AP Top News at 5:35 p.m. EST

Associated Press
President Barack Obama gestures during his news conference at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Dec., 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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President Barack Obama on Wednesday rejected claims that he betrayed Democrats by cutting a deal with Republicans on Bush-era tax cuts and implored his party to back the compromise, arguing it could jump-start the economy. Speaking to reporters at a joint appearance with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, Obama said economists predict higher job growth in 2011 and 2012 if Congress passes the agreement and urged lawmakers to examine the details of the deal and "get this done."

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats controlling the House moved ahead Wednesday on legislation that would freeze the budgets of most Cabinet departments and fund the war in Afghanistan for another year. The bill would cap the agencies' operating budgets at $1.2 trillion, including $159 billion to prosecute the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That's the level of the recently finished budget year but a $46 billion cut of more than 3 percent from President Barack Obama's request.

LONDON (AP) — Hackers rushed to the defense of WikiLeaks on Wednesday, launching attacks on MasterCard, Visa, Swedish prosecutors, a Swiss bank and others who have acted against the site and its jailed founder Julian Assange. Internet "hacktivists" operating under the label "Operation Payback" claimed responsibility in a Twitter message for causing severe technological problems at the website for MasterCard, which pulled the plug on its relationship with WikiLeaks a day ago.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The headquarters of Haiti's ruling party was set ablaze Wednesday as protests over disputed presidential election results spread through the Haitian capital, prompting the nation's president to call for calm. Thousands of protesters took to the streets, erecting barricades and setting fires, furious that government-backed candidate Jude Celestin, the protege of unpopular President Rene Preval, apparently will go on to a runoff vote while carnival singer Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly finished third in official results and is probably eliminated. Protests have also broken out in Les Cayes, Cap-Haitien and other cities.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chance for hundreds of thousands of foreign-born youngsters brought to the country illegally to gain legal status is dwindling as time runs out on the Democratic-controlled Congress. House and Senate Democratic leaders have scheduled votes for late Wednesday to advance legislation that would pave the way for legalizing the young immigrants, over opposition by most Republicans and several in their own party.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — For years, Elizabeth Edwards prepared her family for the day she would be gone, talking bluntly about the cancer consuming her body and writing a letter to leave for her children with life advice on topics such as how to pick a church — or even a spouse. The preparation continued in her final days, when she made sure Christmas decorations were up in their Chapel Hill home and became the source of comfort to those closest to her.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A private company launched a spacecraft into orbit and then, in a historic first, guided it back to Earth on Wednesday in a bold test for NASA that could lead to the first commercial space station supply run next year and eventual astronaut rides. The capsule named Dragon, built by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, splashed down into the Pacific Ocean three hours after launching from Cape Canaveral. NASA immediately offered congratulations.

BUENOS AIRES (AP) — A large wave slammed into an Antarctic cruise ship with 88 American passengers and 77 crew members aboard, but the ship's crew overcame minor damage and was heading safely back to its scheduled port on Wednesday, the vessel's operator said. The Clelia II declared an emergency on Tuesday, reporting it had suffered engine damage amid heavy seas and 55 mph (90 kph) winds when it was northeast of the South Shetland Islands and about 500 miles (845 kilometers) from Ushuaia, the Argentine Navy said in a statement.

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A father and son were convicted Wednesday of planting a bank bomb that killed two police officers in a botched robbery that prosecutors said was motivated by plans to build a militia in case newly elected President Barack Obama cracked down on their gun rights. A Marion County Circuit Court jury deliberated for less than a day before finding both Bruce Turnidge and his son, Joshua Turnidge, guilty on all 18 counts, which included aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder and assault charges.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — After the worst season of his career Urban Meyer is stepping down at Florida, giving up one of the premier jobs in college football for the second time. The 46-year-old led Florida to two national titles but began to show the strain of his high-profile job when he briefly resigned last December, citing health concerns, but returned the next day.

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