The Senate voted on Wednesday to confirm Jack Lew as U.S. Treasury secretary. Lew, 57, most recently served as the White House chief-of-staff.
As a former budget director for Presidents Obama and Bill Clinton, Lew has overseen budget talks in times of deficits and also surpluses.
As the secretary of the Treasury, Lew will run U.S. domestic financial policy and is charged with collecting federal taxes and managing public debt, among other duties.FULL STORY
Coastal Carolina University students returned to class Wednesday, a day after someone killed a student at a campus dormitory.
Police still do not have a suspect or even a description of one, said Thom Berry, a spokesman for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.FULL STORY
A civil rights complaint is being filed on behalf of a transgendered child barred by her Colorado school district from using girls' restrooms, an advocacy group said Wednesday.
The complaint to a Colorado civil rights agency, on behalf of 6-year-old Coy Mathis, will be the first to challenge a restriction on a transgender person's bathroom use under Colorado's anti-discrimination laws, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund told reporters in Denver.
First-grader Coy, who was born with male sex organs but identifies herself as female, had been allowed to use her school's girls' bathrooms until school officials barred her from doing so after winter break, her family says.FULL STORY
Van Cliburn, a classical pianist honored by a New York ticker-tape parade for winning a major Moscow competition in 1958, died Wednesday after a battle with bone cancer, his publicist said.
"He died peacefully in his Fort Worth, Texas, home ... surrounded by loved ones," spokeswoman Mary Lou Falcone said.FULL STORY
After two drunken driving convictions in a year, singer Bobby Brown is going to jail for 55 days.
Brown, 44, has been ordered to report to Los Angeles County jail on March 20 after he pleaded guilty to charges including driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license, according to city attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan.
Brown's most recent arrest came in October, when he was pulled over on Ventura Boulevard. His license had been suspended because of an earlier drunken driving charge from an April arrest.FULL STORY
Congressional leaders have been invited to the White House on Friday, the day forced federal spending cuts are scheduled to start taking effect, according to a senior Republican aide.
The aide told CNN that Republicans do not anticipate the meeting to be anything more than optics - an effort, the aide said, by President Barack Obama to show he is at least talking to Congress on the day the cuts are supposed to kick in.
But the aide added it wasn't clear what was on the president's agenda.FULL STORY
One day after winning a bruising nomination battle, Chuck Hagel is in charge of the Pentagon.
Hagel, the former Republican U.S. senator from Nebraska, was sworn in as secretary of defense Wednesday morning. He took the oath in a private ceremony at the Pentagon on his first day at work and will make remarks to service members and civilian employees of the department later Wednesday morning.
The Senate confirmed him Tuesday following a long battle with Republican senators who opposed some of his previous statements and positions.FULL STORY
$85 billion in automatic across-the-board spending cuts will take place if President Obama and Congress can't reach a deal by March 1.Â Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage on this story.
Today's programming highlights...
10:00 am ET - Assault weapons ban legislation briefing - The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on proposed legislation that, if signed into law, would ban the sale and manufacturing of dozens of firearms.
[Updated at 9:14 a.m. ET] A gunman killed two people and himself, and injured seven other people, in Wednesday's shooting at a lumber plant near Lucerne, Switzerland, local media reported.
[Updated at 6:34 a.m. ET] Several people were killed in a shooting at a wood manufacturing factory on the outskirts of the central Swiss city of Lucerne on Wednesday, police said. Several others were wounded.
Rescuers flew four critically wounded people to two area hospitals, according to air rescue spokeswoman Karine Hoerhager.FULL STORY
Japan will never stop its annual hunt for whales, a government minister has reportedly said, amid recent clashes on the high seas between environmental activists and Japanese whaling ships.
"I don't think there will be any kind of an end for whaling by Japan," Yoshimasa Hayashi, the Japanese minister for agriculture, forestry and fisheries, said in an interview with the French news service Agence France-Presse on Tuesday.FULL STORY
Militants shot dead 17 people, including 10 Afghan police officers, as the victims slept early Wednesday morning, officials said.
In addition to the officers at a police outpost in Ghazni province, seven of their friends and relatives who were spending the night were also killed, provincial Gov. Musa Khan Akbarzada said.FULL STORY
Cabin fever can breed creativity.
Snowed in and separated from her husband on their 19th anniversary, military wife Martha Bond got out the pots and pans and fashioned a wedding cake out of the fresh snow that fell in her Andover, Kansas, yard, just outside of Wichita.
Her husband, Cliff Bond, is currently deployed. She texted him a photo.
"We had two weddings. We got married on February 26 and then the 5th of March, so this is marking the beginning of wedding week," she said. "I want to see if the cake will last that long without melting."
The worst of a brutal winter storm may be over for many, but plenty of residents of the Great Plains and Kansas are still coping with its effects.
Ice and falling branches downed power lines that are still to be prepared. And the heavy, wet snow made getting around difficult, whether by car or by foot.FULL STORY
[Updated at 6:59 a.m. ET] In his final general audience, Pope Benedict XVI told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square about his own spiritual journey through eight years as pontiff.
Dressed all in white and looking serene, the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics called for a renewal of faith.
As he finished, cheers erupted from the crowd in the square - acknowledged by Benedict, who is steeping down tomorrow, with an open-armed embrace.FULL STORY
It could take a while to learn the cause of a hot air balloon explosion that killed 19 people in Egypt this week.
An official investigation into Tuesday's accident - the world's deadliest hot air balloon accident in at least 20 years - could take two weeks, the governor of Luxor province said Wednesday.
Preliminary investigations confirmed no foul play was involved when gas canisters aboard the balloon exploded, causing it to plummet about 1,000 feet (300 meters) to the ground, Gov. Ezzat Saad said.FULL STORY
Just like she did during the first half of the school year, first grader Coy Mathis wants to use the girls' restroom at her Colorado elementary school. But school officials won't let her.
The reason? Coy is transgendered, born with male sex organs but a child who identifies herself as female.FULL STORY
Diplomats emerged Wednesday from an unusually secretive round of talks over Iran's controversial nuclear program with a joint announcement to hold a follow-up meeting within weeks.
In a joint statement after the meeting in Kazakhstan, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, and the chief Iranian negotiator, Saeed Jalili, announced that technical experts would meet in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 18.FULL STORY
Whatever the outcome of the Trayvon Martin case, it will be viewed less as a determination of the shooter's guilt or innocence and more as a victory or loss for civil rights, George Zimmerman's lawyer fears.
Mark O'Mara said he has been busy trying to dispel the racial overtones in the case by getting out more evidence about his client.
His hope, he said, is that people will divorce a verdict from the real civil rights questions.FULL STORY