[Updated at 10:06 p.m.] The latest developments on Hurricane Alex as it bears down on the Gulf coasts of Texas and Mexico:
- Hurricane Alex has made landfall along the Mexican coast as a Category 2 with winds of 105 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
- The western eye wall of Hurricane Alex is coming ashore in an unpopulated area of the Mexican coast about 100 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border. Alex remains a Category 2 storm with sustained winds of 100mph.
- A spokesman for the city of McAllen, Texas, says 600 residents of Hidalgo County are in local shelters. Street flooding in the area has been localized, with no reports of major damage.
- At least six reports of tornadoes have been spotted in and around Brownsville, Texas, including two that touched down briefly, police spokesman Sgt. Jimmy Manrrique said. Floodwaters reach as high as two feet in some areas, as "intense" amounts of rainfall creates citywide flooding.
No injuries have been reported, only minor damage, Manrrique said. About 200 people are hunkering down in one shelter. "We're asking people to stay indoors, stay off the streets," he said, because the depth of water on roadways is hard to detect.
The five most popular CNN.com stories during the last 24 hours, according to Newspulse.
Veterans possibly exposed to hepatitis, HIV: A Missouri VA hospital has sent letters to more than 1,800 veterans warning them that may have been exposed to life-threatening diseases such as hepatitis and HIV.
Hurricane Alex takes aim at Mexico, Texas: Gulf Coast residents began hunkering down in shelters Wednesday night as Hurricane Alex neared landfall in a sparsely populated area of the Mexican coast, about 100 miles south of the border.
Leak shows Apple's spin on iPhone 4 flaws:AppleCare representatives are being given a strong company line to deliver to unhappy iPhone 4 owners who complain about reception issues,Â Â according to documents leaked to Boy Genius Report today.
'The Office' star Kinsey files for divorce: It's over for "The Office" actress Angela Kinsey and writer Warren Lieberstein.
Study links bee decline to cell phones: A new study has suggested that cell phone radiation may be contributing to declines in bee populations in some areas of the world.
[Updated at 5:40 p.m.]
Testimony concludes for the day until tomorrow afternoon, following a six-hour recess while the body of Senator Robert Byrd lies in repose in the Senate chamber.
[Updated at 4:45 p.m.]
In an exchange with Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan learns that the first woman to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee came after the Anita Hill hearings in 1991.
[Updated at 4:25 p.m.]
Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan sidesteps Senator Tom Coburn's question of whether she believes Americans have a "fundamental, pre-existing" right to bear arms, choosing instead to say she would follow the law.
"To be honest with you, I don't have a view of what are natural rights, independent of the Constitution, and my job as a justice will be to enforce and defend the Constitution and other laws of the United States," she says.Â
"I'm talking about Elena Kagan. What do you believe? Are there inalienable rights for us? Do you believe that?" Coburn presses.
"I think that the question of what I believe as to what people's right are, outside the Constitution of the laws, you should not want me to act, in any way, on the basis of such belief," she says.
"I think you should want me to act on the basis of the law."
[Updated at 4:15 p.m.]
Kagan says she believes that it is important for Americans to have confidence in the Supreme Court.
"I think the welfare of the country is certainly best served if the American people have confidence in the Supreme Court," she says.
[Updated at 4:05 p.m.]
Senator Coburn of Oklahoma returns to the topic of Miguel Estrada, a constitutional law attorney and Kagan's seatmate at Harvard, who wrote a letter endorsing her.
President Bush nominated Estrada to the D.C. Court of Appeals, but Senate Democrats used a filibuster to prevent his final nomination on the Senate floor. Kagan says she did not write a letter of endorsement for Estrada's nomination because she was not asked to. She also says that she would have voted for him if she were on the committee overseeing his confirmation.
"I said he is a great lawyer and great human being andÂ I think he'd be a great judge," Kagan says.
"If you were sitting up here, you would've voted for him?" Â Coburn presses.
"Yes," she says.
Police in Portland, Oregon, say they have reopened their investigation into a massage therapist's allegation that former Vice President Al Gore had "unwanted sexual contact" with her in 2006, a police spokeswoman
News of the allegations surfaced in a "National Enquirer" report last week, prompting the Portland Police Department to release a statement explaining that there was not enough evidenceÂ at the time to lay charges.
On Wednesday, the department announced that they have decided to re-open the case but would not comment further.
A look at the day's business headlines:
Stocks dive as second quarter ends
Stocks finished lower after a late-session retreat, as investors piled out of a downbeat quarter that ended with Wednesday's session.
The major indexes had teetered on either side of breakeven throughout the
day as investors weighed a weak jobs report against an improved European bank outlook that provided earlier support. But all three indexes turned down sharply as the session ended.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 96 points, or 1%, to finish at 9,774.02. The S&P 500 closed down 1 percentÂ at 1,030.71 and the Nasdaq lost 1.2 percentÂ to end at 2,109.24.Â
A man who admitted plotting to detonate bombs in New York has implicated a senior al Qaeda figure in the plan, a federal law enforcement official told CNN Wednesday.
Najibullah Zazi, who pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in February, says Adnan Shukrijumah was at an al Qaeda camp when Zazi was overseas being trained for his mission, according to the official.
It remains unclear to investigators whether Shukrijumah directed Zazi in the plot, the official said, but Zazi told investigators he knew who Shukrijumah was.
Shukrijumah has eluded U.S. authorities for years. He lived in the United States as a teenager and young adult.
Zazi has been co-operating with authorities since pleading guilty to last fall's terror plot to blow up New York subways. Another defendant, Zarein Ahmedzay, also has pleaded guilty, while a third, Adis Medunjanin, has entered a not guilty plea.
Hurricane Alex strengthened into a Category 2 hurricane Wednesday night,
with winds topping 100 mph, the National Hurricane Center reported.
At 7 p.m. ET, the eye of the hurricane was centered about 105 miles (170
kilometers) south of Brownsville, Texas. The storm was moving to the west at about 12 mph (18 kph), and it is likely to strike northeastern Mexico late
Wednesday or early Thursday, the hurricane center reported.
Joran van der Sloot has been indicted in connection with allegations that he tried to extort $250,000 from the mother of Natalee Holloway, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance said.
AÂ federal grand jury in Alabama indicted van der Sloot Wednesday on charges of wire fraud and extortion. Van der Sloot was questioned in Holloway's death but never charged. He is also being held in Peru onÂ murder charges in the death of college student Stephany Flores.
A suspected Russian spy is "missing" after being arrested in Cyprus and released on bail, a police spokesman told CNN Wednesday.
Authorities arrested Robert Christopher Metsos, 55, in Larnaca after an Interpol "red notice" was served on him, Cypriot police told CNN Tuesday.
He was released on bail pending further proceedings but was told not to leave the country and was ordered to check in with police every evening, police said.
He did not check in Wednesday and police are searching for him, a spokesman said.
- CNN's Claudia Rebaza contributed to this report.
The next time you pull into a parking garage and the attendant gives you the once-over, he or she may be taking note of more than just the shiny rear spoiler on your new car. As part of a new government initiative, parking lot attendants and other transportation workers are being trained as the next line of defense in the fight against terrorism.
The First Observer program was introduced to parking lot professionals at a Las Vegas, Nevada, convention in May, days after a vendor in New York's Times Square spotted a suspicious vehicle and helped thwart what could have been a deadly terrorist attack. The Times Square incident highlighted the need for ordinary citizens to be trained to become extra eyes and ears of law enforcement, according to officials involved in the program.
Joran van der Sloot's attorney on Wednesday filed an appeal to a ruling that upheld his confession and detention in the death of a Peruvian woman, his attorney said.
Attorney Maximo Altez filed the appeal in the morning, he said.
Ricardo Flores, the father of murder victim Stephany Flores, was also expected to appear before a judge Wednesday to give a formal statement, family members told CNN.
Rescuers recovered the bodies Wednesday of eight people buried by a devastating rain-triggered landslide in China's southern Guizhou province as hopes of finding survivors rapidly dimmed, the state-run news agency said.
Two of the eight were children.
About 500 rescuers cleared a road leading to a site where 94 people were still missing. They used heavy backhoes to clear debris but heavy rain and treacherous terrain hampered their efforts, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Senate has voted unanimously to confirm Gen. David Petraeus as the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan.
The vote was 99 in favor, 0 against. Gen. Petraeus replaces Gen.Stanley McChrystal.
The NBA season started in October and ended two weeks ago with the Los Angeles Lakers' stirring victory over the Boston Celtics in one of the most-watched championship series ever, but the most anticipated event on the leagueâ€™s calendar gets under way at midnight Wednesday when several superstar free agents, led by LeBron James, can start to meet officially with any team that wants them, and a lot of teams want them.
James has only made one public comment about what he might do, telling CNNâ€™s Larry King this month that the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team heâ€™s played for the last seven years, has the edge in signing him but hasn't come close to committing. That's left plenty of room for speculation.
BP's efforts to contain the largest oil spill in U.S. history are being disrupted by towering waves reaching up to 12 feet in height, company officials said.
Even though Hurricane Alex - which was upgraded from tropical storm status late Tuesday night - is headed away from the area affected by the oil spill, its winds and the waves the storm is producing are forcing BP officials to send oil skimming ships back to shore, from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.
High tide and rough sea conditions are also restricting onshore personnel clean-up duties Wednesday morning, according to Charles Taplin, a spokesman at the Unified Command Joint Information Center in Houma, Louisiana.
Hurricane Alex - Hurricane Alex churned through the western Gulf of Mexico overnight, slowly picking up steam as officials in northeastern Mexico and southern Texas made preparations Wednesday. The Category 1 storm, which became the first June hurricane to form on the Atlantic side of the United States since 1995, is expected to make landfall Wednesday evening.
President Obama issued a federal emergency declaration for Texas ahead ofÂ Alex's expected arrival, the White House said Tuesday night. A hurricane warning was issued for the Gulf Coast from Baffin Bay, Texas, to La Cruz, Mexico.
Kagan nomination hearing - Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan will face another round of questioning from senators Wednesday after mounting a spirited defense against her critics the day before. By late Wednesday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee could go into closed session where Kagan's FBI background check is likely to be discussed, as has been the practice in past hearings.
The Howard University Law School graduate who fought to end the legalized segregation of the nationâ€™s schools and was selected the first African-American associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court has become a constant presence at Elena Kaganâ€™s confirmation hearings.
Although he died 17 years ago, Marshall was mentioned more than 30 times Monday, the first day of the hearings, many times by critical Republicans.
"It's clear that he considered himself a judicial activist and was unapologetic about it," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. "He described his judicial philosophy as quote, 'Do what you think is right and let the law catch up.' "
After questioning about Marshall continuedÂ Tuesday, Kagan said, â€œI love Justice Marshall. He did an enormous amount for me. But if you confirm me to this position, you'll get Justice Kagan - you won't get Justice Marshall."
President Obamaâ€™s nominee was Marshallâ€™s law clerk during 1988 and 1989. She recalled that Marshall playfully called her "Shorty" during her clerkship.
Ongoing coverage - BP webcam of Gulf oil disaster
9:00 am ET - Supreme Court nomination hearings -Â Confirmation hearings continue in the Senate for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.
9:30 am ET - Oil spill legislation hearing -Â The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment holds a hearing regarding legislation to respond to the BP oil spill and to prevent future oil well blowouts.Â Survivors of the rig explosion will testify.
10:00 am ET - Oil spill accountability hearing -Â The Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee holds a hearing regarding the oil industryâ€™s accountability for the Gulf oil disaster.
10:30 am ET - Arlington Cemetery hearing -Â Army Secretary John McHugh is expected to tell a House panel that the new management team he installed is in the midst of correcting some high-profile problems at Arlington National Cemetery.
2:15 pm ET - Obama economy town hall -Â President Obama travels to Wisconsin to discuss the economy.
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Taliban insurgents attacked Jalalabad Airfield in eastern Afghanistan Wednesday, hitting the entrance of the facility with a car bomb, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire, said a statement from NATO's International Security Assistance Force.
The airfield's perimeter was not breached and several insurgents died in the attack, NATO said, without providing specific figures. Two joint security force members were injured.
In a text message to CNN, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said six men wearing suicide vests entered the airfield, killing 32 foreigners.Â CNN could not independently confirm those claims. FULL POST
A member of the international coalition fighting in Afghanistan died Wednesday of wounds sustained in an insurgent small arms attack in eastern Afghanistan, the military said.
The death toll has now reached 100 for the month of June, according to a CNN count, making it the deadliest month ever for NATO-led troops in the nine-year Afghan war.