The Wisconsin Senate succeeded in voting Wednesday to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers, after Republicans outmaneuvered the chamber's missing Democrats and approved 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 inside the Capitol had grown to an estimated 7,000, more than had been in the building at any point during weeks of protests.
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.
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.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lindsay Lohan will not accept a plea deal that includes a guaranteed jail sentence when she returns to court on Thursday, a source close to the actress said. The "Mean Girls" star is due back in court Thursday morning to tell a judge whether she intends to accept a deal in a felony grand theft case filed over a necklace reported stolen by an upscale jewelry store. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Keith L. Schwartz will lay out the next steps in the case at the hearing, which could include scheduling a preliminary hearing during which prosecutors would present some of their evidence in the case.
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.
BOSTON (AP) — Mo Williams scored 28 points and the Los Angeles Clippers withstood a late Boston surge to beat the Celtics 108-103 on Wednesday night for their fourth straight win despite a mediocre performance by Blake Griffin. The Clippers took their biggest lead 65-42 two minutes into the third quarter. They still led 84-68 with 10:28 left in the game before the Celtics went on a 15-2 run that closed the gap to 86-83 on a jumper by Kevin Garnett with 5:39 remaining.