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More governments advising citizens to leave Tokyo

TOKYO (AP) -- Australia, Britain and Germany advised their citizens in Japan to consider leaving Tokyo and earthquake-affected areas, joining a growing number of governments and businesses telling their people it may be safer elsewhere.

The advisories came as the crisis at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in the northeast deepened in the wake of last week's earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, however, said its advice to Australians had nothing to do with the threat of nuclear contamination from the damaged plant.

Cuba cuts hard currency peso to par with dollar

HAVANA (AP) -- Cuba's central bank is devaluing the country's two types of peso by about 8 percent in relation to the dollar and other foreign currencies, hoping the move will spur exports and local production as the government seeks to overhaul a moribund economy.

The announcement published in state newspapers on Monday says the hard-currency peso used mostly by tourists and foreign companies on the island will now be worth $1, down from $1.08. Each hard-currency peso is still worth 24 of the standard pesos with which most Cubans are paid in an unusual two-tiered currency system.

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Big East crown caps incredible 5-day run for UConn

NEW YORK (AP) -- Kemba Walker capped the best five days an individual and team may have ever had in college basketball, scoring 19 points to lead No. 21 Connecticut to a 69-66 victory over No. 14 Louisville in the Big East championship Saturday night.

Walker, a 6-foot-1 junior guard, took home the most obvious MVP award in any conference tournament after leading the ninth-seeded Huskies (26-9) to five wins in as many days - the last four over teams ranked in the Top 25 - and the program's seventh conference title, tying Georgetown for the most in Big East history.

Apple fans line up to buy first batch of iPad 2s

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The updated version of Apple Inc.'s iPad tablet computer went on sale Friday afternoon, and was greeted by the now-familiar lines of buyers outside Apple stores.

The Cupertino company opened online sales of the iPad 2 at 4 a.m. Eastern time, well before they became available in East Coast stores at 5 p.m. They were set to go on sale nationwide at the same hour, local time.

Apple fans, as usual, were eager to get their hands on the device as they waited at the company's Apple's Fifth Avenue store in New York. The line of customers, including some who traveled from Japan and Russia, snaked through the street-level plaza above the subterranean store while bystanders gawked at the crowd.

Libyan envoy in Europe as emergency talks begin

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The Libyan government, trying to put down an uprising against leader Moammar Gadhafi, is mounting a diplomatic press to stave off tough action by the European Union and NATO.

Mohamed Tahir Siala, a Libyan envoy, met Thursday with two Greek foreign ministry officials. Similar talks were held in Lisbon on Wednesday with Portugal's Foreign Minister Luis Amado.

The meetings come as European leaders begin two days of emergency talks about Libya, which appears to be descending into civil war.

Interim CEO defends NPR as new video emerges

WASHINGTON (AP) -- National Public Radio's interim president and CEO said Thursday she is fully confident the organization's leadership team and said those who think their news coverage is biased would change their minds simply by listening to its programming.

Joyce Slocum's comments in a Thursday interview with The Associated Press came just before conservative activist James O'Keefe posted a follow-up video as part of his undercover investigation of NPR. A video posted Tuesday included a former NPR executive calling the tea party movement racist and led to former president and CEO Vivian Schiller's resignation.

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European growth helps McDonald's February results

OAK BROOK, Ill. (AP) -- McDonald's says higher global demand, especially in Europe, boosted sales in February.

Revenue at company-owned and franchised restaurants open at least 13 months grew 3.9 percent, more slowly than January's 5.3 percent. McDonald's Corp.'s stock fell 88 cents in midday trading to $75.41.

The monthly sales figure is a snapshot of the dollar value of food sales at all McDonald's restaurants. McDonald's corporate revenue, reported quarterly, includes only revenue at company-owned stores plus fees and rents paid by franchisees.

Obama restarts Guantanamo trials

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama reversed course Monday and ordered a resumption of military trials for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, making his once ironclad promise to close the isolated prison look even more distant.

Guantanamo has been a major political and national security headache for the president since he took office promising to close the prison within a year, a deadline that came and went without him ever setting a new one.

Haiti's Carnival resumes amid capital's ruins

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Raucous crowds danced in the streets of the Haitian capital Sunday as the city celebrated its first Carnival since last year's devastating earthquake forced the cancellation of the annual festivities.

The parade filed past the ruined facades of downtown shops, and the normally busy boulevard outside the collapsed National Palace was turned into a pedestrian zone for three days of revelry. Organizers erected a plywood wall to separate the Carnival zone from the huge Champ de Mars plaza, now a camp for tens of thousands of people made homeless by the quake.

Opposition reaches pact to form Irish government

DUBLIN (AP) -- The two opposition parties that triumphed in Ireland's election, conservative Fine Gael and left-wing Labour, agreed Sunday to form the country's next coalition government after compromising on plans to repair the debt-battered economy.

Both parties ratified their 64-page plan following five days of negotiations. Fine Gael's lawmakers offered the document unanimous support, while Labour's much larger meeting of party activists also voted overwhelmingly in favor of the policy document.

Tide turns: Sharp increase in number of Mexicans returning home

(CNN) -- The number of Mexican migrants returning to their country -- mainly from the United States -- has increased dramatically in the last five years compared with the previous five years.

According to the most recent numbers released by the Mexican census bureau, the increase was 31.9% in the period from 2005 to 2010, compared with 2000 to 2005 numbers.

The Mexican Institute of Statistics and Geography -- INEGI by its Spanish acronym -- says that during the last five years of the decade, 1.1 million Mexicans left their country. According to the government agency, by the time the national census was taken last summer, more than 351,000 Mexican migrants had returned to Mexico.

Radical Venezuelan pro-Chavez leader Lina Ron dies

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Lina Ron, a vocal supporter of President Hugo Chavez who led radical street groups, died of a heart attack Saturday, Venezuela's government said. She was 51.

Chavez praised her as "true soldier of the people." In a Twitter post, Chavez said: "A Complete Revolutionary. Let's follow her example!"

Information Minister Andres Izarra confirmed Ron's death, saying she had no vital signs when she arrived at a Caracas hospital. "Honor and glory to Lina Ron," Izarra said on Twitter.

Britney Spears Strips Down For V Magazine

source : Britney Spears Strips Down For V Magazine
Sensual and half-clothed on the cover of V Magazine, Britney Spears declares, "The b***h is back and improve than ever!" The savage pop singer, whose seventh studio album, 'Femme Fatale,' lands March 29, Speaks openly around her album, boys and fame, adding that she has moved past the media scrutiny that plagued parts of her career.

"I effort to block off it all out and not pay attending to anything they write of me in the magazines or net. I'm done with that," Spears told V Magazine. "I have acquired to always abide honest to myself and never allow what other people say about me change who I am. It's a very important lesson that took me a long time to learn."

ECB shocks markets with April rate hike hint

LONDON (AP) -- The European Central Bank's chief shocked markets Thursday by saying interest rates could be raised as soon as the next policy meeting in April - far earlier than expected - to fight inflation across the 17-nation eurozone.

Speaking after the bank left its main interest rate unchanged at the record low of 1 percent, President Jean-Claude Trichet said "strong vigilance" was warranted and that an interest rate increase next month was "possible" though "not certain."

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NBA says 'not so sure' about yearly London games

LONDON (AP) -- The success of this weekend's first regular-season games in Europe will play a large part in whether the NBA comes back to London next year.

The New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors play Friday and Saturday at the O2 Arena, the same venue that has hosted sellout games the last four preseasons.

"I'm not so sure about every season, but I think it will become a regular feature," NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said. "I think it depends in large part on the success we have this weekend."

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Ethiopia is Top UK Aid Recipient

Britain has chosen Ethiopia to be its biggest recipient of development aid during the next four years. Several donor governments are ramping up assistance as Ethiopia sets ambitious goals for eradicating poverty and hunger.

Ethiopia will receive $2 billion in British development assistance in a four-year period.

Howard Taylor, head of the British aid program in Ethiopia, says the decision to boost assistance was based on need as well as evidence that the country has made major strides in recent years.

Cable company inserts ads as subscribers surf

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mediacom Communications Corp., a cable company with more than 800,000 Internet subscribers, has tried something other U.S. Internet service providers have shied away from: It has inserted its own ads into Web pages as its subscribers surfed.

Ads for Mediacom's home phone service have shown up on the normally ad-free home pages of and, according to subscribers.

There are only a few reports of the ads showing up, starting last week, and many Mediacom subscribers on Web forums said they had not seen any. That leaves the possibility that the ads were part of a test run rather than a full-fledged rollout.

GOP looks to cut IRS budget despite returns

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Every dollar the Internal Revenue Service spends for audits, liens and seizing property from tax cheats brings in more than $10, a rate of return so good the Obama administration wants to boost the agency's budget.

House Republicans, seeing the heavy hand of a too-big government, beg to differ. They've already voted to cut the IRS budget by $600 million this year and want bigger cuts in 2012.

The IRS has dramatically increased its pursuit of tax cheats in the past decade: Audits are up, property liens are up and asset seizures are way up. President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress see stepped up enforcement as a good way to narrow the nation's staggering budget deficit without raising tax rates or cutting popular spending programs.

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Daiichi Sankyo of Japan buys California drug maker

TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese drug maker Daiichi Sankyo Co. is acquiring California pharmaceutical company Plexxikon Inc. for $935 million, with eyes on a still developing cancer treatment, both sides said Tuesday.

Daiichi Sankyo is interested in Plexxikon's PLX4032 drug, as well as its potential to develop drugs for rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases, said company spokesman Masaya Tamae.

Tokyo-based Daiichi, Japan's No. 2 pharmaceutical company, is paying $805 million for Plexxikon, and will pay another $130 million when PLX4032, its code-name, is approved as a commercial drug, he said.