ï»żThe five most popular stories on CNN.com in the past 24 hours, according to NewsPulse.
ï»żSecrets pilots won't tell you: You hear their voices over the airplane speakers and you sometimes catch a glimpse of them as they inspect a plane before departure, but for the most part airline pilots remain a mystery. What are their lives really like these days?
French strikes continue; vote near: ï»żFrench unions called Thursday for two more days of protests against government plans to raise the retirement age, as lawmakers cut through red tape to try to make the proposal law within days.
Why you should have sex at least once a week: Sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author Ian Kerner used to think there was no one right answer to the question of how often couples should have sex. He has changed his mind.
10 infants dead in whooping cough outbreak: Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, has claimed the 10th victim in California, in what health officials are calling the worst outbreak in 60 years.
NPR analyst fired over Muslim remarks: NPR's president and CEO defended Thursday the network's decision to terminate the contract of Juan Williams after the news analyst made remarks elsewhere that she said veered from analysis into opinion, adding that it was not the first time.
A look at the day's business news headlines:
Stocks eke out gains
U.S. stocks ended a shade higher Thursday after seesawing throughout the session, as investors balanced strong earnings with building speculation that the Fed's next round of asset-buying won't be as dramatic as anticipated.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 39 points, or 0.35 percent, the S&P 500 ticked up 2 points, or 0.2 percent, and the Nasdaq edged up 2 points, or 0.1 percent.
Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.
[Updated at 4:55 p.m.] Today's challenge to save $1 got lots of reactions. Some said theyâre already âscraping the bottom of the barrel" or that we should be spending to stimulate the economy, not saving.Â
But others took the challenge, and weâd like to recognize a few:
Susan Bush drank water from the office today instead of buying soda and tea.
JayInAtlanta turned off the lights in his home office, used only natural light, opened the windows to keep the temperature moderate without heating or air, and unplugged his cell phone charger.
âI'm hoping it saved me even more than $1 on the electricity bill,â he wrote.
Our favorite story of the day comes from iReporter Sherbien Dacalanio, 27, a freelance TV producer and coffee addict in the Philippines. Dacalanio budgets 500 pesos (about $11.50) per day for his caffeine fixes â 4 to 5 coffees from one of his favorite coffee shops â but today, he bought a box of 10 instant coffee packets for just 47.50 pesos (about $1).
The savings were big, he said, even when taking into account that âI need to combine 2 sachets of the instant coffee to replace the taste of brewed coffee that I always crave.â
ï»żOthers suggested weâll only hurt the economy more by cutting our spending.
Susie wrote: âSaving that dollar will simply provide more layoffs as businesses or transportation or etc. do not get the revenueâŠ I would propose spending that dollar more wisely, supporting small local businesses or healthier foods or something leading to energy conservation.â
A rare, two-stone ring set a new record price per carat for a blue diamond at auction when it sold for $15.7 million to an Asian collector, Christie's auction house said.
The Bvlgari Blue Diamond, a ring designed in the 1970s, was expected to fetch around $12 million at an auction Wednesday in New York, owing to the rarity and size.
Featuring a triangular-shaped Fancy Vivid blue diamond of 10.95 carats - paired with triangular-shaped colorless diamond of 9.87 carats - it wasï»ż the largest triangular-shaped Fancy Vivid blue diamond ever to appear at auction, Christie's said.
Ah, France. A nation known for its passion in food, wine, loveâŠand protests.
Many French citizens have been rallying for days against the proposed increase of their retirement age from 60 to 62, leading to riots, school closings, and the shutdown of a major airport.
Whatâs interesting is how passionate people here in the U.S. are getting about the French protests. Strong opinions abound in the CNN.com comments, from users envying the French retirement age to saying the protesters should get back to work. And, of course, some commenters are using the story as an opportunity for some good old-fashioned France-bashingâŠ
ntcz: âI am impressed; this has been going on for a few days and the French havenât surrendered yet?â
RandyF offered a clever reply: âThe US would not exist if it were not for the support of the French during the Revolution. Why all the sour grapes about the French? Seems more like jealousy from the 50% of folks who are going to die before they reach 65 from stress, over eating and the general American lifestyle.â
But seriously, RandyFâs sentiments are echoed by many other contributors. Some feel like the U.S. should adopt a system more like Franceâs, with a relatively low retirement age and increased vacation time.
A 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck off Mexico's Pacific Coast, the U.S. Geological Survey reported Thursday.
The quake, which registered at a depth of 6.2 miles (10 kilometers), was centered between southern Baja California and the Mexican state of Sinaloa, about 60 miles from the cities of Guasave and Gabriel Leyva Solano in Sinaloa, the USGS said.
This story is developing. We'll bring you the latest information as soon as we get it.
NPR has fired Juan Williams over remarks he made on "The O'Reilly Factor" this week, and there is no shortage of opinions on the analyst's ouster.
Many have jumped to his defense and others have applauded NPR's stand, while a few have expressed concern about the recent firings of journalists who made remarks deemed insensitive or inappropriate. One observer compares the editing of the Williams clip to the video of Shirley Sherrod, which saw the U.S. Department of Agriculture employee fired before her remarks were put into context.
NPR CEO Vivian Schiller said his remarks were inconsistent with NPR's editorial standards and practices and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR.
NPR's ethics code provides some insight into the firing: "In appearing on TV or other media including electronic Web-based forums, NPR journalists should not express views they would not air in their role as an NPR journalist. They should not participate in shows electronic forums, or blogs that encourage punditry and speculation rather than fact-based analysis."
To recap, Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly faced heat last week after remarks he made about Muslims on "The View." He was discussing those comments with Williams on "The O'Reilly Factor" when Williams made the remarks NPR found objectionable.
"I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country," Williams said. "But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they're identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."
Here is a roundup of reactions from blogs, columns and tweets around the nation:
Sarah Palin: "NPR defends 1st Amendment Right, but will fire u if u exercise it. Juan Williams: u got taste of Left's hypocrisy, they screwed up firing you"
The retired Iranian-American businessman from Los Angeles, California, traveled to Iran frequently to visit family and friends, so in April 2008, when he was asked by Imran Afar, an acquaintance, to take $200 to give to a cash-strapped friend in Tehran, Reza Taghavi thought nothing of it.
Taghavi, who was traveling to Tehran with his wife, did not know the person who was getting the money. Two weeks after he delivered it, Taghavi was detained by Iranian authorities, while the recipient of the cash was arrested on charges of association with the anti-regime group, Tondar.
Taghavi's lawyer said his release this week wasÂ the result of three trips to Iran, meetings with Iranian officials in New York and Europe, and about 300 e-mails with Iranian officials.
Attorney Pierre-Richard Prosper said Afar gave him information he shared with the Iranian government that proved that Taghavi was not part of Tondar. The group claimed responsibility for the April 12, 2008, bombing of a mosque in the Iranian city of Shiraz.
Taghavi, 71, came to the United States in 1979, before the Iranian Revolution. He taught himself English, and started a video game company in his garage, which grew into a successful corporation.
Astronauts set to launch into space early next month are focused on their mission, NASA officials said Thursday, blocking out "distractions" over layoffs and changes at the space agency and sentimentality as the shuttle program nears its end.
The space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to take off November 1, returning to Earth the morning of November 12 after what NASA flight director Bryan Lunney described as a "very busy mission."
"After we fly around the Earth about 170 times, Discovery will come home for its last flight," Lunney said Thursday during a press conference in Houston detailing the mission. "The crew is ready to go."
The six-member crew, led by Commander Steven Lindsey, will install a new "permanent multipurpose module" called Leonardo on the international space station.
From behind a wood and plastic partition, the Israeli soldier who drove a bulldozer that crushed an American peace activist to death testified publicly for the first time Thursday.
Rachel Corrie was killed seven years ago. But the driver's identity has never been revealed and he was not charged after a month-long Israeli investigation found that no Israeli soldier was to blame.
Her parents have searched for answers in their daughter's killing. Was it intentional? Who was accountable? On Thursday, they finally heard from the man who was responsible.
He acknowledged he was driving the bulldozer, according to Stacy Sullivan, spokeswoman for the Corrie family who was in the Haifa courtroom. He said he was aware there were protesters in the area - he had been ordered to work carefully.
Japan will add six submarines to its current fleet of 16 during the next four years as it sees increased naval activity from Asian neighbor China, according to news reports from Tokyo on Thursday.
The new vessels will give Japanâs Maritime Self-Defense Force its largest submarine fleet since it was established in 1976, according to a Kyodo News Service report in Japanese newspapers. Kyodo said the submarine building program was revealed by MSDF and Defense Ministry officials on condition of anonymity. It will be formalized in December for implementation during 2011 to 2015, the report said.
China maintains a fleet of about 60 submarines, according to the Kyodo report.
Tensions between Japan and China reached a recent peak in September when a Chinese fishing boat collided with a Japanese coast guard vessel near a disputed island chain in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China. Japan detained the captain of the Chinese boat for weeks while Tokyo and Beijing engaged in a diplomatic tit for tat.
The tensions appeared to have cooled earlier this month, but Yomiuri Shimbun reported Thursday that China had recently sent three fishery patrol boats to the disputed islands.
It doesnât look as if Brett Favreâs life is going to get easier any time in the immediate future. SI.comâs Peter King explains that while former Jets emcee Jenn Sterger has retained legal counsel, she has made no decisions about what her next step will be in NFLâs investigation of Favreâs alleged conduct.
"We currently have an ongoing dialogue with the league," said Phil Reese, Sterger's manager. "Jenn is currently considering all her options. It could be she talks. It could be she does nothing. We just don't know yet." Reese claims that there have not been discussions between Favre representatives and Sterger about keeping quiet on the incident, as some have speculated. Favre is accused of sending Sterger and other female Jetsâ employees lewd text messages while he played for the New York team.
But if the Vikings QB was looking for a speedy resolution to his off-field woes, he may be disappointed. On Tuesday Favre met with NFL league officials to discuss his alleged conduct, but later refused to address the meetings in interviews this week. So far league officials have been unable to interview any of the women involved in the scandal. And while Favre has remained seemingly unphased by the allegations, only time will tell if the QB starts to feel the weight of the speculation around him.
While you still have a few days before you can watch Favreâs Vikings and the Packers square off, there is plenty of action to keep you entertained.
San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies (7:57 p.m. ET) â Down 3-1, the Phillies are looking for some sort of saving grace tonight as they battle to keep their postseason hopes alive.
UCLA Bruins vs. Oregon Ducks (9:00 p.m., ET)– No. 1-ranked Oregon will battle the Bruins on home turf at Autzen Stadium. The Ducks are looking to secure their spot atop the BCS standings and shouldnât face much resistance from struggling 3-3 UCLA.
By The Numbers
$3.14 million â Amount Francisco Rodriguez is giving up from his contract after an altercation with his girlfriendâs father. The Metsâ reliever will also be sidelined for more than seven weeks because of the incident.
18 â Number of championships Manchester United has won, but apparently that wasnât enough to keep star Wayne Rooneyâs interest. The striker recently said that the club is no longer satisfying him, so he is eyeing a number of other teams.
21 â Number of months sprinter LaShawn Merritt will be suspended for after being caught using a prohibited substance. SI.comâs Brian Cazeneuve talks about Merrittâs punishment in this weekâs Inside Olympic Sports notebook.
As President Barack Obama traveled to Seattle, Washington for a backyard event focusing on women, the White House released a report Thursday detailing the recession's impact on women.
Women make up half the work force and are a majority of college graduates, senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett wrote on the White House blog. In almost two thirds of American families, women are either the primary or co-breadwinner, she said.
"We understand that times are tough and there are many challenges ahead," she said. "But, we also know that together we can make a better future for the next generation of women."
The report said the Obama administration has implemented and proposed policies that support women at all stages of their careers, according to the executive summary by the National Economic Council.
Tropical Storm Richard has formed off the coast of Central America, the National Hurricane Center said Thursday.
The upgrade came after data from a U.S. Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft investigating Tropical Depression Nineteen on Thursday morning found tropical-storm-force winds.
Tropical Storm Richard is the 17th named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season.
The storm is moving toward the southeast at 6 mph. However, an area of high pressure that is steering the system over the Caribbean will begin to build and shift westward. This will cause the storm to turn toward the west and then northwest later today. The latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center shows Richard making landfall on Sunday evening south of Cozumel on the Yucatan Peninsula.
[Updated at 11:18 a.m.] The prosecution has completed presenting its case against alleged Fort Hood shooter and Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan.
The investigating officer has recessed the proceedings until November 15th, at which time the defense will have an opportunity to present its case.
[Updated at 10:18 a.m.] The prosecution said it plans to wrap up its case against alleged Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan on Thursday, and Hasan's legal team will present its defense in more than two weeks.
The prosecution has called more than 50 witnesses who have delivered chilling testimony about the shooting rampage that left 13 dead at a Texas military base. Hasan is the subject of an Article 32 hearing, which will determine if there is ample evidence to proceed with a court martial.
The former Army psychiatrist is charged with killing 13 people and wounding dozens more in a November rampage.
The University of Connecticut's West Hartford campus was evacuated Thursday after a bomb threat, said a message posted on the university's website.
"A bomb threat has been received for the West Hartford Campus," the online message said. "Police have responded and are investigating. The evacuation of the campus is in progress and no entry into buildings will be allowed until 12 PM or later. Please check back for further details."
This story is developing. We'll bring you the latest information as soon as we get it.
Students demonstrated in central Paris on Thursday as protesters and lawmakers went down to the wire in a battle over pension reform. Protest leaders said they planned to march close to the Senate.
Senators are due to finish voting on a package of reforms that would raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, among other changes - plans which have provoked demonstrations that have brought more than a million people onto the streets of France several times over the past month.
About 1,500 were out Thursday, the left-wing French newspaper Liberation estimated.
Whooping cough deaths - Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, has claimed the 10th victim in California in what health officials are calling the worst outbreak in 60 years. Since the beginning of the year, 5,978 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of the disease have been reported in California.
All the deaths occurred in infants under 3 months, says Michael Sicilia, a spokesman for the California Department of Public Health. Nine were younger than 8 weeks old, which means they were too young to have been vaccinated against this highly contagious bacterial disease. CNN will explore how to prevent this type of outbreak andÂ what whooping cough is as well as bring personal stories of those dealing with it.
Democrats preparing for worst? - It has been said over and over again: The 2010 midterms is the anti-incumbent, anti-Washington and by virtue of their position in power, the anti-Democratic election.
Faced with increasing casualties from roadside bombs in Afghanistan, the U.S. military will experiment with remote-controlled, unmanned helicopters to deliver supplies to remote outposts, the U.S. Navy said.
The U.S. Navy is seeking a contractor to operate the program, planned for the last quarter of 2011, Eric Pratson, leader of the U.S. Navy team behind the project, told CNN.
âThis is a rapid deployment effort being led by the Navy in response to an urgent needs requirement for a Cargo UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) capability in support of Marine Corps forces engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom,â Pratson told Stars and Stripes, which first reported the plan.
Lockheed-Martin and Kaman Aerospace say their K-MAX unmanned helicopter system can do the job. They tested it at the Armyâs Dugway Proving Ground earlier this year and it met or exceeded requirements, according to a Lockheed-Martin statement.
Lt. Dan Choi, the Army National Guard discharged for being gay, and spokesman for Knights Out, reacts on American Morning to the Obama Administrationâs blocking of a court decision that would allow gays and lesbians to serve openly.
Watch what he has to say about senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett's comments earlier on American Morning.