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Associated Press
Pakistani protesters rally to condemn the arrest in London of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, seen in poster,  during a protest in Multan, Pakistan, on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010.  (AP Photo/Khalid Tanveer)
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Skirmishes raged across cyberspace between WikiLeaks supporters and the companies they accuse of trying to stifle the group, with websites on both sides of the battle line taken out of service or choked off by attacks. The U.N.'s top human rights official raised the alarm Thursday over officials' and corporations' moves to cut off WikiLeaks' funding and starve it of server space — something she described as "potentially violating WikiLeaks' right to freedom of expression."

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House and key lawmakers cleared the way Thursday night for swift Senate action to avert a Jan. 1 spike in income taxes for nearly all Americans, agreeing to extend breaks for ethanol and other forms of alternative energy as part of the deal. Tax provisions aimed at increasing production of hybrid automobiles, biodiesel fuel, energy-efficient homes, coal and energy-efficient household appliances would be extended through the end of 2011 under the bill.

NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration is missing key information on who owns one-third of the 357,000 private and commercial aircraft in the U.S. — a gap the agency fears could be exploited by terrorists and drug traffickers. The records are in such disarray that the FAA says it is worried that criminals could buy planes without the government's knowledge, or use the registration numbers of other aircraft to evade new computer systems designed to track suspicious flights. It has ordered all aircraft owners to re-register their planes in an effort to clean up its files.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans blocked a major year-end push by Democrats to lift the military's ban on openly gay troops on Thursday, dealing a huge blow to gay rights groups' hopes for repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" any time soon. President Barack Obama instantly appealed to lawmakers to make another, last-ditch try before going home for the year. The day's dramatic events left the fate of the issue in limbo, with lawmakers eager to adjourn and still facing numerous other contentious issues.

LONDON (AP) — Furious student protesters attacked a car carrying Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, vandalized buildings and battled riot police Thursday as a controversial hike in university fees triggered Britain's worst political violence in years. In a major security breach, demonstrators set upon the heir to the throne's Rolls Royce as it drove through London's busy West End on its way to a theater. A group of up to 20 struck it with fists, sticks and bottles, breaking a window and splattering the gleaming black vehicle with paint.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate moved Thursday to delay a politically charged showdown vote on legislation carving out a path to legal status for foreign-born youngsters brought to this country illegally, putting off but probably not preventing the measure's demise. Facing GOP objections, Democrats put aside the so-called Dream Act and said they'd try again to advance it before year's end. They're short of the 60 votes needed to do so, however, and critics in both parties quickly said they won't change their minds in the waning days of the Democratic-controlled Congress.

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — Negotiators reported progress Thursday at the U.N. climate conference, setting the stage for agreements on a support fund for poorer nations and other steps easing global warming's impact. The complex talks stretched deep into the night to try to meet a Friday deadline. Once again this year the annual negotiations under the U.N. climate treaty won't produce an overarching, legally binding deal to slash emissions of carbon dioxide and other global warming gases. From the start, the talks focused instead on a package of secondary items, including setting up the "green fund" for developing countries.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — U.S. education officials are standing by their finding that Virginia Tech broke federal law when it waited two hours to notify the campus that a gunman was on the loose at the outset of a 2007 shooting rampage, and then sent out an e-mailed warning that came too late for 30 students and faculty who'd gone to class only to be killed. In a report issued Thursday, the Department of Education rejected Virginia Tech's contention that its response to the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history met standards in place at the time for providing notification.

OSLO, Norway (AP) — When ambassadors, royalty and other VIPs take their seats in Oslo's modernist City Hall on Friday for the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, there will be one chair left empty — for this year's winner. Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, a democracy activist, is serving an 11-year prison sentence in China on subversion charges brought after he co-authored a bold call for sweeping changes to Beijing's one-party communist political system.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Peyton Manning wants people to quit worrying about him. He's just fine, thank you very much. Manning threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns, and the Indianapolis Colts snapped their three-game skid by beating the Tennessee Titans 30-28 on Thursday night to stay just a half-game back in the AFC South.

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