The five most popular stories on CNN.com in the last 24 hours, according to NewsPulse:
Man falls to death at Chicago's Soldier Field: The death of a man who fell from an upper deck Sunday during a home game of the Chicago Bears has been ruled an "accident" by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office, a spokeswoman said Monday.
Police: Father of missing boys lied about relationship with woman: The father of three missing Michigan boys has no "established relationship" with a mystery woman that he claimed he left his sons with before unsuccessfully trying to commit suicide, a police chief investigating the boys' disappearance said Monday.
Clinton condemns WikiLeaks' latest release: The United States' top diplomat condemned Monday the secret-busting website WikiLeaks' release of hundreds of thousands of documents that detail with unusual frankness the nation's diplomatic interactions with other countries.
Couple's first home is a meth house: A Pennsylvania couple said they didn't know their newly purchased home had hosted a meth lab. After they moved in, they complained of having headaches, sore throats and difficulty breathing - all symptoms of possible methamphetamine exposure.
Seoul warns N. Korea over future attacks: On the same day it ratcheted up its rhetoric against North Korea, South Korea on Monday decided to put off an artillery drill on the island central to the latest conflagration between the two nations, state-run media reported.
Iran and the approaches that governments are taking with the Islamic Republic are major topics in some of the sensitive U.S. diplomatic documents released by WikiLeaks this week. The documents deal with, among other things, Iran's ties with North Korea and Arab states' concerns about their Persian neighbor. Here are five key things to know about the Iran-related documents and the effects of their release.
IRAN-NORTH KOREA TIES
Whether North Korea has strengthened its ties with Iran and recently sold Iran its most powerful missiles depends on whether you believe U.S. intelligence or Russian intelligence.
In a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks and dated February 2010, U.S. officials tell their Russian counterparts that North Korea has sold Iran 19 advanced missiles based on Russian design and capable of hitting targets in Western Europe.
The cable says the Russians dismiss the U.S. intelligence reports and call them unreliable.
"There is no evidence for this and concealment of such a transfer would be impossible," the cable quotes a Russian official as saying.
Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia, pleaded not guilty Monday to a single count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. A federal grand jury in Portland indicted him on that charge shortly before his Monday afternoon court appearance, and he could face life in prison if convicted.
About 100 people, including several members of the area's Somali-American community, packed the small hearing room and the hallway outside. Mohamud did not acknowledge them during the hearing.
The Oregon State University student was arrested Friday after he attempted to detonate what he believed was an explosives-laden van parked near a tree-lighting ceremony in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square, law enforcement officials said. But the bomb was fake, thanks to an undercover operation designed to undermine the plotter, and officials said the public was never in danger from the mock device.
[Updated, 9:41 p.m.] All 24 people taken hostage by an armed student on Monday have been released - unharmed - from a northeast Wisconsin high school, Marinette Police Chief Jeffrey Skorik said.
[Original post, 7:12 p.m.] A student with a gun is holding an unknown number of people hostage in a classroom at Marinette High School in northeast Wisconsin, according to the Marinette County Emergency Management agency.
No injuries have been reported, and police are at the scene, the agency said in a statement.
A school administrator called police at 3:48 p.m. CT, reporting that an armed student had gone into a classroom and taken those inside hostage.
Law enforcement personnel urged parents who didn't know their children's whereabouts to go to the Marinette County Courthouse. The street to the high school was blocked off, according to CNN affiliate WBAY.
Marinette has about 11,400 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Bordering Lake Michigan, the city is just more than 50 miles north of Green Bay.
WikiLeaks, a whistle-blowing website known for leaking state secrets, released on Sunday its latest batch of controversial documents. It has posted the first of what it says will be more than 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables.
[Updated at 10:14 p.m.]
– Ecuador has asked WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange to come to Quito and discuss documents regarding Ecuador and other Latin American countries. Ecuador expelled two U.S. diplomats in February 2009, accusing them of meddling in its internal affairs - allegations the State Department denied. The foreign ministry in Quito suggested Assange, an Australian citizen, apply for residency there.
– WikiLeaks documents posted on the websites of the Guardian and the New York Times suggest China is losing patience with its long-time ally North Korea, with senior figures in Beijing describing the regime in the North as behaving like a "spoiled child." According to cables obtained by WikiLeaks and cited by the Guardian, South Korea's vice-foreign minister Chun Yung-woo said he had been told by two senior Chinese officials (whose names are redacted in the cables) that they believed Korea should be reunified under Seoul's control, and that this view was gaining ground with the leadership in Beijing.
– The world's military shopping list is being exposed through the WikiLeaks publications. State-of-the-art missiles and American military helicopters are a frequent topic of discussion in the released diplomatic cables, which also show a keen interest in what weaponry Iran has and how to defend against them.
– From 2005 to 2009, U.S. diplomats regularly reported that Brazil tried to distance itself from what it saw as an "overly aggressive" American war on terror, and was highly sensitive highly to public claims suggesting that terrorist organizations have a presence in the country, according to cables released by WikiLeaks. But Brazil's counter-terrorism policy seemed to shift in 2009, with a cable detailing the government's strategy to deter terrorists from "using Brazilian territory to facilitate attacks or raise funds."
– Former President George W. Bush told a forum at Facebook's headquarters Monday that the document leak is "very damaging," adding that it may significantly hurt Washington's image abroad. "It's going to be very hard to keep the trust of foreign leaders," the nation's 43rd president said. "If you have a conversation with a foreign leader and it ends up in a newspaper, you don't like it. I didn't like it."
Here's a look at the leak, an overview of how WikiLeaks works and a summary of what some of the documents say about a variety of topics.
– Sunday's leak contained the first of what the site says will be 251,288 cables that it plans to release piecemeal in the coming weeks or months.
In a word: WikiLeaks.
Actually, make that millions of words contained in reams of secret diplomatic correspondence that whistleblower website WikiLeaks has published. The move stoked the ire of world leaders, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But WikiLeaks continues to egg on its critics with taunting Tweets.
The huge amount of information WikiLeaks has put into the public sphere can feel overwhelming. Judging by search terms trending high on Google, folks are simply trying to ascertain what this big story is all about. A good start would be CNN.com's "What is WikiLeaks." The New York Times also offers a six-minute take on their expansive Cablegate coverage. The Guardian, in addition to the Times, had advance access to the cables, so check out its site for details. No one knows for sure whether the cables amount to mere embarrassment for descriptive diplomats (and a British prince) or whether they'll do real, lasting damage.
There's no doubt, though, that it is concerning. Look, even Canada is involved.
Speaking of our northern neighbors, we lost an American treasure (who is really Canadian) this week. Leslie Nielsen died at age 84. Among numerous online tributes, we enjoyed NPR's nod to the actor's comic timing.
There was nothing comical about a rather ugly fight on the field in Houston, which is trending high Monday. Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan, behave! Even Black Friday shoppers didn't get that out of hand.
A federal court on Monday sentenced a Somali man to 30 years in prison for acts related to high-seas piracy, according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
"Today marks the first sentencing in Norfolk for acts of piracy in more than 150 years," U.S. Attorney MacBride said in the statement. "Piracy is a growing threat throughout the world, and today's sentence ... demonstrates that the United States will hold modern-day pirates accountable in U.S. courtrooms."
Jama Idle Ibrahim pleaded guilty in federal court in August, admitting he had intended to seize a U.S. merchant vessel on April 10 and hold it for ransom.
Not-so-comical mission - There comes a time in every man's life where he comes to a crossroad, time to calculate a purpose and envision the trail ahead. For one man, the trail was followed for miles and miles in a cheap, store-bought comic book costume and comfortable shoes. A Tennessee man says he's bursting with American pride and has taken to the streets to prove it in a heartfelt, albeit confusing, attempt to raise awareness for homeless veterans.
With its sparse design, WikiLeaks doesn't look like it would stir incredible worldwide controversy. But that's what the whistleblower website has done since this summer, and most recently over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
On Sunday, WikiLeaks published part of what it says is a cache of more than a quarter-million U.S. diplomatic cables. The leak of this classified material could be embarrassing at best, some say. At worst, revelations in the cables "can damage national security" and "may put lives at risk."
The organization known as WikiLeaks has been defined many different ways. It has previously said it publishes and comments on leaked documents that allege government and corporate misconduct, and it is supported by private, confidential donors. The Wall Street Journal breaks down how the site keeps its funding secret.
Although WikiLeaks has been online since 2006, it attained megawatt international celebrity in July after what was then considered the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history - the release of 90,000 secret documents about the war in Afghanistan - appeared on the site.
Federal agents highlighted Cyber Monday, a peak day for online shopping, by seizing 82 websites selling Chinese-made counterfeit products in a crackdown designed to severely sting criminals in the pocketbook.
The knock-off goods carrying leading U.S. and other Western brands sold for a mere fraction of the cost of authentic fashions, handbags, watches, sunglasses, shoes, scarves and other consumer goods.
"We have disrupted the sale of thousands of counterfeit items while also cutting off funds to those willing to exploit the ingenuity of others for their own personal gain," said Attorney General Eric Holder.
Holder and other top federal authorities said most of the commercial websites engaged in the illegal sales were operated by Chinese firms, and the counterfeit goods were virtually all made in China.
No arrests were associated with the takedown of the websites.
Didn't think the Nuggets had the goods to deliver without Carmelo Anthony? Guess again, because if Sunday night’s game against the Phoenix Suns was any indication, Denver is certainly a team to contend with, even when Melo-less. Their standout point guard was sidelined less than three minutes into the game after experiencing flu-like symptoms, forcing the rest of the Nuggets offense to step up.
And step up they did.
J.R. Smith recorded a season-high 30 points while the team went on to win the league’s highest scoring game this season so far with a 138-133 rout of the Suns. The Nuggets also got some help from recently-returned Chauncey Billups who put up 25 points and eight assists for his team in his first game back on the court since spraining his right wrist. Though the Suns charged back, narrowing the score 128-125 in the fourth, Steve Nash’s missed three-pointer with 17.8 seconds left ended Phoenix come-from-behind hopes. But despite winning without Anthony, the Nuggets were far from pleased with their fourth quarter performance and how close they came to throwing away their lead.
"I thought we'd do a little better in the fourth quarter," Billups said after the game. "Giving up 44 points is really unacceptable, no matter who you're playing."
Though the win certainly shows that the Nuggets can hold their own even without Melo, SI.com’s Brett Robson acknowledges that the team still has a ways to go before it can climb to the top of the standings.
But NBA balling aside, tonight has plenty of action for NFL and NHL fans:
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers (7 p.m., ET) – For the second time in two weeks, the Penguins and Rangers will square off. The Rangers have won four of their last five games, including a victory against the Penguins in overtime on Nov. 15.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak warned Monday that North Korea will face severe consequences if it launches another military attack across its southern border.
"If the North commits any additional provocations against the South, we will make sure that it pays a dear price without fail," he said in a nationally televised address.
"We are aware of the historic lesson that a disgraceful peace achieved through intimidation only brings about greater harm in the end."
The singer, known for his chart-topping song "This is how we do it," is announcing his retirement from the music industry and his plans to become a licensed minister in January.
After New Year's, Jordan intends to serve only one audience, as a worship pastor at Victory World Church in Norcross, Georgia.
"It's just been an amazing career. And it has been great," Jordan told WXIA-TV. "But it's a calling that's probably been with me all my life, since I was a child. And I've known it. A lot of people in the business know it and have the same calling, but that leap of faith is difficult."
Secrets-busting website WikiLeaks, which began publishing a giant trove of confidential U.S. government papers on Sunday, didn't expect the papers to reveal as much espionage as they apparently do, a spokesman said Monday.
"I was surprised at (the) extent of the spying," Kristinn Hrafnsson told CNN.
WikiLeaks claims it has 251,288 cables sent by American diplomats between the end of 1966 and February 2010, which it will release piecemeal over the course of weeks or months, Hrafnsson said.
President Obama will announce a two-year freeze in the wages of federal employees Monday, with the intention of saving $60 billion over the next 10 years.
Obama was scheduled to announce the proposal later Monday.
According to an administration statement, the two-year pay freeze will save $2 billion for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, $28 billion over the next five years, and more than $60 billion over the next decade.
The freeze does not apply to military personnel, but will apply to all civilian federal employees, including those in various alternative pay plans and those working at the Department of Defense.
"This freeze is not to punish federal workers or to disrespect the work that they do," the White House said in a statement. "It is the first of many actions we will take in the upcoming budget to put our nation on sound fiscal footing - which will ask for some sacrifice from us all."
Republicans have argued in favor of a freeze in recent weeks, and the co-chairmen of Obama's bipartisan deficit commission made a similar recommendation earlier this month.
WikiLeaks documents – WikiLeaks, the website sitting on a trove of U.S. diplomatic cables, didn't expect the papers to reveal as much espionage as they apparently do, a spokesman says. The New York Times and four European news outlets that had received the documents in advance began publishing excerpts on Sunday. Many of them detail conversations on sensitive issues between American officials and leaders in the Middle East, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Major topics in the documents include pressure from U.S. allies in the Middle East for decisive action to neutralize Iran's nuclear program, conversations about military action against al Qaeda militants in Yemen, and Washington's efforts to have highly enriched uranium removed from a Pakistani research reactor.
Here are some of the angles on the story that our reporters are working on today:
A gunman in an Afghan Border Police uniform opened fire on NATO-led service members Monday, killing six of them, the International Security Assistance Force said.
The incident happened during a training mission in eastern Afghanistan, ISAF said in a statement. A joint Afghan and ISAF team are investigating.
The suspect was also killed in the incident, the statement said.
Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who was arrested on Friday night for allegedly attempting to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oregon, is due in federal court Monday to answer to charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
As of a year ago, the 19-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia lived with his family in Beaverton, Oregon, across the street from Stephanie Napier.
Napier spoke with John Roberts on American Morning Monday morning to describe her impression of the Mohamud family.
10:00 am ET - Department of Justice briefing – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder participates in a briefing on what’s being described as an “intellectual property enforcement action.”
10:15 am ET - Clinton remarks on WikiLeaks – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to issue a statement on WikiLeaks’ decision to publish thousands of diplomatic cables from U.S. embassies around the world.
An internet service outage for some Comcast customers on the East Coast eased early Monday, the company said.
"Late this evening, our engineers identified a server issue that was affecting only Internet service in Greater Boston and DC/Beltway areas," Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said.
Shortly after midnight Monday, the problem appeared to be resolved. Comcast engineers "are reporting service is working properly again," Douglas said.