AP Top News at 12:45 p.m. EST

Associated Press
President Barack Obama makes a statement to reporters after his meeting with Democratic congressional leaders on a year-end bipartisan agreement to extend expiring tax cuts, at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, part of the White House complex, in Washington, Monday, Dec. 6 2010  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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The White House on Tuesday urged congressional Democrats to quickly embrace a contentious tax cut plan that President Barack Obama cut with Republicans, arguing that the rank and file need to move on to other issues before the party loses control of the House in January. White House aides said Vice President Joe Biden will ask Democratic lawmakers to swallow their objections to the administration's proposed compromise with the GOP when he attends a closed luncheon with senators at the Capitol. Obama's plan would extend Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans, including the richest, while also extending unemployment benefits and reducing payroll taxes for a year.

LONDON (AP) — A British judge sent Julian Assange to jail on Tuesday, denying bail to the WikiLeaks founder who vowed to fight efforts to extradite him to Sweden in a sex-crimes investigation. A WikiLeaks spokesman said the flow of secret U.S. diplomatic cables would not be affected by Assange's legal troubles, nor by the group's increasingly rocky finances as both Visa and MasterCard cut off key funding methods.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Elizabeth Edwards over the past six years has seen her husband's presidential ambitions thwarted, retreated from public life as their marriage disintegrated over his affair, then emerged to advocate for changes in the country's health care system, all while grappling with the cancer ravaging her body. Now, doctors have told the 61-year-old and her family that further treatment will do no good, and ever the public figure, Edwards thanked her supporters on her Facebook page Monday, perhaps weeks away from the disease taking her life.

GENEVA (AP) — Iran and six world powers concluded talks Tuesday with an agreement to reconvene early next year, indicating Tehran may be willing to address concerns about its nuclear program. But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned that unless they lift U.N. sanctions the six face failure in the next round. Diplomats from delegations at the table with Iran said Tehran made no commitments to talking about U.N. Security Council demands that Tehran freeze uranium enrichment — which has both civilian and military uses.

OSLO, Norway (AP) — China and 18 other countries have declined to attend this year's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, Nobel officials said Tuesday as China unleashed a new barrage deriding the decision. Chinese officials in Beijing called Liu's backers "clowns" in an anti-Chinese farce — comments that came only three days before the Dec. 10 Nobel peace prize ceremony in Oslo.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A judge on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit aimed at preventing the United States from targeting anti-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki for death, but questioned whether a president or his aides can order a U.S. citizen assassinated for terrorist activity. U.S. District Judge John Bates said in an 83-page opinion that he does not have the authority to review the president's military decisions and al-Awlaki's father does not have the legal right to sue to stop the United States from killing his son. But Bates also said the "unique and extraordinary case" raised vital considerations of national security and for military and foreign affairs.

TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese probe reached Venus on Tuesday and prepared to enter orbit on a two-year mission that would mark a major milestone for Japan's space program and could shed light on the climate of Earth's mysterious neighbor. The probe, called Akatsuki, which means "dawn," would be the first Japan has ever placed into orbit around another planet and comes after the country recently brought a probe back from a trip to an asteroid.

LONDON (AP) — To some it's just a bunch of bird drawings. To others, John James Audubon's "Birds of America" is a rare blend of art, natural history and craftsmanship, unique enough to be the world's most expensive book, expected to fetch more than $9.5 million at a London auction Tuesday. Some of the world's wealthiest book collectors have been anticipating this auction for months: it represents a chance to own one of the best preserved editions of Aubudon's masterpiece, with its 435 revered, hand-colored illustrations.

When it comes to Las Vegas, Carrie Underwood is a sure bet. Underwood won her second country music artist of the year award of 2010 in Sin City on Monday night. She earned it at the inaugural American Country Awards about eight months after she won the top honor at the Academy of Country Music Awards in April.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge has ruled that a postnuptial marital agreement giving sole ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers to Frank McCourt is not valid, a spokesman for his estranged wife Jamie McCourt said Tuesday. Mark Fabiani told The Associated Press the decision means the Dodgers could be shared under California's community property law.

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