The day's most popular stories
December 29th, 2010
10:53 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

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

Cops: Man on plane hit teen using phone: A 68-year-old Idaho man (pictured) has been charged with misdemeanor battery after, police say, he struck a teen who would not turn off his iPhone while the plane they were in was taxiing for takeoff.

Man facing trial on hacking charge defends reading wife's e-mails: A Michigan computer technician faces a jury trial in February for allegedly hacking into his then-wife's e-mail account.

Man: Wife's death was sex fantasy accident: An Oklahoma man tells police his wife was killed when a handgun went off in their bedroom during fantasy sex play.

Disneyland sells out second day in a row: California's Disneyland filled to capacity two hours after opening Tuesday - the second day in a row the 55-year-old theme park was forced to turn potential guests away because of overcrowding.

How man's shame sparked a 300-pound weight loss: Lugging a nearly 500-pound body, Matt Hoover was unhappy. He knew how to lose weight but was paralyzed by inaction. It took one mortifying moment to get him moving.


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U.S. revokes Venezuelan ambassador's visa
December 29th, 2010
10:02 PM ET

U.S. revokes Venezuelan ambassador's visa

The U.S. government has taken "reciprocal action" against Venezuela's rejection of the U.S. ambassador to Caracas by revoking the visa of the Venezuelan ambassador to Washington, a State Department official said Wednesday.

"We said there would be consequences when the Venezuelan government rescinded (the agreement to accept the diplomatic credentials) regarding our (ambassadorial) nominee, Larry Palmer. We have taken appropriate, proportional and reciprocal action," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday night.

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Filed under: Venezuela
Group: American accused of kidnapping in Haiti released
December 29th, 2010
09:08 PM ET

Group: American accused of kidnapping in Haiti released

An American relief worker who was jailed in Haiti this month after a father accused him of kidnapping a 15-month-old boy has been released, the American's nonprofit organization said Wednesday.

Paul Waggoner was being transported from the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to "a safe location where he will receive immediate medical attention," according to Materials Management Relief Corps, which Waggoner co-founded.

Waggoner's supporters, who maintain that the boy was not kidnapped but rather died in a Haitian hospital where the father sought treatment for him, say he will need to recover from horrific conditions at the penitentiary.

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Filed under: Haiti • Justice
William and Kate will dispense their own toothpaste, thank you
December 29th, 2010
07:22 PM ET

William and Kate will dispense their own toothpaste, thank you

Some royals have domestic staff who do things such as set out their clothes for the next day. But Britain’s Prince William and his fiancée apparently are set to do their own cooking and household tasks during their first years of marriage.

The prince and Kate Middleton, who are to marry in April, will not have household staff until at least after William finishes his tour as a Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot in three years, The Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.

They'll still have security personnel who will watch over them. But doing without a staff for cooking and cleaning is "probably William's way of protecting Kate and making sure that her entry into the royal family is as gentle and as palatable as he can possibly make it," Katie Nicholl, a royal correspondent for the Mail on Sunday, told CNN's Brooke Baldwin on Wednesday.

"I think it's been quite a big thing for Kate Middleton to get her head around having a protection officer. This is something she'd never had to have in her life before. Now she has one, and I think what they're both trying to do is preserve as much normality as they can while they can have it," Nicholl said.

While the second in line to the British throne might not forgo a domestic staff for the rest of his life, he may want a home life that contrasts with that of his father, Prince Charles, who has often been criticized by the British public for having too many staff, Nicholl said. About eight years ago, British media reported Charles allegedly had a valet who put toothpaste onto his toothbrush for him.

"I don't think William wants that. He wants to be far more independent," Nicholl said.

William and Kate already have done their own cooking, shopping and cleaning during weekends at a cottage on the Welsh island of Anglesey, where he is stationed, The Telegraph reported.

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Filed under: Prince William • United Kingdom
Mexican town's last police agent kidnapped
December 29th, 2010
04:49 PM ET

Mexican town's last police agent kidnapped

The last remaining police agent in Guadalupe, Mexico, was kidnapped last week, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state attorney general's office said.

Authorities are trying to find Ericka Gandara, who was kidnapped from her home in Guadalupe around 6 a.m. on Thursday, Chihuahua attorney general’s office spokesman Arturo Sandoval said.

Her family did not file a missing-person report, but authorities learned of her disappearance from friends.

The town of Guadalupe is on the outskirts of Juarez, a city in and around which two cartels have been engaged in a violent turf war since 2008.

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Filed under: Juarez • Mexico
The Most Intriguing Person of 2010 is ...
December 29th, 2010
02:23 PM ET

The Most Intriguing Person of 2010 is ...

Sorry! You'll have to wait until Thursday to find out who CNN.com's audience voted to be the most interesting figure of the year. Online ballots were cast beginning Friday until the wee hours of Wednesday morning. And oh boy, did you guys tell us who kept you guessing. Who stirred the most controversy? This is a person who kept you Googling for more, the person who got your attention for doing something good or bad or something in between. To see who we picked throughout the year, check out our This Just In Most Intriguing posts.

Who will be standing behind the curtain? The hours are counting down ...

NFL fines Brett Favre $50,000
December 29th, 2010
01:33 PM ET

NFL fines Brett Favre $50,000

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was fined $50,000 by the National Football League for failing to cooperate with an investigation into whether he sent sexually explicit messages to women, the league said Wednesday.

However, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, based on the evidence available, "could not conclude that Favre violated league policies relating to workplace conduct," the league said.

Favre was alleged to have sent inappropriate messages to Jenn Sterger, a female employee of the New York Jets while he was on the Jets roster in 2008.

"The forensic analysis could not establish that Favre sent the objectionable photographs to Sterger," the league's statement said.

It also said Sterger had not engaged in any inappropriate activity.

See CNN's full coverage of the NFL's decision
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Filed under: Brett Favre • Pro football • Sports
Suspended Ohio State players apologize
December 29th, 2010
12:42 PM ET

Suspended Ohio State players apologize

The five Ohio State football players who were suspended last week for the first five games of the 2011 season publicly apologized Tuesday, CNN affiliate WBNS reported.

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor, wide receiver DeVier Posey, tailback Daniel "Boom" Herron (pictured above), offensive lineman Mike Adams and defensive tackle Solomon Thomas took turns speaking at the university's Woody Hayes Athletic Center, most of them without notes.

"I was very young and immature," Pryor said. "I am deeply sorry."

The players were suspended because they received improper benefits for selling awards, gifts and university apparel.

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Filed under: College football • Ohio • Sports • U.S.
Burst water pipes leave Northern Ireland parched
December 29th, 2010
11:48 AM ET

Burst water pipes leave Northern Ireland parched

An estimated 40,000 people in Northern Ireland have been left without running water for as long as 10 days because of pipes that burst in the cold weather, officials said Wednesday.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and charities including the Red Cross have been drafted to help distribute emergency supplies after what the Belfast government called "an unprecedented number of burst pipes."

Almost 80 towns and villages across Northern Ireland have been affected, and government company Northern Ireland Water has warned the disruption could continue for several more days.

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Wednesday's intriguing people
December 29th, 2010
11:32 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Laurent Gbagbo

The president of Ivory Coast is refusing to give up the office despite a ruling by his own country's Independent Electoral Commission that he lost his bid for re-election November 28.

The international community, including the United States, the United Nations and the African Union, has recognized challenger Alassane Ouattara as the winner and urged Gbagbo, pictured above, to cede power.

Ouattara has started making appointments to the Cabinet and to diplomatic positions, but Gbagbo has threatened to expel the ambassadors of countries that recognize them.

Gbagbo said last week he would expel U.N. peacekeepers, but U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the troops would stay, and they have.

The presidents of three neighboring countries met Tuesday with each candidate, but no details emerged. They said Wednesday they would return Monday to continue working on the crisis.

Gbagbo was first elected in October 2000, after Ouattara was banned from running for the office. Ouattara, a former prime minister, refused to recognize Gbagbo's government.

A failed 2002 coup attempt led to a civil war that left the country divided into the south, ruled by the government, and the north, controlled by rebels, until a 2007 accord resolved the conflict.

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Injuries reported in explosion in Michigan
December 29th, 2010
10:56 AM ET

Injuries reported in explosion in Michigan

Police are investigating an explosion in a building in Wayne, Michigan, a western suburb of Detroit, authorities said.

A city official said a gas explosion had occurred at a downtown furniture store, resulting in injuries and damage.

CNN affiliate WDIV reported that several people remained trapped inside the store.

Another CNN affiliate, WXYZ, reported the explosion at the William C. Franks Furniture store could be heard two miles away.

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Filed under: Michigan • U.S.
Gotta watch: Year in deer; London lights up for 2012
December 29th, 2010
10:29 AM ET

Gotta watch: Year in deer; London lights up for 2012

Deer run amok in 2010 – Pesky cloven hooves keep deer from participating in most human activities, but that doesn't mean they won't try their darnedest to make a purchase at a local sundry, pony up to the bar for a brew or make a cash deposit at a neighborhood bank. CNN has covered some of the most important events in world history, but gathering dust in the back of the library is a wealth of curious gems featuring deer in their apparent most natural state – breaking and entering into our hearts. This video is a compilation of this year's best.

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Strong earthquake hits Vanuatu in Pacific
December 29th, 2010
10:22 AM ET

Strong earthquake hits Vanuatu in Pacific

A strong earthquake rattled Vanuatu in the southern Pacific on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey reports.

The epicenter for the magnitude 6.6 quake was about 72 miles west of Isangel at a depth of 31 kilometers (19 miles).

There were no immediate reports of damage. No tsunami warning was issued.

A stronger earthquake struck the island Sunday.

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Filed under: Earthquake • Tsunami • Vanuatu • World
On the Radar: Billy the Kid, snowy East Coast, Australian floods
December 29th, 2010
09:15 AM ET

On the Radar: Billy the Kid, snowy East Coast, Australian floods

Billy the Kid pardon? New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has promised to make a decision by Friday on whether to grant a posthumous pardon to notorious Old West gunslinger Billy the Kid.

Richardson will be deciding only the matter of a promise to the outlaw made by territorial Gov. Lew Wallace, Richardson spokesman Eric Witt said. "We're not offering a blanket pardon for everything he did."

Wallace had promised to grant the Kid (who also went by the name William Bonney) amnesty for the fatal shooting of Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady and other "misdeeds" if he agreed to testify before a grand jury investigating another murder. Bonney cooperated, but the pardon didn't happen.

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Filed under: Australia • Billy the Kid • Crime • History • New Mexico • U.S. • Winter weather
Police: Man attacks teen over cell phone on plane
December 29th, 2010
03:02 AM ET

Police: Man attacks teen over cell phone on plane

A 68-year-old Idaho man has been charged with misdemeanor battery after police say he struck a teen who would not turn off his phone while the plane they were in was taxiing for takeoff.

The incident took place Tuesday evening on a Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Boise, Idaho, said Lt. Kent Lipple of the Boise police.

The man, Russell Miller, was arrested after the plane landed, Lipple said.

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Filed under: Air travel
Texas police officer among 3 killed in apartment shooting
December 29th, 2010
01:42 AM ET

Texas police officer among 3 killed in apartment shooting

An Arlington, Texas, police officer was among three people killed following a shooting at an apartment complex Tuesday night, officials said.

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Filed under: Crime • Texas