The five most popular CNN.com stories during the last 24 hours, according to NewsPulse:
Police say missing California woman may be alive in Las Vegas: A California woman missing for nearly a year and declared dead by a court may still be alive and living in the Las Vegas, Nevada, area, detectives from Los Angeles said Thursday. Mitrice Richardson, a former beauty pageant contestant, was last seen leaving a sheriff's station in Malibu on September 17, 2009. She had been arrested the previous evening at an upscale restaurant for allegedly not paying for her meal, and patrons said Mitrice exhibited strange behavior.
On WikiLeaks scandal, hacker says he didn't want to be 'coward': A California hacker said he doesn't regret going to federal officials to show them alleged confessions an Army private made about leaking more than 90,000 documents that reveal secret information about U.S. war strategy. "I went to the right authorities, because it seemed incomprehensible that someone could leak that massive amount of data and not have it endanger human life," Adrian Lamo told CNN.
Body ID'd as NBA's Lorenzen Wright: A body found in southeast Memphis, Tennessee, on Wednesday has been identified as that of former professional basketball player Lorenzen Wright, Memphis police said Thursday. The cause of death has been ruled as "homicide by gunshot wound," police said in a news release, adding that the Shelby County medical examiner used dental records to confirm Wright's identity. Wright played collegiate basketball at the University of Memphis.
Woman charged in France over babies' bodies: French prosecutors said Thursday they charged a woman with murder after she admitted giving birth to and smothering eight babies over 17 years in northern France. Dominique Cottrez told investigators the reason she killed the babies was that she did not want to have any more children and did not want to see doctors for contraceptives, prosecutor Eric Vaillant said.
DeGeneres to leave 'Idol,' calls decision 'difficult': Ellen DeGeneres is calling it quits after spending one season with the Fox hit "American Idol," according to a statement from the star and the network. DeGeneres said she notified Fox and "American Idol" producers a "couple months ago" that the show wasn't the right fit for her. "While I love discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge people and sometimes hurt their feelings," she said.
A look at highlights from the day's business news:
Stocks edge lower
Stocks slid Thursday, although they finished off their session lows, as investors weighed cautious comments from a regional Federal Reserve president about the health of the economy and a mix of quarterly profit reports.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 30 points, or 0.3 percent, the S&P 500 index dipped 4 points or 0.4 percent and the Nasdaq composite dropped 13 points, or 0.6 percent.
U.S. forces stationed near the Afghan-Pakistani border were subject to repeated attacks from Turkish militants in 2007, according to reports included among the tens of thousands of American military documents leaked this week.
Turkey, a NATO ally, has contributed peacekeepers to Afghanistan, but the documents describe attacks on NATO positions at or around Forward Operating Base Bermel. The attacks listed in these documents all failed, and in many cases the insurgents gave away their plans or position to the U.S. military because of insecure radio communications.
The top U.S. military officer said Thursday that Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, was risking lives to make a political point by publishing thousands of military reports from Afghanistan.
"Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family," Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a news conference at the Pentagon.
In equally stern comments and at the same session, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the massive leak will have significant impact on troops and allies, giving away techniques and procedures. FULL POST
A California hacker said he doesn't regret going to federal officials to show them alleged confessions an Army private made about leaking more than 90,000 documents that reveal secret information about U.S. war strategy.
Adrian Lamo spoke to CNN from the Sacramento Public Library, where he was trying to get away from reporters and a throng of people who, he said, are angry with him. He says he has received death threats in person and on his Facebook page and Twitter messages from people who feel like he betrayed Pfc. Bradley Manning.
"I went to the right authorities, because it seemed incomprehensible that someone could leak that massive amount of data and not have it endanger human life," Lamo said. "If I had acted for my own comfort and convenience and sat on my hands with that information, and I had endangered national security ... I would have been the worst kind of coward." FULL POST
Colorado Rockies President Keli McGregor, who was found dead in April in a Salt Lake City, Utah, hotel room, died of natural causes, police said Thursday.
[Updated July 29, 4:54 p.m.] Nicole Ramos drove six hours from San Diego to join the demonstration outside the Phoenix Municipal Government center against Arizona’s newly enacted immigration law SB1070.
“There's power in numbers and this is a democratic form of effecting change,” the University of San Diego student said “I just want to be here to support everyone with my chants and my presence.”
She said yesterday’s ruling that temporarily struck down some of the law was unexpected and “smart.”
“I think it calmed a lot of things down and made it easier to breathe in this atmosphere today.” There is “a greater sense of hope” and less anger because of the ruling, the 21-year-old said.
“I believe every human is born with rights,” she said. “Maybe an act is illegal, but a person cannot be illegal.”
[Updated July 29, 2:49 p.m.] Francisca Munoz joined other demonstrators gathered at in the Cesar Chavez Plaza located in the Phoenix Municipal Government Center to "support the fight" against Arizona's new immigration law that went into effect Thursday.
"The law affects me as a an immigrant without papers who has a job and wants to be a citizen but it takes so much waiting and time and money," she says in Spanish. "It's almost impossible. This law promotes racism and doesn't do anything to help the people become citizens."
Munoz considers yesterday's temporary injunction that struck down some of the law's most controversial parts a victory - but believes there's still quite a lot of work to be done.
"The law has already done so much harm to the [Latino] community," she told CNN's Emanuella Grinberg. "Many people are gone and the houses are left empty and the restaurants are empty."
Munoz said she has lived in the area for 28 years working various cleaning jobs - but now she's feeling the direct impact of the law.
"Right now I don't have a job because there's no work," she said. "All the doors are closed."
A demur redhead in a modest black dress is making a brief appearance in New York, before finally returning home to Austria.
Editor's note: In light of the recent posting of military documents by the website Wikileaks, and the subsequent investigation into just who had access and who could have leaked them, the CNN Security Brief wanted to know a little more about who has access to what secrets. We turned to James Curry, now a line producer at CNN International. Curry joined the Marine Corps at age 17 and served two years as an engineer, with one combat tour in Falluja, Iraq, in 2004, and three years as an embassy guard. He holds a B.S. in political science from Troy State University. He explains what's involved in getting top-secret clearance.
When we hear about someone having a top-secret security clearance, we think of that person having access to all of the nation’s secrets at the highest level. In reality, this is not the case. In order to gain access to classified material, one must have the appropriate level clearance and the “need to know.”
In fact, many people within the United States government hold top-secret security clearances and don’t have access to classified material. For example, most State Department diplomats hold security clearances at the top-secret level; this includes press officers and consular officials. However, most of the work these people do involves little to no classified information.
This leads to the questions: What is a security clearance? Who gets one? And how does the U.S. government go about granting them?
Security clearances can be granted on three levels: confidential, secret, and top secret. A clearance is granted based on the level of classified material a person may deal with while doing his or her job. Security clearances at the confidential and secret levels are relatively easy to obtain. Usually a minimal background check of state and local records is all that's required. If nothing serious turns up, the clearance is granted. It’s a pretty straightforward process. A face-to-face interview is not conducted.
A New York Democratic colleague of Rep. Charles Rangel told CNN on Thursday that Rangel and the House ethics committee are "close to a settlement" involving Rangel's alleged violations of House rules.
Earlier, Rangel said he doesn't plan to attend an ethics committee
hearing where the allegations were to be made public.
The committee delayed the start of the hearing without giving a reason, increasing speculation that lawyers for Rangel might be trying to reach a deal with the panel to avoid the public airing of the veteran legislator's alleged wrongdoing.
Former Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod said Thursday she will pursue a lawsuit against conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart - the man responsible for posting an edited video clip of Sherrod appearing to say she discriminated against a white farmer looking for assistance.
"I will definitely do it," she said when asked whether she was considering legal action. Sherrod made her remarks during an appearance at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in San Diego.
Breitbart "had to know that he was targeting me," Sherrod said. "At this point, he hasn't apologized. I don't want it at this point, and he'll definitely hear from me."
Frances Fragos Townsend, CNN contributor and former homeland security advisor to President Bush, gives insight to the “big picture” of the internal military document leak by WikiLeaks.org. Townsend says the intelligence community wants answers but they need to finally learn the lesson that history has repeatedly taught.
CNN: What’s the big picture of the WikiLeaks document dump? How big of a deal is this?
Townsend: We’ve seen an increase in the last couple of years in this country of leaks of classified information. This covers the gamut from financial and intelligence programs to interrogation techniques.
This is a massive dump of classified information. The problem is that you have a single government employee… who makes a judgment about the potential harm from such a leak. We don’t want someone making such a judgment.
This is going to force the executive branch to come up with a system to protect this information. We need a system in place.
In this case we are finding assets and sources in Afghanistan that are identified that could be killed [because of the documents being leaked].
As many 6,600 graves at Arlington National Cemetery may be "unmarked, improperly marked or mislabeled" on cemetery maps, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, said Thursday.
Cemetery officials had previously estimated just 211 were mislabeled.
A Senate subcommittee is holding a hearing to examine the mismanagement of Arlington Cemetery, one of the nation's most hallowed burial places for its war dead.
The hearing was spurred by Army Secretary John McHugh's reports in June that revealed 211 graves were misidentified or mislocated in the historic cemetery.
Two weeks after the ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was capped and stopped leaking, the man overseeing the federal response to the disaster will meet New Orleans-area parish presidents to outline plans for after the well is permanently sealed.
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen is optimistic that steps planned for the coming days will finally, permanently seal the well.
"The relief well, while it is deep, is something that has been done
before," Allen said. "The technologies involved here are not novel, but
obviously, the depth is a challenge here. But we are optimistic we will get this done."
The Arizona state senator and co-author of SB 1070 says he'll appeal a U.S. District Court decision blocking parts of the controversial immigration law and, if necessary, will appeal decisions all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
A profile published Wednesday by The Arizona Republic indicates that Pearce’s persistence has been built by his years as a survivor. He endured a childhood of poverty in Mesa, Arizona. As a sheriff’s deputy, he survived a 1977 fight with three Latino teenagers that resulted in his losing a finger and being shot in the chest. Decades later, an illegal immigrant nearly killed his son, who was also in law enforcement. (Pearce told the paper neither event shaped his views on immigration.) In 2001, Pearce survived a heart attack and stroke that left him with slurred speech and impaired walking. He campaigned for state senator even though he struggled to walk with a cane.
The piece describes Pearce’s political development. A prominent member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Pearce is described as a follower of Mormon theorist W. Cleon Skousen. Skousen — often quoted by Fox News host and fellow Mormon Glenn Beck — taught that the Founding Fathers were inspired by God when they wrote the Constitution. "I believe [the Constitution] was inspired by God by our Founders to put together the freedom-loving constitutional republic that we have,” Pearce said. "I believe in recognizing certain God-given rights. I've believed that from a young age."
Critics describe Pearce as a stubborn negotiator and fierce opponent. Some go so far as to suggest that he is untruthful. Pearce remains undaunted. He told The Republic he is a man who helped create "a better place for folks who live in America, that love freedom, appreciate the founding principles of this country.” “"The candle of liberty," he said, "has always been kept lit by a vigilant few."
Parts of an Arizona immigration law take effect Thursday after a federal judge blocked several of its most controversial aspects.
The preliminary injunction, issued Wednesday, means that, at least for
now, police are prevented from questioning people's immigration status if there is reason to believe they are in the country illegally.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton also blocked provisions of the law
making it a crime for people to fail to apply for or carry alien registration papers or "for an unauthorized alien to solicit, apply for, or perform work," as well as a provision "authorizing the warrantless arrest of a person" if there is reason to believe that person might be subject to deportation.
President Barack Obama said Thursday that Shirley Sherrod "deserves better than what happens last week when a bogus controversy ... led to her forced resignation."
"Many are to blame" for the reaction that followed, he said, "including my own administration."
Her whole story, Obama said he told Sherrod, "is exactly the kind of story we need to hear in America (because) we all have our biases."
The president made his remarks during an appearance at the National Urban League's 100th Anniversary Convention in Washington.