The five most popular stories on CNN.com in the last 24 hours, according to NewsPulse:
'Barney Miller' star Steve Landesberg dies: Steve Landesberg (pictured), best known for his role as a cerebral detective on the TV sitcom "Barney Miller," has died of cancer, his agent said. He was 65.
'Spider-Man' performer injured in fall: The Broadway stage musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" will have new safety protocols when it reopens Wednesday night, following an accident in which a performer fell and suffered serious injuries during a preview, officials said.
You can argue whether streaks from teams nearly 40 years and a gender apart should be compared. What's not in dispute is that the University of Connecticut women now have the longest winning streak in NCAA Division I basketball history.
UConn won its 89th consecutive game Tuesday, beating Florida State 93-62 in Hartford's XL Center and surpassing the menâ€™s Division I streak of 88 set by coach John Wooden's UCLA teams from 1971 to 1974.
Senior forward Maya Moore scored 41 points - 26 of them in the first half - for the top-ranked Huskies (11-0).
After the game, UConn coach Geno Auriemma told ESPN that it wouldn't be fair to compare the Huskies' and UCLA's streaks.
"I don't want to compare anything to anything, and I don't want my team to compare themselves to anybody else. This stands on its own," Auriemma said. "What John Wooden and UCLA did will never, ever be repeated, and that's not what we set out to do.
"I'm not John Wooden, and this isnâ€™t UCLA. This is Connecticut, and for us, thatâ€™s good enough."
The Broadway musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" is still in previews, which doesn't explain all the publicity, but may have something to do withÂ the accidents and injuries to cast members.
News that an actor was seriously injured in a fallÂ during Monday night's show is the latest in a series of cast injuries, technical difficulties and delays to beset the ambitious production, which involves the biggest budget in Broadway history, lots of aerial stunts and U2 frontman Bono.Â
Monday's accident was the third to befall a performer wearing a Spidey mask (nine performers play the masked Spider-Man due to the physical rigors of the role). Another cast member also suffered a concussion during the first preview performance, according to the New York Times.
"An accidentÂ like this is obviously heartbreaking for our entire team and, of course, to meÂ personally," the show's director, Julie Taymor, said in a statement.
"Nothing is more important than the safety of our "Spider-Man" family and we'll continue to doÂ everything in our power to protect the cast and crew."
Before Monday's accident, Taymor had noted that other bad press hadn't affected the box office, and many fans say they are still anxious to see the show.
Actor Christopher Tierney's fall on Monday came three weeks after actress Natalie Mendoz, who plays the villain Arachne, suffered a concussion offstage during the first preview performance when she was struck in the head by a piece of equipment, the New York Times reported. That injury came little more than a month after the newspaper reported injuries to two other cast members who don the Spidey mask for stunts.
The show has earned several dubious distinctions since rehearsals began this summer, and a number of maxims and superlatives have been used to describe it, apart from the basic fact that its price tag, at $65 million, makes it the most expensive production in Broadway history.
It has been described asÂ doomed andÂ dangerous and parodied by Conan O'Brien. It is one of the most technically complex shows to appear on Broadway, with one of the longest preview runs, at 10 weeks, after being delayed four times.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: "I guess I personally don't care if someone sees me in a body scan or even pats me down. I'm more upset that we are forced to do it." –cjb21980
Editor's note: This post was written by Kristine Griggs, a member of our comments staff.
Sex-crime victims who opt for pat downs instead of full-body scans at airports face more than inconvenience and blushed cheeks. They might have disabling traumatic flashbacks that can last for days or weeks. And while survivors of sex crimes generally understand the need for safety regulations, many CNN readers think all fliers' rights are being violated by the new regulations and that they simply don't work. Still others are sympathetic both to the victims of sex crimes and the Transportation Security Administration agents who have to perform their duties.
Being hit without warning by an awful golf shot is a risk that golfers assume when they play, New Yorkâ€™s highest court ruled as it dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday.
The New York State Court of Appeals upheld lower courts' dismissal of a lawsuit against Dr. Anoop Kapoor, whose shanked October 2002 golf shot struck a friend, Dr. Azad Anand, in the left eye.
Anand was blinded in the eye and sued Kapoor for damages, alleging Kapoor was negligent for failing to warn of the shot at a course in Long Island's Suffolk County.
A look at highlights from the day's business news headlines:
Stocks end at highest levels in more than two yearsÂ
U.S. stocks rose modestly Tuesday but managed to close at their highest levels in more than two years as investors set their sights on 2011.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 55 points, or 0.5%, led by gains in shares of American Express, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase. The blue chip index finished at 11,533, its highest level since August 29, 2008.
The S&P 500 added 8 points, or 0.6%, with Adobe and Jabil Circuit among the biggest winners. The broader index closed at its highest level since September 19, 2008.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 18 points, or 0.7%, to reach its highest level since December 28, 2007.
Halliburton said on Tuesday it had agreed to pay $32.5 million to the government of Nigeria to settle allegations of bribes paid to officials to secure $6 billion worth of contracts for a liquefied natural gas project in the Niger Delta.FULL STORY
Today, December 21, is the winter solstice, and what we like to refer to as the first day of winter.
But what does that really mean? Hasn't winter already started? In November and December, we've already seen extreme winter storms, and now there's a storm for the record books in the Southwest: Parts ofÂ California recorded 9 feet of snow from Friday to Sunday, and could be looking at 20 feet by the time the storm ends.
So why do we wait so long to declare winter?
A magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan near the Bonin Islands early Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
AÂ Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, but the Japanese Meteorological Agency has issued tsunami warnings for the Ogasawara Islands and a tsunami advisory for southern Japan.
The Abu Dhabi hotel that put up that glitzy Christmas tree adorned with $11 million in jewelry denies saying it regrets the ploy, according to The National.
Some commentators had criticized the Emirates Palace Hotel for the 40-foot tree's opulence, saying the money could have been better spent.
Hotel officials seemed to express regret about overdoing it, but now they say they were misunderstood. The ostentatious tree was merely a public relations stunt, nothing more, they say.
"With anything you do, you might get negative responses and negative publicity. That doesn't mean what we did is wrong," Hazem Harfoush, the hotel's assistant director of marketing, told The National.
The population of the United States grew 9.7% to 308.7 million people over the past decade - the slowest rate of growth since the Great Depression - the Census Bureau reported on Tuesday.Read CNNMoney.com's coverage of the census report
[Update 11:30 a.m.] The device found on a train in Rome could not have exploded, officials say.
[Original post] A bomb was found under a train seat Tuesday in Rome, a City Hall spokesman said. It is not clear whether the device could have exploded or who left it, Marco Dell'Asta said.
Train officials found the package containing the device about 10 a.m. at the Rebibbia stop on the outskirts of the city, he said. A police bomb squad and the fire brigade are on the scene, Dell'Asta added.Read CNN's coverate of the bomb scare
'The bus is on fire!' – One passenger who escaped a fire on board a Greyhound bus early Monday said, "I think it's the craziest Christmas I'm ever going to have in my life." No argument there. Investigators think an electrical problem ignited the flames. Everyone got out safely, luggage intact.
Shaq the maestroÂ – NBA star (or more notably, "Kazaam" leading man) ShaquilleÂ O'Neal has never been accused of avoiding the spotlight. This year, he helped get his hometown into the holiday spirit by leading the Boston Pops in some Christmas carols. Performing in tie and tails under the moniker "Maestro Shamrock," the center took center stage, finishing with a version of "We are the Champions" he hopes will foreshadow his team's season.
Morning Cup of Conan redux – A menorah? Stockings hung by the fire? Mistletoe? That's so five minutes ago. Last night, Conan O'Brien unveiled his seizure-inducing take on holiday decorating. Fasten your seatbelt before watching.
The count - We'll find out Tuesday how much the United States has grown in 10 years. The Census Bureau will release results of the 2010 census. In addition to revealing how many people live in the U.S.,Â the census results also will determine how many congressional seats states will get.
Weathering storms - Southern CaliforniansÂ just want the rain to stop, but it'sÂ expected to keep coming Tuesday and Wednesday. Flooding and mudslides remain a big concern. Another storm might arrive on Christmas Day.Â Arizona and Nevada are also getting drenched.
And in Europe, snowy winter weather has stranded thousands of passengers. About a third ofÂ planes are expected to operate on schedule Tuesday at London's Heathrow Airport. People are not happy. Are you having trouble traveling? Let CNN know.
Over the moon - Did you see the lunar eclipse overnight? If not, just hang out for the next total one expected in the continental U.S. in 2014. The Earth's shadow covered the moon for more than three hours early Tuesday. The last lunar eclipse to happen on the first day of winter was in 1638. For more of this amazing sight, check out pictures from CNN iReporters.
Researchers are still checking, but it's a good bet the Boston Pops Orchestra has never had a bigger conductor than it had Monday night.
Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal - all 7 feet 1 inch and 325 pounds of him - donned a black tie and tails to conduct the Pops and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in the Christmas classic "Sleigh Ride" during a pops concert at Boston's Symphony Hall, CNN affiliate WCVB-TV reports.
Some of the musicians wore Celtics jerseys under their topcoats.
It was the latest in a long line of stunts, jokes and public appearances by O'Neal, who has been known by dozens of nicknames during his 18-year NBA career, including Shaq Daddy, the Big Fella, the Big Diesel, the Big Baryshnikov and the Big Aristotle.
A mummified ancient forest unearthed north of the Arctic Circle may give researchers clues about what to expect as climate change again affects the polar region.
Joel Barker, a researcher at The Ohio State University, stumbled on the forest's remnants while camping last year on Canada's Ellesmere Island, just 500 miles from the North Pole.
The forest stood more than 1,000 miles north of the northernmost trees of today.
The trees and their branches, leaves, needles and roots were perfectly preserved from when they were buried in an avalanche 2 million to 8 million years ago, when the Arctic climate was getting colder, according to Canada's CBC News.
"Mummified forests aren't so uncommon, but what makes this one unique is that it's so far north. When the climate began to cool 11 million years ago, these plants would have been the first to feel the effects," Barker said in an OSU news release.
"And because the trees' organic material is preserved, we can get a high-resolution view of how quickly the climate changed and how the plants responded to that change."
He presented his findings Friday at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco.
Barker next plans to study tree rings to learn how past climate conditions stressed plant life and predict how the Arctic ecosystem will respond to global warming.
Weren't able to tune in for CNN's and HLN's prime-time programming Monday night? Hey, we understand, which is why we're giving you a chance to catch up on "In Case You Missed It."
On "AC 360Â°," guest host Dr. Sanjay Gupta took a closer look at the case of author Phillip Greaves, who was arrested on obscenity charges Monday in Florida.
His book, "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover's Code of Conduct," has sparked outrage.
But do Greaves' First Amendment rights protect him from prosecution? Gupta asks Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, Florida, and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin for their take on the situation.
Later in the show, Gupta addresses whether Michael Vick should be allowed to own another dog - now, or ever again. Gupta is joined by Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, who takes what some may consider to be a surprising stance on Vick's statements.
There may be four shopping days left until Christmas, but Senate lawmakers won't have time to shop today, as they continue debating the issues of the day on Capitol Hill.Â CNN.com Live will have that debate and more throughout the day.
Today's programming highlights...
9:30 am ET - Senate in session - Senate lawmakers extend their lame-duck session another day to take up the New START accord, health care legislation benefiting 9/11 first responders and government spending.