A look at highlights from the day's business news:
Dow, Nasdaq at 2-year highs
U.S. stocks seesawed Wednesday amid a widely anticipated Republican victory and the Federal Reserve's announcement of a second round of economy-boosting asset purchases, but managed to end the session with modest gains, pushing the Dow and Nasdaq to their highest levels in over two years.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 27 points, or 0.2 percent, to finish at 11,215, the highest since September 2008. The tech-heavy Nasdaq increased 7 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 2,540, highest since June 2008.
The five most poplar stories on CNN.com in the past 24 hours, according to NewsPulse.
No African-Americans in next U.S. Senate: Despite record election achievements by African-Americans in the House, the United States Senate will not have an African-American in its ranks.
Wednesday's intriguing people: The surfing world is mourning the loss of triple world champion Andy Irons, who died unexpectedly at 32.
The federal government, in an action that it says is the first of its kind, filed a lawsuit Wednesday to close a Kentucky coal mine until its owner can make it safe for workers.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration, filing in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, seeks a preliminary injunction against the Freedom Energy Mining Co. mine No. 1 in Pike County. The mine is owned by Massey Energy Co.
"Freedom Energy has demonstrated time and again that is cannot be trusted to follow basic safety rules when an MSHA inspector is not at the mine," Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, said in a statement. "If the court does not step in, somebody may be seriously injured or die."
Massey Energy also owns a coal mine in West Virginia where 29 miners died in an explosion April 5, the industry's worst disaster in 40 years. The mine had a spotty safety record before the explosion, with three deaths reported in the past 12 years.
A jury in Decatur, Georgia, found former Sheriff's Deputy Derrick Yancey, 49, guilty Wednesday of murder in the shooting deaths of his wife and a day laborer.
The 12-member jury deliberated for about 22 hours before returning their guilty verdicts on two counts of malice murder and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime in the June 9, 2008, killings of Linda Yancey, 44, and Marcial Cax-Puluc, 23.
Yancey was apprehended on Sept. 21, 2009, in Punta Gorda, Belize, where he had fled after escaping house arrest.
U.S. authorities have discovered about 30 tons of marijuana that were part of a smuggling operation using a tunnel under the California-Mexico border, officials said Wednesday.
The 600-yard tunnel - which features a rail system, lighting and ventilation - connects a warehouse in Tijuana with one in the Otay Mesa industrial area of San Diego, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lauren Mack.
About 26 tons of marijuana had been transported through the tunnel to San Diego, and 10 of those tons were intercepted Tuesday by authorities as a tractor trailer was transporting the load from the Otay Mesa warehouse, officials said. About five tons were found by the Mexican military inside the Tijuana warehouse and the tunnel, officials said.
Two students from the University of Texas at El Paso were shot and killed Tuesday night in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Chihuahua state investigators told CNN late Wednesday.
The students, identified as Manuel Acosta Villalobos, 25, and Eder Diaz Sotero, 23, were gunned down in a hail of more than 30 bullets while driving a Nissan Sentra with Texas plates, Chihuahua State police spokesman Arturo Sandoval said.
"I have confirmed that Eder was from the United States and was a U.S. citizen. The other boy was a Juarez native," Sandoval said.
[Updated at 8:49 p.m.] A package found Wednesday in a DHL cargo facility at New York's JFK airport has been cleared, authorities said.
"Out of an abundance of caution, FBI Agents, PAPD, NYPD and CBP responded to JFK to inspect a package. The package has been cleared," FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko said.
[Posted at 8:04 p.m.] A suspicious package has prompted the evacuation of a DHL cargo facility at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport this evening, Steve Coleman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said.
Coleman could not say whether the package was found inside the cargo facility or inside a DHL cargo plane that landed recently. Port Authority police and fire
department officials are on scene.
Search teams have discovered a bone that may be related to the disappearance of 10-year-old Zahra Baker, police in North Carolina said Wednesday.
The bone will be sent to the medical examiner's office in Chapel Hill for further examination, the Hickory Police Department said.
In the past week, the Hickory Police Department said it has recovered key pieces of evidence in the search for the 10-year-old cancer survivor, who was reported missing by her stepmother on October 9.
Tomas returned to tropical storm strength late Wednesday afternoon as it ground through the southern Caribbean en route to earthquake-devastated Haiti.
The storm had fallen to tropical depression status just hours earlier, but forecasters anticipated the strengthening and said it might regain hurricane strength.
Read the full story on CNN.com.
[Updated at 4:23 p.m.] Colorado Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet has won a tight battle with Republican challenger Ken Buck to retain his seat, CNN projects.
That means two Senate races remain indecided.
[Updated at 3:26 p.m.] Georgia Democratic incumbent Rep. Sanford Bishop has been declared winner in the race against Republican challenger Mike Keown for Georgia’s 2nd district.
[Updated at 1:42 p.m.] Independent Eliot Cutler conceded the Maine governor's race to Republican Paul LePage on Wednesday after results showed the two separated by less than 8,500 votes.
That means that four governorships are still undecided.
[Updated at 11:42 a.m.] In a gubernatorial race that came down to the wire, Vermont Republican Brian Dubie has conceded to Democrat Peter Shumlin.
That means that five governorships are still undecided.
[Posted at 11:09 a.m.] As of Wednesday morning, a handful of election races remain undecided or uncalled for a variety of reasons.
Below is a glance at the undecided races. The top two candidates are listed. Keep in mind that numbers change by the minute, and races could be called or decided at any time.
U.S. Senate: Three races remain undecided
Governor: Four gubernatorial races remain undecided.
- Connecticut: Republican Tom Foley vs. Democrat Dan Malloy.
- Minnesota: Republican Tom Emmer vs. Democrat Mark Dayton.
General Motors says it will sell 365 million shares in $13 billion initial public offering at an estimated $26 to $29 per share.
Jerry Brown is ... the most interesting comeback politician ... in the world.
He is, at least, the most unconventional of the 2010 midterm election. Brown, who is the state's attorney general, defied the odds on Tuesday and took back the governor's seat that he held from 1975 to 1983.
"As you know, I've got the know-how and the experience," he told a cheering crowd in Oakland.
"Jerry Brown came across as elder statesman; there was nothing flashy about Jerry," L.A. Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez told CNN.com. "He kept saying, 'I'm old enough. I'm ready to do this.' The Jerry Brown of the 1970s would not have been elected today. We had a movie star [in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger], now we want someone serious, we want a grandpa."
The 72-year-old's quirky, man-of-the-people approach once earned him the nickname "Governor Moonbeam." This time around, Brown constantly reminded voters that he is the son of Pat Brown, considered one of the greatest leaders the state has ever had.
But that doesn't preclude Brown' s campaign from having a few laughs. Take a look at this Dos Equis-inspired campaign ad , sponsored by the California Democratic Party, that began airing just days before the election.
A voice similar to the one in the beer commercials shows old footage of Brown: "He tended to the poor with Mother Teresa/He marched in the fields with Cesar Chavez/He served two terms as governor - just for practice. He's Jerry Brown. And there are some things you might not know about him."
One message that everyone definitely knows Wednesday is that money cannot guarantee an election win. Brown's opponent, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, shattered records by spending $140 million of her own money on her campaign. She bought an entire TV channel for the weekend at the GOP state convention's host hotel in March, according to the L.A. Times.
Rodriguez said it was unlikely that Whitman's big spending did her in.
"It was really the business with the housekeeper that hurt her," the columnist said, referring to a Mexican maid who worked for Whitman. The maid was in the U.S. illegally, which Whitman said she didn't know. The maid tearfully told reporters that Whitman had fired her when the housekeeper revealed her immigration status.
Randy Moss’ ability on the field garnered him the nickname “Freak” early in his career.
Luckily for him, his nicknames off the field never stuck.
The Minnesota Vikings officially placed the talented-yet-trouble wide receiver on waivers Tuesday, meaning NFL teams have until today at 4 p.m. ET to claim him. Interest for Moss has been widespread around the league (SI.com’s Andrew Perloff lists 10 possible landing spots for Moss, but some believe picking up the fleet-footed enigma may be a bad idea, even if your offense could desperately use him.
“I’m sure Randy Moss would be a good get for some team making a playoff push in the second half of the season,” writes Peter King in his latest column, “but I wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole.”
While speaking to King, one NFL executed compared the Vikings letting go of Moss to the Los Angeles Dodgers waiving Manny Ramirez earlier this season, except for the fact that Minnesota’s move reeked much, much more of desperation. The Vikings still have half of their season to play while the Dodgers had just a sixth of theirs when they made their parting move.
And although Moss’ next team will have to pay him the remaining $3.3 million left on his contract in 2010, they could end up paying even more if the experiment goes wrong.
Everywhere Moss has played he’s had a public falling out. His act grew tiresome in Minnesota despite putting up All-Pro numbers. His lack of effort resulted him dumped from Oakland for just a fourth-round pick. And his bickering in New England eventually led to his exit as well.
Which is why reports of Moss’ detrimental conduct last week came as no surprise. Moss allegedly humiliated a St. Paul catering in a post-practice meal only to deliver a post-game speech on Sunday that was even harder to stomach. Those actions, combined with lackluster play on the field, led to Vikings coach Brad Childress waiving the star received.
Randy Moss was once famously quoted saying, “I play when I want to play.”
True. But the All-Pro no longer gets to decide where.
Here’s the action going on around the sporting world today (all times Eastern):
Oklahoma voters on Tuesday approved a measure that bans the application of Islamic law and orders judges in the state to rely only on federal law when deciding cases. State Rep. Rex Duncan, a Republican, was the primary author of the measure, which amends that state constitution.
For months, legal experts had lambasted the initiative as biased toward a religion and potentially harmful to local businesses that engage in commerce with international companies. It also presents potential constitutional law problems, experts say. Is Oklahoma's state constitution now in direct conflict with the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, which states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ... "?
There has never been a previous case in the state in which Sharia law was applied, said Rick Tepker, the first member of the University of Oklahoma School of Law faculty to try a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Tepker called the passage of the measure "a mess" with implications unknown until a case that challenges it arises.
"Many of us who understand the law are scratching our heads this morning, laughing so we don't cry," he said. "I would like to see Oklahoma politicians explain if this means that the courts can no longer consider the Ten Commandments. Isn't that a precept of another culture and another nation? The result of this is that judges aren't going to know when and how they can look at sources of American law that were international law in origin."
Businesses that engage with international companies may also find the ban is a stumbling block, Tepker said. The ban also requires all state business to be conducted in English.
Duncan has said he knew of no precedent in the state's history in which a judge applied Sharia law. But he backed the measure, he told reporters, as a "pre-emptive strike."
Democrat Jenny Oropeza won re-election as a state senator in California, but the implications of her victory Tuesday won't be known for some time.
Oropeza, 53, died two weeks before the election from a blood clot after battling cancer. But the incumbent remained on the ballot, winning by a decent margin - 58 percent to 36 percent over Republican John Stammreich.
Democrats continued to ask voters to check Oropeza's name on the ballot after her death through mailers. Some Republicans filed a complaint that the mailer was an attempt to "illegally influence" voters.
The Democratic mailer suggested that Republicans were trying to capitalize on the situation.
"The Republicans are trying to take unfair advantage of Jenny’s tragedy," said the mailer without mentioning Oropeza's death. "They suggest that voting for Jenny will only result in a costly Special Election. I am asking you to vote for Jenny Oropeza. If a Special Election is called in a few months, you’ll have the chance to thoughtfully elect your Senator for a new four-year term."
CNN affiliate KTLA-TV in Los Angeles reports that Oropeza's name remained on the ballot because she died so close to the election.
So why encourage people to vote for her? Democrats likely hoped that at least they would get the chance to nominate a new Democratic candidate. And that's likely what will happen, KTLA reports, saying Oropeza's seat will be declared vacant, and a special election will be called in December.
Ballistic tests have linked a shooting at a Coast Guard recruiting office in Virginia to four other shootings at military facilities last month, the FBI said Wednesday.
FBI spokesman Andrew Ames provided no other immediate details.
The latest incident was reported Tuesday morning after a bullet struck the recruiting office, housed in a Woodbridge strip mall.
The description was "relatively similar" to October cases in which shots were fired at the Pentagon, the National Museum of the Marine Corps and a vacant Marine recruiting station, said 1st Sgt. Kim Chinn, spokeswoman for Prince William County police.
Three suspected U.S. drone strikes killed 13 people Wednesday in Pakistan's tribal region, two intelligence officials told CNN.
All three incidents occurred in North Waziristan, one of the seven tribal districts bordering Afghanistan.
The surfing world is mourning the loss of triple world champion Andy Irons, who died unexpectedly at 32. Irons had withdrawn from an event amid concerns that he and others on the tour contracted dengue fever and was returning home to Hawaii when he was found dead in an airport hotel while he had a layover in Dallas, Texas. It was unclear if he died from the illness or from something else. Officials said they were investigating the death.
Irons was known for his battles with world-renowned nine-time champion Kelly Slater, one of the people who got him into surfing.
"It's all about the feeling I get from riding that wave," Irons said in a video for one of the tours called "I Surf Because." "That first wave is the reason why I think everyone keeps coming back."
And making a comeback is just what Irons had done. He had taken a year off, and admittedly struggled with some personal problems, but said getting back into surfing was what helped him get through it.
"I have a lot of inner demons. If I didn't have surfing to get those out of my system, I would self-destruct," he said in the video. "Surfing's the only reason that keeps me going at a normal state. It keeps my life at an even keel; without it, it would just tip into oblivion."
A series of parcel bombs targeting embassies in Greece and officials across Europe "are not related to international terrorism and groups like al Qaeda," Greek government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said Wednesday.
The country is suspending air shipments of all mail and packages for 48 hours after the parcel bombs were sent from the capital, the Public Order Ministry announced Wednesday.
European authorities discovered packages Tuesday addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Neither package reached its target and police destroyed both in controlled explosions.
Both packages had arrived on flights from Athens, Greece, authorities said.
Two other parcels containing explosives were discovered in the cargo section of the Athens airport on Tuesday, police spokesman Thanassis Kokkalakis said. They were addressed to the European Union law enforcement agency Europol, based in The Hague, Netherlands, and the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, he said.
[Updated at 11:02 a.m.] Indonesia's Mount Merapi volcano erupted several times Wednesday, and an earthquake struck off of the coast of Papua, Indonesia, far to the east of the volcano.
Mount Merapi, in central Java, spewed plumes intermittently for about five hours, sending out enough ash to prompt authorities to extend the danger zone an extra 5 km, to a 15 km radius from the volcano.
The extension forced thousands of evacuees to seek shelter farther away, a local journalist told CNN.
Mount Merapi's lava and ash have killed at least 39 people since it began erupting on October 26. An additional 74 have been injured and more than 71,000 people have been evacuated, according to Indonesia's National Disaster Management Board.