The day's most popular stories
The 18 individuals arrested in connection with an alleged sex assault of an 11-year-old girl are between 14 and 27 years old.
March 8th, 2011
10:24 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

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

18 charged in alleged gang rape of Texas girl: Thirteen adults and five juveniles have been arrested as part of an investigation into the alleged sexual assault of a Texas girl, police said.

Sheen fired from sitcom after public meltdown: Warner Bros. Television has fired actor Charlie Sheen from its comedy "Two and a Half Men" after a two-week public meltdown by the star that has included attacks on... FULL STORY

Body of missing U.S. student found in Madrid: Police in Spain found the body of missing U.S. college student Austin Taylor Bice, 22 early Tuesday in Madrid, authorities said.

Man allegedly karate chops air marshal: In-flight movies may feature martial arts, but some airline passengers apparently got to see the real thing on a flight that ended with a man being subdued by air marshals.
Intruder calls 911: A man who broke into a house in Portland, Oregon, called police - afraid the homeowner may have a gun.

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Strong earthquake shakes Japan
A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Japan early Wednesday morning.
March 8th, 2011
10:04 PM ET

Strong earthquake shakes Japan

A tsnuami alert has been issued after an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.2 struck off the coast of Japan's main island of Honshu on Wednesday afternoon, the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The quake, at a depth of 10 kilometers, struck at 12:45 p.m. local time, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

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Filed under: Japan
Despite rain, satire in full bloom at New Orleans' Fat Tuesday party
March 8th, 2011
09:57 PM ET

Despite rain, satire in full bloom at New Orleans' Fat Tuesday party

Gray skies and a little rain didn't dampen the mood of Fat Tuesday revelry in New Orleans, home to the biggest Mardi Gras celebration in the nation.

Known as a day of excess before the start of the penitential Lenten season - when observant Christians typically fast or give up something in a show of faith - New Orleans' Mardi Gras reached raucous heights this year, owing to its overlap with many colleges' spring breaks and the approach of the anniversary of the BP oil spill - the object of ridicule for many maskers.

Sylvia Beyer, 57, of New Orleans led a group of five women in grass skirts and hats with the BP logo, CNN affiliate WSDU reported. On their backs were the slogans, Broken Promises, Brazen Polluters and Bloody Pathetic as they passed out voodoo dolls with a photo of former BP CEO Tony Hayward pasted to each.

Downriver in Grand Isle, Louisiana, the first populated piece of U.S. territory to see oil make land, residents on Sunday took a day off from worrying about the effects of the spill to enjoy a parade, complete with purple, green and gold bead necklaces and fleur-de-lis clappers.

Mayor David Camardelle estimates that Grand Isle is 80 percent back to normal, but still, he admits, tar balls keep washing ashore.

Far from the Gulf shores, Rio de Janeiro marked the end of its four-day carnival on Tuesday with its signature parade, complete with samba, King Kong, an oversized Jesus statue and supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Talk about excess!

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Filed under: Brazil • Gulf Coast Oil Spill • Holidays • Louisiana
March 8th, 2011
09:44 PM ET

Deputy marshal dies after St. Louis shooting

A U.S. deputy marshal who was shot Tuesday while trying to serve an arrest warrant in St. Louis has died from gunshot wounds, officials said.

The deputy marshal was identified as John Perry, 48.

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Filed under: Crime • Missouri • St. Louis
Ohio State's Tressel fined, suspended two games
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel has won a national championship and seven conference titles in 10 years with the Buckeyes.
March 8th, 2011
07:27 PM ET

Ohio State's Tressel fined, suspended two games

The Ohio State University has fined its longtime football coach Jim Tressel $250,000 and suspended him two games after learning Tressel knew that some of his players may have violated NCAA rules months before he'd acknowledged. 

“Obviously I’m disappointed that this happened at all," Tressel said in a press conference Tuesday night. "I take responsibility for what we do at Ohio State tremendously seriously … and obviously I plan to grow from this. I’m sincerely saddened by the fact that I let some people down and that I didn’t do some things as well as I could possibly do."

The punishment comes one day after Yahoo Sports reported, citing an anonymous source, that the coach was aware of player infractions in April, not in December as he and the university had stated.  Athletic Director Gene Smith said Tuesday the school had been investigating Tressel since January and expected to finish by week's end, but a leak to the media on Monday sped up the announcement.

The case involves a federal investigation into a Columbus, Ohio, tattoo parlor owner - an investigation that revealed five OSU players including the starting quarterback had sold  memorabilia to the owner, and that one player received a discounted tattoo, violations of NCAA rules.

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E-mail exchange reveals Republican concessions in budget bill standoff
An e-mail exchange released by Gov. Scott Walker's office on Tuesday revealed a series of potential Republican concessions.
March 8th, 2011
06:43 PM ET

E-mail exchange reveals Republican concessions in budget bill standoff

An e-mail exchange released by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's office on Tuesday revealed a series of potential Republican concessions to a three-week stand-off over a budget bill that would restrict the collective bargaining rights of most public workers.

The e-mails show a discussion between Walker's deputy chief of staff, Eric Schutt, and Democratic state Sens. Tim Cullen and Bob Jauch.

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Filed under: Gov. Scott Walker • Labor • Politics • Wisconsin
March 8th, 2011
06:04 PM ET

Tired but undaunted, Wisconsin protesters continue to make themselves heard

Francis Clark walked away from the Wisconsin capitol building in Madison with protest signs under his arms and leaned against a stone ledge.

"Man, we're tired. We need a day off," the chef from Madison said Tuesday to anyone walking by who would listen.

For three weeks, tens of thousands of protesters and union supporters from around the Midwest have flocked to Madison to rally against Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to eliminate most collective bargaining powers from state worker unions.

The crowds have thinned since the ferocious early days of protests, but  protest chants still echoed through the golden halls of this gorgeous capitol building on Tuesday.

In the rotunda, union supporters took turns leading the crowd in protest chants. A woman held up a sign that read, "Walker's Bill is Sick. I know, I'm a nurse." And a small group of firefighters marched around the rotunda showing solidarity with the union protesters. (Police and firefighters will not lose their collective bargaining powers under the governor's proposal.)

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Filed under: Gov. Scott Walker • Labor • Politics • Wisconsin
Dollars & Sense: Rent a movie on Facebook; What’s up with food prices?
SUVs have come a long way from being the poster-children gas guzzlers. Some hybrids like the Nissan Juke get up to 30 mpg.
March 8th, 2011
05:06 PM ET

Dollars & Sense: Rent a movie on Facebook; What’s up with food prices?

A roundup of today's CNNMoney news:

Why you’re paying more for your groceries: After holding steady for two years, food prices in the United States are rising once again, due to growing demand and tight supplies of wheat, corn and other key commodities. That means American consumers are being hit with higher grocery bills at a time when gas prices are already starting to dent household budgets.

10 SUVs that don’t guzzle gas (gallery): SUVs have come a long way from being the poster-children for the last gas crisis. Some hybrids can get up to 34 mpg.

Mardi Gras beads reincarnated (video): This New Orleans company is putting those beads to good use, creating housewares, lighting, and colorful home accessories.

Rent a movie on your Facebook page: Warner Bros. said it will offer "The Dark Knight" for rental through its Facebook page. More movie titles will be available for rental or purchase over the coming months. Rentals cost 30 Facebook Credits, or $3, and users can watch the movie up to 48 hours after purchase.

Starbucks at 40 - No midlife crisis: The comeback for Starbucks has been stunning. There was a lot of skepticism about whether Starbucks could rediscover the magic growth beans. And the recession didn’t help. But the coffee chain has reinvented itself, introducing new products and cutting costs.

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Filed under: Dollars & Sense • Economy • Facebook • Food
50 people in 50 days: Teen drove into ditch, vanished as parents searched
Minnesota college freshman Brandon Swanson, shown with his sister, Jamine, disappeared in May 2008.
March 8th, 2011
03:35 PM ET

50 people in 50 days: Teen drove into ditch, vanished as parents searched

"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 37th case, and it will be shown Tuesday night on HLN.

Brandon Swanson called his parents shortly after midnight on May 14, 2008, to ask them for a ride after driving his car into a ditch. His parents set out in their pickup truck to find him in the nearby town of Lynd, Minnesota. Brandon became frustrated as their efforts to find him turned fruitless. They exchanged several calls just before 2 a.m. and eventually carried on a long conversation while the younger Swanson was walking, trying to direct his father to where he was.

He told his father to look for him at a nightclub parking lot that was a popular meeting spot in Lynd. But at the 47-minute mark, the call ended abruptly. The teen shouted an expletive, and the phone went dead.

It was the last time anyone heard from him.

At 6:30 a.m., Annette Swanson called the Lynd Police Department to report Brandon missing, and officers eventually joined the search. They, too, came up with nothing, and a countywide request was dispatched to expand the search.

Phone records later showed that the teen was nowhere near Lynd, where he told his parents he was. His cell phone calls were traced to a tower 20 miles away in Minnesota.

Anyone with information that could lead to the whereabouts of Brandon Swanson is asked to call the Lincoln County Sheriff at (507) 694-1664.

March 8th, 2011
01:35 PM ET

Millions of dead anchovies float to surface in Redondo Beach

Enough anchovies to top much of the world’s pizza and Caesar salads have floated lifelessly to the surface in Redondo Beach, California's King Harbor, according to a local newspaper.

Officials say millions of the pungent, oily fish are covering the sea bottom in the harbor. They began rising to the surface Tuesday morning, the Daily Breeze in Torrance, outside Los Angeles, reported.

“We need to get rid of them,” Sgt. Phil Keenan of the Redondo Beach Police Department told the paper. “This is going to create a terrible pollution and public health issue if we don't.”
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Read CNN's full coverage of the dead anchovies in a California harbor
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Filed under: Animals • California • Environment • Nature • U.S.
Tuesday's intriguing people
Daniel Craig’s tux is replaced by a dress in a new public awareness video.
March 8th, 2011
11:34 AM ET

Tuesday's intriguing people

Daniel Craig

The macho James Bond star dons a dress, high heels and a long blond wig in a public awareness video released for International Women’s Day, Britain’s Guardian news website reported on Monday.

The short film, made by artist and director Sam Taylor-Woods, has a voice-over by Dame Judi Dench, who plays Bond’s boss, M, in the movies.  "We're equals, aren't we, 007?" asks Dench’s voice. "Yet it is 2011 and a man is still likely to earn more money than a woman, even one doing the same job."  Dench continues to list discrepancies between the sexes in income, salary and career advancement, while Craig says not a word.  He disappears briefly and returns in drag, looking uncomfortable.  “So, are we equals?” Dench asks again. “Until the answer is yes, we must never stop asking.”

Brigitte Gabriel

The Lebanon-born Maronite Christian author and activist “has become one of the most visible personalities on a circuit of self-appointed terrorism detectors who warn that Muslims pose an enormous danger within United States borders,” The New York Times reports.

Gabriel heads a group called ACT! For America which insists that Islamic militants have infiltrated the United States with the ultimate goal of imposing Sharia law throughout the world.  Among her target audiences on the lecture circuit: Republicans, defenders of Israel, Christian conservatives and the Tea Party. Gabriel is scheduled to appear on CNN’s “In the Arena” tonight at 8 ET.  “I lost Lebanon, my country of birth, to radical Islam,” she told the Times in an e-mail. “I do not want to lose my adopted country America.”

Julie Taymor

A week ago, the Tony-winning director of “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark” told audiences at the 2011 TED conference that she and her production company were “in the crucible and the fire of transformation” due to the $65 million production’s problems. Today’s New York Times reports that the producers are now in negotiations with Taymor that could end her involvement in the troubled Broadway show.

Accidents, alleged safety violations and critics’ backlash have marred the production, which has seen its official opening delayed five times already. Still, the musical’s previews bring in a reported $1 million in weekly ticket sales. Taymor told TED audiences that the show is trying to do what cannot be done in the two dimensions that are television or film. “Anyone who creates knows when it’s not quite there,” Taymor said. “Where it hasn’t quite become the phoenix or the burnt char. And I am right there.”

On the Radar: Sheen sacked, Gadhafi denies deal, gang rape in Texas
Charlie Sheen was fired from his popular TV show after publicly insulting its creator.
March 8th, 2011
11:13 AM ET

On the Radar: Sheen sacked, Gadhafi denies deal, gang rape in Texas

Charlie Sheen sacked - It probably didn’t surprise anyone but Charlie Sheen to learn that the actor was canned from “Two and a Half Men” on Monday. The firing comes after a series of bizarre public appearances that included attacks on the show’s creator. We’ve been waiting on a response, but the last we heard – via Twitter – was that the self-professed warlock was seeking a winning intern with #TigerBlood.”

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Filed under: Celebrity • Charlie Sheen • Crime • Economy • Human rights • Jobs • Libya • Media • On the Radar • Politics • Protest • Showbiz • Texas • TV • U.S. • Wisconsin • World
Gotta Watch: Vintage Sheen; women mechanics; Witherspoon on Avon
Charlie Sheen talks to Larry King in 1988 about "Platoon."
March 8th, 2011
09:45 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Vintage Sheen; women mechanics; Witherspoon on Avon

Sheen before the chaos– With all the buzz around Charlie Sheen’s recent media-documented meltdown, we thought we’d bring out some vintage Sheen to illustrate how his popularity rose in the first place. In this 1988 interview with Larry King, Sheen talks about his breakout role in the hit war movie “Platoon.”

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/showbiz/2011/03/07/vault.charlie.sheen.lkl.1988.cnn"%5D

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Tuesday's live video events
Actor Ben Affleck is on Capitol Hill today, testifying about his work as founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative.
March 8th, 2011
07:50 AM ET

Tuesday's live video events

Happy Mardi Gras from CNN.com Live!  We are your home for the latest developments on the crisis in Libya, as well as the final voyage for space shuttle Discovery.

Today's programming highlights...

10:00 am ET - Clinton meets with Australian prime minister - The civil war in Libya is expected to be brought up when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Washington.

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Filed under: Australia • Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Massachusetts • On CNN.com today • Politics • Shuttle • Space