The five most popular stories on CNN.com in the past 24 hours, according to NewsPulse:
Two states report radiation in milk: There is no health risk from consuming milk with extremely low levels of radiation, like those found in Washington state and California, experts said Thursday, echoing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Found documents shed light on MLK killer: Recently discovered photos and letters are giving an inside look at the man convicted of assassinating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Missing cobra found alive in Bronx Zoo: An Egyptian cobra that drew thousands of Twitter fans has been found alive after it went missing for days from a New York City zoo.
Prince William won't wear a wedding band: Prince William is going to eschew the modern-day tradition of men wearing wedding bands.
'Albany Seven' claim $319M jackpot: Seven New Yorkers claimed a $319 million jackpot in the multistate Mega Millions lottery Thursday.
Signs of spring are upon us, at least in some parts of the country: the cacophony of squirrels and birds, fresh coats of pollen on cars, budding trees ... and great balls of fire in the sky?
Yes, according to NASA, spring also means an increased rate of bright meteors, also known as fireballs.
"Spring is fireball season," said Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Center. "For reasons we don't fully understand, the rate of bright meteors climbs during the weeks around the vernal equinox."
A fireball is a meteor that's brighter than the planet Venus. Other times of the year, a person observing the skies from dusk until dawn might spot around 10 fireballs. This time of year, their nightly rate climbs to 30%.
"We've known about this phenomenon for more than 30 years," Cooke said. "It's not only fireballs that are affected. Meteorite falls – space rocks that actually hit the ground – are more common in spring as well."
A statue of an angel in honor of the youngest victim of January's mass shooting will be unveiled in Tucson, Arizona, on Friday.
Christina Green was born on September 11, 2001, and died on January 8 in the Tucson shooting rampage, which left six dead and 13 wounded, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
The 9-foot, 11-inch thin metal angel incorporates steel from the Pentagon and World Trade Center. The rocks at the base are from the crash site of Flight 93. The statue will live at the Little League field where Christina played baseball.
Tune into CNN for more on the statue and an emotional interview with the woman who took Christina to see Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Friday on CNN.
A deadly Egyptian cobra, which drew thousands of online fans through its own Twitter account, has been found alive being missing for days from a New York City Zoo, officials said.
"As you can imagine, we are delighted to report that the snake has been found alive and well," said Bronx Zoo Director Jim Breheny. "The key strategy here was patience."FULL STORY
Ivory Coast's air and sea borders have been closed indefinitely, according to the interior minister for internationally recognized President Alassane Ouattara, whose supporters are trying to oust Laurent Gbagbo.
The announcement came as Ivory Coast's internal war appeared to enter a decisive and final phase, with forces loyal to Ouattara making a final push to take control of the capital, Abidjan, where Gbagbo has refused to give up the presidency following a disputed November election.FULL STORY
For every dead dolphin or whale that washes up on Gulf Coast beaches, there may be 50 more that no one ever sees, a new study suggests.
Natural factors and last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico probably have caused thousands more dolphin and whale deaths than have been observed, a team of scientists says in a study published Wednesday by the journal Conservation Letters.
The scientists, led by Rob Williams, said 101 cetacean, or marine mammal, carcasses had been observed in the water or on beaches as of the time of their study.
After analyzing historical data on populations and death rates of 14 species in the northern Gulf, the scientists determined that carcasses are found in only 2% of cetacean deaths.
"Thus, the true death toll could be 50 times the number of carcasses recovered, given no additional information," they write, adding that they don't know what the true figure is.
The scientists urge environmentalists and authorities not to rely solely on observed carcass counts in judging the severity of an event, but to develop standard formulas for more accurate estimates.
Scientists and observers have been alarmed by the high number of dead baby and preterm dolphins that washed ashore in February during the first calving season since the spill.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service counted 36 infant dolphin strandings in February; there was just one in February 2010, and the 2002-2007 average for February is 2.2. Stranding is the scientific term for marine mammals that end up on land.
NOAA had noticed a rise in cetacean deaths even before the spill which resulted from an April 20 explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that killed 11 workers.
"We have been monitoring an increase of dolphin deaths in the northern Gulf since February of 2010," NOAA Fisheries spokeswoman Karrie Carnes said.
The numbers of stranded (dead or alive) dolphins and whales are shocking: Against a 2002-07 average of 31.4 for January through March, there were 76 for that period in 2010 and 139 in 2011, according to NOAA.
Scientists aren't jumping to conclusions about what's killing the animals. Similar "unusual mortality events" occur from time to time; the Gulf has seen 13 of them since 1991, said Blair Mase, NOAA's lead marine mammal stranding coordinator. Marine mammals are particularly susceptible to harmful algal blooms, infectious diseases, temperature and environmental changes, and human impact, she said.
"Frankly, it's just too early to tell at this point," Mase said in February. "It's obviously on everyone's radar screen. Everyone's concerned about any impact of the BP oil spill, but we have to be very cautious as to identify any particular cause. We won't know until we have these samples analyzed and be able to identify the source."
[Updated at 1:58 p.m.] A photo on the website of Bay News 9 showed an overturned airplane at the St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport. The affiliate also broadcast images of damaged street signs and billboards as high winds swept through much of the region.
In Lakeland, Sgt. Terri Smith said earlier reports that 70 people were trapped after a building collapsed at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport are false.
A heavy storm with strong winds hit the Sun 'n' Fun Aviation Fair at the airport, Smith said, causing "extensive minor damage and reports of minor injuries," but "all persons so far have been accounted for."
[Posted at 12:21 p.m.] Severe weather tore across central Florida on Thursday, trapping about 70 people at an airport in Lakeland, and spawning an apparent tornado in Tampa, the National Weather Service said.
Approximately 70 people were reported trapped in a collapsed building at the Sun 'n' Fun Aviation Fair at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Florida due to severe winds, the weather service said.
In Tampa, meanwhile, an apparent tornado touched down in Hillsborough County, parts of which were under a tornado warning that the weather service issued at 11:51 a.m. The warning covered parts of Hillsborough as well as parts of Polk County.
With Major League Baseball season ready to get into full swing, SI.com’s Tom Verducci breaks down the season’s top story lines that any baseball fan should be well aware of. Topping the list: How will Derek Jeter’s standing with the Yankees progress throughout the season, and is the Phillies’ time in the sun drawing to a close faster than people think?
The preseason was marked with the Jeter will-he-or-won’t-he contract drama, but ultimately the Yankees captain and shortstop chose to stay in pinstripes, signing a three-year, $51 million contract in December. More intriguing than Jeter’s contract negotiations was the worst offensive season performance of his career. The shortstop’s .270 batting average, .340 on-base percentage and .370 slugging percentage left some wondering if the Yankees legend had reached his peak.
In 2011, as Verducci points out, Jeter will be chasing the 3,000-hit mark, a milestone that will make him only the 28th player – and first Yankee – to reach it. But if his struggles from last season carry over into this year, the road to 3,000 could be an arduous one.
“Every hitless streak, however brief, launches questions about whether Jeter should be dropped in the lineup, rested more or moved to another position,” Verducci writes.
It's a throwback kind of day in more ways than one. Baseball season starts today, making it the perfect time to reflect on a century's worth of presidential pitches. Also in today's Gotta Watch, we mark the 16th anniversary of singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez's death.
Perfecting the presidential pitch – For once, this is a presidential pitch devoid of any politics. Check out how the presidents measure up when it's time to throw out the first pitch. From 20th century presidents to more modern day leaders like Ronald Reagan pitching 1984, see who threw it best.
We have video of George H. W. Bush winding it up in 1991 and 1992. We also threw in Bill Clinton's 1992 pitch, George W. Bush's 2001, 2005 and 2009 pitches. And of course, there's president Barack Obama from 2009 and 2010.
Libya's foreign minister and its former intelligence chief shocked the diplomatic world Wednesday with his sudden defection to the United Kingdom.
According to CNN homeland security analyst Fran Townsend, Koussa played a key role in planning and executing the Pam Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. He also was integral in negotiating the dismantling of Libya's weapons of mass destruction program.
"Koussa is one of the most senior figures in [Libyan leader Moammar] Gadhafi's government, and his role was to represent the regime internationally," a British government official said in a statement, "something that he is no longer willing to do."
Rolling Stone on Wednesday published the most revealing interview with singer Rihanna since her 2009 battery incident with then-boyfriend Chris Brown.
In a risqué photo spread, the singer defined her self-imposed boundaries with Brown, despite agreeing to end a restraining order that she feels has hurt him professionally.
Most eye-opening however, was the singer's acknowledgment that she is prone to masochism in her sexual relationships, and via her multiple tattoos and piercings. She attributed it to verbal abuse from her father and the stress of her career.
"It's not something I am proud of, and it's not something I noticed until recently," she told Rolling Stone. "I think it's common for people who witness abuse in their household. They can never smell how beautiful a rose is unless they get pricked by a thorn."
The retired U.S. Air Force colonel has obtained what he believes is a copy of President Barack Obama's draft documents from 1980 by impersonating the president to the Selective Service Office.
According to a news report in the Colorado Springs Gazette, which was originally reported in the blog Gratewire, Hollister used a private investigator to obtain what may be the president's Social Security number, and then impersonated Obama to obtain the documents.
Further buoying Hollister's suspicions are reports that the Social Security number obtained begins with 042. That, says Hollister, would mean Obama was born in Connecticut, not Hawaii as long stated.
While critics say Hollister has violated many federal statutes, he maintains his innocence.
"I was very meticulous and made sure everything I did was compliant with the law," he told the Gazette.
A YouTube video posted March 14 by the 13-year-old from Westport, Connecticut, in which she speaks out about bullying, has gained nearly 50,000 views.
During her plea, Pollack says that name-calling is a large part of the problem. She emphasizes her point by writing the vulgarities on paper with crayon and showing them to her audience.
"I used to be really, really confident," Pollack says in the video, "and now, not so much because people use these words."
The Libya conflict is the talk of Capitol Hill, with several hearings on the situation scheduled for today. CNN.com Live will be there for all the gavel-to-gavel coverage.
Today's programming highlights...
9:00 am ET - Gates, Mullen testify on Libya - Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen testify on the Libya conflict before the House Armed Services Committee. Gates and Mullen will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee at 2:15 pm ET.
Opening Day: The first pitches of the 2011 Major League Baseball season are at 1:05 p.m. ET today as the Washington Nationals host the Atlanta Braves in the National League and the New York Yankees welcome the Detroit Tigers in the American League.
Four other games follow, including the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants traveling down the West Coast to face the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Check out the predictions of SI.com experts for the season, and see SI.com's predictions right through the 2011 World Series as well as Tom Verducci's video previews of what to expect from each Major League team.
MegaMillions winners: The winner or winners of a $319 million MegaMillions lottery jackpot are expected to be announced during a press conference at 10:30 a.m. today, said New York Lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman.
They are rumored to be seven IT specialists from New York state's Division of Housing and Community Renewal, said Emanuel Biondi, a public employees federation council leader for the agency.
The drawing was held Friday night. Last-minute ticket sales increased the jackpot from $312 million to $319 million, the New York Lottery said.
If the winners chose the cash option when buying the ticket, they will receive a one-time, lump-sum payment of $202.9 million. That amount reflects all the cash in the Mega Millions pool and is the sixth-largest jackpot in its history, according to Hapeman.
Tea Party rally: The Tea Party Patriots Continuing Revolution Rally is at noon ET today on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The conservative group is pushing federal lawmakers to enact spending cuts.
The rally comes eight days before Congress' most recent temporary spending measure is set to expire. If a new plan isn't approved by April 8, some government services and offices would shut down until a plan is agreed.
Republicans are pushing for about $61 billion in cuts overall, while Democrats say they will accept only a fraction of that.
Could firefighters one day use an electric wand to zap flames away?
In a new study, Harvard University scientists say they used an electric field to extinguish an open flame more than 1 foot tall - a development they say could yield fire-suppression alternatives to water and chemical retardants.
The scientists, part of a group headed by chemistry professor George M. Whitesides, connected a 600-watt amplifier to a metal wire that was fixed in place and pointed at the base of a methane flame.
When the amplifier was turned on, the wand-like wire, serving as an electrode, generated an oscillating electric field that essentially pushed the flame off its fuel source. This extinguished it, said chemist and lead author Ludovico Cademartiri, a postdoctoral fellow who presented the findings in California on Sunday at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.FULL STORY
The five most popular stories on CNN.com in the past 24 hours, according to NewsPulse.
Body of missing Ohio mother found: The mother-in-law of a 25-year-old woman found dead in a septic system provided investigators with details where the corpse was located, police said Wednesday.
Only 14, Bangladeshi girl was lashed to death: Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl.
Parents sue over photos of slain daughter: The parents of a murder victim are suing Facebook after a paramedic pleaded guilty to photographing their daughter's corpse and posting the image to the social networking site, according to court documents.
High radiation levels near nuclear plant: The chairman of the Japanese company that owns the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant said Wednesday it has no choice but to decommission four of the plant's six reactors.
Leaping sea creatures: Do we need bigger boats? Has Aquaman's telepathic message been scrambled? Are the buddies of "Jaws" seeking revenge? Actually, many ocean animals jump out of the water when either chasing prey or trying to elude a predator.
India celebrated on Wednesday after beating Pakistan in the World Cup of cricket, a match that brought together two arch-rivals on the field and the leaders of their countries in the stands for some "cricket diplomacy."
Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani arrived in India Wednesday to watch 2011 ICC World Cup second semi-final with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, as the nuclear neighbors try to repair ties wounded by the 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai.
Politics nearly threatened to take the focus off the high-pitched cricket match, which prompted early closures of thousands of businesses in Mohali, the city hosting the game.
Gilani's visit came a day after his country agreed in principle to allow a tour by an Indian commission in connection with the investigations into the Mumbai assault blamed on Pakistani militant groups. In talks Tuesday in New Delhi, Indian and Pakistani home secretaries also pledged to set up a "hotline" on terror threats.
The Times of India noted that Singh had been "jittery" over the possibility that their meeting in the stands of the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium would receive "more-than-necessary coverage by an intrusive media."
The CIA is operating in Libya to help the United States increase its "military and political understanding" of the situation, a U.S. intelligence source said.
"But yes, we are gathering intel firsthand and we are in contact with some opposition entities," the source told CNN.
The White House refused to comment on a Reuters report Wednesday that President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel troops.
"I will reiterate what the President said yesterday - no decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any group in Libya," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "We're not ruling it out or ruling it in. We're assessing and reviewing options for all types of assistance that we could provide to the Libyan people, and have consulted directly with the opposition and our international partners about these matters."
NASA released on Wednesday more of the first images of Mercury taken by a spacecraft orbiting the planet, including the first color closeups depicting it in all its pock-marked glory.
The images were taken by NASA's Messenger spacecraft, the first mission to orbit the planet closest to the sun, according to Messenger's website. Mercury has been seen up close before in fly-bys, but this mission marks the first complete long view reconnaissance of the planet’s geochemistry, geophysics, geologic history, atmosphere, magnetosphere, and plasma environment.
The mission also allows NASA and its partner, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, an opportunity to show off Messenger's impressive Mercury Dual Imaging System, which has two cameras: the Narrow Angle Camera and the Wide Angle Camera, NASA said.
Radiation levels in a Japanese village outside a government-ordered evacuation zone have exceeded one of the criteria for evacuation, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday.
The agency said it advised Japan "to carefully assess the situation."