The world at 6:20 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, Dan Goodman (ext. 1900). For graphics and interactives, 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
— Adds BRITAIN-THATCHER-FALKLANDS, which will move at about 8 p.m.
— CORRECTIONS DIRECTOR KILLED — Texas authorities investigate whether a black Cadillac that led deputies on a gunfire-filled chase is linked to the slaying of Colorado's state prison chief.
— US-SYRIA — AP source: Intelligence reports indicate no chemical weapons were used in attack in Syria.
— CHICAGO-SCHOOL CLOSINGS — Chicago Public Schools will close 54 schools as part of plan to address $1 billion deficit.
— FRANCE-SARKOZY — Lawyer: Preliminary charges filed against French ex-President Sarkozy in campaign finance case.
— IMMIGRATION — Bipartisan Senate group finalizing deal on sweeping immigration bill, path to citizenship.
— PILL MILLS-GEORGIA — Georgia lawmakers OK crackdown on so-called pill mills after state became magnet for industry.
— SATURDAY MAIL — Controversy continues over plan to end Saturday mail even after Congress approves 6-day mail.
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 — never passed. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar.
AP Photos, interactive, graphic.
— HEALTH OVERHAUL-THUMBNAIL.
— HEALTH OVERHAUL-STATES GLANCE.
JERUSALEM — Insisting "peace is possible," President Barack Obama prods both Israelis and Palestinians to return to long-stalled negotiations with few, if any, pre-conditions, softening his earlier demands that Israel stop building settlements in disputed territory. The president makes his appeal just hours after rockets fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza landed in a southern Israeli border town, a fresh reminder of the severe security risks and tensions that have stymied peace efforts for decades. By White House Correspondent Julie Pace.
— OBAMA-ISRAEL-NOTEBOOK — WHITE HOUSE NOTEBOOK: An intimate view of a presidential tourist.
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 bombing tears through a mosque in the Syrian capital, killing a top Sunni Muslim preacher and longtime supporter of President Bashar Assad along with at least 41 other people. 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 a 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.
— BIRTH OF THE UNIVERSE-BELIEFS — Before the Big Bang Theory, there was Pangu, Brahma and Ahura Mazda.
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. An AP News Analysis by Karin Laub.
AP photos, video.
LONDON — Margaret Thatcher felt betrayed by close ally President Ronald Reagan over the Falkland Islands, according to newly released papers that reveal how isolated Britain's prime minister was in her determination to repel the Argentine invasion of the British territory by force. The private papers released by the Thatcher archive at Cambridge University show that the Reagan administration backed a peace plan that called for Britain to drop its insistence on self-determination for the islanders — a stance that led Thatcher to say Anglo-American friendship had brought her "into conflict with fundamental democratic principles." By Jill Lawless.
— BRITAIN-THATCHER-CHINA — Thrifty Thatcher tried to offer the cheapest menu option during a banquet for dignitaries in China — but backed down when she was told her guests would feel slighted by the absence of sea slugs or shark fin soup, newly released personal papers show.
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 partly 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 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 company that relays excerpts of Internet news articles to its customers violates copyright laws, a judge says in a decision that gives The Associated Press a victory in its attempts to protect its online news content. The judge rejects the company's claims that its use of Web stories plucked from a scan of 162,000 news websites from more than 190 countries is a fair use of copyright-protected material. 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? An AP News Analysis 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 leading some to question whether he's just the latest teen star gone wild. By Music Writer Mesfin Fekadu.
AP photos, 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. By National Writer Sharon Cohen.
ALSO GETTING ATTENTION
— 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.
— 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.
— SCHOOL SHOOTING-KILLER'S FATHER — Parents of 6-year-old girl killed in Newtown school massacre victim met with gunman's father. AP photos.
— CANADA-TRAFFIC PILEUP — Scores of travelers injured in massive traffic pile-up in blizzard in Canadian plains.
— RABBI SLAIN-CONVICTION QUESTIONED — NYC judge frees man convicted in Brooklyn rabbi's 1990 killing after case unravels.
— RARE PRISON ARTIFACTS — Old shivs, jailhouse crafts, more are freed from archives in display at historic Philly prison. AP photos.
— SPRING OUTLOOK — Government forecasters predict warm spring, continued drought conditions for much of US.
— POWERBALL JACKPOT — No Powerball winner means $320 million jackpot could swell.
— BRITAIN-OBIT-GEORGE LOWE — Mountaineer George Lowe, last surviving member of 1953 Everest expedition, dies at 89.