The day's most popular stories
January 3rd, 2011
11:00 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

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

Police: Illinois woman's body believed found: Illinois authorities said Monday they had found the body of a woman who walked away from the December car crash that killed her husband.

Oscar-nominated actor Pete Postlethwaite dies: Oscar-nominated actor Pete Postlethwaite (pictured), who starred in "Inception" and "The Usual Suspects," has died at the age of 64, his agent said Monday.

Remains are those of missing Georgia woman: The mother of Kristi Cornwell, whose remains were discovered nearly a year and a half after she disappeared, said on Monday she is thankful to finally be able to bring her daughter home.

Jawbone rekindles cruise ship mystery: Ten people have vanished while vacationing in the Caribbean in the last 15 years, according to the Aruba Missing Persons website. One of them was Amy Lynn Bradley, then 23, who disappeared 12 years ago while on a vacation cruise with her family.

Falling birds likely died from massive trauma: The thousands of birds that fell from the sky just before midnight New Year's Eve in Arkansas likely died from massive trauma, according to a preliminary report released Monday.


Filed under: Most Popular
Body of former Pentagon official found in landfill
January 3rd, 2011
10:27 PM ET

Body of former Pentagon official found in landfill

Delaware authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding the recent discovery of the body of a former Pentagon official in a landfill, according to a statement released Monday by the Newark, Delaware, Police Department.

The Delaware medical examiner's office has ruled the death of 66-year-old John P. Wheeler a homicide.

Wheeler was discovered at Wilmington's Cherry Island Landfill on December 31.

Wheeler, who lived in New Castle, worked under three Republican presidents - Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. He served as a special assistant to the Air Force secretary from 2005 to 2008.

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Filed under: Crime • Delaware
Stocks hit two-year high
January 3rd, 2011
10:12 PM ET

Stocks hit two-year high

Some highlights of the day's business news:

Stocks off to a rockin' start in 2011

The Dow closed at a fresh two-year high Monday, getting the new year off to a strong start, after manufacturing and construction data stoked optimism about the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 93 points, or 0.8%, closing at 11,670.8 - its highest level since August 2008.

Bank of America was the biggest gainer on the blue-chip index, leading financial shares higher. Its shares surged more than 6% after the bank announced a $3 billion mortgage settlement with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac earlier in the day.

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Filed under: Business • Economy
Reports: $1M bid placed for Ahmadinejad's 1977 sedan
January 3rd, 2011
09:26 PM ET

Reports: $1M bid placed for Ahmadinejad's 1977 sedan

Someone appears to be pretty keen on getting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's 34-year-old car.

Not long after Ahmadinejad put his 1977 Peugeot 504 up for auction to benefit a housing project, someone submitted a $1 million bid for the vehicle, Iranian state media reported this week.

An Iranian welfare official said the bid came from an Arab country but didn't give further details, according to state-run Press TV, citing the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

Ahmadinejad recently decided to put his car (pictured) up for auction to help pay for a project building 60,000 houses a year for  disabled and low-income women who are providing for their families, according to Press TV and the auction's website.

People from around the world can submit bids at the auction site until the end of January, Press TV reported. Top bidders will then be invited to an in-person auction for the vehicle, the auction’s site says.

Ahmadinejad drove the vehicle when he was mayor of Tehran, before he became president in 2005, according to Press TV. The vehicle would be worth about $2,000 locally, Press TV said.

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Filed under: Iran
Twins born in separate years, by parents' choice
January 3rd, 2011
07:08 PM ET

Twins born in separate years, by parents' choice

If Madisen Carin Lewis ever starts teasing her twin brother by claiming to be a calendar year older than him, the boy will have his parents and his mother's doctor to blame.

The twins were intentionally delivered on different sides of the 2010/2011 divide by cesarean section in a Rockford, Illinois, hospital after a complication led a doctor to determine they needed to be born a month early, CNN affiliate WREX reported.

Madisen was born with one minute left in 2010 on Friday night, and her brother, Aiden Everette Lewis, was delivered seconds after midnight.

Their due date was January 28, but a doctor recommended an early C-section because of the complication, WREX reported. That gave the parents, Ashley Fansler and Brandon Lewis, the opportunity to choose to deliver the babies in different years.

"[The doctor] said, 'You know, if we wanted to deliver one this year and then one next year, we could do that if … everything is open," Brandon Lewis told WREX. "We decided to do it that way, and everything worked out."

Aiden was Rockford's first baby born in 2011, the Rockford Register Star reported.

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Filed under: Illinois
Falling birds likely died of trauma, Arkansas officials say
January 3rd, 2011
04:36 PM ET

Falling birds likely died of trauma, Arkansas officials say

Thousands of birds that fell from the sky just before midnight New Year's Eve in Arkansas likely died from massive trauma, according to a preliminary report released Monday.

The birds - most of which were dead when they were found - were red-winged blackbirds and starlings, and they were found within a one-mile area of Beebe, about 40 miles northeast of Little Rock, the Arkansas Game and Fish
Commission said.

Keith Stephens, a spokesman for the commission, said the birds showed evidence of trauma in the breast tissue, blood clots in the body cavity and a lot of internal bleeding.

He cited a preliminary report conducted by the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission.

FULL STORY

Filed under: Arkansas
Body of Illinois woman believed found mile from crash
January 3rd, 2011
03:38 PM ET

Body of Illinois woman believed found mile from crash

[Updated at 3:38 p.m. ET] Illinois authorities believe they have found the body of a woman who walked away from the December car crash that killed her husband.

A television news helicopter Monday morning spotted a body in a soybean field about a mile south of the remote site where Dale Shannon and his wife, Tanya, crashed on December 5 on the way home from a Christmas party.

Aerial footage from the search site Monday appeared to show a body in a field wearing red clothing. Tanya Shannon wore a red dress to the party.

The discovery came just as searchers on horseback and helicopters were about to begin a renewed search for the woman, according to LaSalle County, Illinois, Sheriff Tom Templeton.

Although police have not done dental or fingerprint tests to conclusively determine the body is that of Shannon, Templeton said investigators are "well convinced" it is.

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Filed under: Illinois
Australian towns brace for more flooding; death toll rises
January 3rd, 2011
02:23 PM ET

Australian towns brace for more flooding; death toll rises

Rising floodwaters cut off the last ground route into the eastern Australian city of Rockhampton on Monday, as police pegged the number of people affected by prolonged flooding at 200,000.

Flooding also put increasing pressure on the southern Queensland cities of St. George and Surat, even as floodwaters receded in the communities farther to the north, including Emerald.

Police said ten people have died as a result of flooding since November 30.

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Filed under: Australia
Coast Guard: More than 80 feared dead after boats capsize off Yemen coast
January 3rd, 2011
02:19 PM ET

Coast Guard: More than 80 feared dead after boats capsize off Yemen coast

More than 80 people are feared drowned after two boats capsized off the coast of Yemen, the coast guard in Aden said Monday.

Yemen's Interior Ministry confirmed the incident on their state-run news site, adding that the two boats capsized in two different accidents and at two different sites.

According to a report on the official website of Yemen’s ruling party, three survivors have been recovered, all Somalis, from a boat that carried 46 people. The second boat was believed to have 35 to 40 people aboard. Most of those missing are thought to be from Ethiopia.

Search efforts were underway for any more possible survivors, coast guard officials are quoted as saying.

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Filed under: Yemen
Obesity: A national security threat?
January 3rd, 2011
01:02 PM ET

Obesity: A national security threat?

Is the childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S. a threat to national security?

"Oh, yes," said Maj. Gen. Paul Monroe, retired from the U.S. Army.

CNN Radio's Jim Roope talked with Monroe and an Army recruiter to examine the issue. Monroe, with the group Mission: Readiness, released a study saying the obesity rate among children and teens - one in three according to the CDC - is a threat.

"The military found that one in four recruits are not eligible because of weight," he said.

"And not everyone wants to be in the military, and when you reduce it by 25 percent, it's a real problem," Monroe said.

Sgt. 1st Class Jason Montano, an active-duty recruiter with the Army, says he wouldn't go as far as calling childhood obesity a threat to national security, but it is a challenge.

"As recruiters trying to recruit America's force, we have a lot of our kids this day and age that are obese," Montano said.

He says the military does have a program to get obese and overweight kids Army-ready.

Click the audio link to hear the complete story:

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Filed under: Health • Military • Nutrition
SI.com: NFL heads to postseason, college bowl games roll on
January 3rd, 2011
12:22 PM ET

SI.com: NFL heads to postseason, college bowl games roll on

The NFL’s regular season ended with a 16-game Sunday in which more than a dozen teams were still vying for a shot at the playoffs. So in all the gridiron madness, who came out on top? If you ask SI.com’s Don Banks it may have well been the Baltimore Ravens who secured their spot in the playoffs in a 13-7 victory against the Bengals.

But the rout was far from the most impressive thing to happen to the Ravens this weekend. The Raiders’ 31-10 win over the Chiefs in Kansas City, knocked the team from No. 3 to No. 4 in the AFC playoffs, allowing the Ravens to open their postseason at Kansas City. By dodging a major bullet, in the form of Colts’ QB Peyton Manning, the Ravens have significantly upped their chances to advance in the playoffs.

“Baltimore won't have to match wits once again with Manning, and that's a break for the Ravens, who have consistently shown signs of having No. 18 lodged in their heads,” Banks writes. “Why deal with your No. 1 nemesis if you don't have to?”

But despite the help they’ve received from the Raiders’ victory, the Ravens will still have to battle against a struggling defense and injuries that have sidelined cornerback Josh Wilson, offensive left tackle Michael Oher and safety Ed Reed.

We take a break from NFL action to check in as college football bowl season chugs along with the Hokies battling the Cardinals:

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Filed under: Sports
Monday's intriguing people
January 3rd, 2011
12:02 PM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox, jailed in Italy after being convicted of murdering a college classmate, thinks the celebrity status she’s gained because of the case is “ridiculous,” according to media reports.

Knox’s stepfather, Chris Mellas, says the attention focused on his step-daughter is “absolutely bizarre,” KOMO-TV in Knox’s hometown of Seattle, Washington, reported.

"She thinks it's ridiculous. There are nine books (about her), with another four or five that I'm aware of in the works; two movies in the works right now; seven or eight documentaries that I'm aware of," Mellas is quoted as saying.

Hayden Panettiere will star as Knox in a movie for cable’s Lifetime network, according to the KOMO report.

Knox, who was sentenced to 26 years in prison in the 2007 murder of Meredith Kirchner during what prosecutors called a drug-fueled sex game, is appealing the conviction.

Gao Zhi Xiang

Gao Zhi Xiang, a 19-year-old from China, is pleading with Canadian immigration authorities to allow him to stay in Toronto to care for his 8-year-old brother, left orphaned when their mother died of cancer more than a year ago.

Gao traveled to Canada on a tourist visa in late 2009 to visit his dying mother, who had been given legal asylum in the country after fleeing religious persecution in China for being a member of an underground church, according to a report in the Toronto Star.

When Lin Mei Zhang fled China, she took her younger son, Zhi Xin, along, and Canada awarded the boy permanent residency status last year, according to the Star report.

But Gao, who traveled to Canada on a tourist visa that has long since expired, is not entitled to permanent residency.

Zhi Xin will become a ward of the state when Gao is sent back to China as the boy’s other current caregiver is an uncle who is also facing deportation, the newspaper reported.

Gao is to meet with Canadian immigration officials on Tuesday to arrange for his departure. He’s hoping they have a change of heart.

"We just hope that immigration officials will open their hearts and not separate me and my brother. We were abandoned by our father. We have lost our mother. It is just he and I now,” the Star quoted him as saying.

Harold Camping

Harold Camping says the end of the world begins on May 21.

The 88-year-old Christian radio network boss from Oakland, California, says he’s applied a mathematical formula to biblical prophecies and that’s what the numbers say: Get ready for the end times this spring.

And what about the Mayans and their calendar that puts the end of the world in 2012?

"That date has not one stitch of biblical authority," Camping told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The paper points out that Camping has been wrong before, once gathering followers on September 6, 1994, to greet Christ upon his return to Earth. Camping told the paper he messed up the math on that one.


Filed under: Uncategorized
Gotta Watch: 6-alarm blaze; I was a hostage; Mustang roundup
January 3rd, 2011
11:37 AM ET

Gotta Watch: 6-alarm blaze; I was a hostage; Mustang roundup

Massive fire in Toronto – A 6-alarm fire in Toronto lit up the sky and put the lives of hundreds of firefighters at risk as 32 trucks battled the blaze in a 100-year-old building.

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Filed under: Animals • Canada • Fire • Nevada • Texas
Officials: Bones in Georgia are remains of Kristi Cornwell
A large banner seeks information about Kristi Cornwell, a Georgia woman who has been missing since 2009.
January 3rd, 2011
11:25 AM ET

Officials: Bones in Georgia are remains of Kristi Cornwell

Tests conducted on bones found in Georgia have revealed they are the remains of Kristi Cornwell, who went missing nearly a year and a half ago, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Monday.

The positive identification was made through dental records, the bureau said in a statement.

Cornwell, 38, was last seen in northern Georgia in August 2009, Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead said Sunday.

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Filed under: Crime • Georgia
What made thousands of birds fall from the sky?
Officials estimated that 4,000 to 5,000 similar red-winged blackbirds fell out of the sky.
January 3rd, 2011
10:41 AM ET

What made thousands of birds fall from the sky?

It has become one of the strangest stories to come out of the New Year and one of the most puzzling for scientists and local officials: Just what caused 5,000 birds to fall from the sky just before midnight New Year's Eve in Beebe, Arkansas?

As news of the story spread across the globe, so did speculation about what caused the Hitchcockian scene. And as officials wait for the official necropsy (animal autopsy) report, we're taking a look at some of the theories that officials and scientists have suggested.

Weather-related

Karen Rowe, an ornithologist for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said the incident is not that unusual and is often caused by a lightning strike or high-altitude hail. This theory could hold in this case, she said, especially because a strong storm system moved through the state earlier Friday.

Keith Stephens, a spokesman for the commission, told Reuters that storm weather, including hail or lightning, could be the culprit, but so far, he had yet to see any sign of injury on birds that were collected.

Rowe told Live Science that events like this have happened across the globe, and generally, weather is to blame. She said birds have been swept up and moved when caught up in hurricanes, wind can force them into a large object like a cliff, or large groups of birds can clash and crash in heavy fog, killing them.

Fireworks

On CNN's "American Morning," Stephens told Kiran Chetry and Jim Acosta that in addition to weather, local New Year's Eve celebrations may be to blame.

"We're leaning towards maybe a stress event," he said.

FULL POST

Cleveland Browns give Eric Mangini the axe
January 3rd, 2011
10:41 AM ET

Cleveland Browns give Eric Mangini the axe

The Cleveland Browns announced today that they’ve fired coach Eric Mangini.

Browns president Mike Holmgren thanked Mangini for his contributions and wished him the best of luck in the future in a statement released by the team. Mangini wished the Browns well in the same statement.

In what ended up being Mangini’s final game yesterday the Browns were blown out by the Steelers 41-9. They finished 5-11 in each of their two seasons under Mangini.

Before coaching the Browns, Mangini, 39, coached the Jets for three seasons, compiling a 23-25 record, with one playoff appearance in 2006.

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Filed under: Pro football • Sports
Orioles pitcher surrenders to police on murder charge
January 3rd, 2011
10:14 AM ET

Orioles pitcher surrenders to police on murder charge

[Updated at 10:14 a.m.] Baltimore Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon surrendered to National Police early Monday morning to face murder charges in the death of Esteban Castillo, 25, police said.

Police spokesman Maximo Baez said the major leaguer turned in his gun as part of the investigation into the shooting in the Los Salados section of the town Luperon, Puerto Plata, early Saturday.

Simon is scheduled to appear at the courthouse in Puerto Plata for arraignment Monday, the official said.

[Posted at 4:18 a.m.] Authorities in the Dominican Republic say a Baltimore Orioles pitcher was involved in the shooting death of a 25-year-old man.

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Filed under: Baseball • Dominican Republic
Police issue warning after English woman murdered
Flowers are placed where the body of 25-year-old Joanna Yeates was found in Bristol, England.
January 3rd, 2011
09:36 AM ET

Police issue warning after English woman murdered

A murderer is at large in England, police warned in connection with a case that has gripped the country for more than two weeks.

Joanna Yeates, 25, disappeared on December 17 in the city of Bristol in western England. Her body was found on Christmas Day by a couple walking their dogs a few miles from where she lived, police said.

Her parents said the discovery of the body was a relief, but the confirmation she had been murdered "only intensified our grief."

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Crime • United Kingdom
Crisis envoy arrives in Ivory Coast amid threat of force
Laurent Gbagbo, right, speaks to demonstrators near Ivory Coast's presidential palace. Gbagbo has refused to step down as president.
January 3rd, 2011
09:36 AM ET

Crisis envoy arrives in Ivory Coast amid threat of force

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the African Union mediator in Ivory Coast's crisis, arrived in the west African nation's main city Monday, an official working for Laurent Gbagbo said.

The crisis stems from Gbagbo's refusal to step down as president after an election which international observers say he lost.

Odinga Sunday warned Gbagbo to step down or face military intervention by his neighbors.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Ivory Coast
On the Radar: N.Y.'s snow issue, Ivory Coast crisis, RNC debate, Favre retiring?
A snow-covered car on December 28 shows the word "HELP." New York residents complained about a slow clean-up.
January 3rd, 2011
09:07 AM ET

On the Radar: N.Y.'s snow issue, Ivory Coast crisis, RNC debate, Favre retiring?

New York cleanup debacle – Investigators in New York want to know if four sanitation supervisors bought beer and sat in their car instead of cleaning up after last week's monster blizzard.

The New York City Department of Sanitation has drawn sharp criticism since last week's storm, which blanketed much of the Northeast. Rumors have swirled that supervisors ordered rank-and-file workers to slow down cleanup efforts in retaliation for the city's belt-tightening measures.

Ivory Coast crisis – Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the African Union envoy to Ivory Coast, arrived in Abidjan in a bid to persuade self-declared president Laurent Gbagbo to step down.

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