Alabama standoff — A gunman holed up in a bunker with a 5-year-old hostage kept law officers at bay Wednesday in an all-night, all-day standoff that began when he killed a school bus driver and dragged the boy away, authorities said. SWAT teams took up positions around the gunman’s rural property and police negotiators tried to win the kindergartener’s safe release, but the situation remained unchanged late Wednesday.
Mali conflict — French forces met no resistance Wednesday in Kidal, the Islamists’ last major town, as the two-week-old mission scored another success in its effort to dislodge the al-Qaida-linked militants from northern Mali. The capture of Kidal came just days after French and Malian forces retook two other provincial capitals — Gao and Timbuktu — that also had been under harsh Islamic rule for nearly 10 months.
Egypt unrest — Egypt’s Islamist president has been significantly weakened by a week of violent protests across much of the country, with his popularity eroding, the powerful military implicitly criticizing him and some of his ultraconservative Islamist backers distancing themselves from him. In his seven months since becoming Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohammed Morsi has weathered a series of crises. But the liberal opposition is now betting the backlash against him is so severe that he and his Muslim Brotherhood will be forced to change their ways, breaking what critics say is their monopolizing of power.
Arizona shooting — A gunman opened fire at a Phoenix office complex on Wednesday, killing one person, wounding two others and setting off a manhunt. Police warned the public that he was “armed and dangerous." Authorities identified the suspect as 70-year-old Arthur Douglas Harmon, who they said opened fire at the end of a mediation session.
Senator donor — Sen. Robert Menendez’s office said Wednesday that he traveled three times on a plane owned by a prominent Florida political donor but that the trips were paid for and reported appropriately. At the same time, Menendez’s office said unsubstantiated allegations the senator engaged in sex with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic are false. The FBI searched the West Palm Beach, Fla., office of the donor — eye doctor Salomon Melgen — on Tuesday night and early Wednesday, but it was unclear if the raid was related to Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat.
Atlantic cod limits — Fishery management officials meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., on Wednesday voted to impose drastic new cuts to the commercial harvest of cod along the Atlantic coast, arguing that the only way to save the centuries-old cod fishing industry was to sharply limit it.
Beijing smog — The Beijing government put in place emergency measures Wednesday to try to combat thick smog that has encased the city, which the Communist Party has hailed as a showcase capital, in brown and gray soot. The measures include temporarily shutting down more than 100 factories and ordering one-third of government vehicles off the streets, according to official news reports.
Brazil club fire — The owner of a nightclub in southern Brazil where more than 230 people died in a fire last weekend deflected blame to “the whole country," as well as to architects and inspectors charged with making sure the building was safe, his lawyer said Wednesday. Attorney Jader Marques said his client, Elissandro Spohr, “regretted having ever been born" because of his grief over the fire, but still blamed Sunday’s tragedy on “a succession of errors made by the whole country."
South Korea satellite — The first satellite launched from South Korean soil is working normally, officials said early today, a day after Seoul achieved its space milestone during a time of high tensions over archrival North Korea’s recent threat to test a third nuclear device.
Breakout, then beer — Police say a western Pennsylvania man stopped at a bar and had a beer minutes after he broke out of a police station holding cell after his arrest on an assault charge. Police say they processed Timothy Bonner, removed his handcuffs and placed him in the cell. That’s when Bonner allegedly knocked the cell door off its hinges and ran away.
— From wire reports