TOP STORIES:

ARGENTINA-PROSECUTOR KILLED

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — The man who gave prosecutor Alberto Nisman the gun that killed him says Nisman feared for the safety of his daughters and didn't trust the policemen protecting him. By Debora Rey.

AP Photos.

SENATE-ATTORNEY GENERAL

WASHINGTON — U.S. attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch, confronting skeptical Republicans, pledges a new start with Congress and independence from President Barack Obama, even as she defends the president's unilateral protections for millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally. By Erica Werner and Eric Tucker.

AP Photos.

CUBA-US

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Cuban President Raul Castro demands Washington return the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, lift its half-century trade embargo on Cuba and compensate his country for damages before the two nations re-establish normal relations. By Javier Cordoba and Michael Weissenstein.

AP Photos.

HEDGE FUND-VENEZUELA

BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut — Nearly four years after he confessed to running a massive fraud scheme, a former hedge fund manager is expected to be sentenced in a Connecticut case that had its biggest fallout in Venezuela, where the state oil company had hundreds of millions of dollars invested with the disgraced financier. By Michael Melia.

Eds: Hearing scheduled for 9:30 a.m. EST (0230 GMT)

ROMNEY

STARKVILLE, Mississippi — Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, looked and sounded like a candidate once again during a stop Wednesday in Mississippi, delivering a speech that questioned Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton's foreign policy and economic credentials. By Bill Barrow.

AP Photos.

CHILE-COOLING OFF-PHOTO ESSAY

SANTIAGO, Chile — News that a small aquatic park is being installed in the neighborhood plaza sends excited children running to newly filled inflatable pools. Other kids are frolicking in public fountains or opening fire hydrants as Santiago suffers one of its hottest summers.

With AP photo essay by Luis Hidalgo.

PANAMA-EX-PRESIDENT INVESTIGATION

PANAMA CITY — Panama's Supreme Court has decided to open a corruption probe against former President Ricardo Martinelli, a move likely to rally popular support in a nation where the politically powerful rarely face justice for misdeeds. By Juan Zamorano.

AP Photos.

MEXICO-VIOLENCE

MEXICO CITY — International human rights groups question the Mexican government's official account of the disappearance of 43 college students last fall in the southern state of Guerrero. By E. Eduardo Castillo.

AP Photos.

VENEZUELA-DRUG TRAFFICKING

CARACAS, Venezuela — The powerful head of Venezuela's congress moves to distance himself from a bodyguard who defected to the United States and reportedly has implicated his former boss as head of drug ring of political and military officials. By Hannah Dreier.

AP Photo.

BUSINESS:

MCDONALD'S-CEO

NEW YORK — McDonald's CEO Don Thompson is stepping down as the world's biggest hamburger chain fights to hold onto customers and transform its image. By Candice Choi.

AP Photos.

EARNS-BOEING

DALLAS — Boeing Co.'s fourth-quarter profit rises 19 percent as demand for commercial airliners trumped weakness in its defense business. By David Koenig.

AP Photo.

FEATURES:

IVY LEAGUE-CHINA

NEW HAVEN, Connecticut — Yupei Guo does not fit the mold of the traditional Ivy League student from China: Her journalist parents are neither rich nor members of the governing elite. She thought the cost would make it impossible for her to attend one of the famed American universities. But by the time she applied to Yale, it was among the U.S. schools investing in more economic diversity among their growing ranks of international students. By Michael Melia.

AP Photos.

ARTS and ENTERTAINMENT:

FILM-SUNDANCE-VOD

PARK CITY, Utah — After the $40 million digital release of "The Interview," video-on-demand may seem like all the rage. Particularly for independent films, VOD is seen by some as a better pathway to moviegoers than trying to lure them to theaters. By Lindsey Bahr.

AP Photos.