AP Top News at 7:45 a.m. EST

New Libyan rebel recruits from the forces against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi  push an anti-aircraft gun at a military base in Benghazi, eastern Libya, Tuesday, March 1 , 2011. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
View photos
New Libyan rebel recruits from the forces against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi push an anti-aircraft gun at a military base in Benghazi, eastern Libya, Tuesday, March 1 , 2011.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has vowed to fight to the "last man and last woman" to defend his country. Gadhafi was addressing supporters and foreign media on Wednesday in a conference hall in the capital Tripoli as his forces were launching a counteroffensive against parts of the rebel-held eastern half of the country.

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A Danish family kidnapped by pirates has reached the shore of Somalia, officials and a pirate said Wednesday, likely meaning a long hostage ordeal for the couple and their three teenage children who were abducted while yachting around the world. A Somali pirate had warned that if any attempt was made to rescue them, they would meet the same fate as the four American yachters slain by their pirate captors last week. Any chance of a quick rescue seemed to disappear Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (AP) — In an early victory for Republicans, the Democratic Senate is voting to send President Barack Obama a GOP-drafted measure that cuts $4 billion in spending as the price for keeping the government open for an additional two weeks. Sweeping bipartisan support is expected Wednesday for the measure, which passed the House on Tuesday by a 335-91 tally. More than 100 Democrats broke with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California to support it.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker is plowing ahead with his full plan for balancing Wisconsin's budget, proposing massive cuts to public schools even as he faces a stalemate over his proposal to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights. With Senate Democrats still missing, Walker presented the second part of his two-year spending plan to the Legislature on Tuesday. It relies on getting concessions from government employees to help pay for about $1 billion cuts in aid to schools, counties and cities while avoiding any tax or fee increases, furloughs or widespread layoffs as lawmakers grapple with a projected $3.6 billion shortfall.

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — Anguished family members visited collapsed buildings Wednesday where bodies of their loved ones lie trapped more than a week after New Zealand's earthquake, as officials said some remains may never be recovered from the rubble. An official tour of the worst-hit sites in the Feb. 22 disaster was the first time many relatives had been so close to the places where the estimated 240 victims died.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Assailants purportedly sent by al-Qaida and the Taliban killed the only Christian member of Pakistan's federal Cabinet Wednesday, spraying his car with bullets outside his mother's driveway. It was the second assassination in two months of a high-profile opponent of blasphemy laws that impose the death penalty for insulting Islam. The killing of Shahbaz Bhatti, a 42-year-old Roman Catholic, further undermines Pakistan's shaky image as a moderate Islamic state and could deepen the political turmoil in this nuclear-armed, U.S.-allied state where militants frequently stage suicide attacks.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The state's top attorney has dealt another setback for seekers of gay marriage bans with her request to allow the unions to resume immediately in California, the latest in a string of about-faces siding with same-sex couples. State Attorney General Kamala Harris' request Tuesday to an appeals court considering the constitutionality of California's gay marriage ban comes a week after the Obama administration said it would no longer defend a federal law that prohibits the U.S. from recognizing gay unions.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Strained state budgets and a new crew of Republican governors have combined to reopen the debate over Medicaid, the health care program for the poorest and sickest Americans. GOP governors want control of the purse strings and leeway to rewrite coverage and payment rules. So far President Barack Obama has turned them down, but he may be forced to give some ground if negotiations to reduce federal debt get serious later this year.

WASHINGTON (AP) — By pumping more than $100 million into a hydropower plant, the United States sought to improve the lives of Afghans and win the hearts and minds of tribesmen and farmers who might otherwise turn to the Taliban insurgency. Instead, a prominent outside Pentagon adviser argues, the bungled boondoggle ended up funding the insurgents while doing little to help the United States end the war and bring troops home. The story of the Kajaki dam, the largest U.S. aid project in Afghanistan, is emblematic of the U.S. government's failing approach to development aid in Afghanistan, according to a policy brief by Mark Moyar, a former professor at the Marine Corps University and frequent consultant to U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan and the Mideast.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The public's fascination with Charlie Sheen's melodrama showed no sign of slackening as his new Twitter account took only hours to attract more than a half-million followers. On Tuesday, the day production was to resume on CBS' "Two and a Half Men" after a break for Sheen's personal troubles, his Twitter postings were the only fresh entertainment starring the actor — unless news interviews also counted.