AP News In Brief

Egyptian protesters defiant as government announces prisoner release, corruption investigation

CAIRO (AP) - Thousands of protesters are defiantly maintaining their demonstrations on a central Cairo square despite government efforts to defuse a two-week political crisis that has paralyzed the country.

Opposition leaders insist that President Hosni Mubarak must step down immediately. The government has promised reforms but says the longtime leader should stay in office until September elections.

In the latest concessions, judicial officials promised to start questioning three former ministers and a senior ruling party official on Tuesday on corruption charges. A detained Google Inc. marketing manager also is expected to be released.

Mohammed Eid, a student on Tahrir Square, says "our main objective is for Mubarak to step down. We don't accept any other concessions."

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With Egypt protests in second week, demonstrators entertain each other to keep morale high

CAIRO (AP) - Two rows of men greet demonstrators at the main entrance to Tahrir Square, clapping as people enter, and chanting in the rhythms of a traditional Egyptian wedding procession.

"We are becoming bigger!" they shout. "God is Great!"

Inside Cairo's main square, musicians stroll, a man reads poetry to the crowd and vendors hawk potato chips, tea, hot food - even socks.

Tahrir Square, the scene of deadly battles with firebombs, rocks, horses and camels just last week, has taken on a carnival mood in the past few days as demonstrators try to establish an enduring presence, complete with food and entertainment, in their campaign to demand Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's ouster.

Fruit vendor Ashraf Gaber, 30, asked people to express themselves in a few words, then wrote their thoughts on pieces of A4 paper he placed on a stack besides him.

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AOL to buy Huffington Post news site for $315M; Arianna Huffington to head AOL content

By The Associated Press

Online company AOL Inc. is buying online news hub Huffington Post in a $315 million deal that represents a bold bet on the future of online news.

The acquisition announced early Monday puts a high-profile exclamation mark on a series of acquisitions and strategic moves engineered by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong in an effort to reshape a fallen Internet icon. AOL was once the king of dial-up online access known for its ubiquitous CD-ROMs and "You've got mail" greeting in its inboxes.

Perhaps just as important as picking up a news site and ranks as one of the top 10 current events and global news sites, AOL will be adding Huffington Post co-founder and media star Arianna Huffington to its management team as part of the deal.

After the acquisition closes later this year, Huffington will be put in charge of AOL's growing array of content, which includes popular technology sites Endgadget and TechCrunch, local news sites Patch.com and online mapping service Mapquest.

The price that AOL is paying is "really just the hiring fee to get Arianna," said technology analyst Rob Enderle. "This is one of those out-of-left-field moves that actually makes a lot of sense. This could put AOL back on the map."

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MVP Rodgers throws 3 TDs to lead Packers to 31-25 victory in Super Bowl over Steelers

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Aaron Rodgers at long last casts his own shadow.

All it took was a Super Bowl victory for the Green Bay Packers.

Capping one of the greatest postseasons for any quarterback, Rodgers led the Pack to their first NFL championship in 14 years Sunday, 31-25 over the Pittsburgh Steelers. They reclaimed the Vince Lombardi Trophy, named for their legendary coach who won the first two Super Bowls and is making his own star turn in New York in the play named after him.

Rodgers, the game's MVP, thrilled his legion of Cheesehead fans with a spectacular six-game string that should finally erase the bitterness of the Brett Favre separation in Green Bay. After sitting for three long years before Favre left in 2008, Rodgers is now equal with Favre in Super Bowl wins, and he extended the Packers' record of NFL titles to 13, nine before the Super Bowl era.

"You can stop it now," veteran receiver Donald Driver said. "Aaron's proved that he's one of the best, if not the best, quarterback in this game today."

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to fight Swedish extradition bid over sex claims in UK court

LONDON (AP) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared in court Monday for a showdown with Swedish authorities to fight an extradition bid over sex crimes allegations.

Assange, wearing a blue suit, was flanked by two prison guards as the hearing opened at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court. Celebrity supporters Jemima Khan, Bianca Jagger and Tony Benn also attended.

Assange is accused of sexual misconduct by two women he met during a visit to Stockholm last year. Defense lawyers will argue that he should not be extradited because he has not been charged with a crime, because of flaws in Swedish prosecutors' case - and because a ticket to Sweden could eventually land him in Guantanamo Bay or on U.S. death row.

American officials are trying to build a criminal case against the secret-spilling site, which has angered Washington by publishing a trove of leaked diplomatic cables and secret U.S. military files. Assange's lawyers claim the Swedish prosecution is linked to the leaks and politically motivated.

Preliminary defense arguments released by Assange's legal team claim "there is a real risk that, if extradited to Sweden, the U.S. will seek his extradition and/or illegal rendition to the USA, where there will be a real risk of him being detained at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere."

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People with jobs are less likely to be laid off even as the unemployed struggle to find work

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. labor force has been split into two groups: the relieved and the desperate.

If you have a job, you can exhale; you're less likely to lose it than at any point in at least 14 years.

If you're unemployed? Good luck. Finding a job remains a struggle 20 months after the recession technically ended. Employers won't likely step up hiring until they feel more confident about the economy.

A result is that people who are unemployed are staying so for longer periods. Of the 13.9 million Americans the government says were unemployed last month, about 1.8 million had been without work for at least 99 weeks - essentially two years. That's nearly double the number in January 2010.

Yet the deep job cuts of the recession have long since ended. In January, companies announced plans to trim fewer than 39,000 jobs, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That was 46 percent fewer than a year earlier. More strikingly, it was the fewest number of planned layoffs in January since Challenger began keeping track in 1993. For all of 2010, planned layoffs hit a 13-year low.

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Poll: Baby, it's cold outside; Americans skip the Snuggie, opt to cozy up with someone special

WASHINGTON (AP) - Does winter weather give you the blues? Or are you the type who gets a little frisky when there's a chill in the air?

Either way, you're not alone.

Four in 10 Americans say the weather affects their mood, and winter by far is the season most likely to leave them feeling down.

Still, there are pleasures to be had amid the snow and ice.

Given the choice between grabbing an extra blanket or cozying up with someone special when it's cold, most people choose snuggling over a Snuggie.

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Cambodia urges UN intervention as clashes continue near temple at disputed Thai frontier

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - Cambodia called for U.N. peacekeepers to help end the fighting along its tense border with Thailand, where artillery fire echoed for a fourth day Monday near an 11th century temple classified as a World Heritage Site.

The crumbling stone temple, several hundred feet (meters) from Thailand's eastern border with Cambodia, has fueled nationalism on both sides of the disputed frontier for decades and conflict over it has sparked sporadic, brief battles in recent years. However, sustained fighting has been rare.

A one-hour clash Monday morning stopped after both sides agreed to an unofficial cease-fire. Fighting has erupted daily since Friday, leaving at least five dead.

Cambodian officials say a Thai artillery barrage Sunday collapsed part of "a wing" at the Preah Vihear temple, a U.N. World Heritage site, but Thai officials have dismissed that account as propaganda. The extent of damage was unknown because it remained too dangerous to approach the temple, Cambodian authorities said.

Both sides blame the other for instigating each day's clashes, which have shattered a series of cease-fire agreements.

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YSU president: Student death at Ohio frat house what every college administrator 'dreads'

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) - A day after an admired college student was shot dead at an Ohio fraternity house and 11 people were injured, the governor, college officials and friends were hoping to find some explanation for the violence.

Jamail E. Johnson, 25, a senior at Youngstown State University was fatally wounded Sunday as he tried to separate two groups at a Omega Psi Phi fraternity house party. Authorities say there had been a dispute, two men had left the gathering and then returned and sprayed bullets into the crowd. Among the 11 injured was a critically wounded 17-year-old.

The two men were arrested on charges of aggravated murder, shooting into a house and 11 counts of felonious assault, said Youngstown police Chief Jimmy Hughes. Their names were not released, pending further investigation. The chief said only that they are in their early 20s and from the Youngstown area.

"This is one of those days that every university president across the country, as well as many other officials, always dread," University president Cynthia Anderson said at a news conference.

Gov. John Kasich said he was "shocked and saddened" by the shootings. He offered the school the use of "any and all state resources they might require."

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Analysis: In GOP budget-cutting drive, political gamble that smaller government trumps all

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Republican drive to cut spending, which begins in earnest this week, marks a political gamble that the public's hunger for smaller government will trump its appetite for benefits, subsidies and other federal support.

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., calls it the "$64,000 question," and then promptly answers it.

"People will be supportive of almost any decreases in spending as long as they believe they're done in an open, equitable and fair manner," said Price, a member of the party leadership.

Democrats, already eyeing the 2012 elections, sound disbelieving.

"I'm not sure which country they're speaking to," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. "How they think that slashing, dramatically slashing important programs is going to help jump start the economy is beyond me."