Next pope — Cardinals attending closed-door discussions ahead of the conclave to elect the next pope imposed a media blackout Wednesday, forcing the cancellation of the popular daily press briefings by U.S. cardinals that had provided crucial insights into the deliberations. The official reason for the blackout was that some details of the secret discussions about the problems in the church appeared in the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
Fatal NYC crash — A man suspected of fleeing the scene of a grisly crash in New York City that killed a pregnant woman and her husband was arrested at a convenience store in northeastern Pennsylvania on Wednesday after a friend arranged his surrender with New York authorities. Julio Acevedo, 44, walked to officers waiting in cars in the parking lot in Bethlehem, Pa., and was arrested on suspicion of leaving the scene of an accident.
Egyptian elections — An Egyptian court on Wednesday ordered the suspension of parliamentary elections scheduled to begin in April, opening a legal battle likely to delay the vote and deepening the political crisis between the Islamist president and his opponents that has polarized the nation for months. The new confusion surrounding the election underlined the paralysis gripping Egypt, between political deadlock, infighting among state institutions, a faltering economy and a wave of protests, strikes and clashes against Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood that has spiraled for months around the country.
Winter storm — A winter storm marched into the mid-Atlantic region Wednesday, dumping nearly two feet of snow in some places and knocking out power to about 250,000 homes and businesses. It largely spared the nation’s capital, which was expecting much worse and had all but shut down because of dire forecasts.
Kenya tension — As results from Kenya’s hotly contested presidential election continued to trickle in Wednesday, persistent delays spawned all sorts of fears, frustrations and conspiracy theories. The election was Monday, but because of a breakdown in a new vote-transmission system, results that should have been received and tabulated by Wednesday were not expected until later this week, keeping the country on edge.
Browser fine — The European Union has fined Microsoft 561 million euros ($733 million) for breaking a pledge to offer personal computer users a choice of Internet browsers when they install the company’s flagship Windows operating system. The penalty imposed by the EU’s executive arm, the Commission, is a first for Brussels: no company has ever failed to keep its end of a bargain with EU authorities before.
Lion attack — A female intern-volunteer was killed Wednesday by a lion at a private wild animal park in Central California, and state and local authorities were trying to determine what might have caused the fatal attack. The 26-year-old intern was attacked and killed when she entered the lion’s enclosure, Cat Haven founder and executive director Dale Anderson said, but he refused to answer questions or provide more details.
Giffords appearance — Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords returned to the scene of the horrific shooting that wounded her and killed six people two years ago, urging senators Wednesday to pass background checks for gun purchases in her first public event at the site since the rampage. Giffords, who is still recovering from her injuries, spoke fewer than 20 words in the parking lot of the Safeway grocery store in her hometown of Tucson in a brief but emotional call for stricter gun control measures.
Romney’s new job — Mitt Romney has a new position with his son’s Boston-area venture capital firm. Last year’s Republican presidential nominee will serve as chairman of the executive committee for Solamere Capital. The firm was founded by Romney’s oldest son, Tagg, and the national finance committee chairman for his presidential campaign, Spencer Zwick.
TV star cancer — Valerie Harper, best known for playing Rhoda Morgenstern on the beloved 1970s sitcoms “The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and “Rhoda," has revealed she has terminal brain cancer. Tests have determined Harper has leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a condition that happens when cancer spreads to the fluid surrounding the brain. According to People magazine, her doctors say she may have just three months to live.
Air travel — Some family members of victims killed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks said Wednesday that they are outraged by the Transportation Security Administration’s decision to let passengers carry pocketknives on planes. TSA Administrator John Pistole announced Tuesday that airline passengers will be able to carry pocketknives with blades less than 2.36 inches long and less than half an inch wide. Unions representing flight attendants and other airline workers decried the change, as well.
Vietnam rights — The Vietnamese government has opened a dialogue with Amnesty International, allowing the human rights group to meet with crucial dissidents and government officials in the first such contacts since the end of the Vietnam War, Amnesty said Wednesday. The dialogue comes as Vietnam begins drafting a constitution that seeks to address such concerns as civil liberties and religious tolerance, areas where Vietnamese leaders have come under criticism from human rights groups and Western governments.
‘Dreyfus affair’ — The entire secret military file that was used to wrongly convict Capt. Alfred Dreyfus of spying for Germany in 1894 has been posted online by the historical department of the French Ministry of Defense. The Dreyfus case consumed and divided France for more than a decade, becoming a litmus test for patriotism, press freedom, individual rights and religious tolerance.
Korea tension — South Korea’s military warned Wednesday that it would respond to any attack from North Korea with “strong and stern measures" against Pyongyang’s top leadership, in a particularly vivid threat coming after the North vowed to nullify an armistice agreement ending the Korean War. The tit-for-tat threats could prove to be mere bluster, analysts said. But the rhetoric sets up an especially tense period on the Korean Peninsula, with the U.S. and South Korean militaries set to carry out joint training drills.
— From wire reports