6 other calamities blamed on divine retribution
Destroyed vehicles and rubble in Minamisanriku, Japan
March 16th, 2011
04:55 PM ET

6 other calamities blamed on divine retribution

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Age-old questions about divine punishment are back. Again.

On Tuesday, the governor of Tokyo apologized for saying the earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands of Japanese were divine retribution for national egoism.

Television and media personality Glenn Beck, meanwhile, has sent mixed messages about whether he thinks God is behind Japan's natural disaster. “I’m not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes,” he said Monday, adding he's “not not saying that, either.”

“Whether you call it Gaia, or whether you call it Jesus, there’s a message being sent and that is, ‘Hey, you know that stuff we’re doing? Not really working out real well,’” Beck said. “Maybe we should stop doing some of it.”

Blaming human sinfulness for natural and man-made disasters is nothing new. “This kind of thinking is actually typical rather than atypical in world history,” says Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion professor and CNN Belief Blog contributor.

Here’s a list of natural and man-made calamities that have been attributed to divine retribution for human transgression. Let us know what others should make the cut.

1. The Haiti earthquake

A day after Haiti’s devastating 2009 earthquake, U.S. Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson said the disaster was provoked by the Haitians' "pact to the devil."

The “700 Club” host said Haitians had entered that pact to gain independence from French rule in the early 1800s. “They said, 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.' True story,” Robertson said. “And so, the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' "

“Ever since,” Robertson continued, "they have been cursed by one thing after the other." The magnitude 7.0 earthquake claimed more than 200,000 lives.

2. Hurricane Katrina

A handful of politically conservative Christians blamed 2005’s Hurricane Katrina - which struck New Orleans, Louisiana, and left more than 1,800 dead - on the Crescent City’s embrace of gay pride events.

“All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens,” John Hagee, a Texas-based evangelical pastor who leads the Christian Zionist movement in the United States, said after Katrina. “I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are - were recipients of the judgment of God for that."

3. The September 11 attacks

Two days after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the Rev. Jerry Falwell said the attacks were, at least in part, God’s judgment on those who would secularize American public life.

“I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen,'” Falwell said on Pat Robertson’s “700 Club" program.

"God will not be mocked,” said Falwell, who was made famous by leading the Moral Majority in the 1980s.

In a phone call to CNN later the same day, Falwell stepped back a bit, saying that only the hijackers and terrorists were responsible for the attacks.

But Falwell reiterated that forces trying to secularize the U.S. “created an environment which possibly has caused God to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no one to attack America on our soil since 1812."

4. The Civil War

Abraham Lincoln entered the White House conceiving of God as a distant creator. But the presidency transformed that view into one of a God who acts in the universe. The turnaround was triggered largely by watching the Civil War’s casualty numbers rise into the hundreds of thousands.

In 1862, Lincoln scribbled down his thoughts about God and war. “I am almost ready to say this is probably true - that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet," he wrote. “He could give the final victory to either side any day - Yet the contest proceeds.”

Lincoln elaborated in his second inaugural address in 1865, framing the Civil War as divine punishment for slavery, which he considered a sin. It was his last speech to the American people before his assassination.

5. The Holocaust

During and after World War II, some Orthodox Jews attributed the murder of 6 million fellow believers to Jewish transgression. Many in that camp pointed a finger at Zionists, who they accused of trying to establish Israel too soon, before the Messiah’s return.

“There were groups that claimed this was divine punishment because there were no other theological options,” says Bernard M. Levinson, a Jewish studies professor at the University of Minnesota. “Their own piety made things difficult.”

More recently, one of Israel’s leading rabbis generated controversy for claiming that last year's devastating fire in the Jewish state - the worst in the country’s history - was divine retribution for Jews failing to observe the Sabbath.

6. The biblical flood

The God of the Hebrew Bible is frequently portrayed as a ruler who doles out major rewards - and some very harsh punishments. One of the most famous is the flood in Genesis, which God orchestrates in response to human wickedness. He allows the righteous Noah to build an ark to ride out 40 days' worth of rain.

Widely cited as the archetypal act of divine retribution, some biblical scholars say the story was intended less to warn of a vengeful God than to establish the role of human agency in world events. Levinson says the story is a counter-narrative to The Epic of Gilgamesh, a Mesopotamian tale that involves a massive flood but that depicts humans as powerless in the face of capricious gods.

“The author of the flood story is saying that God doesn’t act randomly, that God responds to human action,” Levinson says. He notes that the Noah story is set in prehistoric times, which he says shows the narrative is meant to be taken as metaphor, not as a practical explanation of natural disasters.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Asia • God • Holocaust • Japan

soundoff (939 Responses)
  1. EuphoriCrest

    A god can no more cause an earthquake than a unicorn can make an omelette. The only things a god can control are weak minds of the insecure and gullible.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • Dan

      God CAN control you. He chooses not to, because he wants your love freely. That's quite a bit different.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • EuphoriCrest

      @Dan: Demanding love while threatening eternal conflagration is NOT "loving freely." It is coercion.

      March 17, 2011 at 4:18 am |
  2. Stephanie

    Perhaps we should all stop worrying about religious theories for a moment and think about what has happened, how we can help and how we can make our futures better. All of men, women and children died This past week whether it was the hand of god or just natural disaster.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  3. james fishel

    If God is our(humans) creator, then we (humans) are perfect, or we(humans) were created imperfectly by God, intentionally, or God is imperfect, and erred in his creation of us(humans).

    March 16, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Dan

      You are engaging in a logical fallacy known as "bifurcation," that is setting the perimeters of your arguement and then declaring youself the winner, while only considering a couple possibilities.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • Peter rabbit

      Dan your are blind to reality because you can't see past your own weakness. Grow some will ya.

      March 17, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  4. PleaseGrowABrain

    You religious freaks need to read some books, travel, take a course. After a few years of that come back and read the crap you used to write.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Dan

      I have a master's degree. Love to read, travel discover, new things. Lately I have discovered opera and the music of the Renaiissance. I have done this for years and it has not changed my mind about Jesus. I still love him.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  5. Mike R

    How do you know that God isn't all our collective conscience working to help itself survive. Each of our brains is like a single brain cell that is psychically attached to each other to create a giant "God-like" centralized thinking membrane. It's own collective thoughts that manifest into actions. Maybe that's how we can manipulate the rotation of the earth by minuscule seismic-waves to cause cataclysmic butterfly-effect events.... If you don't believe in a god; you should ask yourself: what is your definition of god? Maybe we each have one but still translate to the same One if you are of no harm to other individual brains....so, try to grow up and stop being so into yourselves, dumb atheists..

    March 16, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  6. steven harnack

    It would be a very imperfect and callous god that indiscriminately kills many to punish the few. No, thank you.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • Dan

      Actually it's not the few that he punishes. We all have sinned and deserve divine justice. Thae fat that he holds off and DOESN'T give the rest of us what we deserve testifies to his mercy.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  7. Leonid Brezhnev

    Really?? Divine retribution? Give me a break!! If there was a god, which there is not. I doubt it would be very interested in seeking "revenge". Aren't gods supposed to be perfect?? You gullible sheep!!!

    March 16, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • Dan

      God seeks justice.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:19 pm |

    Cel1: I blame God for my wife, period!

    March 16, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  9. Mike R

    Maybe its the secret society of the the freesmason-illuminate-republican-kkk-skulls-etc union creating all these world devastations as a way to promote fear to profit from people. All they had to use was existing earthquake-pulse technology to create the tsunami so they can blow up the nuclear plant (like they did in 9/11).... Or maybe they just like to cowardly take credit for it by using lies to promote fear; which would make them full of BS cause it's not working.... Or is it Natural World Kharma?!.... GOD PLEASE SAVE US!!

    March 16, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  10. Randoms

    Get out of the dark ages, and stop thinking some force has control over your destiny.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • Dan

      You might be surprised that your beliefs have existed since ancient times alongside the beliefs of the religious. Check out the Epicureans. Mankind has never really changed. The modern day atheist /agnostic is not somehow "more advanced" or enlightened that his ancient cousins.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
  11. Peter rabbit

    God is a coward and those that follow fools!

    March 16, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Colin

      close, god is an illusion and those who follow, fools.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • Dan

      Foolish is the man who is angry at someone who he claims does not exist.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  12. CEL1

    I blame God for my wife's lousy cooking. Talk about divine retribution.............................

    March 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  13. luska

    the Hindu's call it karma, look into it. We call what goes around, comes around.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Colin

      We atheists call it plate tectonics and continental drift. look into it, you might learn something.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • settino

      Colin, No sense trying to make sense of these morons who can't explain their shortcomings, so they depend on priests and ministers, strangers and charlatans like Robertson or Beck to spew hatred out of their filthy mouths.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
    • Colin

      @ settino. I agree with your frustration, but we have no chioce. If we seek to change minds and raise the theist out of their stultifying religious fog, we have to be patient and courteous. Rarely is a mind changed if you first call a person a fool. I sometimes cringe at hos clumsy we atheists can be when we are on a national stage like this CNN chatboard. We need to bear in mind the 100s or, at times 1000s who read these blogs and don't comment. Always the high road. Firm and explanatory, but never condescending or rude, despite the temptation (that I myslef am guilty of falling for).

      March 16, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Dan

      Sentino. You have no idea what Christians believe. It might surprise you that there are many who disagreee with the likes of Pat Robertson. Why so obsessive? God separates the wheat from the chaff, so don't fixate on those things. Also, just because one belives in God does not mean that one cannot believe in or understand plate tectonic theory. I do. But I also believe that all creation is under God's control. You are free to disagree, but really your anger and frustration are just silly. Why do you want to control others so much?

      March 16, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  14. Christopher Gudger-Raines

    The internet is another calamity I blame on God.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • settino

      when will Americans, like most of the civilized world, cease believing in the super natural crap!! Unbelievable!!!

      March 16, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
  15. Muneef

    Az-Zumar sura 39:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    Say: O My slaves who have been prodigal to their own hurt! Despair not of the mercy of Allah, Who forgiveth all sins. Lo! He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. (53) Turn unto your Lord repentant, and surrender unto Him, before there come unto you the doom, when ye cannot be helped. (54) And follow the better (guidance) of that which is revealed unto you from your Lord, before the doom cometh on you suddenly when ye know not, (55) Lest any soul should say: Alas, my grief that I was unmindful of Allah, and I was indeed among the scoffers! (56) Or should say: If Allah had but guided me I should have been among the dutiful! (57) Or should say, when it seeth the doom: Oh, that I had but a second chance that I might be among the righteous! (58) (But now the answer will be): Nay, for My revelations came unto thee, but thou didst deny them and wast scornful and wast among the disbelievers. (59) And on the Day of Resurrection thou (Muhammad) seest those who lied concerning Allah with their faces blackened. Is not the home of the scorners in hell? (60) And Allah delivereth those who ward off (evil) because of their deserts. Evil toucheth them not, nor do they grieve. (61) Allah is Creator of all things, and He is Guardian over all things. (62) His are the keys of the heavens and the earth, and they who disbelieve the revelations of Allah – such are they who are the losers. (63).

    March 16, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • Dan

      There is one truth here: the necessity of turning to God in repentance. Jesus is God. He became a man and died for you, because he loves you. turn to him and know the knowable, loving God who will never leave nor forsake you; who delights to avocate for you and who will rejoice in your salvation for all eternity in holy and loving friendship.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
  16. Muneef

    Al-Baqara sura 02:
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    How disbelieve ye in Allah when ye were dead and He gave life to you! Then He will give you death, then life again, and then unto Him ye will return. (28).

    Al-Hajj sura 22:
    And He it is Who gave you life, then He will cause you to die, and then will give you life (again). Lo! man is verily an ingrate. (66).

    Al-Room sura 30:
    Allah is He Who created you and then sustained you, then causeth you to die, then giveth life to you again. Is there any of your (so-called) partners (of Allah) that doeth aught of that? Praised and exalted be He above what they associate (with Him)! (40) Corruption doth appear on land and sea because of (the evil) which men's hands have done, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return. (41) Say (O Muhammad, to the disbelievers): Travel in the land, and see the nature of the consequence for those who were before you! Most of them were idolaters. (42) So set thy purpose resolutely for the right religion, before the inevitable day cometh from Allah. On that day mankind will be sundered- (43) Whoso disbelieveth must (then) bear the consequences of his disbelief, while those who do right make provision for themselves – (44) That He may reward out of His bounty those who believe and do good works. Lo! He loveth not the disbelievers (in His guidance). (45).

    Al-Jathiya sura 45:
    Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Allah giveth life to you, then causeth you to die, then gathereth you unto the Day of Resurrection whereof there is no doubt. But most of mankind know not. (26) And unto Allah belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth; and on the day when the Hour riseth, on that day those who follow falsehood will be lost. (27) And thou wilt see each nation crouching, each nation summoned to its record. (And it will be said unto them): This day ye are requited what ye used to do. (28) This Our Book pronounceth against you with truth. Lo! We have caused (all) that ye did to be recorded. (29) Then, as for those who believed and did good works, their Lord will bring them in unto His mercy. That is the evident triumph. (30) And as for those who disbelieved (it will be said unto them): Were not Our revelations recited unto you? But ye were scornful and became a guilty folk. (31) And when it was said: Lo! Allah's promise is the truth, and there is no doubt of the Hour's coming, ye said: We know not what the Hour is. We deem it naught but a conjecture, and we are by no means convinced. (32) And the evils of what they did will appear unto them, and that which they used to deride will befall them. (33) And it will be said: This day We forget you, even as ye forgot the meeting of this your day; and your habitation is the Fire, and there is none to help you. (34) This, forasmuch as ye made the revelations of Allah a jest, and the life of the world beguiled you. Therefor this day they come not forth from thence, nor can they make amends. (35) Then praise be to Allah, Lord of the heavens and Lord of the earth, the Lord of the Worlds. (36) And unto Him (alone) belongeth Majesty in the heavens and the earth, and He is the Mighty, the Wise. (37).

    March 16, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • Peter rabbit

      No need for to spew foolish retoric from a time none of us can perceive.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • settino

      blah blah blah blah blah. Get a life

      March 16, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • Muneef

      History repeats it self....and this is not about the past but about the present even if had touches from the past....read it the message is not addressed to certain people but to all God's intelligent Creations.....read it observe it even if do not believe in it....
      It is true that the plate tectonics are responsible for it as all natural disasters are of nature...but in the end it is God who gives it the order (To Be and it Becomes as ordered).... God has his reasons to punish and to bring fear to people to remind them and warn them...we believe in all the terms you state and that forces of nature are responsible for things to happen...but we also believe that man has a hand in these things to happen to him for denying God and doing all that is opposite to his words in the Holy Books whether it was the (Torah,Zabor,Gospel,Quran)....

      Read this;
      Al-Room sura 30:
      Allah is He Who created you and then sustained you, then causeth you to die, then giveth life to you again. Is there any of your (so-called) partners (of Allah) that doeth aught of that? Praised and exalted be He above what they associate (with Him)! (40) Corruption doth appear on land and sea because of (the evil) which men's hands have done, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return. (41) Say (O Muhammad, to the disbelievers): Travel in the land, and see the nature of the consequence for those who were before you! Most of them were idolaters. (42) So set thy purpose resolutely for the right religion, before the inevitable day cometh from Allah. On that day mankind will be sundered- (43) Whoso disbelieveth must (then) bear the consequences of his disbelief, while those who do right make provision for themselves – (44) That He may reward out of His bounty those who believe and do good works. Lo! He loveth not the disbelievers (in His guidance). (45).

      March 16, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Dan


      In order to become a Muslim one has to declare, "I testify that there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his propet," right? So exactly how do you testify to these things? How can you testify or bear witness to things that you have not seen? Please don't say, "It's in the Qur'an." To "testify" means to tell others of what you have seen. Since the god of Islam is transcedant and impersonal (he didn't even talk to Mohammad, rather he sent Jibril), how can anything be known? What if it was not Jibril (Gabriel) at all, but some deceiving spirit? How then can anything in the Qur'an be trusted, if you cannot truly tesitfy to these thing? For the Christian and the Jew it is easy: we believe that God is immanent, knowable. Jesus said "We Jews know whom we worship." Since Jesus knew God, but Mohammad did not (i.e. the dark shadow Jibril alone visited him), why should anyone believe what he recited? What if that shadowy figure was actually Shaitan in disguise?

      March 16, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • settino

      more blah, blah, blah, blah, blah........blah blah (hicups)...blah

      March 16, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  17. Ron

    "Blaming human sinfulness for natural and man-made disasters is nothing new."
    Boy, ain't that true! Another wonderful example of how "fear" is used to get converts. It's done all the time.
    There was a woman on Youtube, who had the audacity to say that "she had been praying and fasting for only one day and see what god did to the atheists? Imagine what would happen if we prayed and fasted for 40 days? " Lady, you can keep your evil and dysfunctional religion. Your god is no better than its worshipers! PATHETIC!

    March 16, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • NL

      It's actually the very root of superst.ition, isn't it?

      March 16, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • Ron

      respectfully, no, I don't think so or in my case the honest response would be I don't believe so. I have found faith to be very uplifting. No, in my religion we don't say the Gods did anything as it's simply a part of nature. Knowledge and wisdom is highly regarded. Peace.

      March 16, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • Muneef

      Al-Isra sura 17:
      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
      Lo! this Qur'an guideth unto that which is straightest, and giveth tidings unto the believers who do good works that theirs will be a great reward. (9) And that those who believe not in the Hereafter, for them We have prepared a painful doom. (10) Man prayeth for evil as he prayeth for good; for man was ever hasty. (11).

      March 16, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • Name*Sam

      I do not pray for God.'s retribution on those who who disregard God as the girl you mentioned. I hope and pray that those people may see the light. Anyway, God's devine principles will not change no matter what we think.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
  18. Name*Sam

    You either believe in the Bible or not. Those who have read the Bible know that God is a jealous God who punishes man for being disobedient particular idol worshiping. Remember he didn't spare his own chosen Jews when they worshiped idols. At the same time God can allow calamities to happen to good people for his own cause. Remember the story of Job.

    March 16, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Peter rabbit

      That is just foolish talk and those that believe always say they are being tested and those that are wicked condemned. I want no part of your god.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Name*Sam

      It is not a choice because whether you have anything to do with him or not. It's just like saying Osama Bin Laden does not exist because we can't find him when you do not have any conclusive evidence he is dead. We still fight him and dead or alive. God is everlasting.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      Sam if you put that comment in excel you will get that dreaded circular reference pop up.

      March 18, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  19. Lila Sovietskaya

    Forces of nature seem to act as directed by laws of physics. They are impersonal. Neither good nor evil nor conscious if they do good or bad. Divine retribution does not stand up to the laws of logic. Quoting an old book, full of contradictions and errors, by calling it 'Word of God' and using it as evidence for viewpoint is becoming less viable in modern scientific word. If God exists, his-her-it logic is a mystery

    March 16, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Name*Sam

      You nailed it right there. We do not and cannot and will not understand God's logic because that how limited we are as humans. That makes God supreme. The mistake we make as humans is that we seems to think we can fully understand God. Many have argued that there no God but we keep discovering more and more planets as the years go. Our idea about the size of the universe keeps changing and who knows if God is up there somewhere with his angels. It might be too late for some people. Please don't think that's weird because goverments and scientist have already considered an idea of life or aliens on other planets.

      March 16, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • NL

      So that offers us two possibilities: That the unforeseen consequence of monotheism is that it creates a problem of dichotomy where good and bad, disaster and fortune are forced together under one divine intelligence causing problems which were easily avoided under polytheism, or that the divine is so alien to our human thinking process that we cannot even begin to understand it, which I believe is your argument, yes?

      Your argument also creates another problem for the believer. If God's motives really are too alien for us to understand, then how can we trust that God's intentions are truly benevolent by human standards? We understand human motivations best of all, yet we do not trust everyone, right? In fiction, extraterrestrials are trusted even less precisely because their motivations are alien to us. If extraterrestrial aliens actually do exist, and we were to establish contact with them, we would be justified in as.suming that they do not share our same values and motivations, again because they would be alien to us. God would even be more alien in that He would not even share mortality with us. If you're actually saying that we really don't understand God at all because He represents the ultimate degree of alien difference to us, then shouldn't we trust God even less than we do other people, or extraterrestrials?

      March 16, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • Dan

      NL...You're right. That is a problem. The only way to know whether or not God is tuly good is to get to know him and experience his love and kindness, his humility and forgiveness. Then you will be able to trust that his actions are good.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Dan: Congratulations, you've missed the point entirely and provided no solution. Well played!

      March 16, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • Ykcyc

      God is a three letter word that is too often being misused. There are no rewards or punishments by an imaginary being. That is what’s being used by religion to scare people into pretending to “believe”. There is no “life” after death – that is an oxymoron. There are laws of Nature (physics) that apply to absolutely everything. No one can know what created these laws. Enjoy and appreciate whatever you have been given. Love one another. Do not be afraid.

      March 17, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  20. SeanNJ

    Still trying to find someone on whom to pin "The Matrix" sequels...

    March 16, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • Mavent

      The Fanboys who went and saw them?

      March 16, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • Ykcyc

      There are no rewards or punishments by an imaginary being. That is what’s being used by religion to scare people into pretending to “believe”. There is no “life” after death – that is an oxymoron. There are laws of Nature (physics) that apply to absolutely everything. No one can know what created these laws. Enjoy and appreciate whatever you have been given. Love one another. Do not be afraid.

      March 17, 2011 at 10:50 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.