The five most popular CNN.com stories during the last 24 hours, according to Newspulse.
BP: No oil flowing into the Gulf: A highly anticipated test designed to measure pressure within BP's ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well finally began Thursday, and for the first time in nearly three months, oil stopped flowing into the Gulf.
Heavy hips hamper memory, study finds: A woman's body shape may play a role in how good her memory is, according to a new study.
Texas mayor, daughter die in murder-suicide: Police in a Dallas, Texas, suburb indicated Wednesday that the town's mayor likely killed her daughter before turning the weapon on herself.
Family seeks clues on missing loved one: A formerly troubled young woman who had recently begun to turn her life around went missing in New Jersey over the July Fourth weekend, leaving her family desperately searching for clues into her disappearance, her mother said Wednesday.
Rash of drownings as Russians endure heat: More than 1,000 Russians have drowned recently as they attempted to find relief from a stifling heat wave - many of them after drinking alcohol, officials said.
A look at the day's business headlines:
Stocks fight back from losses
Stocks ended little changed Thursday, erasing bigger losses after weaker than expected reports on the economy revived worries about growth.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost a few points and broke its seven-day winning streak. The S&P 500 index ended just above breakeven, and the Nasdaq composite lost a few points.
More U.S. soldiers killed themselves last month than in recent Army history, according to Army statistics released Thursday, confounding officials trying to reverse the grim trend.
The statistics show that 32 soldiers killed themselves in June, the highest number in a single month since the Vietnam era. Twenty-one of them were on active duty while 11 were in the National Guard or Army Reserve in an inactive status. Seven of those soldiers killed themselves while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Army numbers.
Goldman Sachs paid $550 million to settle charges of defrauding investors in a sale of securities tied to subprime mortgages, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday.
Goldman shares jumped almost 3 percent in after-hours trading on the announcement, as many predicted the company would be forced to pay $1 billion to settle the case. The stock rose more than 4 percent in regular trading due to reports that a settlement was imminent.
Read the full story on CNNMoney.com.
BP's ruptured deep-sea oil well has been "shut in" and oil is no longer flowing from it, company vice president Kent Wells says.
The stoppage is part of the oil giant's integrity test of a new cap placed on the well earlier this week.
The data is being particularly closely scrutinized at six-hour intervals, so a key time will occur later Thursday night, after the first six hours.
The "well integrity" test could end after six hours, if the results are disappointing. But it could go on for 48 hours. The longer it goes, the better indications are that the well is holding with a custom-made sealing cap.
The cap, lowered in place earlier this week, has never been deployed at such depths or under such conditions and therefeore, there were no guarantees on how well it would contain the oil, BP said.
Shares of BP jumped late Thursday after the company said oil was no longer flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. The stock rose $2.74 a share, more than 7%, to close at $38.92. Earlier this month, it traded below $30 a share.
[Updated at 3:16 p.m.] The Senate on Thursday afternoon passed the most sweeping set of changes to the financial regulatory system since the 1930s, sending the Wall Street reform bill to President Obama.
The Senate voted 60 to 39 to pass the reforms, ending more than a year-long effort to pass legislation in response to the 2008 financial crisis.
Earlier in the day lawmkers voted 60-38 to end debate on the bill, with three Republicans joining Democrats to support it. The bill aims to strengthen consumer protection, rein in complex financial products and head off more bank bailouts.
[Posted at 11:40 a.m.] The Senate on Thursday morning voted to move the Wall Street reform package forward, assuring safe passage of the regulatory overhaul to President Obama's desk next week.
Two explosions Thursday in the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan have left "several dead and injured," Iran state television Press TV reported, citing Iran's state news agency IRNA.
The first blast occurred at 9:20 p.m. (12:50 p.m. ET) in front of the city's Grand Mosque, followed by a second explosion within minutes, IRNA reported.
"It is not yet possible to announce the exact number of those killed and injured in the incident," a police official in Sistan-Baluchestan province said, according to IRNA.
Menthol cigarettes are no more harmful than regular cigarettes,
tobacco industry representatives argued Thursday as a federal advisory panel opened a two-day meeting to consider whether to ban the sale of those cigarettes.
Menthol cigarettes, which account for one-quarter of all cigarettes sold in the United States, have been under scrutiny by public health officials and public health watchdog groups alike. Critics claim the flavor makes them more addictive and denounce the marketing campaigns for menthol cigarettes that are targeted specifically at minority smokers.
According to a study published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research, menthol cigarettes are favored by three-quarters of African-American smokers.
Australian scientists have discovered never-seen-before prehistoric marine life in the depths of the ocean below the Great Barrier Reef, the University of Queensland said Wednesday.
Ancient “six-gilled” sharks, giant oil fish, swarms of crustaceans and many unidentified fish – all of which look worthy of a science-fiction film – were among the astounding marine life caught on camera some 1,400 meters (4,593 feet) below sea level.
The team, led by Justin Marshall, also collected footage of the Nautilius, a relative of the octopus that still lives in a shell as they have done for millions of years. Team members used special light-sensitive, custom-designed remote controlled cameras that sat on the ocean floor below the Osprey Reef.
“As well as understanding life at the surface, we need to plunge off the walls of Osprey to describe the deep-sea life that lives down to 2,000 meters, beyond the reach of sunlight,” Marshall said in a statement.
“We simply do not know what life is down there, and our cameras can now record the behavior and life in Australia’s largest biosphere, the deep-sea.” FULL POST
Pakistan has banned the theatrical release of a comedy about Osama bin Laden due to hit cinema screens in South Asia on Friday. Local movie distributors say they are appealing the ban, issued by the Pakistan Film Censor Board.
The film, "Tere bin Laden," [Your bin Laden] stars Pakistani pop singer Ali Zafar as an ambitious young journalist trying to land the scoop of a lifetime as a way to win a visa to live in the United States.
Made in the India's Bollywood "movie factory", it's a departure from the melodramas and musicals which dominate Indian cinematic fare. It’s also unusual in that it has a Pakistani in the starring role.
The trailer for "Tere bin Laden" suggests a movie of fast-paced slapstick comedy, and shows Zafar trying to coax an anxious and utterly inept bin Laden look-alike to impersonate the al Qaeda leader.
Seven suspected militants were killed Thursday night in a US drone strike in Pakistan's Tribal region, two Pakistani intelligence officials told CNN.
The officials said a US drone fired three missiles at a suspected militant hideout in Misermada Khel, a village in North Waziristan. North Waziristan is one of seven districts in Pakistan's tribal region along the Afghan border and has been the focus of drone attacks this year.
Based on a count by CNN's Islamabad bureau, Thursday's attack was the 41st US drone strike in Pakistan's tribal regions this year.
The officials asked to not be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media on the record.
Journalist Nasir Habib contributed to this report
Al-Shabaab, the Somali militant group allied to al Qaeda which claimed responsibility for Sunday's deadly bombings in Uganda, has promised to "unleash a new tide of terror."
"This is only the beginning," the group said in a statement on the internet Thursday.
Al-Shabaab, meaning "the youth" in Arabic, claimed responsibility for the bombings at two locations in the Ugandan capital of Kampala that killed 76 people.
CNN.com readers and iReporters have had a passionate response to the NAACP’s resolution condemning Tea Partiers for having “racist elements.”
“We take issue with the Tea Party’s continued tolerance for bigotry and bigoted statements. The time has come for them to accept the responsibility that comes with influence and make clear there is no space for racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in their movement,” NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous said.
iReporter Omekongo Dibinga posted a video, telling CNN, “If the Tea Party wants to become a credible organization, it has to show leadership when racist acts are committed by its members."
A U.S. official familiar with the case of the Iranian nuclear scientist
says the United States "clearly got the better end of things."
"We have his insights - original information on the Iranian nuclear
program that proved useful - and now the Iranians have him. Plainly, we got the better end of things," the official said of Shahram Amiri.
The official said Amiri wasn't kidnapped or coerced, as he claimed.
"He just wanted to see his family and - unfortunately - he chose a dumb way to do it, lying about what happened to him here to try to build up his credibility back home. He made his own decisions. He chose of his own accord to come to the United States, chose of his own accord who would come with him, and chose of his own accord to leave the United States," the official said.
New Vatican new rules aimed at stopping the abuse of children by priests do not go far enough, child-safety campaigners said Thursday.
"The pope had a chance to do something really decisive that would affect the situation worldwide," said Anne Barrett Doyle, but instead issued rules that are the equivalent of "bringing a child's sand shovel to an avalanche."
The new regulations give the pope the authority to defrock a priest without a formal Vatican trial, or to hand out other punishments.
They also make it a crime for a priest to download child pornography, and declare the abuse of mentally handicapped people to be as bad as child abuse. FULL POST
BP hopes to resume later Thursday a vital well test that could put an end to the oil that has been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for the last 12 weeks, said a top company official.
The "integrity" test is intended to determine the well's pressure to see
if a new container cap will be able to contain the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.
BP was forced to suspend operations Wednesday after a leak was
discovered in the new well cap. Senior Vice President Kent Wells told reporters Thursday the company was working on fixing the problem and hopes to be able to conduct the tests "sometime today."
A successful test could signal a beginning of an end to the catastrophe
that began when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and triggering the relentless oil spill.
Gulf oil disaster – A leak in a crucial piece of equipment may stall BP's effort to stop the massive oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico. The equipment, called a choke line, started leaking Wednesday, another setback for the beleaguered company in its hope of stopping the disaster.
BP will need to fix the leak before it can run the vital tests that could show whether an end to the environmental disaster is finally in sight, the company said. There was no timetable for when the leak was to be fixed, a company spokesman said early Thursday morning.
The Catholic Church announced new rules Thursday aimed at stopping abuse of children by priests and streamlining Catholic Church procedures for dealing with it. The Vatican will add the possession of child pornography to the list of most serious crimes, declare the abuse of any mentally retarded person to be as bad as the abuse of children and double the statute of limitations on the Vatican's prosecution of suspected abuse.
Nearly 10 years ago, Gregory, the archbishop of Atlanta, Georgia, oversaw the Roman Catholic Church’s implementation of a zero-tolerance policy in the United States – one that serves as the basis of guidelines introduced by the Vatican in response to the current European sex-abuse crisis. The “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” is considered a vanguard response to the American crisis, says CNN senior Vatican analyst John Allen.
Gregory worked directly on creating those policies in 2002 when he was the first African-American president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In addition, the Vatican also plans to make it a major crime against the church to ordain a woman as a priest, said a source close to the Vatican.
An update from London on some of the international stories we expect to develop on Thursday:
Abuse prevention: The new rules, to be released Thursday a source close to the Vatican told CNN, are a response to accusations against priests across Europe and the United States in the past several years. Read the full story
Landmark vote: Argentina becomes the first Latin American country on Thursday to give same-sex couples equal marriage rights, including the ability to adopt children. Read the full story
Scientist home: An Iranian nuclear expert, who Tehran claims was kidnapped by U.S. agents, arrived in his homeland early Thursday, state-run media reported. Read the full story