AP Top News at 11:10 p.m. EST

Vice President Joe Biden, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talk as they leave a Democratic Caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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Vice President Joe Biden, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talk as they leave a Democratic Caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010.

Raising the direst alarm yet, the Obama administration warned fellow Democrats on Wednesday that if they defeat the big tax-cut compromise detested by many liberals, they could jolt the nation back into recession. President Barack Obama appealed anew for Congress to "get this done" and insisted that more congressional Democrats would climb aboard as they studied details of the $900 billion year-end measure. Several did announce support on Wednesday, but at least one said there still was "a mood to resist."

WASHINGTON (AP) — House and Senate Republicans on Wednesday thwarted Democratic efforts to award $250 checks to Social Security recipients facing a second consecutive year without a cost-of-living increase. President Barack Obama and Democrats have urged approval of the one-time payment, saying seniors barely getting by on their Social Security checks face undue hardships without the COLA increase.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats controlling the House muscled through legislation Wednesday night that would freeze the budgets of most Cabinet departments and fund the war in Afghanistan for another year. The bill would cap the agencies' annual operating budgets at the $1.2 trillion approved for the recently finished budget year — a $46 billion cut of more than 3 percent from President Barack Obama's request.

LONDON (AP) — Hackers rushed to the defense of WikiLeaks on Wednesday, launching attacks on MasterCard, Visa, Swedish prosecutors, a Swiss bank, Sarah Palin and others who have acted against the site and its jailed founder Julian Assange. Internet "hacktivists" operating under the label "Operation Payback" claimed responsibility in a Twitter message for causing severe technological problems at the website for MasterCard, which pulled the plug on its relationship with WikiLeaks a day ago.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Protesters enraged by the results of Haiti's troubled presidential election set barricades and political offices ablaze, traded blows with U.N. peacekeepers and shut down the country's lone international airport Wednesday, creating the social upheaval many have feared since the Jan. 12 earthquake. The fallout from the Nov. 28 election, riddled by fraud, is violently shutting down cities across the impoverished country with gunfire and barricades at a moment when medical aid workers need to tackle a surging cholera epidemic that has claimed more than 2,000 lives.

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — A fire started during an inmate brawl swept through an overcrowded prison Wednesday, killing at least 81 people and seriously injuring 14. Chileans heard the screams of inmates after a prisoner using a contraband cell phone called state television for help. The early morning blaze at San Miguel prison, which preliminary reports indicated may have been intentionally set, was the worst disaster in the history of Chile's penitentiary system, Health Minister Jaime Manalich said.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A manhunt was under way Wednesday for a Pennsylvania couple accused of killing a man, cutting up his body and stashing the pieces in a backpack and under a bed in their Skid Row hotel room. Edward Garcia Jr., 36, and Melissa Hope Garcia, 25, who also goes by the name of Melissa Turner, are considered armed and dangerous, Detective Richard Arciniega said.

VANCLEAVE, Miss. (AP) — An Alabama man who told authorities he dumped his two dead children in the woods, then covered them with twigs, was charged Wednesday with two counts of murder after investigators found remains believed to be his 3-year-old son, police said. Mobile Police Officer Chris Levy said the discovery of a boy's bones about 50 feet off a highway in rural Mississippi gave authorities enough evidence to file the murder charges against John DeBlase, who had been held for child abuse and corpse abuse.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — A Hollywood publicist was gunned down by an ex-con on a bicycle in a robbery gone awry as she drove home from a movie premiere last month, police said they believed Wednesday after reviewing ballistics tests. The major break in the investigation came as tests linked the gun Harold Martin Smith used to commit suicide with bullets that killed Ronni Chasen.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — A few hours apart, both Chicago teams filled their needs at first base — Carlos Pena joined the Cubs, Paul Konerko returned to the White Sox. Another first, too, at the winter meetings on Wednesday: The New York Yankees made their initial offer to free agent Cliff Lee.