Rep. John Boehner (BAY'-nur) has been elected speaker of the House, sealing newfound Republican power-sharing in Congress and drawing the curtain on the history-making Nancy Pelosi era at the helm. Cheers broke out among GOP lawmakers on the House floor as Boehner, a veteran lawmaker from Ohio, defeated Pelosi in the roll call for speaker. His rise to the helm of the House was virtually guaranteed months ago, when the midterm elections returned Republicans to control of the House, which they had surrendered to Democrats four years ago. Pelosi was the first woman to rise to the speaker's post.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary and one of the most visible and forceful advocates for President Barack Obama, said Wednesday he is quitting his job to become an outside political adviser. The change is among the many expected in the coming days as Obama redefines his leadership team to gear up for a re-election bid and a more powerful Republican Party. Gibbs said he would be leaving the White House by early February. The top contenders to replace him are two of his deputies, Bill Burton and Josh Earnest, and Jay Carney, who is communications director to Vice President Joe Biden.
NAJAF, Iraq (AP) — Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who led several Shiite uprisings against American forces in Iraq before going into exile in neighboring Iran almost four years ago, returned to Iraq Wednesday. Al-Sadr's return caps another dramatic rise to prominence for him and his followers after being routed by Iraqi and U.S. forces and appearing to fade from power just a few years ago. The strong showing by his bloc in last year's parliamentary elections and his key support for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki paved the way for Wednesday's return.
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — After a nationwide frenzy for a life-changing chance to win a $380 million Mega Millions jackpot, the two winning tickets were sold in small Pacific Northwest towns just 125 miles apart. Idaho Lottery officials said Wednesday that one winner is from the northern Idaho town of Post Falls. That's just across the border from Washington, where the other winning ticket was sold at a Safeway supermarket in the town of Ephrata.
NEW YORK (AP) — A surprising jump in hiring sent bond prices lower and lifted the dollar. Stocks edged higher. A survey from payroll processor ADP found that private companies added 297,000 jobs last month, far above the 100,000 economists expected. The report is the first chance for investors to see how strong the job market was in December.
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A research group says the global market for tablet computers such as the iPad will almost triple by the end of 2014. Yankee Group said Wednesday it expects tablet sales to rise to $46 billion in 2014 from $16 billion in 2010. The researchers say tablet sales are rising faster than high-definition TV sets, handheld gaming consoles or even MP3 players.
MOGOSOIA, Romania (AP) — Solace for world leaders trying to enforce painful austerity measures: At least you're not running Romania. Angry witches are using cat excrement and dead dogs to cast spells on the president and government who are forcing them to pay taxes. Also in the eye of the taxman are fortune tellers, who should have seen it coming.
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish firefighters dodged treacherous sheets of ice in a risky after-dark rescue of a terrified deer stranded on a floe in the Baltic Sea, a spokesman said Wednesday. The rescue team faced serious hazards navigating among the sharp ice sheets but managed to save the drifting animal at the "last moment" after dark on Tuesday, Waldemar Bogatko told TVN24.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A bodyguard testified Wednesday that he saw a doctor charged in Michael Jackson's death grab a handful of vials and put them in a bag during frantic efforts to revive the King of Pop. Alberto Alvarez was the first security guard to reach the bedroom where prosecutors say Dr. Conrad Murray administered a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol to Jackson on June 25, 2009.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Michigan fired coach Rich Rodriguez on Wednesday, ending a disappointing three-year tenure marred by embarrassing losses and NCAA violations at college football's winningest program. Athletic director Dave Brandon announced the decision after meeting with Rodriguez on Tuesday and again Wednesday morning. He said the two had an "open, honest and direct exchange."