The day's most popular stories
Students mourn at a candlelight vigil Wednesday night at Millard South High School in Omaha, Nebraska.
January 7th, 2011
10:51 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

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

7 reasons to have sex: Some surprising benefits of sex are beginning to be explored, among them, that not only does being healthy support your sex life, but sex actually supports your health.

'Maybe I'm gay,' James Franco says: He's played gay men in the movies "Milk," "Howl" and the upcoming "The Broken Tower," so it's not unexpected that there is constant speculation about James Franco's sexuality.

Focus now on woods, river in search for teen: Investigators and rescue teams will continue their search Friday for a missing 13-year-old Texas girl, focusing near a densely wooded area and along the Colorado River.

Slain assistant principal had sent pupil home: A Nebraska high school senior had been called out of class to speak with an assistant principal just hours before he returned to school and fatally shot her, Omaha Police said.

Hunt under way for missing teen: A 16-year-old North Carolina girl who disappeared while visiting family in Baltimore continues to be the object of an intense search by authorities.

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Filed under: Health • Missing Children • Most Popular • Showbiz
North Korea asks South to 'open hearts,' resume talks
Small-scale skirmishes have flared repeatedly along their land and sea borders over the past six decades.
January 7th, 2011
10:20 PM ET

North Korea asks South to 'open hearts,' resume talks

South Korean officials tell CNN that they're reviewing a call for resumption of talks between Pyongyang and Seoul that was  published by North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency Friday.

The statement from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea suggested several steps that could be taken to calm tension between north and south.

It expressed a desire for "settling the grave situation prevailing in Korea as early as possible and paving the way for improved relations between the north and the south and peace and prosperity."

The statement cited both patriotism and "public opinion at home and abroad" as reasons that dialogue should be resumed.

Officials are working to understand the motivation behind the statement, a spokesman for South Korea's Unification Ministry said. High-level officials will hold an internal meeting Saturday to analyze it.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: North Korea • South Korea
University of Georgia mascot has lymphoma, school says
Uga VIII missed the Liberty Bowl game because of an illness that turned out to be lymphoma.
January 7th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

University of Georgia mascot has lymphoma, school says

Uga VIII, the University of Georgia's athletic mascot, has been diagnosed with lymphoma, the school said Friday.

The English bulldog missed the Liberty Bowl on December 30 because of a gastrointestinal condition, the school said. Russ, the half-brother of Uga VII, filled in for him.

Further tests revealed the more serious medical condition.

Uga VIII, whose registered name is Big Bad Bruce, is expected to appear at athletic events as his health allows. He is responding well to treatment at the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine. His primary veterinarian is his namesake, Dr. Bruce Hollett.

Uga VIII was introduced to Georgia fans at the October 16 Homecoming football game against Vanderbilt. He is the great-great-great-great-great grandson of the original Uga. The Seilers, of Savannah, have provided mascots for UGA sporting events since 1956.

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Filed under: Georgia • Sports
January 7th, 2011
09:29 PM ET

Treasuries pop after jobs report

A look at the day's business news headlines:

Bank stocks drag markets lower 
 
U.S. stocks came off session lows but ended weaker Friday afternoon after a court ruled against Wells Fargo and US Bancorp in a foreclosure case. The ruling sparked a sell off in bank stocks that rippled through the broader market.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 23 points, or 0.2%, with Travelers Companies, JPMorgan Chase sandbank of America leading the decline.

Earlier, the blue chip index had lost 97 points. The S&P 500 finished off 2 points, or 0.2%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 7 points, or 0.3%. The KBW Bank Index dropped almost 1%.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Economy
Coroner's investigator testifies about propofol in Jackson's room
Dr. Conrad Murray's preliminary hearing to determine if there's enough evidence to go to trial is expected to last two to three weeks.
January 7th, 2011
08:44 PM ET

Coroner's investigator testifies about propofol in Jackson's room

A coroner's investigator testified Friday that she recovered a dozen bottles of propofol from the closet of Michael Jackson's bedroom, including an empty bottle found on the floor near his bed.

Propofol is the surgical anesthetic that the Los Angeles County coroner concluded killed Jackson when it was combined with sedatives given the pop star to help him.

Seven pill bottles containing prescription sedatives were found on the nightstand next to the bed where Jackson was sleeping, Coroner's Investigator Elissa Fleak said.

Fleak was the 16th witness to testify in the preliminary hearing to decide if the involuntary manslaughter case against Dr. Conrad Murray will go to trial.  The hearing is expected to last two or three weeks with 20 to 30 witnesses.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Conrad Murray • Crime • Drugs • Michael Jackson
Ground zero construction workers win second prize in lottery drawing
The 18 winners work at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.
January 7th, 2011
07:35 PM ET

Ground zero construction workers win second prize in lottery drawing

A lucky band of ground zero construction workers scored a $250,000 prize in a Christmas Eve Mega Millions lottery drawing, picking five of six numbers correctly, the New York Lottery says.

The 18 men, who work at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, say they ran a workplace pool in which each of them chipped in $5.

The group got a check for $165,075 - after taxes - which left each man pocketing $9,170.         

They "couldn't believe it at first," said John Kennedy, one of the 18. "We thought we were getting our legs pulled."

Kennedy said he accepted the groups' second-place prize December 27 on behalf of his co-workers at the Lottery's New York Customer Service Center in Manhattan.

"It was a nice little Christmas bonus for all of us," he said.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Lotto • New York
SI.com: Phil Knight revealed, cards banned on Memphis Grizzlies team planes
Nike founder and Oregon booster Phil Knight has managed to stay out of the spotlight while helping his alma mater rise to the top.
January 7th, 2011
07:03 PM ET

SI.com: Phil Knight revealed, cards banned on Memphis Grizzlies team planes

He co-founded Nike and ranks as the 23rd-richest person in the U.S., but in sporting circles, Phil Knight is better known as the most powerful booster in America.

While there’s been much discussion this season about whether Cam Newton received money to attend Auburn, there’s been little scuttlebutt about the source of the money being funneled into the program of the Tigers’ national championship opponent, the Oregon Ducks.

SI.com’s Michael Rosenberg pulls back the curtain and provides a glimpse into the mysterious life and influence of the Oregon athletic program’s top duck.

Knight graduated from Oregon in 1962, but his presence on the Eugene campus is felt much greater than ever. Since creating one of the most powerful brands in the world and becoming a billionaire many times over, Knight has made it his personal mission raise his alma mater into national stardom, one check at a time.

In total, Knight is estimated to have given $300 million to the Ducks’ athletic program. SI.com's Rosenberg hints that it may be even more and provides detail into the super-booster’s generous donations. Over the years, Knight has given his school state-of-the art facilities, a seemingly unlimited jersey budget and the bankroll to impress high school players who have helped transform the school once known for its track program into a national college football powerhouse and BCS contender.

FULL POST

Dollars & Sense: Bank fees rise from the dead; Ford Focus goes electric
January 7th, 2011
06:52 PM ET

Dollars & Sense: Bank fees rise from the dead; Ford Focus goes electric

A roundup of today’s CNNMoney news:

Bank fees are rising like zombies: CARD Act? What CARD Act? Despite new rules banning certain bank fees, it’s like Night of the Living Dead: They’re baaack. You could end up paying between $100 and $300 extra in fees per year if you don’t read the fine print at Bank of America. And JP Morgan could start charging you a $12 maintenance fee if you enroll in one of its new accounts.

Why Internet on your TV is a mess (video): From Samsung to Toshiba to Sharp, there are a ton of options to navigate through that might leave your head spinning. Get a closer look at what’s out there.

Check out Ford’s new Focus: It’s electric! It will have a top speed of 84 miles per hour and should be able to go 100 miles on a single charge. The suspension, steering and brakes will be the same as in the gas-powered Focus.

Spending cut promises meet reality: House Republicans have promised to be more fiscally responsible, but they may have bitten off more than they can chew. Meanwhile, Ben Bernanke blasts Congress over the budget.

Californians brace for 59% health premium hike: Blue Shield, one of California's biggest insurers, announced plans to increase its premiums by as much as 59% for nearly 200,000 Californians. Blue Shield says the increase has nothing to do with the new health reform law.

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Filed under: Dollars & Sense • Economy • Health Care • Technology
Sex assault convict identified as suspect in rapes of disabled women
Los Angeles officials seek the public's help in identifying these men.
January 7th, 2011
06:05 PM ET

Sex assault convict identified as suspect in rapes of disabled women

Investigators have identified two men shown in a video apparently sexually assaulting disabled women in a care home and other places, Los Angeles Country sheriff's detectives told CNN Friday.

One suspect is Bert Hicks, 41, who is now serving a state prison sentence in Tehachapi, California, for fiduciary crimes, abuse and sexual assault in a residential care facility, sheriff's Detective Ron Anderson said.

Hicks allegedly took a disabled woman to Las Vegas, married her and then brought her back to the care facility, where she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by other men, Anderson said.

Authorities don't know if the crimes Hicks was convicted of are the ones depicted on video, Anderson said.

Sheriff's investigators announced their investigation into the video Thursday, when they issued a public appeal for help because the video was mailed to them by an anonymous tipster.

FULL STORY
D.C. post office evacuated after envelope ignites, police say
Police respond to a post office in Washington D.C. after an envelope ignited Friday.
January 7th, 2011
04:56 PM ET

D.C. post office evacuated after envelope ignites, police say

[Updated at 4:52 p.m. ET] An envelope that ignited at a Washington postal facility was addressed to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, CNN confirms.

The building at 3300 V Street NE has been evacuated. 

The envelope that ignited was not opened and did not go off in an employee's hands, a law enforcement source said. The person tossed it into a sorting bin and then smelled smoke. A source on the scene said that all the employees had been accounted for.

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security official said there are "similar characteristics" but no proven connection to incidents Thursday of mailed devices igniting in two Maryland state offices.

[Posted at 3:48 p.m. ET] Metropolitan police are on scene at a northeastern Washington postal facility where at least one envelope has ignited, police spokeswoman Officer Tish Gant said.

The building has been evacuated, she said.

CNN affiliate WJLA-TV reported there were no injuries.

The incident comes a day after packages that police say each contained a small battery and electric match ignited in two Maryland state offices.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Crime • District of Columbia
Radio industry voices approval, frustration at Ted Williams story
Ted Williams is seen in this still from a Columbus Dispatch video posted on YouTube.
January 7th, 2011
01:12 PM ET

Radio industry voices approval, frustration at Ted Williams story

There is no doubt that Ted Williams has an amazing voice. It's a voice that only belongs behind a microphone announcing a basketball game, voicing an infomercial, reading the news or reminiscing with us on our favorite oldies station.

And who doesn't love a story about someone getting a second chance at life? It's inspiring to know that when we might need that second chance or if we are looking for one right now, there's hope. To see the outpouring of jobs, opportunities and support Williams got after his video went viral, reminds us that there are good people in our world ready and willing to help.

But let's put the fairy tale aside for a second. This man was struggling and looking for work - a story that many people nation wide can very much relate to, especially in the radio industry - filling out resumes, applying for jobs, practicing voice exercises, re-editing the voice reel. Take a look at Voice123.com. It's a warehouse full of voice talent. A basic search for an adult male voice will give you thousands of quality voice samples to listen to. And then you see "Homeless Man Gets Radio Job" top the headlines across the country.

Industry expert Tom Taylor who blogs on Radio-Info.com has heard the backlash this story has created in the radio world. Taylor summarizes the frustration, not in a way to completely deflate this "feel-good" story, but to remind everyone there is a harsh reality to the business.

"What you're hearing from some radio folks isn't jealousy or resentment, exactly - but a reminder that life's not fair," Taylor blogged. "Especially in an industry that has tossed talented people out the door for much of the last decade."

Did Ted Williams' voice change everything we thought we knew about radio? No. So this post is for the people in radio working hard to get their break. It's to acknowledge that no matter what the industry, people are struggling to find work. As inspiring as this story is, it's got to give some people a headache.

Imagine you get that automated e-mail sent from an HR department after they closed your profile saying, "Thank you for your interest in job #0002792614, but we have filled the position. In fact, we actually hired a homeless guy who we saw on YouTube. Good luck in your job search!"

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Filed under: Drugs • Jobs • Ted Williams
Mass animal deaths scrutinized as Google map cites numerous incidents
The deaths of 5,000 blackbirds in Arkansas is one of several recent instances of mass animal deaths across the world.
January 7th, 2011
01:06 PM ET

Mass animal deaths scrutinized as Google map cites numerous incidents

Five thousand blackbirds in Arkansas. One hundred pelicans near Jacksonville, North Carolina. Three hundred doves in Italy. Seventy bats in Tucson, Arizona. Thousands of fish in Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brazil and the United States.

Google is now hosting a map of incidents of mass animal deaths around the world. Google Maps' distinctive blue balloons indicate where the deaths took place. Click on a balloon, and the map provides you with a link to a news report on the incident.

As of Friday afternoon, there were about 30 cases pinpointed on the search engine's mapping site, most of them in the U.S. and Europe.

Some might say it's getting spooky - and not just by conspiracy theorist standards - but experts tell CNN Radio that theories of UFOs and secret government weapons are, naturally, far-fetched.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Animals • Arkansas • Google • Science • Technology
Gotta Watch: life-saving phone; electronic wonderland; bittersweet homecoming
This cell phone prevented a bullet from hitting a man when he was shot at an Atlanta nightclub.
January 7th, 2011
11:15 AM ET

Gotta Watch: life-saving phone; electronic wonderland; bittersweet homecoming

Phone drops death's call – Some may think cell phones can kill you, but an Atlanta valet would argue otherwise. After being shot in the chest outside a nightclub, the stunned man reached into his bullet-holed coat and pulled out his now dented cell phone. I wonder if EMS kept snapping their fingers and asking, "Can you hear me now?"

FULL POST

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Filed under: Gotta Watch
Friday's intriguing people
January 7th, 2011
11:02 AM ET

Friday's intriguing people

Helen Thomas

The 90-year-old, who left her longtime job as a White House correspondent last summer after controversial remarks she made about Israel, is back in journalism. Thomas' first column in seven months was printed on Page 13 of  the Falls Church News-Press. She wrote on the subject of Social Security reform.  The paper's owner-editor, Nicholas F. Benton, said in the edition that Thomas "is progressive, and following my more than eight hours of direct, one-on-one talks with her since the events of last June, I remain firmly convinced that she is neither bigoted, nor racist, nor anti-Semitic." The News-Press is a weekly newspaper distributed free of charge throughout the greater Falls Church area, northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., according to its website.

Gene Sperling

The 52-year-old will be announced Friday as the director of the National Economic Council, a key policy post in the Obama administration. Sperling is currently senior counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and was an adviser to President Bill Clinton and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. In 2010, as reported by CNN, Sperling was in talks for the No. 2 job at the Office of Management and Budget.

George Ryan

The former Illinois governor, who is serving a 6½-year sentence for racketeering and fraud convictions, filed an emergency request to leave federal prison so he can be with his dying wife. Lura Lynn Ryan, 76, suffers from metastatic Stage IV carcinoma, an aggressive form of cancer that has attacked her lungs, back, pelvis, ribs and liver, according to an emergency motion for bail posted on the Chicago Sun-Times' website. The motion seeks Ryan's release from Indiana's Terre Haute federal prison through two avenues. One is through the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, where he has asked for an emergency release on bail. The other is through the Bail Reform Act, which allows for the temporary release of inmates in special circumstances.

Tyler Hudson

The fourth-grader at Frank Middle School in the Klein Independent School District is being hailed a hero for putting "the hammer" or, Heimlich maneuver, on a classmate he noticed choking during lunch, according to CNN affiliate KHOU of Houston. While other kids thought the girl was only laughing, Tyler sprang to action when she frantically motioned toward her throat and her face reddened. Tyler wrapped his arms around her abdomen and squeezed three times, KHOU reported, dislodging a Cheeto that was stuck in her throat. Tyler said the move he did was "the hammer," which his dad playfully does on him all the time, KHOU reported.

Vivian Schiller

The CEO at National Public Radio won't be getting her 2010 bonus after NPR's board of directors completed a review of news analyst Juan Williams' firing, the organization said in a statement released Thursday. "[Schiller] accepted responsibility as CEO and cooperated fully with the review process. The Board, however, expressed concern over her role in the termination [of Williams]" the release said. After Williams' firing, Schiller told the Atlanta Press Club that his comments undermined his credibility as an analyst for NPR. “His feelings that he expressed on Fox News are really between him and his psychiatrist or his publicist,” she said at the time. She later apologized for what she called a “thoughtless remark.” NPR's board of directors announced several other changes in light of the incident, including the resignation of Ellen Weiss, senior vice president for news.

Winter storm blankets Northeast, leads to canceled flights
New Yorkers, seen battling last month's blizzard, are preparing for another round of snow this weekend.
January 7th, 2011
10:28 AM ET

Winter storm blankets Northeast, leads to canceled flights

With memories of a monster Christmas blizzard still fresh, another blast of winter began charging across eastern states Friday, with snow predicted as far south as middle Georgia.

A large complex winter system stretched across the northeast Friday, making for messy commutes in cities like Philadelphia. The good news? The storm was moving fast and wasn't predicted to paralyze the area as the massive storm did less than two weeks ago.

But by Friday morning, 49 flights at New York's LaGuardia Airport had been canceled as snow blanketed runways and hampered pilot visibility, according to spokesman Steve Coleman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Several major airlines - including American, United/Continental, U.S. Airways and Delta - announced that customers could voluntarily reschedule flights to and from snow-affected areas without penalty.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Air travel • New York • Travel • U.S.
Jailed Mississippi sisters freed for kidney donation
Mississippi's governor suspended the life sentences for the Scott sisters for a kidney transplant.
January 7th, 2011
10:24 AM ET

Jailed Mississippi sisters freed for kidney donation

After 16 years behind bars in Mississippi, two sisters were released Friday on the condition that one donate a kidney to the other.

Gov. Haley Barbour suspended the sentences of Gladys Scott, 36, and Jamie Scott, 38, who were serving life sentences for armed robbery. Gladys Scott agreed to donate a kidney to her sister, who according to their lawyer, is gravely ill.

The freed sisters were heading to Pensacola, Florida, where their mother lives, to remain under the supervision of the Florida Department of Corrections parole office, said Suzanne Singletary, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Crime • Florida • Health • Mississippi
On the Radar: Michael Jackson hearing, snowstorm part deux, Obama's E-team
Dr. Conrad Murray, right, and a defense lawyer attend an April hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court.
January 7th, 2011
08:27 AM ET

On the Radar: Michael Jackson hearing, snowstorm part deux, Obama's E-team

Girlfriend of Jackson's doctor set to take stand Dr. Conrad Murray's girlfriend is expected to testify Friday on the fourth day of a preliminary hearing to determine whether the physician should be tried on an involuntary manslaughter charge in the death of singer Michael Jackson.

Thursday's testimony revealed that Murray placed a two-minute cell phone call to Nicole Alvarez from inside an ambulance as paramedics worked to revive Jackson during the ride to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on June 25, 2009.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor will decide if there is probable cause to send Murray's case to trial. The hearing is expected to last two or three weeks with 20 to 30 witnesses.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Economy • Jobs • Michael Jackson • On the Radar • Politics
Friday's live video events
Representatives were sworn in as the House kicked off its new session.
January 7th, 2011
07:41 AM ET

Friday's live video events

The health care debate resumes on Capitol Hill, as CNN.com Live will be there for all the gavel-to-gavel coverage.

Today's programming highlights...

9:00 am ET - House in session - House Republicans pledged that an effort to repeal last year's health care reform package would top the legislative agenda for the new year.  That will be the case this morning, as lawmakers begin debate on a proposal to repeal the health care package.

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Filed under: On CNN.com today
8 killed, 3 injured in Honduras bus attack
Police inspect a bus where eight people were killed by gunmen Thursday.
January 7th, 2011
12:54 AM ET

8 killed, 3 injured in Honduras bus attack

Eight people were killed and three others were injured after a group of gunmen opened fire on a private bus in Honduras, officials said.

The small bus was carrying a family when gunmen ambushed it Thursday night, fireman Angel Urbina said.

Photos that firefighters took after the attack showed a woman slumped over, her head on a seat covered with blood stains and shattered glass. Outside the bus, rescuers surrounded a child covered with blood. Body bags sat on the roadside while investigators examined the scene.

FULL STORY

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Filed under: Crime • Honduras