Key support for budget deal; deficits would rise WASHINGTON (AP) - A newly minted budget deal to avert future government shutdowns gained important ground Wednesday among House Republicans who are more accustomed to brinkmanship than compromise, even though it would nudge federal deficits higher three years in a row. There was grumbling from opposite ends of the political spectrum - conservatives complaining about spending levels and liberal Democrats unhappy there would be no extension of an expiring program of benefits for the long-term unemployed.
Senate poised for talkathon over Obama nominees WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate began an around-the-clock talkathon Wednesday over some of President Barack Obama's nominees as embittered and outnumbered Republicans refused to let the Senate take a break given new, Democratic-driven curbs on the GOP's power. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., threatened to hold the Senate in session through the night to deal with 11 nominations, most of them non-controversial. If Republicans refuse to give up their allotted debate time, the Senate could be in session continuously into Saturday - or longer.
10 Things to Know for Thursday Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday: 1. COMPROMISE COMES TO CAPITOL HILL
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Black and white, thousands bid farewell to Mandela PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) - Black and white, old and young, South Africans by the thousands paid final tribute Wednesday to their beloved Nelson Mandela. In silence or murmuring, they filed past the coffin. Some glanced back, as if clinging to the sight, a moment in history. One man raised his fist, the potent gesture of the struggle against white rule that Mandela led from prison. A woman fainted on the steps, and was helped into a wheelchair.
Health care sign-ups pick up but may not close gap WASHINGTON (AP) - With time running short, the nation's health care rolls still aren't filling up fast enough. New sign-up numbers Wednesday showed progress for President Barack Obama's health care law, but not enough to guarantee that Americans who want and need coverage by Jan. 1 will be able to get it. Crunch time is now, as people face a Dec. 23 deadline to sign up if they are to have coverage by New Year's.
NASA: Cooling pump on space station shuts down WASHINGTON (AP) - NASA said Wednesday it was looking into a problem with a malfunctioning cooling pump on the International Space Station, but there was no immediate danger to the six crewmen on board. A valve on a pump on one of the station's two external cooling loops shut down because it was too cool Wednesday afternoon, NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs said. He said that at no time was the crew at risk. But some non-critical equipment of the massive orbital outpost were powered down.
Prosecutor: no domestic charges against Zimmerman MIAMI (AP) - George Zimmerman will not face domestic violence charges because his girlfriend did not wish to pursue the case and there was scant evidence of a crime, a state prosecutor said Wednesday. Samantha Scheibe's decision not to cooperate and the lack of other corroborating evidence would have made the case difficult to prove, State Attorney Phil Archer in Seminole County said in a statement.
Ukrainian leader offers talks, protesters say no KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Opposition leaders in Ukraine rejected President Viktor Yanukovych's offer of talks Wednesday, saying they will not sit down with him until he fires his government and releases all arrested demonstrators. That stance reflected their growing confidence after the abrupt withdrawal of riot police from parts of Ukraine's capital early Wednesday raised protesters' hopes that weeks of demonstrations have eroded police support for Yanukovych and his government.
Pope Francis is Time's Person of the Year NEW YORK (AP) - Time magazine selected Pope Francis as its Person of the Year on Wednesday, saying the Catholic Church's new leader has changed the perception of the 2,000-year-old institution in an extraordinary way in a short time. The pope beat out NSA leaker Edward Snowden for the distinction, which the newsmagazine has been giving each year since 1927.
MLB intends to ban plate collisions LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) - Pete Rose sounded bowled over. Charlie Hustle, who famously flattened Ray Fosse to score the winning run in the 1970 All-Star game, couldn't believe Major League Baseball intends to eliminate home-plate collisions by 2015 at the latest.