The five most popular stories on CNN.com in the past 24 hours, according to NewsPulse:
17 dead reported in Libyan city of Zawiya: Doctors at a field hospital in Martyrs Square in Zawiya said Friday that 17 people were killed and another 150 were wounded when government forces attacked the city. They predicted the death toll would rise by morning.
'Deadliest Catch' boat crew member found dead: A crew member of a fishing vessel seen on the "Deadliest Catch" reality show was found dead in a Homer, Alaska, hotel room Tuesday, police said.
Jailed polygamist takes back church, ousts 30: Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is not only running the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but he has also ousted at least 45 high-ranking members he considered a threat to his leadership, two well-placed sources tell CNN.
Report: Thousands of migrants taken in Mexico: In a six-month period in 2010, more than 11,000 migrants were kidnapped, the Mexican human rights commission found in a report published this week
David Arquette opens up on battle with alcohol, drugs: David Arquette talked about his battle with drugs and alcohol in his first post-rehab interview on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" Thursday.
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, 10:12 p.m. ET, 5:12 a.m. local] The following story from CNN's Ben Wedemen shows people in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, walking through what is left of a Gadhafi family palace, which was trashed by demonstrators:
[ALGERIA, 9 p.m. ET, 3 a.m. local] U.S. President Barack Obama has issued a statement commending Algeria for formally lifting a state of emergency that had been in place since 1992.
"This is a positive sign that the government of Algeria is listening to the concerns and responding to the aspirations of its people, and we look forward to additional steps by the government that enable the Algerian people to fully exercise their universal rights, including freedom of expression, association and assembly," Obama said in the statement, which was released by the White House.
Algeria's move 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, 8:06 p.m. ET, 3:06 a.m. local] Doctors at a field hospital in Martyrs Square in the northwestern Libyan city of Zawiya said Friday that 17 people were killed and another 150 were wounded when government forces attacked the city. They predicted the death toll would rise by morning.
Six pro-regime soldiers who were captured said they had been told that the city was being run by Arab militants and it was their job to liberate it, according to the doctors, who asked not to be identified. The soldiers added
that they had been misled so that they would fight against their countrymen, the doctors said.
By the end of the day, the situation was calm in the seaside city, they said.
[LIBYA, 8:02 p.m. ET, 3:02 a.m. local] The U.N. Security Council will meet privately at 3 p.m. Friday to discuss taking additional measures against Libya.
[LIBYA, 6:54 p.m. ET, 1:54 a.m. local] U.S. President Barack Obama spoke Thursday with the leaders of France, Italy and the United Kingdom on coordinating an international response to the crisis in Libya, the White House said.
The statement said Thursday's discussions were to "coordinate our urgent efforts to respond to developments and ensure that there is appropriate accountability."
"The leaders discussed the range of options that both the United States and European countries are preparing to hold the Libyan government accountable for its actions, as well as planning for humanitarian assistance," the White House statement said.
U.S. officials have said all options were under consideration, including sanctions and enforcement of a no-fly zone, to try to stop the Libyan government from attacking protesters.FULL STORY ON PROTESTS IN LIBYA
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 29th case, and it will be shown Thursday at 9 p.m. on HLN.
Authorities say Tracy Ocasio (pictured) disappeared after a surveillance camera recorded her leaving an Orlando, Florida, bar with a man in late May 2009.
Her car was found abandoned the next afternoon about 200 yards from the home of the man, James Hataway, who told investigators she had driven him home and then left, according to police.
Ocasio's purse was in the car; her key, cell phone and identification were not found.
Ocasio, 27 at the time, met Hataway a week before.
Police said Hataway is a suspect, but has not been charged, in Ocasio’s disappearance. He is charged in an unrelated attempted-murder case.
A roundup of today's CNNMoney news
Economy faces new threats: A spike in oil prices due to spreading unrest in the Middle East is the problem earning the most attention, but it's not the only one. Economists are also worried about the push to cut government spending, the end of stimulus from the Federal Reserve and the bull market in stocks running its course. Meanwhile, drivers should brace for higher gas prices.
Swiss government freezes Gadhafi’s assets: The move comes after ten days of protests that have cost Gadhafi control of eastern Libya and led prominent members of his own government to defect and join demonstrations.
Democrats urge Obama to tap oil reserves: Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey, Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, and Vermont's Peter Welch said soaring energy prices stemming from supply disruptions and rampant speculation in the oil markets are making it hard on American consumers and businesses.
America’s smartest states: Looking for highly educated workers? If so, check out these 10 states, which top the rankings for educational attainment.
Motorola Xoom is better than iPad: The first tablet using Google's Android 3.0 Honeycomb has a 16-by-10 inch display, video chat, and will be upgradeable to 4G.
In Libya, the real power is in its tribal system. For 42 years, the country has had one ruler with Moammar Gadhafi and no political parties. There are about 140 tribes in Libya, but only around 30 have political clout. Libyans don't look to the governement for jobs or to protect their rights and their safety. They look to their tribe. FULL POST
The Pentagon says Boeing Co. has been awarded a contract to make the Air Force's next generation refueling tanker, the KC-X. Boeing will get $3.5 billion to deliver 18 aircraft by 2017.
The Pentagon eventually is expected to order a total of 179 planes for a total cost of $35 billion.FULL STORY
Space shuttle Discovery lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, late Thursday afternoon, beginning what is expected to be its final mission.
NASA had halted its countdown at five minutes due to a computer problem related to safety on the "eastern range." But after a confirmation that all was good to go, the countdown resumed and the shuttle lifted off about three minutes behind its planned 4:50 p.m. ET launch.
The six-member crew will deliver a storage module, a science rig and spare parts to the international space station during its 11-day mission.
The liftoff comes after months of delays due to leaks and cracks in the external tank.
The last scheduled launch of space shuttle Endeavour is scheduled for April 19, and shuttle Atlantis is tentatively scheduled to launch during the summer.
A federal judge is set to formally approve three criminal counts being dropped from the corruption case of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a judicial source in Chicago tells CNN.
The racketeering, racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud charges were part of a broader indictment against Blagojevich, who faces re-trial in April.
The former governor still faces trial on 17 public corruption-related charges. He is accused of, among other things, trying to gain financially and politically as he weighed who to name U.S. senator when Barack Obama was elected president.
The first trial ended in August, when jurors convicted Blagojevich of lying to federal agents on one of 24 counts brought against him by the federal government. They deadlocked on all the other counts, and federal authorities soon thereafter signaled their intent to request a new trial.
A woman suspected of snatching an infant from a New York hospital in 1987 entered a plea of not guilty on federal kidnapping charges at her arraignment Thursday.
Ann Pettway entered the plea in federal court in Manhattan.FULL STORY
Wisconsin state police were dispatched to the homes of several Democrat state senators in an effort to compel them to return to the legislature, said Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Olson.
Fourteen Senate Democrats fled to neighboring Illinois to prevent a quorum from voting on a budget repair bill that would curb the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers and raise their contributions to pensions and health insurance plans.
Meanwhile, a separate but nearly identical budget bill is up for debate in Wisconsin's other chamber, the state assembly. The assembly lawmakers are poised to vote on the bill Thursday.
The state faces a Friday deadline to balance the budget. Wisconsin faces a $137 million budget shortfall by June 30 and a $3.6 billion gap by 2013.
NASA's shuttle Discovery is scheduled to launch Thursday for its final mission as the shuttle program comes to an end. After months of delays due to leaks and cracks in the external tank, NASA says Discovery is ready.
And so are the people who began lining up along the causeways and waterfronts across from the Kennedy Space Center earlier this week.
Turmoil in Libya - It's Day 10 of anti-government protests in Libya. There were bloody clashes Thursday between security forces and demonstrators in Zawiya, a town west of the capital, Tripoli. Seven people have died there, witnesses said. "Blood is all over the streets," a mother told CNN, saying her son had been shot. A witness said the violence began when people who support leader Moammar Gadhafi came into the city square and encountered those who are protesting his ouster.
Speaking by phone Thursday on state TV, Gadhafi blamed the country's violence on young people, who he said were taking drugs and being influenced by al Qaeda. Addressing the situation in Zawiya, he said, "We shouldn't leave (the town) without any control."
After more than three dozen missions, space shuttle Discovery is getting set to call it a day. Join CNN.com Live for live coverage of Discovery's final mission.
Today's programming highlights...
10:30 am ET - Pentagon briefing on Afghanistan - ISAF and Afghan military officials brief reporters on current military operations in Afghanistan.
When Melissa Moorhouse got on a Red Line subway train in Boston on January 7, her pet snake, Penelope, was coiled cozily under her scarf.
When Moorhouse got off the train, Penelope, a Dumeril's boa, stayed behind, hiding somewhere in the car, CNN affiliate WCVB-TV reported.
A month passed before another passenger reported seeing a snake on the "T," as the Metropolitan Boston Transit Authority system is called. After another search, Penelope was found, safe and sound, and returned to Moorhouse.
But that's not all the T folks had for Moorhouse. This week she received a $650 bill, she told the station.
"To rid the subway car of any traces of germs such as salmonella, which may have been left by your snake, MBTA maintenance crews had to scrub and disinfect the Red Line car in which your snake was found," MBTA Treasurer-Controller Wesley Wallace wrote to Moorhouse.
Moorhouse didn't think she deserved the bill.
"I understand sanitizing the train, but shouldn't that be done anyway?" she told WCVB. "A lot of different people with a lot of different sicknesses are on that train. People throw up on the train, people bleed on the train. Do they have to pay to get it cleaned?"
The MBTA told Moorhouse she should use a pet carrier if she carries the snake on a train again.