Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Intriguing people for February 22, 2010

By Jay Kernis, CNN
Herb Brooks coached the U.S. hockey team to a gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Herb Brooks coached the U.S. hockey team to a gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics.
  • Today marks 30th anniversary of 'Miracle on ice' Olympic hockey game
  • Rep. Ron Paul wins straw poll at conservative conference
  • Court to hear battle over woman's desire to have head and brain preserved after death

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) -- Herb Brooks: On this day in 1980, the former University of Minnesota coach led a hockey team of college kids in a 4-3 victory over the best national team the Soviet Union had ever sent to the Olympics. The squad from the USSR practiced 11 months a year. Brooks was coaching amateurs.

According to the International Ice Hockey Federation, "The Olympic Fieldhouse in Lake Placid, New York, hardly seemed like the place where hockey history could be made, but on one afternoon in 1980, the greatest moment in international hockey took place. It was a moment that transformed the game in one country and, over time, around the world. It was a moment that came to define Olympic success. It was a moment that came to inspire dreams. After February 22, 1980, anything was possible."

On this day 30 years ago, the "Miracle on Ice" stunned Olympic fans. In his famous pre-game speech, Brooks inspired his team by saying, "If we played 'em ten times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight, we stay with them. And we shut them down because we can! Tonight, WE are the greatest hockey team in the world!"

Two days later, the U.S. team beat Finland and won the gold medal. Brooks died in August 2003, in a car accident in Minnesota. He was 66. In 2004, Kurt Russell portrayed Brooks in "Miracle," the movie based on the victory. And on the 25th anniversary of the showdown, the arena in Lake Placid was named after Herb Brooks.

Sunday in Vancouver, Team USA pulled off its biggest Olympic hockey upset since the Miracle on Ice, stunning Canada 5-3 to advance to the quarterfinals.

International Ice Hockey Federation: 'Miracle on Ice' is No. 1 story

Ron Paul: The Republican Texas congressman, a stalwart foe of government spending, won a blowout victory Saturday in the annual Conservative Political Action Conference presidential straw poll. With participants naming "reducing the size of federal government" as their top issue, the 74-year old libertarian hero captured 31 percent of the 2,400 votes cast in the annual contest.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney finished second with 22 percent of the vote, ending a three-year winning streak at the annual CPAC gathering. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin finished third with 7 percent of the vote, followed by Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty at 6 percent and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence at 5 percent. The announcement of Paul's win, a surprise victory unlikely to have a major impact on the 2012 presidential contest, drew a volley of loud boos from the CPAC audience.

According to his official biography, Paul was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, graduated from Duke University School of Medicine, and served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force during the 1960s. Paul ran for president in 1988 as a Libertarian and in 2008 as a Republican.

CNN: Paul surprise winner of CPAC straw poll

Office of Rep. Ron Paul: Biography

Henry Cuellar: The Democratic congressman representing Laredo, Texas, has asked federal officials for a Predator drone aircraft to help protect the border between the United States and Mexico, from Brownsville to El Paso, Texas.

The San Antonio Express reports that Cuellar, chair of the House Homeland Security subcommittee, has requested a meeting in April with officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Aviation Administration to discuss the possibility of using a drone to fight drug trafficking and possible terrorism threats.

Predators are remotely piloted aircraft used for reconnaissance and target acquisition. The Predators used by the U.S. military are armed with Hellfire missiles. The Congressional Research Service says that drones are twice as likely to crash as manned aircraft, the Express reports. Drones have already been approved by Congress for border protection. Each Predator drone costs around $4.5 million.

Rep. Cuellar, a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, was elected to Congress in 2005 and is now serving his third term. His official Web site reports, "With a total of 5 advanced degrees, Congressman Cuellar is the 'Most Degreed Member' serving in the House."

San Antonio Express-News: Aerial drones could patrol Texas border

Office of Rep. Cuellar: Biography

Roslyn Brock: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, one of the oldest civil rights groups in the nation, announced the successor to Chairman Julian Bond on Saturday as the organization strives to prove its relevance and influence to a new generation. NAACP Vice Chair Roslyn Brock was selected to fill the seat left by Bond, a civil rights leader who has held the post since 1998.

Brock, 44, the youngest person ever to serve in the position, has worked with the organization for more than 25 years in various roles, according to the NAACP. She is also a vice president at Bon Secours Health Systems in Marriottsville, Maryland. The NAACP selected Benjamin Todd Jealous as its president in 2008. At 35, Jealous was the youngest ever to hold that post at the NAACP.

In an interview with Essence magazine, Brock said, "To be at this place is truly a blessing. I never thought I could possibly lead this organization knowing that it is a male-dominated organization and only had three women prior to this time. The fact that only two African American women have served as chair really made it seem out of my reach." On CNN's "Sunday Morning," Brock said, "It is our goal to extend a broader net, to encourage all Americans who believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to come and join us."

CNN: New leader vows she'll bring 'new generation' to NAACP

Essence: Roslyn Brock youngest chair of NAACP

Mary Robbins: The 71-year-old retired military nurse from Colorado Springs, Colorado, died of cancer on February 9. KKTV in southern Colorado reports that Robbins had signed a contract in 2006 with a cryonics company to have her head and brain preserved and frozen when she died. She agreed that $50,000 would be paid to Alcor Life Extension Foundation of Scottsdale, Arizona, for the procedure.

Her daughter, Darlene Robbins, recently hired an attorney, because she says her mother changed her mind before she died. Attorney Robert Scranton told CNN on Sunday that Mary Robbins "had a great interest in science and was very forward-thinking." She thought that she might be brought back to life one day, he said. But in December, the lump she had discovered turned out to be cancer, which had metastasized all over her body. Scranton said she did not want to be revived in that condition.

KKTV reports that Eric Bentley, an attorney representing Alcor, says the nonprofit foundation wants to carry out Mary Robbins' wishes. An all-day court hearing is scheduled Friday to decide in what condition Mary Robbins will be buried. Her body is at a funeral home.

According to Alcor's Web site, "Cryonics is the science of using ultra-cold temperature to preserve human life with the intent of restoring good health when technology becomes available to do so."

KKTV: Battle underway for head and brain of Colorado Springs woman

Alcor Web site

What makes a person intriguing?

There are people who enter the news cycle every day because their actions or decisions are new, important or different. Others are in the news because they are the ones those decisions affect. And there are a number of people who are so famous or controversial that anything they say or do becomes news.

Some of these people do what we expect of them: They run for office, pass legislation, start a business, get hired or fired, commit a crime, make an arrest, get in accidents, hit a home run, overthrow a government, fight wars, sue an opponent, put out fires, prepare for hurricanes and cavort with people other than their spouses. They do make news, but the action is usually more important than who is involved in the story.

But every day, there are a number of people who become fascinating to us -- by virtue of their character, how they reached their decision, how they behaved under pressure or because of the remarkable circumstances surrounding the event they are involved in.

They arouse our curiosity. We hear about them and want to know more. What they have done or said stimulates conversations across the country. At times, there is even a mystery about them. What they have done may be unique, heroic, cowardly or ghastly, but they capture our imaginations. We want to know what makes them tick, why they believe what they do, and why they did what they did. They intrigue us.