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OPINION: James Bond on Her Majesty's Secret Service
Queen Elizabeth II appears on screen accompanied by actor Daniel Craig during the opening of the 2012 Summer Olympics.
August 12th, 2012
02:30 PM ET

OPINION: James Bond on Her Majesty's Secret Service

Editor's note: CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a best-selling author whose 25 books include "Late Edition: A Love Story" and the novel "All Summer Long." He appears on "CNN Newsroom" Sundays during the 5 p.m. ET hour. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bob Greene. See all of Bob Greene's columns at CNN Opinion.

By Bob Greene, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - During the Olympic Games in London, which will end with Sunday's closing ceremony, there have been many memorable moments:

The triumph of Michael Phelps.

The dazzling talent of Gabby Douglas.

The countless displays of lustrous skills honed by the world's finest young athletes over years of arduous practice.

But one of the most lasting memories may be the one provided by an 86-year-old woman who was not exactly an obscure footnote to history when the Games began.

Read Bob Greene's full column at CNN Opinion.
Sunday Playlist: End of the Road
August 12th, 2012
03:00 AM ET

Sunday Playlist: End of the Road

By Lisa Desjardins, John Sepulvado, Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, Jonathan Binder and Gavin Godfrey, CNN

(CNN) - Usually on Sundays we present some of our favorite listening discoveries produced by other audio storytellers.

This week, we depart from the usual and highlight our own work. We want to focus on a series CNN Radio has been presenting for the past several weeks, "Embed America."

The series was an attempt to take a different approach to election coverage: to turn away from the scripts of the presidential campaigns and, instead, focus on the issues important to voters where they live.

We invite you to explore the variety of stories our reporting teams produced from all over the country. Our reporters and producers worked very hard to bring these stories about a nation in the midst of a pivotal election year.

 Chip Grabow, Senior Editor, CNN Radio

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Birthplace of MLK looks forward after 'endangered' designation
At Wheat Street Gardens farmers see a connection between their work and the work of Auburn Avenue's most famous residents.
August 10th, 2012
01:05 PM ET

Birthplace of MLK looks forward after 'endangered' designation

By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN

(CNN) - Atlanta's Auburn Avenue, the street which gave the world Martin Luther King Jr. is endangered. That's according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The group is concerned about a lack of commercial development along the historic Auburn Avenue corridor in downtown Atlanta.

This designation is the second for Auburn Avenue. It drew curiosity and questions from business owners along the street itself. Windsor Jones opened a bakery here five years ago in large part because of the historical nature of the neighborhood:

[4:55] "You definitely lose a sense of what the town was built on because Auburn Avenue was the richest black street in America. So for it to be on the endangered list, it's kind of sad because I mean less than 60 years ago it was thriving."

People along the street also worry that history might get in the way of sorely needed development.  Eugene Cook, for one, has incorporated history into his farming work:

[5:40] "Humans, every human, definitely deserves to eat good food so it is absolutely in that lineage of human rights issues."

Cook now works a few acres right in the middle of the district, known as Wheat Street Gardens. He trains new farmers and tends to organic produce. All of it, he says, is following the work done in service of social justice and human rights.

It's one small project in an area that preservationists say needs many more to avoid losing precious buildings and the history that lives inside their walls.

Mary Alex Romero and Caleigh Derreberry contributed to this report.

August 10th, 2012
10:00 AM ET

Vice Presidents: Historical do-nothings

By Tommy Andres, CNN

(CNN) - The job of vice president of the United States was once a consolation prize. It was literally given to the runner-up in the presidential election.

That led to some strange political bedfellows and laid the foundation for a job full of handshake photo ops and thumb twiddling.

John Adams, the very first vice president of the U.S., had some pointed words for the position:

[0:58] “I am vice president, and in that I am nothing.”

But despite the minimal power the office holds, the choice of a running mate can make or break a presidential campaign. And once elected, a president's poor veep choice can weigh heavily on an administration's reputation.

Take Martin Van Buren for example. He chose war hero Richard M. Johnson to be his number two. Historian Bill Kelter is author of the book, “Veeps: Profiles in Insignificance.” Kelter says it quickly became apparent that Van Buren's choice was a bad one:

[4:08] “The doorkeeper of the U.S. Senate called Johnson the most vulgar man of all vulgar men in this world. One of his slaves, Julia Chinn, was his common-law wife before she finally died in the cholera epidemic. After her death, he took up with another slave but she ran off with another man, so to punish her he had her caught, sold her at auction and then took up with her sister.”

Van Buren disliked Johnson so much that his taste for vice presidents soured all together. He ran for re-election without a running mate and lost.

So Mitt Romney better choose wisely. Because, while his political cohort may be little more than a last name on a bumper sticker, that lucky person could ultimately join a long line of historical gaffers, do-nothings, and even, some scoundrels.

Why the hottest days of summer are the "dog days"
The term "dog days" has a celestial origin.
August 10th, 2012
08:31 AM ET

Why the hottest days of summer are the "dog days"

By Jim Roope, CNN

(CNN) – The hottest days of the summer in the Northern hemisphere are commonly called the "dog days."

It turns out the name has nothing to do with man's best friend.

It comes from the star Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. Sirius is also called “the dog star” because it is found in the constellation, Canis Major, or “the greater dog.”

Dr. Ann Marie Cody, Astronomer with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, said this time of year, Sirius is situated in the sky very close to the sun.

[1:40] “The Romans and other ancient people knew this and they understood that when the sweltering summer heat set in, Sirius was right up there next to the sun even though it was not visible,” said Cody. “They concluded that the presence of this bright star was actually contributing heat and all the associated summertime misery to the Earth.”

But now we understand that it's the tilt of the Earth on its axis, the angle of the light rays and the duration of daytime that makes the difference in heating, not the “dog star.” That still doesn’t stop us from using the “dog days” as an excuse to escape.

Some take last minute trips to cooler spots like the beach. Some take time off from work to relax and stay out of the heat. And for others, because so many school districts are starting earlier, these hot, sticky days mark the end of their summer.

[2:57] “In August you’re school-supply buying, going to the dentist, get your check up, filling out this form, football practice. It’s no longer summer vacation,” said Celina Simic, a mother of four with kids spread from kindergarten to high school.

How do you spend the "dog days" of summer?  Let us know in the comment section below.

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