AP Top News at 11:21 p.m. EDT

Associated Press
In this photo taken on Wednesday afternoon, March 16, 2011 and released on Thursday, March 17 by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the top part of the badly damaged No. 4 unit of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, is shown. A nearly completed new power line could restore cooling systems in Japan's tsunami-crippled nuclear power plant, its operator said Thursday, raising some hope of easing the crisis that has threatened a meltdown and already spawned dangerous radiation surges. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.) EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO SALES
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Smoke billowed from a building at Japan's crippled nuclear power plant Friday as emergency crews worked to reconnect electricity to cooling systems and spray more water on the overheating reactors at the tsunami-ravaged facility. Four of the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi plant's six reactors have seen fires, explosions or partial meltdowns in the week since the tsunami. While the reactor cores where energy is generated are a concern, Japanese and U.S. officials believe a critical danger are the pools used to store spent nuclear fuel: fuel rods in one pool were believed to be at least partially exposed and in danger of leaking radiation.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama, trying to reassure a worried nation, declared Thursday that "harmful levels" of radiation from the Japanese nuclear disaster are not expected to reach the U.S., even as other officials conceded it could take weeks to bring the crippled nuclear complex under control. The situation remains dangerous and complicated at the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors in northeastern Japan, U.S. officials said.

TOBRUK, Libya (AP) — The U.N. Security Council on Thursday authorized "all necessary measures" to stop Moammar Gadhafi in Libya — including strikes by sea and air — hours after he vowed in harrowing terms to launch a final assault and crush the weeks-old rebellion against him. The resolution, approved with the backing of the United States, France and Britain, imposed a no-fly zone over Libya and authorized force short of a ground offensive to protect its people from Gadhafi's forces.

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first time, Earth has a regular orbiting eye-in-the-sky spying on the solar system's smallest and strangest planet, Mercury. NASA's spacecraft called Messenger successfully veered into a pinpoint orbit Thursday night after a 6 1/2-year trip and 4.9 billion miles and tricky maneuvering to fend off the gravitational pull of the sun. It is the fifth planet in our solar system that NASA has orbited, in addition to the Earth and the moon.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress approved an additional $6 billion in spending cuts Thursday, passing legislation to keep the government running through April 8 and allow time for talks on a larger package of reductions demanded by Republicans. "The president is optimistic that Congress can get this done," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House on Thursday voted to end federal funding to National Public Radio. Republican supporters said it made good fiscal sense, and Democratic opponents called it an ideological attack that would deprive local stations of access to programs such as "Car Talk" and "All Things Considered." The bill, passed 228-192 along mainly partisan lines, would bar federal funding of NPR and prohibit local public stations from using federal money to pay NPR dues and buy its programs. The prospects of support in the Democratic-controlled Senate are slim. Seven Republicans broke ranks to vote against the bill.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — In the old translation of the world's most popular Bible, John the Evangelist declares: "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar." Make that "brother or sister" in a new translation that includes more gender-neutral language and is drawing criticism from some conservatives who argue the changes can alter the theological message. The 2011 translation of the New International Version Bible, or NIV, does not change pronouns referring to God, who remains "He" and "the Father." But it does aim to avoid using "he" or "him" as the default reference to an unspecified person.

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Senate soundly defeated five bills aimed at illegal immigration on Thursday in a marked departure from last year, when enactment of a tough local enforcement measure put the state at the heart of a fierce national debate over the issue. Majority Republicans were split in their votes on the defeated bills, which included two measures intended to force a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against automatic citizenship for U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. The other three dealt with health care, public services and everyday activities such as driving.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — "American Idol" viewers are saying adios to Karen Rodriguez. The bubbly, bilingual 21-year-old wannabe diva from New York, who crooned Taylor Dayne's "Love Will Lead You Back" in English and Spanish on the Fox talent competition Wednesday, was revealed Thursday to have received the fewest viewer votes. The judges decided against saving her following a last-chance performance of Mariah Carey's "Hero."

DENVER (AP) — On the verge of seeing his unheralded, 13th-seeded Morehead State program turn into something much more impressive, the coach could have called a play for his NBA-bound center or his guard who couldn't miss. Instead, he decided to go with a dream.

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