The day's most popular stories
Many hotels use an attractive woman to showcase their amenities, like this photo from the Riu Negril Club in Jamaica. The pool she's surveying looks nice and empty, doesn't it?
January 19th, 2011
11:52 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

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

'The sexy lady' and other hotel photo tricks: It's hard not to fall in love with the gorgeous marketing photos that hotels use to entice guests. But buyer beware: That resort advertising itself as an oasis of peace may turn out to be next to a noisy construction site.

Rep. Giffords stands with assistance: Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was able to stand with assistance on Wednesday, an aide said, with her doctor adding that the congresswoman has the strength to stand on her own.

Doctor accused of murdering patient, newborns:  A Philadelphia physician was charged Wednesday with murder and other offenses related to illegal, late-term abortions.

Stepmother of dismembered girl charged with bigamy: The stepmother of a disabled girl whose remains were found after she went missing in North Carolina has been indicted on a bigamy charge.

Kelly Preston: Silent birth gave me peaceful kids: A week after Kelly Preston and husband John Travolta shared photos of their new addition with the world, Preston is opening up on the more intimate details of baby Benjamin’s arrival.


Filed under: Most Popular
Outdoor tickets could lead to Super Bowl attendance record
A $200 ticket can technically get people to the Super Bowl, but only way they'll see the inside of this stadium is through a TV screen.
January 19th, 2011
11:22 PM ET

Outdoor tickets could lead to Super Bowl attendance record

Cowboys Stadium might have a shot at setting an attendance record for a Super Bowl next month, thanks in part to the NFL's decision to count thousands of outside-the-stadium tickets.

The Dallas Cowboys have said they will sell $200 tickets - offered first to Cowboys club-seat season-ticket holders - to a plaza outside the stadium for the February 6 game. People with those tickets will watch the game on video screens but won't be able to enter the stadium.

"Several thousand" tickets to the plaza will be available, and those tickets will count toward the game’s attendance, Brian McCarthy, the NFL's vice president of corporate communications, told CNN Wednesday.

That might allow the Texas stadium to break the Super Bowl attendance record, set in 1980 at California's Rose Bowl with an attendance of nearly 104,000.

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Filed under: Football • Pro football • Sports • Texas
Families of University of Alabama shooting victims sue provost, Amy Bishop
Former University of Alabama-Huntsville professor Amy Bishop is accused of killing 3 and wounding 6 during a faculty meeting.
January 19th, 2011
05:43 PM ET

Families of University of Alabama shooting victims sue provost, Amy Bishop

The families of two University of Alabama professors who were shot to death in a faculty meeting last year have filed wrongful death suits against the university provost and accused shooter Amy Bishop.

The spouses of Adriel D. Johnson Sr. and Maria Ragland Davis allege that University of Alabama-Huntsville Provost Vistasp M. Karbhari failed to enforce a safety policy that would have prevented the February 12, 2010, shooting that left three dead, including Davis and Johnson, and six others wounded.

The university said it was "saddened" by the decision to bring the lawsuit, and that blame should be placed "squarely on the perpetrator of this horrible crime."

In announcing the lawsuit last week, the families' lawyers said there were parallels between the Alabama school shooting and this month's massacre in Tucson, Arizona, at a meet and greet held by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords outside a grocery store.

The investigation into the background of Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year-old accused in the Arizona shooting, has revealed multiple reports from his former classmates and teachers of disturbing behavior on his part. He was suspended in September and told he could return if he received a doctor's note attesting to a clean bill of mental health.

The families of the Alabama shooting victims claim Bishop had amassed a documented record of mental instability at the school that officials should have acted on in order to prevent the shootings.

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Filed under: Alabama • Arizona • Crime • Gabrielle Giffords
Another long march: China's human rights struggles
A week before he met with Chinese President Hu Jintao, left, President Obama met with groups concerned with human rights abuses in China.
January 19th, 2011
05:27 PM ET

Another long march: China's human rights struggles

Last week, without it being on his public schedule, President Barack Obama met with four people interested in promoting humans rights and democracy in China. Ahead of Hu Jintao's state visit, the White House wanted to get the word out, but not make a big splash.

And the message the president heard included the thinking of some that China is already on a slow journey to more personal freedoms.

The guests included 51-year-old Zha Jianying, a writer who lives in New York. She was the author of 1996's "China Pop: How Soap Operas, Tabloids and Bestsellers are Transforming a Culture."

Able to travel between the U.S. and China, Zha has studied the cultural changes wrought by greater contact with the West. Still, she has a brother who was imprisoned for helping found the China Democracy Party.

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Filed under: Uncategorized
Dollars & Sense: KFC in China; U.S. up for sale
Texas Gov. Rick Perry and state lawmakers must close a budget deficit of as much as $27 billion.
January 19th, 2011
04:34 PM ET

Dollars & Sense: KFC in China; U.S. up for sale

A roundup of today's CNNMoney news:

Even deficits are bigger in Texas: Texas lawmakers unveiled a Spartan budget that slashes $31 billion in spending to close the state's massive budget deficit. Education, Medicaid and corrections would take the biggest hits.

U.S. for sale: The government owns somewhere in the neighborhood of 650 million acres of land peppered with 429,000 buildings. As it looks to close up its massive budget deficit, everything from lighthouses, unused empty buildings and big plots of land are all hitting the auction block.

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Filed under: Business • Dollars & Sense • Economy
Edgar Allan Poe's cognac-carrying admirer fails to materialize again
January 19th, 2011
03:08 PM ET

Edgar Allan Poe's cognac-carrying admirer fails to materialize again

How appropriate for the creator of the mystery novel.

The shadowy visitor who left roses and a half-full bottle of cognac at Edgar Allan Poe's Baltimore grave on the writer's birthday, every year for 60 years, has failed to appear for the second year in a row. And no one knows why.

The tradition began on January 19, 1949, according to the Edgar Allan Poe Society. The last visitation came two years ago, on the 200th anniversary of the birth of Poe, the author of such dark classics as "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Telltale Heart," "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," and the poem "The Raven."

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Filed under: Literature • Maryland • U.S.
Obama says 'positive' U.S.-Chinese ties good for U.S.
The U.S. military honor guard was only the start of the celebration a during a State Arrival ceremony.
January 19th, 2011
02:03 PM ET

Obama says 'positive' U.S.-Chinese ties good for U.S.

A "positive, constructive, cooperative" U.S.-Chinese relationship is "good" for the United States, President Barack Obama said Wednesday in a joint news conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Hu and business leaders, Obama called for "a spirit of cooperation" and "healthy competition" between the countries.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden welcomed Hu to the White House in a formal arrival ceremony earlier in the day.

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Filed under: China • Politics
SI.com: Cherishing the NFL season, handing out annual awards
SI.com’s Peter King praised Julius Peppers for helping take his team from 21st in the league in points allowed in 2009 to fourth this year.
January 19th, 2011
01:01 PM ET

SI.com: Cherishing the NFL season, handing out annual awards

Unless you value the Pro Bowl – which most football fans do not – there are just three games remaining before the NFL season comes to an end.

And without a clear idea, or a labor agreement, for when the next games will be played, its important to savor professional football while it's still around. SI.com’s Peter King provides a look back at this season by handing out his annual awards, naming his All-Pro selections and answering a few questions about the year that was.

In his column, King explains his Most Valuable Player choice and why it didn’t go to a certain fleet-footed quarterback. He also breaks down his All-Pro picks for every position and tells you why an old source of his frustration is now his selection to win the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award. In addition, King also touches on Chad Ochocinco’s future, the Jets giving the Patriots a taste of their own treatment and why he doesn’t think NFL postseason expansion is a good idea.

With the conference championship games not being played until Sunday, here is what to watch tonight (all times Eastern):

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Suspected NYC letter bomb may have been greeting card, authorities say
Authorities converged on an Israeli bank in Midtown Manhattan after a report of a possible letter bomb.
January 19th, 2011
12:46 PM ET

Suspected NYC letter bomb may have been greeting card, authorities say

[Updated at 12:46 p.m.] There is no letter bomb at an Israeli bank in New York, authorities said after X-raying the package.

The letter had no return address and the name of the bank officer to whom it was addressed was misspelled, raising suspicions among bank employees, authorities said.

There were wires and a battery in the 6-by-3-inch envelope, but authorities said the envelope may contain an electronic or musical greeting card.

It is not clear whether employees who were evacuated from the building have been able to re-enter it. The area, which is just a few blocks from Radio City Music Hall, was not evacuated.

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Elite surfers flock to Hawaii, wait to take on 20-foot waves
Bruce Irons surfs during the Billabong Pipeline Masters in Hawaii in December.
January 19th, 2011
12:43 PM ET

Elite surfers flock to Hawaii, wait to take on 20-foot waves

A select group of the world's best surfers was gathering in Hawaii Wednesday in hopes waves on Oahu's North Shore would grow big enough for an elite tournament.

The Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau is held only when wave heights tower over 20 feet between December 1 and February 28. It has been completed only seven times in its 26-year history, the last time being December 9, 2009.

iReport: Are you there? Share your wave pictures

The biggest waves are expected around daybreak Thursday, event sponsors said.

"We might go, we might not, but we will always be ready for when the bay calls the day," contest organizer George Downing said. "We will do exactly what Eddie and big wave riders have always done through the years - watch the swell developments, be ready, and wake up to see what the day delivers."

Among those invited to surf the "Eddie" this year are Hawaii's Bruce Irons, who won the event in 2004, Floridian Kelly Slater, a 10-time world surfing champion who won the 2002 Eddie, and Californian Greg Long, the defending champion.

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Filed under: Hawaii • Sports
For 20 awful minutes, Giffords' husband thought she had been killed
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, talks to ABC's Diane Sawyer.
January 19th, 2011
12:41 PM ET

For 20 awful minutes, Giffords' husband thought she had been killed

Mark Kelly went into the bathroom and broke down.

He had just heard erroneous news reports that his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, had died after being shot in the head at a political event outside a Tucson, Arizona, grocery store that day, January 8. His daughters cried and his mother nearly screamed, he recalled.  "To hear that she died is just, it's devastating to me," Kelly told Diane Sawyer in an interview broadcast Tuesday night on ABC.

Then, wracked with grief, Kelly said he called his wife's chief of staff, who told him that the reports couldn't be true, that Giffords' mother was with her. Giffords was alive, the chief of staff reassured him.

Kelly, an astronaut, recalled the harrowing 10 days after the shooting rampage and his anguish about the people who died, including a 9-year-old girl, a federal judge, and one of his wife's staffers. He also spoke about his romance with the congresswoman, their early dating days, and what makes him believe she will pull through.

Kelly hasn't left his wife's side. He holds her hand and falls asleep next to her every night. "I do talk to her, I tell her how long she's been here (in the hospital)," he said. "I tell her I love her."

Giffords has not only stunned the world by surviving a bullet to the brain only 10% of people with that injury live  but her recovery has been marked with inspiring and emotional moments. Her husband believes she recognizes him. Giffords plays with his wedding ring, Kelly said. She'll move it up and down his finger, take it off and put it on her own finger, sometimes moving it to her thumb. The other day, he said, she was tired, so she took it off his hand, and handed it back to him. Another day, Kelly said, his wife even reached up to give him a neck massage for 10 minutes.

There is an inscription that he put in her ring before they married in 2007: "You're the closest to heaven that I've ever been."

Read the Times' 2007 account of their wedding and CNN.com's reflection on the event, including the memorable brief rain that happened during the ceremony.

Giffords will reportedly be moved on Friday to a rehabilitation facility to be treated by surgeons who specialize in patients with bullet wounds to the brain, according to an e-mail from her family.

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Filed under: Gabrielle Giffords
Wednesday's intriguing people
Former "American Idol" contestant Alex Lambert's homelessness has been greatly exaggerated, a rep says.
January 19th, 2011
12:30 PM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Alex Lambert

The "American Idol" Season 9 semifinalist created a buzz Tuesday with a rant on Twitter that seemed to say he was homeless:

"O my goodness yall! I have been crashin behind buidings and sleepin outside but I dont want nobody to feel sorry for me! I'm a grown (expletive) man"

Naturally, people understood that to mean the 20-year-old singer from Texas was living full-time on the streets.

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Filed under: Hawaii • Health • Illinois • Montana • Most Intriguing People • Music • Showbiz • TV • War
January 19th, 2011
11:43 AM ET

Rescue of man buried alive for 16 hours in Brazil mudslide captured on film

On a street cluttered with debris from a mudslide rescue workers heard a noise.

The flooding and mudslides that resulted from a month's worth of rain in one day have turned the once-picturesque tourist town of Teresopolis, Brazil, about two hours north of Rio de Janeiro, into a wasteland. Bodies and belongings remain strewn among fallen boulders as relatives search for loved ones.

In one mound of rubble, a faint voice could be heard. After so many stories of sadness and loss, that voice provided more than enough hope for rescuers to begin digging quickly.

As workers began what would be a three-hour process of pulling apart mud-covered rocks and debris, journalist Luciano Zimbrano, armed with a handheld camera, began filming, according to the British newspaper The Telegraph.

His dramatic video shows a crowd forming as workers remove layer by layer of debris, first revealing an arm. Then the back of a head appears.

Rescuers and Zimbrano soon learned that a man was trapped facedown 13 feet below the mud.

Slowly rescuers reached the man, and after putting a neck brace on him, they were able to pull him from the rubble, where he had been for 16 hours. He was put onto a stretcher as onlookers cheered.

It was only then, according to the Telegraph, that Zimbrano realized he knew the man he was filming Marcelo Fonseca.

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Filed under: Brazil • Weather
Author speaks on China: Are they more friend or foe?
President Barack Obama shakes hands with with Chinese President Hu Jintao Wednesday.
January 19th, 2011
11:35 AM ET

Author speaks on China: Are they more friend or foe?

Chinese President Hu Jintao is in Washington for a three-day visit what is crucial in diplomatic relations.

On CNN's American Morning, author and columnist, Gordon Chang discusses the importance of this meeting.

To the statement, "We need China more than China needs us," he gave an unequivocal answer: No.

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Filed under: China • TV-American Morning • U.S.
Hezbollah stages coup drills in Beirut as indictments loom, newspapers say
A pro-Hezbollah cleric spray paints his family name on a banner in Sidon supporting caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
January 19th, 2011
11:16 AM ET

Hezbollah stages coup drills in Beirut as indictments loom, newspapers say

Militants fanned out across Beirut and reportedly staged coup drills as political unrest continued to percolate in the country, Lebanese and Israeli media outlets reported.

Operatives from Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite groups, gathered in groups of up to 30 at a dozen strategic points in the Lebanese capital Tuesday, The Jerusalem Post said.  Included were sea ports, the airport and entries to the city, the newspaper reported.

Though Ghaleb Abu Zeinab, a member of Hezbollah’s political bureau, told The Post he wasn’t aware of any such drills, parents pulled their children from school after seeing people dressed in black and carrying hand-held radios.

A mother of three picking up her children in the Hamra area of the capital said the school contacted her “because the security situation is not good,” The Daily Star in Beirut reported.

One gathering was about 400 yards from the Grand Serall, downtown Beirut’s government seat, forcing security officials to close the roads to the building, The Post said.  The men were unarmed and no trouble was reported, according to various media.

Sources told The Daily Star that the men appeared well-organized and were seen in west Beirut, downtown and in the southern suburb of Hadath.

The drill came as Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan sat down for talks with Lebanese politicians, including Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, aimed at heading off sectarian strife in the country, The Daily Star reported.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Israel • Lebanon • Politics • Protest • Qatar • Saudi Arabia • Security • State Department • Syria • Turkey • United Nations
Gotta Watch: Tear gas; time travel; PA fireball; Conan redux; mud rescue
CNN's crew got too close when Tunis authorities fired tear gas at protesters.
January 19th, 2011
11:10 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Tear gas; time travel; PA fireball; Conan redux; mud rescue

CNN crew in tears – This raw video takes you to the the heart of the chaos in Tunisia. The crew gets caught in tear gas but that doesn't stop them from filing this riveting report for Back|Story.

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Mother: Giffords to be moved to rehab center Friday
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords with her husband Mark Kelly. Kelly said his wife had worried about her safety.
January 19th, 2011
11:00 AM ET

Mother: Giffords to be moved to rehab center Friday

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords - who will be moved to a rehabilitation center in Texas later this week, according to her parents - had worries about her safety long before she was critically wounded by a gunman at a public event, her husband said.

"We've discussed it a number of times," Mark Kelly told CNN affiliate KVOA in an interview Tuesday. "She felt that, that was a possibility, pretty much exactly what had happened ... there have been threats against her and other members of Congress."

Giffords was shot in the head. In an e-mail sent to friends and family members Tuesday and obtained by CNN, Giffords' mother, Gloria, writes that she will be moved from Tucson, Arizona's University Medical Center to rehabilitation facilities in Houston, Texas, on Friday.

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Filed under: Arizona
Protesters march in Tunis amid Arab League fears
Residents protest in the center of Tunis on Wednesday.
January 19th, 2011
10:54 AM ET

Protesters march in Tunis amid Arab League fears

Protesters angered over living conditions and government corruption staged a noisy but peaceful rally in Tunisia's capital Wednesday, and an Arab League official said the unrest illustrates "the greatsocial shakes that are inflicting Arab societies."

"It is on everybody's mind that the Arab spirit is broken. The Arab spirit is down by poverty, unemployment, and the general decline in the real indicators of development," Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League said at an economic summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

In Tunis, crowds of people tramped down Avenue Habib Bourguiba, singing the country's national anthem and chanting against the former ruling party and the former president, who fled the country last week amid the countrywide grass-roots uprising.

FULL STORY
On the Radar: Talking to China, health care repeal vote, Giffords to rehab
President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao at the White House on Wednesday.
January 19th, 2011
10:30 AM ET

On the Radar: Talking to China, health care repeal vote, Giffords to rehab

China and U.S. talk – President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao will have much to discuss during their meeting Wednesday, including human rights in China, trade between the nations, and the role of North Korea. They'll also talk about currency controls. The People's Bank of China has been accused of artificially undervaluing the yuan to reduce the cost of Chinese exports, which gives China an advantage in the international market.

Jintao is in the U.S. for three days and will also meet with legislators and top business executives. He'll visit Chicago before heading home. There will be a joint news conference this afternoon and a state dinner at the White House this evening, the first for China since Bill Clinton was in office. Whether the two leaders will find common ground is anyone's guess, especially considering that today's China is such a mixture of modernity and old-world ways.

Vote on health care repeal – The House is scheduled to vote on repealing health care reform. Representatives are expected to pass the measure, but there's little chance the law will be repealed in the Democratic-controlled Senate. President Obama has said that the law can be improved, but it should not be quashed altogether.

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Filed under: Arizona • Congress • Crime • Democratic Party • Gabrielle Giffords • Health • Human rights • On the Radar • Politics • Republican Party
'America's Missing': Hasanni Campbell, 5, vanishes outside shoe store
Hasanni Campbell, 5, was last seen on August 10, 2009.
January 19th, 2011
09:46 AM ET

'America's Missing': Hasanni Campbell, 5, vanishes outside shoe store

Editor's note: HLN is airing a special "Nancy Grace: America’s Missing" with the goal of trying to find 50 people over the next 50 days.

Nancy Grace will take a look at several cases around the nation in hopes of  helping to solve them. This was the second case.

[Updated Wednesday at 9:43 a.m.] Hasanni Campbell, who suffers from cerebral palsy and wears braces on both legs, went missing after being with his father outside a shoe in Oakland, California on August 10, 2009.

His foster father, Louis Ross, remains the prime suspect in the missing person case. He was the last to see the 5-year-old boy after leaving him in the car and going into the store with his sister. Suspicion has surrounded Hasanni’s foster parents who were both arrested on suspicion of murder but were never charged.

"We never believed Hassani made it to Oakland on the day he was reported missing," Oakland Police Department Sgt. Gus Galindo told Nancy Grace Tuesday night in an interview.

Asked if he believed Campbell was actually murdered at his home, Galindo told Grace: "based on my knowledge of the case, yes, I do."

However his parents maintain they had nothing to do with the murder and have kept up a website to try and ask for his safe return.

"Born on September 24, 2003, the first few of years of his life were not the most ideal but that withstanding there is a potential in him that many overlook because of a lack of understanding about his condition," his family says on a missing person's website. "Diagnosed with Cognitive Delays and Cerebral Palsy, umbrella term used to describe a disease that affects a person's motor skills, Hasanni is not unlike any other child. Some of his favorite things are SpongeBob, Spiderman, playing in the little pool we have set up in the backyard, and being read to. Hasanni loves the water. He would always ask, is it going to rain today? or Is that the beach as we drove home?

"If you saw him you would most likely think of him as a child small for his age that would seem talkative or quiet depending on his mood at that time."

For more information on Campbell, his description, and information to contact authorities, visit Nancy Grace's blog. FULL POST

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