August 11th, 2010
11:12 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

The five most popular stories during the last 24 hours, according to NewsPulse:

Investigators to return to Alaska crash site: It's too early to say whether former Sen. Ted Stevens and the four others who died in an Alaskan plane crash initially survived but eventually succumbed while waiting to be rescued, the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board told CNN Wednesday.

4 surprising reasons women can't lose weight: Most of us already know that eating less and moving more are the keys to dropping extra pounds. But if you're already doing everything "right" and can't seem to lose weight - or are even gaining it - you may have a hidden health condition that's sabotaging your efforts, according to our partner

French chef's body found stuffed in freezer: The body of a retired restaurateur who's been missing for two years has been found in a freezer in the French city of Lyon, police said Wednesday.

Flight attendants vent about passengers: It's safe to say air travelers are paying more attention - and maybe giving a little more respect - to flight attendants after the incident on a JetBlue flight that has mesmerized the country and put a new spotlight on the once-glamorous profession.

Fantasia overdosed after affair allegations, manager says: Fantasia Barrino overdosed on "aspirin and a sleep aid" and was rushed to a Charlotte, North Caroline hospital Monday night, her manager said.

Filed under: Most Popular
August 11th, 2010
08:29 PM ET

Stocks drop sharply; dollar at 15-year low against yen

A look at highlights from the day's business news:

Stocks get a beatdown on global concerns

Stocks slid to close sharply lower Wednesday after a report showed the U.S. trade gap widened, and foreign data cast doubt on overseas demand for American goods.

The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 265 points, or 2.5 percent, to close at
10,378.83. The Nasdaq sank 69 points, or 3 percent, to end at 2,208.63, and the S&P 500 fell 32 points, or 2.8 percent, to close at 1,089.47.


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Filed under: Economy
August 11th, 2010
04:09 PM ET

Report: 8% of U.S. newborns have undocumented parents

One of about every 12 babies born in the United States in 2008 was the offspring of unauthorized immigrants, a Pew Hispanic Center study released Wednesday concluded.

According to the study, an estimated 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in this country that year had parents who were in the United States without legal documentation.

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution stipulates that those children automatically become U.S. citizens, but some members of Congress are pushing to change that provision. That effort - rooted in the debate over illegal immigration, particularly of people from Mexico - has created some controversy.

"This has got a lot of attention in the past weeks," said Jeffrey S. Passel, the study's author. "The idea was just to put a number on it."


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Filed under: Immigration • U.S.
August 11th, 2010
03:57 PM ET

The best celestial show of the year starts tonight

A Perseid meteor in 1997.

Catching the Perseid meteor shower after Wednesday night is going to be as easy as lying on your back on the lawn.

With a waxing crescent moon expected to set before the meteor shower peaks on Thursday night and Friday morning, and hence less moonlight in the way, forecasters are expecting one of the best celestial shows of the year.

Weather permitting, stargazers might be able to catch at least 80 meteors per hour, NASA said.

"The August Perseids are among the strongest of the readily observed annual meteor showers, and at maximum activity nominally yields 90 to 100 meteors per hour," skywatching columnist Joe Rao explained in his column. "Anyone in a city or near bright suburban lights will see far fewer."

According to the best estimates, the Earth will cut through the densest part of the Perseid stream about 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, reported.

The best window of opportunity to see the shower will be the late-night hours of Wednesday through first light Thursday, and then again during the late-night hours of August 12 into the predawn hours of August 13.


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Filed under: Space
August 11th, 2010
03:42 PM ET

Legislation to reduce some import tariffs signed into law

President Obama on Wednesday signed into law an act that reduces or suspends tariffs paid by American companies on certain imports needed to manufacture their products.

The Manufacturing Enhancement Act easily passed both chambers of Congress earlier this year.

Read the full story on

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Filed under: Business • Jobs • Politics
August 11th, 2010
03:32 PM ET

WebPulse: Fantasia, Jenny and a big bug

Fantasia - A lot of people were Googling "Fantasia Barrino" after her manager said that the "American Idol" alumna had overdosed on aspirin and a sleep aid. That OD - which the singer survived - came shortly after a North Carolina woman claimed Barrino slept with her husband. Follow? Um, the basic takeaway here is that Barrino is having a bad week and people want to read more and more and more about it.

Court documents filed last week by Paula Cook allege that her husband, Antwaun Cook, and Barrino last summer began a "covert adulterous affair." (We knew Fantasia was CIA!) Spook or not, we wish her a speedy recovery.

Jenny - What is the Web for if not perpetuating rumor? We love you Steven Slater. You've made it so much fun to carry on with the theme of creatively quitting. So today, we present the (bogus) tale of Dry Eraser Jenny. (Caution: Jenny doesn't really exist, but we'll explain that soon enough.) Late Tuesday, photos appeared on the Web of a young office toiler, "Jenny," telling her boss that she quit. More than two dozen photos were posted of her holding a dry-erase board with sentences explaining that she was quitting her job, that her boss was a jerk, etc. More than 100,000 Facebookers "liked" it, and a bunch of online news sites picked it up. The owner of the site that first published "Jenny" left everyone questioning if she really existed. This actress says she is Jenny. Look for tomorrow's WebPulse, which will probably feature a folk song about Jenny a la Steven Slater.

Superbug - Reports say scientists are worried that a superbug could spread worldwide. According to MSNBC, people who have undergone plastic surgery in India have brought a gene to England that allows bacteria to become  superbugs. This is pretty bad news, the BBC says. We wonder if this story will make more people contemplate the figurative inflatable chute at the job they don't love so much. If you are, tell CNN iReport about it.

Filed under: India • Showbiz • Web Pulse
August 11th, 2010
03:00 PM ET

Flight attendant: Support from public is 'encouraging'

JetBlue said Wednesday it will give vouchers to each passenger who was on a plane when a flight attendant apparently got into an altercation before grabbing some beer and sliding off the plane through the escape chute.

Meanwhile, flight attendant Steven Slater, who faces criminal charges in the incident, said the support he's received from members of the public is "encouraging."

Each passenger on the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to New York flight Monday will receive a $100 voucher, the airline said.

"This is consistent with our long standing policies," spokesman Steve Stampley told CNN. "JetBlue often provides vouchers to our customers when they experience a disruption or otherwise abnormal circumstance. This event falls into that category."

Slater told CNN affiliate WABC Wednesday that the support has been "so encouraging and so special."

"There's some really great people out there, and I'm getting a glimpse of that," he said. "It's a surprise because, obviously, I have been away for a little while."


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Filed under: Air travel • Jobs • New York
August 11th, 2010
12:24 PM ET

Weather that suspended relief well drilling closes in

The heavy rains and gusty winds associated with Tropical Depression Five moved closer to the site of BP's crippled well in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday.

In anticipation of the severe weather, crews suspended drilling Tuesday on the relief well that is expected to intercept with the damaged well.

The National Hurricane Center maintained a tropical storm warning Wednesday morning for the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico as the fifth tropical depression of the Atlantic hurricane season homed in on the Gulf Coast. That means tropical storm-strength winds of at least 39 mph are expected in the area within 36 hours.


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Filed under: Gulf Coast Oil Spill
August 11th, 2010
11:50 AM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Marianne Gingrich

The second and most well-known of Newt Gingrich's three wives broke her silence to Esquire Magazine, discussing the origins of her marriage, the former House Speaker's struggles, and his 2012 presidential aspirations.

According to the profile written by John H. Richardson, the former Mrs. Gingrich (pictured here in 1995 with her then-husband) said Newt Gingrich has always had a wife since he was a teenager. Marianne was with him for 18 years and during that time he rose from a congressional "bench warmer" to Speaker of the House of Representatives. She was his closest adviser until his political career and their marriage collapsed.

Will run for President in 2012? While initially incredulous, Marianne Gingrich admitted: "He believes that what he says in public and how he lives don't have to be connected. If you believe that, then yeah, you can run for president."

Esquire: Newt Gingrich: The Indispensable Republican

Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq

The two American Muslims begin a cross-country trip today, visiting 30 mosques in 30 U.S. states. Their journey begins at the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a month-long devotion during which Muslims around the world fast and pray to fulfill one of the five basic requirements of their faith.

Aman, a journalist and comedian, and Bassam, an advertising copywriter and documentary filmmaker, are friends who last year visited 30 mosques within New York City over Ramadan, breaking their fasts and praying with diverse congregations every night. They documented that journey through a blog, which gained thousands of readers and comments from as far away as South Africa and China.

He and Bassam present their blog from a non-Muslim point of view, writing about their visits "as if anybody who just walked off the street would experience them."

The two view their trip not only as a way to build solidarity among Muslim Americans, but to also help non-Muslims learn about Islam. "We notice there is a lot of curiosity from non-Muslims and they want to know about Islam but might feel awkward about how to approach it," Aman said.

This year, the two men have raised nearly $6,000 to pay for this year's journey, Aman told CNN. ["We're] going in with an open mind and don't know fully what to expect."

Their first stop is the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem, founded by students of Malcolm X.

30 Mosques 30 Days

Linda McMahon

The co-founder of WWE wrestling promises to make her contest against Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal among the most expensive ever. McMahon, the Republican who won the nomination last night, spent $22 million doing so, the New York Times reports, and she's prepared to spend another $28 million to win. In response, the Blumenthal camp already has started gathering video, including McMahon kicking her husband in the groin mid-ring during a wrestling skit.

New York Times: Connecticut senate race poses test for Democrats

UPDATE: Steven Slater

The JetBlue flight attendant has caused social-network frenzy. Two Facebook fan pages dedicated to him have collected nearly 100,000 supporters.

Facebook fan page: Steven Slater

Facebook fan page: Steven Slater

New York Daily News: Sully who? JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater becomes hero to wage earners everywhere

August 11th, 2010
11:13 AM ET

On the Radar: Remembering Stevens, cheering Slater

The DeHavilland DHC-Z3T Otter crashed into the side of a mountain in Alaska.

Alaska plane crash - Investigators are examining whether  former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens and four others may have initially survived their plane crashing into an Alaska mountainside, but died while waiting for rescue workers who battled rugged terrain and bad weather. A pilot who initially spotted the wreck near Dillingham said the crash looked so bad, it was hard for him to imagine anyone surviving.

There were nine people aboard, including at least two teenagers, all on a fishing trip. Sean O'Keefe, NASA's former chief, and his son are among the survivors. Friends say O'Keefe considered Stevens a mentor and they were longtime friends. Stevens' death hit D.C. and his home state hard. Until 2008, Stevens had served 40 years and 10 days in Congress, making him the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history. He was a legendary pork-barrel lawmaker, funneling billions of federal dollars to Alaska .

A Slater in all of us? – The JetBlue flight attendant who allegedly flipped out, swiped beer, then released the plane’s emergency escape chute and slid to employment freedom is now being hailed as a working-class hero. According to reports, after Slater got in his car at JFK Airport and sped home, authorities showed up at his house and charged him with several crimes. He posted $2,500 bail and was released - smiling for cameras.

Get 'em while they're hot -  "Free Steven" T-shirts and buttons are available. Someone has written a song about him. Thousands have "friended" a Facebook page that purports to be raising money for the flight attendant's legal defense. The lesson in all this? Be kind to your flight attendant.

But amid the movie buzz, there are a few people who aren't applauding. "He's a big zero," Cesar Miranda, 39, of the Bronx, who works maintenance in midtown, told the New York Daily News. "Every day I come to my job, I do the right thing.”

Drilling delay - The final 50 feet of drilling on the Gulf of Mexico relief well has been suspended as thunderstorms and strong winds are expected to pass over the area. The National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning for the northern Gulf Coast as the fifth tropical depression of the Atlantic hurricane season formed in the southeastern Gulf. The storm - which would be named Danielle if, as expected, it reaches tropical storm status - grew from tropical wave status about 375 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and was headed in that direction at about 6 mph. Watch CNN for the latest weather updates and news about the oil disaster.

Filed under: Alaska • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
August 11th, 2010
11:13 AM ET

Path to terror: alienation, isolation

Omar Hammami is living proof that there is no one road to terrorism.

U.S. officials believe the journey for Hammami - one of 14 U.S.-born and naturalized citizens to be indicted last week on charges of conspiring with a Somali terrorist organization affiliated with al Qaeda - took him from a small town in Alabama to a radical command role in Somalia.


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Filed under: Justice • National security • Security Brief
August 11th, 2010
10:51 AM ET

Death toll tops 1,300 in Pakistan flooding

The death toll climbed to more than 1,300 in Pakistan on Wednesday as the nation's military and emergency services struggled to cope with the flood waters that have washed across the landscape.

The Pakistan Disaster Authority has confirmed 1,313 deaths, although officials say the number could reach 1,500.

The authority also said 1,588 people have been injured and 352,291 people have been rescued. More than 722,000 houses have been damaged.


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Filed under: Pakistan
August 11th, 2010
06:37 AM ET

Wednesday's live video events

Ongoing coverage - BP webcam of Gulf oil disaster

7:55 am ET - ISS spacewalk - Astronauts perform a spacewalk to replace a failed ammonia coolant outside the international space station.

9:00 am ET - Bullying summit - Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivers the keynote address at the start of the Department of Education’s first bullying summit.

10:30 am ET - Pentagon briefing on Afghanistan - Brig. Gen. Gary Patton briefs reporters from Afghanistan on efforts to train the Afghan National Army.

2:30 pm ET - Gulf oil disaster briefing - Retired Coast Guard admiral and National Incident Commander Thad Allen briefs reporters from Mobile, Alabama, on the Gulf oil disaster.

2:50 pm ET - Obama bill signing ceremony - President Obama makes remarks and signs the Manufacturing Enhancement Act of 2010 into law.  The legislation aims to create jobs and invest in the manufacturing sector. Live is your home for breaking news as it happens.

Filed under: On today
August 11th, 2010
06:27 AM ET

World update: More aid planned for Pakistan

An update from the CNN newsdesk in London on stories we're following on Wednesday:

Helping Pakistan: More than 1,300 people are believed dead after the flooding in Pakistan as the nation's military and emergency services struggle to cope with the flood waters. The U.N. has said aid operations massively need to be scaled up and will launch an initial emergency response plan Wednesday.

Rwanda results expected: The confirmed results of Rwanda’s elections are due to be announced. It is expected that the incumbent president Paul Kagame will win a second and final term.


August 11th, 2010
12:42 AM ET

Helicopter tips over during glacier rescue

An Alaska Army National Guard helicopter trying to rescue people on Knik Glacier tipped over Tuesday after an icy landing, a Guard spokesman said.


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Filed under: Alaska