The day's most popular stories
January 26th, 2011
11:20 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

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

Another winter blast to hit East Coast: A quick-hitting Northeast snowstorm that began coating the nation's capital Wednesday has forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights for travelers in New England and the Eastern Seaboard.

20 questions that could change your life: If you're like most people, you became obsessed with questions around the age of two or three, and scientists now know that continuing to ask them can help keep your mind nimble however old you eventually become.

Dead councilwoman faced possible sanctions: A Nevada city councilwoman who faced possible sanctions over a travel expense voucher and public comments was found dead with her husband Tuesday, hours before a City Council meeting with her issues on the agenda.

Jimmy Buffett got stitches for cut from stage: Singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett fell off a concert stage and was injured at the end of a show in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday night, according to his manager.

Body identified as Texas baby sitter, 15: A body found near Lubbock, Texas, has been identified as that of a baby sitter seen in a motel surveillance video with a longtime family friend charged in the case, police said.

Giffords moves to rehabilitation hospital: U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was making "lightning speed" progress for a brain injury and had the drain for brain fluid removed from her head, her doctors said.

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Filed under: Most Popular
Puppy Bowl VII's lineup ready to ruff it up
January 26th, 2011
10:36 PM ET

Puppy Bowl VII's lineup ready to ruff it up

Are you ready for the cutest, most adorable faux sporting event of the year?

Animal Planet has announced the lineup for Puppy Bowl VII, the annual Super Bowl antidote pitting irresistible pups against each other and a slew of chew toys on the gridiron.

The football-with-puppies game has aired the same day as its fellow venerated American tradition, the Super Bowl, for the past seven years.

The 20-pup starting lineup was assembled from shelters and rescues across the country and as far as the U.S. Virgin Islands, all of whom will be vying for the title of MVP, or most valuable puppy (surely you knew that).

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Filed under: Animals • Pro football
U.S. missionary in Mexico fatally shot
Police say Nancy and Sam Davis' truck was shot at by men in a black pickup.
January 26th, 2011
09:59 PM ET

U.S. missionary in Mexico fatally shot

An American missionary was fatally shot in Mexico on Wednesday, police said.

The preliminary investigation indicated that Nancy Davis, 59, and her husband were traveling on a Mexican highway near the city of San Fernando, Mexico, when they were confronted by gunmen in a black pickup, the Pharr Police Department in Texas said in a statement.

San Fernando is south of the border city of Reynosa in Tamaulipas state.

"The gunmen were attempting to stop them and the victims accelerated in efforts of getting away from them," the police statement said. "At a certain point the gunmen discharged a weapon at the victim's vehicle and a bullet struck the victim Nancy Shuman Davis on the head."

Davis' husband, identified as Sam Davis by family friends, drove their truck "at high rate of speed" to the Pharr International Bridge, which crosses the Rio Grande. Nancy Davis was taken to a hospital in nearby McAllen, where she was pronounced dead about 90 minutes later.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Crime • Mexico
Winter weather forces flight cancellations along Eastern Seaboard
January 26th, 2011
09:10 PM ET

Winter weather forces flight cancellations along Eastern Seaboard

A quick-hitting Northeast snowstorm that began coating the nation's capital Wednesday has forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights for travelers in New England and the Eastern Seaboard, according to airline spokesmen.

Winter storm warnings were in effect Wednesday from the southern Appalachian mountains to coastal Massachusetts and were expected to expire Thursday morning, said CNN meteorologist Sean Morris.

Snow was falling about an inch an hour in Washington, D.C., which was expected to receive 4 to 6 inches Wednesday evening, he said.

Federal employees and most schools in Washington ended business early on Wednesday. New York is expected to receive 8 to 12 inches of snow starting about midnight, Morris said.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Weather • Winter weather
Utah may adopt a state gun
Utah is trying to adopt the Browning M1911 handgun as its state gun 100 years after the U.S. Army began using it.
January 26th, 2011
06:38 PM ET

Utah may adopt a state gun

Utah has a state flower, a state fossil, a state cooking pot and 21 other official symbols. It might soon add a state gun.

The state House passed a measure Wednesday, by a 51-19 vote, that would make the Browning M1911 pistol - designed by Utah’s John Moses Browning in the early 20th century - the state firearm. The bill now goes to the state Senate.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Carl Wimmer, has said the measure aims to honor Browning. His M1911 was used as a standard U.S. Army sidearm from 1911 to 1985, according to the Browning manufacturing company's website and Jane's Infantry Weapons.



The measure has attracted criticism from anti-gun activists and some state House members. Some lawmakers argued in debate Wednesday that it was insensitive after the January 8 shooting in Tucson, Arizona, that killed six and wounded 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

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Filed under: Utah
Dollars & Sense: The least evil banks; brighter outlook for jobs
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's profile on the social networking site was hacked Tuesday.
January 26th, 2011
06:30 PM ET

Dollars & Sense: The least evil banks; brighter outlook for jobs

A roundup of today’s CNNMoney news:

8 least evil banks: As banks take turns inventing new fees and hiking existing ones, you may think there's no escaping your bank's dirty tricks. But we found eight with zero ATM fees, free checking and high-yielding accounts.

Hottest Web IPO sets the tone: The appetite for initial public offerings is heating up, starting with Demand Media - the biggest Web IPO since Google went public in 2004.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page hacked: The Facebook founder’s fan page was hacked Tuesday when a status update appeared on his profile that opened with "Let the hacking begin." The status attracted more than 1,800 "likes" before it was removed from the page.

A call for jobs from the Swiss Alps: Executives attending the World Economic Forum are optimistic about the job outlook for 2011, but say we have a long way to go. Meanwhile, check out these Best Companies' cool perks.

What a Tea Party budget looks like: With Washington buzzing with proposals to cut the budget, Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Michele Bachmann - two high-profile Tea Party members - have each released laundry lists of spending cuts.

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Filed under: Dollars & Sense • Economy • Facebook • Politics • Tea Party • Technology
Jury gets case of officers accused of plot to cover up immigrant's death
Matthew Nestor, left, Jason Hayes and William Moyer are accused of obstructing justice.
January 26th, 2011
06:01 PM ET

Jury gets case of officers accused of plot to cover up immigrant's death

A federal jury has begun deliberating the case of three former Pennsylvania police officers accused of trying to cover up the beating death of an undocumented Mexican immigrant.

A Wilkes-Barre jury began deliberations Wednesday morning in the trial of former Shenandoah Police Chief Matthew Nestor and former officers Jason Hayes and William Moyer. The three men are charged with conspiring to obstruct justice during the investigation into the fatal beating of Luis Ramirez in July 2008. Moyer has also been charged with witness and evidence tampering, and with lying to the FBI.

If convicted, the defendants face 20 years in prison on each of the obstruction charges and an additional five years in prison for conspiring to obstruct justice.

Ramirez, a day laborer and father of two who was engaged to a woman from Shenandoah, died three days after he was beaten into a coma during a street fight with members of the high school football team. The incident divided the rural mining town along racial lines and became a flash point for racial tensions nationwide.

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Filed under: Crime • Pennsylvania
DHS to end color-coded terror alert system
Former Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge unveils the color-coded U.S. threat advisory system in 2002.
January 26th, 2011
03:00 PM ET

DHS to end color-coded terror alert system

The Department of Homeland Security is ending its color-coded terror threat level system in April, as expected, CNN's National Security Contributor Fran Townsend has confirmed.

The system was established in 2002 to inform the public of the current risk of terrorist acts through a five-level, color-coded "Threat Condition" indicator. Today's terror threat level for the U.S. government is elevated, or yellow, and for all domestic and international flights, the U.S. threat level is high, or orange, according to DHS.

In its place, DHS will move to a system that focuses on specific threats in geographical areas. It will be called the National Terror Advisory System. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano will officially make the announcement tomorrow at a "State of America's Homeland Security" speech at George Washington University.

FULL STORY
SI.com: Injury affects Nadal in Australian Open loss
Rafael Nadal's pain was apparent in his three-set quarterfinal loss to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer on Wednesday.
January 26th, 2011
02:37 PM ET

SI.com: Injury affects Nadal in Australian Open loss

There will be no "Rafa Slam," no showdown with Roger Federer and no happy ending for Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open.

The world's No. 1 tennis player suffered a shocking upset at the Aussie Open quarterfinals on Wednesday, falling 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer. Nadal, who had won three Grand Slam tournaments in a row and was hoping to hold all four majors at once, came up short due to an apparent leg injury, which forced him to call a medical timeout in the third set and visibly hampered him against Ferrer.

"This is a difficult day for me," Nadal said after the match. "Today, I can't do more than what I did. He played at a very high level."

FULL POST

Paper: Proper land management could triple Asian tiger population
In a 2008 photo, a rescued tiger leaps into India's Sundarikati River after being released from a cage on a boat.
January 26th, 2011
02:23 PM ET

Paper: Proper land management could triple Asian tiger population

The wild tiger population in Asia could triple to more than 10,000 with thoughtful land management where they live and breed, a new paper from top conservation scientists says.

If governments were to treat the many disconnected tiger reserves throughout Asia as a single "landscape" and provide safe corridors for the animals to roam among them, populations could flourish, the paper argues.

The paper, "A landscape-based conservation strategy to double the wild tiger population," appears in the current issue of the journal Conservation Letters.

"In the midst of a crisis, it's tempting to circle the wagons and only protect a limited number of core protected areas, but we can and should do better," said World Wildlife Fund chief scientist Dr. Eric Dinerstein, a co-author of the study. "We absolutely need to stop the bleeding, the poaching of tigers and their prey in core breeding areas, but we need to go much further and secure larger tiger landscapes before it is too late."

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Filed under: Animals • Environment • World
50 people in 50 days: Prosecutor disappeared during day off
Ray Gricar was just months from retirement when he vanished in April 2005.
January 26th, 2011
02:09 PM ET

50 people in 50 days: Prosecutor disappeared during day off

Editor's note: Nancy Grace's new show on HLN, "Nancy Grace: America's Missing," is dedicated to finding 50 people in 50 days. As part of the effort, which relies heavily on audience participation, CNN.com news blog "This Just In" will feature the stories of the missing.

This is the eighth case, and it will air on HLN at 9 p.m. ET.

The disappearance of Ray Gricar is a mystery that continues to haunt the town of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

Just eight months away from retirement as a 20-year prosecutor, Gricar vanished after taking a day off from work to take a scenic drive. When he was not heard from for 12 hours, Gricar's girlfriend reported him missing on April 15, 2005.  The next day, his red and white MINI Cooper was found in an antique mall parking lot his cell phone still in the car, but his sunglasses and keys missing.

There have been many false sightings over the last five-plus years, but nothing to fully draw police to any one of the three theories they've had since day one of Ray's disappearance: Either he walked away from his life, met with foul play, or committed suicide.

A day after huge protests, Egyptian security clamps down
Egyptian riot police confront demonstrators Wednesday in Cairo.
January 26th, 2011
01:43 PM ET

A day after huge protests, Egyptian security clamps down

A day after an unparalleled display of public rage at Egypt's government and full-throated cries for the ouster of its longtime president, the country's security forces made their own potent presence felt on
the angry streets.

Police turned water cannons and tear gas on protesters in the early hours of Wednesday morning to try to break up anti-government demonstrations as the Interior Ministry warned it "will not allow any
provocative movement or a protest or rallies or demonstrations."

In the heart of Cairo, where people were being beaten with sticks and fists and demonstrators were being dragged away amid tear gas. Witnesses saw security forces harassing journalists and photographers.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Egypt
Prominent Australians say it's time to ditch Union Jack design
A man drapes himself in Australia's flag on Australia Day at Sydney Harbor on Wednesday.
January 26th, 2011
01:41 PM ET

Prominent Australians say it's time to ditch Union Jack design

Twelve of Australia's most prominent citizens say it's time to take the Union Jack off Australia's flag.

In a statement released by Ausflag, a nonprofit organization seeking "a truly Australian flag," the dozen recipients of the "Australian of the Year" award say the keeping the Union Jack, flag of former colonial ruler Great Britain, as part of Australia's flag prevents Australia from truly establishing its own national identity.

The Union Jack is seen in the upper left-hand corner of Australia's flag, with a large, seven-pointed white star below and the stars of the Southern Cross in the field of blue. FULL POST

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Filed under: Australia
Mom jailed for enrolling kids in wrong school district
Kelley Williams-Bolar is escorted through the Summit County, Ohio, jail.
January 26th, 2011
12:24 PM ET

Mom jailed for enrolling kids in wrong school district

An Ohio mother is in jail after being convicted of tampering with records to enroll her children in a better school district.

Kelley Williams-Bolar, 40, of Akron, illegally registered her two daughters at her father's address in suburban Copley Township to get them into the Copley-Fairlawn school district rather than the urban Akron district, a jury decided.

The Akron City school district met only four of 26 standards on the latest Ohio Department of Education Report Card and had a 76% graduation rate. Copley-Fairlawn City Schools met 26 of 26 standards and had a 97.5% graduation rate.

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Filed under: Crime • Education • Justice • Ohio
Giffords transferred to rehabilitation hospital
Rep. Gabriella Giffords is removed from an ambulance in Texas on Wednesday morning.
January 26th, 2011
11:21 AM ET

Giffords transferred to rehabilitation hospital

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was moved from a Houston, Texas, hospital to a nearby rehabilitation hospital on Wednesday after doctors upgraded her condition from serious to good.

Giffords was moved to The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research Memorial Hermann, also known as TIRR Memorial Hermann, according to Rebecca Moran, spokeswoman for Memorial Hermann.

Giffords was shot in the head at a public event in Tucson, Arizona, on January 8. Her upgraded condition was announced late Tuesday after Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, said she had watched an hour of television from her hospital bed.

FULL STORY
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Filed under: Uncategorized
Gotta Watch: Cop car Houdini move; worst hotel; Egypt protest
A burglary suspect attempts to escape from a moving police car.
January 26th, 2011
11:10 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Cop car Houdini move; worst hotel; Egypt protest

Dude, where's my suspect? – You can file this video under "dumb criminals who think they're Houdini."  This burglary suspect obviously thinks it's a good idea to try to escape a moving police car while in handcuffs. The only thing he broke trying to escape was maybe his ego.

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Soldier's marriage proposal from Afghanistan goes to wrong number
British soldiers patrol in Afghanistan last year.
January 26th, 2011
10:57 AM ET

Soldier's marriage proposal from Afghanistan goes to wrong number

Samantha, where are you? Your soldier boyfriend, evidently deployed in Afghanistan, wants to marry you. He's proposed, Samantha. But we know you didn't get his phone message, because Diane Potts, a 44-year-old mother of three did. And she's certain she doesn't have a beau in Afghanistan who wants to marry her.

According to British media reports, Potts came home last Thursday in the northen English city of Gateshead, checked her answering machine and heard this:

"I love you so much, I love you with all my heart and I was going to ask you, don’t answer, obviously you can’t answer, but will you marry me?"

Listen to the soldier's message

"I could tell he was speaking from a phone booth, the line was quite crackly. I was shocked, and had to listen to it again before the message sunk in," Potts told the Daily Mail. "I think he probably dialed incorrectly, and that his girlfriend’s number is similar to mine."

Unless Samantha or the soldier come forth after reports of the call were splashed across the British press Wednesday, it could be awhile before the soldier can make his pitch again.

"He said he would not be able to ring for another month, and would not be home for another three months," Potts told the Daily Mail.

In the 90-second message, the soldier also talks about losing a comrade in recent fighting.

"One of my guys has just been blown up, so I feel sad, I really feel sad," he says on the tape.

Samantha is also apparently pregnant.

"I can’t wait until you give birth to my baby, my little soldier," the soldier says. "I will do everything in my heart and I will try my hardest to fight to protect you."

Then he's back to the fight.

"I've got to go back out here now. I love you with all my heart, don't ever forget that, I love you, all right Samantha, I love you, bye, bye," the phone message ends.

Potts says she hopes Samantha and the soldier connect soon, according to reports.

"I e-mailed the media to see if anybody could pick it up and do something about," she told Sky News Online.

"He had a regional accent, but we're not sure if he lives up here, so it's great to get coverage and find her.

"We just really want to find her."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • United Kingdom
On the Radar: State of the Union reaction, new Toyota recalls, Giffords' condition
President Barack Obama urges both parties to work together in the national interest in his address Tuesday night.
January 26th, 2011
10:12 AM ET

On the Radar: State of the Union reaction, new Toyota recalls, Giffords' condition

Review of Obama's speech – If you missed President Barack Obama's speech to the nation Tuesday night, here's a full transcript and video. The president touched on many familiar themes, and CNN's iReporters tried to sum up all his points in a single tweet.

How about the "economy"? Obama said it's headed in the right direction but the country's priorities should change, especially when it comes to spending. The president called for increasing investments in key areas such as education and clean energy, but he also wants to make reductions in spending to help get America's deficit under control and proposed a five-year domestic spending freeze.

During another portion of the speech, he highlighted a small-business owner, describing the man's story as a symbol of the American dream. Obama also spoke of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is recovering from a gunshot wound to the head after a gunman's rampage at a political meet-and-greet this month in Tucson, Arizona. The congresswoman's name was met with applause.

On Wednesday, the president will take his message on the road, discussing opportunities for job growth in clean energy during a stop in Wisconsin.

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Wednesday's intriguing people
Wanda Jackson, 73, an ex-flame of Elvis Presley, has put out an album produced by Jack White of the White Stripes.
January 26th, 2011
09:59 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Wanda Jackson

She’s called the queen of rockabilly, has secured a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and at age 73 she’s teamed up with rocker Jack White to release a new album.

White, a founder of the White Stripes, produced and arranged Jackson’s new album, “The Party Ain’t Over,” a disc bringing Jackson’s growling country-style vocals to rock tunes.

“I was scared at first because I didn’t know what this young rock star was going to expect of me or ask me to do,” Jackson says on her website of her collaboration with White.

But she says White’s work quickly won her over.

“I realized he wasn’t wanting to change my style of singing at all. He just wanted me to have new, fresher material. … He just wanted more of Wanda than I was used to putting out,” she says.

“He pulled out the 18-year-old young, feisty girl that was down in there buried,” Jackson said of White during an appearance on Conan O’Brien on TBS Tuesday night.

Jackson belted out “Funnel of Love,” with White on guitar, and then Conan asked Jackson about what it was like to tour with the king of rock 'n' roll, Elvis Presley, 50 years ago.

“They did more than tour,” White interjected.

“He could sure kiss good” was all Jackson offered.

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Filed under: California • Canada • Crime • Hockey • Indiana • Most Intriguing People • Music • Showbiz • Sports • Tennessee • U.S.
50 people in 50 days: Little boy vanished outside grandmother's home
January 26th, 2011
09:33 AM ET

50 people in 50 days: Little boy vanished outside grandmother's home

Editor's note: Nancy Grace's new show on HLN, "Nancy Grace: America's Missing," is dedicated to finding 50 people in 50 days. As part of the effort, which relies heavily on audience participation, CNN.com news blog "This Just In" will feature the stories of the missing.

This was the seventh case.

It's been two years since the disappearance of Adji Desir, but police have not given up hope to find the boy alive.

Police marked the second anniversary on January 10 by knocking on doors and distributing updated fliers with the then 6-year-old's smiling face. A large triangle image on the fliers highlights what police aim to do by building a triangle of trust between residents of the Immokalee village, Adji's parents and law enforcement. Did someone see something when the developmentally disabled boy vanished while playing outside his grandmother's home with friends?


Filed under: Child safety • Crime • Florida • TV-Nancy Grace
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