President Nicolas Sarkozy says France will intensify its airstrikes in Libya at the request of opposition forces. France's Foreign Ministry also said Wednesday it already has military liaison officers on the ground in the rebel-held city of Benghazi. The officers are trying to help the rebels organize and bolster the NATO air campaign that has failed to rout Moammar Gadhafi's military.
More than 3,200 oil and gas wells classified as active lie abandoned beneath the Gulf of Mexico, with no cement plugging to help prevent leaks that could threaten the same waters fouled by last year's BP spill, The Associated Press has learned. These wells likely pose an even greater environmental threat than the 27,000 wells in the Gulf that have been plugged and classified officially as "permanently abandoned" or "temporarily abandoned." Those sealed wells were first tallied and reported as a major leaking threat in an investigative report by the AP in July.
DALLAS (AP) — Federal officials are expanding a tarmac-delay rule to prohibit airlines from holding passengers on stranded international flights for longer than four hours. The change stems from a late-December debacle in which several planes loaded with international travelers were stuck for up to 10 hours on snowy New York runways.
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese authorities may for the first time strictly enforce their evacuation zone around a crippled nuclear plant, citing concerns Wednesday over radiation risks for residents returning to check on their homes. About 70,000-80,000 people were living in the 10 towns and villages within 12 miles (20 kilometers) of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami wrecked its power and cooling systems, setting off the worst nuclear power crisis since the 1986 catastrophe at Chernobyl.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Stepping away from Washington's contentious fiscal debates, President Barack Obama is making a West Coast trip aimed at building support for his deficit-reduction plans and raising money for his re-election campaign. In town hall meetings in California and Nevada, including one hosted Wednesday by Facebook, Obama will pitch his prescription for reducing the deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases for the rich. The president's three-day trip is his most extensive travel since he announced his 2012 bid earlier this month.
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A pocket of open space behind tons of collapsed rock and debris has added some optimism to the search for a missing silver miner, despite dangerous conditions that are forcing rescuers to take a much longer route toward where he is trapped. Workers who have been digging through the boulders, twisted wires and broken concrete that collapsed inside the Lucky Friday Mine finished drilling a 2-inch-wide, 180-foot-long hole from another tunnel Tuesday, Hecla Mining Co. said in a written statement. The view from a borehole camera confirmed there is a void in the area where Larry "Pete" Marek had been working, but the company reported no sign of the 53-year-old.
MADRID (AP) — Their ranks include a plastic surgeon, a prison guard and a high school principal. All are Spanish, but have little else in common except this: They want old Internet references about them that pop up in Google searches wiped away. In a case that Google Inc. and privacy experts call a first of its kind, Spain's Data Protection Agency has ordered the search engine giant to remove links to material on about 90 people. The information was published years or even decades ago but is available to anyone via simple searches.
WASHINGTON (AP) — No matter how many subjects they're acing, most college students these days find economics a grind. Tricky financial calculations influence everything from what school they attend and what major they choose to how quickly they finish their degrees — or whether they graduate at all. Money problems, not bad grades, are the reason cited by most college students who have considered dropping out, an Associated Press-Viacom poll finds.
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's attorney general is scrutinizing the charity run by "Three Cups of Tea" co-author Greg Mortenson after reports questioned whether Mortenson benefited from money donated to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Attorney General Steve Bullock's announcement Tuesday follows investigations by "60 Minutes" and author Jon Krakauer into inaccuracies in the book and spending by the Bozeman, Mont.-based Central Asia Institute.
BOSTON (AP) — Amare Stoudemire didn't play in the second half and Chauncey Billups didn't play at all, and still the Boston Celtics needed more late heroics from one of their Big 3 to beat the New York Knicks in Game 2 of their first-round series. "We were lucky to win," coach Doc Rivers said after Boston overcame Carmelo Anthony's 42 points in a 96-93 victory on Tuesday night.