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Intriguing people for December 3, 2009

By Jay Kernis, CNN
Frank Buckles, 108, is the last surviving U.S. World War I veteran.
Frank Buckles, 108, is the last surviving U.S. World War I veteran.
  • Last surviving World War I veteran among today's most intriguing people
  • Medal of Honor recipient fighting to keep flagpole at home is also on our list
  • Heart-screening doctor, man with bionic arm and young crossword creator round out list

Editor's note: Every weekday, CNN focuses on a handful of people in the news. This is a chance to find out more about what they've done -- good or bad -- what they've said, or what they believe, and why we think they're intriguing.

(CNN) -- Frank Buckles

The last surviving U.S. World War I veteran, now 108 years old, will testify today in the Senate on a bill to authorize rededication of the District of Columbia War Memorial as the National and District of Columbia World War I Memorial.

The Hill: 108-year-old veteran to testify before Senate panel

Library of Congress: About Frank Buckles

Col. Van T. Barfoot

The Virginia Medal of Honor recipient is in trouble with his homeowners' association over a flagpole in his yard, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Barfoot put up the flagpole even thought the association had nixed it on aesthetic grounds, and now he's being ordered to take it down. Barfoot, 90, a decorated veteran of three wars, raises his American flag every morning, then lowers and folds it, three-corner military style, at dusk.

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Veteran's flagpole ordered removed

Dr. John Higgins

The Houston cardiologist is on a crusade to make heart exams routine for all sixth-graders in the U.S., the Houston Chronicle reports. He tested 94 students at a middle school in the city and seven had undiagnosed heart conditions; two required surgery.

Houston Chronicle: Student screenings shock researchers

Pierpaolo Petruzziello

Scientists in Italy announced Wednesday that this 26-year-old Italian, who had lost his left forearm in a car accident, was successfully linked to an artificial limb that was not attached to his body and learned to control the artificial limb with his mind. Petruzziello says he could feel sensations in it, as if the lost arm had grown back again. The experiment was conducted for a month and now scientists are working to extend that time.

CNET: Man controls cybernetic hand with thoughts

Ben Paul

The New Jersey 14-year-old is the youngest person ever to have a crossword puzzle published by The New York Times. He says he began submitting puzzles at the age of 12 and the newspaper rejected him 15 times. He started helping his mom solve puzzles ten years ago.

Wyckoff Journal: High school student youngest author ever

New York Times Wordplay blog: Interview with Ben Pall