AP Top News at 1:22 p.m. EDT

The Associated Press
Libyan rebels take up position on a checkpoint on the frontline near Zwitina, the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, eastern Libya, Thursday, March 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
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Libyan rebels take up position on a checkpoint on the frontline near Zwitina, the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, eastern Libya, Thursday, March 24, 2011.

French fighter jets struck an air base deep inside Libya and destroyed one of Moammar Gadhafi's planes Thursday, and NATO ships patrolled the coast to block the flow of arms and mercenaries. Other coalition bombers struck artillery, arms depots and parked helicopters. Libyan state television on Thursday showed blackened and mangled bodies that it said were victims of airstrikes in Tripoli, the capital. Rebels have accused Gadhafi's forces of taking bodies from the morgue and pretending they are civilian casualties.

TOKYO (AP) — Nearly two weeks of rolling blackouts, distribution problems and contamination fears prompted by a leaking, tsunami-damaged nuclear plant have left shelves stripped bare of some basic necessities in stores across Tokyo. Some people are even turning to the city's ubiquitous vending machines to find increasingly scarce bottles of water. At the source of the anxiety — the overheated, radiation-leaking nuclear plant — there was yet another setback Thursday as two workers were injured when they stepped into radiation-contaminated water. The two were treated at a hospital.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nuclear radiation, invisible and insidious, gives us the creeps. Even before the Japanese nuclear crisis, Americans were bombarded with contradictory images and messages that frighten even when they try to reassure. It started with the awesome and deadly mushroom cloud rising from the atomic bomb, which led to fallout shelters and school duck-and-cover drills.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation's top aviation official says he's suspended a control tower supervisor while investigating why no controller was available to aid two planes that landed at Washington's Reagan airport earlier this week. Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt said Thursday in a statement that the controller has been suspended from his operational duties. He said he was "personally outraged" that the supervisor — the lone controller on duty in the airport tower at the time — failed to meet his duties.

HIGASHIMATSUSHIMA, Japan (AP) — Where do you even start? Do you start by carting away the Chokai Maru, the 150-foot (45-meter) ship that was lifted over a pier and slammed into a house in this port town? Do you start with the thousands of destroyed cars scattered like discarded toys in the city of Sendai? With the broken windows and the doorless refrigerators and the endless remnants of so many lives that clutter the canals? In the first days after a tsunami slammed into Japan's northeast coast on March 11, killing well over 10,000 people, it seemed callous to worry about the cleanup. The filth paled beside the tragedy. Now, nearly two weeks later, hundreds of communities are finally turning to the monumental task ahead.

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A powerful earthquake struck northeastern Myanmar on Thursday night, killing one woman and shaking buildings as far away as Bangkok. No tsunami was generated. The quake hit in an area where Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) from Chiang Rai. The northern Thai city sustained minor damage, according to Thai television.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, adding to evidence that layoffs are slowing and employers may be stepping up hiring. The number of people seeking benefits dropped by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 382,000 in the week ended March 19, the Labor Department said Thursday.

WASHINGTON (AP) — When an admitted al-Qaida operative planned his itinerary for a Christmas 2009 airline bombing, he considered launching the strike in the skies above Houston or Chicago, The Associated Press has learned. But tickets were too expensive, so he refocused the mission on a cheaper destination: Detroit. The decision is among new details emerging about one of the most sensational terrorism plots to unfold since President Barack Obama took office. It shows that al-Qaida's Yemen branch does not share Osama bin Laden's desire to attack symbolic targets, preferring instead to strike at targets of opportunity. Like the plot that nearly blew up U.S.-bound cargo planes last year, the cities themselves didn't matter. It's a strategy that has helped the relatively new group quickly become the No. 1 threat to the United States.

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a surprising show of growth, Hispanics accounted for more than half of the U.S. population increase over the last decade, exceeding estimates in most states. Pulled by migration to the Sun Belt, America's population center edged westward on a historic path to leave the Midwest. The Census Bureau on Thursday will release its first set of national-level findings from the 2010 count on race and migration, detailing a decade in which rapid minority growth, aging whites and increased suburbanization were the predominant story lines. Geographers estimate that the nation's population center will move southwest about 30 miles and be placed in or near the village of Plato in Texas County, Mo.

LONDON (AP) — Not feeling the royal wedding spirit yet? It may be time to download a countdown clock to your smartphone. More than a dozen smartphone apps are offering to bring fans everything royal wedding-related wherever they are — so they can check the days and minutes until Prince William and Kate Middleton's April 29 wedding, hoard news and pictures about them and instantly share their favorite royal wedding tidbits on social media networks.