The five most popular CNN.com stories during the last 24 hours, according to NewsPulse.
Judge overturns CA same-sex marriage ban: A federal judge in California on Wednesday knocked down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, ruling that voter-approved Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution - handing supporters of gay rights a major victory in a case that almost all sides say is sure to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Shooter chased victim outside, police say: A man who shot eight people dead Tuesday at a Connecticut beverage distributor before turning the gun on himself chased at least one of his victims through the building and out into a parking lot, police said Wednesday.
Plane crashes near Arizona airport, killing 1: One person died when a small plane crashed into a building and burst into flames Wednesday morning near the Deer Valley Airport runway in Phoenix, Arizona, authorities said.
Disney parks raising ticket prices: It's going to cost vacationers more to visit with Mickey Mouse starting Thursday, when Disney parks in California and Florida will raise ticket prices.
Second 2-year-old boy missing in Arizona: A second 2-year-old boy has gone missing in 10 days from Yavapai County, Arizona, authorities said Tuesday as they announced a major search effort under way for the toddler, identified as Emmett Trapp.
Authorities were investigating the deaths of seven dogs after an American Airlines flight to Chicago.
Flight 851 was an hour late taking off from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tuesday morning, according to Mary Frances Fagan, director of corporate communications for American Airlines. The flight arrived at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport at 8:54 a.m. with 14 dog kennels on board.
All the dogs on Flight 851 were "bound for other locations," Fagan said. When ramp workers began the process of moving the dogs to the other flights, they noticed the animals looked "lethargic." They tried to cool them down. The animals were taken from the airport to a veterinarian, Fagan said. Seven dogs later died.
The incident was under investigation. The dogs are being necropsied. The airline said it has drawn no conclusions on what happened.
With its well-killing effort reported to be going "extremely well," BP now plans to start pouring concrete into the crippled well in the Gulf of Mexico.
The U.S. official overseeing the response to the spill, retired Adm. Thad Allen, has given BP a green light to pour cement on top of the 2,300 barrels of heavy drilling mud already sent down the well. The mud drove oil back into the reservoir in an operation known as a "static kill."
BP expects to start pumping the cement Thursday.
But Allen said BP should follow that with a second well-killing procedure which has been in the works as sort of an insurance policy - pouring additional mud and cement through a relief well that's expected to be ready in mid-August.
"Based on the successful completion of the static kill procedure and a positive evaluation of the test results, I have authorized BP to cement its damaged well," Allen said in a statement. "I made it clear that implementation of this procedure shall in no way delay the completion of the relief well."
A look at highlights from the day's business news:
Stocks edge up as jobs picture comes into focus
Stocks closed higher Wednesday, after trading in a narrow range for most of the day, as investors welcomed improved data on private sector hiring and the services industry.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 44 points, or 0.4 percent. The S&P 500
index gained nearly 7 points, or 0.6 percent, and the Nasdaq composite added 20
points, or 0.9 percent.
A federal judge in California on Wednesday struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, ruling that voter-approved Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution - handing supporters of gay rights a major victory in a case that both sides say is sure to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 136-page opinion, issued by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco, is an initial step in what will likely be a lengthy fight over California's Proposition 8, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
At stake in the trial was whether California's ban on same-sex marriage violates gay couples' rights to equal protection and due process, as protected by the U.S. Constitution.
The high-profile case is being watched closely by both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage, as many say it is destined to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. If it does, the case could result in a landmark decision on whether people in the United States are allowed to marry people of the same sex.
[Updated at 8:17 p.m.] Here is moreÂ reaction to Wednesday's federal ruling that struck down California's ban on same-sex marriage:
Brian Raum, attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund: "In America, we should respect and uphold the right of a free people to make policy choices through the democratic process - especially ones that do nothing more than uphold the definition of marriage that has existed since the foundation of the country and beyond."
Human Rights Campaign: "The battle for marriage equality continues, and we must all continue our work - in courthouses and statehouses, in church pews and living rooms - until equality is reality for LGBT people and our families everywhere."
President Barack Obama sought to rally the Democratic Party's union base Wednesday, telling a meeting of AFL-CIO leaders that the looming midterm elections offer a clear choice between moving forward with a stronger economy and moving backward with a failed GOP philosophy.
He ripped former President George W. Bush's administration for fostering "a profound animosity toward the notion of unions" and creating an unstable economy that only advanced the interests of "a privileged few."
The president's remarks were delivered against a backdrop of rising Democratic fears over the November elections due largely to what many analysts view as a tepid economic recovery.
New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez has hit his 600th career home run - a two-run blast in the first inning against Toronto Blue Jays.
The homer, which landed on the net on top of monument park in Yankee Stadium, makes A-Rod the youngest and the seventh player to join the 600 club.
The milestone was a long-awaited one - with 46 at-bats between his 599th and 600th home runs.
Rodriguez now joins the elite company of Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr. and Sammy Sosa.
SI.com: 600 Club gallery
SI.com: Milestone not what it used to be
Omar Thornton, 34, walked into a room early Tuesday at the beverage distributorship where he worked in Manchester, Connecticut.
It was around 7 a.m. - shift change time. Workers were filing in and out of the office.
Inside an office room, company and union officials played a video. Thornton calmly watched images that purportedly showed him stealing from a truck.
An employee of Hartford Distributors for two years and a driver for one, Thornton was given a choice of resigning or being fired, union and company officials said. He signed a resignation paper, was escorted out of the room and toward the door.
Then, company CEO Ross Hollander told CNN, he asked for a drink of water.
Moments later Thornton pulled out a handgun and began firing, officials said. Police believe he had brought two 9mm handguns to the building in a lunchbox. In the kitchen, he pulled out the guns and shot his two escorts.
"Then he went out on this rampage," company vice president Steve Hollander told The Associated Press. "He was cool and calm.
"He didn't yell. He was cold as ice. He didn't protest when we were meeting with him to show him the video of him stealing. He didn't contest it. He didn't complain. He didn't argue. He didn't admit or deny anything. He just agreed to resign. And then he just unexplainably pulled out his gun and started blasting."
Marissa Busiere, a receptionist, told WFSB she heard another co-worker screaming as shots rang out.
" 'He's shooting! He's shooting! Call 911.' And everyone started running out of the building," Busiere told WFSB.
Thornton "went through the whole building in a very short amount of time" as workers cowered under desks and in "nooks and crannies" and 9-1-1 calls poured in, police officials said.
It's that time of the year again, folks. No, not back to school. The Brett Favre, will-he-or-won't-he-retire, do-we-even-care-anymore sweepstakes.
There's no denying Favre's personal achievements or what he has meant to football. Perhaps, that's what sparks this debate each year - but this debate is one that's getting old for some people, just like the QB himself.
It's more about the consistent question than anything else - again, one that's the star himself constantly brings up - that is perturbing some
fans and commentators and making Favre the butt of his own joke.
Rumors are swirling again that Favre may be retiring from football, walking away this time from the Minnesota Vikings and leaving the sport entirely.
The QB however told ESPN's Ed Werder on Wednesday that he has not made any decision about returning to play for the Minnesota Vikings this season and says he will play if healthy. ESPN reported that Favre's agent, Bus Cook, said in a statement to the NFL Network on that the quarterback has an appointment with Dr. James Andrews next week and will know more at that time. Andrews performed surgery on Favre's ankle in May. SI.com's Peter King argues the real answer may not come until October.
Favre, in speaking with ESPN, denied sending text messages to Vikings teammates and fficials that may have indicated he had planned to retire.
But that doesn't mean people won't grumble about it even coming up again. It's more about the consistent question than anything else - again, one that's the star himself constantly brings up - that is perturbing some fans and commentators and making Favre the butt of his own joke.
"I am not going to ask Brett Favre to stay retired. Absolutely not. That would be way, way too ... subtle," SI.com's Michael Rosenberg writes. "I'm going to beg him, scream at him, handcuff him to a fishing dock, glue his hands together - whatever it takes. Come on, Brett. We only ask one thing of you now: sit on your couch and do absolutely nothing."
SI.com: Favre through the years
Rosenberg argues Favre's legacy is at stake, as well as whether as fans we can continue to support him because of his constant back and forth regarding retirement.
"When Favre retired the first time - an act that we can now refer to as a 'dry run' - he was arguably the most beloved athlete in the country,"
Now, he wonders, if fans and writers can even like him.
Some fans, seem to be answering with a wholehearted yell that seems to exclaim - "enough already."
On Twitter, one user, @LeBatardShow, mockingly compared the Favre story to LeBron James' knock-down, drag-out free agency spree.
mockingly compared the Favre story to LeBron James' knock-down, drag-out free agency spree.
"Brett Favre is going to hold a one hour special on espn. It will be called The Indecision," the user Tweeted.
While Republican senators, including Mitch McConnell and Jon Kyl, propose a review of the 14th Amendment as an illegal immigration solution, Texas Republican Lamar Smith, currently the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, believes the issue of âbirth citizenshipâ can be more easily resolved.
âIt wouldnât take as much as a constitutional amendment,â Smith recently told Politico. âWe can fix it with congressional action.â
Smith has made this argument since the mid 1990s. In a 1995 San Diego Union Op-Ed, and a recent discussion with Politico, Smithâs case has been consistent.
âThe granting of automatic citizenship comes from a misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment,â he said. âIt was drafted after the Civil War to guarantee that the recently freed slaves gained full citizenship rights. When it was enacted in 1868, there were no illegal immigrants in the United States because there were no immigration laws until 1875. So drafters of the Amendment could not have intended to benefit those in our country illegally.â
Smith is one of 93 co-sponsors for The Birthright Citizen Act, introduced in the House last year, which would change the issue via statute.
âPassing a law to eliminate birth citizenship would help deter illegal immigration,â Smith wrote in the 1995 op-ed piece, âand reduce the burden on the taxpayer of paying for illegal immigrantsâ education, health care, and other government benefits.â
A plane has crashed into a building near an airport runway in Phoenix, Arizona, a Phoenix fire department dispatcher said Wednesday.
One person died when the SR22 aircraft crashed while trying to land at Deer Valley Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
Scott Walker with the Phoenix Fire Department told CNN affiliate KNXV the plane hit City Wide Pest Control, near the airport, at North 19th Avenue and West Deer Valley Road.
Video footage from the scene showed white smoke rising from what appeared to be a two-story building.
Firefighters worked to extinguish the fire said a reporter for CNN affiliate KTVK who was in a helicopter nearby when the plane crashed.
This story is developing. We'll bring you the latest information as we get it.
Iran denied reports of a grenade exploding near the convoy of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his visit to a western Iranian city Wednesday.
The semi-official Fars News Agency and several other outlets had reported the incident, in which Ahmadinejad was unhurt.
But the media department at Iran's presidential office denied there was an attack. Media advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr told CNN that the grenade was a toy firecracker and accused international journalists of blowing the story out of proportion.
A top Obama administration official said Wednesday the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico is "turning a corner," with the "vast majority" of the oil now gone and the procedure to permanently seal BP's crippled well apparently working.
"We definitely are making progress. The oil hasn't been leaking for some time," Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, told CNN's "American Morning." "The static kill is going well, but ultimately, it's the relief wells we ordered drilled that will be the 'final kill-kill.' Probably, in the next 10 to 14 days that will be done, but (it was) an important step last night."
"Our scientists and external scientists believe that the vast majority of the oil has now been contained. It's been skimmed. Mother Nature has done its part. It's evaporated. And so, I think we're turning a corner here," Browner added.
Ongoing coverage - BP webcam of 'static kill' effort
9:30 am ET - Tea Party Express briefing - Â The Tea Party Express holds a briefing at the National Press Club in Washington. Questions of racism within the group and midterm elections are expected topics.
10:00 am ET - Oil dispersants hearing -Â A Senate committee holds a hearing regarding the use of oil dispersants in the BP oil spill.
An update from the newsdesk in London on the stories we're following on Wednesday:
Kenya referendum - Kenya votes today in a historic referendum on a new constitution for the East African country. If implemented, the new constitution would mean radical changes for the structure of government including bringing in a two-tier structure, in some ways similar to the U.S. system of a Congress and Senate.
Russia disaster - Putin travels to the Voronezh and Maslovka areas today to see for himself the devastation caused by searing heat and wildfires. The death toll from the latest fires now stands at 48 according to Russian state media. NASA says that its satellites have detected over 600 fires across the country.
UPDATE: 5:40 a.m. ET: The media department at the Presidential Office denied the president came under attack.
POSTED 5:33 a.m. ET: A grenade exploded near the convoy of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his visit to a western Iranian city on Wednesday, according to a website linked to moderate members of the country's parliament.
Ahmadinejad was unhurt.
The grenade exploded during the president's visit to Hamedan, reported parlemannews.com.
A long-awaited procedure to permanently seal BP's crippled well in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be working and is being monitored, the oil giant announced early Wednesday.
The well-killing procedure, which began Tuesday afternoon, involves pumping heavy drilling mud down from above to push oil back into the well reservoir.
"The well pressure is now being controlled by the hydrostatic pressure of the drilling mud, the desired outcome of the static kill procedure," a BP statement said. "The pumping of heavy drilling mud was stopped after about eight hours of pumping drilling mud down the well. The well is now being monitored, per the procedure, to ensure the well remains static."