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

With time growing short, President Barack Obama said Wednesday night that he remains confident that a government shutdown can be avoided this weekend if negotiators can build on constructive talks held at the White House. Differences remain despite the progress, but Obama announced that talks would continue through the night in hopes of avoiding a government shutdown this weekend.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration warned Wednesday that a federal shutdown would undermine the economic recovery, delay pay to U.S. troops fighting in three wars, slow the processing of tax returns and limit small business loans and government-backed mortgages during peak home buying season. The dire message, delivered two days before the federal government's spending authority expires, appeared aimed at jolting congressional Republicans into a budget compromise. Billions of dollars apart, congressional negotiators were working to strike a deal by Friday to avert a shutdown by setting spending limits through the end of September. The last such shutdown took place 15 years ago and lasted 21 days.

TOKYO (AP) — After notching a rare victory by stopping highly radioactive water from flowing into the Pacific, workers at Japan's flooded nuclear power complex turned to their next task Thursday: injecting nitrogen to prevent more hydrogen explosions. Nuclear officials said Wednesday there was no immediate threat of explosions like the three that rocked the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant not long after a massive tsunami hit on March 11, but their plans are a reminder of how much work remains to stabilize the complex.

HONOLULU (AP) — One of President Barack Obama's close friends has been arrested in Honolulu on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute. Robert "Bobby" Titcomb was one of four men arrested in an undercover sting operation late Monday and later released on $500 bail, according to Honolulu police.

NEW YORK (AP) — Ensnarled in another political spat with Republicans, President Barack Obama conceded to a civil rights audience Wednesday that there are times when people "lose hope" over whether national politics will ever change. But the president, officially running for re-election as of this week, stood by his record of the past two years as proof of real progress.

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Fifty-nine bodies were found buried Wednesday in a series of pits in the northern Mexico state of Tamaulipas, near the site where suspected drug gang members massacred 72 migrants last summer, officials said. Security forces stumbled on the site as they were investigating reports that passengers had been pulled off several buses by gunmen in the area in what may have been an attempt at forced recruitment by a drug gang.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi appealed directly to President Barack Obama on Wednesday to end what Gadhafi called "an unjust war." He also wished Obama good luck in his bid for re-election next year. "You are a man who has enough courage to annul a wrong and mistaken action," Gadhafi wrote in a rambling, three-page letter to Obama obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday. "I am sure that you are able to shoulder the responsibility for that."

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration has uncovered a second incident of an air traffic controller sleeping on the job, but in this case the napping was deliberate. "(I am) disappointed to say we did find another incident ... just one," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt told a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee's transportation subcommittee.

"American Idol" finalist Pia Toscano is on a high. After weeks of expectedly performing ballads, the soaring 22-year-old songstress from Howard Beach, N.Y., earned praise from the Fox talent competition's judges for strutting around the stage while powering through Tina Turner's up-tempo tune "River Deep — Mountain High" on Wednesday's rock 'n' roll edition. Toscano previously promised to sing that tune.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Barry Bonds' confident defense team rested its case Wednesday without calling a single witness, just minutes after a federal judge accepted the government's request to dismiss one of the five counts against the home run king. Prosecutors called 25 witnesses to the stand over 2½ weeks, but the defense needed just one minute to present its side. The jury of eight women and four men barely had time to get settled in the courtroom before being told to return Thursday morning for closing arguments.

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