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August 30th, 2012
06:55 PM ET

Can you "Like" a candidate enough to vote?

Social media has become an important tool for candidates seeking political office. Just look at Barack Obama taking questions on Reddit. But how much will it impact the outcome of the U.S. presidential race?

This week we asked our regular contributor, Nicholas Thompson, that question. He compared social media to a "great microphone" that both campaigns are using. But he points out that most users of social media are young people, who traditionally do not vote.

Thompson also says, "Social media does not make an election. If it did, we'd be celebrating the coronation of Ron Paul right now because his followers are awesome on the Internet."

What do you think? Could a candidate win your vote through social media?

August 23rd, 2012
07:45 PM ET

"Mwahahaha" makes it into dictionary

The latest words added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online make me feel like I'm eavesdropping at a high school. Allow me to list a few with exclamation points.

Photobomb! Ridic! Douche! Genius! Mwahahaha! Lolz!

See what I mean?

ODO says, "The world of technology remains a major influence on the English language." Many new terms originate from social media.

Read more of the list here.

August 22nd, 2012
03:14 PM ET

Clearing the air in China

I have a simple, though unscientific, method of checking the air quality here in Hong Kong. If I can't see across the harbor to Kowloon from my window, I opt against running outside.

In mainland China, air pollution is a particularly contentious issue. The government is resistant to independent monitoring of its environment.

But kites could help residents of Beijing breathe easier.

Photo courtesy FLOAT Beijing

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Filed under: Art & Science • China
August 9th, 2012
11:16 PM ET

Gu Kailai's trial kept under wraps

When Chongqing's top cop went missing back in February, News Stream was on it. That drama grew into a saga about a disgraced Chinese politician, his wife, and a dead British businessman.

Now another chapter has ended. Gu Kailai, a woman described as the Jackie Kennedy of China, waits for the court to hand down its verdict. Her trial lasted just a few hours on Thursday.

An official says Gu did not dispute charges that she murdered Neil Heywood. Prosecutors alleged she fought with her former friend "over economic interests" and killed the Briton out of fears for her son's safety.


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Filed under: China
July 26th, 2012
06:59 PM ET

Awesomely bad portraits of Olympic athletes

JOE KLAMAR/AFP/GettyImages

A photo exhibit of Team USA 2012 opens in New York on Friday. A press release from the art gallery reads, "You will not see world-class athletes like this anywhere."

Critics will say that's because the pictures by AFP photographer Joe Klamar are terrible. They pick at the lighting, awkward poses and shoddy backdrop.

JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

His supporters call the work honest and original. AFP defended Klamar in a blog post addressing the controversy.
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Filed under: Over and Out There • Sport
July 25th, 2012
11:30 PM ET

Armed in the USA


Picture a group of 100 people. Now imagine 89 of them have a gun. That's the average ratio of firearms to people in the U.S. according to 2007 figures from the monitoring group Small Arms Survey.

Now consider this: the country with the second-highest rate of gun ownership is Yemen. And it has an average of 55 guns per 100 individuals.

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is commonly quoted as "the right to bear arms," though its meaning is frequently debated. The recent massacre in the state of Colorado has put new attention on gun control laws.

But skeptics doubt anything will change... and point to past tragedies as proof. The Columbine school shooting of 1999 happened in Littleton, Colorado. That's just 18 miles (30 km) from Aurora.

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Filed under: Great graphics
July 25th, 2012
07:30 AM ET

Sally Ride: Trailblazer

NASA

The first American woman in space has passed away at the age of 61. Sally Ride broke barriers and inspired people to reach for the stars.

And in death, Ride may have become a role model for another reason. The obituary posted on her organization's website noted Ride's partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy. It's believed to be the first public acknowledgment of their same-sex relationship.

A 2009 article on the same site described Ride and O'Shaughnessy as "good friends" and "co-authors." But it also reveals some of their romantic story. They met at age 12 through tennis. O'Shaughnessy went on to play professionally. And through the years, they stayed in touch.

Ride's sister, Bear, tells the website Buzzfeed that the relationship was never hidden. She says most people also did not know about Sally Ride's pancreatic cancer because she was a "very private person."

Some will argue that Ride's orientation is unimportant, that she should be remembered solely for her scientific and educational accomplishments. To that I say, name one openly gay astronaut.

Sally Ride was a trailblazer for women into the final frontier. Let's not limit her now.

[cnn-video url=http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2012/07/24/exp-ns-sally-ride.cnn]
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Filed under: Personal musings • Space
July 20th, 2012
01:30 PM ET

Checking out Kickstarter's stats

Kickstarter calls itself "the world's largest funding platform for creative projects." And last month, it rolled out a new page to share its data.

The site says its numbers are updated at least once a day. Right now:

  • 64,389 projects have been launched
  • 44% of those were successful
  • 12% did not receive a single pledge
  • Most successfully funded projects raise less than $10,000

Seven completed projects have raised more than $1 million. Another recently passed that milestone... and did it in record time. Ouya, a video game project, hit seven figures in just 8 hours and 22 minutes.

Another tech project is hoping to have similar success. The online comic, Penny Arcade, is seeking $1 million to go ad-free.

Don't forget, Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing deal. So Penny Arcade won't get a penny unless it reaches its goal.

The site's co-founder, Yancey Strickler, spoke to us back in March.

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Filed under: Data • Social networking • Technology
July 19th, 2012
06:11 PM ET

Putting Batman to the test

You've probably heard this icebreaker question before: If you could be any superhero, who would you be?

Without fail, whoever says Batman will gush about the gadgets and point out that Bruce Wayne is not an alien. Trust me.

But could any human become Batman? And just how realistic are his crime-fighting tools?

Find out below:

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Filed under: Movies • Science
July 16th, 2012
10:09 PM ET

Change in North Korea

The man who oversaw one of the world's biggest armies is out. Less clear is who takes over Ri Yong Ho's position as North Korea's powerful army chief.

And more importantly, what does it mean?

Ri's sudden dismissal caught North Korea watchers by surprise. He has frequently been by Kim Jong Un's side since the young leader took over following his father's death in December 2011.

In fact, they walked opposite each other during Kim Jong Il's funeral procession.

KCNA/AFP/Getty Images

They appeared together as recently as last week. There was no sign of disagreement, or the "illness" that forced Ri's removal.

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Filed under: General • North Korea
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