Wednesday's intriguing people
The relaunch of Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” will premier June 20 on the Al Gore co-founded Current TV cable network.
June 8th, 2011
11:54 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Keith Olbermann

The former MSNBC anchor has done interviews in anticipation of the relaunch of his news broadcast “Countdown,” which will premier June 20 on the Al Gore co-founded Current TV cable network. The program will broadcast at 8 p.m. ET from Olbermann’s new — and rather Spartan — offices near New York’s Chelsea district.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Olbermann said MSNBC did not decide until halfway through the now infamous, final January 21 broadcast that the anchor would be cut loose from his contract. His staff found out at that time as well.

On Tuesday, Olbermann told Terry Gross of NPR’s “Fresh Air” that he is an opinion journalist. As a result, he said, it was fine for him to make political contributions to three Democratic candidates in 2010. However, he said, he did not make the donations to support their politics, per se, because he doesn’t even vote.

Instead, the money was meant to help the three officials obtain personal security after they’d faced numerous death threats, Olbermann said. Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was one of the recipients. In January, she was shot in the head while making an appearance at a grocery store parking lot.


Friday's intriguing people
The Edmonton Oilers' Gilbert Brule picked up a hitchhiking Bono.
June 3rd, 2011
12:57 PM ET

Friday's intriguing people

Gilbert Brule

The center for the Edmonton Oilers hockey team was driving down a road in West Vancouver, British Columbia, on Tuesday during a rainstorm when he came across an unlikely hitchhiker: U2 frontman Bono.

Bono and his assistant were out for a walk when, according to numerous reports, it started to rain. They looked for a lift to a dry place, and Brule and his girlfriend answered the call.

"I like ice hockey, because people who play ice hockey are the kind of people who pick up hitchhikers," Bono told a concert crowd Wednesday in Edmonton, Alberta.

In the crowd were Brule and his girlfriend, who sold their tickets to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Vancouver and jetted to Edmonton for the show, the CBC reported.


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Monday's intriguing people
FIFA's president Sepp Blatter was cleared of corruption allegations.
May 30th, 2011
12:38 PM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Sepp Blatter, Jack Warner and Mohamed bin Hammam

The three men are at the center of a corruption scandal involving FIFA, the federation responsible for organizing soccer's World Cup. While at least eight FIFA executives are being investigated for corruption, these three are important because they have roles in the election of FIFA's next president, which is scheduled for Wednesday. Also, they have ties to the controversial 2022 World Cup bid, awarded earlier this year to Qatar.

Bin Hammam, the world soccer governing body official, was suspended Sunday over allegations of corruption. Blatter, 75, has been FIFA's president for the past three terms. Blatter has been cleared of any wrongdoing and is seeking a fourth term. A longtime FIFA power broker from Trinidad and Tobago, Warner was placed on suspension. Click here for more on the scandal.

Jacob Zuma

South Africa's president will meet again with Libya's Moammar Gadhafi on Monday as part of his continued effort to stop the war in Libya. Zuma arrived today and first met with Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi al Mahmoudi. This is Zuma’s second trip to Libya.


Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann

Is there room enough for two powerful conservative women to seek the Republican nomination in 2012? Politico's Ben Smith has argued that while the two women are allies, Palin must be pushing Bachmann's buttons. This past week, Bachmann suddenly announced that she will decide whether to seek the GOP nomination in June. Smith suggested that the decision may have been triggered by Palin's roaring entry into Washington this weekend on a Harley Davidson.

Palin has also announced a bus tour through various U.S. cities. During a conference call last week, Bachmann expressed admiration for Palin, but said, "I don't believe that any two candidates are interchangeable. I believe each one of us brings our own unique skill set into this race."

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Wednesday's intriguing people
May 25th, 2011
10:31 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Dr. Lawrence Egbert

Egbert, an 83-year-old anesthesiologist, is being called "The New Doctor Death" by Newsweek. Egbert told The Baltimore Sun he's helped in the deaths of over 300 patients with illnesses ranging from cancer to Alzheimer's.

Egbert, who runs a right-to-die nonprofit called Final Exit Network, faces charges in Georgia, according to The Daily Beast, and was just acquitted in Phoenix in a case involving the death of a woman.

"I never thought of myself as having done anything that I should feel guilty of," he told the Sun. "I don't feel any conflict about helping someone stop suffering."

The group says it will help those who "have an incurable condition which causes intolerable suffering," according to its website . The group says there is a full and rigorous evaluation to decide whether to approve an applicant.  When a person is accepted, FEN assigns “exit guides” who offer advice on how to "hasten death," though physically they will not do anything to help.


Wednesday's intriguing people
May 18th, 2011
10:41 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Saif al-Adel

CNN’s Peter Bergen has reported that al-Adel, wanted by the FBI in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, is now the interim leader of al Qaeda, following the death of Osama bin Laden.  Noman Benotman, a former militant, told Bergen that Saif al-Adel has been chosen "caretaker" leader. Meanwhile, The News International, a Pakistani newspaper, reported Tuesday that a Yemeni clerk named Muhammad Mustafa Yamni is slated to be the new al Qaeda chief, with al-Adel focusing on operations.

Al-Adel, who is in his early 50s, is among the FBI’s most wanted, with a $5 million bounty on his head. He is an Islamic jihadist who served in the Egyptian special forces. Yamni is living somewhere in Africa, reports said.


Friday's intriguing people
Richard M. Daley is stepping down as Chicago mayor after 22 years in office. A new book looks at his and his father’s lives.
May 13th, 2011
12:02 PM ET

Friday's intriguing people

Richard M. Daley

For about 44 of the past 55 years, a man named Richard Daley has been mayor of Chicago. Richard J. Daley was mayor for more than two decades. And his son, Richard M. Daley, is now stepping down after 22 years in office. He’ll be succeeded Monday by former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

A new book by Neil Steinberg about the Daley legacy has been published with excerpts appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times. The Daleys have their political finesse and Democratic Party ties. More offbeat, Steinberg said, is the Daleys' "genius for mangling the English language.”

“There are even crooked reporters,” the first Daley said when faced with a police scandal, “and I can spit on some of them right here!” “Scrutiny?” the second Daley said about news coverage of his brother. “What else do you want? Do you want to take my shorts? Give me a break, go scrutinize yourself. I get scrootened every day, don’t worry, from each and every one of you. It doesn’t bother me.”


Wednesday's intriguing people
The rapper Common will be a guest at the White House.
May 11th, 2011
11:17 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people


The hip-hop performer and mainstream movie actor with a longtime reputation for his star power and socially conscious lyrics will be among a number of artists appearing with first lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday at a White House event honoring poetry. Conservatives including Karl Rove, Sean Hannity and Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are lambasting the invitation based on Common's 2007 performance on HBO's "Def Poetry," which is now posted on YouTube.

In "Letter to the Law," Common rapped about government corruption and police abuse in the inner city. He also criticized President George W. Bush's involvement in Iraq. "Burn a Bush 'cos for peace he no push no button," the artist said. "Killing over oil and grease/ no weapons of destruction."

Palin was the first to bring the clip national attention when she sent a Twitter message linking to a story about the poetry in the right-leaning website The Daily Caller. "Oh lovely, White House," Palin said.

By Tuesday night, Rove, Bush's top adviser turned Fox News commentator, was on the record calling Common "a thug." Hannity used his Fox program to accuse Common of previous drug use and promiscuity. Common has appeared in films such as "Terminator Salvation," "Date Night" and, most recently, "Just Wright" with Queen Latifah. He also starred in a Gap ad, "Peace, Love, the Gap."


Thursday's intriguing people
May 5th, 2011
12:08 PM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Vice Adm. William McRaven

The former Navy SEAL oversaw the operation that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, according to the Washington Post. McRaven is described as a square-jawed Texan and one of the most experienced terrorism hunters in the U.S. government.

He has spent years tracking bin Laden, and much of the past two months were devoted to extensive preparations involving the Navy SEALs' elite Team 6. McRaven apparently oversaw the operation from the Joint Operations Center in Bagram, Afghanistan.


Tuesday's Most Intriguing - Football player, a lawyer and a Japanese figure skater
Attorney Paul Clement quit his job at a prominent law firm when the firm backed out of a controversial case.
April 26th, 2011
11:21 AM ET

Tuesday's Most Intriguing - Football player, a lawyer and a Japanese figure skater

The former U.S. Solicitor General during the George W. Bush administration has resigned from his post at the Atlanta-based law firm of King and Spalding. According to NPR, Clement resigned as a partner at the firm after King and Spalding decided not to represent the House Republicans in their legal effort to support the Defense of Marriage Act. Earlier this year, the Obama administration announced that it would not defend the constitutionality of the law, which speaks against gay marriage. On Monday the law firm withdrew from the case and Clement resigned. "I resign out of the firm belief" that a lawyer should not abandon his client "because the client's legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters," Clement said in a statement.

The Rutgers football player who was paralyzed in an October 2010 game at Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey gave his first interview yesterday to journalists, insisting that he will some day walk again. LeGrand, a 20-year-old 6-2, 275-pound junior, broke his C3 and C4 vertebrae during a play against Army. While he uses a power chair that he guides with his mouth, LeGrand said that he's regained sensation in his body and can move his shoulder slightly. He lives with his mother in New Jersey, does therapy three times weekly and takes two classes via Skype. His sunny attitude is what contributes to his success, his mother told the New York Daily News. "He knows, 'Maybe playing football is something I'm not supposed to do,' " she said. "'I'm supposed to do something bigger than that.'"

The Japanese figure skater will defend her 2010 world championship title Tuesday in Moscow, rather than in Japan as originally scheduled. The 2011 World Figure Skating Championships were slated to begin March 21st in Tokyo, but Japan's earthquake on March 11 forced the International Skating Union to delay and relocate the competition. The Japanese athletes and coaches all wear stickers on their jackets that read "Rebirth Japan. We are always with you." Joining Asada will be Takahiko Kuzuka, Japan country's men's champion. He leads the men's competition going into Wednesday's short program by nearly 30 points.

The U.S. Olympic Track Gold Medalist announced earlier this month that he would seek a seat in the New Jersey State Senate. In today's Philadelphia Inquirer, Lewis said that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tried to dissuade Lewis from running hours before the announcement. The conversation with the governor came after several days of talks with Christie's staff, Lewis said. Staff members threatened that if Lewis decided to run, an athletic program he wanted to start would be scuttled. Christie's office is downplaying the accusations as a "silly" misinterpretation.

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Monday's Most Intriguing: Bernanke, Bahrain's prince, 'The Elders'
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold the first ever press conference by a Fed Chair on Wednesday.
April 25th, 2011
12:03 PM ET

Monday's Most Intriguing: Bernanke, Bahrain's prince, 'The Elders'


The Federal Reserve's board convenes on Tuesday with Chairman Bernanke taking an unprecedented risk. On Wednesday, he'll hold the first-ever press conference by a Fed Chairman. The entire world—particularly the Fed itself—will assess every word, the Wall Street Journal's David Wessel told NPR this morning. Bernanke feels this transparency is needed, given the public mistrust after the financial crisis. At the same time, the slightest misstep by Bernanke would cause a market tumble, said Wessel adding that this move will change the role of fed chair forever. Charisma will now be a required skill set for any future Federal Reserve chair, he said. Read Time magazine's intimate portrait of Bernanke, who was Man of the Year in 2009.


Bahrain's Crown Prince is sending his regrets to Britain's Prince William, stating that he must decline an invite to the royal wedding due to unrest in his country. The decision was delayed until the last minute, Prince Salman wrote, because he'd hoped violence would have subsided. There have been accounts of human rights violations across Bahrain. Go here for more on the latest from Bahrain.


Four members of the group for former world leaders announced in Beijing this morning that they will travel to North Korea in hopes of restoring dialogue between that country and South Korea. Former President Jimmy Carter, Finland's Martti Ahtisaari, Ireland's Mary Robinson, and the former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Brundtland are traveling to Pyongyang at the invitation of Kim John Il's government, Carter said. North Korea's critically low food supply and South Korea will be discussed. "Clearly there is a great level of mistrust and suspicion between North and South Korea," Ahtisaari said. "But the stakes are too high to allow this standoff to continue."

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Monday's Most Intriguing People: BP protester, U.S. ambassador, columnist
Douglas Kmiec resigned as U.S. ambassador to Malta.
April 18th, 2011
11:59 AM ET

Monday's Most Intriguing People: BP protester, U.S. ambassador, columnist

Douglas Kmiec
The U.S. ambassador to Malta and former legal aide to President Ronald Reagan resigned Saturday following a State Department report that his devotion to his religion was hindering his ability to do his job. In 2008, Kmiec, a devout Catholic, was publicly denied communion from his own priest for his support of Barack Obama in the2008 presidential election. Kmiec told CNN that he resigned, and was not pushed out of his position.

Cherri Foytlin
The Rand, Louisiana, mother of six, who is married to a Gulf oil worker, will protest at BP's Washington offices today to call attention to unresolved cleanup and compensation issues in that region from the 2010 oil spill. Foytlin walked 34 days and 1,243 miles from New Orleans to the capital last week, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. She claims that oil continues to wash ashore and Gulf residents are suffering from breathing in fumes from oil and dispersants. Her family took blood tests which she says show high levels toxins also found in crude, the New Orleans newspaper said. The compensation fund is not providing fair settlements to many Gulf residents, Foytlin said, and her family is in financial ruin. See CNN's coverage of the Gulf oil spill, one year later.

Frank Rich
The former New York Times columnist shocked many when he resigned earlier this year from the newspaper. The Poynter Institute, a journalism think-tank, as well as New York Magazine, report that Rich has launched a second career as producer of the upcoming HBO comedy series "Veep." The program about the first female vice president will star Julia Louis-Dreyfus of "Seinfeld" fame.

Thursday's intriguing people
Crystal Mangum falsely accused Duke athletes of rape in 2006. Now, she's accused of assaulting her boyfriend, who later died.
April 14th, 2011
01:24 PM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Crystal Mangum

In 2006, she was at the center of a national scandal when she falsely accused three Duke University Lacrosse players of raping her. Last week, Mangum, 32, was arrested and accused of assault after she reportedly stabbed her 46-year-old boyfriend during a domestic dispute, reports. Reginald Daye died Wednesday as a result of his injuries, and now, police say they are considering upgrading the charge against Mangum. She is being held on $300,000 bail in a Durham, North Carolina, jail. Last year, Mangum faced numerous charges, including assault, child abuse, resisting arrest and a dismissed charge of arson, WRAL reported.

Robert MacNeil

The retired co-host of the PBS News Hour will return to the program for the first time in 10 years Monday, offering a six-part report on autism. "Autism Today" will debut with a story about MacNeil's daughter and her 6-year-old son, who was diagnosed about four years ago. The remainder of the series will address the prevalence of autism (one and 110 children are diagnosed with the disorder, MacNeil said); causes; treatment; and public policy issues. Treatment falls mainly on the public education system, which is required  to offer free services to autistic children, MacNeil said in a recent interview. That demand is very burdensome now, but what's going to happen when "a huge cohort of American teenagers with autism" hits the social services system? MacNeil asked. "I've learned how amazingly complex this issue is, and how, despite the surge in research and a lot of fascinating things that have been found, science is grappling with, and coming up with, pieces of answers but no simple answer."

Li Cunxin

When he was a ballet dancer in the 1970s, Li made international headlines by defecting to the U.S. and losing his Chinese citizenship in the process. Now retired and working as a stockbroker in Australia, Li is in the U.S. on a speaking tour, and he's promoting the DVD release of the 2009 film that dramatized his life. "Mao's Last Dancer," directed by Bruce Beresford, had a small release in theaters in the U.S. in 2009, but it's one of the highest-grossing films in Australia, and pirated copies are selling quickly on China's black market. In an interview with The Washington Times, Li said he still travels to China on business and has noticed a decrease in personal and artistic freedom, particularly since the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. "I think in recent years, it's fair to say that the control has become tighter ... not only in the film industry ... but also in overall media," he said.

Tuesday's intriguing people
Abdullah Abdullah has long accused Afghan President Hamid Karzai's regime of corruption.
April 12th, 2011
10:50 AM ET

Tuesday's intriguing people

Abdullah Abdullah

The former Afghan foreign minister, considered the chief opposition leader to President Hamid Karzai, is in Washington to speak at the 2011 U.S.-Islamic World Forum, which begins Tuesday. Appearing on NPR on Tuesday morning, Abdullah repeated his allegation of rampant corruption in the Karzai government. He withdrew from the 2009 Afghan presidential election in protest over his accusations of a fixed vote for Karzai. On April 21, Abdullah will appear at the National Press Club in Washington.

Maikel Nabil

The Egyptian blogger, 25, faces three years in prison for criticizing Egypt's ruling military council with allegations of brutality. It is the first trial of a blogger held by the military leaders who took charge in February after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak. The ruling stands as a warning for all journalists, bloggers and human rights activists who dare to dissent, attorney Adel Ramadan told The New York Times. "Maikel is the first prisoner of conscience in Egypt after the revolution," Ramadan told the Times.


Thursday's Most Intriguing People: A generous doc, a forgiving actress
Debbie Reynolds talked to HLN's Joy Behar about her special friendship with Elizabeth Taylor.
March 24th, 2011
12:13 PM ET

Thursday's Most Intriguing People: A generous doc, a forgiving actress

The retired physician is being called "Bakersfield College's $14 million man." Levan gave the California school the largest known gift to a community college in U.S. history, according to KGET. Administrators were floored by the generous act. "We're staring down these budget scenarios that are just absolutely frightening and potentially devastating to our students," said Amber Chiang, spokeswoman for Bakersfield College.

Levan, who amassed a fortune through investments, is a dermatologist who used to treat former college President John Collins. The Bakersfield Californian said he has made massive donations to other higher education institutions around the world.

Levan's thoughts on his gift: "Relieved! I'd hate to die rich!"

The legendary actress shared profound — and often blush-worthy — insights about the late Elizabeth Taylor on Wednesday night during an exclusive interview with HLN's Joy Behar. Reynolds last spoke to Taylor two weeks ago, she said, adding that the actress was in great pain before her death. Reynolds also cherished their longtime friendship, which survived a scandal that made them the Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie of their era.

"No one could equal Elizabeth's beauty," Reynolds said. "Women liked her, and the men adored her — I know, because my husband left me for her." In 1959, singer Eddie Fisher left Reynolds and her two young children, Todd and actress and novelist Carrie Fisher, for Taylor.

"Elizabeth and I were able to get all past that," Reynolds said. "She did a really nice creation with her life. She went on to work for AIDS (to) become very charitable, (and) get off the path of man-hunting."


On Wednesday, NASA abruptly canceled several one-on-one media interviews that were to occur Thursday in Houston with the space shuttle commander. Kelly said he was concerned that the questions would focus not on the upcoming Endeavour launch but on the condition of his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Giffords is undergoing rehabilitation after being shot in the head January 8 at an event in Tucson, Arizona. Six other people, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, were killed. Previous interviews with Kelly's brother and fellow astronaut Scott Kelly have focused on Giffords, a NASA spokeswoman said.

Kelly will appear with the other crew members during a news conference at 3 p.m. ET, which CNN will air live.

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