National gun control — Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday heard personal stories of gun violence from representatives of victims groups and gun-safety organizations as he drafts the Obama administration’s response to the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school. He pledged that action would be taken.
New York gun control — New York state is nearing agreement on a proposal to put what would be some of the nation’s strictest gun-control laws into effect, including what Gov. Andrew Cuomo vowed on Wednesday would be an ironclad ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines and new measures to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.
Syria conflict — Syria rebels freed 48 Iranians on Wednesday in exchange for more than 2,000 prisoners, including women and children, held by Syrian authorities — a deal struck after rare negotiations involving regional powers Turkey, Qatar and Iran. It was the first major prisoner swap since the uprising began against President Bashar Assad nearly 22 months ago.
Ferry mishap — A high-speed ferry loaded with hundreds of commuters from New Jersey crashed into a dock in lower Manhattan on Wednesday during the morning rush hour, seriously injuring 11 people, including one who suffered a severe head wound falling down a stairwell.
Violent death — The United States suffers far more violent deaths than any other wealthy nation, due in part to the widespread possession of firearms and the practice of storing them at home in a place that is often unlocked, according to a report released Wednesday by two of the nation’s leading health research institutions.
WikiLeaks case — Military prosecutors preparing to try Pfc. Bradley Manning said Wednesday that they would introduce evidence that Osama bin Laden requested and received from an al-Qaida member some of the State Department cables and military reports that Manning is accused of passing to WikiLeaks.
Gay marriage — The Washington National Cathedral, the nation’s traditional host of prayer services for presidents and memorial services for national tragedies, announced Wednesday that it will now also hold weddings for same-sex couples.
Inauguration pastor — The pastor whom President Barack Obama has chosen to deliver the benediction at his inauguration this month delivered a sermon in the 1990s in which he called on fellow Christians to fight the “aggressive agenda" of the gay rights movement and advocated “the healing power of Jesus" as “the only way out of a homosexual lifestyle." Think Progress, a liberal blog affiliated with the Center for American Progress Action Fund, reported Wednesday afternoon on the sermon delivered by the Rev. Louie Giglio, an Atlanta minister.
China newspaper — Propaganda officials in the southern province of Guangdong have agreed to loosen some controls over an embattled newspaper whose struggle against censorship has galvanized free-speech advocates across China, according to journalists at the newspaper.
Australia wildfires — Bush fires raging across some of the most populous parts of Australia — feeding off drought conditions and high winds — pushed firefighters to their limits Wednesday as meteorologists tracked the country’s hottest spring and summer on record into uncharted territory.
— From wire reports