October 5th, 2010
11:12 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

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

Abducted California 8-year-old was sexually assaulted, police say: The remarkable recovery of an abducted 8-year-old girl in Fresno, California - which combined solid police work with the efforts of good Samaritans - turned bittersweet Tuesday when authorities said the victim had been sexually assaulted.

Man guilty in Conn. home invasion murders: After deliberating for about four hours over two days, a jury Tuesday convicted a 47-year-old man of capital murder in the deaths of three members of a Connecticut family in a 2007 home invasion.

Sarandon didn't expect split with Robbins:  Before they broke up last year, many people figured Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins would beat the odds and make their Hollywood relationship last a lifetime. And that includes Sarandon herself.

Toshiba's glasses-less 3D TV: Ceatec didn't officially start until Monday, but Toshiba was already getting the lion's share of the buzz on the show floor, with its glasses-less 3D TV.

Times Square bomb plotter gets life sentence: A judge in Manhattan sentenced Faisal Shahzad to life in prison Tuesday for the botched Times Square car bombing, as the 31-year-old Pakistani-American defiantly warned in court to "brace yourself, the war with Muslims has just begun."

Filed under: Most Popular
October 5th, 2010
10:45 PM ET

Connecticut doctor: Family was 'destroyed by evil'

For three weeks, Dr. William Petit went to a courtroom and re-lived the day he was attacked and his wife and daughters were killed in their Connecticut home.

He calmly testified about being beaten awake from a nap and being taken to his basement tied up, not knowing what was happening to his family upstairs. He rarely left the New Haven courtroom, once excusing himself when a medical examiner testified. He listened stoically Tuesday after one of the accused was found guilty of capital murder.

Now Petit will go through it in court all over again. Steven Hayes' penalty phase is ahead, and a second defendant will face trial afterward.

"People keep asking that question, why do you do it or how do you do it," Petit said after Hayes' verdicts were read Tuesday. "... I think that you probably would all do the same thing for your families if your family was destroyed by evil."


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Filed under: Connecticut • Courts • Crime • Justice
October 5th, 2010
08:37 PM ET

Part of Chicago tops list of dangerous neighborhoods

The neighborhood contained within Chicago's 60612 zip code topped a list of the 25 most dangerous neighborhoods in the United States, according to an analysis released this week.

Compiled by NeighborhoodScout, a consulting company that specializes in location-based analysis and risk assessment, the rankings are based on rates of violent crime per 1,000 people gathered from 17,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide, from municipal police to university and transit patrols.

Resident of Chicago's West Lake Street neighborhood stand a 1 in 4 chance of being a victim of crime, and the violent crime rate is 257.72 per 1,000, according to the study.

Other standout figures came from Atlanta - home of CNN and Turner Broadcasting - which has four neighborhoods on the list, more than any other city.

Two neighborhoods in Las Vegas, Nevada, also came in third and fourth on the list.

The study chose to look at data by neighborhoods instead of cities because cities with high crime rates can still have safe neighborhoods, said Andrew Schiller, founder of NeighborhoodScout.

For example, he points out that the city of Chicago ranks 48th out of 100 on an upcoming list of most dangerous cities in the United States, despite its standing in this study.

"To have a considerably dangerous neighborhood or two or three and then have the city overall be 48th suggests considerable social fragmentation, where pockets of high crime exist where other areas aren’t as affected," he said.

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Filed under: U.S.
October 5th, 2010
07:31 PM ET

'Good Samaritan' credits rescue to God, media coverage

Police say Victor Perez is a hero.

Victor Perez is thankful he was out on the street Tuesday morning in time to spot an 8-year-old California girl who was abducted Monday night.

Thanks to Perez and another "Good Samaritan," police in Fresno said the little girl has been recovered and her suspected kidnapper arrested less than 24 hours after she disappeared.

Police in Fresno said gang member Gregorio Gonzalez approached a group of children playing in front of an apartment complex and forced the girl into his pickup truck. He then took her to a wooded area near a canal and sexually assaulted her, police said.


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Filed under: California • Crime
October 5th, 2010
07:14 PM ET

Judge to review conviction in Texas arson-murder case

Cameron Todd Willingham

A Texas judge is set to consider whether a man who was executed for setting a fire that killed his children was wrongly convicted on what his supporters call "junk science."

State District Judge Charles Baird granted a request from Cameron Todd Willingham's family for a hearing to investigate whether he was wrongfully convicted using flawed science. The family's petition, filed September 24 in Travis County, also asks the court to examine whether the state  failed to adequately consider potentially exculpatory evidence before putting Willingham to death in 2004.

The lawsuit asks the court to repair Willingham's reputation by issuing a declaration that he was wrongfully convicted and to examine whether state officials committed official oppression in their handling of his appeals.

"Mr. Willingham's case, though tragic, is not unique. Rather, it exemplifies the systematic flaws in Texas' clemency process and habeas procedures that is proper for the Court of Inquiry to investigate," the petition states.


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Filed under: Courts • Death Penalty • Texas
October 5th, 2010
02:46 PM ET

Silver cars rule the road, paint maker says

Silver has been the most popular vehicle color for 10 years, PPG Industries says.

Most cars are made of steel, so they start out as silver shells moving down the assembly line. Apparently a lot of drivers like that look: For the 10th consecutive year, silver is the most popular car color in the U.S. and the world, according to PPG Industries, a leading maker of vehicle coatings.

Silver, gray and charcoal, counted together as a group, accounted for 31 percent of vehicles in North America in 2010 results announced Tuesday. The silver category also was the leader in the European and Asia-Pacific markets, the company reported.

Black and white were the next most popular colors in all markets. In North America, red was third and blue fourth, followed by "naturals" (browns, oranges and yellows), with green bringing up the rear at 4 percent.

It wasn't that long ago, 1994 to be exact, that green was the No. 1 color in North America at 21 percent, PPG's announcement said.

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Filed under: Business • U.S. • World
October 5th, 2010
01:24 PM ET

Young boy to testify at Memphis murder trial

Jessie Dotson could get the death penalty if he's convicted of killing six people in Memphis.

It's being called the biggest mass murder in Memphis history, a crime that has become known nationally as  "722 Lester Street." That's the address of the home where in March 2008 six family members were  stabbed, beaten and shot. Their bodies were arranged after the crime to make the scene look like a gang hit or a drug deal gone bad, prosecutors say.

Jessie Dotson, a 35-year-old ex-con, who is related the victims, is charged with the slayings. He's facing the death penalty. CNN affiliate WREG is live streaming the trial, now into its second week.

Memphis Police Sgt. Tony Mullins testified that the scene at the house was "horrific," more brutal than he'd witnessed in his long career. Two children, a 4 and 2-year-old, were found beaten with sticks and stabbed. Four adults were shot to death.

Three additional children - including a 4 month old - were attacked but survived.

One of the surviving children, a 9-year-old boy, was found with a  knife sticking out of his head.

Police initially investigated the crime as a possible hit by a gang notorious in the area, the Gangster Disciples.

But the boy told investigators that "Uncle Junior" was the killer.

"Uncle Junior" was the boy's nickname for Dotson. Police confronted Dotson with the child's description, and he confessed, prosecutors say.

The boy is expected to testify, possibly this week, according to a spokeswoman for the prosecutor.

The case has attracted curious gawkers from across the country to Lester Street, some who have stood in the street to take photographs, according to a couple CNN interviewed who have moved into the home.

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Filed under: Crime • Tennessee
October 5th, 2010
12:54 PM ET

Seaweed, wool make traditional bricks tougher

Wool bricks are 37 percent stronger than regular bricks, researchers say.

You’ve got more wool, clay and seaweed than you know what to do with. Here’s a solution: Make really strong bricks.

Researchers in Spain and Scotland say they’ve done just that.

In experiments conducted at the University of Seville in Spain and the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, researchers added wool fibers to the claylike soil used to make bricks, then threw in alginate conglomerate, a polymer made from seaweed, according to a study published in the journal Construction and Building Materials.

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Filed under: Architecture • Environment • Scotland • Scotland • Spain • Technology
October 5th, 2010
12:52 PM ET

Jury finds Hayes guilty of murder in Connecticut home invasion

A Connecticut jury on Tuesday found Steven Hayes guilty of murder in the slayings of a mother and her two daughters in a 2007 home invasion.

Hayes was found guilty of 16 out of 17 counts, including nine counts of murder and capital murder, and four counts of kidnapping. The lone not-guilty verdict came on a count of arson.


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Filed under: Connecticut • Crime • Justice
October 5th, 2010
12:26 PM ET

Syria charges teen blogger with espionage

Tal al-Mallouhi's supporters have created Facebook pages demanding her release.

A teen blogger who had been held for nine months in Syria’s Duma women’s prison has been charged with espionage, according to several media outlets.

Syrian Intelligence Services summoned Tal al-Mallouhi, 19, in December to interrogate her about her blog, which contains poetry and social commentary on local and Arab affairs, the Syrian Human Rights Committee reported.

“Thereafter she was arrested and has not returned to her family since, nor do they know her place of detention. Shortly afterwards, intelligence apparatus went to her home and seized her personal computer,” the committee reported in August.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said CDs, books and other personal belongings were confiscated from her parents’ house in Homs as well, and until this week, her parents were given no explanation for her arrest.


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Filed under: Facebook • Human rights • Justice • Palestinians • Syria • Technology • Uncategorized
October 5th, 2010
11:58 AM ET

Tuesday's intriguing people

Bernhard Kohl

Bernhard Kohl, the Austrian cyclist stripped of his third-place finish in the 2008 Tour de France, told attendees at the United States Anti-Doping Agency's science conference Monday that under current conditions, no one can win the Tour de France without using performance-enhancing drugs.

"People know in cycling that it's not possible to win the Tour de France without it," Kohl told AOL's sports website FanHouse after the speech. "It's three weeks, 3,000 km and you climb [the equivalent of] Mount Everest four times. That's just not possible."

Kohl confessed to doping many times, yet passed all but one test, which resulted in a two-year-ban from the sport. He said he and other unnamed riders rely on doping to remain competitive. He would not comment on the investigation of current Tour champion Alberto Contador or other riders.

While Kohl is eligible to return, he says his career is over. "I can never come back," he said. "It's not possible if you say the truth."


October 5th, 2010
11:03 AM ET

Britain's 'Peerless Pier' goes up in flames

Two teens were arrested in the Tuesday fire at Hastings Pier.

Britain’s renowned Hastings Pier, a Victorian-era structure once dubbed the “Peerless Pier,” was 90 percent destroyed by fire early Tuesday.

Two local men, ages 18 and 19, were arrested on suspicion of arson after the blaze, according to the Hastings Observer.

The pier, which opened in 1872 as a holiday destination for tourists, was the work of Eugenius Birch, who designed 14 similar piers across Britain. Only seven remained before Tuesday’s fire, according to the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust.

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Filed under: Architecture • Crime • Fire • History • United Kingdom
October 5th, 2010
10:40 AM ET

Times Square bomb plotter sentenced to life in prison

A 30-year-old Pakistani-American was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for attempting to detonate a vehicle bomb in Times Square this year.

Faisal Shahzad was defiant before a judge sentenced him Tuesday, saying "the defeat of the U.S. is imminent."

Shahzad pleaded guilty in June to all 10 counts in an indictment against him. At the time, he told the court, "I want to plead guilty 100 times because unless the United States pulls out of Afghanistan and Iraq, until they stop drone strikes in Somalia, Pakistan and Yemen and stop attacking Muslim lands, we will attack the United States and be out to get them."


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Filed under: Crime • Justice • National security • New York • Terrorism • Times Square • Times Square Car Bomb • U.S.
October 5th, 2010
10:34 AM ET

8-year-old girl found safe after abduction, suspect in custody

An 8-year-old girl, believed abducted by a stranger who forced her into a pickup truck, was found safe Tuesday, and a suspect was in custody, Fresno, California, police said.

Elisa Cardenas' recovery was announced by police spokesman Jeff Cardinale. Cardinale said a short time later that a suspect was in custody in connection with the incident.


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Filed under: California • Crime • Missing Children
October 5th, 2010
10:23 AM ET

Bystanders play key role in bullying, expert says

Catherine Bradshaw is associate director of the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence

While bullying is often seen as a two-character act, psychologists say bystanders, including parents, teachers and students, can play critical roles in either enabling or defusing bullying.

"When other kids that were bystanders intervened on behalf of the victim, the victim was less likely to experience anxiety or depression," said Dr. Catherine Bradshaw, associate director of the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence.

However, "when other kids try to [step] in, the situation can escalate," Bradshaw cautions. So if a bystander comes to the defense of a bullying victim, she says, it should be done carefully, without the threat of physical violence, in a bid to ratchet down the confrontation.

Parents must not ignore their children's complaints of bullying, Bradshaw said, but should instead notify school officials. A wrong approach for parents, she said, is for the parent to say, "Buck up, you can take care of yourself."

There's also a clear strategy for teachers to employ in an effort to curb bullying behavior. Bradshaw recommends that teachers intervene immediately; separate the students, talking first with the victim, then with the bully.

Bradshaw, an associate professor of psychology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, develops and implements anti-bullying and school-based violence prevention programs in Maryland.

Hear Bradshaw explain the dynamic here:

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Filed under: Bullying • Child safety • Maryland • U.S.
October 5th, 2010
09:49 AM ET

Scott Ashjian: Spoiler in the Nevada Senate race?

Sharron Angle was allegedly taped asking candidate Scott Ashjian to drop out of the race.

A secret audio tape is shaking up a close Senate race in Nevada, where House Majority Leader Harry Reid is running against Sharron Angle.

On a recording made by third party Tea Party candidate Scott Ashjian, Angle is on tape trying to persuade Ashjian to drop out of the race and throw his support behind her.

While Ashjian is no direct competition for Angle, according to the latest CNN polling, Ashjian is getting about 5 percent of the vote - enough to steal away votes from Sharron Angle and give Harry Reid just enough of a margin for a win.


October 5th, 2010
09:40 AM ET

On the Radar: Chile miners, murder jury, Times Square plot

Chilean miners rescue attempt - With 160 meters (about 500 feet) to go until the Plan B drill reaches 33 trapped miners, a breakthrough to the men may be imminent. Then what?

At Camp Hope, the makeshift tent city where hundreds of family members are living, widespread celebrations will likely break out as the miners' loved ones receive the news they have waited more than 60 days to hear.

Connecticut home invasion murder trial - Jurors are expected to resume their deliberations Tuesday morning in the trial of Steven Hayes, one of the men accused of killing three members of a Connecticut family in a 2007 home invasion. Hayes, 47, who has pleaded not guilty, is on trial in New Haven, Connecticut, in the slayings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters.


October 5th, 2010
09:30 AM ET

Vatican official criticizes award of Nobel Prize to Robert Edwards

An official with the Vatican criticized the decision to award the Nobel prize for medicine to British doctor Robert G. Edwards for his work on in vitro fertilization, Italy's official news agency ANSA reported Tuesday.

Ignazio Carrasco de Paula, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said giving the award to Edwards was "completely inappropriate," according to the news agency.

He said Edwards' work had created a market for human eggs and created problems of embryos being frozen, the news agency said.


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Filed under: Italy • Science • United Kingdom • Vatican
October 5th, 2010
09:24 AM ET

4 dead after toxic mud floods villages in Hungary

Four people, including two children, were killed after a reservoir broke and flooded three villages in western Hungary with toxic red mud, officials said Tuesday.

The government has declared a state of emergency in three counties, the State Secretariat of Governmental Communications said.

The National Catastrophe Protection Directorate (OKF) said the two children who died were 1 and 3 years old. A 35-year-old man was killed in his car, and a woman was killed in her home, the government said.


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Filed under: Environment • Hungary
October 5th, 2010
09:12 AM ET

Poll: Did GOP peak too early? Are Democrats gaining?

A new “Washington Post/ABC News” poll out this morning shows the GOP with a six-point edge in a generic congressional race. Are the Democrats are making gains with voters?

Martin Frost, former Democratic Congressman from Texas and former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, tells American Morning he sees a possible silver lining in the poll, “It’s a good sign, the 6% gap that The Washington Post showed is about half of what it was six weeks ago.

But Tom Davis, former Republican Congressman from Virginia and former head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, warns “a six point generic even cutting that to a three-point generic would dictate Republican control of the House.”

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