The five most popular stories on CNN.com in the past 24 hours, according to NewsPulse:
Reports: Libya jet crashes as troops refuse orders: As Moammar Gadhafi called on the military to crack down on anti-government protesters, reports emerged Wednesday that the Libyan leader was facing growing international and domestic opposition, including from his own military.
Teen arrested in fatal police shooting: A 16-year-old Florida boy faces a first-degree murder charge in the shooting death of a police officer in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Photos of Giffords shooting suspect released: Two new booking photographs of Arizona shooting suspect Jared Loughner were released Tuesday.
Billy Ray Cyrus: 'I'm mending my family': Billy Ray Cyrus is trying to do right by his loved ones. After telling People magazine in its new issue that fame "destroyed my family" - and revealing in another interview he was "scared" for daughter Miley - the country star says he's looking inward.
Live blog on North Africa, Mideast protests: Live updates on Wednesday's developments in the uprisings in a number of North African and Middle Eastern countries.
Across the Middle East and North Africa, CNN's reporters and iReporters are covering protests, many of them inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled those countries' longtime rulers. Check out our story explaining the roots of the unrest in each country. Have a story to tell from the scene? Click here to send an iReport.
Developments on unrest in the Middle East and North Africa:
[LIBYA, 9:40 p.m. ET, 4:40 a.m. local] CNN's Tommy Evans took the following photo of people crossing into Tunisia from Ras Ajdir, Libya, on Wednesday. Thousands of people were fleeing Libya due to the unrest and violence there. At this border crossing, Tunisian volunteers greeted people with food and medical care.
[LIBYA, 8:45 p.m. ET, 3:45 a.m. local] CNN's Ben Wedeman, reporting from the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, which is in opposition control, says an ad-hoc local government has been put in place at Benghazi's courthouse. Citizens have set up committees to collect garbage, protect government property, and ensure an adequate supply of food and medicine.
[LIBYA, 7:22 p.m. ET, 2:22 a.m. local] Aaron David Miller, former Middle East negotiator in the U.S. State Department, writes that there are many good reasons for a careful U.S. approach to Libya, with the Americans-in-Libya factor being just one.
[LIBYA, 6:55 p.m. ET, 1:55 a.m. local] CNN's Ed Henry reports that although U.S. President Barack Obama had taken heat for a relatively muted response in the early days of the crisis in Libya, U.S. officials privately believe it was the best strategy because if Obama had bashed Libya's leader, it could have put the thousands of Americans who are in Libya in harm's way.
[YEMEN, 6:47 p.m. ET, 2:47 a.m. local] Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is calling for an end to the protests in that country and said he supports the creation of a national unity government to oversee upcoming parliamentary elections, the state-run news service Saba reported Wednesday.
He said that demonstrations must stop to "prepare for a suitable atmosphere" for the elections, and he also repeated his pledge not to run for re-election, Saba reported.
Anti-government demonstrators say that's not good enough. Undeterred by an attack on their sit- a day earlier – when at least two people were killed, according to an opposition lawmaker - anti-government protesters gathered at Sanaa University again on Wednesday to demand that Saleh step down.
[ALGERIA, 6:29 p.m. ET, 12:29 a.m. local] The United States welcomes Algeria's decision to lift its 1992 state of emergency decree "as a positive step," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in an e-mailed statement.
"We reaffirm our support for the universal rights of the Algerian people, including the freedom of assembly and expression," Crowley said.
Algeria's move, announced yesterday, lifts restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly. Those restrictions were imposed in 1992 to combat an Islamist insurgency. The decision to lift the restrictions comes as Algeria, like other Arab nations, faces waves of protest.
[LIBYA, 6:01 p.m. ET, 1:01 a.m. local] U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley says via Twitter that a chartered ship that is tasked to evacuate U.S. citizens from Libya's capital to Malta is delayed "due to high seas."
"Citizens are safe on board. It will leave when the weather permits," Crowley's message says.
The ferry picked up U.S. citizens, embassy staff, and some third-country nationals Wednesday at central Tripoli's As-shahab port. The ferry can hold 575 people; it's not clear how many people are on board.
[LIBYA, 5:39 p.m. ET, 12:39 a.m. local] Here is video of U.S. President Barack Obama's statement on Libya. In the statement, Obama said the United States strongly condemns the violence in Libya, is sending top envoys to Europe to discuss the situation, and is considering a series of options including sanctions against the Libyan government.
[LIBYA, 5:23 p.m. ET, 12:23 a.m. local] In his statement on Libya, U.S. President Barack Obama said he has instructed Bill Burns, undersecretary of state for political affairs, to make several stops "in Europe and the region to intensify our consultation with allies and partners about the situation in Libya."
He also said he is sending U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday, to meet with a number of foreign ministers convening for a session of the Human Rights Council.
"There, she'll hold consultations with her counterparts on events throughout the region and continue to ensure that we join with the international community to speak with one voice to the government and the people of Libya," Obama said.
The Human Rights Council, part of the United Nations, is negotiating a resolution on Libya, according to European diplomats who spoke to CNN.
Obama, in his statement, said the United States is looking at a series of options - including sanctions - unilaterally as well as through international institutions, allies and partners to put pressure on Libya's government in light of the violence there.
[LIBYA, 5:15 p.m. ET, 12:15 a.m. local] More from U.S. President Barack Obama's statement on Libya: He said the United States "will continue to stand up for freedom, stand up for justice and stand up for the dignity of all people."
[LIBYA, 5:12 p.m. ET, 12:12 a.m. local] More from U.S. President Barack Obama's statement on Libya: He said the United States strongly condemns the use of violence in Libya, adding that "the suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable."
He said Libya "must be held accountable" for its failure to meet its responsibilities. "The entire world is watching," he said.
[LIBYA, 5:09 p.m. ET, 12:09 a.m. local] The United States is doing "everything we can" to protect American citizens in Libya, President Barack Obama said. The United States also is looking at options to put pressure on Libya's government - including sanctions - in light of the violence there, Obama said.
Obama still is speaking about Libya, and we'll have more shortly.
[LIBYA, 5:05 p.m. ET, 12:05 a.m. local] The daughter of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Aisha Gadhafi, tells Libyan state TV that she's heard reports that the United Nations has dropped her as an unpaid goodwill ambassador, but she says she can't verify whether it's true.
"But all the Libyans, who know me and I (know) them, they know that I am the goodwill ambassador with or without the United Nations," she said.
Earlier, the United Nations said it did terminate Gadhafi's daughter's stint as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Development Program. U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Aisha Gadhafi was appointed goodwill ambassador for Libya in 2009 to address HIV/AIDS and violence against women in the country. Nesirky said the U.N. agency ended its agreement with her given recent events in Libya.
[LIBYA, 3:56 p.m. ET, 10:56 p.m. local] U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned what he called "egregious violations" of human rights in Libya's attempt to put down a spreading revolt Wednesday.
"Those responsible for brutally shedding the blood of innocents must be punished," he told reporters.
[LIBYA, 3:39 p.m. ET, 10:39 p.m. local] U.S. prices for crude oil settles at $98.10 a barrel after hitting $100 for the first time since October 2008 as reports of Libyan oil production shutdowns swirled.
[LIBYA, 3:32 p.m. ET, 10:32 p.m. local] U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the Libyan government "will be held accountable" for the acts of violence taken against protesters.
"Everything will be on the table," she told reporters at the State Department in Washington. "We will look at all the possible options" to end the violence.
"This is now the moment for the international community to act together," she said. The U.S. government "deeply regrets the loss of life" that has occurred in Libya.
Clinton noted that the situation in Libya is "fluid and uncertain" at the moment, and said U.S. authorities are "consulting closely" with representatives of other governments. Clinton stressed that the State Department is encouraging all Americans to leave Libya immediately.
[LIBYA, 3:25 p.m. ET, 10:25 p.m. local] A U.S. chartered ship that is tasked to evacuate U.S. citizens out of Libya will stay in port in Tripoli all night because of bad weather, diplomatic sources say. The ship is expected to leave at some point Thursday morning, the sources said.
[ZIMBABWE, 3:11 p.m. ET] Zimbabwe isn't in North Africa or the Middle East, but we have an update on a development in Zimbabwe that has a connection to unrest in those regions. Last week, dozens of political activists and union members were rounded up in Zimbabwe on suspicion of plotting an Egyptian-style uprising against longtime President Robert Mugabe. On Wednesday, a prosecutor said they've been charged with treason and face possible death sentences.
[LIBYA, 1:39 p.m. ET, 8:39 p.m. local] U.S. oil prices spiked above $100 a barrel for the first time in more than two years Wednesday, as reports of Libyan oil production shutdowns swirled.
[LIBYA, 1:06 p.m. ET, 8:06 p.m. local] President Barack Obama condemns the violence in Libya and will make a public statement on the situation Wednesday or Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
[LIBYA, 12:55 p.m. ET, 7:55 p.m. local] The United Nations has dropped Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's daughter as an unpaid goodwill ambassador, the U.N. announced. Aisha al-Gadhafi was appointed to the post in 2009 to address HIV/AIDS and violence against women in Libya, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.
[LIBYA, 12:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. local] Italian oil giant Eni, the largest foreign oil company in Libya, said production in the country has been partially shut down due to ongoing violence.
[LIBYA, 12:25 p.m. ET, 7:25 p.m. local] The death toll in Libya may be as high as 1,000, a representative for Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said.
[LIBYA, 9:45 a.m., 4:45 p.m. local] A Libyan military aircraft crashed Wednesday southwest of Benghazi after the crew refused to follow orders to bomb the city, Libya's Quryna newspaper reported.
[ISRAEL, 9:39 a.m. ET, 4:39 p.m. local] Israeli President Shimon Peres called the presence of Iranian warships in the Suez Canal a "provocation" and not a serious threat, but he warned an audience of Europeans that they face an "existential" danger from Iran's nuclear program. In Iran, a military commander expressed patriotic pride over the first Iranian vessels to sail through the Suez since the Islamic republic's 1979 revolution.FULL STORY ON PROTESTS IN LIBYA
Authorities in New Zealand have identified 76 victims of Tuesday's 6.3-magnitude earthquake, according to police in Christchurch. But they warn
more bodies are being recovered and identified all the time.
Seventeen Baltimore police officers are accused of receiving $300 for each vehicle they steered to a repair shop not authorized to tow vehicles from accident scenes, authorities said Wednesday.
The shop's two owners, also charged, allegedly paid officers to arrange for their company, rather than a city-authorized firm, to tow damaged vehicles to their shop, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore.
"The criminal complaint alleges that the officers were secretly working for a private auto repair business when they were supposed to be working for the police department and the citizens of Baltimore," said U.S. Attorney Rod J.
Rosenstein in a statement. "Police officers cross a bright line when they take payments from private citizens in connection with their official duties."
The defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit extortion, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.FULL STORY
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's news blog This Just In will feature the stories of the missing.
This is the 28th case, and it will be shown Wednesday at 9 p.m. on HLN.
Jodi Huisentruit was running late for work as the morning anchor at KIMT in Mason City, Iowa, on June 27, 1995. When her producer called to wake her up, Huisentruit said she'd be there in 20 minutes. She lived only five minutes from the station, but she never made it there.
When police went to check on her apartment, everything appeared normal, but outside, police found signs of a struggle near Huisentruit's Mazda Miata. Her hairdryer, hairspray, a pair of red shoes and earrings were strewn across the parking lot. Drag marks were found nearby, but the 27-year-old blonde was nowhere to be found.
Rumors of her working in a casino in Reno, Nevada, or being abducted by an Arab sheik never developed into anything credible, and her body has never been found. Four years ago, Huisentruit was declared legally dead by a judge in Cerro Gordo County, Iowa. But her family and friends are still looking for answers.
A roundup of today's CNNMoney news:
Libya oil production disrupted: Some oil production in Libya is shutting down as companies operating there begin to close facilities because of ongoing violence. U.S. oil prices surged Wednesday to $100 a barrel before settling at $98.10 after a report in the Financial Times said half of Libya's production has been suspended.
Airlines raise fares – again: Airlines are increasing their fares at the fastest pace in two years, driven by high fuel prices and enticed by strong consumer appetite. And travelers should brace themselves for prices to go even higher.
A suspect in the shooting death of a U.S. immigration agent in Mexico was detained by the Mexican military Wednesday, the country's Defense Ministry said.
Two Pennsylvania men convicted of a hate crime in the beating death of an undocumented Mexican immigrant were each sentenced Wednesday to nine years behind bars, the U.S. District Court said.
Derrick Donchak, of Shenandoah, and Brandon Piekarsky, of Shenandoah Heights, were found guilty in October of several federal charges, including hate crimes and depriving Luis Ramirez of his civil rights.
The two were acquitted of murder charges in state court and convicted of
Although he does want to limit labor unions' influence, Indiana's Republican governor has not taken the hard line of his colleagues in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan.
Daniels has told GOP members in Indiana's General Assembly that they need not push a bill to ban forcing non-union workers to pay dues in union shops.
And when Indiana's Democratic senators, like their Wisconsin counterparts, fled the state to avoid a vote on it, he didn't rip them in the media. He said the tactic was "a perfectly legitimate part of the process," according to the Indianapolis Star.
"Even the smallest minority has every right to express the strength of its views – and I salute those who did," he said.
For almost 28 years, the tax commissioner of Cherokee County, Georgia, loved his job – until his doctor told him it would kill him.
The 62-year-old resigned this month due to insomnia, acid reflux and crippling depression brought on by the stress of foreclosing on homes.
"I was foreclosing on the homes of people I have known my entire life," he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday.
Fields oversaw the foreclosure of nearly 100,000 homes in 2010 alone in the foothills north of Atlanta.
"I would talk to somebody or deal with something, a foreclosure or a lien, and I would just have to step out of the office to regain my composure," he said.
"I'm pretty tenderhearted," he added. "I guess I just wasn't crusty enough."
Gamble is a firefighter with the Los Angeles County Fire Department Search and Rescue unit. He is among more than 70 Californians now in Christchurch, New Zealand, trying to save people trapped after this week's magnitude 6.3 earthquake.
The unit has extensive experience in rescue and recovery – Haiti, Hurricane Katrina and 9/11, to name a few instances.
"To be able to take this mission to an international country, that's something special," Gamble told CNN affiliate KTLA.
The Utah Jazz, fewer than two weeks after losing their Hall of Fame head coach, have shipped their point guard, one of the best in the league, to the New Jersey Nets, several sources are reporting.
The Jazz are expected to receive point guard Devin Harris, forward Derrick Favor, two future first-round picks and cash as part of a deal for Deron Williams, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Reports indicate the Golden State Warriors also pounded out a deal with the Nets, who were purchased last year by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.
SI.com reports that the deal comes as a surprise - there were no whispers of it over the All-Star weekend - and dubbed the trade "a home run for Jersey."
The news comes on the heels of the Nets losing their bid to acquire the Denver Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony, who will be joining the New York Knicks after a three-way deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Williams trade also follows widespread speculation that Jerry Sloan, who coached the Jazz for 23 years before retiring earlier this month, stepped down because of static with Williams. Both the player and ex-coach have denied the reports.
Thousands of protesters are chanting, drumming, singing, locking arms and waging campaigns against bills that would affect union rights in Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana. CNN's iReporters are there, capturing the demonstrations from within the crowds.
Wisconsin: Facebook, Twitter and e-mail are playing a huge role in student involvement in the massive protests outside the state Capitol building in Madison. Watch protesters chant, "Kill the bill!" Three student walkouts were reportedly sparked by Facebook invitations that were sent across the University of Wisconsin-Madison Facebook page. Thousands are now standing, shouting and chanting in the city Wednesday, voicing their opposition to what Republican Gov. Scott Wilson calls a "Budget Repair" bill that would force state workers to increase their contributions to their pensions and health insurance benefits. Wilson said the bill must pass to head off a $3.6 billion budget gap by 2013 - and layoffs.
University of Wisconsin students have protested alongside teachers. Health care workers have shown up to rally, and dozens of other state employees are literally beating drums to express their opposition to the bill that would eliminate collective bargaining rights. Even Rage Against the Machine's guitarist is there. He wrote about why he's joined the demonstrators for CNN.com. And CNN's Tom Foreman penned this note to President Barack Obama about the protests. All-but-declared presidential candidate Rick Santorum compared protesters to drug addicts.
Indiana: Democratic members of the state House walked out yesterday on a Republican-supported bill that would reduce private-sector union rights and prevent unions from requiring workers to pay dues. Labor unions shouted, "You're fired!" at Republicans on Tuesday, according to the Indianpolis Star-Tribune. The paper filed a Q & A about the bill. The battle in this state is all about politics at this point - a political standstill.
Ohio: For the second week, crowds of teachers gathered in Columbus, shouting and chanting "Kill the bill!" Ohio is facing an $8 billion budget shortfall, and Republican Gov. John Kasich says that it has to pass to restore "balance" to the budget. Demonstrators have been yelling, "Teachers, yes! Kasich, no!" The measure is not about destroying unions, Kasich has repeatedly said. The legislation would allow school administrators to be able to ignore tenure when considering whether to lay someone off. The bill would also mandate that workers pay at least 20 percent of their health insurance premiums. Merit-based pay - though it's unclear how merit would be measured - would be given to some public employees.
The ol' cut and run - An Oklahoma man is accused of stuffing a chainsaw down his pants and running. Well, waddling is likely a better word. The best part about this absurd story is the repeated use of the term "britches" and the infamous local news standby – the old camera man re-enactment routine.
Folks in Baltimore, Maryland, could be forgiven for doing a few double-takes at the tall stranger who rode into town Wednesday morning.
A man who looked an awful lot like the guy on the $5 bill arrived by carriage at Camden Station in a re-enactment of a secret transit by President-elect Abraham Lincoln exactly 150 years earlier.
Following his election in November 1860, Lincoln was making his way to Washington for his March 1861 inauguration when he learned of a possible assassination plot.
Watch CNN.com Live for the latest on the situation in Libya, as well as the final mission for space shuttle Discovery.
Today's programming highlights...
Ongoing coverage - Conflict in Middle East and North Africa
11:00 am ET - Shuttle Discovery briefing - Tomorrow is the final planned launch of space shuttle Discovery. NASA holds a pre-launch news conference this morning to discuss the mission and last-minute preparations.