The Wisconsin Senate succeeded in voting Wednesday to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers, after Republicans discovered a way to bypass the chamber's missing Democrats and approve an explosive proposal that has rocked the state and unions nationwide. "You are cowards!" spectators in the Senate gallery screamed as lawmakers voted. Within hours, a crowd of a few hundred protesters had grown to several thousand.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic-led Senate on Wednesday emphatically rejected a budget-slashing House spending bill as too draconian. It then immediately killed a rival Democratic plan that was derided by moderate Democrats as too timid in its drive to cut day-to-day agency budgets. The votes to scuttle the competing measures were designed, ironically, to prompt progress. The idea was to show tea party-backed GOP conservatives in the House that they need to pare back their budget-cutting ambitions while at the same time demonstrating to Democratic liberals that they need to budge, too.
RAS LANOUF, Libya (AP) — A giant yellow fireball shot into the sky, trailed by thick plumes of black smoke Wednesday after fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi set two oil installations ablaze and inflicted yet more damage on Libya's crippled energy industry. In the west, Gadhafi claimed victory in recapturing Zawiya, the city closest to the capital that had fallen into opposition hands. The claim could not immediately be verified; phone lines there have not been working during a deadly, six-day siege.
WASHINGTON (AP) — NPR's president and CEO resigned Wednesday in an effort to limit the damage from hidden camera footage of a fellow executive deriding the tea party movement as "seriously racist." Conservatives called the video proof that the network is biased and undeserving of federal funds. NPR's board had pushed for the resignation of Vivian Schiller, whom conservatives also criticized in October for firing analyst Juan Williams over comments he made about Muslims. She was not in the video, which was posted Tuesday by a conservative activist, but she told The Associated Press that staying on would only hurt NPR's fight for federal money.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Family members of two young men who were inspired to terrorism, with deadly consequences, plan to tell Congress that the men were victims of brainwashing by radical elements in local Muslim communities, according to prepared testimony obtained by The Associated Press. The remarks are scheduled to be delivered as part of the House Homeland Security Committee's hearing on Islamic radicalization Thursday. Plans for the hearing touched off days of protests from critics who liken it to McCarthyism and the era of communist witch hunts.
ATLANTA (AP) — Newt Gingrich says his passionate hard work for his country contributed to his marital infidelity. In an interview posted Wednesday by The Christian Broadcasting Network, Gingrich — who recently converted to Catholicism — said he had sought God's forgiveness for mistakes in his past. "There's no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate," Gingrich said.
CHICAGO (AP) — Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich asked a judge Wednesday to cancel his upcoming retrial on political corruption charges and promptly sentence him on the sole conviction from the first trial, saying money woes prevent him from mounting an ample defense. Legal observers called the request a long shot at best, saying the government has no reason to agree to such a move.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — With the original iPad, Apple brought an attractive, easy-to-use tablet computer to the masses at a reasonable price — a feat numerous companies are trying to top. With Friday's release of the iPad 2, Apple is pulling further ahead, with improvements that make an already excellent tablet even more enticing. It goes to show that when it comes to tablets, Apple refuses to be bested.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A museum volunteer has unearthed what the Smithsonian Institution believes to be the first — and perhaps only — color photographs of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and fire that nearly leveled the city. The six never-published images were snapped by photography innovator Frederick Eugene Ives several months after the April 1906 "Great Quake," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Most were taken from the roof of the hotel where Ives stayed during an October 1906 visit.
STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — Police say a man was getting a haircut at an apartment in Stamford, Conn., when he grabbed scissors and slashed another man in the back. David Davis was arrested soon afterward when officers with a police dog found him in a nearby apartment. A police mug shot shows Davis with thick hair sticking up from only one side of his head. The other side of his head appears to be braided. Stamford police Sgt. Cory Caserta says Davis was arraigned Wednesday on an assault charge. The 21-year-old man from New Haven was being held on $5,000 bond.