The day's most popular stories
December 24th, 2010
10:50 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

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

New York police video may yield clues: New York police said Friday they have new video showing what they called a "person of interest" in the case of a woman whose body was found in a suitcase earlier this week.

New York governor makes admission: New York Gov. David A. Paterson said "in retrospect" he regretted not informing the victim's family before he commuted the sentence of a man convicted of killing an unarmed teenager during a confrontation.

Police probe death of model at home of Busch beer heir: Frontenac, Missouri, police officers got a 911 call just before 1:15 p.m. last Sunday about an unresponsive woman at a residence later identified as belonged to August Busch IV, said Thomas Becker, the town's police chief.

Some of Google's ex-workers fight the machine:  Some of the people who leave Google are challenging the company in the best way an engineer knows how: by developing programs that could detract from Google's core business.

Threat of winter weather grounds flights: Delta Air Lines has pre-emptively canceled approximately 500 Christmas Day flights, a company spokesman said Friday, as it and other U.S. airlines work to get ahead of a storm that's threatening the East Coast.

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Filed under: David Paterson • Most Popular • New York
When Grinches Attack: A roundup of Christmas crime
December 24th, 2010
10:24 PM ET

When Grinches Attack: A roundup of Christmas crime


For most, Christmas is a time of good cheer and merrymaking.
But there are always a few – Grinches, Scrooges, Old St. Sicks – who spoil the fun.

Police in Forest Grove, Oregon, are still searching for the thieves that made off with about $100 from a Santa who raises funds for leukemia research during the holidays, according to CNN affiliate KOIN.

Mickey Johnson said he thought nothing of it Wednesday when three teenagers approached his holiday display in the yard.

“This one boy in the group came up like he was going to put money in the sock, picked the sock up and went running down the road,” he said.

Johnson said his holiday spirit is rooted in a good cause.

“It was about 10 years ago that my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia and I thought, 'Well, this’ll be a good opportunity to put a sock out and make donations to the Leukemia society.' ”

The community has more than replaced what was stolen, according to CNN affiliate KATU in Portland.

A West Hartford, Connecticut, woman is spending Christmas behind bars after allegedly throwing a Christmas tree at her parents during an argument, according to CNN affiliate WFSB in Connecticut.

Francheska Terreo’s parents were not injured in the fight, but police said the 19-year-old, who had been drinking, also allegedly threw a phone at her mother, police told WFSB.

In Flint, Michigan, a burglar took Christmas presents from a family on Wednesday, according to MLive.

Among the items the family reported missing were a DVD player, a bicycle, one pair each of Spider-Man skates and Tinkerbell skates.

In Stockholm, Sweden, two men dressed as Santa Claus managed to ambush a guard of the Swedish Royal Palace and steal his gun, according to the Herald Sun website.

The guards were carrying loaded AK-5 automatic rifles, the Sun quotes a Swedish police officer as saying. "The two men, dressed in Father Christmas clothes and masks, entered a restricted area by a guard post, hit him and then ran off," Officer Anders Krook said, according to the Sun.

Residents in Newport Beach, California, hope the Grinch that has been stealing packages from the doorsteps of area homes has been pinched after surveillance images led to the arrest of a woman, according to CNN affiliate KTLA.

Police say Melanie Kathleen Astin of Newport Beach is suspected in a package-stealing spree that ran for several weeks and victimized 10 to 20 homes, according to KTLA.

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Filed under: Charity • Crime • Justice
Delta grounds flights amid storm fears
December 24th, 2010
04:06 PM ET

Delta grounds flights amid storm fears

CNN confirms from Delta Airlines spokesperson Morgan Durrant that 300 Atlanta flights have been canceled in advance of a Christmas storm on the East Coast. Systemwide, the airline has canceled approximately 500 flights.

Read the complete story on CNN.com

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Filed under: Air travel • Weather
West African leaders threaten use of force against Gbagbo
December 24th, 2010
03:22 PM ET

West African leaders threaten use of force against Gbagbo

At an emergency meeting Friday, West African leaders warned they will not hesitate to use "legitimate force" if necessary to defuse an escalating crisis in Ivory Coast sparked by incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to cede power.

"In the event that Mr. Gbagbo fails to heed this immutable demand of ECOWAS, the Community would be left with no alternative but to take other measures, including the use of legitimate force, to achieve the goals of the Ivorian people," said a statement issued Friday by the 15-member Economic Community of West African States.

"Against the background of the parlous security situation, the Heads of State and Government hereby instruct the President of the ECOWAS Commission to convene without delay a meeting of the Committee of Chiefs of Defense Staff in order to plan future actions, including the provision of security along the Côte d'Ivoire-Liberia border, in the event that their message is not heeded," the statement said.

The regional bloc, which has already urged Gbagbo to acknowledge the results of Ivory Coast's presidential election and hand over power to his challenger, Alassane Ouattara, called an emergency meeting in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Ivory Coast • Politics
SI.com: 32 most agonizing defeats
December 24th, 2010
01:41 PM ET

SI.com: 32 most agonizing defeats

Remember Chris Webber's infamous timeout? Or Steve Bartman's untimely snag?

When you think of the Boston Red Sox, do you think of recent World Series victories? Or do you think of painful losses and a wobbly grounder splitting Bill Buckner's legs at first base? And when you think of major collapses, do you get flashbacks to Greg Norman at Augusta or Jean Van de Velde rolling up his pants and wading in the Barry Burn at Carnoustie?

Our strongest sports memories aren't always our fondest, but the harsh reality is sports can often be as cruel as they are rewarding. For every winner, there is a loser. And for every priceless moment of utter bliss, there is usually a devastating feeling of emptiness right around the corner.

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Filed under: Basketball • Football • Golf • Hockey • Sports
Did Abraham Lincoln's assassin get away? DNA could end questions
December 24th, 2010
12:45 PM ET

Did Abraham Lincoln's assassin get away? DNA could end questions

Inside a grave in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is DNA that could finally put to rest debate about whether Abraham Lincoln's killer escaped capture and lived for years before committing suicide.

What's that you say? Wasn't this all solved 145 years ago? That depends on who you ask.

The way it's written in history books, John Wilkes Booth was cornered 12 days after shooting President Lincoln at Ford's Theatre and killed in a tobacco barn before being laid to rest in a family plot. But there have been several historians over the years not entirely satisfied with this version.

"If the man who killed our greatest president got away and a giant hoax was perpetrated on the American people, then we should know about it," historian Nate Orlowek told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Descendants of Booth's have heard various stories about whether he was actually able to live another 38 years, traveling around the country and changing his name several times before killing himself, according to The Inquirer.

The theory has been debated before in published books, documentaries, TV shows and even Thursday night on the History Channel on Brad Meltzer’s "Decoded," which is examining compelling mysteries from the past.

Which brings us back to the present - and that grave in Cambridge. It contains the body of John Wilkes Booth's brother, Edwin Booth, who was a Shakespearean actor buried in 1893.

Descendants of the men have now agreed to exhume the body of Edwin Booth in an effort to put the family drama to rest.

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Who is 2010's most intriguing person?
December 24th, 2010
12:07 PM ET

Who is 2010's most intriguing person?

Every weekday, CNN takes a closer look at the news and the chatter dominating the global conversation to find the most intriguing people.

Whether it's because they've done something good or something bad, something unexpected or something that we just can't stop talking about, we need to know more about these people.

Sometimes, people make the list for things they've said (again, good or bad), and sometimes it's for a video that's surfaced from someone's past. Perhaps there's a story line that's as gripping as a blink-and-you-miss-it movie scene.

They're the people behind the stories that have you Googling endlessly to learn more. Who are they? Where did they come from? And why the heck is everyone around me asking if I know them?

They can be celebrities, politicians, innovators, company CEOs or sports superstars. And sometimes they may not be people you know well - but we think something they're doing just has to be highlighted. Whether or not they've been thrust into the limelight as part of a story (willingly sometimes, other times not), there were many occasions the most intriguing people were ones we hadn't even heard of before that day.

We narrowed it down to 20, and now we need your help to decide the top 10 most intriguing people of 2010.

Who do you think was the most intriguing of 2010? We've created an interactive so you can rank your top 10 by dragging the images on the right to the appropriate slots on the left. You've got until midnight ET Tuesday, December 28, to vote on CNN.com and share your list with others.

Then, you can tune in Thursday, December 30, to CNN. We'll be unveiling the top 10 list throughout the day. Stay tuned and check the site to see how your list compares.

VOTE HERE
Gotta watch: parliament plunge; granny robber; surfing Santa; seismic state
December 24th, 2010
11:28 AM ET

Gotta watch: parliament plunge; granny robber; surfing Santa; seismic state

Man plunges off parliament balcony in protest – A Romanian man protesting government spending cuts threw himself 23 feet from a balcony as the Prime Minister began speaking. Television engineer Adrian Sobaru was apparently upset over the budget cuts that were going to affect benefits for his autistic son. The leap was broadcast live on national television while the Romanian Parliament was in the process of a no-confidence vote. The man survived with non life-threatening injuries. The government survived the no-confidence vote.

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Filed under: Arizona • Crime • Earthquake • Gotta Watch • Romania
Convicted urine collector in trouble again
December 24th, 2010
11:11 AM ET

Convicted urine collector in trouble again

An Ohio man whose fetish-driven actions led Ohio to pass a law banning the collection of bodily fluids may be headed back to jail.

Alan David Patton, 59, is awaiting trial for allegedly installing urine-collection devices in a Lewis Center, Ohio, fast-food restaurant, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

He was convicted in 2009 of charges related to collecting other people's urine in his hometown of Dublin, Ohio, according to the newspaper.

The registered sex offender is accused of violating his bond conditions for the more recent case, the Dispatch reported. He faces as long as eight months in jail and $1,500 in fines if convicted, it said.

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Filed under: Crime • Ohio • U.S.
Two injured in Texas plant explosion
December 24th, 2010
11:06 AM ET

Two injured in Texas plant explosion

[Updated at 11:06 a.m.] An explosion has injured two people at a plant in Crosby, Texas, police said Friday.

All of the employees at the plant were accounted for after the blast, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

Hazardous materials teams were called in, but no evacuations were required as a result of the explosion, sheriff's officials noted.

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Filed under: Texas
Friday's intriguing people
December 24th, 2010
10:07 AM ET

Friday's intriguing people

Lil Wayne

Just call him “Rapper Claus.”

Lil Wayne (pictured above) bought an $11,000 wheelchair for a New Jersey woman after her daughter wrote him multiple letters every week while he was in jail.

The 28-year-old rapper became a free man in November after serving eight months in New York's Rikers Island on a weapons charge.

Evelyn Austin said that her knees started going bad about 10 to 15 years and she reached the point where she couldn’t walk anymore.

Regarding Lil Wayne's gift, Austin, 64, told the New York Daily News, "I pray for him every night thanking him for this chair. I love every bit of it. It changed my life.”

FULL POST

Paris airport terminal evacuated because of snow on roof
December 24th, 2010
08:22 AM ET

Paris airport terminal evacuated because of snow on roof

Part of the main Paris airport was evacuated Friday due to the accumulation of snow on the roof, French state radio reported.

Passengers were moved from Terminal 2E to other parts of Charles de Gaulle airport.

Part of the roof of that terminal collapsed in 2004, shortly after the state-of-the-art building was inaugurated. Four people were killed, media reports at the time said.

About a foot of snow had fallen on the roof Friday by the time authorities decided to close the terminal, French media reports said. Authorities were working to clear it and reopen the terminal. French authorities earlier Friday asked airlines to cancel half their flights to and from the airport because de-icing fluid is running low, they said.

FULL STORY

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Filed under: France • World
December 24th, 2010
04:37 AM ET

8 inmates injured in Arizona prison melee

Eight men were hospitalized Thursday after a melee among about 180 inmates in the lunchroom of an Arizona prison, authorities said.

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Filed under: Arizona