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(CNN)ESPN and Sirius-XM commentator Stephen A. Smith told CNN’s Michael Smerconish Saturday that quarterback Colin Kapernick’s decision to publicly reveal that he had not voted was “egregious to the highest order.”

Despite the firestorm that followed San Francisco 49ers player Kapernick’s decision to protest racial injustice by refusing to stand for the national anthem during football games this year, Smith reminded Smerconish that he had initially jumped to defend him.
    “The fact is he had every right to protest and when he was talking about racial injustices and things of that nature, you certainly can understand where he was coming from. It was a quiet protest. He didn’t impede anybody’s ability to watch the games or come to the games or anything like that which is why I went on ‘Good Morning America,’ my show ‘First Take’ and other outlets to support him,” he explained.
    However, after Kaepernick revealed that he had decided not to vote, Smith said he changed his mind about the sports star.
    “I thought it compromised everything that he was standing for,” he said. “And more importantly I thought it was a disrespect to our ancestors, to people who have bled and fought and died for him to have the right to do that.”
    As far as Smith is concerned, he emphasized, Kaepernick’s lack of participation in the election had “obliterated every argument he was trying to make.”
    “I’m not saying his arguments have no credence whatsoever” he explained.
    “I’m saying that he himself compromised his own message and because of that I don’t want to listen to him anymore because the number one tool that we have in America to provoke change is our power to vote. It’s something that we fought for. It’s something that was exacted to us in 1964/1965. How in god’s name can you sit up there and justify not voting?” he said.
    “I’m not letting him get a pass on that,” he added. “I’m just not.”

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/03/politics/stephen-a-smith-blasts-kaepernick-cnntv/index.html

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    (CNN)The billionaire CEO building the Dakota Access Pipeline will continue to hold a music festival bearing the name Cherokee, a Native American tribe. But there’s a problem: Some artists are refusing to perform.

    Kelcy Warren, the founder and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the company trying to build the Dakota Access Pipeline, will continue to host the annual Cherokee Creek Music Festival at his Los Valles Ranch near Cherokee, Texas.
      The money raised by the festival will benefit Warren’s nonprofit organization, Cherokee Crossroads, which raises money for children’s charities through the annual festivals. In the past, it has supported charities such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Ronald McDonald House of Texas.

      Former festival performers condemn Warren

      Artists who have played the festival in past years are now speaking out against Warren and have removed themselves from future lineups. The Indigo Girls, comprised of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, played at the festival in 2013 and 2014. They wrote an open letter to Warren on their Facebook page to protest the pipeline.
      “We realize that the bucolic setting of your festival and the message it projects is in direct conflict with the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline, a project your company Energy Transfer is responsible for spearheading,” wrote Ray and Saliers. “The American tradition of music that is so diverse and rich depends on the respect for human rights and that includes environmental justice for Native Peoples that contribute to the great tapestry of this land.”
      A number of past performers co-signed the letter along with the Indigo Girls, including Jackson Browne, Joan Osbourne, Todd Snider, Glen Phillips and Dean Dinning of Toad the Wet Sproket, Keb’ Mo’, Shawn Mullins, Shawn Colvin, Jess Klein, and Parker Millsap.
      “We will no longer play your festival or or participate in Music Road Records recordings,” The letter adds, “We implore you to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.”
      Ray and Saliers are active supporters of Honor the Earth, a non-profit organization that raises awareness and financial support for Native environmental issues. They traveled to North Dakota in October to play a show and speak with members of the International Indigenous Youth Council. When they began posting their support online, a follower messaged them to bring their attention to Warren’s involvement.
      “We didn’t know. We would never had played the festival,” Ray told CNN. “We immediately got together and wrote the letter and we asked other musicians involved to sign it and everyone agreed to not play the festival again.”
      Ray was disappointed by Warren’s response, but hopes that their input can eventually change his mind. “Even though it didn’t change Kelsy’s mind, it adds up in the whole critical mass as far as trying to influence him to make better decision,” Ray added. “As it becomes more and more obvious how many people are on the side of the protestors, and more musicians don’t want to play the festival anymore, maybe the residual effect of the letter will influence his decision in a month or two to not continue with it.”

      Warren fights back

      Warren wrote a response letter to the musicians, in which he says the artists are spreading misinformation about the pipeline. “This misinformation intentionally omits the real facts about the DAPL, the approval and careful permitting processes over the last four years and the significant efforts undertaken by ETP to be good stewards of natural resources,” he wrote.
      The letter goes on to counteract the protesters’ arguments that the pipeline will intersect with sacred lands. “The DAPL traverses a path through private property and does not cross, at any point, the tribe’s reservation,” he said. “Multiple archaeological studies conducted by the North Dakota state historic preservation office, including as recently as last month, found no archeological or cultural sites within the route for DAPL.”
      In response to environmental concerns, Warren wrote that he is committed to protecting the environment throughout the pipeline’s construction.
      Read the entire letter here.

      Musicians stand with Standing Rock

      On November 27, Jackson Browne, along with Bonnie Raitt, Jason Mraz, Joel Rafael, and John Tridell’s Bad Dog, held a benefit concert in Fort Yates, North Dakota, which was free for Water Protectors. Proceeds from the concert will go to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe members protesting the pipeline through the winter.
      “Our hope is that this concert will help bring more awareness and media attention to the issues being raised at Standing Rock, and to put pressure on The Obama Administration to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline until protection of sacred sites is ensured,” Raitt told Indian Country Today Media Network.
      Back in September, Browne said in a statement that he would be donating all of the money he has received from the album, “Looking Into You, A Tribute to Jackson Browne,” to the tribes protesting the pipeline. The album was produced by Music Road Records, a recording studio and record label founded by Warren.
      “I do not play for companies who defile nature, or companies who attack demonstrators with trained attack dogs and pepper spray,” Browne said.
      Scott Beasley, the festival manager, told the Dallas Observer that the festival will not be affected by recent events. “It’s a wonderful event at a fabulous venue and it benefits a tremendous amount of children here in the state,” Beasley said. “After last year’s event we will have donated right at two million dollars to children’s charities…They’re dependent upon it quite frankly. We’re almost their entire annual budget. We’re going to make sure that continues.”

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/02/us/pipeline-concert-ceo-trnd/index.html

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      As the harsh North Dakota winter approaches and protests grow even more tense, the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters are rising to crescendo in the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

      Now there’s a deadline: Authorities say they must leave the camps by December 5. Demonstrators say they aren’t budging.
      Here’s a look at what they’re battling for and how it got to this point.

        THE PIPELINE

        Phil

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/02/us/what-is-dakota-access-pipeline-standing-rock-sioux/index.html

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        Washington (CNN)Mo Amer, an Arab American stand-up comedian, received an unbelievable gift of comic material when he found himself seated next to Eric Trump on a flight to Scotland on Thursday.

        Amer, on his way to a leg of a comedy tour, shared a picture he took with Trump on Instagram, and described their conversation.
          “Hey guys heading to Scotland to start the U.K. Tour and I am ‘randomly’ chosen to sit next to none other than Eric Trump,” he wrote.
          “Good news guys Muslims will not have to check in and get IDs. That’s what I was told. I will be asking him a lot of questions on this trip to Glasgow, Scotland. Sometimes God just sends you the material. #Merica#UKTour #HumanAppeal#ThisisNotAnEndorsement#Trump2016ComedyTour”
          Amer spoke to Buzzfeed about the experience with Trump — who was reportedly flying to Scotland to check in on the Trump International Golf Links — and said he talked about President-elect Donald Trump’s proposals for a form of government registry for Muslims or immigrants from majority-Muslim countries.
          “And I said — just FYI I’m not getting that ID shit done. You gonna really make my people get ID cards and all this? You know we’re not doing this s***,” Amer recounted telling Trump.
          He said that Trump told him, “Come on man. You can’t believe everything you read. Do you really think we’re gonna do that?”

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/02/politics/muslim-comedian-eric-trump-flight/index.html

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          London (CNN)Thousands of refugees and migrants, most fleeing violence in the Middle East, mass at the sealed-off border, chanting “Open! Open!” They are desperate to cross into Hungary, but a razor-wire fence, temporary blockade and a line of riot police stand in their way.

          As tensions escalate, one voice rises above the fray: A balding, bearded man, wearing a black and white tracksuit top, attempts to negotiate with the officers. “Nobody will make any problem to your country,” he tells the officers at Horgos, near the town of Roszke, using a loudspeaker. “Nobody will make any problem to any policeman. You must understand this — we come here for peace, just to pass.”
            As he makes his appeal, the man points into the distance, appearing to indicate that the migrants hope only to pass through the Hungary-Serbia border on their way to other countries in the European Union.

            Ahmed

            Hungary has been heavily criticized for its tough immigration measures since shuttering its border last September.
            In addition to erecting an anti-refugee fence, the country has also criminalized the act of entering Hungary illegally — a law that breaches international asylum treaties and under which Ahmed H. was convicted. Hungary has also started recruiting for 3,000 new “border hunters” to patrol the frontier with the police and army.
            Orban championed a campaign asking Hungarians to reject EU migrant quotas for the country in a controversial referendum in October.
            A government-financed booklet distributed to Hungarian households as part of the campaign reportedly linked migration to increased terrorism. Orban ultimately hailed the country’s referendum as a victory, despite a low voter turnout that rendered its result invalid.

            Appeal for harsher sentence

            The Prime Minister’s communications office told CNN in an email: “We do not wish to comment on ongoing cases, only after a final judgment was made,” adding “please remember that it was not the Government but the independent Hungarian judiciary that made this decision based on sound and video recordings as well as testimonies.”
            Ahmed H. was captured in photographs and footage by a number of other news agencies on September 16, 2015 — one day after the Hungary-Serbia border was closed. Dozens of police officers, migrants and some journalists were injured in the violence on the same day.
            A video filmed by the Kremlin-backed broadcaster Russia Today shows Ahmed H. shaking his finger at riot police, saying, “No, no,” before violence broke out.
            Other footage, broadcast by Spain’s TVE, shows him standing between police and a crowd of women and children. He can be heard telling reporters: “We want only peace.”
            Both the prosecution and defense intend to appeal the verdict. The defense is seeking an acquittal, while the prosecution is hoping for a harsher sentence.
            Speaking at the Hungarian Permanent Conference in Budapest on Thursday, Orban welcomed the conviction.
            Referring to a government-sponsored advertising campaign featuring anti-immigrant sentiments, Orban said the message was on the billboard: If you come to Hungary you have to respect our laws, Hungarian news website 444.hu reported.

            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/02/europe/syrian-man-border-riot-terror/index.html

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            (CNN)The air traffic controller who last spoke with the pilot of LaMia Flight 2933 before the plane crashed told her colleagues she did everything she could to keep the flight’s occupants alive.

            “I can affirm with absolute certainty that, for my part, I did what was humanly possible and technically required to preserve the lives of these users of air transport,” Yaneth Molina wrote in an email to fellow air traffic controllers. “Unfortunately, my efforts were unfruitful, because of the reasons that you all know.”
              Molina’s email was published Thursday by CNN affiliate Cablenoticias, and Carlos Llanos, president of the Colombian Association of Air Traffic Controllers, confirmed its authenticity to CNN.
              The plane crashed Monday night near Medellin, Colombia, killing more than 70 people, including members of the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense.
              Colombian authorities say they’ve confirmed the plane had no fuel when it crashed.
              “We initiated a process of investigations to establish the motives as to why they had no fuel,” said Freddy Bonilla, the Colombian Civil Aviation Authority’s air safety secretary.

              Investigation

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              In a purported recording of the conversation between Molina and the doomed charter flight, the plane’s pilot can be heard saying that the aircraft is “in total electric failure and without fuel,” according to two sources familiar with the investigation who heard audio recordings.
              In her email, Molina thanked colleagues for their support. She also wrote that she’d received threats since the crash from “ignorant people who are unaffiliated with this profession.”

              Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/01/americas/colombia-plane-crash/index.html

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              (CNN)Brandy Vela’s bedroom is covered in Post-it notes. “You will always own a piece of my heart,” says one. “You will never be forgotten,” says another.

              Blue hearts, for her “beautiful blue eyes,” are taped up and down her high school hallway.
                All of them a heartbreaking reminder of a life cut short.
                Vela killed herself this week, putting a gun to her chest while her family begged her not to. She was 18 years old — and she had been relentlessly bullied.

                02

                A devastated community

                Melissa Tortorici, the communications director for the Texas City Independent School District where Brandy was a high school senior, says the community is “devastated.”
                “Brandy was well-liked and friendly. Texas City High School students really liked her. She has touched many people as evident by the outpouring of love from her schoolmates. Students and teachers have also been expressing their feelings about Brandy through letters to her family,” Tortorici wrote in an email to CNN.
                Tortorici said the sheriff’s department deputies will be addressing cyberbullying again with students next week.
                “Cyberbullying is completely different than bullying because it uses electronic technology instead of face to face. Today’s young adults and teenagers have grown up with technology and they have access to it 24/7. Many times they become very bold over technology and text things they would never say directly to someone’s face,” Tortorici said. “It’s extremely difficult to stop someone from sending messages when apps make it easy to remain anonymous.”
                Tortorici said students are planning to release blue balloons in Brandy’s honor Friday.

                A new reality

                Brandy’s organs, including those eyes, were harvested.
                “She had beautiful eyes,” Jackie said, adding the family hopes to meet the person who receives them.
                For now, Jackie is adjusting to her new reality.
                ‘I’m going to miss having her be here, going into her room and laying with her and talking to her.”

                Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/01/health/teen-suicide-cyberbullying-trnd/index.html

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                Washington (CNN)Rep. Xavier Becerra announced Thursday he would be leaving Congress to serve as California’s attorney general, a move that takes the senior Democrat out of Washington but not off the front lines of the battle against the Trump administration.

                California Gov. Jerry Brown named Becerra to the spot Thursday opened up by the departure of Kamala Harris, who won a US Senate seat this November. Becerra will need to be confirmed by California’s Legislature and the nomination will be made official once Harris resigns.
                  Becerra is the highest-ranking Latino politician in the Democratic party and serves as the No. 4 House Democrat, as chairman of the party’s caucus, though he was term-limited out of that position next Congress.
                  While the move will take Becerra, 58, out of congressional leadership, it also sets him up to be a major voice against the Trump administration.
                  Becerra was term-limited as chairman of the caucus and had no obvious path to advancing through the leadership ranks as the top three ranking Democrats, Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn, were all maintaining their spots atop the party.
                  He had been rumored as a possible vice presidential pick for Hillary Clinton, in part because of his strong voice in Hispanic outreach for Democrats.
                  He was a fierce opponent of President-elect Donald Trump on the campaign trail — especially for his anti-immigration rhetoric and comments about Mexicans during the campaign, including using the term “rapists,” and questioning the impartiality of a federal judge due to his Mexican heritage.
                  He said he could not turn down the offer from Brown.
                  “Governor Brown has presented me with an opportunity I cannot refuse to serve as Attorney General of my home state,” Becerra said in a statement. “As a former deputy attorney general, I relished the chance to be our state’s chief law enforcement officer to protect consumers, advance criminal justice reform and, of course, keep our families safe.”
                  “Donald Trump is saying that a respected jurist who was confirmed by a bipartisan vote in the Senate is incapable of serving because of his Mexican heritage,” Becerra told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” in early June. “I think that’s racist. We should call it that.”
                  As California’s attorney general, Becerra will be poised to fight the Trump administration on a host of hot-button issues, including immigration and climate change.
                  A deeply blue state, California is a key player in both debates, and would likely oppose the Trump administration on hard-line deportation or anti-immigration policies as well as rolling back regulations designed to fight climate change.
                  The post was a launching pad for Harris, who parlayed her high profile role into a Senate seat this fall and has been a rising star within the Democratic Party.
                  Brown lauded Becerra in a statement and especially highlighted his ability to work on climate change.
                  “Xavier has been an outstanding public servant – in the State Legislature, the U.S. Congress and as a deputy attorney general,” Brown said. “I’m confident he will be a champion for all Californians and help our state aggressively combat climate change.”

                  Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/01/politics/xavier-becerra-california-attorney-general/index.html

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                  (CNN)It’s been two months since St. Louis Police Officer Blake Snyder was gunned down. And 2-year-old Malachi hasn’t stopped asking for his daddy.

                  How do you tell a toddler his daddy is never coming home?
                  “He’s been asking for his daddy a lot which is hard,” Elizabeth Snyder told CNN affiliate KTVI. “I don’t know how to respond to him yet. Every time I look at him, I’m also reminded of my husband not coming home.”
                    That talk will have to happen sometime. But for now, Malachi’s been given something to remember his dad by: Two teddy bears made out of his dad’s uniform.
                    The bears were an early Christmas present from a family friend. Snyder posted a photo on Facebook of the beaming boy clutching his gift.

                    St.

                    The words “love you always” and “always with you” are sewn into the feet of each bear.
                    Snyder, 33, was responding to a disturbance call on October 6 when he was fatally shot at close range. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar called his death an ambush.

                    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/01/us/teddy-bears-slain-officer-uniform-trnd/index.html

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                    (CNN)After the success of “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors,” a sequel was inevitable. And NBC’s follow-up movie, subtitled “Circle of Love,” actually manages to be sappier and more infused with Christmas spirit than the last one, which frankly didn’t seem possible.

                    Indeed, to those ensconced in red states prone to gripe that the major networks ignore religion, this Hallmark Channel-like offering proves that godless Hollywood likes the green in Christmas just fine. And it’s all presented so earnestly that “Circle of Love” should connect with the same audience, meaning all concerned should probably begin making plans for next year right now.
                    Introduced by Parton as “another true story of a Christmas miracle that happened during my childhood” (how many of those do most people get?), the movie picks up in 1955, where the young Dolly (Alyvia Alyn Lind) and her family remain dirt poor but filled with love and faith. Yet God seems determined to keep testing them, prompting characters to ask how they can continue to believe, only to have their piety rewarded.
                      This latest effort comes with a sort-of “Gift of the Magi” theme, as Dolly’s parents (Jennifer Nettles, Ricky Schroder) puzzle over how to scrape together money to let each of the children receive a “store-bought” gift. When he brings up the subject of that wedding ring he never bought her, she pluckily replies, “After eight kids, I’m just about as married as I can get.”
                      Nevertheless, the family will be forced to contemplate just how they want to spend money — for themselves, or others — as well as face disasters both natural (a blizzard) and man-made (a coal mine cave-in). And yes, Dolly’s budding desire to perform again figures into the story, this time by hungering for the role of Mary in the school’s Christmas pageant.
                      Parton even drops in as a painted lady that interacts with her younger self, which mostly contributes to the comedy factor, as the little girl gushes about wanting to look just like her when she grows up.
                      To the extent it works, credit the cast (including Gerald McRaney as Dolly’s minister grandpa) and some of the little touches in Pamela K. Long’s script, like Dolly’s first brush with indoor plumbing.
                      NBC will pair the movie with its annual “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” special, creating one big, festive night of holiday cheer. And while cynics can snort at all the movie clichs that somehow found their way into Parton’s childhood memories, the net effect no doubt creates the ideal environment to sell advertising for lots of “store-bought” items.
                      “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors: Circle of Life” airs November 30 at 9 p.m. on NBC.

                      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/30/entertainment/dolly-partons-circle-of-love-review/index.html

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                      (CNN)It can withstand a tornado and is so massive it could house Paris’ famed Notre-Dame Cathedral.

                      A giant shield designed to protect the nuclear reactor damaged 30 years ago at Chernobyl has reached its final resting place, completing an unprecedented engineering feat.
                        Known as the New Safe Confinement (NSC), the shield will seal off an aging shelter — built hastily after the disaster occurred in 1986 in what is now northern Ukraine — that is leaking radioactive material.
                        A first for modern engineering, the Chernobyl shield is the largest moveable, land-based structure ever built, according the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which manages funding for the international project.
                        The arch-shaped steel structure was assembled nearby and moved more than 1,000 feet into position with the help of a special skidding system of hydraulic jacks that pushed the mammoth shield one stroke at a time.
                        “Many people had doubts and didn’t believe… However, I congratulate you, dear friends. Yes, we did it,” said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during a ceremony at Chernobyl commemorating the event.

                        Chernobyl

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                        “This is our contribution to the future, in line with our responsibility for those who will come after us,” said Igor Gramotkin, Director-General of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
                        The equipment inside the shield will be connected electronically to a control room outside, allowing all operations inside the dome to be managed remotely. The goal is to eventually safely dismantle the damaged structure underneath.

                        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/30/europe/chernobyl-giant-shield/index.html

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                        (CNN)Stan Wawrinka has three grand slam titles to his name but this could be the sweetest trophy he has hoisted yet.

                        The Swiss tennis star was presented with a delicious looking chocolate replica of the US Open trophy he won in September as he attended a promotional event for next year’s Geneva Open Wednesday.
                          Switzerland is renowned for its chocolate making expertise and is home to renowned confectionery companies such as Lindt — which sponsors Wawrinka’s pal and fellow Swiss Roger Federer — and Laderach.

                          Silver

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                          Wawrinka won the 2016 Geneva Open back in May, his first title on home soil, when he defeated Marin Cilic in the final.
                          But the world No. 4 had to settle for a more conventional trinket and check for 88,900 Euro ($94,175) that day.
                          Wawrinka went on to claim his third grand slam crown when he upset Novak Djokovic in the final of the US Open at Flushing Meadows in September.
                          The 31-year-old will be hoping the 2017 season is as choc-full of success.

                          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/30/tennis/stan-wawrinka-chocolate-us-open-trophy-geneva-open/index.html

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                          (CNN)Doctors often recommend daily physical activity, but does exercise actually help us live longer? And are certain sports healthier than others? A new study suggests that exercise can slash your risk of death by 28%, and certain activities may be even more beneficial.

                          Dr. Pekka Oja of the UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research in Finland was curious about the idea.
                            “There is plenty of evidence showing that physical activity is good for our health,” said Oja, lead author of the study published Tuesday in BMJ. “But (the World Health Organization) recommends generic physical activity, without specifics. We were interested in how sports could contribute to health and how different sport disciplines could benefit health.”
                            Oja emphasizes that this research is “not meant to rank sports.” Rather, his goal is to raise awareness that regular exercise and sports can significantly decrease someone’s risk of death.
                            “We want to show that sports are healthy,” Oja said. They’re also fun because they also promote socializing, such as when groups meet for bike rides or aerobics classes.

                            See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

                            In future studies, Oja would like to see a “more reliable number of subjects.” One limitation of his study, he said, was that there was not enough participation in all of the sports groups to get a full comparison of the exercise effects.
                            Both Oja and Goldberg agree that when it comes to physical activity, any exercise will keep you alive longer than no exercise at all.
                            “One sport is not better than another,” Oja said. “It depends on your liking” of the sport.
                            “If someone loves playing football, I’ll tell him to keep playing football,” Ahmed said. “The most important thing is to find what you enjoy doing and stick with it.”
                            “Make sure you vary your exercise routine so you don’t get bored,” Goldberg added. “You have to find your own physical limit, and any aerobic exercise works.”

                            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/30/health/swimming-aerobics-racquet-sports-reduce-death-risk/index.html

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                            Washington (CNN)As Donald Trump’s Cabinet begins to take shape, the President-elect has selected three women of color so far to serve in top positions in his administration, including South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who was a sharp critic of Trump during the 2016 Republican primary campaign.

                            While Trump’s selections have predominantly been white males, the President-elect has selected three women who are children of immigrants as he assembles his administration.

                              Nikki Haley

                              Seema

                              Verma, who is the daughter of Indian immigrants, is Trump’s pick as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
                              Verma, a founder of a health policy consulting firm, is an Indiana resident, who has close ties to Vice-President elect Mike Pence after she designed the state’s Obamacare Medicaid expansion model.
                              “I am pleased to nominate Seema Verma to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,” Trump said in a statement. “She has decades of experience advising on Medicare and Medicaid policy and helping states navigate our complicated systems.”
                              Verma, a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, served as the Indiana’s health reform lead following the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

                              Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/29/politics/trump-cabinet-women/index.html

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                              Washington (CNN)A US military investigation revealed Tuesday that Russian and coalition officers engaged in a 27-minute game of phone tag while American and coalition warplanes were mistakenly bombing and killing fighters allied with the Syrian regime in September.

                              “In this instance, we did not rise to the high standard we hold ourselves to, and we must do better than this each and every time,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of US Air Forces in the Middle East, said in a statement accompanying the completion of the classified investigation into the deadly September 17 strike. A redacted executive summary of the report was released Tuesday.
                                “The decision to strike these targets was made in accordance with the law of armed conflict and the applicable rules of engagement,” US Brig. Gen. Richard Coe, the officer charged with investigating the airstrike, said in a statement. “But we concluded based upon post-strike analysis that a number of ‘human factors’ resulted in incorrect identification of forces on the ground.”
                                Military officials said the US took the unprecedented step of informing the Russian military in advance of its intent to strike the targets — which the Americans believed were ISIS — via a hotline that had been established to ensure mistakes were not made in the airspace used by Russian and US warplanes.
                                Coe acknowledged that the information provided to the Russians was “off by several kilometers.”
                                The investigation found that once the strikes began, Russian officials called the hotline and waited to speak to the designated point of contact but were told that the person was unavailable.
                                Coe said the other officer in the operations center offered the chance to pass a message along, but the Russians “hung up on that phone call to call back later.”
                                When the Russians rang up a second time and the point of contact was still not available, Coe said, “They elected not to leave a message and went on hold” pending the arrival of the officer in question.
                                Coe said 27 minutes elapsed between the first Russian call and the cessation of airstrikes.
                                “In that 27 minutes, 15 of the 32 strikes happened,” he said, noting that once the Russian information was received and understood, the coalition “immediately halted strikes.”
                                Col. John Thomas, a spokesman for Central Command, told reporters that the coalition had asked the Russians to immediately convey critical information in the future.
                                The US and its coalition allies had previously said they believed their warplanes were targeting ISIS fighters. Russia said at the time the strikes jeopardized a cessation of hostilities that Washington and Moscow had negotiated and that the Syrian regime resumed striking rebel areas soon after, with the accord eventually collapsing.
                                The hotline difficulties were one of several errors highlighted by the investigation, which said “human error” in the targeting process was largely to blame for the deadly mistake.
                                Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Coe said there was “no intent to target Syrian forces” and added that the units struck on September 17 near Deir Ezzor “looked and acted like the forces the coalition has been targeting,” referring to ISIS fighters.
                                “They were not wearing uniforms, they had no flags or insignia,” Coe said, adding that the coalition now believes “those forces were aligned with the Syrian regime more likely than not.”
                                One critical error involved the incorrect identification of a vehicle that targeting analysts believed belonged to ISIS. That vehicle met up with the larger force that was eventually struck, with analysts believing those fighters were also associated with ISIS due to the vehicle’s presence there.
                                Coe said Harrigian had ordered a review of targeting procedures to prevent similar incidents from happening.
                                The attack involved 32 strikes carried out by F-16s, A-10s, F/A-18s jets and remotely piloted aircraft. The coalition said 34 precision-category weapons were dropped and 380 30mm rounds were fired on the targets.
                                Representatives from Australia, Denmark and the UK took part in the investigation as they had also been involved in the strikes, along with the US.
                                The coalition said it could only substantiate 15 deaths as a result of the errant attack, but Coe said “we certainly believe more than 15 individuals were killed,” although the US was not able to determine the precise number of fatalities.
                                In the days following the attack, the Russian military put the number at 62 Syrian fighters killed.

                                Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/29/politics/us-airstrikes-syria-investigation/index.html

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                                (CNN)Former President Jimmy Carter is calling on the Obama administration to recognize Palestinian statehood before leaving office January 20.

                                Carter, who is strong proponent for Palestinian rights and a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, praised the Obama administration in a New York Times op-ed out Monday for its support for a “negotiated end to the conflict based on two states,” but warned this work could be undone with an incoming Republican administration.
                                “I am convinced that the United States can still shape the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before a change in presidents, but time is very short, ” Carter wrote. “The simple but vital step this administration must take before its term expires on Jan. 20 is to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine.”
                                  The former President also called for the UN Security Council to pass a resolution “laying out the parameters for resolving the conflict.”
                                  “It should reaffirm the illegality of all Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 borders, while leaving open the possibility that the parties could negotiate modifications,” he said.
                                  “Security guarantees for both Israel and Palestine are imperative, and the resolution must acknowledge the right of both the states of Israel and Palestine to live in peace and security.”
                                  Carter went on to criticize the controversial building of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.
                                  “Israel is building more and more settlements, displacing Palestinians and entrenching its occupation of Palestinian lands,” Carter wrote. “Over 4.5 million Palestinians live in these occupied territories, but are not citizens of Israel. Most live largely under Israeli military rule, and do not vote in Israel’s national elections.”
                                  Carter is one of Israel’s most vocal American critics. In his 2006 book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” he compared Israel’s military occupation in the West Bank to the apartheid system in South Africa.
                                  Obama has also been critical of Israel, calling in 2009 for a complete freeze on the building of Israeli settlements.
                                  However, President-elect Donald Trump’s position has thrilled many supporters of Israel, as well as Israel’s political right wing. As a candidate, Trump promised to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and renogotiate the Iran nuclear deal, which has been criticized by Israel’s leaders.
                                  The leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party Naftali Bennett, claimed a Trump presidency allows Israel to fully dismiss the notion of a Palestinian state. “This is the position of the President-elect, as written in his platform, and it should be our policy, plain and simple. The era of a Palestinian state is over.”

                                  Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/29/politics/jimmy-carter-palestine-op-ed/index.html

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                                  Posted by & filed under Breaking News.

                                  Washington (CNN)Five Supreme Court justices Tuesday seemed to agree with arguments that a Texas death row inmate should not be executed because he is intellectually disabled.

                                  The challenge to the Texas death sentence is an opportunity for the court to further define standards states may use in determining intellectual disability. Justices have previously ruled that the execution of the intellectually disabled violates the Constitution, but the court has largely left it up to the states to implement the ruling.
                                    Tuesday, the four liberal justices — joined critically by Justice Anthony Kennedy — seemed to indicate that a Texas court had relied upon the wrong standards in ruling against the inmate, Bobby James Moore.
                                    A lawyer for Moore argued that Texas had “adopted a unique approach” and urged the Supreme Court to reverse the decision.
                                    Supporters of Moore hope that the court’s eventual ruling will bring Texas — a state that has executed more people than any other state since 1976 — in line with Supreme Court precedent.
                                    “I think there is a conflict,” Kennedy said at one point, between the standards used by the lower court and current medical standards.
                                    Moore was convicted of the 1980 murder of James McCarble, an employee at the Birdsall Super Market in Houston.
                                    His lawyer, Clifford M. Sloan, argued that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals was mistaken when it ruled that Moore was eligible for the death penalty because it based its decision on an outdated medical definition of intellectual disability.
                                    Sloan pointed out that throughout his childhood Moore had “grave difficulties” with academic, social and conceptual issues.
                                    In court papers Sloan said Moore’s own father called him “‘stupid’ for being slow to read and speak, and his teachers separated him from the rest of the class, often instructing him to draw pictures because he was unable to keep up with basic schoolwork.”
                                    Moore was also hit in the head with a brick when he was 12 during an integration dispute that took place in his school.
                                    The Texas court acknowledged that the position of the medical community on the diagnosis of intellectual disability has shifted in recent years, but said that “until the legislature acts” it is bound by its own precedent.
                                    The lower court relied on a 1992 manual put out by the American Association on Mental Retardation that includes a three part test: significantly subaverage intellectual functioning, deficits in adaptive functioning (how one handles the demands of every day life,) and whether the disability was present in childhood.
                                    But Sloan said the standard, fashioned in part on a fictional character in John Steinbeck’s novel “Of Mice and Men,” did not reflect current medical standards.
                                    Sloan said that “refinements have occurred with regard to both intellectual function and adaptive behavior.”
                                    He argued that “current standards place greatly reduced emphasis on IQ scores in the assessment of intellectual function and rely more on adaptive functioning” than earlier standards did.
                                    In court papers Scott Keller, Texas’ Solicitor General, argued that the state is not required to “adhere precisely to a particular organization’s clinical definition of intellectual disability.”
                                    He told the justices that the factors the lower court relied upon were “grounded in court precedent.”
                                    But Justice Elena Kagan questioned whether the lower court’s rejection of the views of clinicians on some issues might mean “people with mild impairment can be executed, even though the clinicians would find those people to be intellectually disabled.”
                                    Justice Samuel Alito appeared to be the most solid vote for Texas. At one point he questioned whether the criteria used by the lower court was indeed outdated.
                                    All eyes in court were on Justice Stephen Breyer who has urged the court to take on the larger question concerning the constitutionality of the death penalty in part because it can be applied arbitrarily nationwide.
                                    While Moore’s case did not target the large constitutional question, Breyer expressed concern that the court might not be able to find a standard that would settle borderline intellectual disability cases nationwide.
                                    “I don’t think there is a way to apply this kind of standard uniformly across the country, and therefore there will be disparities and uncertainties,” he said.

                                    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/29/politics/death-penalty-texas-intellectually-disabled/index.html

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                                    Posted by & filed under Breaking News.

                                    Washington (CNN)President-elect Donald Trump wins Michigan’s 16 electoral votes, the secretary of state’s office announced on Monday.

                                    This brings the final electoral tally for Trump 306, while former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has 232 electoral votes.
                                    Trump has won the state of Michigan by a 10,704 vote margin, with the President-elect earning 2,279,543 votes (47.5%) and Clinton earning 2,268,839 votes (47.3%).
                                      Michigan was the only state that hadn’t officially been called because the vote was too close for CNN’s election results.
                                      Clinton continues to lead Trump for the country’s popular vote by about 2 million votes and the lead is likely to grow as votes are still being counted.
                                      It’s likely Green Party nominee Jill Stein, who has initiated recounts in other close states, will also ask Michigan to check their results.

                                      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/28/politics/michigan-secretary-of-state-donald-trump-2016-election/index.html

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                                      Posted by & filed under Breaking News.

                                      (CNN)Many Welsh people quite literally overestimated the size of their local Christmas celebrations this year.

                                      After erroneously promising a 40 meter tree — that’s 131 feet — would go up in front of Cardiff Castle last week, Cardiff Council has apologized for its mistake.
                                        According to Wales Online, the tree is 40 feet tall and cost 30,000 to hire for three years from UK-based company MK Illuminations.
                                        Cardiff, the capital of Wales, has a population of about 350,000. Citing more than just its surprisingly small stature, locals are expressing their disappointment with the Christmas display.
                                        Many are turning to humor, in typical Welsh fashion, to cut Cardiff Council down to size.
                                        But at least the decorations made it in time for the holiday season. City officials are pleased, despite all the criticism.
                                        Kids, pay attention in math class!

                                        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/28/living/cardiff-christmas-tree-trnd/index.html

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                                        (CNN)Here is a look back at the events of 2016.

                                        Notable US Events:
                                        January 26 –
                                        After occupying a federal wildlife refuge headquarters in Oregon for 26 days to denounce federal land policies, protest leader Ammon Bundy and several fellow occupiers are pulled over on US Highway 395. Bundy is arrested, and LaVoy Finicum is killed.
                                        February 9 – Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wins the New Hampshire primary, claiming victory with 60% of the vote. He’s the first Jewish politician to win a presidential nominating contest.
                                          February 16 – Apple refuses to comply with a California judge’s order to assist the FBI in hacking the phone of San Bernardino gunman Syed Farook. A public letter signed by Apple CEO Tim Cook states why the company is refusing to abide by the government’s demands. In March, the Department of Justice announces the FBI has retrieved the data on the iPhone with the help of an unnamed third party.
                                          February 20 – Six people are killed, and two more are injured during an hours-long shooting rampage at three different sites in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The shooting suspect is identified as Jason Brian Dalton, 45, an Uber driver who apparently picked up and dropped off passengers between shootings.
                                          February 25 – Cedric Ford, 38, kills three people and injures an additional 14 in shootings that end at his workplace, a lawn care machinery manufacturing company in Hesston, Kansas. Ford is killed by police, bringing the total number of fatalities to four.
                                          March 7 – Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning announces he is retiring from the NFL, after 18 seasons.
                                          March 8 – Four people are killed in Kansas City and a fifth is gunned down in Missouri. The shooting suspect, Pablo Antonio Serrano-Vitorino had been deported to Mexico in 2004 but returned to the US illegally. Serrano-Vitorino is also charged with the murder of a Missouri man after his truck was found at the victim’s home.
                                          March 16 – President Barack Obama nominates Merrick Garland to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
                                          March 20 – President Obama arrives in Cuba, becoming the first sitting US president to visit in 88 years.
                                          March 23 – North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signs a controversial bill blocking cities from allowing transgender individuals to use public bathrooms for the gender they identify with — as well as restricting cities from passing nondiscrimination laws more broadly. On May 9, the Justice Department files a civil rights lawsuit over the bill.
                                          April 13 – Kobe Bryant plays his last NBA game, scoring 60 points to help the Los Angeles Lakers defeat the Utah Jazz 101-96.
                                          April 20 – Five former New Orleans police officers plead guilty and are sentenced in connection with the shootings of six unarmed people, two fatally, on the Danziger Bridge days after Hurricane Katrina. Their sentences — from three to 12 years in prison — are remarkably less severe than the six to 65 years in prison to which they were originally sentenced back in 2012.
                                          April 20 – Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announces that Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the face of the $20 bill. She’ll become the first black person to front a US banknote.
                                          April 25 – Five hundred and fourteen residents and former residents of Flint, Michigan, file a class action lawsuit against the EPA. The plaintiffs allege negligence and demand more than $220 million in damages for the EPA’s role in the Flint water crisis.
                                          April 27 – Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $250,000 to a victims’ fund in a hush money case that revealed he was being accused of sexually abusing young boys as a teacher in Illinois.
                                          May 1 – For the first time in more than five decades, a US cruise ship sets sail for Cuba.
                                          May 17 – The Senate confirms Eric Fanning to be secretary of the Army, making him the first secretary of a branch of the US military who is openly gay.
                                          May 23 – The Supreme Court rules 7-1 in favor of African-American death row inmate Timothy Foster, in a case concerning race discrimination in jury selection. Twenty years after Foster’s sentence, his attorneys obtained notes taken by the prosecution during jury selection, including marking potential jurors’ names with a “b” for black. The decision does not vacate Foster’s conviction; it opens the door for Foster’s case to be remanded to the Georgia state court to argue for a new trial.
                                          May 26 – Jairam Hathwar, 13, of Corning, New York, and Nihar Janga, 11, of Austin, Texas, are named co-champions of the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee competition, the third set of co-champions in three years.
                                          May 27 – President Obama becomes the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima, Japan.
                                          May 28 – The Cincinnati Zoo shoots and kills Harambe, a 17-year old, 400-pound western lowland gorilla, after a child slips into the animal’s enclosure.
                                          June 9 – President Obama endorses former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president.
                                          June 12 – Omar Saddiqui Mateen, 29, opens fire inside Pulse, a gay nightclub, in Orlando, Florida. At least 49 people are killed and more than 50 are injured. Police shoot and kill Mateen during an operation to free hostages officials say he was holding at the club.
                                          June 24 – President Obama announces the designation of the first national monument to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. The Stonewall National Monument will encompass Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn and the surrounding streets and sidewalks that were the sites of the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City.
                                          June 28 – After a two-year investigation of the Benghazi terror attack, House Republicans release a more than 800-page report faulting the Obama administration for security lapses which led to the deaths of four Americans, but contains no revelations likely to further damage Hillary Clinton. The report paints a picture of bureaucratic inertia, rapidly worsening security in Libya and inadequate resources in the months preceding the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three colleagues on September 11, 2012.
                                          June 30 – Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announces the Pentagon is lifting the ban on transgender people serving openly in the US military.
                                          July 4 – After an almost five-year journey, the Juno space probe successfully enters Jupiter’s orbit.
                                          July 5 – Alton Sterling is shot and killed after an encounter with two Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police officers. Video shows Sterling on the ground, underneath officers, when shots are fired.
                                          July 6 – Philando Castile is shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, live-streams the aftermath of the confrontation with the police officer, and says Castile was reaching for his identification when he was shot.
                                          July 7-8 – Five police officers are killed, and seven other officers and two civilians are wounded when a sniper fires ambush-style during a peaceful protest in downtown Dallas. After a lengthy standoff with police in a parking garage, a Dallas police bomb squad robot kills the gunman, identified as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, of Mesquite, Texas, a veteran who served in Afghanistan.
                                          July 12 – Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) endorses Hillary Clinton for president.
                                          July 15 – GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump tweets that he has chosen Governor Mike Pence of Indiana to be his running mate.
                                          July 17 – A gunman ambushes and kills three law officers and wounds three other officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The shooter, later identified as Gavin Long, 29, of Kansas City, is killed by police officers in the ensuing gun battle.
                                          July 19 – Donald Trump officially becomes the Republican Party nominee for president.
                                          July 21 – Roger Ailes resigns as chairman and CEO of Fox News amid sexual harassment allegations.
                                          July 22 – Wikileaks releases nearly 20,000 emails from Democratic National Committee staffers. The leaked emails appear to show the committee favoring presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders during the US presidential primary season.
                                          July 22 – US Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia is named as Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate.
                                          July 26 – Hillary Clinton officially becomes the Democratic Party nominee for president and the first woman in the history of the United States to lead the presidential ticket of a major political party.
                                          July 27 – A federal judge grants John Hinckley Jr., the man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981, “full-time convalescent leave” from St. Elizabeths Hospital.
                                          July 27 – Baltimore prosecutors drop charges against the three remaining officers awaiting trial in connection with Freddie Gray’s death. The other three officers charged in the case have already been acquitted.
                                          July 30 – A hot air balloon carrying 16 people catches fire and crashes in central Texas. It is the deadliest hot air balloon accident in US history.
                                          August 10 – The Justice Department releases a report showing that the Baltimore Police Department has engaged in unconstitutional practices that led to disproportionate rates of stops, searches and arrests of African-Americans, and excessive use of force against juveniles and people with mental health disabilities.
                                          August 12 – Alex Rodriguez plays in his final MLB game at Yankee Stadium as the New York Yankees take on the Tampa Bay Rays.
                                          September 2 – After serving three months behind bars for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner is released from a California jail.
                                          September 16 – Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby fatally shoots Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old unarmed black man, after his car is found abandoned in the middle of the road. On September 22, Officer Shelby is charged with felony manslaughter in the first degree.
                                          September 17 – A garbage can explodes at a Marine Corps charity race in Seaside Park, New Jersey. No one is wounded in the blast, and two other unexploded bombs are found nearby. Later in the evening, an explosion in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood injures 29 people. Law enforcement cordons off the area, and investigators find a pressure cooker four blocks away. On September 18, a backpack with five bombs inside is found in a wastebasket near a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey. On September 19, after a shootout with law enforcement in Linden, New Jersey, suspected bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami is taken into custody.
                                          September 20 – Keith Lamont Scott, 43, is fatally shot by a police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina. Police say the officer opened fire after Scott stepped out of a vehicle with a gun in his hand and didn’t obey commands to drop his weapon.
                                          September 23 – Five people are killed after a gunman opens fire at a Washington state mall in Burlington, an hour north of Seattle. Shooting suspect Arcan Cetin, 20, is taken into custody on September 24 after a nearly 24-hour manhunt.
                                          September 28 – A 14-year-old male opens fire on the playground of Townville Elementary School southwest of Greenville, South Carolina. Two children and a teacher are wounded. Jacob Hall, one of the wounded children, dies three days later. Authorities believe before going to the school, the teen shot and killed his father. He is taken into custody.
                                          September 29 – A New Jersey commuter train crashes into the Hoboken Terminal during morning rush hour, leaving one dead and more than 100 injured.
                                          October 7-8 – Hurricane Matthew hits Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, leading to record-breaking flooding and millions of power outages. At least 45 US deaths are blamed on the storm. Before hitting the United States, Hurricane Matthew tore through Haiti on October 4, killing more than 500 people.
                                          October 22 – AT&T announces an $85-billion deal to buy Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.
                                          October 28 – In a letter to Congress, FBI Director James Comey says the FBI is reviewing new emails related to Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state. The emails were discovered as part of an investigation into former Congressman Anthony Weiner and were sent or received by his wife, Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
                                          November 2 – The Chicago Cubs win their first World Series since 1908 by defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in a 10 inning Game 7 at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
                                          November 4 – Two former officials linked to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s office are found guilty on all charges in connection with the closure of lanes in 2013 on the George Washington Bridge in an apparent act of political retribution, the fallout for which has come to be known as Bridgegate. Bridget Anne Kelly, the former deputy chief of staff to Christie, and Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, both faced seven counts of various charges including conspiracy, fraud, and civil rights deprivation.
                                          November 6 – Based on a review of the newly discovered emails, Comey tells lawmakers that the agency has not changed its opinion that Clinton should not face criminal charges.
                                          Notable International Events:
                                          January 2 – Otto Frederick Warmbier, a University of Virginia college student, is detained in North Korea after being accused of a “hostile act” against the government. In mid-March, Warmbier is sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for crimes against the state.
                                          January 6 – North Korea announces it has successfully conducted a hydrogen bomb test.
                                          January 8 – Mexican security forces arrest Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in Sinaloa.
                                          January 16 – Iran releases four US prisoners including Saeed Abedini, Amir Mirzaei Hekmati and Jason Rezaian, in exchange for clemency for seven Iranians imprisoned in the United States for sanctions violations.
                                          January 28 – The trial begins for former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and former Ivorian politician Charles Bl Goud. Gbagbo and Bl Goud are charged with four counts of crimes against humanity, including murder and rape, for acts allegedly committed in 2010 and 2011.
                                          February 1 – The World Health Organization declares Zika a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) due to the increase of neurological disorders, such as microcephaly, in areas of French Polynesia and Brazil.
                                          February 20 – Faustin-Archange Touadera, a former prime minister, is elected president of the Central African Republic.
                                          March 21 – The ICC declares former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba guilty on two counts of crimes against humanity and three counts of war crimes for failing to keep his forces from raping and killing civilians in Central African Republic in 2002-2003. In June, Bemba is sentenced to 18 years in prison.
                                          March 22 – Attacks on the airport and a subway station in Brussels, Belgium, kill more than 30 people and wound about 270 more. ISIS claims responsibility.
                                          March 27 – On Easter Sunday, a suicide blast in a park in the eastern Pakistan city of Lahore kills 69 people and injures more than 340 others. A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, claims responsibility for the deadly attack.
                                          April 3 – The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists publishes a massive leak of documents, dubbed the “Panama Papers.” The more-than 11 million documents, which date back four decades, are allegedly connected to Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca. ICIJ reports the firm helped establish secret shell companies and offshore accounts for global power players.
                                          April 10 – Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announces he will resign.
                                          April 16 – A 7.8-magnitude earthquake strikes coastal Ecuador, killing 663 people.
                                          May 6 – Sadiq Khan is elected mayor of London, becoming the first Muslim mayor of any major Western city.
                                          May 17 – Amina Ali Nkeki, one of more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram, is the first to be freed after two years in captivity.
                                          May 21 – Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour is killed in an airstrike in Pakistan.
                                          June 3 – The International Olympic Committee reveals the first refugee team to ever compete at the Olympic Games.
                                          July 1-2 – Attackers invade the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in a diplomatic enclave of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Gunmen kill 20 hostages and two police officers before authorities raid the restaurant and end the nearly 11-hour standoff. ISIS claims responsibility for the attack.
                                          July 3 – A suicide car bomb detonates in a busy shopping district in Baghdad, Iraq, killing at least 292 people, and injuring at least 200. It is the deadliest single attack in Iraq since 2003. ISIS claims responsibility.
                                          July 6 – A South African judge sentences athlete Oscar Pistorius to six years in prison for his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp’s murder. Barring an appeal, this will be the final sentencing.
                                          July 6 – A Barcelona, Spain, court sentences soccer star Lionel Messi to 21 months in prison for tax fraud. However, because this is the first time Messi has committed an offense, he will not serve jail time.
                                          July 13 – Theresa May becomes the second ever female prime minister of Great Britain when David Cameron resigns after the UK votes to leave the European Union.
                                          July 14 – Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel plows a truck into crowds on the Promenade des Anglais seafront in Nice, France, during a fireworks celebration on Bastille Day. The attack kills 85 and injures more than 200.
                                          July 15-16 – During an attempted coup by a faction of the military in Turkey, at least 290 people died and more than 1,400 were wounded.
                                          July 30 – The Tunisian parliament passes a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Habib Essid.
                                          August 31 – Brazil’s Senate votes to remove President Dilma Rousseff from office.
                                          September 4 – Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who devoted her life to helping India’s poor, is declared a saint in a canonization Mass held by Pope Francis in the Vatican.
                                          September 9 – North Korea claims to have detonated a nuclear warhead.
                                          September 20 – A Brazilian judge rules that there is enough evidence for former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, his wife and six others to stand trial on corruption charges, relating to the state-run oil company Petrobus.
                                          September 27 – Islamic militant Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi is sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to war crimes for destroying religious and historic monuments in the ancient city of Timbuktu, Mali. The trial marks the first time the ICC has tried the destruction of cultural heritage as a war crime.
                                          October 2 – Colombians narrowly reject a referendum on a peace deal between the government and former rebel group FARC that would have ended five decades of war.
                                          October 4 – Hurricane Matthew makes landfall in Haiti, tearing through the small Caribbean nation with 125 mph winds and heavy rains that flood villages, raze crops, sweep away cattle and cut off parts of the island. The official death toll is more than 500, according to Haiti’s Civil Protection Service. Four people are also reported dead in the Dominican Republic.
                                          October 13Boko Haram militants hand over 21 Chibok schoolgirls to authorities after a series of negotiations with the Nigerian government. It’s the first mass release of any of the more than 200 girls and women kidnapped from their school in April 2014. As many as 57 girls escaped almost immediately in 2014 and one was found in May 2016.
                                          October 17 Iraqi forces and their allies begin an offensive operation to reclaim Mosul, the largest city under ISIS control and its last remaining stronghold in Iraq.
                                          October 21 – More than 70 people are killed and 600 others injured when an overloaded train derails in central Cameroon.
                                          October 24 – At least 61 people are killed and 117 injured when militants attack a police training academy in Quetta, Pakistan.
                                          Awards and Winners:
                                          January 10 –
                                          The Golden Globes are presented.
                                          January 11 – The College Football Playoff National Championship takes place.
                                          January 18-January 31 – The Australian Open is played.
                                          February 5 – The NAACP Image Awards are presented.
                                          February 7 – Super Bowl 50 is played in Santa Clara, California.
                                          February 15 – The 58th Annual Grammy Awards are presented.
                                          February 21 – The 58th Daytona 500 is run.
                                          March 15-April 4 – The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament takes place.
                                          April 4-10 – The 80th Masters Tournament is played in Augusta, Georgia.
                                          April 18 – The Pulitzer Prizes are announced.
                                          April 18 – The 120th Boston Marathon takes place.
                                          May 7 – The 142nd Kentucky Derby is run.
                                          May 22-June 5 – The French Open is played.
                                          May 29 – The 100th Indianapolis 500 is run.
                                          May 30-June 12 – The Stanley Cup Finals are played.
                                          June 2-19 – The NBA Finals take place.
                                          June 12 – The 70th Annual Tony Awards are presented.
                                          June 13-19 – The 116th US Open golf tournament takes place in Oakmont, Pennsylvania.
                                          June 27-July 10 – The Wimbledon tennis tournament takes place.
                                          July 2-24 – The Tour de France takes place.
                                          July 14-17 – The 145th British Open golf tournament takes place at the Royal Troon in Troon, Scotland.
                                          August 5-21 – The Olympic Games are held in Rio de Janeiro.
                                          August 29-September 11 – The US Open tennis tournament is played.
                                          September 7-18 – The Paralympic Games are held in Rio de Janeiro.
                                          September 18 – The 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards are presented.
                                          October 3-13 – Nobel Prize winners are announced.
                                          Notable Deaths in 2016:
                                          Dale Bumpers – January 1
                                          Mike Oxley – January 1
                                          Vilmos Zsigmond – January 1
                                          Robert Stigwood – January 4
                                          Pat Harrington – January 6
                                          Andr Courrges – January 7
                                          David Bowie – January 10
                                          Monte Irvin – January 11
                                          David Margulies – January 11
                                          Alan Rickman – January 14
                                          Dan Haggerty – January 15
                                          Glenn Frey – January 18
                                          Abe Vigoda – January 26
                                          Paul Kantner – January 28
                                          Bob Elliott – February 2
                                          Joe Alaskey – February 3
                                          Dave Mirra – February 4
                                          Edgar Mitchell – February 4
                                          Maurice White – February 4
                                          Antonin Scalia – February 13
                                          George Gaynes – February 15
                                          Denise Matthews “Vanity” – February 15
                                          Boutros Boutros-Ghali – February 16
                                          Umberto Eco – February 19
                                          Harper Lee – February 19
                                          Sonny James – February 22
                                          George Kennedy – February 28
                                          Bud Collins – March 4
                                          Pat Conroy – March 4
                                          Joey Feek – March 4
                                          Nancy Reagan – March 6
                                          Sir George Martin – March 8
                                          Keith Emerson – March 10
                                          Frank Sinatra Jr. – March 16
                                          Larry Drake – March 17
                                          Rob Ford – March 22
                                          Joe Garagiola Sr.- March 23
                                          Ken Howard – March 23
                                          Garry Shandling – March 24
                                          James Noble – March 28
                                          Patty Duke – March 29
                                          Zaha Hadid – March 31
                                          Merle Haggard – April 6
                                          Will Smith III – April 9
                                          David Gest – April 12
                                          Anne Jackson – April 12
                                          Doris Roberts – April 17
                                          Joanie Laurer “Chyna” – April 20
                                          Prince – April 21
                                          Madeleine LeBeau – May 1
                                          Guy Clark – May 17
                                          Morley Safer – May 19
                                          Alan Young – May 19
                                          Muhammad Ali – June 3
                                          Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson – June 6
                                          Theresa Saldana – June 6
                                          Gordie Howe – June 10
                                          Christina Grimmie – June 10
                                          Michu Meszaros – June 12
                                          Ann Morgan Guilbert – June 14
                                          Attrell Cordes – June 17
                                          Ron Lester – June 17
                                          Anton Yelchin – June 19
                                          Bernie Worrell – June 24
                                          Bill Cunningham – June 25
                                          Scotty Moore – June 28
                                          Pat Summitt – June 28
                                          Michael Cimino – July 2
                                          Elie Wiesel – July 2
                                          Noel Neill – July 3
                                          Garry Marshall – July 19
                                          Timothy LaHaye – July 25
                                          Youree Dell Harris “Miss Cleo” – July 26
                                          Jack Davis – July 27
                                          David Huddleston – August 2
                                          Pete Fountain – August 6
                                          Kenny Baker – August 13
                                          Jack Riley – August 19
                                          Steven Hill – August 23
                                          Juan Gabriel – August 28
                                          Gene Wilder – August 29
                                          Jon Polito – September 1
                                          Hugh O’Brian – September 5
                                          Phyllis Schlafly – September 5
                                          Lady Chablis – September 8
                                          Alexis Arquette – September 11
                                          Edward Albee – September 16
                                          W.P. Kinsella – September 16
                                          Charmian Carr – September 17
                                          Curtis Hanson – September 20
                                          Stanley Dural Jr., “Buckwheat Zydeco” – September 24
                                          Bill Nunn – September 24
                                          Jos Fernndez – September 25
                                          Arnold Palmer – September 25
                                          Gloria Naylor – September 28
                                          Agnes Nixon – September 28
                                          Shimon Peres – September 28
                                          King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand – October 13
                                          Pete Burns – October 23
                                          Tom Hayden – October 23
                                          Tammy Grimes – October 30
                                          Janet Reno – November 7
                                          Leonard Cohen – November 7
                                          Gwen Ifill – November 14
                                          Florence Henderson – November 24
                                          Fidel Castro – November 25
                                          Ron Glass – November 26

                                          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/14/world/2016-in-review-fast-facts/index.html

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                                          Posted by & filed under Breaking News.

                                          (CNN)Whether we are separated by our politics, the bubbles we live in, or the opposing factions across the Thanksgiving dinner table, we all know we are a nation divided.

                                          The tensions of the election only seem to have intensified with its result. In our headlines, news feeds and conversations, it is hard to turn our minds to anything other than the political.

                                            Giving

                                            ORGANIZE, the online organ donor platform, will use #GivingTuesday to encourage people to “Give with your Heart” by registering as organ donors online. Last year, they registered thousands of Americans, making it by far the biggest digital donor drive in US history. And World Relief is encouraging folks to help build “Welcome Kits” for refugee families, which includes kitchen supplies, bedding, and other household items.
                                            We shouldn’t overstate the impact of a single day dedicated to philanthropy. Most of us vote once every two or four years. But we define our country every day through the ways we all contribute to a strong and healthy civil society. Our philanthropy showcases the benevolence, entrepreneurship and communitarian spirit that still lives at the heart of our national spirit, even if it is missing from our national news.
                                            We need our democratic society to be strong every day of the year, but we cannot understate the significance of collective national rituals. When our politics push us into opposing camps, and when our social networks can nudge us into like-minded bubbles, it is critical we celebrate and catalyze the fundamental goodness of people and reaffirm those essential qualities that we all share.
                                            So this year, consider turning out on the “other” Tuesday in November. Join citizens of all backgrounds, religions and viewpoints in reaching out to help others. Give of your time, your resources, your dollars everyone has something to give, be it big or small.

                                            Join us on Twitter and Facebook

                                            And unlike elections, which can be hard to predict, the results of giving are virtually guaranteed. You will emerge more connected to your community, more satisfied with your life, and a symbol of the generosity and compassion at the very heart of our nation’s promise.

                                            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/28/opinions/giving-tuesday-matters-timms/index.html

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                                            (CNN)Another weekend, another trying afternoon on the touchline for Jose Mourinho.

                                            The Manchester United boss was sent to the stands by referee Jonathan Moss on Sunday after kicking a drinks bottle in frustration during a 1-1 draw with West Ham United at Old Trafford.
                                              The Portuguese was shown a red card midway through a lively first half on the pitch which saw the visitors go ahead through a Diafra Sakho header after just 90 seconds of play.
                                              United were soon back on equal terms when Zlatan Ibrahimovic nodded in Paul Pogba’s cross in the 21st minute.
                                              Moments later Pogba was booked for diving, causing an angry reaction from Mourinho who was then given his marching orders.

                                              Chelsea 31 pts

                                              Man City 30

                                              Liverpool 30

                                              Arsenal 28

                                              Spurs 24

                                              Man Utd 20

                                              It’s the second time this season that Mourinho has been ordered off.
                                              In October in a 0-0 draw against Burnley, the 53-year-old confronted referee Mark Clattenburg at halftime after United had a penalty appeal turned down in the first half.
                                              The ex-Chelsea boss was also fined 50,000 by the English Football Association earlier this season for comments he made in the media about referee Anthony Taylor ahead of United’s game with northwest rivals Liverpool.
                                              The draw keeps United in sixth place but now 11 points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea. The Blues ended local rivals Tottenham Hotspur’s unbeaten league run with a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
                                              West Ham, meanwhile, move about Crystal Palace into 16th place with 12 points from 13 games.

                                              Arsenal beat Bournemouth

                                              Arsenal ended a run of two league draws with a 3-1 win at home to Bournemouth.
                                              Alexis Sanchez scored twice in either half with Theo Walcott netting the other as the Gunners kept in touch with Manchester City and Liverpool who both won on Saturday.
                                              Southampton are up to 10th following a 1-0 win over Everton at the St Mary’s Stadium.

                                              Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/27/football/football-mourinho-sent-off-man-utd-west-ham/index.html

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                                              Posted by & filed under Breaking News.

                                              (CNN)The firestorm over Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s praise for Fidel Castro is proof that, despite the US government’s official denunciation of the Cuban leader, Castro’s legacy around the world ultimately remains far more complicated.

                                              Trudeau’s characterization of Castro as a “legendary revolutionary and orator” drew swift and withering rebukes from American elected officials, most notably from Sen. Marco Rubio, who tweeted that Trudeau’s remarks are “shameful & embarrassing,” and Sen. Ted Cruz, who called them “disgraceful.” Both senators are descendants of Cubans who fled pre- and post-revolutionary Cuba and both remain determined to close off US-Cuban ties until the island’s communist regime is replaced with free elections.

                                                The

                                                Castro’s swashbuckling forays into international affairs also overshadowed a visible dark side: the ruthless suppression of anti-Castro opposition forces, the curtailment of freedom of speech and expression, the imprisonment and killing of political enemies and a failure to confront racial hierarchies in revolutionary Cuba.
                                                For all the genuine strides his regime made in offering free education, medical care, housing and resources for the Cuban people, Castro’s authoritarian rule atrophied a once-promising revolution into a virtual dictatorship.
                                                Castro’s most enduring legacy is a contradictory one. For millions around the world, he remains a defiant figure: the handsome, cigar-chomping leader who attended UN meetings in olive fatigues, comfortably gossiped with Cuban peasants without security guards and challenged the hypocrisies of American politicians who balked at his close ties to the Soviet Union and nationalization of Western industries on the island but were willing to support pro-capitalist dictators. For his critics, especially the large Cuban-American exile community in Florida, Castro remains in death an egomaniacal dictator who murdered friends, families and innocents and forced them into over a half-century-long exile they pray will end soon.

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                                                Trudeau’s expression of “deep sorrow” for Castro’s death takes us back to an almost-vanished historical era, one in which public admission of complexity was not forbidden, statesmen did not use Twitter to make rash declarations and where even political enemies were offered a measure of dignity and respect in death. Trudeau’s words acknowledge the achievements of a towering, but flawed, political figure. A warts-and-all portrait of Castro will satisfy neither unblinking supporters nor inveterate critics. Neither the saint nor the monster he’s been often characterized as being, Castro was something far more and far less: a lawyer turned guerrilla leader who, in an extraordinary historical moment, threatened the legitimacy of the world’s greatest superpower. He did it with a charismatic panache that dazzled millions and inaugurated political regimes that, like his own in Cuba, simultaneously furthered human rights and denied these same rights to internal critics.
                                                Trudeau’s remembrance of Castro reminds us that the Cuban leader’s final legacy has yet to be written, but will be as interesting, complex and messy in death as it was in the course of his lifetime.

                                                Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/27/opinions/trudeau-castro-complicated-legacy-joseph-opinion/index.html

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                                                Jerusalem (CNN)An Israeli airstrike killed four militants linked to ISIS affiliates Sunday morning in southwest Syria, according to Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.

                                                The airstrike followed an exchange of gunfire between the militants and Israeli soldiers, making it the most substantial clash between Israel and ISIS loyalists in Syria, the Israeli military said.
                                                  The Israeli soldiers from a reconnaissance unit were operating within Israeli-occupied territory in the disputed Golan region when they came under fire from militants of the ISIS affiliate Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, Lerner said.
                                                  The soldiers fired back, triggering an exchange of gunfire. A subsequent Israeli airstrike destroyed a vehicle carrying four militants, Lerner said.
                                                  The Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, formerly known as the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, controls an area in the southwest corner of Syria, close to the borders with both Israel and Jordan.
                                                  The region is home to about 40,000 people, according to the Israeli military. The militant group consists of some 700 operatives, Lerner said.

                                                  Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/27/middleeast/isis-loyalists-syria-israel/index.html

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                                                  Washington (CNN)Leadership battles within the Democratic Party. The fight over repealing Obamacare. And the story of an awkward hallway scramble two decades ago involving Al Gore and Fidel Castro.

                                                  It’s all part of our weekly “Inside Politics” forecast, where you get next week’s headlines today.

                                                    1. A giant test for Pelosi

                                                    House Democrats pick their leadership team this week, and while Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi remains a prohibitive favorite, there is more drama than usual because of discontent over the presidential election and calls for fresh stewardship.
                                                    Her rival is a congressman she once mentored, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, who says he remains a huge Pelosi fan but that it is time for new leadership.

                                                    Crowds

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                                                      Crowds cheer Castro’s death in Miami

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                                                    At one point before the ceremony, Gore and Castro ended up in the same hallway of the parliament building, and the Cuban leader seemed determined to get in a quick hello. But it was considered taboo, of course, for a US leader to have any dealings with Castro, so the Vice President and his Secret Service detail took a zig-zag path to avoid any contact with him.
                                                    Two young White House staffers were later reprimanded, however, when word surfaced they took the opportunity to pose for a photograph with Castro, who was smiling as he mingled with other dignitaries in his trademark military uniform.

                                                    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/27/politics/ip-pelosi-leadership-test/index.html

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                                                    (CNN)Argentina’s hopes of winning the Davis Cup for the first time receded after Croatia won the pivotal doubles rubber Saturday to take a 2-1 lead in the final in Zagreb.

                                                    Argentina drafted in its talisman Juan Martin del Potro to partner Leonardo Mayer, but the pair was beaten in straight sets by the home duo of Ivan Dodig and Marin Cilic, who won 7-6 7-6 6-3.
                                                      Cilic can clinch the famous trophy for Croatia with victory over del Potro in the first reverse singles Sunday.
                                                      He put Croatia ahead in the final with a hard-fought five-set victory over Federico Delbonis in the opening singles rubber Friday before del Potro beat Ivo Karlovic in four sets to level it up.
                                                      Watching football legend Diego Maradona was delighted by that Argentina comeback, but the doubles saw Croatia take the lead again with an assured performance from a pairing which has secured crucial wins in its 2016 campaign.
                                                      Only twice since the World Group format was introduced in 1981 has a team come back from 2-1 down in the final.
                                                      A tight first set was won on a tiebreak, 7-2, with Mayer making crucial mistakes, and the first break of the match came on his service as Croatia took control of the second.
                                                      But Cilic was broken as Argentina showed some fight, only for the comeback to be halted as the second set tiebreak also went the way of Croatia.
                                                      A further break on the Mayer delivery saw any hopes of an Argentina fightback snuffed out and it was Cilic who served it out to amid delirious scenes from the home supporters.
                                                      The ATP comeback player of the year del Potro must now hope he can show the form he displayed in beating world number one Andy Murray as Argentina knocked out holder Britain in the semifinals.
                                                      Sixth-ranked Cilic, who was a teenage member of the Croatia squad which last won the Davis Cup in 2005, will be equally determined to seal victory in the showdown fourth rubber.
                                                      “We will be rooting for Marin to finish the job tomorrow,” said Dodig.
                                                      Delbonis and the veteran Karlovic are scheduled to play in the second reverse singles.

                                                      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/26/tennis/tennis-davis-cup-final-argentina-doubles/index.html