The world at 2 p.m. Times EDT.
At the Nerve Center, news producers Coralie Carlson, Suzanne Boyle McCrory, Richard Somma and Mike Stewart can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, Aaron Jackson (ext. 1900). For graphics and interactives, Nathan Griffiths (ext. 7636). Expanded AP Content can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com . For access to AP Exchange and other technical issues, contact customersupport(at)ap.org or call 877-836-9477.
A selection of top photos can be found at http://bit.ly/APTopPhotos
NEW & DEVELOPING
— BOYFRIEND SLAYING — Testimony resumes in Jodi Arias murder trial at 1:30 p.m.
— RABBI SLAIN-CONVICTION QUESTIONED — Judge set to free man convicted in NYC rabbi's 1990 killing after case unravels in hearing scheduled for 3 p.m. AP photos.
— CIVIL UNIONS-COLORADO — Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper plans to sign into law civil unions for gay couples in Colorado around 6 p.m.
HEALTH OVERHAUL-TWO AMERICAS
WASHINGTON — Three years, two elections, and one Supreme Court decision after President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, its promise of health care for the uninsured may be delayed or undercut in much of the country because of entrenched opposition from Republican state leaders. In half the states, mainly led by Democrats, officials are racing deadlines to connect uninsured residents to coverage now only months away. In many others it's as if "Obamacare" — signed March 23, 2010 — had never passed. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar.
AP Photos, interactive, graphic.
— HEALTH OVERHAUL-THUMBNAIL
— HEALTH OVERHAUL-STATES GLANCE
JERUSALEM — Peace is difficult but necessary, President Barack Obama declares, prodding Israelis and Palestinians to return to negotiating against the backdrop of fresh rocket attacks from Gaza. On the thorny issue of settlements in disputed territory, Obama shifts course, making no demands of the Israelis while urging Palestinians to stop using the construction as an "excuse" to avoid talks. By White House Correspondent Julie Pace.
WASHINGTON — Moving on two fronts, Congress acts to keep the government running on an $85 billion smaller diet the next six months, interrupting, slowing or halting some aid or services to many Americans. Republicans push a budget through the House that would shrink the government by another $4.6 trillion over the next decade as Senate Democrats push an alternative that relies on new tax increases. By Andrew Taylor.
—MILITARY TUITION ASSISTANCE — Congress spares a program that provides tuition aid to active-duty military. A massive spending bill restores the aid for Army, Air Force and Marine Corps personnel.
—BUDGET BATTLE-PLAN HIGHLIGHTS — Comparing House Republicans' and Senate Democrats' alternative budget plans.
DAMASCUS, Syria — A suicide bomber blows himself up inside a mosque in Damascus, killing a top Sunni Muslim preacher and longtime supporter of President Bashar Assad, state TV says. Meanwhile, Syrian rebels move to seize a zone on the edge of the Israel-controlled Golan Heights, capturing one village and trying to take others from the regime. By Albert Aji and Zeina Karam.
AP photos, video.
OIL BOOM-GASOLINE PRICES
NEW YORK — The U.S. is increasing its oil production faster than ever and U.S. drivers are guzzling less gas. But you'd never know it from the price at the pump. The national average price of gasoline is $3.70 per gallon and it is forecast to approach $4 by May. The laws of supply and demand are working, experts say — just not in the way U.S. drivers want them to. More than ever, U.S. drivers are competing with drivers in China and other fast-growing economies for every gallon of gasoline. And U.S. refiners are free to sell their fuel to the highest bidder. By Energy Writer Jonathan Fahey.
— OIL BOOM-GASOLINE PRICES-GLANCE — The U.S. oil boom by the numbers.
BIRTH OF THE UNIVERSE
PARIS — The deepest look ever at the afterglow from the birth of the universe provides more convincing evidence for the primary theories behind the Big Bang and adds a mere 80 million years to its age. Scientists from Paris to Washington celebrate a cosmic victory of knowledge, even though the new snapshot brought few surprises. By Lori Hinnant and Seth Borenstein.
RAMALLAH, West Bank — Obama spoke grandly of big picture peacemaking, but the Palestinians are focused on a specific demand — that Israel must freeze settlement-building as a condition for new talks. Stingingly rebuffed by Obama on this score, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas finds himself at a crossroads: Fold and see his tattered credibility suffer further, or stick to his guns while peace efforts stay frozen and Israel continues to build on the land Palestinians — and Obama himself — want for their state. By Karin Laub.
AP photos, video.
VATICAN CITY — The election of a Jesuit pope devoted to the poor and stressing a message of mercy rather than condemnation has brought a glimmer of hope to American nuns who were targeted by the Vatican for their focus on social justice issues. Even U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the head of the U.S. bishops' conference, says he expects Pope Francis will bring "freshness" and understanding to the debate. By Nicole Winfield and Rachel Zoll.
DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — The jailed Kurdish rebel leader has called for an immediate cease-fire and for thousands of his fighters to withdraw from Turkish territory, a major step toward ending one of the world's bloodiest insurgencies. Hundreds of thousands were gathered to hear the message in the largest city in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, where Abdullah Ocalan's rebel group has been waging a 30-year battle for autonomy and greater rights. By Mucahit Ceylan and Suzan Fraser.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Thirteen minutes into the Oscar-winning movie "Argo," CIA agent Tony Mendez asks supervisor Jack O'Donnell what happened to a group of Americans when the U.S. Embassy was stormed in Tehran. "The six of them went out a back exit," O'Donnell tells Mendez, played by Ben Affleck. "Brits turned them away. Kiwis turned them away. Canadians took them in." That's the only mention of New Zealand in "Argo," but it is rankling Kiwis five months after the film was released in the South Pacific nation. By Nick Perry.
CUBA-PRO BOXING'S RETURN?
HAVANA — Protective headgear has been the rule of the ring for more than 50 years in Cuba, which banned professional boxing shortly after the 1959 revolution. Now the island is on the verge of partially reversing five decades of strictly amateur boxing by joining a league in which athletes are paid by sponsors and fight pro-style bouts, but still retain the Olympic eligibility. By Anne-Marie Garcia.
WASHINGTON - With a proposed assault weapons ban all but dead, gun control advocates say salvaging any meaningful government response to the Newtown slayings will require making expanded background checks the centerpiece of a firearms bill in Congress. Democrats must first decide how comprehensive those checks should be in the face of solid opposition from the National Rifle Association. By Alan Fram.
WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid barely changed last week, and the average over the past month fell to a fresh five-year low. The decline in layoffs is helping strengthen the job market. Over the past four weeks, applications have dropped by 7,500 to 339,750. That's the lowest since February 2008, just three months into the recession. The steady decline in unemployment claims signals that companies are laying off fewer workers. That suggests many aren't worried about economic conditions in the near future. By Christopher S. Rugaber.
CHICAGO — Under pressure to fix a struggling and costly school system, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration begins informing parents, teachers and principals that dozens of public schools will be closed at the end of the school year. Emanuel says the closings are necessary because a drop in the city's population has left the schools with too few students to justify staying open, but parents and teachers fear it will erode minority neighborhoods struggling with gun violence. The proposed closings are leading to yet another clash between Emanuel and the Chicago Teachers Union just months after a week-long strike. By Sara Burnett and Jason Keyser.
SCHOOL BOARD CLASH
SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. — School board meetings descend into shouting matches. Accusations of racism and anti-Semitism fly. Parents turn their backs on board members and storm out. It's a situation that has simmered in a suburban New York school district for years, rooted in an unusual dynamic. The families who send their children to public schools are mostly Hispanic, Haitian and African-American. The school board is almost entirely made up of ultra-Orthodox Jews who send their children to private schools and are bent on keeping taxes low. "It's as if the board of directors of Coke only owned stock in Pepsi," one activist says. By Jim Fitzgerald.
NEW YORK — A federal judge slams an Internet news clipping service for pilfering content from The Associated Press, saying such actions threaten the ability of news organizations to carry out their expensive work and perform "an essential function of democracy." Media observers say the ruling provides strong protection for the news industry as it struggles to survive in an Internet age. By Larry Neumeister.
CONVICTIONS CHALLENGED-FIRE SCIENCE
GATESVILLE, Texas — Nine years after Texas executed a man for killing his three children in a fire — a conviction questioned by many legal advocates and fire experts — the state fire marshal and the nonprofit Innocence Project of Texas are working together to review the evidence in fire investigations and identify cases in which convictions might have been questionable. It's a rare collaboration between state officials and criminal justice advocates who are usually at odds, and representatives will next month start to review the first six cases including one involving a father who was convicted in 1988 of setting a fire that killed his two stepsons. By Nomaan Merchant.
AP photos, video.
NEW YORK — Jay Leno's "Tonight" show is one of NBC's very few successes. So amid speculation that the network is taking steps to replace the host with Jimmy Fallon next year, it's worth asking: Why would they want to get rid of him? By Television Writer David Bauder.
NEW YORK — In just three years, Justin Bieber has gone from fielding innocuous questions about his haircut to denying that he's in desperate need of rehab. Bieber's grown up and into tabloid territory, with his recent troubles making some question whether he's just the latest teen star gone wild. By Music Writer Mesfin Fekadu.
AP photos, AP audio.
MOVING IN ADVANCE FOR USE SUNDAY
STATE OF THE UNIONS
In its nearly 80 years, a United Auto Workers local outside Detroit has been tested by bitter strikes, foreign competition and tenacious opponents. Through all the economic uncertainties of life in auto country, there has been one constant: the union. But now the UAW faces a new threat, as Michigan's right-to-work law takes effect, a stunning shift in this symbolic capital of organized labor. The historic change is just the latest sign of turmoil in the union movement that has seen its nationwide membership shrink to its lowest levels since at least the 1930s. "I think there still is a labor movement," says an industrial relations professor, "but it's having a very difficult time finding its relevancy." A Michigan UAW official worries about the fate of all unions, saying, "It weighs on me every single night before I go to bed." By National Writer Sharon Cohen.
— AP PHOTOS: 10 THINGS TO SEE — This week's collection includes lightning streaking across the evening sky in Alabama, an Afghan soldier overlooking a festive Kabul, the moon hanging low over St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican and a glimpse into the past on a street in Baghdad. AP photos.
—HATE CRIMES— Despite growing awareness of hate crimes, the share of those crimes reported to police has fallen in recent years as more victims of violent attacks express doubt that police can or will help.
— CYPRUS-FINANCIAL CRISIS — Cyprus has four days to agree on a new plan to raise funds to avoid bankruptcy after the European Central Bank warned that it would pull the plug on the country's banks at the start of next week if there is no bailout deal.
— PAKISTAN — A car bomb tears through refugee camp as people line up for food in northwestern Pakistan, killing 13.
— RUSSIA-NGOs — Russian prosecutors search the offices of Memorial, one of the country's oldest and most respected human rights groups, as part of a new, wide-ranging campaign targeting hundreds of nongovernmental organizations. AP photos.
— OKLAHOMA TEEN-STOLEN GUNS — Authorities say two heavily armed teenage friends from Oklahoma drove hundreds of miles in a stolen pickup to a small town outside Dallas where they were fatally shot after an attempted home invasion. AP Photos.
— SCHOOL SHOOTING-KILLER'S FATHER — Parents of 6-year-old girl killed in Newtown school massacre victim met with gunman's father. AP photos.
— ZUMBA-PROSTITUTION — Maine man gets 20 days in jail for promoting prostitution operation out of Zumba studio. AP photos.
— EXPECTANT PARENTS KILLED — Driver pleads not guilty to manslaughter in NY crash that killed pregnant woman, husband and baby. AP photo.
— WAR PROTESTERS-ENDURANCE — Anniversary of Iraq war invites recollections by peace demonstrators of why they persist. AP photos.