November 25th, 2010
10:28 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

The five most popular stories on CNN.com in the past 24 hours, according to NewsPulse.

College student missing near Syracuse, New York: Family, friends and classmates turned to prayer and Facebook on Wednesday amid an ongoing search in upstate New York for a missing college student. FULL STORY

South Korea names new defense minister, waffles over announcement: Lee Hee-won, a presidential security aide, has been named South Korea's new defense minister after the resignation of Kim Tae-young a day earlier, the Defense Ministry's press office said.

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Filed under: Most Popular
November 25th, 2010
10:06 PM ET

South Korea names new defense minister

[Updated at 10:02 p.m. ET] Lee Hee-won, a presidential security aide, has been named South Korea's new defense minister after the resignation of Kim Tae-young a day earlier, the Defense Ministry's press office said Friday.

But confusion between the factions of the Seoul government over the announcement only highlighted the concerns that led to Kim's resignation.

FULL STORY

[Posted at 9:04 p.m. ET] Lee Hee Won, a presidential security aide, has been named South Korea's new defense minister, the Defense Ministry's press office said Friday.

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Filed under: North Korea • South Korea
November 25th, 2010
08:52 PM ET

Tiny fishing village becomes flashpoint in Korean conflict

A dog scavenges for food; the family pet now a stray. An old lady, who refuses to leave her home, rearranges the shattered bricks as she tries to put her life back together.

Everywhere there is destruction on South Korea's tiny Yeonpyeong Island. Houses are incinerated, treasured possessions now charred remains. But it is the small things that reveal the most. The books tattered and burned. A family piano: now a blackened shell, and a kitchen with charred pots and pans and a child's broken cup.

North Korea rained shells on the island Tuesday and South Korea returned fire. For about an hour a 57-year-old armistice was broken and a war that has never really ended ignited again, and a tiny fishing village was suddenly and violently at the center of a flashpoint that some fear could tip the Korean peninsula into all out war.

The once bustling little community is now a ghost town. Hundreds of people have fled. Those who have stayed told CNN of the moment of terror.

FULL STORY

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Filed under: North Korea • South Korea
November 25th, 2010
07:00 PM ET

Black Friday 2010 gets a Thursday start

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, typically marks the start of the annual holiday gift-buying marathon.

Eager to jumpstart Black Friday sales, more large national retailers broke their norm by opening on Thanksgiving Day.

FULL STORY

November 25th, 2010
04:48 PM ET

Residents: Mosque destroyed in Palestinian village

A mosque and other structures were demolished by bulldozers in a Palestinian village in the West Bank early Thursday, according to village residents.

The Israeli Civil Administration said the demolished structures did not have "the required permits in a fire area, risking the lives of the population."

Residents of the village of Khirbet Yarza said they awoke Thursday to the sounds of bulldozers as Israeli personnel moved into the area. A mosque, seven metal structures, a tent and three animal sheds were demolished, residents said.

"Almost 200 military personal and 20 military jeeps and three bulldozers arrived this morning around 5:30 to the village and started demolishing structures and the village's sole mosque," Ahmad Abu Sa'ed, a Palestinian official and resident of the area, told CNN.

The village is home to some 200 Palestinians who largely depend on livestock and farming for their livings, he said.

FULL STORY

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Filed under: Israel • Palestinians
November 25th, 2010
01:30 PM ET

Al-Maliki begins to form new Iraqi government

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani officially named Nuri al-Maliki to a second term as prime minister in a televised ceremony Thursday.

Talabani gave a speech and handed a letter to the prime minister, asking him to form a new government following a months-long political stalemate that drew fears of a resurgence in sectarian and insurgent violence.

Al-Maliki has 30 days to work with rival factions and form a government or face the prospect of losing the president's nomination.

"I know very well, as do you, that the task I have been designated with is not an easy one, especially with Iraq's current circumstances," al-Maliki said. "So I urge the great Iraqi people ... and my brothers the politicians to work on getting past all the disputes that had dominated the past stages."

Al-Maliki's nomination came after months of delicate power-sharing negotiations within Iraq's fledgling democracy.

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Filed under: Iraq
November 25th, 2010
01:09 PM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Caleb Campbell

The West Point graduate is playing in his second NFL game today for the Detroit Lions, two years after being drafted out of the U.S. Military Academy.  Campbell is the first Army player in over a decade to play in a NFL game.

He thought he'd be able to report to the Lions in 2008 and serve as a recruiter while playing football, but the Defense Department changed the rules at the last minute, according to Yahoo! Sports blogger Chris Chase. After serving nearly all of his two years of mandatory military service, Campbell was signed to the practice squad in September and made his first game appearance Sunday. Today, surely he has plenty to be thankful for, and a second chance.

Choosing football over a military career is a decision he struggled with, Campbell told the Detroit News.

"They are over there putting their lives in harm's way and I'm here playing football," he said. "... I wondered if I was doing the right thing."

Update: The excitement over Campbell's play in the NFL was quelled when he was placed back on the practice quad before the Lions' Thanksgiving Day game.

FULL POST

November 25th, 2010
11:49 AM ET

WikiLeaks threat sparks massive review of diplomatic documents

The threat of publication of thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables by a muckraker website has prompted a massive review of documents at U.S. embassies around the world, a U.S. official says.

The official, who was not authorized to comment on the record, tells CNN that the State Department has, for months, been intensively dealing with the potential impact of the release of documents that WikiLeaks just recently

hinted it will publish. The documents are believed to include hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of diplomatic reporting cables from around the world from between 2006 and 2009, the official said.

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Filed under: WikiLeaks
November 25th, 2010
11:48 AM ET

This year's winter outlook: Extreme, again?

Last year's winter season dumped massive snowfalls and left people across the country trying to shovel their cars out.

Meteorological winter technically doesn’t start until December 1, but that didn’t stop two storms from spreading some snow across the Rockies and Upper Midwest this week. The second storm, which is making its way toward the Northeast on Thanksgiving Day, is ushering in an arctic blast of cold air behind the precipitation.

Cities in Montana hit record lows around 20 degrees below zero, and high temperatures on Thursday will be 10 to 20 degrees below average from California to the Great Lakes.

With this early start to winter, one can’t help but wonder what’s in store this year. Last year was record-breaking, with “Snowmaggedon” and “Snowpocalypse” making their way into our vocabulary. Although it’s always hard to say with certainty what an entire season will bring and whether we’ll see a repeat of last winter, some climate indicators from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration make it easy to forecast what regions will see precipitation and temperatures that are out of the ordinary.

La Nina set in this year and is expected to strengthen over the next few months. If we look at what other La Nina events have bestowed on North America, we can say with some confidence:

The Northwest will be colder and wetter than average.

This includes rain and snow, but if the past week is any indication, the Northwest should be prepared for above-average snowfall. Seattle, Washington, has already set snowfall records this year and will probably continue to do so through February.

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Filed under: U.S. • Weather
November 25th, 2010
11:26 AM ET

India marks two years since Mumbai terror attacks

Indians will march for peace, pray, and lay wreaths Friday in memory of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, in which 164 people were killed.

The state's chief minister, Prithviraj Chavan, will lead government officials and railway police in homage at the Victoria Terminus railway station, one of several places that came under assault by gunmen, on the second anniversary of the attacks.

The peace march and multi-faith prayers will take place at Mumbai's Gateway of India monument.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a message of solidarity Thursday to mark the assaults, in which 10 men stormed the station, the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower and Oberoi-Trident hotels, and the Jewish cultural center, Chabad House.

"As the people of the United States gather with family to celebrate Thanksgiving, we pause to remember the horrific attack on innocent men, women and children that occurred in Mumbai two years ago," Clinton said in a statement. "Now, as then, the American people stand in solidarity with the people of India and honor those who lost their lives."

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Filed under: India • Terrorism
November 25th, 2010
10:51 AM ET

NASA: Stripe that disappeared on Jupiter coming back

A three-color composite image shows a belt that had previously vanished in Jupiter's atmosphere is now getting a bit darker and seems to be reappearing.

One of Jupiter's stripes that "disappeared" last spring is reappearing and the disappearance was apparently an illusion created by Jupiter's atmosphere, NASA scientists said.

Scientists noticed earlier this year that the longstanding dark-brown stripe, called the South Equatorial Belt, had turned white, essentially disappearing. Researchers with NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility, the W.M. Keck Observatory and the Gemini Observatory telescope began studying the phenomenon and found the answer likely lies in a cloud deck made up of white ammonia ice that basically obscured the ring.

"Every few decades or so,  the South Equatorial Belt turns completely white for perhaps one to three years, an event that has puzzled scientists for decades," NASA said in a press release.

NASA said that "extreme change" has only been seen on that particular stripe, making it unique for Jupiter and all of our solar system.

"The reason Jupiter seemed to 'lose' this band camouflaging itself among the surrounding white bands is that the usual downwelling winds that are dry and keep the region clear of clouds died down," said Glenn Orton, a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "One of the things we were looking for in the infrared was evidence that the darker material emerging to the west of the bright spot was actually the start of clearing in the cloud deck, and that is precisely what we saw."

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November 25th, 2010
10:47 AM ET

Pakistani minister: Christian woman should be freed

A Christian Pakistani woman sentenced to death for blasphemy is innocent and should be released, Pakistan's minister for minority affairs told CNN.

Shahbaz Bhatti reached his conclusion after a three-day investigation into allegations that Bibi defiled the name of the Prophet Mohammed during an argument last year with Muslim fellow field workers.

Bhatti said he personally submitted his finding to President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday and recommended Bibi be freed.

"This case was filed on the basis of religious and personal enmity," Bhatti said.

Despite the minister's recommendation, it is still not clear if or when Bibi will be pardoned by the president.

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Filed under: Christian • Pakistan • Religion
November 25th, 2010
09:08 AM ET

Boys found alive after 50 days at sea

For three boys from the Tokelau Islands the word miracle has a whole new meaning.

After going missing following a sporting event in October, and after several unsuccessful searches by New Zealand's air force, they were presumed dead. About 500 people on the island held a memorial service for them.

But for Samuel Perez and Filo Filo, both 15, and Edward Nasau, 14, this story ended in the most unbelievable way - being rescued by a tuna ship near Fiji after 50 days at sea.

Since October 5, the three survived with limited supply. They shared a single raw seagull and drank a tiny bit of rainwater. They eventually resorted to drinking small amounts of sea water, Australia's Herald Sun reported.

On Wednesday afternoon, their saga finally came to an end when the tuna boat, the San Nikunau, saw their small aluminum boat floating in the middle of open waters. They were and 750 nautical miles (1,300 km) away from where they went missing.

'We got to them in a miracle," the first mate, Tai Fredricsen, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"They were in reasonably good spirits for how long they'd been adrift," Fredricsen told the Herald Sun. "They were very badly sunburnt. They were in the open during the day up in the tropics there. But really they just needed basic first aid."

FULL POST

November 25th, 2010
08:06 AM ET

S. Korean defense minister resigns; North threatens additional attacks

South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young resigned Thursday, according to the South Korean presidency, two days after North Korea shelling left four South Koreans dead.

"The president has just accepted the defense minister's resignation," according to a spokesman for the Presidential Blue House.

Kim, a former general, came under heavy criticism after the March sinking of the South Korean vessel Cheonan and again after North Korea struck the South's Yeonpyeong Island on Tuesday.

FULL STORY

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Filed under: North Korea • South Korea
November 25th, 2010
08:03 AM ET

Government decreases death toll in Cambodian stampede

The Cambodian government has decreased the official death toll from a stampede on a suspension bridge in the capital from 456 to 347, the Phnom Penh Post reported Thursday.

The newspaper cited a letter signed by Ith Sam Heng, minister of social affairs, and released on Thursday. "The total number of dead victims is 347," the letter said, and 221 of those were women.

Government investigators said Wednesday that the bridge swayed as thousands of people attempted to cross it Monday night during the Water Festival. That apparently led to fears it would collapse, triggering the
stampede. Hundreds of others were injured in the incident.

FULL STORY

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Filed under: Cambodia