Blog : December 2010
Overheard on Billy the Kid will not be pardoned »


Comment of the day: “Billy the Kid would have gotten out earlier if he had offered a kidney to his brother.” -- Surthurfurd


No pardon for Billy the Kid


Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico decided Friday not to pardon the legendary Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid in the death of a law enforcement officer more than a century ago.


Former New Mexico Gov. Lew Wallace is thought to have promised a pardon to Billy the Kid, formally known as William H. Bonney, if Bonney testified before a grand jury that was investigating another killing.


Many CNN responders sounded off of the governor’s decision.


Quiltpix said, “Bonney broke the contract by escaping house arrest and killing more people, so of course the pardon promise was no longer on the table. Richardson was absolutely right to look into this carefully and deny the pardon.”


Cowboy2 commented, “Nice, thousands of people out of work and the governor is worried about pardoning the murderer of two lawmen from over a century ago. Way to go Richardson the Kid!”


IxNay replied, “Come one, this is all good for tourism. I imagine this keeps a number of people employed and brings in tourist dollars. Besides, how does considering this take him away from other issues?”


Lawtoad commented, “Good point. You also need to consider that Bill Richardson is the outgoing governor with little to actually do in the final days of his administration. Here in New Mexico the attention has brought a small wave of increased tourism, and promoting tourism is a good thing.”


Sufoacirema commented, “No pardon for that cold blooded killer. Enough with the bleeding hearts.”


The best (and worst) films of 2010


Movie reviewer Tom Charity shares his picks for the top 10 movies of 2010 and his five worst movies of the year. Charity’s picks range from top blockbuster hits to small independent films, and he asks the audience to share their top picks of the year as well.


Some CNN responders agreed with several of Charity’s choices, while others strongly disagreed.


MtnSoldier commented, “The fact that you left off  'Inception' makes you and your list totally irrelevant. It's obvious to anyone who saw the film it was one of, if not the best, film of the year.”


BWOzar said, “I think everyone takes a little something different from 'bad action movies.' I for one far preferred ‘Predators’ to ‘The Expendables,’ but I completely agree with you that ‘Skyline’ was one of the worst movies of 2010 and the entire decade.”


ThePigMan commented, “ ‘Scott Pilgram vs. the World’ is by far the best movie of the year.”


Angryart commented, “Finally, someone gets it. ‘Grown Ups’ was absolutely dreadful. So bad in fact, that my wife and I only got 20 minutes in before turning it off. What a waste of a rental.”


CEY said, “I took my 13-year-old son to see ‘The Last Airbender,’ and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it myself. I also took both of my sons to see ‘The Prince of Persia,’ and I think I enjoyed it more than they did! Lest you think my tastes run the way of 13-year-old boys, I must now state that I am dying to see ‘The King's Speech.’ ”


Slimjurado commented, “Anything the Coens touch is magic.”


SteveChicago said, “I am a little surprised that the movie critic did not have more foreign films in the list, especially one with subtitles. Must have not gone to a good film school.”


Catkid replied, “Typical male choices. Time to get a female reviewer.”


Ring in the new year single and happy


Licensed marriage and family therapist and author of "Beware of Dogs: How to Avoid Dating Disasters" Barbara Hayes tells readers that they can be single on New Years and still be happy.


Several CNN responders agreed with Hayes and shared that they will be ringing in the new year without a significant other.


jasp8019 said, “Barb, for the past week I have been gloomy because I am single and I have no woman to kiss at the stroke of midnight. For the past six New Year’s Eves I have ended up kissing wrong women. For the past week, I have been trying hard to control and not end up with a date on New Year’s Eve with some Ms. Will-do-for-now. You just made my day. I love the tips on pampering myself and doing something different.”


ForASong commented, “It's better to be alone on New Year's Eve than to wish you were.”


fxsmit9 said, “Forget the status of being single, it’s not a curse. I married the wrong woman and not one New Year’s we spent together have I ever enjoyed. Single is so much better than being in the wrong relationship. There are plenty of single people who will be out and about sharing your freedom to be able to choose mister or miss make-me-happy-for-tonight.”


Apocalypse12 said, “Better to be single and kiss the wrong person goodnight, than to be in a relationship and having to kiss the wrong person goodnight every night!”


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by: ccostello3 // December 31, 2010
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3... 2... 1... »

2011 is already here in many parts of the world. Chrissie Thoo posted this amazing image of the fireworks in Sydney, Australia, saying, “My hope for 2011 is to travel the world!”

Roy Crisostomo wants “peace and prosperity for the world” this coming year. Here is his shot of one of the first New Year’s celebrations, in Auckland, New Zealand.

A few hours later in the Philippines, iReporter Sherbien Dacalanio captured the colorful fireworks display and giant globe marking the start of 2011 in Manila.

Elsewhere, the party’s just starting! If you’re celebrating near an iconic landmark, we want to see your spectacular photo of the first seconds of 2011. Share your photos, and you could see them tonight on “New Year’s Eve Live” on CNN at 11 p.m. ET.

Posted by:
// December 31, 2010
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Overheard on Unusual trade for freedom »

Comment of the day: "I'm amazed at the amount of people that are so quick to persecute these two, yet you step back and allow crooked politicians that you vote into office and greedy corporations steal out of your pockets every single day. These two girls are easy targets. How about going after the ones that matter?" -- Fricsaid readers had strong opinions on the stories featured today, and they weren’t afraid to voice them.


Kidney donation a condition of sisters’ release in Mississippi


Two sisters from Mississippi will be released after serving 16 years for an $11 armed robbery under the condition that the younger sister, Gladys Scott, gives one of her kidneys to her older sister, Jamie.


Each sister was given a double life sentence for the crime, but Gov. Haley Barbour has suspended those sentences. Barbour said the Department of Corrections believes that the sisters are no longer a threat to society.


Jamie Scott has been receiving dialysis treatment for her condition, which has been a substantial cost for the state.


Many CNN responders have sounded off on the sentences the sisters received for an $11 armed robbery.


Jaggers43 wrote, “Life sentences for an $11 armed robbery in which no one was hurt and yet we have convicted murders and rapists serving 7 years or less. Something is seriously wrong with this picture. I can't even imagine a prosecutor seeking a life sentence for this kind of offense.”


Troller commented, “How do you get two life sentences from an armed robbery, unless there was death involved, which wasn't mentioned?”


Other commenters with the crime and not the amount of money received from it.


samike007 wrote, “The comments on here are crazy. Talking about how the punishment was too severe. It's actually quite simple; if you don't want a punishment of any time, don't do the damn crime. I have no sympathy for criminals. Criminals take the chance of committing a crime because they weigh the chance of getting caught, the chance of getting off plus the cost of the punishment. If we up the cost of the punishment, making it too severe, the benefit will not equal the cost and therefore crime would drastically drop.”


Former Israeli president found guilty of rape, sexual harassment


A three-judge panel found former Israeli President Moshe Katsav guilty of multiple charges of rape and sexual harassment.


Katsav was president of Israel from 2000 to 2007. He resigned the presidency in June 2007 because of the sexual assault allegations.


CNN responders had very strong opinions about Katsav and how his actions reflected on the country of Israel.


rogerandover wrote, “This represents absolutely no insight into the nature of any religion, government or ethnicity. Men have been doing this stuff to women since cave drawings.”

thompsonch8 commented, “The state of Israel is the only country in the Middle East in which a president goes to jail when doing something like this…'nuff said. As an Israeli I'm proud that we still have a functioning legal system, which is loyal to the principals of justice and not only to money and power.”


2010: Year of the angry traveler


Travelers are usually frustrated with holiday travel, but extreme weather, increased baggage fees, scanners and pat downs have outraged many. readers were among the annoyed masses.

FreeJustice wrote, “Angry traveler? With customer service choices: a) radioactive nude photographs; OR b) personal molestation by an underpaid, uneducated stranger - you mean "traveling victim". That is my opinion.”


DRinIN agreed saying, “We want our government to catch the bad guys, and or find the bombs. That’s it! We don't what them to treat ALL of us like terrorists to do that. Use some common sense. Get some behavioral profilers trained and into the lines at our airports. Stop this stupid, ineffective, and wasteful TSA.”


And ron767 summed it up in three words. “TSA = Tourism Scared Away.”


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by: jsarverCNN // December 30, 2010
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10 memorable iReport interviews for 2010 »

We saw the awesome answers you gave to our 10 questions about 2010, but let’s not forget all the great answers you received. Here are our 10 favorite moments from this year’s iReport interviews:

1. In September, debate raged over an Islamic center set to be built near Ground Zero. When Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf spoke to CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, he also got an interview question from iReporter Kathi Cordsen, asking whether he could find another place for the center. See how he responded:

2. “The Social Network” premiered in October to hype, buzz and controversy, and iReporter Britney Rooks asked writer Aaron Sorkin about one edited scene that made headlines when the movie was first released:

3. A question for the First Lady? Amie Hamlin stepped up to the challenge, asking Michelle Obama about school lunches, one of her pet projects, during a “Larry King Live” interview in February. See below:

4. It’s not too often that we get a rock band here in the newsroom. Our own Tyson Wheatley was particularly pumped to present iReport questions to the band Vampire Weekend in April. Check out what they had to say:

5. Before Scott Pilgrim took on “the World” onscreen in August, he (well, Michael Cera, really), co-star Jason Schwartzman and fan-favorite director Edgar Wright sat down for one of the most bizarre iReport interviews ever:

6. Speaking of strange, CNN’s Brooke Anderson probably didn’t know what to expect when she asked “Get Him to the Greek” star Russell Brand to answer some iReport questions in June (this was in the pre-iPad days, so please forgive). He certainly gave some memorable answers, including his ideas for potential baby names:

7. What books did the cast of “Harry Potter” grow up with? Great question. What does Daniel Radcliffe think about puppets possibly taking over for human actors? That’s probably the first time he’s gotten that one. Check out the cast and their answers from November:

8. Sarah Jessica Parker was truly touched to receive this question from Cordsen (making her second appearance on this top 10). Cordsen observed the actress’ vivaciousness in public and wondered, “In your real life, do you have that much energy?” Parker’s answer - which also appeared on HLN's "Showbiz Tonight" -  was definitely a highlight of the year:

9. J.D. Cargill, producer with CNN entertainment, who has handled many iReport interviews in his time, said, “When Nick Lachey was asked the biggest regret he’s had about his career….Nick was kind of like, ‘wow, no one has ever asked me that before’… which was pretty cool.” Take a look at that moment from earlier this month, courtesy iReport movie critic Rajiim Gross, below:

10. 2010 ended with a bang: Jack Black broke out into song, and Jason Segel admitted crying, in public, over a certain beloved children’s book. See for yourself as iReporters quizzed the cast of “Gulliver’s Travels”:

Thanks for your iReport questions in 2010, and look forward to more in 2011 (can you say “Country Strong?”). Meanwhile, you can take part in the first two interviews of the new year by posting a video question for Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, or the cast of “The Green Hornet.”

Posted by:
// December 30, 2010
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Reminder: Next iReport roundtable one week from today »

Yes, the first iReport roundtable of 2011 is just one week away! We look forward to hearing from you then. Happy New Year!

Posted by:
// December 30, 2010
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Posted in: community
Overheard on Neanderthals' modern meals »

Comment of the day: “If cooking vegetables means you're evolved, does that mean over-cooking them implies that you're really evolved? If so, Applebee’s is really, really evolved.” –2tired2care


Study: Neanderthals cooked, ate vegetables


A new study found that Neanderthals were more like modern humans than previously thought.


Neanderthals ate various plants and included cooked grains as part of a diet similar to modern humans, according to researchers at George Washington University and The Smithsonian Institute


Many CNN responders found the study thought provoking.


IndInDallas wrote, “I found this interesting, since my reading in anthropology has been speculating for at least 30 years that Neanderthals both cooked and ate other foods beside meat. We are, by scientific description, omnivores, and so were they.” GPBurdell said, “How come Neanderthals ate veggies but we can’t get modern man to do so? More proof that we’re going backwards not forwards.”


Other responders, like our quote of the day commenter, found the more humorous side of the story. LiberalOne said, “I bet they could knock out a kickin’ string bean casserole.”


Police: Man hits teen over phone dispute on plane


A 68-year-old man was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery after police say he struck a teen who would not turn off his iPhone while their plane was taxiing for takeoff.


The incident took place on a flight from Las Vegas to Boise, Idaho, and many CNN commenters had no sympathy for the teen.


omazzoni wrote, “I'm glad he smacked that kid....Let that dude out of jail. A nation of wimps is what we are becoming. If the kid had a problem with the old man, he shouldn't have told on him, he should have taken care of business himself. But I suspect that's the reason this 15 year-old has an iPhone to begin with, mommy and daddy have coddled him his whole life. I hope he smacks that kid again when he gets out of jail.”


cbbhs1982 commented, “Why is this even an issue, I would have hit the kid as well or taken the phone out of his hands.”


One responder saw the incident differently. diddykong wrote, “Lay a hand on me while on a plane and it will be on like Donkey Kong. Nobody appointed you sheriff last time I checked.”


Frustrated travelers continue to battle blizzard aftermath


Travel, or the hindrance of it, has been a hot topic in the news, and CNN viewers had strong opinions about the stories of airplanes being stuck on tarmacs for over 10 hours. trav202 wrote, “It seems criminal to keep people sitting on a plane for 11 hours. I would have lost my mind.”


We even received a comment from a traveler who was stuck on an airplane.


Mabcabr commented, “...I arrived on a TAM flight from Sao Paulo. We were stuck as many others, for 4 hours after we landed on time at 3:45PM yesterday, an eternity, but nothing compared to those 11 hours from Cathay Pacific Airways. …It is 6:50AM now on a Wednesday and I'm still at JFK. Scary enough, I'm taking the same Cathay Pacific flight to Vancouver that was supposed to depart last night, at 10PM.but it has been delayed TWICE already. What frustrates me is not the waiting, but the lack of respect to the passengers as I mentioned. And if we, the users who give the companies/airports their profits, do not do anything, the situation will only get worse. Maybe we should be advised to pack in our carry on a tent, an air mattress, a 24-hours food supply and LOTS of painkillers! Welcome to the new way of flying.


And although we have received many views from passengers, today we received a comment from a flight attendant.


MaryPHL wrote, “I'm a flight attendant and believe me, crews hate this too. Despite what many passengers think, we don't get paid extra on delays, we don't love getting stuck at an outstation, and we don't withhold information. I was on what was supposed to be a 2-day trip to Panama, turned into 4 days. That's 2 less days with my baby, 2 days more of paying for meals, and a whole day of delays on the airplane while passengers yell at me because I don't know how long the delay is going to be. If I knew, why wouldn't I tell you? What would be the point of keeping the secret? FA's and pilots love their jobs 99% of the time, but there are times like this that are rough. Please be kind to your crew!”


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by: jsarverCNN // December 29, 2010
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Most memorable iReport moments of 2010 »

2010 has come and gone, and it's been another banner year for CNN iReport. As is our tradition, here's a look back at some of our favorite moments from the year gone by.

lila: Hands down, my favorite iReport moment on 2010 came early. It was January 15. Three days earlier, a massive earthquake had struck Haiti, leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands more in desperate circumstances. On iReport, worried family and friends of people in Haiti started posting pleas for help: My mother is missing. Last seen in Port-au-Prince. Here is her picture. Help me. Please. The iReport team and scores of our unstoppably kind and dedicated colleagues and friends pitched in to organize all those pleas for help into a database that we could sort and share and show on television. To get the word out about the missing and the found, and, hopefully, put families back together.  So. January 15. I’m sitting at my desk in the newsroom. I look up at my TV and see Wolin Delerme, a woman who’d shared a photo of her sister on iReport earlier in the week, talking with Wolf Blitzer via Skype. Blitzer had shown the photo of Delerme’s missing sister on television earlier the same day. Miraculously, someone in Haiti saw the broadcast and happened to recognize Delerme’s sister, who was nearby. He connected the two sisters by telephone, and Delerme called in to CNN to share the good news. That day, the power of iReport put a family back together. It’s just one story in a million. And I’ll remember it forever.


hhanks: Every so often you get an iReport that's so incredible, it's beyond belief. That happened to us on the morning of April 9. Several videos were posted from Cairo, Egypt of a helicopter hovering over one of the Egyptian pyramids. The iReporter, Darrel Butler - who was visiting from Austin, Texas - said that a man had climbed the pyramid. "All of a sudden this large military chopper came right over and to the top of the pyramid," he told me. "We heard our guide talking to other Egyptians in loud voices and he told us a crazy person had actually scaled and made it to the top with the police in pursuit." Immediately, we contacted the CNN international desk to find out what we could about the incident. As the weekend had already begun, they weren't too optimistic that we would get an answer right away. Minutes later, however, they responded to us confirming that it had taken place, saying in a statement, "Last night, April 8, a visitor to the pyramids, Hassan Farooq Anter, 24, climbed the Hafra Pyramid (the second biggest), and the police asked a specialist to climb the pyramid to arrest the man. However, due to fear that Anter had hidden weapons, the specialist refused. This afternoon, April 9, an army helicopter came down and apprehended Anter." At the time, the reason he climbed the pyramid was unknown. This video went viral online and it was just another example of how CNN iReport can break news.

ccostello3: When I started my internship with iReport in June, the BP Oil Spill was really starting to take its toll on the people of the Gulf Coast. As a team, we decided that it would be best to share the stories of iReporters who had been living through and documenting the disaster as the oil washed up onto their shores. We posted these amazing stories of heartbreak, anger and survival on our blog as part of our Gulf Journal series, and I had the privilege to write six of the posts. Even though months have past since I wrote these posts, I still remember every interview and detail that helped me build these stories. I will never forget Gregg Hall's videos of oil washing over the white beaches of Pensacola, Florida, or Eileen Romero's determination and motivation to drive hours to Grand Isles, Louisiana to share what was happening to a place she spent so much time at as a child or Karen Baker's concern for the wildlife of Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi. These iReporters along with all the others who shared their stories from the Gulf are truly inspirational, and I will never forget all the time I spent talking to them and helping them to share their stories with the world.

rachel8: My favorite story of the year wasn't exactly the newsiest - actually, it wasn't really newsy at all, by the traditional definition. But here at iReport, we're all about telling people's personal stories. And what's more personal than a name? I loved writing our "what's in a name?" piece because I felt like I really got to know the iReporters that contributed. Everyone in the world has a story behind their name, and everyone's affected by their name to some extent. So it was fascinating to hear about people's names and how inextricably linked they are to their identities. Plus, it was one of our first stories where iReporters and CNNers collaborated - we ended up with stories from both in the final piece! I can't wait to see what you share with us in 2011.

dsashin: I joined Team iReport in August, and have been privileged to be part of several amazing projects, including CNN30 and the iReport Global Challenge. But my favorite day at iReport in 2010 was October 13, when CNN viewers all over the world watched as many of the trapped Chilean miners came to the surface and rushed into the arms of waiting family members. The best were the stories of young children taking part in a rare feel-good news story. In particular, I remember little Inés Castillo Pike in Spain, who used a paper towel tube and her Prince Charming toy to explain how the miners were rescued, and the little girls in California who joined the miners and rescuers in chanting "Chi Chi Chi le le le los mineros de Chile!"

zdan: iReport has a special way of making the universal into something personal. When the U.S. Senate decided not to extend unemployment benefits for 1.2 million Americans back in June, we wanted to find a way to translate this huge number into a tangible story. Miriam Cintron was one of the million losing her benefits. She was forced to make a difficult choice between paying for health insurance and daily expenses. Cintron’s brave story helped shed light on this phenomenon and painted a picture of what it’s really like to be unemployed.

katie: The fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina was a pretty special moment for me this year. That’s because we raised the bar by asking iReporters to go out and revisit the devastated places that they had photographed in 2005. Their new photos told stories of frustration and hope – while some places had fully rebuilt, others saw little change in five years. The project also gave me the exciting opportunity to meet several iReporters in person, including Lauren DiMaggio, Eileen Romero and Conrad Wyre, who impressed and inspired us with their powerful then-and-now photographs and personal recollections of the storm. I’m really proud of how the final product turned out; it’s something we couldn’t have done without a dedicated group of iReporters on the ground.

nsaidi: Probably one of my favorite moments of the year was around the midterm elections when people were showing us their polling locations and taking pictures of their election stickers. The stickers in particular were such a personal and wacky lens in the election. Nothing other than iReport could have showed that. We saw the insignias of faraway places and even a sticker smaller than a dime. I like how iReport can show the cultural side of things.

jsarverCNN: I started as an intern at CNN iReport a month after the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti. One of the most amazing stories I came across was one of a survivor who was trapped under rubble for four weeks. It was hard to believe that someone could survive under those conditions for so long.  But when Dr. Sanjay Gupta located the survivor in Haiti, the story transformed from one of disbelief to an amazing account of survival and determination. I am still amazed by the stories iReport continues to uncover.

davidw: It's hard to pick just one highlight for 2010, but if I have to I'd have to say that the response to CNN iReport boot camp was my favorite. It was inspiring to see that so many people were willing to put in so much work -- and it was hard work -- because they wanted to become better reporters. That hard work has paid off in your iReports and we look forward to trying new boot camp projects in 2011. The other great thing is how excited our colleagues at CNN were to work with you. The other great thing (yeah, I'm not just picking one) was that the the midterm elections went by minimal drama. Sure there was partisanship and some spirited debate, but everyone who was here in 2008 can tell you how far we've come as a community.

That was our year. What was yours like? Well, see below:

We've really appreciated all of your iReports this past year (iReport literally conquered the world!) and look forward to more in 2011! Happy New Year!

Posted by:
// December 29, 2010
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Posted in: community
Overheard on Tech/weather ‘fails,’ Sir Elton’s baby success »

Quote/Exchange of the day: “Give it a couple of years and things like Facebook will go the way of Krispy Kreme donuts. Fads never last.” –bbqbearII


“My grandpa said the same thing about that silly internet a few years back.” –Casa2613


2010’s top 10 tech fails


While technology companies continued to soar in 2010, there were some low points, even for the stars like Apple and Google. CNN tech writer Doug Gross highlights them in a list of the top 10 biggest tech fails of the year, starting with Apple’s iPhone 4 “Antennagate.” CNN responders had plenty to say about that choice, others that made the list and the ones they felt were missing.


smartdon007 was surprised. “Wow! CNN lists Apple failure? On any given day, CNN is always praising Apple. Today, two of the Apple products are listed in failure. Just makes my day!” yeshia shared “iPhone 4 is the best phone I have ever owned and I have had a mobile-cell since the days of the Brick-Phones! Antenna issues? What issues? Never had one.” admlshake said “I had (an iPhone 4) and traded it in for a different phone. I think the biggest problem people had was when the internal emails leaked from Apple it showed that they knew there was a problem with it, but shipped it out anyway.” amnesiac85 “I think that the Apple antenna problems were pretty overstated. I haven't had any sort of problem with my iPhone 4, neither have any of my friends or family who purchased them.”


Perhaps the most common tech “fail” responders agreed with was No. 10. CanDoAll said, “Ping has to be up there with all the advertising dollars spent on it being the next big thing.” Greg7388 wrote, “Ping is a joke. I tried to use it, but it's really useless. Without Facebook integration, it's not going anywhere.”


And the tech “fails” CNN responders wanted to see on the list? ddogsdad said, “You left off GOOGLE TV.” elazul2k added, “Include the iPad and you’ve got yourself a list. The thing didn't even come with flash. It was a big iPod touch more or less that cost twice as much.”



Holiday storm havoc continues


People across the Northeast continue to wrestle with the fifth largest snowstorm in New York history, with travel, commuting and power problems giving them nightmares. CNN responders who live in the affected areas shared their experience, while others felt that the weather story should have blown over already.


CityBoy34 said, “Only the island of Manhattan is plowed. There is a plow truck stuck down the block from where I live. None of the streets by me have been plowed and I live near a major bridge. The outer Burroughs are still buried. It’s kinda funny.” misshugrad was hopeful: “I'm at La Guardia Airport in NYC right now heading to DC on a flight I booked months ago and my flight it scheduled to depart on time at 9:04 a.m. *knocks on wood*” Vsaxena shared, “My parents said to hell with the airports. They just drove all the way from Indiana to North Carolina. Long and somewhat unsafe trip, but cheaper and a lot less hassle! Plus my dad is a meticulous driver. I don't blame them either. A few years ago I got stuck at O'Hare and it was a pain trying to get any rest through the night. Anyway. I hope everyone gets home safely.”


The less sympathetic responders also posted comments. westvil1 said, “OK. Got it. Snow disrupted life and caused some inconvenience. Time to man up and get on with life. And, yes. I am a New Yorker.”


gardiego added, “They were forecasting this storm the Wednesday before Christmas. So as far as the air travelers, they were given plenty of warning.”


youngest1 said, “Come on, folks. Its winter and blizzards happen.”


Elton John becomes a dad


Sir Elton John and his partner of 12 years welcomed a son on Christmas Day. Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John was born in California via a surrogate, and many CNN responders commented on the birth.


mizh said, “I wish them much happiness and I'm sure the baby will grow up privileged and never want for anything. You read these days about too many other children being fostered/adopted and then beaten or starved to death. This is one lucky little boy.”  Ziggi agreed, “Congratulations, guys! And best wishes to all concerned.”  MickOreilly cheekily remarked, “A couple things are for sure: That is going to be one rich and fabulously dressed child.”


Other responders were less supportive. Liberal29 wrote, “How selfish can you get? Elton is 62 years old and he'll be 80 by the time that kid gets out of high school. I'm gay and a liberal and a parent of 6 children, all of whom are grown now. Elton, I agree with your decision to have kids, since it's the best way to spend your life. I just wish you had made this decision a few decades ago.” epdm agreed, “I do think that undertaking parenthood at 62 is a questionable choice. Still, I hope it works out ok for him.”  Malofeo said, “Elton won't be raising the child, there'll be a nanny (or manny) to take care of all the day-to-day menial chores. He'll of course flounce around in public showing him off, much like a new handbag.”


And while there were plenty of anti-gay comments, epdm disagreed: “Am I the only rock-ribbed conservative out there who can't understand the irrational hatred expressed toward two consenting adults who want to start a family?”

Posted by: kgriggs // December 28, 2010
Posted in: comments
Overheard on Tough choice on Christmas Eve »


From Kristy Griggs, special to CNN:


Comment of the day: “Glad this baby was not found in a dumpster, especially on Christmas. Kudos to Safe Haven Laws.” --softblonde

Mother gives baby to California firefighters


A 27-year old woman in California made a big decision Christmas Eve. She surrendered her six-hour-old daughter to firefighters in Los Angeles. Although information about her circumstances has not been made public, the firefighters said the newborn is healthy and did not appear to have been neglected or abused. In California, a parent or legal guardian can surrender a newborn at fire stations and hospital emergency rooms with no fear of arrest. Most CNN responders agreed that giving up the child took courage.

jchilli25 said “I am so glad she did this. [We] had a local story last week where the mother left a baby at someone’s doorstep while they were at work and the baby died. Think what you will of her, at least she gave this little one a chance to live.”

Myopin strongly supported the woman’s decision: "Kudos to this mother. This is the most selfless act there is. She knew she couldnt take care of this baby, for whatever reason, and took it to the fire department which was the exact right thing to do. All my love and prayers go out to her, she will be blessed beyond imagination for this and so will that baby."

But some readers saw a double standard for would-be moms versus dead-beat dads. BS76 says, “So a woman can give her kid up no questions asked, but if a man wants to do the same he's a "deadbeat" and has to pay or go to jail? Yeah, that's some great "equality" for you.”

Other readers pointed out that Safe Haven Laws aren’t always perfect. So a woman can give her kid up no questions asked, but if a man wants to do the same he's frame as being a "deadbeat" and has to pay or go to jail? Yeah, that's some great "equality" for you. Jmons wrote: “We had this law in Omaha, Nebraska and it turned into a nightmare for us. While we had intended to rescue brand new babies, as was the case here, people from all over the country were driving here and dropping off five- and six-year-old kids. I think someone tried to give us a 17-year old. I love the law but I hope L.A. finds the way to word it right.”

Pakistani officials say suspected drone strike kills 18


If the latest U.S. strike is confirmed, based on a count by the CNN Islamabad bureau, it will bring the number of drone strikes to 108 this year, compared with 52 in 2009. CNN responders discussed the efficacy and location of the attacks.

AlreadyInUse was concerned about what she views as an extension of the Afghanistan war. “Congress declared war on Pakistan? When? Oh well, it's not like constitution ever tied anyone's hands. Joecanadian had some tough words for the U.S.: “I wish Pakistan had drones to attack and kill Americans in America. Even things out a bit.”

justinrodrig responded to joecanadian by saying “They call their drones suicide bombers.” Other readers simply demonstrated their support for the apparent strikes, including TimeInTexas who wrote “Drones rock—fewer Americans in danger when using them. The only way to get a rat is to drive them out. Looks like the drones are doing that.

But Tonylord was skeptical, “I hope we are killing the terrorists instead of innocent civilians. I just hope we are not creating 10 new ones for everyone innocent life as a collateral damage.”

Icon Teena Marie dies at age 54


Celebrated R&B singer-songwriter, Teena Marie, was found dead Sunday at her California home. Many CNN responders recalled with great fondness the influence the 54-year old, four-time Grammy nominated artist had on their lives.

Frank9875 wrote that “Teena was a talent. It is unfortunate that anyone would feel the need to post a negative comment. I have a lot of memories from her hits over the years. Rap and Hip hop may have pushed her to the side, but she had the chops and I always thought with the right vehicle, could have hit again today as b... more Teena was a talent. I have a lot of memories from her hits over the years. I always thought that, with the right vehicle, she could have a hit again today as big as the Rihannas or the Keshas.”

Denisemonty recalled “I count myself grateful to have seen her live a few years ago. Girlfriend even broke out her bass and played the bassline for "Lovergirl." What an amazing talent. God rest her soul and be with her family, especially her lovely daughter.”

VICTORY58 also recalled seeing her live. I remember seeing her and Rick James in concert in Columbia, S.C. in the mid 80's! I really enjoy listening to her music! R.I.P.!”

Some CNN responders were not familiar with Marie as Ravi999 demonstrated: “Never heard of her ‘til today. Just listened to some of her songs. According to Wikipedia she also wrote, produced, sang and arranged virtually all of her songs. Respect. May you sing with the angels Miss Marie.”

Other responders took issue with the singer being described as a “black voice in a white body.” McGillicudy wrote “She was a white woman! OMG. Singing R&B?! Why can't she be just an American R&B singer?”

But DaddyR69 said “The loss of Teena Marie is not a loss to the black or white American community. It is a loss to the music industry and mostly it's a loss to the members of her family and her close friends! RIP. Thanks for the music.”


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by: kgriggs // December 27, 2010
 3 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Snow ignites creativity »

Karla Ann Lowery and her husband decided to create a seaside atmosphere. They live on the oceanfront and created two snow “beach bums”; complete with cocktails.


Christopher Lee of Siler City, North Carolina got the idea to build a construction-worker snowman when he saw a snow plow go by.



Snow seems to bring out the creativity in iReporters. Last winter, we were rewarded with a Lady Gaga snow sculpture, a fire-breathing snowman, and lots of other whacky creations.


This season, innovation seems to be the central theme. Since Sunday, we've seen some great examples of iReporters using everyday items -- though not your average snowman apparel -- to concoct their snow creatures.


Brett Martin, out of Virginia Beach, Virginia thought it would be nice to pay tribute to his friends in the Navy. His snowman, sporting a SEAL team 2 hat, is equipped with a fishing pole and has fishing lures for his eyes, nose and mouth.


Also in Virginia Beach, Karla Ann Lowery and her husband decided to create a seaside atmosphere. They live on the oceanfront and created two snow “beach bums”; complete with cocktails.


Other creative characters included a snowman decked out in an orange construction vest, a skateboarding snowman and an expensive looking snowman named “Diddy”; with shiny silver buttons.


We also saw plenty of traditional snowmen. In Alabama, it snowed enough for Alysha Poe to help her daughter build her first snowman. “This was the first time my daughter ever played in the snow,” she said. “She had a wonderful time building the snowman with me.”


Check out videos and photos of the winter snow gripping the country and upload your own photos and videos to show us how you are dealing with this winter weather.

Posted by: jsarverCNN // December 27, 2010
 0 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Overheard on The long wait for Santa »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "Santa will be here around the 32nd of NEVER." --CynicLgrrl


Editor's Note: CNN iReport makes no claims as to the location of Santa Claus or the nature of his existence. That's for you to decide in your mind and heart.


It's holiday time, so we thought we'd include something fun and sweet: comments about our dear old friend Santa Claus, who's being tracked by NORAD for yet another toy delivery run. That Santa, he's a talented man. We just saw him surfing with Frosty and other friends, and doing a variety of other things here at CNN iReport. He's got stamina. But it was nice to read about people's memories of Santa Claus, and of course to read their cynical jokes. It's all good. Check out what readers had to say about this story:


When will Santa get there? Ask NORAD, Google


texasghost1 wrote, "Pretty funny. I'm not that old, but I remember as a kid watching the local news and they had one of those 'aircraft tower' style radars to show where storms were locally, and they would stick a little Santa Claus on the radar to tell kids they better get to bed cause he is on his way. Now you got the Internet that will tell you minute by minute. How times have changed."


Really2009 wrote, "This is a very cool deal for the kids, who've asked that I (who has been keeping a vigilant watch since 4 a.m.) let them know when the big guy gets close, so that they can go outside and play until then, while I, the 30-year-old+ father, am still tracking Santa at this very moment. It's clear that I am way more interested in his current whereabouts than they are. I think Santa will recognize my efforts, and reward me handsomely. The kids, nothing but entry-level presents for them. They'll learn. One day, they'll watch for him the way I do. I just hope Santa hasn't sent them to the 'bargain bin' list by then. How many mismatched socks can one kid have?!"


cerulamania wrote, "No way he's getting past my motion-triggered flood lights, barbed wire and shotgun towers. BRING IT ON." Jessy responded, "Sorry to burst your bubble, but Santa exists outside the normal place of time and space, which is how he is able to travel around the globe in one night and he is ageless. I don't think your automated defense will be able track him in time. Santa will land on your roof, go down the chimney, put presents on your tree, stuff your stockings, get back on the roof, on his sleigh and leave the area long before your shotgun towers will be able to get a lock."


Others pondered the challenges of the bearded elf. Sgtgismo wrote, "Now that is a lot of people to deliver to with almost seven billion people in the world now. His job does not get any easier. In the U.S. alone there were 123 million people in 1930, and now we have about 308 million people plus the world's population. It is still a mystery to me how this ageless Santa Claus can deliver to more than triple the population and still makes them all. He must take vitamins galore, and eating that food at every stop is not good for his health. When he comes to our house there is no time for conversation. To all, a very wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!"


Santa truth: Your kid may already know


"Don't Stop Believing" isn't just a Journey song. You don't have to listen to the headline of this story. But Santa Claus is definitely a highly contested topic. There were also really cute responses to this story. earthshoes said, for example, "I have great memories of leaving milk and cookies out for Santa when I was a a kid, going to bed and staying awake for as long as I could listening for him. In the weeks leading up to Christmas I remember dreaming of where he lived and what his life might be like. The first short story I ever wrote revolved around Santa. It is a great memory and when I found out the truth I didn't mind it at all (I only wished I could go on believing forever). I offered the same opportunity to my four sons who embraced it and ran with it. And as each of them found out about him, they helped keep the story going for their younger siblings. When the jig was up, we explained the tradition of Santa to them, of what he symbolized and his role in history in different cultures (based on real people). We talked about the spirit of giving. They loved it."


Santa was a teaching opportunity for jamiess. "When my oldest admitted he didn't believe, I didn't want him to ruin it for his little brother, so I said, 'That means you get to become Santa ... what would you like to sneak into everyone's stockings?' This year, my 10-year-old hasn't spoken up, but he is smart enough to know, so without saying one way or the other, I asked if he'd like to sneak a gift into the stockings. It has provided the perfect transition. I believe there really is a Santa: it is the part inside of us that wants to make others happy without needing to be thanked."


The best and worst Christmas films


Everyone has their faves. Cateyes4866 and several others recommended "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." Here's a few more suggestions from our readers: kakilicli said, "My favorite is the 'Invader Zim Christmas' with the catchy song 'Bow down before the power of Santa or be crushed by his jolly boots of doom.' Can't beat that one!"


KristaP wrote, "Every year, since I was a child, my family watches the same four movies: White Christmas with Bing Crosby, It's a Wonderful Life (my personal favorite :), Rudolph and A Christmas Story. I also love The Family Man with Nicolas Cage. If you haven't seen it, check it out. Its a great story. I never get sick of watching them, and they just make the holidays so much better. Merry Christmas!"


MrIndependan says, "Bad Santa, Die Hard, The Ref, Elf, and Scrooged deserve to be up there under some of the best Christmas movies. 'A Christmas Story' was definitely a good choice."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// December 24, 2010
 27 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Surfing Santa catches a wave »

With his Christmas preparations complete, Santa took time out this week to hang 10 with Mrs. Claus and friends. iReporter Julie Ellerton caught up with the big red surfer at Surfrider Beach in Malibu.


Team iReport wishes you a totally awesome Christmas!

Posted by: dsashin // December 24, 2010
Posted in: stories
Overheard on Denver's infamous airport horse »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "In about 1,000 years they are going to think that people around Denver worshipped an angry giant blue horse god. That horse statue combined with a stadium filled with blue horse symbols will suggest we were idiots." --GPeterse


Our readers are sure fired up about airport artwork. A particular piece, "Blue Mustang," in Denver generated the majority of the comments in a story about art projects in airports around the nation. The sculpture is famous not only for its azure controversy but also for the fact that artist Luis Jiminez was killed while working on it. The horse seemed to find a lone supporter in zivo24: "I live in Denver and I do NOT hate the 'damn horse' so please speak only for yourself. I happen to know many people who like it, but then most of the people I know are open-minded." Check out what readers had to say about this and other stories today:


Five airports with art worth seeing


The poor horse couldn't get a break. "It looks like a riderless horse of the apocalypse," wrote happytrees. "Something tells me that was the intention. Denver International Airport is completely overflowing with creepy art inside and out." beckybigs said, "I'm from Denver and all true Denver natives HATE that horse." jmitchellr noted, "While that is a great picture, the mustang at DIA -- more commonly called 'Bluecifer' because of its color and appearance -- is not good. I'd like to find someone who likes it, because everyone I know thinks it is hideous." kmcg wrote, "That mustang in Denver is HORRIBLE. You see it best entering the airport, and it's menacing, like, "Don't leave Denver  ... or else! I mean, the thing killed its maker! How is that good karma?"


We also heard from a lot of people in Detroit, who said their airport is overlooked as an art hub. writegud said, "With all the bad press Detroit has gotten lately, why not include their airport in this? Seriously, the tunnel in that airport is probably the only bright spot in that city! I live in Virginia, but I've connected through Detroit many times and it's pretty awesome every time I go through the 'rave tunnel.' " chopswell recommended the airport in Des Moines, Iowa. c0a0n0a0d0a mentioned the native art displays in Vancouver, British Columbia, while onthegoalot highlighted Atlanta's Zimbabwean art displays.


Desperate breast-feeding moms reveal secrets


Little Anika Reese was having trouble drinking breast milk, and her mother Suzanne worked hard to figure out what was going on. She finally learned that she had to remove her foremilk before feeding her baby. This story details how some moms learned tricks of the breast-feeding trade, which they then share with other moms via this piece.


Some talked about their own medical interventions with child-rearing. bookaday said, "OMG, it's moms like this that make me so mad! More than one says she felt like a 'failure.' Really? Does that mean moms who have to use science to conceive or maintain a pregnancy are failures?" NewsReaderTN said, "In the United States, most women view breastfeeding as an option, not a necessity, because they have been taught that commercial formula is just as good. That's just marketing because formula can't match mother's milk." AnikasFriend said, "For those of you who are critical of Anika's mom -- SHAME ON YOU. You have no right to judge this family's decisions. Little Anika was (and still is) a healthy and thriving baby who is developmentally right on track -- even ahead of other babies, now and back then."


30,000-year-old girl's pinkie points to new early human species


An overlooked female pinkie bone put in storage after it was discovered in a Siberian cave two years ago points to the existence of a previously unknown prehistoric human species, anthropologists say.


We received a lot of fiery commentary debating evolution and creation, and science and God. H2SS2H said, "Evolution is nothing more than a theory, and a very unproven theory at that." stockistev wrote, "I never understood why there are such colossal battles over religion and science. If God wanted us to know of his existence or a certain set of rules to follow he should have made it known. Therefore we'll be held accountable for our actions." nogoth took the middle ground: "Being both a christian and in a scientific field, I can't argue for either side (the fact that this article has evolved into this is a little silly but I'm ignoring that for now). We don't know much about God or evolution, and what we do know is theory and interpretation. Why does it have to be one or the other?"


There were also a lot of jokes, and a lot of speculation about why the pinkie bone was all by itself. BroadMinded said, "If it was found in a cave it could have been brought there by an underwater current." nvrdone responded, "I did a great deal of spelunking in Europe. Not all caves have underground channels and if this one did, they would likely already know that." nvrdone also wrote, "There could be many other reasons only a pinkie survived after so many thousands of years besides being carried by a non-existent underground river. Animals could have moved the bones. That is far more likely. Entire bodies do not remain after just a few decades, let alone thousands of years."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// December 23, 2010
 40 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
After the rain, beautiful California rainbows »

After getting pummeled with record-setting rains, mudslides and flooding, Southern Californians were treated late Wednesday afternoon to a collection of brilliant rainbows that gave them hope relief was near. Some even saw double rainbows. We received nearly two dozen photos and videos showing the colorful post-storm spectacles:


In Hollywood Hills, Marie Sager captured a stunning pair of rainbows over the Hollywood sign that continued for 20 minutes. "The storm is over and the sky is clear. I looked out of my window and there was this incredible rainbow," she wrote. "My camera couldn't pick up the colors, but they were very bright."


San Diego photographer Jim Grant said one last patch of nasty weather was followed by a pair of rainbows at about 4 p.m. that could be seen all over the city.


At about the same time, Ryan Nelson was docked on the Holland America cruise ship ms Rotterdam when he captured the colorful sight from the San Diego port.


"I have never seen a partial rainbow so thick!!" Kathi Cordsen in Fullerton wrote in her iReport. She said it lasted about seven or eight minutes.

Posted by: dsashin // December 23, 2010
 1 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Poultry problems: Unraveling a mystery »


Every now and then, an iReport catches our eye and it's hard to know the specific reason for it at first. That was certainly the case with an image from Tuesday, December 21. It showed two men sitting in an airplane seat, laughing about something. The headline? "Chicken Bandits!" The description? Briefly typed out by someone probably in a hurry while traveling. The submission was a mystery waiting to be unraveled.


We did some digging. The iReporter, Rhonda Noonan, explained the situation to us while she checked in for her connecting flight in Houston, Texas. She'd flown out of Lafayette, Louisiana, earlier that day to begin a trip to Rhode Island, but her exit was delayed because of a suspicious device. The entire airport had been evacuated because of the device, which later turned out to be frozen poultry in a duffel bag. Her own flight was affected, and she said she was even on the same plane as the man with the icy bird. Hence, the photo of the laughing men. She sent me another photo of one of the men, who appeared to be laughing like someone who has just been caught carrying poultry in his duffel bag.


"It was kind of a hassle because we were all afraid we were going to miss our flight," Noonan said of the delays. "It was just kind of a mess for a frozen chicken."


So we were left with still more questions to be answered: Why would a frozen chicken look suspicious? Why carry a frozen chicken in the first place? We reached out to local police, Lafayette Regional Airport staff and, finally, Lt. Craig Stansbury, a public information officer with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office. He told us that a man had carried a stuffed chicken on board an airplane in a carry-on bag, and it created a suspicious X-ray that forced the evacuation of the whole airport. There were two things about the chicken that made it unique: First, it was stuffed, making it look more solid in the X-ray. Second, it was sitting next to a hunter's headlamp and appeared to have wires coming out of it. Together, the two items combined to make a strange mass with wires coming out, and that was scary to find on the X-ray. We don't know exactly what was inside the bird, but Noonan told me she heard the man say there was Cajun etouffee inside. Stansbury said the carry-on might have been unusual, but the wires were what really got the technician's attention.


"I know the outcome to some might have seemed humorous, but the technician was probably on his toes," Stansbury said.


And so, Stansbury says, this was a case of being better safe than sorry, adding, "If I was on the flight out of there, I'd say yeah, that's OK with me."


It's good to hear that Noonan was finally on her way, and we're thrilled that she thought to share her story with us. Just goes to show you, news can happen when you least expect it. What do you think about this story? What's your packing strategy? Don't be chicken; share your thoughts in the comments area below.

Posted by:
// December 23, 2010
 0 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Overheard on Cultural attitudes toward rape »


Zeinebou Mint Taleb Moussa has been fighting for women's rights in Mauritania for at least a decade. She set up the El Wafa center to help victims. Police contact the center when a woman reports a rape.


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "It's an odd thing. If the neighbor's dog bites you, you would probably get health care at least. There are laws that would impound the dog. Rape is truly a predator sport. They get away with things they shouldn't get away with. That's for sure." --An0nym0us2U


We got loads of comments about a story discussing how rape victims in Mauritania, a nation in northwestern Africa, fear going to jail for reporting the incidents. The story begins by profiling a 25-year-old woman, Mahjouba, who was advised not to go to court about a nighttime attack on her in March. Check out what readers had to say about this and other stories on


Rape victims fear being jailed in Mauritania


Discussion turned to rape around the world, including in the U.S., as well as laws in Islamic countries. People were outraged, and some strong sentiments on all sides appeared in the comments. A debate took place over whether blame goes to Islam or to Mauritania. JAnders noted: "There is nothing in Islam or 'Sharia law' that says rape is okay. Blame the Mauritanians for this, not Muslims or Islam as a whole." Yuveth responded, "Well, the women are not blameless either." Dorothea7 wrote, "I've never understood how any woman stands to be a Muslim to begin with."


Many readers suggested that women need to stand up for their rights. samuelben suggested, "Women need to band together and take control of their lives. If there are no reasonable laws against rape, then stop engaging in this male-dominated society. Don't marry. Don't breed. And a few thousand brave women protesting wouldn't hurt either. Stop making dinner, stop cleaning, and your entire society will come to a standstill and the men will see who is the victim and who has the power." Several commenters said this would be pointless because of societal custom or the potential for violence if protests are attempted. CSnord opined that "men make all the rules."


Official: North Korea targets South Korea in propaganda drive


Our commenters expressed mixed emotions after reading a story about North Korea sending an onslaught of faxes to South Korea. North Korea is blaming its neighbor for tensions over a disputed island, an official said Wednesday. According to the South Korean Unification Ministry, 15 companies had received a fax blaming South Korea for the attack. Many readers were amused by what they saw as a retro-style offensive maneuver, while others said this only underscores the dire conditions in North Korea. This story came out just as CNN's Wolf Blitzer, who went on a six-day trip there with Gov. Bill Richardson, wrote that North Korea is "the most dangerous spot on Earth right now" in a reporter's notebook.


donmontalvo may have summed it up best: Wow, a fax attack. This is so bizarre. Who uses fax machines anymore? ... Who goes to a gun fight with a knife? The sooner North Korea folds, the better off the entire world would be." DHighlander noted, "We attacked with (Christmas) carols, they replied with faxes," and then said, "The international community is appalled by the carnage in Korean peninsula and we voice our demands that bloody hostilities stop immediately." Megarock referred to the image on the story when writing, "I wonder how much these two soldiers get paid to stand there and stare at each other all day." The commenter went on to say that the North Koreans "are not bad people," but have difficult leadership. TheCompany replied in kind, noting restrictions on personal freedoms for residents. "Good point. The people are more concerned with daily life, getting enough food, clothing, a decent place to live."


Lawnmower shared tongue-in-cheek support for the technique. "Yeah baby, that's how the world should fight. No more wars but mutual fax attacks. He who runs out of paper first has lost the game." newdna was among those who found humor in the story. "Oh no! We're being attacked by the '80s!" CSnord responded, "Next it will be big hair and Cindi Lauper CDs." TexasTakesUs was "faxinated," while Cadecker wondered whether carrier pigeons were a logical next step. Singing telegraphs, town criers and other older forms of communication were also mentioned.


CIA responds to WikiLeaks: WTF


The CIA specializes in keeping secrets, but its WikiLeaks Task Force is creating a lot of buzz beyond its response to the document-sharing website. Many of our commenters responded to the "Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot" acronym with an alphabet soup of jokes. Most common was some variant of "ROTFL," which stands for "rolling on the floor, laughing," while others were rolling on the floor and laughing their rear ends off. Others were laughing, but not rolling on the floor. A few people were simply "LOL," or "laughing out loud."


Geri wrote, "You have to admit that there are a lot of folks in Washington who are having what the general called 'a Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot' moment over Wikileaks. I'm sort of having one myself. But one must admit that our fearless leaders must have become rather smug and complacent to allow this whole thing to occur in the first place. Assange isn't the only one who is out-of-line and out-of-control. The hallmark of the baby boomer generation is mediocrity, which is why they have lost control of every aspect of governing and why they ceased creating a future for the young. A definite sign of hubris and decline."


And David had a few theories about Assange's motivations and vulnerabilities. "The joke may be on Assange," he noted. "Maybe it's my imagination, but if I told the US government that I had a valuable secret that would get released to the world if any harm came to me, the first thing that would happen would be the people in the world who would want to see that information released (e.g., North Korea, Iran, Venezuela) would immediately put a hit on me. Other, smarter countries wouldn't kill me, but take enough shots at me to get me upset enough to release the information anyway, plus a lot more information that I had squirreled away." He also theorized that other groups would be motivated to participate in this process, and went on to ask, "So, I wonder: Did Assange just become the pawn in the very game he's trying to play, and will it cost him his life?" Glaisne responded to David: "Definitely more than a few candles short of a chandelier (if it's not intentional mis-information). Hence, the totally appropriate response: WTF!"


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// December 22, 2010
 13 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Overheard on Sex-crime victims' take on TSA »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "I guess I personally don't care if someone sees me in a body scan or even pats me down. I'm more upset that we are forced to do it." --cjb21980


Editor's note: This post was written by Kristine Griggs, a member of our comments staff.


Sex-crime victims who opt for pat downs instead of full-body scans at airports face more than inconvenience and blushed cheeks. They might have disabling traumatic flashbacks that can last for days or weeks. And while survivors of sex crimes generally understand the need for safety regulations, many CNN readers think all fliers' rights are being violated by the new regulations and that they simply don't work. Still others are sympathetic both to the victims of sex crimes and the Transportation Security Administration agents who have to perform their duties. Check out what readers are saying about this and other stories on


TSA pat downs concern sex-crime groups


WPBWPC expressed sympathy for sex crime victims, but like many other readers, wondered why they opt out of the body scan. "I truly feel badly for those who are traumatized by the pat-downs but they can always go through the scanner as an option. I don't prefer the scanner but that's my option. I fly almost weekly for work and don't have an option on whether to fly or not (except to get another job)." And thinkandask didn't want readers to think this issue only applies to women, adding that it's relevant for male survivors of sexual abuse as well: "One in six men actually...including me. However, the greatest irony for survivors of sexual assault, in my view, is that we had no choice or protection as boys and now if we get chosen for a pat-down while traveling, we have no choice once again."


Jodey said, "I was raped twice in the space of five years. I got counseling, worked very hard at recovery ... and I got an airport pat-down last month with no problems. What's the big deal?" And mcarmstrong noted, "So because some people aren't as traumatized by an assault as much as others, it's no big deal for the ones that are? I know rape victims that are happy and don't even think about it and victims who are afraid to leave their apartments. Neither is a wrong response."


Total lunar eclipse gives heavenly show


Spectators from around the globe enjoyed the lunar eclipse and shared some of their experiences with CNN. readrofnews said "What a fantastic show of nature last night. Sat on the front porch in the freezing cold and watched for an hour. Not many people here where I work actually took the time to see a phenomenon that they possibly might not see again. Carpe diem or carpe nocturnum in this case."  Onlyboxers wrote that it " Was amazing here in Florida! Very clear sky! Finally see the stars!" SheepSlap said they  "Did a crazy cool moon ritual last night- drums and dancing ya!" jlm88 "Watched it from my backyard last night. Turned deep red, very nice. very very nice."  silverfaery3 "All I can say it was an amazing view. I went out at the start of it, and then back out towards the end of it....well worth staying up to watch off and on." Jeannot "I waved my hand and saw the shadow on the moon. That was pretty impressive."


Some observers weren't as lucky or simply weren't impressed. 1morenut said, "Unfortunately it was pouring rain here where we live." Bobolink wrote, "As usual, we had dense cloud cover over Kansas City. No matter what the event is or how important, rare and stunning it might have been in impact on the human soul, Kansas City always gets the fuzzy end of the lollipop. If the eclipse had been a football event, the cosmos would have found a way so that we would have had clear ring-side seats. froogle100 said, "I saw some of it, but really after seeing a solar eclipse in china it didn't seem that fascinating." And finally, jlm88 wrote that "Double Rainbow Guy was better than this."


2010 U.S. Census Bureau results are generating a lot of response


The census report, just released Tuesday, revealed the slowest U.S. population growth since the Great Depression and sparked a lot of debate among CNN readers. The report also got commenters talking about changes in the country's political landscape as well.


Myvideotape said "Stop having too many kids...This planet can't sustain any more." CorruptUS agreed: "I for one am all for birth control and decrease the current population level that we have world wide. I think it should be mandated that you can only have two children to maintain current population levels. If I really had my way we would only be allowed to have one child per couple for several generations to decrease the overall population levels in the world and thusly decrease starvation and the depletion of our natural resources!" But flynn1974 had a different view, "1. We have an aging population. Life expectancy has grown, and we are not replacing the elderly with enough young workers. 2. You're worries are based on world numbers. Western civilization is not overpopulated. It is fast becoming underpopulated in terms of supporting itself. 3. The CIA have a website with all the stats you need. The statistical abstract should also help you. 4. According to the UN, below-replacement fertility is expected in 75 percent of the developed world by the year 2050." dwsmithee summed it up: "The problem is that if you reduce population levels too quickly in a generation, the working-aged population could be vastly outnumbered by seniors that are unable to work. You could get into a situation where our society simply cannot support itself with too many mouths to feed and care for and not enough able bodied workers to do it. It would bankrupt social security and other similar programs around the world. It would need to be a very gradual change."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// December 21, 2010
 10 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
I see the moon and the moon sees me »

No matter where you're from or what you believe, there's something amazing yet comforting in knowing we all look up and see the same sky.


Maybe that's what makes celestial events, like last night's lunar eclipse, so magical. iReporters from all over the world shared their view of the stunning eclipse, and we were struck by the fact that people so far away from each other all captured similar images of the moon.


Have a look. Here's Atlanta, Georgia, where CNN is: 


And in roughly the same part of the country, an image from Pensacola, Florida


Up in Canada, here's the view from London, Ontario


And all the way across the world, Manila, Philippines still saw the same eclipse: 


Coming back to the U.S., we have pictures from Patchogue, New York


And Mountain View, California:


You can see all the beautiful images of the eclipse in our assignment - these are just a select few. See you at the next magical meetup in the sky!

Posted by:
// December 21, 2010
 35 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Overheard on Boomers vs. Generation X »

COMMENT OF THE DAY: "I blame Generation X on Dr Spock. Instead of encouraging their creativity, we should have made them take the trash out." --Zenmistress

For many baby boomers, the proverbial glass is four-fifths empty. A Pew Research Center study shows that 80 percent are pessimistic about the future of the United States. The study shows that they are more worried than their elders and a lot more concerned than the Millennial Generation, which was only 60 percent pessimistic. This story set off a war of generations, with the boomers and Generation Xers trading barbs and still others wondering where exactly they fit along the pantheon of named age groups. Some also shared personal stories about their lives.

New study finds baby boomers are in a funk

DonBeal put the blame on boomers. "Our parents were called the Greatest Generation, but what are we going to be called? We are walking off the stage with the United States in decline. We have a federal deficit that is going to be a burden on our children that they may be able to deal with only by having a further reduced standard of living, and we could not find the courage to deal with it. We baby boomers have failed. We are a money-grubbing bunch, only concerned with ourselves." 4wonderland said, "I'm a boomer and very happy with my life. I didn't get greedy but invested well and paid attention. I didn't lose my shirt or my retirement. I worked for a non-profit helping women and children most of my life so I feel that I contributed something to my fellow humans. I don’t like the way the world is heading but no generation likes what the next one is doing anyway." NotaBoomorX wasn't sure of their generation. "I'm 45 and I'm supposed to be a boomer? Uh, wrong pal. I didn't march in anti-war protests. I got to enter the job market right after the go-go '80s and the older boomers (screwed) up the economy. Generation X? Yeah, let's just skip the tatoos, OK? ... What the hell is my generation called?"

Some blamed other generations. mrdinkers said, "I'm a baby boomer and more angry than pessimistic. In my view, the generations are getting stupider, lazier and greedier with every decade." Yodanonymous quipped, "Boomers may be losing hope, but those of us in Generation X and beyond never had any to begin with." To that comment, Zenmistress replied: "Hope is a choice ... Maybe if you didn't spend so much time playing World of Warcraft, you might have accomplished something by now." Mikeb1 wrote of Generation X, "We carried the boomers. Everything in your life since the '80s ... has been funded by money borrowed from my generation and the next. What we have done is make your lifestyle possible."

DeaconLynch wrote, "Some of the comments here between boomers and Gen Xer's are a bit much. And personally I don't think it's right to throw an entire generation under the bus. What I will say is this: America has changed. In their day, working toward retirement was an achievable goal, but not today. People younger and younger are discovering it's not even in the cards." fireybuddha said, "My mom, who was 4 when the great depression came to town via their radio, told me I'd experience hard times like that, that the pendulum always swings. I told her it wouldn't happen like that -- not again. We'd learned too much."

And, finally, there was YoungSinatra: "I missed being a baby boomer by one year. Technically, the boomer cutoff is 1964. But I must say this is the most word-for-word accurate article I've read on CNN. I think almost 100 percent of what they said is true about me. Wow. Nice to know I'm not alone."

Senate votes to repeal ban on gays openly serving in military

The military's prohibition of openly gay people serving within its ranks is one step closer to ending, after the Senate voted Saturday to repeal the armed forces' "don't ask, don't tell" policy. We received almost 10,000 comments on this story throughout the weekend. The majority of our commenters seemed to be in favor of this action, although there was a vocal portion of the community what was quite incensed.

conoclast was one of the excited ones. "Lame-duck or not, the U.S. senate has finally done something for the good of the country." And judeluke2000 had this to say about all that: "Human beings exist as male and female for a purpose. Their difference in gender is the source of their union. There is no true physical union between two men or two women. Homosexuality is totally contrary to the truth about human life." TheVoices chimed in, “For those that think it will harm the U.S. military, look at Great Britain, Australia, and Israel. All three have a great military, and all three allow homosexuals to serve openly. This is not as much of a big deal as you think. I also find it funny that it seems that most people complaining about DADT being repealed didn't serve.”

whatithink said, "Lawsuits from normal soldiers will make this ‘victory’ a moot point. In the end, you can't force anyone to be housed in close quarters with someone that may be sexually attracted to them. Whether homosexuals can ‘control themselves’ or not in these intimate situations does not matter. The fact that there is potential for discomfort on the part of normal soldiers is enough to stop this. This is one case where their argument for "genetic" homosexuality will actually hurt their agenda." 1979canadian responded to whatithink: "The U.S. is not blazing any trails here. Gays and lesbians are permitted to openly serve in around 40 countries already. Some, like Canada, have for almost 20 years. I have never heard of any such military instituting separate facilities or anything like that. That's because facilities are separated along the lines of sex/gender, not sexual orientation, given that having certain ‘equipment’ goes along with how the facility is set up (urinals in male washrooms but not female ones, etc.)."

novembereign started a heated thread by writing, "I really cant wait for Obama to sign this into law, thereby alienating himself with every straight person who votes that doesn't really think being gay is normal." LJ28 said, "You are forgetting that it took all the people in the house and senate to approve it too. The reason it passed is because our country is founded on protecting the civil rights of everyone. Thankfully the experts on homosexuality don't agree with you. hammerTime21 also had something to say: "Republicans aren't stupid. They would love to encourage as many gays as they can to join the military. Then they vote to go to war whenever they can."

Bad weather vs Lady Gaga

We got quite a few comments on our stories about the weather being frightful everywhere and about Lady Gaga not being able to get her trucks to her concert in Paris. Craig wrote, "Well I'm sure Parisians are upset, but Lady Gaga having talent or not isn't truly the issue. I'm sorry to Europe for the bad weather, but the fact is the show will be rescheduled so Lady Gaga ought not get upset over this. When it says she's stuck on a bus I don't feel too sympathetic. No doubt it's a luxury tour bus, not some icy-cold school bus like we rode on every day." A few other commenters debated the need for 28 trucks to come with her.

Beyond that, Richard in Texas was among those talking about the weather itself. "It's everyone's dream. A white christmas. Even when its summertime. Where are all of the tin-foil hat people?" People like Sean in AZ and MiloB of Phoenix, Arizona, and lolita of Las Vegas, Nevada, chimed in to brag about their gorgeous weather. Brian retorted that it's only because "Mother Nature is scared to enter Arizona in case her papers aren't in order." Several commenters batted around the feasibility of global warming as a possible cause for oscillations in temperatures and bizarre weather patterns, while Denver, Colorado, residents bemoaned the need to head to the mountains to see snow. Finally, there was abidal, enjoying 68-degree temperatures, while Anchorage Ak was experiencing "a balmy 10 degrees F and snowing." 

YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video

Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// December 20, 2010
 56 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Overheard on Streetcar desires »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "When Mr. Rogers starts calling his ride into the Land of Make Believe a streetcar, I'll start calling it a streetcar. Until then, it's a trolley." --mkelly9772


Many streetcar projects are planned around the country now that the Obama administration recently offered some U.S. cities a piece of a $130 million federal fund for streetcar projects aimed at reducing traffic congestion, cutting pollution and reducing reliance on foreign oil, and creating jobs. Our readers were largely in favor of streetcars, with a few exceptions and many shared stories of streetcar lines in their own cities. Supporters welcomed the economic development and ability to get around without a car while opponents feared that streetcars would be unsustainable and hard to pay for. Check out readers' responses to this story and others on


Can streetcars save America's cities?


scion101 wrote, "I'd love to use public transit were I live but the problem is how this country just adores cars. There aren't even any sidewalks in my neighborhood, you can't go anywhere in time without a car." JDCNCDE countered the streetcar sentiment. "So having a train driving down the middle of the street adds 'class' to a city? And no, that not 20 to 30 cars off the road; it's 20 to 30 more people getting a free ride since all rail systems, even your beloved San Francisco trains, can't operate in the black on fares alone."


termites, a New Orleans, Louisiana, resident, spoke of riding the street car to work every day and hating driving. termites pointed to a new development springing up because of the street car line. "Street cars work, they bring new jobs, new development and business wherever they go. That equates to money and tax revenue. It seems silly that other U.S. cities don't get this philosophy. I live in New Orleans and ride our beautiful street cars to work each day." i2i noted, "No rail passenger rail system in the U.S. operates in the black. However, many bus systems do. We simply don't have any money to throw at boondoggles like this."


When liver donations go wrong


A woman named Laura Fritz was "devastated" when she saw a news story about Ryan Arnold's death after donating a piece of his liver to his brother, Chad. Data (see story) shows that four living liver donors have died in the United States since 1999 and about 38 percent of liver donors have some kind of complication. Some experts think some of these deaths and complications could have been prevented if there was a change in the way hospitals exchanged information about complications with organ donations. We heard tons of personal stories that put more faces on the article.


pittiemomma wrote, "I would not endanger someone I love -- a child, a sibling to save myself. Not even at less than 1 percent. There is something wrong with the selfishness, the utter fearfulness of the unknown." Mrmax79 responded, "If I had a sibling or parent that was going to die without a transplant and there was only a 3 percent chance of having a complication, I would gladly take my chances (than) to sit around and do nothing." RetLaEnvEmp posted, "My brother-in-law gave part of his liver to his 3-year-old daughter 17 years ago. At the age of 5 she had another liver transplant. She was big enough to receive a donor liver from a young man killed in an auto accident. She is now a beautiful grown young lady attending college. The live donor liver transplant gave her life -- no ifs, ands, or buts about it. ... The deaths and losses from transplants also should not promote some liberal thinking that government should regulate everything for safety or everything must be reported and exposed the way 'I' want it to come out and if it is not, then it must be a cover-up."


Tiger's half-brother wants to reconnect


The last time Earl Woods Jr. says he met with his half brother Tiger Woods was in 2006 when burying their father. He wants to reconnect but says Tiger has been unresponsive. Our commenters speculated on the things that drive families apart. Some thought family members are seeking Tiger Woods' money. RVenger said he can identify with the Woods' situation. "Who can say what Tiger's thinking?" inplano10 said, along those lines, "It usually comes down to money to show the true wretched character of the evil." Sheppard1 wrote, "Airing your family business in the press isn't the best way to show someone you 'love them to death.' " cheekbrown replied, "It may be the only way to get Tiger's attention."


The legacy of 'Tron'


"Tron: Legacy" just came out, and this sequel to the 1980s original has got lots of people feeling extra-geeky. We heard everything from memories of the first film to high hopes or good reviews of the new movie.


mycroft16 was nostalgic. "I have to agree that it was 'Tron' that really got me interested in computers. I was really young when it came out and probably didn't see it until I was 10 or so (1989), but even at that age I was taking anything electronic in the house apart to see how it worked and it intrigued me that the programs inside it could be 'living' lives like that and having problems and worries about things. It really intrigued me and was a fun thought." jeffyY said the first "Tron" changed his life. "The original movie is one reason I got hooked on computers and programming. This was the reason why I went to school for my engineering degree. I know for a fact that my life would be MUCH different if the original movie never came out, or if I never saw it. It truly changed the way I saw things."


NavitarOne saw it and called the movie "sci-fi at its best." ibook900 plans to see the film he nicknamed "Tron: Redemption" in 3-D on an IMAX screen, calling it a huge movie event. CAPARSONS wrote, "The original is SO BORING. Let's hope this one is at least watchable. The first was basically the first video game tie-in movie." ViSmith replied in kind, "Boring now maybe, but the first 'Tron' was a great movie when it came out. It sparked and captured the imagination of most of the technology developers that are now designing your cell phones and computers. I don't think they found it boring, and I doubt you find the internet or computer boring now either."


More comments: Larry King ends his record-setting run on CNN


We continued to receive memories of Larry King as he hung up his proverbial suspenders on his CNN talk show. While not every commenter was a fan, we did receive a lot of touching tributes to the departing host. Teiko said, "We sure will miss Larry. Great, great guy. Speaks like a human and not some rigid script-controlled robot. CNN shouldn't even bother trying to get a replacement for him; they won't find any. His ugly shirt-and-tie combos are worth watching his show for." ncsuee said, "So long Larry King! I watched your show last night and it was awesome! They say that people are judged by the friends they keep ... all you had to do is watch last evening's show to tell the measure of an incredible human being!"


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity

Posted by:
// December 17, 2010
 18 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Bon voyage, Tyson! »


Today is Tyson Wheatley's last day in the office before taking off for new adventures at CNN's Hong Kong bureau. In honor of him, we've put together an assignment to share our memories of one of iReport's original producers. Take a look; we hope you'll enjoy the anecdotes (and creativity) from iReporters and staffers alike. It's almost enough to bring tears to horn-rimmed eyes.


The anecdotes we've gotten include Lila King in a beard made from orange pipe cleaners, Katie Hawkins-Gaar channeling ultra-mega-distance-trail-running prowess, Christina Zdanowicz reenacting an epic in-office push-ups competition, lots of standing and reclining exercise ball action from Rachel Rodriguez and David Williams (respectively), and Henry Hanks bringing the local flavor.


Others shared their well-wishes, too. Jason Asselin suggested new athletic pursuits in Hong Kong, Egberto Willies created an awesome cutout beard, director of web operations Simit Shah shared an unforgettable story about Tyson, and there were a few other surprises as well.


Hopefully, the best surprises are yet to come. Writing this as a member of the team since 2006, when we got this whole thang started, it's really strange to see a core member of the group leave. There's iReport, and there's Tyson. He's a part of our attitude and style.


Time to start singing "Memories" as we think of the wacky/wonderful office culture we've built together. Sitting on inflatable balls instead of chairs, taking walks, doing yoga and ice skating in 20-degree weather. And of course, beards, for those who can grow them or draw them in by hand. We'll miss Tyson, but we’re excited to forge ahead and make him proud as he watches iReport from afar in 2011.


If you've got well-wishes to share, please post a comment below or upload your video. Let's send Tyson off in grand style!

Posted by:
// December 17, 2010
 5 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
Overheard on Cesarean contrarian »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "Ugh, 'there's a higher chance her uterus will rupture since she's pushing against scar tissue.' God bless all you females. What you ladies go through."


This is the story of a woman named Aneka, who defied her obstetrician's wishes by opting to deliver at home instead of having a cesarean section. She'd already had three C-sections and many doctors would consider her "vaginal birth after cesarean" (known as a VBAC) to be a high-risk procedure. Readers felt compelled to share very personal accounts of their birthing experiences. Check out responses to this and other stories on


Mom defies doctor, has baby her way


Several commenters debated birthing procedures in America. We heard from an unsigned poster who wrote, "My wife had a C-section with our first child after 20+ hours of labor. She tried a VBAC three years later and her uterus ruptured. The doctor did an emergency C-section and our daughter was born blue and not breathing. Today my wife and daughter are fine but we advise everyone against a VBAC. That said, it should of course be the parents' decision." But sonjah wrote, "I had a successful natural delivery after a previous emergency C-section which necessitated a vertical cut of the uterus. I was lucky that my doctor was open-minded and well trained."


lawgurrl said she didn't want to have a vaginal delivery for her second child; her first baby's head got stuck. "I had no desire to go through labor again. There's nothing anywhere in any religion or anything that says a woman HAS to endure that." kmcg responded, "I bet if you had flipped over to your hands and knees and gotten off your back, baby would have slipped out easily. The doctors set you up for failure from the beginning."


Billdoc was appalled. "To call her 'empowered' is a misnomer. Better to call her selfish or lucky! If things had not gone well I'm sure she would not be smiling. Maybe she forgot that this was just not about her but also involved another life. Anyway, to each her own!" gnodges, on the other hand, said, "The problem isn't the VBACs, its that there are too many C-sections performed for the first birth. My wife had to endure a C-Section because of 'failure to progress' ... and the only reason she failed to progress was they weren't satisfied with how slow things were going (gotta keep that baby factory moving and open up the rooms), and loaded her up on Pitocin, which completely shut things down. This is just a guess, but I'm pretty sure that baby would have come out sooner or later naturally. It's called nature."


For 25 years, it has been good to be King


Tonight is Larry King's last night hosting "Larry King Live," and Piers Morgan will soon take his place. Commenters shared all kinds of memories of the longtime host.


tdgladwin wrote, "I am at the age where I have been around since King began in his career in the business and just remember those early days so well with that iconic voice of his and now that he is retiring I find it unbelievable that so many years have gone by. He really has interviewed an unbelievable amount of people from all fields. Congratulations Larry and best of luck in your retirement. (Let me tell you being retired is a true blessing and I have enjoyed every day of mine since it began two years ago.)" ChallengeIt said, "Larry King is a conversationalist not a confrontationalist like most interviewers today. I'll miss that. Thank you Larry. Long Life and peace to you."


exaag said, "King is quite the comedian, but many people don't know that. I had the honor of being a guest on Larry King's old radio show in Miami (WIOD) during the '76 presidential campaign as a spokesperson for the GOP. Mr. King was an incredibly polite and gracious host. What I admired about him was the fact that he interviewed guests and listened to them, to get their thoughts and ideas."


Crime-fighting priest hits the streets


The murder of 75-year-old Tom Repchic was the final straw for Father Greg Maturi, a Dominican priest in Youngstown, Ohio. CNN posted a story about how he stepped off the pulpit and into the streets to take on the crime where it lives. Many commenters were very proud of Maturi's resolve to take action. CatholicMom said, "Thank you, Father Greg Maturi, for setting an example of how to start the ball rolling. "Thank God for Father Maturi who is not looking for someone else to step forward but is taking the bull by the horns himself." JDT said, "In a time where religion has seemed to become irrelevant in the lives of many around this country, this is a great way to become 'relevant' again. Not necessarily to 'recruit' people to faith, but to act as a conerstone in a community. Good on you sir!"


TV meteorologist accused of filing false sexual assault report


Heidi Jones, an on-air meteorologist, called police to say she had been attacked while jogging in Central Park two months earlier, according to a police spokesman who would not provide a name, citing police policy. Jones was arrested Monday and has been charged with a misdemeanor count of making a false report. Commenters were largely opposed to her efforts, and came up with many clever puns. DougHodges said that "her judgment was a little cloudy that day." noname1969 noted that "any person that makes false claims of rape should have to serve the sentence for that crime." The race of the false attacker was also an issue. Bagheera said, "Note to women who like to make up stories about being assaulted: Please be original and claim it was a WHITE male attacker. The blame-the-minority angle is getting a little old. Unfortunately, in our society that seems to be the angle that works best." A few commenters debated false accusations of rape. lal11 said, "I work as a lawyer in the criminal justice system. Believe me, there are very few men who are wrongfully convicted of rape or molestation. The bigger problem is for women who really were raped and there is no physical evidence to find or convict their attacker." The comment got several replies; some said false accusations happen all the time, while others said victims suffer if their concerns aren't heard.


Loving a leakster: Assange's apparent online dating life


WikiLeaks' Julian Assange keeps an profile just like the rest of some of us, and his description begins: "WARNING: Want a regular, down to earth guy? Keep moving. I am not the droid you're looking for." More than 400 comments had poured in about this story at the time this post was written. Burbank wrote, "I think they should 'leak' every tiny bit of his online dating. If it's embarrassing that's all the better; let's see how this arrogant egomaniac feels." MattCDF replied, "Only a awkward teenager would be embarrassed. This man has taken on world governments. Better luck next time. And lots of people thought the profile wasn't a huge deal." Joedaman said, "In other news, Julian Assange had severe constipation 10 years ago." creepnitreal said he nearly wet himself when he saw the profile and described Assange as "creepy," but then added, "yes, I find it ironic that I'm criticizing him for being creepy when my name is in fact creepinitreal." Finally, AntonioD wrote, "For the record, this information makes me like him more!"


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// December 16, 2010
 8 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
3 new badges »

Our secret Santas on the development team just put the finishing touches on three new badges to reward iReporters' activities in the community. They also rolled out a new notification system, so you'll start getting notifications when you earn a new badge.


Here's a roundup of all the new badges:


chattyThe Chatty badge is awarded to iReporters who post 20 or more comments in a week.







iphone You can earn the iPhone badge by uploading an iReport through CNN's iPhone app. If you've got an iPhone, but you don't have the CNN app, you can get it here for free.






globetrotter The Globetrotter badge is going to be a real challenge. To earn it, you have to have iReports approved for use on CNN from 10 different countries.






We really appreciate everyone's contribution to the community and will be rolling out more badges in the future. If you have an idea for a new badge you'd like to see, let us know in the comments.

Posted by:
// December 16, 2010
 3 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
CNN iReport roundtable: Thursday at 3 p.m. ET »

Please join us here on the blog at 3 p.m. ET for our weekly roundtable discussion. This will be the last roundtable of 2010, so we're looking forward to answering your questions.


We'll open comments at 3 p.m. ET and will talk with you then.

Posted by:
// December 16, 2010
 80 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
What's in a snowflake? »

Editor's note: CNN Meteorologist Angela Fritz takes a look at how snowflakes are made and why each one is unique. We asked Angela to share her expertise and talk about the mystery of snow after receiving these beautiful, up-close images of snowflakes. Thanks, Angela!


Simple prisms, stellar plates, and radiating dendrites might sound like something out of a crazy science experiment, but these are actually some of types of snowflakes we see fall to the ground during the winter time.


You might already know that no one snowflake looks the same as another, and that’s true – although each of them do fit a certain type of flake. After an extreme start to winter weather in the U.S., we wanted to take a look at the snowflake itself, and how it’s formed.


A snowflake starts with a particle in the air. It could be a piece of dust, a very small grain of sand, or a pollutant from a car. If it’s cold enough, the super-cold water droplets in the air freeze onto the particle, and a snowflake is born. It’s actually very rare that a water droplet will freeze by itself. It actually has to be about 30 degrees below zero in order for that to happen. The particle gives the droplet something to latch onto, and this is the ice crystal that the snowflake will build from.


As the crystal falls through the atmosphere toward the ground, it encounters water vapor that freezes onto the crystal, and the flake grows. The type of snowflake depends on how cold it is and how much moisture is in the air. They could look like needles, plates, columns, bullets, or dendrites, which are the traditional six-pointed snowflakes.


While the snowflake falls through the air, it could encounter different temperatures and humidities. So a flake that starts off as a plate could quickly start growing in a needle-shape or gain six points on the way down. This is why every flake is individual. The atmosphere is so complex, no two flakes will encounter the exact same conditions at the exact same time on their way to the ground.


As the flakes grow and fall through the air, it’s likely they will bump into each other and stick.  This creates the “clumps” of flakes that we sometimes see in heavy snow.  But if you look closely at that clump, you can see all the individual snowflakes within it.  If the atmosphere’s temperature is below freezing all the way to the ground, we will see snow.  But if it’s above freezing where we are, the snowflake will melt into rain and all that hard work will be lost.

Posted by:
// December 16, 2010
 12 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
An interview with the King »

We here at CNN iReport want to congratulate Larry King on more than 25 years hosting “Larry King Live,” the final live edition of which airs tonight at 9 p.m. ET on CNN.

In the meantime, Larry has one more interview, and this time an iReporter is asking the questions. The well-dressed Asa Thibodaux, aka Asathecomic, conducted an awesome in-depth interview on December 8 with the legendary broadcaster.

As you’ll see in the video above, the interview was at times both hilarious (as we’ve come to expect from Asa) and quite emotional. Great job, Asa!

Posted by:
// December 16, 2010
 6 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: community
Overheard on Paradigm shift on buzzwords »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "I miss the '90s. All you had to do then was be a paradigm-shifting self-starter who could think outside the box." --turtlemouth


It's a tough economy, and people are doing what they can to stand out in a tight job market. To aid in that pursuit, CNN caught up with LinkedIn to find out what were some of the commonly used words that may not be as, um, "results-oriented" as the speaker planned. With apologies to human resources, check out readers' reaction to this and other stories today.


LinkedIn's top 10 overused résumé phrases


Readers weren't sure what to make of the list, which includes perennial favorites such as "team player" and "proven track record." We did hear from a lot of people who conduct interviews, and they offered some interesting insight into what they're thinking when they scan your resume.


ascoutdad concurred with the article. "As a recruiter, I totally agree that original and creative wording about specific accomplishments reflects that the candidate cared enough to think more deeply about communicating who they are and what they can offer the prospective employer among literally hundreds of candidates."


But bbizman99 said using certain words is important. "As someone who interviews people I am looking for skill and knowledge words on your resume. I will determine your personality when I interview you in person," adding that computers scan resumes for certain words. jennm58 says she's worked with resumes for more than 20 years and one possible explanation is the words are in the job description. "Many times a job duty in a job ad will specifically say, 'team player,' extensive experience required, great communication skills and attention to detail or follow-up."


SteveChicago said buzzwords can be useful from a job seeker's perspective as well: "We use those words for the HR idiot who is reading our resumes. You need to get past that person so that you can actually talk to the person that is going to hire you."


Finally, Ana23 said she was an executive recruiter and offered the following advice: avoid typos, make the format easy to read and quantify your skills with numbers and facts. "A resume that has these three things will tell me within 30 seconds whether or not the writer has the skills I'm looking for, regardless of your use of 'buzzwords.' When I have a stack of 100 resumes (not uncommon these days), it's much-appreciated and puts your resume in the YES pile."


Portrait of a fallen soldier: 'She's finally going home'


We heard from quite a few moved readers after this iReport was highlighted on It featured the story of a painter who was so taken with the death of a soldier that he made a portrait of her. iReporter Michelle Michael followed this story from Germany to Baltimore, Maryland, talking first to the artist and then to the family when they received the picture.


The resulting video package received a lot of praise from the community.


rbailey67 wrote, "Great story, Michelle, and very emotional, especially when her mother touched her face and held her hand. Being a retired soldier, this hits home and is personal to me. Thank you for sharing this with us."


We also heard from anonymous857, who wrote, "I was part of Lt. Perez's notification team when she died. It was a heartbreaking task, but we were impressed with the dignity and strength of her family. I'm heartened to see that her contributions are not forgotten and she continues to have a positive impact even after death."


Senate passes controversial tax cut deal


People have been debating the ins and outs of the tax cut extension being worked out between President Obama and the lame-duck Congress. When the Senate passed the deal Wednesday, our comment boards lit up. Many commenters started to crave breakfast foods when they read the story. For some, it was a veritable pork barbecue.


Soj wrote, "Did you all see that compomise when it left the Senate! It had bacon hanging all over it. Now they all can go home and salt their meat down."  CityBoy34 replied, "Yup, and its not an exclusively Democratic bacon package. The Republicans, who vehemently vowed to become bacon-free, added lots of pork chops and apple sauce to that bill."


willtell called it "ugly sausage-making, but this is the art of compromise. Nobody gets everything they want, but we move forward as a country. I'm actually proud that both sides could meet somewhere in the middle. Hopefully more to come. When they negotiate, we the real middle class americans win. Things get done."


Many responses implied that politicians are out of touch with the rest of the population.


bgnelson said, "ALL of the people in the house and the senate will be sitting in their mansions on christmas watching their kids open christmas gifts. What about those of us who have applied for hundreds of jobs just to be ignored, and have lost our unemployment?" agnosticguy4 responded, "The GOP told Obama extend our tax cuts or 2 million Americans would lose their unemployment bennies during the holidays! And they got away with it!"


Some said they were upset that Obama compromised, or thought he was being too Republican. centerllink wrote, "Obama = new face of the GOP."


Some Democratic-leaning commenters were really steamed at how the deal worked out overall.


Joedaman wrote, "Bipartisan? I bet over 80 percent of Democrats are against this so called "compromise.' If it's just Obama and the Republicans, it isn't a compromise. Democrats had no say in this." 3lwood said, "It's an illusion that this bill was controversial. Look at who supported it in the end. And just scroll through this comment board. There is such a variety of positions, Republicans for it, Republicans against it, Democrats for it, Democrats against it." 


Florida school board members recount meeting horror


An ordinary school board meeting in Florida turned to horror after a gunman, Clay Duke, 56, entered the room. Video of the incident shows Duke spray-painting a "V" on the wall in an apparent reference to the film "V for Vendetta," which is the same image he reportedly uses on his Facebook profile. Duke demanded that "six men stay," and pointed his gun at them. The entire incident got a big reaction from readers, and gun ownership was one of many issues that came up. Readers buzzed about the board members' calm demeanor and debated the spunk of board member Ginger Littleton, who attempted to use her purse to knock the gun from Duke's hand. Littleton was not shot and was allowed to leave the room.


kleepen wrote, "Littleton's attempt was as smart as [Gen. Robert E.] Lee's 'Pickett's Charge' at the Battle of Gettysburg. Funny thing is that [Maj. Gen. George G.] Meade let Lee get away after the idiotic and poorly planned attack as well." Snooks101 called Littleton's actions a "dumb thing that she tried to do," and Aisley wasn't sure what to think: "What an experience for the board members! Thank God no one got hurt. And in regard to the lady and her purse, she is either the most courageous or the most stupid woman in the world. Either way, I won't judge her, as I do not know what I would do in a situation like that."


There were a lot of commenters, though, that were in very big support of Littleton.


evsdawg said, "Granted, it was a dumb move, but I am sure the folks looking down the barrel of the that 9 mm appreciated what she tried to do. Instead of running, she saw some thing that wrong and tried what she could do to make it right. We need more people like her in society. I would like to shake her hand. Yes, she might be stupid and moronic but she has a big heart. She should be praised instead of being put down as fool."


bonedoctor questioned gun use. "Based on this story's comments, regardless of whose side you're on, it looks like almost everyone agrees that all the world's problems can be solved with a gun. That fills my heart with so much hope for the future. Tonight I think I'm going to go out and celebrate ... by buying a gun."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// December 15, 2010
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Posted in: comments
Southeast bundles up »





"Thinking of moving further south," wrote Cheryl Devlin of Coral Springs, Florida when she discovered her ice-covered car on December 8. "Virgin Islands look attractive."


It may be the season for hot chocolate and carol singing, but in the southeastern part of the U.S., not everyone's used to a potentially white Christmas. States from Virginia to Florida are experiencing record lows, and it's not even technically winter yet.


Devlin lives about three miles from the Everglades "to avoid this kind of stuff," she says. "Who sells an ice scraper down here? What do you use down here, your nails?" she asked.


"I have been in Florida for 12 years and have very seldom seen it this cold, especially this time of year," agreed Dane Woodard, who lives a couple miles from Daytona Beach. He shot the photo of ice-covered branches above. 


Up in Georgia, one family was enjoying the southern snow.


"Snow rules!" wrote Susan Gober, whose kids had fun sledding in Tiger, Georgia. The frigid weather isn't quite as rare where they live as in Florida, but it's still a relatively uncommon occurrence.


"We are all snowed in," she said. "The snow was blowing so hard, you couldn’t see anything."


And one Atlanta resident jokingly considered ice-skating on his frozen community pool.


"We are experiencing high winds along with the cold weather, resulting in bone-chilling fun," he said.


Are you also dealing with chilling temperatures and icy conditions? Share your story with CNN iReport.

Posted by:
// December 15, 2010
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Posted in: stories
Overheard on Santa secrets »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: Well, Santa's coming to my house and you non-believers are on your own. Merry Christmas! --sezvou

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus! At least, that’s what most readers said in response to a story on children discovering that Santa is really just dad dressed in a red suit and cheap fake beard. Many said it’s more about what Santa symbolizes—generosity and caring—than whether he actually exists. But, as with most stories, there were a few “Bah, humbugs.” Check reader reaction to this and other stories on

Santa truth: Your kid may already know

Several readers shared their own memories of discovering that Santa isn’t real, but choosing to continue to believe in him in their own ways. newsmongrel said, “I'm in my 20s and my mom still puts ‘from Santa’ on a few boxes. It's all about the magic of the season!” Davd shared this: “My 11-year-old is going through a mental battle over the big guy. She swears up and down that she saw him once years ago in our living room. But her rational mind is questioning all the inconsistencies. It's actually beautiful to watch her try to work it out on her own. Santa is real to all you haters out there, but not the way you think.”

BongoBoyLA took a measured approach with breaking the news to the kids. “Several years ago, my kids figured out what was going on and we had a chat about it. I told them about the historical St. Nicholas and how the current Santa character is a symbol for charity and selflessness (two great character traits for the modern kid to dwell on). We still carry on the Santa traditions with a bit of a wink and have tons of fun, even though they're 8 & 10 now.” hobbes13 said the Santa tradition is more for parents than children. “My little one told me she knows the truth this year, and while she's excited for entering the realm of 'Big Girls,’ I'm depressed for pretty much the same reasons.”

ksgf said, “I agree that ‘Santa’ represents the season, the feeling of being kind to others. I find Santa encourages a lot more kindness than God does. I am almost 30 years old and I will always believe in Santa Claus.” But realtalker was one of the few who came down square on the other side of the argument. “By telling kids there IS a Santa you are starting your relationship out with a lie. We tell our kids from birth that there is Santa and they believe it based on what we tell them. Now I know that in the grand scheme it isn't that heartbreaking to the kid to learn the truth and they don't feel deceived, but does that make it right to lie to them their whole life.”

Jets suspend, fine coach who tripped player

Sports fans responded passionately to the story about Sal Alosi, the New York Jets strength and conditioning coach who was fined $25,000 and suspended through the 2010 playoffs for tripping a Miami Dolphins player. Most thought the punishment wasn’t harsh enough. But while nobody condoned Alosi’s actions, some thought his apology was sincere and that he should be given a second chance.

Callaban007 said, “He should have been fired. Coaches are supposed to set the example, not be part of the problem.”  march7752 said, “A bully would do the same thing. He should be fired. A fine and suspension? Opens the door for more actions like this until someone gets disabled, perhaps a (highly-paid) star? Then the punishment would be harsher. Inexcusable.”

MollyBee was concerned about the type of example Alosi’s behavior set. “Bad, ugly behavior is nothing new in the sports world ... much of it excused. How can we expect our children to grow into honorable adults when we ourselves accept bad behavior occurs as part of the game?” And Uncledrinky took issue with Alosi’s explanation that he “wasn’t thinking.” “No Sal ... you were thinking ... just thinking of something stupid ... and once you thought of it ... you did it.”

But treehuger thought the fine and suspension were appropriate. “He who is without sin, cast the first stone. When's the last time any of us got fined $25,000 for tripping somebody? He admitted his fault in the matter, accepts his punishment and still may have a lot to offer to his friends and peers.” thelittleun thought the transgression was minor compared to the other hazards of football. “How anybody can go bananas about a simple trip with what you see on the field in every game just beggars belief.”

The whole matter made swordspider question his dedication to the game. “Dude, he tripped a guy, he didn't smash him over the head with a bat … this is just a sideline helper, so let's slam him. What a joke. The whole darn sport is a joke now and I used to love football.”

‘King’s Speech’ scores seven Golden Globe nominations

The nominations for the TV and film awards show were announced this morning, and many readers took issue with what they saw as undeserved nominations or films they thought got slighted.

meggyb said, “I am mystified as to why ‘Glee’ continues to be nominated for Golden Globe awards. Every other comedy and comedic actor (well, except maybe ‘Big Bang Theory’ nominations) blows ‘Glee’ and its concentrated mediocrity right out of the water. Borkity said, “And where is ‘Community’?! That show is getting the shaft so hard. I'd also like to see ‘United States of Tara.’ ” And hockensmith2 said, “How do ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ ‘Red,’ ‘Burlesque,’ ‘The Tourist’ and ‘The Kids are All Right’ get Best Comedy nominations over ‘Toy Story 3’?

Some pulled for their favorites. MedianN said, “’Inception’ for the win!” while Insipid said, “’Inception’ was good, but both ‘The Social Network’ and ‘Black Swan’ were better -- I'm hoping one of them gets Best Picture/Drama.”

World leaders mourn Holbrooke’s death

U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke’s death prompted several readers to share their gratitude for his work.

No9 said, “A loss for our nation. A quiet statesman and faithful public servant. He will be missed.” And SDPattycat said, “This is so sad … he was only a man, not a miracle worker, but it sure sounds like he gave a lot of dedicated effort to help spread peace on earth, for many of the right reasons, not just 'American' reasons.”

YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.

Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by: yvonnezusel // December 14, 2010
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Posted in: comments
Postcards from the middle of nowhere »

Johnny Colt snapped this shot of Nauru on Monday with his iPhone. He used an app called Instagram, which adds special lens filters to enhance the color of the image.


The last holdout in the iReport Global Challenge -- a race to see if we could get an iReport story from every country before the end of the year -- was Nauru, a tiny island nation in the South Pacific. It’s the kind of place that draws raised eyebrows and baffled responses when you drop it casually into conversation because, well, most people have no idea it exists.


I’ll be the first to admit that I hadn’t heard of Nauru before it ended up being the last country on our list, but it didn’t take long to figure out it’s a pretty fascinating place: way out in the middle of the ocean, 25 miles from the equator, a tropical paradise wracked for decades with economic and environmental struggles.


Last week first-time iReporter Lee Miller shared the story of his 2008 trip to the remote island, letting us cross the last country off our list. Frankly we were pretty thrilled to hear a story from Nauru, an island with fewer than 10,000 residents and just one flight in and out every week. But 2008 is old by news standards, and we wanted to know more about what it’s like today. So CNN sent iReporter Johnny Colt on a special assignment: Go to Nauru and get the story.


He arrived late Sunday and on Monday started sending back dispatches via pinhole-sized bandwidth. This iPhone snapshot of the tropical sunshine is his first, accompanied by this eerie description: "Imagine if no one had repaired a thing in your home since 1978. Now place your home on a tropical island in the middle of nowhere -- that is Nauru. Signs of Nauru's heyday are all over the island. Rusted out amphitheater, boarded-up neighborhoods and my broken down hotel. I am staying at the island's one hotel, the Menan. There are 300 rooms at the Menan. I have yet to see a soul walk the beach."


Colt's there through Wednesday, and when he gets back, we'll work together on a story for about his trip and what he saw. In the meantime, you can follow along with the adventure on his iReport profile.

Posted by:
// December 14, 2010
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Posted in: global_challenge
Overheard on CNN: A blue Christmas »

COMMENT OF THE DAY: Modern day Santas! Replacing the Sleighs with Jet-Setters! Loving it.--sweetbella


CNN rode along with Fat Albert, a Blue Angels plane that was used to deliver toys to children in New Orleans as part of the Toys for Tots program.  The story prompted readers to share their own memories of watching the Blue Angels as children. Check out readers' reactions to this and other stories on


On wings of Blue Angels, toy journeys from one heart to another


RPKAK remembered watching the Navy aerobatics team as a child. “The Blue Angels are awesome, and have always been. My family, going back to the 1960s, have enjoyed their demonstrations at the former Pacific Missile  Test Center, NAS Pt. Mugu to these days now. I am looking forward to their next local visit as are my two growing boys. Nothing like keeping family tradition alive and well.”


Shinytoys also had fond Angels memories. “My dad passed away in October of this year. Ever since I can remember … he took my sister and I to see the Blue Angels make magic happen at Willow Grove Air Base here in Pennsylvania. We would marvel at the "little blue rockets" and always be mystified and thrilled at their amazing air show. … I miss the Blue Angles terribly, but I miss my dad and the trips we had together more, to see this great spectacle of flying precision and pride.”


myhalo was excited to see the process of getting the toys from donation bin to child. “A great story for those who put toys in the Toys for Tots bin and then don't know the steps taken by the Marines to get the donations to needy families. What a great organization ... Semper Fi!”


But some questioned whether getting the toys to New Orleans by airplane was a good use of money. coloretaf said, “Great PR mission for the military. Granted, it probably cost a whole lot more to fly a C-130 from Atlanta to NOLA than it would to have just [to have] trucked the cargo, but it's a good chance for the public to see its military in action other than in war zones.” Devatra said, “I think what we need is food for the needy. I don't see priorities here. These kinds of [things] are making Americans more and more materialistic.”


Senate set to debate tax plan compromise


Readers were as divided as you’d expect over whether extending tax cuts would be the country’s only hope or would lead to its demise. There was sarcasm and snarkiness on an issue that readers clearly feel strongly about. Most were fearful that extending the cuts would be only a short-term solution and were worried that a long-term solution might not be in sight. And a few wealthier readers said they were sick of picking up the slack by paying higher taxes.


barko said, “Yes! When this passes everything will be all better. The rich who save thousands or tens of thousands in taxes will run right out and build factories with well paying jobs for all.” ProgVet was one the same page. “If this misguided compromise passes I will have significant concern for supporting Obama in the future. While he made a ‘tough’ choice it is not going to result in meaningful changes in unemployment, social security takes a hit, the rich inherit more and continue to pay less than the vast majority if Americans.


oaktontom saw things differently. “Gimme-ism is the disease; fiscal conservatism the cure.” jsscottIL saw the tax cut extension as “a necessary evil to help us short term. But it may cause even more issues when we get the bill.


Some wanted the wealthy to acknowledge what federal taxes pay for. underdogus10 said, “Tell me how the "self sufficient" wealthy could have attained their wealth without roads, electrical, labor (public educated or otherwise), raw materials (the means to capital), etc?” rs1201 responded with, “The ‘self sufficient’ wealthy have paid for these damn roads and whatever else you list 1000 times over without any complaining. … Just take care of yourself and don't expect anyone else to pay for you or your family. We, the ‘evil rich’ have had it.”



The internet and the ‘end of privacy’


Is privacy still attainable in the internet age? That was the question posed in this story, which ended up sparking an interesting conversation among readers. Many said it’s nearly impossible to maintain complete privacy, unless you decide not to have a presence on the internet at all.


AlteredEgo said, “The cat's out of the bag and it's hard to put it back. My wife doesn't use the computer and I can't find any record of her. Even though I refuse to FACE or Space, I'm all over the Net. Wish I could disappear. I'd throw this thing away!” canuck720 said, “…What many don't seem to understand is that as soon as you get yourself involved on a social networking site and have > 0 friends, your personal information could be out there. … For this reason, I do NONE of that. Google my name, you come up with nothing.”


thatguy371 said it’s all about the choices people make online. “The internet is indeed a two-edged sword, but if a person uses common sense they can still protect themselves. Main thing is to not buy into the arguments of people like Facebook founder saying it's important to keep sharing more of your life there. OF COURSE he's going to say that ... it makes his site more appealing to users wanting to learn everything possible about their ‘friends.’ ” JeramieH1 agreed. “People do this to themselves. It's not the ‘end of privacy’ if you're not making any attempt to keep things private.”


But gruneun pointed out that even those vigilant about their online identities might not be safe. “The larger problems are the people who put up your information without your consent: Mother-in-laws who sign you up for things, people who send out Evites, friends who post their party pictures to Facebook with captions, companies that release your contact info to third parties. Controlling your own dissemination of information is no longer enough.”


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by: yvonnezusel // December 13, 2010
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Winter's blast brings the best (and worst)  »





For many parts of North America, major snow storms are a part of life every winter, and this weekend was no exception. We asked iReporters to share the best and worst aspects of wintry weather.


Midwesterner Scott Healy says winter brings out the "best in people," but can mean traffic nightmares - illustrated by this jack-knifed semi-trailer. Scott was stuck for nearly 14 hours Sunday at a gas station along Route 30 in Indiana after officials shut down traffic.


iReporter Patrick Ryan Wilson, who shared video of wind-lashed waves crashing along Chicago's lake front says living in The Windy City means "you have bragging rights about how cold it is where you live until you run into someone from Minneapolis, and then your bragging rights go away."

Pinaki Das says the best thing about wintry weather in Ontario, Canada is its natural beauty. "Everything outside turns white and snow covered - mother nature is so beautiful!" That is, until "the snow melts and driving becomes crazy and risky!"


When you live in a place named Mountain City, you're bound to see a little snow. Tennessean Phillip Mullins shared video of blistering snow whirling outside his home. Yeah it's pretty to look at, says Mullins, but the "worst thing is you're stuck in the house until it goes away. I don't really have anywhere to go except to the mailbox."


A heartfelt thanks to the many dozens of iReporters sharing their stories and images of wintry weather with CNN. We'd love to hear your story too. And by all means, stay safe (and warm) out there.

Posted by: tyson // December 13, 2010
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Posted in: stories
Overheard on She-geeks rejoice »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "Man, I wish the Pokemon crew would have done that for me!" --ShutYoTrap


Katie Goldman is an adorable 7-year-old from Evanston, Illinois, who wears a patch over her one lazy eye and loves "Star Wars," despite being teased about her interests in what some classmates said was a movie for boys. She received an outpouring of support. Her story captivated the hearts of readers in faraway states and perhaps galaxies. She-geeks everywhere wrote in to say that they could relate to her youthful conundrum. Check out what readers had to say about this and other stories on today.


'The Force' is with you, Katie


response2cnn wrote, "Katie, my daughter takes her blue Star Wars lunchbox to school every day. You are not alone." KritterKat advised, "Don't let your kids conform! Have them invite school friends over for a sci-fi movie viewing, or have Star Wars themed birthday parties to invited all the kids into the geeky fun." mmcdonald says she's proud of having channeled her awkward years to become a successful adult. "I had lots of good friends that I still keep in touch with now. I guess all of my curiosity and love for Sci-Fi paid off." A few of the commenters blamed the state of Illinois. EZNYer wrote, "This kind of B.S. could only happen in Illinois. I know a ton of geek girls and they are celebrated in New York, not made fun of. Maybe bullying is just more prevalent in the suburbs and bible belt. It's a reflection of their parents demanding societal conformity over substance."


Social pressures made some of our commenters sad. 13MPBrat  recounted how her niece used to love Spider-Man until the girls in her class told her that was only for boys. "We tried to talk her out of it, but she was convinced and has never had that love of Spider-Man again. It is sad because there is this gender-appropriate idea still out there. I myself am a very proud she-geek and do my best to encourage all my nieces to follow their interests no matter what!" XWngLady said you can do whatever you want in this life. "I use to get teased because ever since I saw 'Star Wars,' I wanted to be a fighter pilot like Luke Skywalker and not Princess Leia like every other girl did. Well, as an adult, I joined the Army and later worked for the Air Force with planes and jets and all, but I still wear my high-heeled shoes and makeup and do girly things. You don't have to pick one or the other. You can do both." Other commenters took on the idea of being a geek, with some bearing the label with pride and others saying it's limiting. sofarsogood said, "Act like you care about the whole cyber-bullying issue today, and then use words like 'geek' and 'nerdy' in your article, come on." daniel490 had an interesting response: "Even the Bible says 'the geek shall inherit the Earth.' (The original text has a typo)."


Man guilty of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart


Brian David Mitchell, 57, was loudly singing "He died, the Great Redeemer died" when a federal jury announced Friday it had found him guilty of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart in 2002 and transporting the then-14-year-old girl across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity. We got a few comments from readers that probably shouldn't be printed in this post, ranging from suggestions of potential penal techniques to the kind of conduct Mitchell can expect in prison. Among the other comments were philosophies on the crime committed, as well as thoughts on the legal system as a whole.


Trejo said, "Very glad to hear the verdict. We wish Elizabeth and her family the very best." StephWI4 said, "It's so terrible what this man did to this woman, and she was only 14 years old. It's sickening and heartbreaking to read about this man taking away her innocence. I know it happens all the time everywhere around the world, but I'm so glad that this man has been served his justice." gowjo18 said, "The punishment is too good for him, but perhaps his buddies on the inside will catch wind of what he's in there for and 'redeem him.' " ram124 griped, "Kidnap and rape a 14-year-old and it took over 7 years to find him guilty and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax money!" to which gowjo18 said, "Due process, respect it." The response that came back was: "It is expensive and an inefficient process. As a taxpayer in a country that is going bankrupt, I expect optimization." Finally, pogostick was among those who were upset by Wanda Barzee's deal to give testimony against her husband. "What is bizarre to me is this madman had a wife who stuck with him and went along with this psychopathic behavior. She is every bit as guilty as he is. Neither of them should ever get out of  prison. How did she only get 15 years?"


Life among U.S. enemies: Embedded with the Taliban


For nine days in October 2009, Norwegian journalist Paul Refsdal was behind the lines with the Taliban, embedded in a region where al Qaeda is active and Osama bin Laden was once rumored to be hiding. He followed the daily life of Dawran, a regional Taliban commander, between its extremes of directing attacks and being a family man. We received a lot of fascinating comments, most of which debated the documentary value of getting to know a member of the Taliban. A lot of readers were skeptical about the Taliban's motives, while others thought Refsdal's work was enlightening.


avidcroft wrote, "So he went out and filmed the Taliban. The end result is apparently a very boring movie that tried to humanize the Taliban. Seems like a waste of time to me." RockinRobyn said, "I am moved by the way he questions why coalition forces fight them. It sound almost like he feels sorry for the forces because something bad that happened to them must make them want to fight. It makes me feel like maybe there is hope for peace. If they have a desire to understand us, maybe we should do the same." But  clevesparkle said she was disgusted. "It's great to see the faces of the men trying to kill my husband and all the other American soldiers fighting for our freedom." Mystjm1 said the Taliban just need something to fight against. "Unfortunately, a person's ideology is an almost impossible adversary. I do not think the U.S. is the enemy. It's just some nebulous entity they can vent their frustrations against. If things do not change, it will always be someone 'else.' I hope they find a way to create a better future for themselves, somehow."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// December 10, 2010
 7 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Our Christmas wish: 12 Days videos »


We're 10 days into our 12 Days of Christmas challenge and your photos, videos and animations of birds-a-calling and ladies dancing have everyone here on the iReport team full of holiday spirit.


Next week, we'll be looking for the final two days – pipers piping and drummers drumming – but this weekend, we're issuing an additional challenge to you: We want to see more videos!


We've loved Shari Atukorala's fun videos (check out her footage of a maid-a-milking) and David Donar's charming animations (his partridge in a pear tree is especially clever). And Jason Asselin was brave enough to sing The 12 Days of Christmas on camera.


Now we want to see your creativity in full force! You can dress up as a maid and drink some milk or attach wings to a pair of turtles, like Joe Nopic did. The sky's the limit.


You can film your interpretation of one or several of the below items:


- Partridge in a pear tree

- Turtle doves

- French hens

- Calling birds

- Golden rings

- Geese-a-laying

- Swans-a-swimming

- Maids-a-milking

- Ladies dancing

- Lords-a-leaping


Here's the fine print: For editing purposes, it's better if you film either one or all of each numbered item per video (i.e. one French hen or three French hens). Please upload your videos by Sunday evening and check back Monday, December 13, for the next new item in our challenge.


We can't wait to see what you come up with. Happy holidays!

Posted by: katie // December 10, 2010
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Posted in: community
Overheard on Upright and locked »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "I like to recline my seat while refusing to allow the passenger in front of me to recline theirs. :D" --in9deep


Gotta love those cramped airline seats. commenters had lots of opinions about reclining chairs in front of them. Many of the responses we got were either supportive of reclining or tinted with rage. Even those who were on the fence about the recliners seemed passionate about their neutrality. Set your tray table in the upright and locked position, buckle your safety belt and grab your share of a one-armed armrest as you check out the responses we got to this and other stories on today:


Air rage: Is reclining your seat a right?


Some of our commenters said being tall is the pits when someone reclines in front of you, while others noted they take things into their own hands. northchi wrote, "If you can recline your seat without hitting my legs, feel free. If you do hit my legs, I will absolutely resist letting you go further. If you force the issue and keep pressing, I will publicly humiliate you. It's not like I can pack my legs in the overhead bins." krismcm said, "I have found that it's easy to push the seat to its upright position as soon as the offending person in front of me leans forward or gets up out of their seat for a bathroom break." redsleek said it's not just an issue of mere comfort: "I have to recline so I don't get sick flying. I can barely hold when the plane is taking off or landing. I am OK with the passenger in front of me reclining all the way if he is trying to sleep. That's his or her right, and I have mine." Displacedmic said, "You paid for that ticket, you get that seat. You paid for those five inches the seat reclines. if the person behind you doesn't like it, they should have flown first class."


Tuppencecat bemoaned the life of short people: "The top of the seat is terrible for us short travelers. While it cradles the neck of average to taller passengers, it pushes my head way forward. If I can't recline even a little bit, by the time the flight lands, I'm hurting terribly." krismcm responded, "Well, I have to apologize to Tuppencecat. I had no idea that the seats could be uncomfortable for a 5-foot-tall person. I will have greater patience for my fellow passengers, but only for the considerably shorter ones!" Some passengers called for the removal of the reclining feature. harleypadre said if we do that, "the rest of those marginal travelers will take the bus. We need high-speed rail and to let the airlines die." RevSchaeffer was skeptical, and drew a line instead. "So now we're suggesting that it's the responsibility of the airlines to prevent us from acting like insensitive boors? You paid for your seat and you are perfectly welcome to recline. However, I paid for my seat too. Your right to recline ends where my knees begin."


DREAM Act in danger after Senate Dems pull it from consideration


CNN has seen a huge response to our coverage of the DREAM Act, a bill which was designed to offer a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children. Senate Democrats conceded Thursday they don't have the votes to pass the DREAM Act, and voted to pull the the measure from consideration. The move jeopardizes the chances for passing the hotly contested bill during the current lame-duck session of Congress that ends in early January.


Slerouge asked, "Who is going to pay for their college education? How many of theses kids will go to college on the U.S. taxpayers, so that they won't be deported? I'm all for the military service part." We heard from lots of commenters who thought the DREAM Act is unsustainable. We also heard from many people in support of it, including illegal immigrants themselves. MrDeuces wrote, "As an employer, if an immigrant student is smarter than your kid, has worked harder in school than your kid, in lieu of just learning the language, and is more qualified to enter college than your kid, well then I want the immigrant student in my college or job. Put them on a path to citizenship and watch them succeed much greater than your kid would have." RobLambert said, "I'm a liberal and I think the Dream Act is a nightmare for working class students (who will be denied college because of millions more applying) and it's a nightmare for taxpayers who fund state colleges and subsidize tuition, and it's a nightmare for workers because more competition comes from them and their families for the few jobs available." usbullitt said, "I hope it goes down in flames along with all who sponsored it. We are up to our ears in illegals as it is and can't afford the welfare burdens they create; why make it worse?"


Personal stories came in, like this response to MrDeuces from sisco09, who wrote, "I was the valedictorian of my high school. I was also an illegal immigrant, at the time. I was brought to the United States, from Mexico, at the age of one. I learned English before I did Spanish, my 'home' country's native language. I excelled academically and was offered numerous full-rides to various universities. However, unfortunately, my lack of a Social Security number inhibited my right to accept one of these offers. Long story short, I worked harder than most of my American citizen counterparts and was denied the right to contribute to the country I feel is my home simply because I was undocumented. It was not the government's fault that my parents decided to overstay their visas, however, it was also not my fault that my parents decided to overstay their visas. If all I wanted to do was help my country prosper and grow, why would anyone deny me this opportunity? I am currently a medical student with a permanent residency attained after years of struggling and frustration. These students want to contribute to this great country. Don't deny them, and yourselves, this contribution."


Senate Republicans opposed the DREAM Act as they stood by their pledge to block any legislation during the lame-duck session until the chamber approves bills to extend the Bush tax cuts and fund the government. CNN's story, "House Democrats defy Obama on tax cut," also got a huge reaction with about 4,000 comments at the time this post was written.


Man finds extreme healing eating parasitic worms


Finally, we got some very interesting responses to a story about a man who journeyed to Thailand to infest himself with worms in the hopes of curing his ulcerative colitis. The disease gave him bloody bowel movements. For the most part, commenters were supportive, while a few questioned the treatments. We also saw some personal stories.


bankerssilve wrote, "Bravo! This guy is amazing! He saw that looking back was where his cure was, not forward. We all need to step back, get back to basics. Gut trouble is so awful to have to deal with." Samseed wrote, "I have Crohn's Disease, and I have heard about using worms as a treatment over the years. I am open to the idea. Hopefully more research is done before I get to the point of surgery, colostomy bags and the high-priced meds like Remicade. I have met alot of people over the last 10 years who have Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's, We are desperate for a working, long-lasting, effective treatment, without the horrible side effects and cost of current treatment options. I would REALLY like to know what it is that these worms are doing that is helping some patients. This disease is hell." tinkerdental said, "Gross, yet it worked for him, congrats! And hats off too you for following what was good for you as you felt and not all the doctors who said no. Wish you the best. You're a very brave man."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// December 9, 2010
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Posted in: comments
Elizabeth's legacy »


"She really was a life-changing woman," says 17-year-old Alexandra Gruber when asked about Elizabeth Edwards.


Gruber met Edwards, who died December 8 after a long battle with breast cancer, at a Connecticut press conference three years ago. Gruber had just moved into her first foster home and asked Edwards -- whom she calls Liz -- for some advice. She asked Edwards if she should tell her friends about being in foster care, since she knew Edwards had had to go through the process of telling her loved ones she had cancer.


Edwards' response truly changed her life.


"She gave me such gracious words of wisdom, telling me that all the support that she got from people knowing what went on in her life gave her happiness. I never forgot that," said Gruber, who is still in foster care. "My friends know now, and I have received so much support... She was an awesome woman, and I couldn't have asked for better timing."


Edwards was the wife of former Democratic Senator and vice-presidential candidate John Edwards, but she is best remembered as an advocate for issues like health care and same-sex marriage. She's also known for the grace with which she handled the many hardships in her life: The Edwards' oldest son, Wade, was killed in a car accident in 1996. Her cancer was made public after her husband's campaign ended in 2004, and the family was again thrust into the spotlight in 2008 when it was revealed that John had had an affair with campaign videographer Rielle Hunter.


But Gruber and Edwards' other admirers say they will remember her for her own strength and accomplishments rather than her husband's indiscretions.


"Thank you, Liz," says Gruber. "In the times of darkness when I thought I couldn't go on, you allowed me to.  You allowed me to liberate myself from the chains of misery."


That, surely, is the legacy of Elizabeth Edwards.


(Did you ever meet Elizabeth Edwards? How will you remember her? Share your tributes and read others' memories.)


Posted by:
// December 9, 2010
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Posted in: stories
Europe digs in »










Parts of Europe are blanketed in heavy snow today. CNN iReporters from France, Germany and Luxembourg shared images of the white stuff piled up in their neighborhoods.


Paris was hit particularly hard Wednesday. Heavy snow paralyzed travel in the region as officials suspended air traffic, closed several highways and shut down the Eiffel Tower.


Is wintry weather effecting you? Share your photos, video and stories with CNN iReport.

Posted by: tyson // December 9, 2010
 14 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: stories
Next iReport roundtable: December 16 »

Today's CNN iReport roundtable is canceled, but we will be back next week (December 16) at 3 p.m. ET for our regularly-scheduled chat. See you then!

Posted by:
// December 9, 2010
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Posted in: community
Overheard on 'Woz' speaks »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "Seems like we are in the 'Annoying Age' where we are learning to teach computers to do a lot of the things we used to do, but we are still doing a lot of the things computers should be doing now. My finger hurt! I have to constantly repeat myself to the computer! The next generation will luck out. Computers can do everything for them; they can then start the slow process of turning back into monkeys. Either that, or we get big green heads and move on to Mars." -- kilmoturtles


CNN toured the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, with Steve Wozniak, who spoke about his tech obsessions and the perils of technology. Readers were pretty split over the geek icon and one-time "Dancing With the Stars" contestant. Some were awed by "Woz" while others said he is from a bygone era. One point of contention was Wozniak's discussion of the problems with technology, chiefly the effects of automation in one's life and the potential for the dumbing down of society. Check out readers' reactions to this and other stories on


Apple's Steve Wozniak: 'We've lost a lot of control'


Karloff1313 urged people to "put down the technology and pick up a pen to work on your writing skills. Judging by comments written on the Internet, many people are dearly lacking in writing and English comprehension skills." guitarharry wrote, "As a former teacher, I have to say that Wozniak is on the right track. All the computers and other gizmos that have come out in the last 20 years have their uses, but at the same time, students seemed so consumed with and distracted by technology, especially by their smartphones, that they are losing ground and becoming intelletually second-rate: they can't read, write, or do math because they have grown up depending on machines to do much of that work for them."


For other readers, the story evoked computer nostalgia. Muddyshoes said, "Woz is one of the last of hobbyists who are starting to die off who created computers mostly because they were fun. He and [Steve] Jobs were the perfect combination to revolutionize computers for the home. This isn't about Apple products being good, or bad or expensive. This is about the history of every computer in use today, whether it's a desktop computer or smartphone. Woz was at the beginning of all this." But one commenter noted that Wozniak seemed like he had plenty of gadgets. "Sounds like The Woz is the one who will have a problem putting the gadgets down and backing away," said drldeboer, who then added, "P.S.: All hail the Hackintosh." celticwitch said, "Sounds like sour grapes to me. Woz dumped Apple and they became successful without him. They became successful because there are a lot of people out there who like uninterrupted workflow and return on investment when it comes to their electronics."


Readers remember Elizabeth Edwards for her grace under fire


We received an outpouring of comments following Edwards' death from breast cancer. Several of the responses were highlighted on CNN's This Just In blog. We in turn received even more comments.


Kasia Wojtowicz wrote, "I dont know what it is, but I am deeply saddened by the passing of Mrs. Edwards. There is just something about this story that caught my attention and is not letting go." Cindy Fleet addressed her troubles with her estranged husband, former Sen. John Edwards: "Elizabeth, you showed us what grace under pressure really is. You showed us it doesn't matter how much money you have, you are still vulnerable to the pain of betrayal. How sad that the man you chose for a life mate chose to conduct himself in such a disgusting manner." Many thought of loved ones they had lost. Vincent Bett said, "I lost my dad to brain tumor at age 20 and i still feel the pain and loss to this day. I agree with you that we sholuld value our parents at all cost. I would do everything to get my dad back."


SpaceX craft splashes down in Pacific after successful launch


The launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket into the Pacific Ocean was, for many of our readers, a sign of the beginnings of a potential commercial space travel industry. Most of the readers lauded the arrival of private development after NASA's work, with a few dissenters as well.  Chimmichanga wrote, "The Internet started out as a government project decades ago and then went private. The space program started out as a government project decades ago, and now it is going private. NASA's seed is turning into a tree." mrgadfly was less optimistic: "In other words, the United States government is in such dire straits, economically speaking, that it must take the 'bus' instead of driving its own car now, and it must 'rent' instead of owning its own celestial real estate. Meanwhile, Americans continue to believe that their nation is a superpower." Commenter Frankly2010 toyed with the metaphor, saying it's really about businesses making cars to improve on the governmental bus: "The sign of a nation's greatness is not what it's government can do at massive expense, but the heights that it's private citizens and businesses may reach in their own endeavors. This is the United States of America. Here, you can start your own business to cut grass, or you can start one to go to freaking SPACE."


Kathy Griffin booed for Bristol Palin joke


The story generating the most comments today was a Marquee blog post about a joke by comedian Kathy Griffin about Bristol Palin. Griffin's remarks about Palin's weight got many readers upset for one reason or another. krg said, "I am glad our men and women in uniform have more class than this comedian. Nothing is funny about making fun of a 20-year-old single mother who has to deal with hate from some people because of what they think politically of her mother. Thank you troops!" Cec wrote, "I like Kathy Griffin, but this joke was a low blow." KeyLimePie took the position that many others took: that you can expect to be scrutinized when in the public eye. "Too bad if Bristol is only 20. If you're old enough to be on 'Dancing With the Stars,' then you're old enough to be the butt of jokes on late-night TV. You know what you're signing on for, especially when you're not a good dancer. And Bristol's mother didn't have any problem subjecting her pregnant teenage daughter to the public eye when she ran for vice president."


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// December 8, 2010
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Posted in: comments
Global Challenge: It all ends with Nauru »

Lee Miller poses in front of a Japanese anti-aircraft gun left over from World War II. He visited Nauru in 2008.


We did it! CNN has officially approved an iReport from every country in the world.


It came down to Nauru, the world’s smallest republic.


Lee Miller, 32, of San Francisco, heard about the challenge on Monday and uploaded his snapshots from a 2008 trip to the tiny South Pacific island just below the equator.


Miller, who has a background in international relations, said he had read about “pretty much every country” and finally discovered Nauru, a country he felt was rarely spoken of or heard about.


Sitting on a beach where one could go hours without seeing another human being, he basked in the feeling that he was “on the edge of the world.”


Nauru has had its share of struggles. The country, population 9,267, once enjoyed great wealth from mining phosphate for fertilizer, but those resources are nearly exhausted, and Miller observed dilapidated homes and beaches strewn with garbage.


“It’s a really sad story because it wasn’t that long ago that Nauruans were driving around in Ferraris. … It used to be one of the richest countries in the world,” Miller said.


But there was a lot more about the country waiting to be seen. Miller recalled “breathtaking scenery” and touching moments with locals. The owner of the island’s only hotel noticed him wearing a Barack Obama T-shirt and insisted on paying for the rest of his stay. Another time, when he got sick, a Nauruan bus driver who worked at the hotel took him to a store and bought him medicine.


Visitors rarely come to the island, and Miller said he was treated like a celebrity.


“Overall, I had a great experience and met a lot of great people,” Miller said in his iReport. “For this, I would go back. If the Nauruans cleaned up their country just a bit though, it would have amazing potential to bring in tourists.”


Miller said he plans to return to Nauru with his brother in 2011.


Throughout the iReport Global Challenge, as we have called our quest, we've gotten a glimpse into life in the tiniest and most unexplored pockets of the world. We heard about Tuvalu, an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean that has become the face of global climate change. We were taken aback by Djibouti's other-worldly scenery, which appears in the 1968 film "Planet of the Apes." We’ve learned so much about places that are rarely talked about. Check out some of the latest contributions.

Posted by: dsashin // December 7, 2010
 25 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: global_challenge
Overheard on Sarah Shourd speaks »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: I hear what she is saying, and I know what she went through must have been extremely difficult…however, the real world doesn't work the way she would like it to. The realities of diplomacy are a bit more complicated than "why can't we all just get along" and "make peace not war." –lev3161


Many readers responded strongly to an opinion piece by Sarah Shourd, an American hiker released from an Iranian prison in September after being detained with her fiancé and a friend (who remain in custody). In the column, Shourd called on the United  States to form diplomatic ties with Iran.


Freed hiker: It’s time for U.S.-Iran ties


“I'm sorry, I'm not aware why we are supposed to feel sorry for this woman,” said chinupcheerup. “She went hiking on the border with Iran, and was arrested for it. The idea that any other outcome would happen is ridiculous.” truthhurts99 agreed: “So a person with a history of making dumb decisions is now trying to dictate foreign policy?”


Bombardier74 thought Shourd suffered from Stockholm syndrome, a psychological condition in which kidnap victims develop sympathy for their captors, while cancertoast said, “I am sorry, I cannot believe a single word she says until her friends are released. If she still sings the same tune, then I will believe her.”

A few jumped to Shourd’s defense or agreed with her argument. Jeffcalgary said, “Voices promoting diplomacy (are) always a good thing. Why do so many people on this forum think that violence is the only way? Don't you realize that you can't afford it?”


VCMD responded, “History is full of lessons that compromising with evil does not work. A lot of countries initially forged relationships with Hitler. Did it work? Same happened with Mussolini, Lenin. If the U.S. was not strong, we all would be speaking Russian now. Diplomacy works only when both parties are sincere.”


WikiLeaks' Assange jailed while court decides on extradition


The arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London started another round of heated discussion. WikiLeaks has been under intense pressure from the U.S. and its allies since it began leaking U.S. State Department documents last month. The readers seem evenly divided, with some applauding Assange’s arrest while others said they thought sex-crime allegations in Sweden were just an excuse.

Reader inividi said, “Pathetic. This judge should at least fabricate some elegant excuse for keeping

Assange in jail. Shame on British justice.”


ScottyB85 said, “I still don't understand why people view him as a hero. He just released a ‘most vulnerable target’ list. What common man will benefit from that?! There is no way he reads them all. He should not be allowed to play God with these documents.”


heinzel questioned whether the issue could be easily debated along partisan lines. “You people are really confusing. From the comments it seems like this issue is clearly divided between party lines. Yet each comment is different, accusing the other party of supporting or not supporting Assange. Let me ask loud and clear. Do Democrats support Assange, or do Republicans support him?” Reader crackiswhack responded, “I'm a Democrat and I don't support him. Neither does my wife, her family or many of our friends. For the record, neither do my parents and siblings, all Republicans. I think people who break every issue down into two parts, across party lines, are ineffectual, intellectually vapid morons who are more concerned with feeling like someone is listening to them scream than they are with coming up with any solutions.”


'The Walking Dead' finale breaks ratings records


The news that AMC’s zombie gorefest, “The Walking Dead,” posted the highest ratings ever for a basic cable show in the 18-49 age demographic prompted readers to share their love for the program. But they weren’t shy in expressing that they think it shows a lack of brains -- pardon the pun -- in waiting until next October to air new episodes.


Reader Greg said, “What? Next Halloween? Seriously? By that time I'll probably have forgotten a lot of what happened. That is why I try to never get hooked on cable shows. I loved ‘Walking Dead,’ but I can't guarantee I'll still (be) enthusiastic for it a year from now!”


But flightstudent78 said any wait will be worth it. “Hell yeah, I'll wait another year for season 2. It's a great show, which fleshes out human relationships in a dire situation, instead of just focusing on zombies all the time.”



YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by: yvonnezusel // December 7, 2010
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Overheard on Battle of the Bulge  »


First Lady Michelle Obama has made combatting obesity her pet cause


COMMENT OF THE DAY: “Forget WikiLeaks. Forget the war on drugs or terrorism ... the real battle is the bulge!”--baggypants


CNN contributor David Frum's claim that obesity could be a national security threat struck a chord with readers, who used the story as an opportunity to discuss the American obesity epidemic. Frum pointed out that amid the argument over "don't ask, don't tell," people were ignoring the fact that many soldiers are discharged because they don't meet military weight requirements. Here’s what others thought about obesity and the rest of the day’s top stories:


Why obesity is a national security threat


Most readers thought that Americans needed to take responsibility for their own weight issues rather than relying on government intervention. lass21hb said, "The fact that obesity is negatively impacting the military and defense, is just another excuse to get the government involved. This needs to be a wake-up call to Americans that we need to start making some hard changes as Americans and consumers, without government involvement. Otherwise we are going to continue to lose our freedoms as our government passes legislation to "protect us from ourselves."


hippediva called Americans’ on-the-go lifestyles the reason so many are overweight. “As long as our national 'lifestyle' is to rush out of the house to work, grabbing a toaster strudel or Starbucks latte; eating McDonalds in 5 minutes for lunch and coming home at 8 pm with a bucket of KFC, we're bound to get fat.


byrond said that other factors, including socioeconomic status, can play a large part. “I have a Master of Science in Nutrition unlike Michelle Obama and the author of this column Mr. Frum. It's primarily America's poor that are Obese. And, believe it or not Mr. Frum, obese people are not just lazy people who eat too much and watch TV. They are often FOOD INSECURE so are forced to pig out on cheap sources of fat and sugar while they have the chance to eat.”


ukanduet shared his own military experiences. “In my day, when you went to boot camp they got rid of the excess weight in short order. They didn't coddle new recruits. You had to go through hell, and they didn't care too much what it did to your fragile mental state. They built fighting machines, anyway they had to do it.”


One reader saw a potential silver lining in the debate over what to do about obesity. “A positive side to obesity? Consider that if we are too fat to fight we will be forced to stop invading foreign countries in the name of spreading freedom or fighting terrorism or whatever the current war cry might be. I like it,” said Vonzo1974.


Motorists could see $3 gas at pumps by Christmas


A story on climbing gas prices had many readers pointing out that gas is already upwards of $3 a gallon where they live and bemoaning that prices always seem to go up toward the end of the year.

stan777 said, “What are they talking about? Its been $3.00 a gallon here in NE PA for at least 2 weeks. I payed $3.09 the other day. Why is it around the holidays the gas goes up? Talk about price gouging. The oil companys are manking billions of dollars in profit, so your telling me that they cant charge $2.00 a ... more What are they talking about? It’s been $3 a gallon here in NE PA for at least 2 weeks. I payed $3.09 the other day. Why is it around the holidays the gas goes up? Talk about price gouging.”


DrBillToth1 blamed the oil companies, saying they “continue to rake in BILLIONS of dollars of profit every quarter because we let them,” but tehFonzY countered by saying that people who decide to drive can’t complain about high prices. “They have a product we choose to buy. It's the same reason we allow any company to make any sort of profit.”


For some, rising gas prices were an opportunity to point out that the U.S. should become less dependent on fossil fuels. gr8fuldude said,I think this is very good news. I think we should pay far more, as we need to learn how to conserve. And for the record, I drive a Prius and use mass transit when I do go to the office.”



For LGBT teens, acceptance is critical


Several interesting discussions -- with topics including religion, equal rights and the law -- cropped up in the comments section of a story on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens facing discrimination in high school.


sm753 said, “LGBT people think they’re so special and require special attention. Guess what're just like everyone else. johnwithanh countered with, “How does fairness and equality mean "special attention"? Was Rosa Parks asking for special attention on the bus? No! She just wanted to have the same opportunity as everyone else. That's all we're asking for -- nothing special.”


dnyce13 doesn’t approve of others using religion as motivation for condemning others but also doesn’t approve of religion-bashing. “Homosexuality is such a sensitive subject but I find it disheartening how every time it's mentioned people always cry out and bash religion. I'm a Christian myself and the main focus of the Bible is love. It is THE greatest commandment. Although I personally do not believe homosexuality is in acc... more Homosexuality is such a sensitive subject but I find it disheartening how every time it's mentioned people always cry out and bash religion. I'm a Christian myself and the main focus of the Bible is love. It is THE greatest commandment. Although I personally do not believe homosexuality is in accordance with natural law … I have gay friends and I do not hold anything against them. We are all sinners. Love each other guys, it's not easy especially when personal opinions are so contrasting but it's what we should be doing.


artistlimite thanked dnyce13 for her comment, despite having different beliefs. “Although I am a critic of Christianity often, it is good to know that there are some Christians who still attempt to love those despite their differences.”


Your turn: Now that  you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views  align with theirs? Give us your two cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.

Posted by: yvonnezusel // December 6, 2010
Posted in: comments
Global Challenge: Nauru, where are you? »


We are thrilled to announce that we are down to just one country in the iReport Global Challenge: Nauru, the world’s smallest republic.


Those of you who have been following the iReport blog know that we’ve been striving to get photos, videos and stories from every country on the planet.


As of Monday morning, we have approved iReports from 193 of the 194 countries considered independent nations by the U.S. State Department.


Only Nauru is left! We want to hear from citizens of, or visitors to, this tiny island in the South Pacific, halfway between Australia and Hawaii. Send us a snapshot of life in Nauru -- the local culture, food, architecture, natural sites, or an unusual event happening there.


The country, population 9,267, was dubbed “Pleasant Island” by European sailors in the 18th century. But the country has struggled since then. While it once enjoyed great wealth made by mining phosphate for fertilizer, those resources are nearly exhausted.


We know there is a lot more to this unusual place, and we would love to hear about it. Upload your iReports today.

Posted by: dsashin // December 6, 2010
 29 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: global_challenge, stories
Global Challenge: Faces of Equatorial Guinea »




Pain, curiosity and strength are some of the qualities that reach beyond the lens and into the photographer’s and viewers’ mind after looking at the photos of women and children of Equatorial Guinea.


Luisa Paquet López from Gijon, Spain, took these powerful photos in August 2010.


López went to Equatorial Guinea to learn more about the country and the people who live there. When asked about the country, López said, “It's hard for me to talk about a country with such a ferocious regime and dictatorship where people I love live.”


She spoke in Spanish with CNN's Juan Munoz, who translated.


Equatorial Guinea, one of sub-Sahara's largest oil producers, has nominally been a constitutional democracy since 1991, according to the CIA World Factbook. But President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has been in power since 1979, is known as more of a dictator than a president by exerting total control over the government.


Equatorial Guinea is on corruption watchdog agency Transparency International’s top 12 list of the world’s most corrupt countries, according to the BBC. The country is also known as a destination for child trafficking for the purpose of forced labor and sexual exploitation.


López's report from Equatorial Guinea is one of the final countries left on our Global Challenge list. We still need to hear from just one more country, Nauru. If you've ever been to Nauru or you live there, share your story.

Posted by: ccostello3 // December 6, 2010
 0 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: global_challenge
Overheard on Disney world »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "I hate to admit that this story made me chuckle. I'm just gonna go off to hell, now ..."

--Tomoyo (in response to incidents in Celebration, Florida)


Today's conversations were about a very diverse array of topics, from a new crop of Hanukkah songs appealing to younger generations to the recent incidents in Celebration, Florida. We also saw lots of chatter surrounding former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's reality show and the future of high-speed rail. Check out what readers had to say about these topics.


Hanukkah video helps Jews sing new tune


For decades, school children performing in holiday concerts have droned on about that dreidel, dreidel, dreidel they've made out of clay. But not to fear; there's all kinds of alternatives out there. For example, Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" was given the eight-nights treatment in the "Candlelight." The search for a decent Hanukkah song has inspired a few notable works, and more than a few interesting comments.


Jewpants said, "This is the coolest thing to happen to Hanukkah since the Rugrats special and Adam Sandler's song. I applaud these guys for putting a hip and positive spin on the story." Mark said, "I am Jewish, and I don't feel 'sort of depressed' walking around hearing Christmas music. Christians should not feel guilty they are living in a Christian country – if someone like Jews or Muslims or whoever are not comfortable with it – they can move to another country. This country is a democracy, which implies that it is ruled by majority." civilioutside wrote, "I'm of the impression that Hanukkah is a relatively minor Jewish holiday, significantly lower in importance on their calendar than Christmas is on the Christian one." Izzisgirl responded, "Yes, I do want to be heard in the clamor of Christmas songs. I would like people to acknowledge that not everyone celebrates Christmas. I would like store clerks to at least say 'Have a nice holiday' to me (if not notice the Jewish star around my neck and say nothing if Hanukkah is finished or 'Happy Hanukkah' if it's yet to come) instead of assuming I celebrate as they do. Hanukkah is 'minor,' but it's still important, because it's another chapter in our endless story of 'they tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat.' "


Another violent death at Disney community in Florida


Celebration, a Disney-developed community in central Florida, saw its second instance of deadly violence this week when a resident turned a gun on himself during a standoff with a SWAT team, authorities said Friday. Many commenters were cynical about the idea that a utopia exists anywhere. Others couldn't resist making Disney jokes or comparing the town to a "Stepford Wives" situation.


NYC4Ever wrote, "You can't create a picture-perfect utopia -- even if it's Disney. That would called denial." dosadai said, "Death around Disney is nothing new; Bambi's mom shot and killed, Nemo's mom gets eaten by a barracuda, Littlefoot's mom died from a sharptooth attack, Mufasa in 'The Lion King' died, and at least six human characters have died in Disney movies ... so why is this surprising again?" MikeSurf said, "Forgetting about the recent violence, which could happen anywhere I guess, the town itself seems a little weird and Stepford Wives-ish. Who would ever live there? Just seems odd to me, but then again I think most of Florida is slightly off."


Sarah Palin and Kate Gosselin go camping


The December 5 episode of Palin’s TLC reality show features an appearance by Kate Gosselin and her eight children. In a promo released on, Palin comments that "our ruggedness is really a mystery to people in the lower 48." That clip in particular set commenters on fire, with several of them determined to show that ruggedness is a complex matter. Aside from a few calls for bears, we also heard from lots of Alaskans.


meed said, "Hitting a clay pigeon does NOT make you 'outdoorsy' nor does living in Alaska make you rugged. Maybe people in the lower 48 don't know what it's like living in Alaska, but guess what? I don't know know what its like to live any of the other 48 States or U.S. Territories and I bet Sarah doesn't either." Corey wrote, "As a Alaskan I will never watch or support that woman. How can any Alaskan support a quitter?" Luna said, "I ask myself that same question every time I hear someone go on about how great she is. The Mighty Wizard of Ozaska hiding behind a curtain." Matt wrote, "Oh get over yourself Palin. ... I live in Minnesota. I hunt, I fish, I shoot guns, I ski, I snowmobile, I hike, and I'm even a liberal. Stop acting like Alaska is some frontier and everyone there is an expert on wilderness survival." That's not to say everyone hated the idea. kwilliams wrote, "I love the Palin Alaska show, but I can't stand Kate Gosselin's show. Too much screaming and crying. I love learning about the great state of Alaska. I love learning about the life so far away from the rest of us. By the way, Sarah Palin, I'm writing this for the halibut, lol."


Chinese train sets speed record, says state media


A Chinese high-speed train broke a world record Friday for fastest unmodified commercial train, reaching speeds of up to 481.1 kph (298.9 mph), state media reported. The trial run took place on what will become the country's rail line between Beijing and Shanghai. Commenters toyed with the idea that America could be losing to China on the international stage.


misspiggy5 said that "meanwhile, governors are rejecting the Obama administration money for high speed rail in the U.S." juesq2 said, "The U.S. is getting behind the rest of the world little by little, and Americans don't even notice it. Wake up." Several commenters responded saying they wanted the rail. Others said the United States is different from China and doesn't have to compete tit-for-tat. TomInTexas noted, "China has an incredible number of huge public works projects under way. When you don't have to have any public discussion, you can do a lot. Having only one political party helps, too." wakeeup said, "So what's possibly good for China means it's automatically good for the U.S.? You are aware of the huge differences between the two countries, right?" gboox opined, "That's so sad. We need high speed rail. Imagine leaving from one downtown and arriving to another. You save the hours spent driving and waiting at airport from the destination and the arrival. Maybe if this train ran on gasoline we'd have it running already."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// December 3, 2010
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Global Challenge: Changing times in Guinea-Bissau »

Gazing at the abandoned presidential palace in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, Stefan Baral was standing where the president had been shot and killed exactly a year before on March 2, 2009.


A day before President Joao Bernardo Vieira was assassinated while fleeing his home, his army chief of staff had been killed in an explosion, according to CNN. Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony, has a history of military coups and the president’s assassination had come after months of violent clashes.


Baral, a faculty member at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, was in Guinea-Bissau working on a research project on HIV-vulnerable populations in West Africa.


“They have one of the worst HIV epidemics in West Africa,” he said from his office in Baltimore, Maryland. “Part of it is that they have yet to develop a well-coordinated, well-funded HIV-response.”


Baral said crumbling infrastructure and drug trafficking are among the other problems facing the poor nation. Despite it all, he said he’s seen real changes in Guinea-Bissau.


“They are incredibly warm people undergoing very difficult challenges,” he said. “The current government is working very hard, is really trying to clean things up and fix their infrastructure. This is the issue with a lot of the Portuguese colonies of East and West Africa.”


Baral’s report from Guinea-Bissau, which neighbors Senegal, is one of the final countries left on our Global Challenge list. (Learn more about the project here.) We still need to hear from Equatorial Guinea and Nauru. If you've even been to one of those countries or you live there, share your story.

Posted by:
// December 3, 2010
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Posted in: global_challenge
Global Challenge: Longing for the waters of Palau »



Ethan Daniels said it was hard to leave the tiny island nation of Palau, after having lived there for almost 10 years of his life. Daniels is older now, has a family and currently resides in the United States, but still manages to make a yearly pilgrimage to visit the nation’s beautiful coral reefs and welcoming inhabitants.


Daniels said the country has a "small town" feel, which is partially what draws him back each year. "Not many people know about Palau unless they are scuba divers, snorkelers or kayakers. It's incredibly popular among divers from all over the world," he said.


Palau thrives on the tourists that wish to witness the diverse marine life and natural beauty of the hundreds of Pacific islands that make up the nation of Palau. Daniels said that these types of nature-seeking tourists, along with thriving fishing industry allow the country to remain economically sound while preserving the beauty and unique culture of the country.


"There are no fast food restaurants or golf courses in Palau," Daniels said. "The society is interesting because it is developing very quickly in terms of technology." He said that many Palauans now work for the government or private companies. But, he said, "All the men [still] fish, even if it is not their job."


"It was a fascinating culture to spend a good chunk of my adult life," Daniels said. Even when he is far away from the remote islands of Palau, he dreams of being in the tiny country's coastal waters.


Palau was one of the few remaining countries left on our Global Challenge list, and we had the good fortune of receiving two iReport submissions from this country. Trevor Gahafer also lived in the island nation for a few years and, like Daniels, Gahafer said the country is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Some of Gahafer's fondest memories involve swimming in the clear waters of Palau.


Thanks to Daniels and Gahafer, we've crossed another nation off of our Global Challenge list. If you have videos or images from any of the remaining countries, we would love for you to add to our growing number of contributions from around the world.

Posted by: nhieatt // December 3, 2010
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Posted in: global_challenge
We still need Equatorial Guinea! »

Yesterday, we celebrated our first approved iReport from Equatorial Guinea.


Since then, the submitter has asked us to remove the images so he can maintain his privacy – which we totally understand and are more than willing to oblige.


That puts us back to four countries left in our Global Challenge. They are: Equatorial Guinea, Palau, Nauru and Guinea-Bissau. Spread the word and help us cover the world!

Posted by: dsashin // December 3, 2010
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Posted in: global_challenge
New Badge: Million page views »


We were excited to announce on Thursday that JoyfulGypsy and TheVideoMan passed the million page view mark on CNN iReport. This is the first time we've had two people pass this milestone at the same time. This brings the total number of iReporters with at least a million page views to 10.


To celebrate, we rolled out a new badge for folks with one million page views. We awarded it to ChrisMorrow, Pixel, sjunat55, seeitnow, romanmica, brixton, dpkronmiller, and BarbRad.


We're looking forward to adding to that list, so we hope you'll keep sharing your stories with CNN and the world.

Posted by:
// December 3, 2010
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Posted in: community
Overheard on Arsenic-feeding bacteria »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "That's cool! So now when we build, we have to have aliens in consideration, perhaps an alien hatch or a slime friendly escalator." --jf2


Scientists have discovered a form of bacteria that can thrive largely on arsenic -- an element generally considered toxic -- dramatically expanding both traditional notions of how life is sustained and the range of where it might be found in the universe, NASA funded-researchers announced Thursday.


Arsenic-feeding bacteria expands traditional notions of life


Speculation over alien invasions quickly turned to the science of the announcement after it was made. scorpio53 was feeling impatient, saying, "I'm not a rocket scientist and do not care to be entertained by someone who is. Microbes are one thing and the search of ET may come from this place we call earth. What people want to know is,are we in contact or can we prove that alien life out in the cosmos exists? I do not want to hear about some germ or microbe from a local lake, I want to hear about our neighbors in the sky!" RGTex urged him to be patient.


Rockers1957 wrote, "Life has been discovered here on earth to exist in places that science thought to be impossible. If life does exist elsewhere in the Universe, it probably would be different than us or maybe the same. Anyway, so what is the big news here? I think they are looking for more funding or else they would have not made such a big deal with all of the suspense." dtosh responded, "The life that has been discovered previously was also carbon-based -- like you and me (and allegedly Sarah Palin). This story is big because the bacteria mentioned has a different chemical structure that is Arsenic based. This goes against every living creature in the history of Earth. That's why it's big."


Russia, Qatar win race to host World Cups as FIFA spreads it vision


Runner-up for comment of the day: "I bet Sarah Palin will be pleased that she can watch the games right from her patio." --sweetbella


Russia and Qatar will host soccer's biggest tournament, the FIFA World Cup, for the first time in 2018 and 2022 respectively. Discussion turned to the political situations in both places, as well as the logistics of the games themselves. freeworld007 wrote, "I can understand Russia, but Qatar? The home country automatically qualifies for the world cup. ... Amazing what money can do." TapaDingDong said, "I think the event should be awarded to a needy country." moneywagon2 countered, "Yeah, force some poor country to spend money they don't have on infrastructure they can't afford to maintain." fufu said South Africa surpassed everyone's expectations, and peddymax responded with a complaint about vuvuzelas. Lutzguy said he's been to Qatar and isn't sure how the games will work. "Hot is not the word. When we walked off the airplane at 8 p.m. it was 108 degrees. By mid afternoon the next day it was 116 degrees. You really don't sweat, it evaporates too quickly."


More debate centered around the appreciation of soccer in the United States. "I'm an American and I love soccer. That is right. You heard it here. Some people in the states actually enjoy soccer and it doesn't make us any less of a man," said ricepice. Many Americans stood up for the sport, while some, like HoustonMom, wrote, "Who cares? It's certainly not an interesting sport and a children's game in the U.S." andoverkai called Americans "sore losers," saying, "Seriously what is with all the whiny Americans saying that it's boring and it's just as well because NFL, NBA, NASCAR, whatever is better anyway? You guys do know that the rest of the world does like it, so get over it already."


Defense may rest in Elizabeth Smart kidnapping case


Kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart left the courtroom abruptly Wednesday during the testimony of defense witness Paul Whitehead, a forensic psychiatrist who treated Brian Mitchell, CNN affiliate KSTU reported. We received lots of comments from readers who thought the defense was out of line, having made what they believed were efforts to paint Smart as a willing participant in her captivity. Lslg4 wrote, "She picked out a name [for a possible baby]? That has people talking? Of course she did. She had been beaten enough times to know she had better play along with his charade lest something worse happen. Yeah, people, like she enjoyed being raped by a sick, dirty, belligerent old man. If this was what they were trying to argue, then I would have stormed off too."


Blue2009 didn't see what the fuss was about. "I don't know why that would make her stomp out of the courtroom.  She was 14 'being held hostage.' I believe it was a fact that she picked out a name in case she had a baby. Where's the shame in that? I can see that people are trying to turn that around into saying she hoped it happened, etc. No person with common sense would see that. I don't think her storming out did her any good. I think it shows she can't face the truth!" Coop5493 responded, "She stomped out because she saw what a mockery we were making of her plight. She saw us paying a psychologist six figures annually to make Mitchell look to be a decent a guy. She saw we are even more empty than she first suspected." Others were eager to see severe punishment. yanochkausa wrote, "What I can't get is how come this man is still alive. ... If she were my child, that man would be found cut up in pieces and he wouldn't have made it long enough to see the trial." JNYC summed up what many others were saying about the case: "We all feel that way. That's why he'll spend the rest of his life behind bars -- so none of us has to act on those feelings."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// December 2, 2010
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Posted in: comments
Global Challenge: Where are you Palau? »

This is a personal plea to Palau.


The CNN iReport team is on a mission to get photos, video and personal stories from every single country on the planet. And guess what - we're down to just a handful of countries, and Palau is one of the places we're still waiting to hear from.


None of us have ever been there, but by all accounts, Palau is a place of intense beauty and wonder. Palau, a group of islands in the North Pacific Ocean, gained its independence in 1994, making it one of the world's youngest sovereign nations. At 190 sq. miles - it's also one of the smallest.


Despite its diminutive size, Palau has been on our collective radar for years. You'll likely recall it was the location of reality TV series Survivor's 10th season - which aired in 2005. And in case you forget - the islands are also referenced by Irish singer Enya in her smash 1988 single "Orinoco Flow."


During WWII, Palau bore witness to one of the Pacific Theater's most intense and bloody fights between Japanese and American forces. Thousands of U.S. Marines and soldiers lost their lives fighting to capture an airstrip on the small coral island of Peleliu.


Today, tourism dominates Palau's industry as tens of thousands of visitors come to explore its diverse marine life and tropical beauty while enjoying Palau's year-round warm climate (Avg. 82 degrees F).


Sounds like paradise, right? But who among you can confirm this?


Seriously Palau - don't be the last country on our list. There's got be interesting stories from Palau - let's hear yours. Add your images and description to our Global Challenge and help us get an iReport from every country in the world.

Posted by: tyson // December 2, 2010
 1 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: global_challenge
CNN iReport roundtable: Welcome new iReporters »

Please join us here in the blog at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday for our weekly roundtable discussion. We're trying something new this week.We've invited thousands of new iReporters to come so that they can get to know everyone and ask any questions they have about CNN iReport.


We called it CNN iReport orientation, but that might not be the best name for it. Orientation sounds like one of those stuffy meetings you have to go to when you get a new job, but we want it to be more like a mixer, or a new member potluck at church.


Whatever you call it, we think it will be a fun opportunity to get to meet some of the newest members of our community. video editor Merv Teo also will be joining us to answer your video questions.


We'll open comments at 3 p.m. ET so you can ask any questions you may have about CNN iReport.

Posted by:
// December 2, 2010
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Posted in: community
Global Challenge: We've got Guinea! »

Pam Camara and her husband were watching CNN International Tuesday night in High Falls, New York, when they saw meterologist Jenny Harrison’s spot on the Global Challenge -- our quest to approve an iReport from every country in the world.


"They showed the map of Africa and we both said, 'Guinea!'" she said.


She rushed to upload some of her photos from the West African country where her husband, Mimo, grew up.


Mimo Camara was a lead dancer with the national dance troupe of Guinea, Les Ballets Africains de la Republique de Guinee. He performed and traveled the world for 18 years before immigrating to the U.S. in 1995. They married in 2000 (Pam was a student in his dance class).


The couple teaches Guinea dance and drum classes in the Hudson Valley and return to the West African country for about a month each winter, taking Americans to study dance and drum with members of the national troupe.


Camara shot the above photo during a 2006 visit to Boke, the coastal region in western Guinea where her husband's siblings and their children live. It's a poor community that "lives on practically nothing," she said. The photo shows a pile of the reddish palm fruit that villagers use to cook with.


"They lay them out and dry them, and then they take them and pound them, and that’s how they extract the oil and then they cook with the oil. It’s got a really strong flavor and it adds to the good food."


Camara's contribution leaves us with four countries left in the Global Challenge: Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Nauru and Palau. Don't let your country be the last one! Add your images and help us cover the world.

Posted by: dsashin // December 2, 2010
Posted in: global_challenge, stories
Congratulations on 1 million pageviews, Al Mealey! »

Al “TheVideoMan” Mealey started out simply reviewing movies in simple text iReports. Then, nearly two years ago, he lived up to his name by shooting video of a Christmas tree fire in his hometown of Moreno Valley, California.

Mealey has gone on to doing more movie reviews, this time sharing his brutally honest thoughts on video about each one he sees (he once memorably called the movie “The Bounty Hunter” a “stinker”; and a sure nominee for a “Razzie”), as well as interviewing fellow moviegoers.

Mealey often pours his heart out in his iReports, whether he’s talking about a late celebrity he’s idolized, a sports team he follows, or an issue in the news that matters to him.

On a few occasions, Mealey has followed some tragic stories which impacted his community, such as the abduction and killing of 17-year-old Norma Lopez near his neighborhood, and the slaying of a police officer in nearby Riverside. The intrepid iReporter was able to capture the emotions of those who were personally affected by these stories.

No matter the story, you know it will be told in an honest, heartfelt manner by Mealey, and we congratulate him on this achievement.

Posted by:
// December 2, 2010
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Posted in: community
CNN iReport Millionaire's Club: Welcome JoyfulGypsy »







Congratulations to Lulis Leal – a.k.a. JoyfulGypsy – for being one of the latest iReporters to earn more than one million page views. Leal has been an enthusiastic member of the CNN iReport community, from collaborating with other iReporters to participating in special projects like our weekend assignments, the CNN iReport boot camp  and just about every photography assignment we've ever offered. You can also find her at almost every weekly roundtable on the iReport blog.


Leal joined CNN iReport in 2008, to show us how her colorful New Jersey garden grows. She's gone on to show her versatility by capturing  photos, videos and interesting stories from around the New York area and around the world. She's photographed burlesque stars and actors, as well as figures at the center of breaking news stories. Thanks to Leal, we’re also learned about beer making in South Africa, anti-war protests in Scotland, and a controversial billboard in North Bergen, New Jersey.


Congratulations Lulis and thanks for all of your contributions to the CNN iReport community.

Posted by:
// December 2, 2010
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Posted in: community
Overheard on Reason for the season »


COMMENT OF THE DAY: "The only thing in this article that catches my attention is that it costs $18,500 to promote Christ and $20,000 to denounce him!" --BetweenTheLines (Thanks to Lulis Leal for sending the photo)


An atheist billboard that calls Christmas "a myth" has sparked a growing controversy. The billboard is near the Lincoln Tunnel, a 1.5-mile-long twin tube that connects New Jersey to New York. The full message, which appears with a nativity scene, reads: "You know it's a myth. This season, celebrate reason." A pro-Christmas billboard was erected in response.


Dueling billboards face off in Christmas controversy


Readers were largely incensed by the billboard, and commenting atheists both debated the particulars of their views and joined the oppositional chorus regarding the sign's content and cost. PH opined, "I wrote a historical fiction novel on the Magi's journey to Bethlehem. While doing so, I spent a lot of time sorting through what few facts do exist regarding the Nativity, and was amazed to see how the story grew out of very few references in only two of the Gospels. Clearly, we as people - regardless of race, creed, or our place in history - are in love with the idea of the Nativity and Christmas. For this reason alone, we should set aside vitriol and simply enjoy the symbolism and message behind it all. I personally do believe in God, but I respect that not everyone does and I'm fine with that, and that's the meaning of Christmas."


Rick B wrote, "I am not much on religion, but this sign says to celebrate reason; however there is no reason in an atheist's argument. There is no way to have definitive proof that God does not exist." civiloutside said, "Actually, to be an atheist you just have to not believe that God exists - a subtle distinction but one I hope you will try to grasp. On the one hand, it's really easy to be an atheist since there is not one shred of proof that God does exist. On the other, it's hard because it means coming to terms with the fears that caused men to invent gods in the first place. There are a lot of emotionally satisfying reasons to *want* there to be a God, but none that rationally support the idea that it's true."   i, Jimbot wrote, "If you deem your 'one true religion' to be better than others, and that gives you cause to denigrate them, then you are no better than the Taliban." And jayww1998 joked, "I think all the atheists should protest Christmas and go to work on the 25th while the rest of us have it off spending time with friends and family. That will send a message."


Senate GOP pledges to block all bills until tax dispute resolved


Senate Republicans promised Wednesday to block legislative action on every issue being considered by the lame-duck Congress until the dispute over extending the Bush-era tax cuts is resolved and an extension of current government funding is approved. This story was most popular and got the most comments today. A majority of the commenters were upset with the Republicans, while some compared everyone in Congress to a bunch of whiny children.


jeffin90019 wrote, "Imagine the same scenario in the private sector: You and many of the employees hate your boss. So you send around a letter stating that all of you intend to block all of the work you are paid to do and make sure that nothing gets done. You and I would be fired. The GOP and its degenerate enablers give high-fives all around. The rest of us give them the middle finger. America sinks and the GOP is happy about it." Dawghaus said, "It isn't that the GOP is the party of 'no,' it's the Dems that became intoxicated with their congressional majority and used it for shoving an elitest liberal agenda down our throats since they think they just know what's better for us." BlueDogMS said taxes are in the eye of the beholder: "It's funny how liberals love taxes, except when they have to pay them." Lykos wrote, "The arrogance of these modern-day nobles (which is exactly how they view themselves) is astounding. They've already said their only goal is to obstruct government until they get their people back in power, like a 5-year-old holding his breath until he gets his way. Shameful, un-American behavior from elected legislators."


Interpol puts Assange on most-wanted list


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is the subject of a wanted-persons alert sent to police agencies around the world. We've continued to see thousands of comments on our stories about the WikiLeaks issue. Many commenters seemed to support Assange's work, but others thought the leaks were dangerous to national security. iamsovereign said business owners have to keep some secrets, and so does the country. "It is not about how harmful the documents initially are. Or how they can directly hurt someone. They have already indirectly harmed the U.S. and strained political relationships. It is the butterfly effect." ak2190 said her brother is in the military and that she would "like to know the truth about what he'd fighting for over there." She added, "It has nothing to do with Assange. WikiLeaks is much bigger than just him and if he is taken out, it will go on. How about actually reading the documents and deciding for yourselves whether they are dangerous or not?"


ceejay0214 said, "Maybe they will get this traitor for something. ... What he has done is treason!" m1sterlurk said, "He's not a U.S. citizen, and therefore cannot commit treason against the U.S." And buckybaby wrote, "Everyone wants to blame someone else for uploading some leaked files onto a computer sitting on some desk somewhere. Nobody blamed Napster for anything when this happened to the music industry." Some, like s33k3r75, didn't think the revelations were earth-shattering. "Assange took precautions by looping in mainstream media to help scrub the cables and other documents for sensitive information thus minimizing the damage. I haven't seen anything really surprising or that seems incredibly devastating to world stability. Maybe he has other stuff that they really don't want leaked."


YOUR TURN: Now that you've read what other people are saying, do you find that your views align with theirs? Think of this as a wishing well in need of your 2 cents. Post a comment below or sound off on video.


Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Posted by:
// December 1, 2010
 17 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: comments
Fighting polio in the Republic of Congo »

Our first approved iReport from the Republic of Congo comes from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which is working to combat a recent polio outbreak there.


Faye Callaghan, communications manager for IFRC in Africa, sent photos from a trip last week to the capital city Brazzaville, where thousands of volunteers have launched a massive campaign to vaccinate the entire country, more than 3.6 million people, against the disease. The last reported case in the West African country was in 2000.


"Volunteers just go up to people and give them the vaccination in the street. It's incredible -- there was a traffic jam and the volunteers were just going down the road giving them to taxi drivers, not missing any opportunity," Callaghan said. "It's critical that 100 percent of the population are immunized against it, because otherwise it can just spread again."


Callaghan's report from the Republic of Congo (which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo) leaves five countries left in our Global Challenge project to approve an iReport from every country in the world.


They are: Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Palau and Nauru. Know someone in one of these places? Tell them to upload their story!

Posted by: dsashin // December 1, 2010
 2 comments // Add a comment
Posted in: global_challenge, stories
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