Italy's Berlusconi back on trial for tax fraud

MILAN (AP) -- Premier Silvio Berlusconi went back on trial Monday for alleged tax fraud, the first of several court cases to resume after Italy's Constitutional Court watered down an immunity bill sparing the premier from trial.

Prosecutors say Berlusconi's Mediaset media empire purchased TV rights for U.S. movies through two offshore companies and falsely declared the costs to reduce its tax bill.

Berlusconi, who wasn't in court Monday, has denied the allegations. The case was immediately adjourned until April 11, when Berlusconi may appear, lawyers said.

NYC rower tries for third time to cross Atlantic

NEW YORK (AP) -- There is something about the sea that has caused Victor Mooney to lose all reason.

For years now, the 45-year-old New Yorker has believed that for all its vastness, the Atlantic Ocean is ripe for conquest; That a lone man pulling a pair of oars can shove off an African beach and slowly, steadily, row partway around the globe to New York harbor.

This is an idea he has refused to relinquish, despite repeated failure. When the 24-foot wooden rowboat he built by hand for his first trans-Atlantic attempt in 2006 sank just hours into his trip from Senegal, he went out and got another, built by a professional. When that boat's drinking water systems failed two weeks into his 2nd attempt in 2009, necessitating a rescue, he chalked it up to bad luck, rather than fate telling him "No."

Tunisians proud at sparking Arab rebellions

Pride is palpable on the streets of the capital six weeks after this tiny, Mediterranean tourist haven toppled its dictator and unleashed a wave of revolt in the Arab world. And there's an atmosphere of cautious optimism about how Tunisia's "people's revolution" is turning out.

Tunisia's caretaker government has largely managed to calm unrest. Foreign diplomats are flying in to pledge support. Tunisians are even offering food and assistance to displaced people pouring across their border from chaotic Libya.

White House reverberates with Motown sound, moves

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House reverberated like a long-ago basement sound studio in Detroit on Thursday as the likes of John Legend, Seal, Jamie Foxx, Nick Jonas and Sheryl Crow channeled their inner Motown before Michelle and Barack Obama. Musical pioneers Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder joined in for the celebration of all things Motown.

Obama called it "the soundtrack of the civil rights era," and credited Motown's tight lyrics, catchy melodies and deep soul with helping to "blur the line between music that was considered either black or white."

Pro-Gadhafi Forces Dig in Around Tripoli as Revolt Spreads

Fighters loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi are reinforcing their grip on the capital, Tripoli, as a growing popular uprising spreads across the eastern half of the country and anti-government forces consolidate control over key Mediterranean cities.

In Tripoli, Mr. Gadhafi's stronghold, protest organizers are calling for new rallies Thursday and Friday, raising the potential for a new bloody confrontation there.

Residents in the Libyan capital say the streets were largely deserted Wednesday, with people afraid to leave their homes. Armed militiamen and pro-Gadhafi loyalists - a mix of Libyans and African mercenaries - are reportedly roaming through Tripoli and fortifying the city's outer defenses. Security agents are said to be searching for people considered disloyal to the regime, a day after the Libyan leader urged his supporters to attack demonstrators.

Tunisians Flee Libya Turmoil

Thousands of people fled violence-torn Libya into neighboring Tunisia Wednesday, using every form of transport they could. Our reporter was at the Tunis airport where hundreds of Tunisian workers arrived home on emergency flights.

The Tunis-Carthage airport was packed late Wednesday as relatives massed to greet haggard loved ones arriving from Libya. Kais Badri was among the arrivals - fleeing Tripoli where he had spent four months working as a cook. Like a number of those who arrived, he said he saw none of the reported violence against anti-government protesters first-hand.

Oil prices hit $100 per barrel

NEW YORK (AP) -- Oil hit $100 per barrel Wednesday for the first time in 2 1/2 years as the unrest in Libya worsened, and gasoline prices in the U.S. climbed to nearly $3.20 a gallon, the highest level ever for February.

West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery jumped $2.68, or 2.8 percent, to settle at $98.10 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier in the day, prices hit triple digits for the first time since Oct. 2, 2008. West Texas Intermediate has soared 18 percent since Valentine's Day.

Parents lose high court appeal in vaccine case

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court closed the courthouse door Tuesday to parents who want to sue drug makers over claims that their children developed autism and other serious health problems from vaccines. The ruling was a stinging defeat for families dissatisfied with how they fared before a special no-fault vaccine court.

The court voted 6-2 against the parents of a child who sued the drug maker Wyeth in Pennsylvania state court for the health problems they say their daughter, now 19, suffered from a vaccine she received in infancy.

Diamond Engagement Rings Symbol of Endless Love

Reason of selecting diamond is that they considered as symbol of love, purity and unity. This make diamond engagement rings are one of the most popular choices in engagement rings. You can find that these days couples prefer presenting diamond engagement ring to their beloved and the reason of its popularity is its unique look and it has the power to melt heart. Hence by presenting diamond engagement ring to your beloved you will show her that how romantic you are and how much you love her.

Medtronic to eliminate 1,500 to 2,000 jobs

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Medtronic, the world's largest medical device maker, says it will lay off up to 2,000 workers as part of a restructuring effort amid sluggish sales of its implants.

The company says the cuts are aimed at achieving "long-term sustainable growth" and will reduce its work force by 4 to 5 percent.

The Minneapolis-based device maker has scaled back its earnings estimates twice in the past year, as hospital belt-tightening and unemployment have decreased medical procedures across the U.S.

The layoffs announcement came as Medtronic reported third-quarter adjusted earnings of $922 million, or 86 cents per share, which was slightly better than Wall Street estimates.

Bahraini opposition groups plan next steps

Manama, Bahrain (CNN) -- A day after thousands of joyous Bahrainis retook a major square in the heart of the island nation's capital, seven opposition groups met in Bahrain to consider their next steps after an appeal from Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa for a national dialogue.

As the parties tried to coordinate a common position and dusk fell Sunday, thousands of people continued to camp out at the Pearl Roundabout -- many vowing to continue their sit-in until political reforms and other concessions are promised.

The number of people increased in the late afternoon, but the atmosphere remained relaxed. The security forces had left the area Saturday on the instructions of the crown prince.

Moore leads No. 11 Purdue past No. 2 Ohio State

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- E'Twaun Moore scored a career-high 38 points to lead No. 11 Purdue past No. 2 Ohio State 76-63 on Sunday, capping a week that saw the top four teams in the AP Top 25 lose a game.

Moore tied a career high with seven 3-pointers. He surpassed 2,000 points during a flurry of 13 in the final 3:49 of the first half, becoming the fifth player in school history to reach the milestone.

JaJuan Johnson added 13 points and six rebounds for Purdue (22-5, 11-3 Big Ten), which avenged an 87-64 loss at Ohio State on Jan. 25.

GOP newcomers test mandate to shrink government

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Asked how long the House would need to finish legislation cutting $61 billion in government spending, the most powerful Republican in the land responded wryly. "I don't know, I'm only the speaker."

It was a candid acknowledgement from Ohio Rep. John Boehner that the 87 Republican first-term lawmakers who swept the party into power in the House are moving on a path - and at a pace - of their own choosing.

When the leadership brought a bill to the floor to renew parts of the anti-terrorist Patriot Act, it fell short. The leadership regrouped, and the rebels, their questions answered, helped pass the measure on a second try.

Datsyuk scores 2, Red Wings beat Lightning 6-2

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Pavel Datsyuk scored twice, Danny Cleary had a goal and two assists and the Detroit Red Wings beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2 on Thursday night.

Niklas Kronwall, Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm also scored for the Red Wings, who have won three in a row and seven of 11.

Tampa Bay got goals from Victor Hedman and Steve Downie. The Lightning are 5-3-1 during a 12-game homestand.

It was the first time that new Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman faced his old team. He played 22 seasons before spending five more as a vice president with Detroit.

Study says crib-related injuries harm nearly 10,000 infants yearly; new ban may reduce numbers

CHICAGO (AP) -- Almost 10,000 infants and toddlers are hurt in crib and playpen accidents each year, according to the first nationwide analysis of emergency room treatment for these injuries.

Most injuries were from falls in toddlers between ages 1 and 2 - generally old enough to attempt climbing out of a crib or playpen.

Researchers who studied 19 years of ER data say better prevention efforts are needed, but that recent safety measures including a ban on drop-side cribs likely will reduce those numbers.

Japan suspends whaling hunt after activists harass

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan has temporarily suspended its annual Antarctic whaling after repeated harassment by a conservationist group, a government official said Wednesday.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ships have been chasing the Japanese whaling fleet for weeks in the icy seas off Antarctica, trying to block Japan's annual whale hunt, planned for up to 945 whales.

Japan has halted the hunt since Feb. 10 after persistent "violent" disruptions by the anti-whaling protesters, said fisheries agency official Tatsuya Nakaoku.

So far, the attacks have not caused any injuries or major damage to the vessels, he said, but the protesters are throwing rancid butter in bottles and once the protesters got a rope entangled in the propeller on a harpoon vessel, causing it to slow down.

Hundreds of Libyans Stage Anti-Government Protest

Hundreds of Libyans have staged an anti-government protest in the country's second-largest city, Benghazi, chanting slogans denouncing Libyan leaders and fighting with police.

Witnesses and private media say the protesters gathered late Tuesday into early Wednesday outside a security building in Benghazi, initially to demand the release of a lawyer who is an outspoken government critic.

Libyan media say the lawyer was freed, but the crowd of protesters grew and started chanting anti-government slogans. The reports say some of the protesters threw stones at police who tried to disperse them. A Libyan newspaper says 14 people were injured.

UN: Smugglers Taking Advantage Of Tunisian Migrants

United Nations and international agencies are working to manage the recent influx of thousands of Tunisians into the small Italian island of Lampedusa. The agencies are warning migrants to beware of smugglers waiting to take advantage of them.

The Italian government reports more than 5,200 people have arrived in Lampedusa since mid-January, with the vast majority arriving during the past few days.

The UN refugee agency says most of the migrants are young men. But, it notes at least 20 women and more than 200 minors, many unaccompanied, also have arrived.

Report: Tunisia rejects foreign security to stem exodus

(CNN) -- Tunisia rejected the idea of Italian security forces deploying in the north African country to help fight illegal immigration, the country's state news agency reported Monday.

Tunisia "expressed her amazement at this position and asserts its categorical rejection of any interference in its internal affairs or to prejudice its sovereignty," TAP reported, citing an unnamed "authorized source at the Foreign Ministry."

The source said Tunisia was willing to cooperate with "sister countries" and aimed to discuss the issue "with complete transparency" with Italian officials soon, TAP said Sunday.

Lady Antebellum, Arcade Fire Win Top Grammys

The country pop group Lady Antebellum took top honors at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles Sunday, earning five of the music industry's leading awards.

Lady Antebellum, a group that has found appeal among both country and pop fans, earned awards that included Record of the Year for their hit recording Need You Now"

The title tune also earned its writers the Grammy for Song of the Year.

Thousands in Streets of Algiers Demanding Change of Government

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Algeria's capital and other main cities demanding the government's ouster, mirroring protests in fellow North African countries Egypt and Tunisia.

A day after pro-democracy protesters drove Egypt's longtime leader Hosni Mubarak from power, Algerians were in the streets demanding their own President Abdelaziz Bouteflika leave office.

Protesters chanting, "No to the police state!" and "Bouteflika out!". News reports say crowds were in the thousands but far out numbered by riot police.

Protests also took place in other cities, including the Mediterranean hub of Oran, also against government orders.

2012 GOP presidential field in spotlight at conservative event

Ten Republicans thinking about running for president in 2012 will take the stage today through Saturday to prove themselves before conservatives attending an annual conference and to participate in a straw poll.

More than 10,000 activists have registered for the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, which will serve as a dress rehearsal of sorts for the 2012 GOP presidential primaries.

David Bossie of the conservative Citizens United group told the Associated Press that the potential GOP field has lots in common with each other, starting with their conservative ideology and position on issues.

Cup magic shared by cross-channel minnows

(CNN) -- Only in the cup can a footballer appear in front of a few hundred fans one week, before running out to thousands at one of the most famous stadiums in the world the next.

Only in the cup, can a part-timer players take on a multi-million dollar superstars and come out victorious.

And only in the cup, can fate decree that a shop owner will become a household name with football fans across the globe for far more than the wares he regularly sells.

The "magic of the cup" maybe a cliche but it is this magnetism that currently links a modern conurbation in the south of England, with a picturesque French town situated at the base of the Alps.

Analyst: Egypt Being Pushed to 'Big, Dark Hole'

A university professor told VOA Egyptian anti-government protesters are shocked and disappointed by President Hosni Mubarak's refusal to step down saying the embattled leader is, in his words, pushing the country into a big dark hole.

Said Sadek, professor of political sociology at the American University of Cairo, predicted that the protesters could begin a violent demonstration Friday after Muslim prayers to express what he described as their anger and displeasure at President Mubarak's transformation plans he outlined in his Thursday night speech.

IMF Chief: Status Quo Could Sow Seeds of Next Crisis

The head of the International Monetary Fund warns that another financial crisis could arise if the international monetary system is not reformed.

IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said that even though the global recovery is underway, the international monetary system still needs to be reformed.
"Global imbalances are back. Large and volatile capital flows, exchange rate pressures, rapidly growing excess reserves - all this is on the front burner once again. And, I do believe that left unresolved, these problems could even sow the seeds for the next crisis," said Strauss-Kahn.

Panelists, including Fred Bergsten, the director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, discussed a movement toward developing regional entities that could work with the IMF to prevent future crises.