Syria aid — The United States is significantly stepping up its support for the Syrian opposition, senior administration officials said on Wednesday, helping to train rebels at a base in the region and for the first time offering armed groups nonlethal assistance and equipment that could help their military campaign. The training mission, already under way, represents the deepest American involvement yet in the Syrian conflict, though the size and scope of the mission is not clear, nor is its host country.
Treasury secretary — The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Jacob Lew to be Treasury secretary, affirming President Barack Obama’s choice of a budget expert at a time when Congress and the White House are at odds over sharp government spending cuts. The vote was 71 to 26 to support the nomination.
Oil spill trial — On the second day of testimony in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill trial, BP’s top executive for North American operations at the time of the disaster insisted that his company was not solely to blame and shared responsibility for the accident with its contractors. Lamar McKay, the former president of BP America and current chief executive in charge of global upstream operations, faced questioning Wednesday from lawyers from Transocean, the Deepwater Horizon rig, and Halliburton, the cement provider, who insisted that BP was ultimately responsible for the accident.
Iran sanctions — As Iranian negotiators spoke in positive tones about their resumed nuclear negotiations with the big powers, congressional lawmakers in Washington introduced legislation on Wednesday that would greatly expand the sanctions on Iran, amounting to what both supporters and critics said would be like a commercial trade embargo if fully carried out.
North Korea — Brushing off widespread condemnation of its nuclear test earlier this month, North Korea rebuked the United States on Wednesday for destabilizing the Korean Peninsula and fueling an “explosive situation" by its persistent hostility toward Pyongyang. “The U.S. is to blame for the situation on the Korean Peninsula, which is inching close to an unpredictable phase now," North Korea’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva, So Se Pyong, told the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
Severe storm — A Midwest snowstorm packing heavy snow and strong winds left six people dead in Kansas, hundreds of vehicles crashed or stranded in Wisconsin, and tens of thousands of utility customers without power in Michigan. The storm hit a wide swath of the U.S. with wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph and wet snow. It started in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Missouri on Monday night and headed through Colorado, Iowa, northern Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan on Tuesday into Wednesday.
Hostess bankruptcy — Wonder bread could start appearing in school lunchboxes again soon. A person familiar with the situation says a bid by Flowers Foods to buy Wonder and several other bread brands from bankrupt Hostess was met with no qualifying competing offers. The individual requested anonymity because the auction process is private.
Bible case — Ohio State Supreme Court justices sparred with lawyers on Wednesday in a heated hour of arguments over the extent to which a now-fired public school science teacher had the right to push his religious beliefs in class. A lawyer for the school board that dismissed John Freshwater in 2011 said he waved a Bible at his students, handed out religious pamphlets and espoused creationism in his evolution lessons.
— From wire reports