AP Top News at 12:32 p.m. EDT

Associated Press
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., walk out to speak to reporters after their meeting at the White House in Washington with President Obama regarding the budget and possible government shutdown, Wednesday, April 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

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Short of a deal, congressional leaders bargained and squabbled by turns Thursday on legislation to cut spending and prevent a partial government shutdown that loomed for Friday at midnight. After all-night talks among aides, President Barack Obama summoned Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. to the White House meeting for the second time in a little over 12 hours.

TOKYO (AP) — Japan was rattled by a magnitude-7.4 aftershock Thursday night nearly a month after a devastating earthquake and tsunami flattened the northeastern coast. The strongest aftershock since the day of the magnitude-9.0 megaquake was a fresh blow to victims of that March 11 quake and subsequent tsunami that killed some 25,000 people, tore apart hundreds of thousands of homes and has sparked an ongoing crisis at a nuclear power plant.

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Days into an offensive aimed at dislodging him from the presidential mansion, Ivory Coast's strongman refused to budge Thursday from a bunker underneath his home, insisting he would never surrender despite the immense international pressure bearing down on him. An adviser for the country's democratically elected president Alassane Ouattara said their fighters had surrounded the property and planned to sit it out.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government's new system to replace the five color-coded terror alerts will have two levels of warnings — elevated and imminent — that will be relayed to the public only under certain circumstances for limited periods of time, sometimes using Facebook and Twitter, according to a draft Homeland Security Department plan obtained by The Associated Press. Some terror warnings could be withheld from the public entirely if announcing a threat would risk exposing an intelligence operation or an ongoing investigation, according to the government's confidential plan.

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A gunman opened fire at an elementary school in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday and at least 13 people were killed, including the shooter. It was not clear whether the gunman, who is believed to be a former student at the school, shot himself or was killed by police.

NEW YORK (AP) — Schools Chancellor Cathie Black resigned Thursday after a rocky three months that included parents heckling her at board meetings, plummeting poll numbers and the departures of several deputy chancellors. Black and Mayor Michael Bloomberg met Thursday morning and "mutually agreed that it is in the city's best interest if she steps down as chancellor," Bloomberg said.

AJDABIYA, Libya (AP) — Rebel fighters claimed NATO airstrikes blasted their forces Thursday in another apparent mistake that sharply escalated anger about coordination with the military alliance in efforts to cripple Libyan forces. At least two rebels were killed and more than a dozen injured, a doctor said. The attack — near the front lines outside the eastern oil port of Brega — would be the second accidental NATO strike against rebel forces in less than a week and brought cries of outrage from fighters struggling against Moammar Gadhafi's larger and more experienced military.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that layoffs are dropping and employers may be hiring more workers. The Labor Department said Thursday the number of people seeking benefits dropped 10,000 to 382,000 in the week ending April 2. That's the third drop in four weeks.

LONDON (AP) — A gene that can turn many types of bacteria into deadly superbugs was found in about a quarter of water samples taken from drinking supplies and puddles on the streets of New Delhi, according to a new study. Experts say it's the latest proof that the new drug-resistance gene, known as NDM-1, named for New Delhi, is widely circulating in the environment — and could potentially spread to the rest of the world.

NEW YORK (AP) — It's Mia (MEE'-uh), for "missing in action." That's the name chosen Thursday for the Bronx Zoo cobra that became famous for vanishing.

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