Shortly after the stock market opened Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average surged past 13,000 for the first time as many of the country's biggest companies surpassed analysts' first-quarter earnings projections. Wall Street also received a boost from better-than-expected durable goods orders last month, as reported by the Commerce Department. Sales of new homes were up, too, although the 2.6 percent improvement in March was viewed as a modest comeback.

Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona finally made his entry into the 2008 presidential race official on Wednesday, declaring himself the most experienced candidate in a crowded GOP field.

The Supreme Court threw out the death sentences of three Texas killers Wednesday because of problems with instructions given jurors. Each was overturned with a 5-to-4 vote.

In Colorado, the National Guard was called in to rescue school buses caught in a heavy spring snow and wind storm Tuesday, Severe weather, in a variety of forms, hammered many parts of the Plains. A tornado along the Texas-Mexico border was blamed in the deaths of nine people.

After a prison riot on Tuesday, Indiana officials said they would suspend plans to accept 600 more transferred inmates from Arizona at New Castle Correctional Facility near Indianapolis. The two-hour disturbance at the medium-security men's facililty began when some of the Arizona inmates disobeyed orders in the recreation area. Two staff members and seven prisoners sustained minor injuries.

Philanthropists Bill Gates and Eli Broad launched a $60 million initiative Tuesday aimed at keeping educational issues central in the 2008 presidential campaign. Through grass-roots lobbying and national advertising, the bipartisan effort will focus on pushing candidates beyond clichéd rhetoric.

In anticipation of the April 30 US-European Union summit in Washington, EU officials said Wednesday that they will press the US to adopt equitable travel rules. Currently, only 15 of 27 EU nations are covered by a program that allows people to enter the US without applying for a visa.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) of Oregon continued his week-long effort to feed himself on $21, or $1 per meal, the average of the state's food-stamp recipients.

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