Records is prepared to recognize him as the heaviest person ever to finish a marathon.

Gneiting took up sumo wrestling in the late 1990s and has won three U.S. championships. Running a marathon has been his goal since grade school, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.

Gneiting lives on an Indian reservation in Arizona, the Times says, and has a master's degree in geography from the University of Idaho, according to a bio at His wife and five children live in Idaho.

"I honestly think I'm one of the best athletes in the world," he says.


October 22nd, 2010
02:38 PM ET

Friday's intriguing people

Melissa Etheridge

The singer is vocalizing her support for California's Proposition 19, a ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana. She says she used medicinal marijuana while recovering from breast cancer. Etheridge told The Los Angeles Times that when she underwent chemotherapy, she was given a choice of 10 drugs with side effects or a "natural solution."

Etheridge, who described herself as a medicinal marijuana user, said, "I don't want to look like a criminal to my children anymore. I want them to know this is a choice that you make as a responsible adult."  

Etheridge attended a news conference in Hollywood alongside actors Danny Glover, Hal Sparks and others to announce their support for the initiative.


October 21st, 2010
01:16 PM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Reza Taghavi

The retired Iranian-American businessman from Los Angeles, California, traveled to Iran frequently to visit family and friends, so in April 2008, when he was asked by Imran Afar, an acquaintance, to take $200 to give to a cash-strapped friend in Tehran, Reza Taghavi thought nothing of it.

Taghavi, who was traveling to Tehran with his wife, did not know the person who was getting the money. Two weeks after he delivered it, Taghavi was detained by Iranian authorities, while the recipient of the cash was arrested on charges of association with the anti-regime group, Tondar.

Taghavi's lawyer said his release this week was the result of three trips to Iran, meetings with Iranian officials in New York and Europe, and about 300 e-mails with Iranian officials.

Attorney Pierre-Richard Prosper said Afar gave him information he shared with the Iranian government that proved that Taghavi was not part of Tondar. The group claimed responsibility for the April 12, 2008, bombing of a mosque in the Iranian city of Shiraz.

Taghavi, 71, came to the United States in 1979, before the Iranian Revolution. He taught himself English, and started a video game company in his garage, which grew into a successful corporation.


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Filed under: Canada • Iran • Most Intriguing People • Politics
October 12th, 2010
04:01 PM ET

Tuesday's intriguing people

Liu Wei
The 23-year-old musician is proof that one can succeed in the face of incredible odds. He lost his arms in a childhood accident, but his ability to play piano with his toes made Liu the winner of “China’s Got Talent.”

Wei lost his arms in an electrocution accident when he was 10 years old. Yahoo! Music news reports that he was intent on pursuing his dream of becoming a concert pianist, despite comments from a piano teacher who told him he would never succeed. At the age of 18, Liu taught himself to play the piano.


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Filed under: Animals • Immigration • Most Intriguing People • Showbiz
October 11th, 2010
01:11 PM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Carolina Lobos

The 25-year-old is the daughter of Franklin Lobos, one of the 33 trapped miners in Copiapo, Chile. The elder Lobos is a former soccer star who, in 1980, led his home team - the Regional Atacama players - to championship victory and a promotion to the first division of Chilean soccer. Since the accident, Carolina Lobos has lived in a tent on the grounds of the mining site, smoking up to three packs of cigarettes a day.

Despite her concerns about her father, she said, this experience is allowing her to truly get to know him. Many of his former teammates are waiting in the campground with the Lobos family. And every night, Carolina sleeps with the Adidas t-shirt that was taken out of her father’s locker at the top of mine. She also wanted to send him a soccer ball, but it did not fit through the supply borehole.

According to an profile of Franklin Lobos, the incident made Carolina realize that she took family for granted. Once her dad is rescued, Carolina told ESPN, she is going “to give him all the love I never gave him. Help him. Take care of him. Protect him.”