August 19th, 2010
10:24 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

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

Egg recall grows, hundreds may be sick: A salmonella outbreak that led to the recall of 380 million eggs was preventable and will likely grow, federal officials said Thursday.

Man falls 25 feet at Disney park: A 20-year-old man waiting in line for a ride at Disney's California Adventure Park fell 25 to 30 feet Wednesday night, Anaheim police spokesman Sgt. Rick Martinez said Thursday.

Dr. Laura, always a lightning rod: Before she uttered the N-word, before her remarks on cheated-on wives, before the controversies over homosexuality and religion and morality, Laura Schlessinger was considered a breath of fresh air.

Obama headed to Martha's Vineyard this week: President Obama and his family head to Martha's Vineyard on Friday for a weeklong vacation, but don't expect it to be without controversy.

Flight deboards after threat phoned in: A security threat to an American Airlines plane in San Francisco Thursday was deemed "non-credible" according to the San Francisco Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.

Filed under: Most Popular
August 19th, 2010
08:45 PM ET

Palin defends controversial talk show host in Facebook post

Sarah Palin defended Dr. Laura Schlessinger on Thursday, comparing her own critics to those who have called for the resignation of the embattled radio talk show host in the wake of Schlessinger's repeated use of the N-word during a broadcast.

Palin's defense of Schlessinger, which Palin posted on her Facebook page, is the second time the former Alaska governor has defended the talk show host. Palin came to Schlessinger's defense on Wednesday via Twitter, telling the radio host: "don't retreat...reload!"

Palin expounded on those thoughts in the Facebook post.

"Does anyone seriously believe that Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a racist?" Palin wrote. "Anyone, I mean, who isn't already accusing all conservatives, Republicans, Tea Party Americans, etc., etc., etc. of being racists?"


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Filed under: Facebook • Sarah Palin
August 19th, 2010
08:19 PM ET

U.S. boosts aid as number of homeless doubles in Pakistan floods

The estimate of the number of Pakistanis left homeless by massive flooding has doubled to 4 million, the United Nations said Thursday as Washington ramped up assistance.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced an additional $60 million in U.S. aid, bringing to $150 million the amount pledged by the United States.

"The flooding has already affected more people than the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Haiti earthquake, and the 2005 Pakistan earthquake combined," she told a plenary session at the United Nations. "And as we meet, we fear that a new wave of water may be about to sweep through areas that have already been devastated by the floods."

She added, "We see 20 million members of the human family in desperate need of help. This is a defining moment - for Pakistan, and for all of us.


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Filed under: Pakistan
August 19th, 2010
08:11 PM ET

Researchers say they saw 22-mile plume in Gulf

Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said they detected a plume of hydrocarbons in June that was at least 22 miles long and more than 3,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, a residue of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

According to the institution, the 1.2-mile-wide, 650-foot-high plume of trapped hydrocarbons provides at least a partial answer to recent questions asking where all the oil has gone as surface slicks shrink and disappear.

"These results indicate that efforts to book-keep where the oil went must now include this plume" in the Gulf, said Christopher Reddy, a Woods Hole marine geochemist and oil spill expert. He is one of the authors of the study, which appears in the Aug. 19 issue of the journal Science.


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Filed under: BP
August 19th, 2010
07:37 PM ET

Disappointing jobs report helps sink stocks

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

Stocks socked by economic trifecta

Investors were hit with a triple whammy of bad economic news Thursday: manufacturing still stinks, more people are jobless and confidence in the future is less than hoped.

As a result, stocks finished sharply lower: the Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 144 points, or 1.4 percent, to 10,271 and the S&P 500 slipped 19 points, or 1.7 percent, to 1,076. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 37 points, or 1.7 percent, to 2,179.


Filed under: Economy
A look inside Room 31
August 19th, 2010
06:26 PM ET

Exclusive: Inside room where Shaquan Duley's boys died

Manager Renu Patel can't even go near Room 31 at the Trump Inn Motel in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

What happened inside is just too much to bear, she said.

At the end of the hallway, behind the maroon door with the number fixed above the peephole, is where police say Shaquan Duley pressed her hands over the mouths of her two toddlers and suffocated them. She is accused of then strapping them into their car seats and sending her car off of a boat ramp and into the Edisto River.

Duley's attorney cautions against a rush to judgment and says there's more to the story than meets the eye.

But Patel says she knows enough to make her want to avoid the scene of an alleged crime that has stunned her community.


August 19th, 2010
03:14 PM ET

San Francisco plane threat not credible, authorities say

[Updated at 8:21 p.m. ET] A security threat to an American Airlines plane in San Francisco on Thursday has been deemed "non-credible" according to the San Francisco Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.


[Updated at 7:44 p.m. ET] No one was arrested or "placed in handcuffs" in connection with a phone call threatening a hijacking of an American Airlines flight in San Francisco, California, police said Thursday.

Earlier, a source familiar with the investigation said that two passengers were being questioned further by authorities.

[Updated at 7:07 p.m. ET] Two passengers were being questioned further by authorities in connection with a security threat against an American Airlines flight Thursday morning in San Francisco, California, according to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation.

[Updated at 4:01 p.m. ET] Passengers appear to have started leaving the plane. A man identifying himself as a passenger told CNN's Rick Sanchez by phone that people on the plane have been calm, and that local police are taking them off six at a time. 

[Updated at 3:41 p.m. ET] American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said the threat was called into San Francisco police and emphasized there was no hostage threat.

A security official told CNN that the threat claimed the flight would be hijacked, but nothing has been found to back that up yet.

[Posted at 3:14 p.m. ET] A threat made against an American Airlines plane preparing to take off from San Francisco International Airport on Thursday is prompting authorities to tell the passengers to deplane and be rescreened, the Transportation Security Administration said.

American Airlines Flight 24, which was scheduled to fly to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, was moved to a remote location at the San Francisco airport, at the TSA's request, the TSA said.

Passengers will be interviewed and rescreened while law enforcement inspects the aircraft, TSA said. It wasn't clear whether the passengers have yet left the plane.

The threat was made by phone, according to the TSA. No other information about the threat was immediately available.

For more on this story, check reports from CNN affiliates KRON and KTVU.

- CNN's Jeanne Meserve, Carol Cratty, Mike Ahlers and Tracy Sabo contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Travel
August 19th, 2010
02:23 PM ET

Roger Clemens indicted

[Updated at 5:49 p.m.] Roger Clemens has released the following via Twitter:

"I never took HGH or Steroids. And I did not lie to Congress. I look forward to challenging the Governments accusations, and hope people will keep an open mind until trial. I appreciate all the support I have been getting. I am happy to finally have my day in court."

[Posted at 2:23 p.m.] Major league pitcher Roger Clemens was indicted for obstruction of Congress and other charges Thursday related to statements he made to a congressional committee in 2008.


The charges stem from a 2008 appearance by Clemens and his former trainer, Brian McNamee, before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. In their sworn testimony, the two contradicted each other, with Clemens denying that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

McNamee's testimony, as well as a report by former Sen. George Mitchell, stated that Clemens had in fact used banned substances at points in his career.

Clemens has not pitched since 2007. He had a stellar career playing for the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros and New York Yankees. He was the first pitcher to win seven Cy Young awards. Clemens posted a record of 354-184 over 24 seasons.

FULL STORY How Clemens will defend himself against perjury charge video: Clemens indicted

SI. com photo gallery: Clemens through the years photo gallery: Clemens on Capitol Hill photo gallery: Sports figures who were prosecuted by the feds

Filed under: Baseball • Congress • Gulf Coast Oil Spill • Sports
August 19th, 2010
01:33 PM ET

Web Pulse: Dr. Laura, Air Force, party boat, McAfee

Here's a look at some of the stories that are popular on Twitter, Google and other news and social media sites.

Curiosity about Dr. Laura Schlessinger is running high after the radio talk show host announced on CNN's "Larry King Live" that she is leaving radio. Schlessinger sparked outrage by repeatedly using a racial epithet on her show last week in an effort to make a point. Read about the controversy here.

The U.S. Air Force's web portal drew heavy traffic Thursday morning as the service posted its tentative list of airmen being promoted to the rank of staff sergeant. More than 28,000 airmen sought the higher rank, but fewer than half were promoted. Look for your name here.

A lurid blog post by a woman who claims to have worked aboard Florida U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene's yacht is grabbing clicks. At the website of Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Sharyn Peach tells tales of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, complete with photos. See for yourself here (Warning: NSFW).

A lot of people want to know the details of Intel's decision to purchase software-security company McAfee, which you can read about here.

Entertainment items at the top of trend lists include the testosterone-driven movie "The Expendables"; the escapist "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"; and Rolling Stone's 'True Blood' cover, featuring three stars of the HBO show naked and covered in blood.

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Filed under: Military • Most Popular • Politics • Race • Showbiz • Technology • Web Pulse
August 19th, 2010
12:11 PM ET

Caller confused, hurt by Dr. Laura's words

Nita Hanson told CNN she called Dr. Laura Schlessinger for help and never expected to hear the N-word uttered 11 times.

Schlessinger said earlier this week she would not continue her radio show after her contract runs out this year because she wants her First Amendment rights back. But Hanson, whose five-minute phone call about her white husband's friends and relatives making racist remarks led to the comments, said Schlessinger, 63, is old enough to know better.

Schlessinger has apologized and attempted to justify her comments by saying the word is commonly used on HBO and by black comedians.

"I think she apologized because she got caught," Hanson told CNN. "At this point, there's nothing she can do for me."


August 19th, 2010
11:04 AM ET

On the Radar: Troops depart, Paterson seeks mosque deal

Last combat convoy leaves Iraq - The last U.S. brigade combat team in Iraq crossed the border into Kuwait early Thursday, the military said. Its departure leaves about 56,000 U.S. troops in the country, about 6,000 more than President Obama said would be there as of September 1.

The departure comes more than seven years after U.S. combat forces entered the country. As they leave, Iraq remains without a functioning government. Electricity and other utilities are available only sporadically in Baghdad. Violence also appears on the rise, as 48 people were killed earlier this week outside a military recruiting center in the capital.

Jobless claims spike - Bad news for the economy and workers arrived Thursday in the form of a Labor Department jobless report. It said that the number of unemployed Americans seeking assistance reached its highest level in nine months. First-time filers reached the half-million mark last week, according to the report, marking three weeks of increases. Last week, the number was 488,000. An economist says the report indicates "a bad trend."

New York's governor seeks mosque compromise - Gov. David Paterson says he wants to discuss plans for a mosque and Islamic center near ground zero in Manhattan. Plans for the structure to be built near the site of the World Trade Center towers has sparked heated debate, and Paterson is hoping to reach a compromise with the developers. He said it would be "a noble gesture" to find a site farther away from ground zero but which still serves the area.

Millions of eggs yanked from shelves - The Egg Safety Center says a voluntary recall could include 380 million eggs. The center said the eggs were pulled because of fears over salmonella, and that Wright County Egg was fully cooperating with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA traced an uptick infections to the Iowa company, which is determining how the eggs became contaminated.

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Filed under: David Paterson • Iraq • Jobs • New York • On the Radar • Religion
August 19th, 2010
10:47 AM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Carla Del Ponte

The former lead prosecutor of the United Nation’s International War Crimes Tribunal is being investigated after allegations of wrongdoing.

According to a report in London’s Guardian newspaper, Del Ponte and two other Hague, Netherlands, prosecutors were accused in June of harassing witnesses, taking bribes and using tainted evidence while pursuing war-crimes cases. While Hague officials immediately came to her defense, an independent inquiry over the next six months will assess the case. If the evidence is shown to be conclusive, it will be the first time in 17 years that a lead prosecutor will face contempt-of-court charges, reports said.

Del Ponte served at Hague from 1999-2007 and is currently the Swiss ambassador to Argentina. In 2009 she released a memoir, “Madame Prosecutor,” which includes accounts of her case against former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and dozens of others for war crimes in the Balkans.

The Guardian: Carla Del Ponte investigated over illegal evidence

BBC News: Carla Del Ponte profile


Filed under: Most Intriguing People
August 19th, 2010
10:40 AM ET

Last U.S. combat convoy has left Iraq

The last U.S. brigade combat team in Iraq has left the country, a move that helps U.S. President Barack Obama reach his goal of
50,000 troops in the country by September 1.

Their departure leaves about 56,000 U.S. troops in the country, according to the U.S. military.

Capt. Christopher Ophardt, spokesman for the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, said the last of the 4,000 members of the unit crossed the border into Kuwait early Thursday.


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Filed under: Iraq
August 19th, 2010
10:31 AM ET

Allen: 'Bottom kill' could be complete by week after Labor Day

If all goes as planned, the "bottom kill" operation to permanently plug the ruptured underwater well in the Gulf of Mexico should be complete by the week after Labor Day, Thad Allen, the government's point man for the oil disaster, told CNN Thursday.

In the last 48 hours, a sequence of actions has been agreed upon, Allen told CNN's "American Morning." Those include flushing out the current blowout preventer, looking for material that may cause a problem, then put a new blowout preventer on and conduct the "bottom kill" operation.

"This will ensure that we can withstand any pressures that may be generated," Allen said. "If all that lines up, we should be looking at the week after Labor Day."


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Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
August 19th, 2010
10:28 AM ET

Government estimates hundreds sickened by tainted eggs

Hundreds of Americans have likely become ill from tainted eggs, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell said Thursday.

The Food and Drug Administration, which investigates food contamination, said the CDC received reports of approximately 200 salmonella cases every week during late June and early July. Normally, CDC has received an average of some 50 reports of salmonella illness each week for the past five years. Many states have also reported increases of this pattern since May 2010, the FDA said.

A total 380 million eggs have been recalled since last week because of concerns the eggs in question are tainted with the potentially-deadly salmonella bacteria, the Egg Safety Center said.


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Filed under: Health
August 19th, 2010
07:31 AM ET

Thursday's live video events

9:30 am ET - 'The Expendables' visit Wall Street - Actors Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren and Terry Crews ring the opening bell on Wall Street to celebrate the success of their film “The Expendables.”

10:00 am ET - Gulf seafood safety hearing - A Congressional subcommittee holds a hearing on ensuring the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the massive oil spill there.


Filed under: On today
August 19th, 2010
06:48 AM ET

Thad Allen: 'Bottom kill' could come after Labor Day

Adm. Thad Allen, the government's point man for the oil disaster, has authorized BP to replace the existing blowout preventer with a new one. The changes will come prior to the completion of a relief well and the eventual "bottom kill" operation intended to permanently plug the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Earlier, Allen told CNN the "bottom kill" operation should be complete by the week after Labor Day.

The forecast comes as scientists, professors and members of seafood organizations prepare to testify at a hearing on the safety of Gulf seafood before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The spill began after an April 20 explosion on the offshore drilling platform Deepwater Horizon that killed 11 men. Two days later, the platform sank and oil started gushing into the Gulf. The broken well was temporarily capped July 15, but a bottom kill, to be carried out by way of a relief well, is considered the final solution.


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Filed under: Gulf Coast Oil Spill • U.S.
August 19th, 2010
06:41 AM ET

World update: France begins controversial Roma expulsion

An update from the CNN newsdesk in London on some of the stories we're following on Thursday:

France Roma - France’s controversial expulsion of Roma was due to begin on Thursday, with 79 being put on a flight out of the country.  The Roma travelling today are returning voluntarily after being paid 300 euros by the French government, but the interior minister has warned that gypsy camps will be forcibly dismantled and illegal residents deported within three months. The Romanian Foreign Minister has called the move “xenophobic.”

Al-Megrahi release - Reports of planned celebrations in Libya to commemorate the first anniversary of the release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Al-Megrahi have angered relatives of the victims. One year on, many of them are asking the questions, why is he still alive a year on from when doctors said he had less than three months to live? U.S. senator are also asking for a formal investigation into what influence BP’s business interests in Libya may have had on the release process. CNN’s Phil Black ties the strands of this story together.