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AP News in Brief at 5:58 a.m. EDT

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkul Karman win Nobel Peace Prize
/ Source: The Associated Press

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkul Karman win Nobel Peace Prize

OSLO, Norway (AP) — The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and democratic activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen for their work on women's rights, which the prize committee described as fundamental to the spread of peace around the world.

By citing Karman, the committee also appeared to be acknowledging the effects of the Arab Spring, which has challenged authoritarian regimes across the region.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee honored the three women "for their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."

"We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society," the prize committee said.

Prize committee chairman Thorbjorn Jagland said he hoped the prize would bring more attention to rape and other violence against women as well as women's role in promoting democracy in Africa and the Arab and Muslim world.


September was likely another weak month for hiring, underscoring economy's sluggishness

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy will likely show its fifth straight month of slight or no job creation when the government issues its September employment report Friday. Another weak month would underscore the sluggishness of the economy and the risk of another recession.

Economists forecast that employers added just 56,000 net jobs in September. That isn't enough even to keep pace with population growth or lower the unemployment rate. The rate is expected to remain at 9.1 percent for a third straight month, according to a survey of economists by FactSet.

The faltering economy has led many employers to reduce hiring. The economy grew at an annual rate of just 0.9 percent in the first six months of the year. Since then, Europe's debt crisis and stock market declines have heightened fears that the economy will struggle to grow enough to avoid a recession.

In the first four months of this year, employers added an average of 180,000 jobs a month. But in the four months since, job gains have averaged just 40,000. In August, employers didn't add any jobs — the worst showing since September 2010.

The economy must create at least 125,000 net jobs a month to keep up with a growing population. At least twice as many are needed to rapidly shrink the unemployment rate. Unemployment has topped 8 percent for the past 31 months. It's the longest such stretch on record.


Government panel recommends against routine PSA screening for prostate cancer

WASHINGTON (AP) — No major medical group recommends routine PSA blood tests to check men for prostate cancer, and now a government panel is saying they do more harm than good and healthy men should no longer receive the tests as part of routine cancer screening.

The panel's guidelines had long advised men over 75 to forgo the tests and the new recommendation extends that do-not-screen advice to healthy men of all ages.

The recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, being made public on Friday, will not come as a surprise to cancer specialists.

Yet, most men over 50 have had at least one PSA blood test, the assumption being that finding cancer early is always a good thing.

Not so, said Dr. Virginia Moyer of the Baylor College of Medicine, who heads the task force.


FACT CHECK: Obama asserts Republicans have not explained their stance on jobs bill; they have

WASHINGTON (AP) — Are President Barack Obama's ideas for job creation really bipartisan as he claims? Not when the means for paying for them are put in the equation.

The president dodged various facts and and left some evidence in the dust in his latest challenge to Republicans to get behind his jobs program or offer a real alternative.

A look at some of the claims in his fast-paced news conference and how they compare with the facts:

OBAMA: "If it turns out that there are Republicans who are opposed to this bill, they need to explain to me, but more importantly to their constituencies and the American people, why they're opposed, and what would they do."

THE FACTS: While Republicans might not be campaigning on their opposition to Obama's plan, they've hardly kept their objections a secret.


Observing centenary, Republic of China government still rules Taiwan, but for how long?

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Spurned by the international community, ignored in the land of its founding, and ridiculed by many of its own people, the Republic of China celebrates the 100th anniversary of its birth Monday, trying to stave off extinction.

It seems a tall order for a regime that was born out of the ashes of China's last imperial dynasty and once ruled over the Chinese mainland. For the past 62 years it has been confined to the offshore island of Taiwan.

The Republic of China's longtime antagonist is the People's Republic of China in Beijing, which ever since Mao Zedong's Communists defeated Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists in 1949, has been committed to bringing Taiwan under its control.

Nobody expects the island of 23 million people to be subsumed into China in the near-term, but deepening economic ties are drawing Taiwan ever deeper into the orbit of its much larger neighbor.

"In the long term the existence of the Republic of China is under threat," said China specialist Yitzhak Shichor of Israel's University of Haifa. "China is becoming more and more powerful and Taiwan's dependence on it is increasing."


Near-daily strikes, protests spell misery for business owners in central Athens

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — With no warning, a few dozen students blocked a major avenue in central Athens, marching slowly up the middle of the street to make sure motorists couldn't get through. Tempers frayed, horns honked.

A driver revved his engine, swerved suddenly and charged up the sidewalk, narrowly missing a woman who jumped out of the way in alarm.

The scene during a student demonstration this week reflected the increasing irritation and despair felt by many Greeks, weighed down by a financial crisis that has led to repeated strikes and demonstrations as the government desperately tries to avoid a default.

"It's a catastrophe. This has destroyed us," said Nikos Trovas, who runs a parking garage just off Syntagma, the large square outside Parliament that has become the focus of protests. "The roads shut every day. So we just sit around here with the employees, looking at each other with no work to do."

It is a curse for those who live or commute to the center of the Greek capital, once a vibrant showcase of what many hoped was a dawn of economic prosperity.


In tribute, Americans recall how Jobs inspired careers, creativity, new ways to communicate

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) — Steve Jobs urged people to think different, and wowed them when his own different thinking put thousands of songs in their pockets, the power of the Internet at their fingertips and a whole world of possibilities in the palm of their hands.

For many, his vision resulted in more than another gadget. The tools inspired careers, opened doors for communication and fueled a new economy.

As Jobs admirers pay tribute to the computer wizard, the signs of his influence can be seen everywhere: A farmer in Arkansas monitors crops from the field on his iPhone. A North Carolina father develops an app that helps him communicate with his disabled son. A Silicon Valley technology worker uses an Apple program to disseminate lectures to people across the globe.

Brent Izutsu, the manager of Stanford on iTunes U, fondly recalls Jobs' stirring 2005 commencement address to Stanford University graduates.

"In his commencement address, which I've watched many times, Jobs mentioned you might as well do what you love because you have to do that for most of your life," Izutsu said. "Well, I guess that's what I'm doing every day. And that's thanks to him. It makes you feel good."


Federal prosecutors launching coordinated crackdown on Calif. medical pot dispensaries

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal prosecutors in California are cracking down on some of the state's medical marijuana dispensaries, signaling an escalation of the ongoing conflict between the U.S. government and the nation's burgeoning medical marijuana industry.

The four U.S. attorneys in California, the first state to pass a law legalizing marijuana use for patients with doctors' recommendations, have scheduled a joint news conference Friday where they plan to "outline actions targeting the sale, distribution and cultivation of marijuana."

Their offices refused to provide details in advance what moves the officials are taking or how many of the state's hundreds of storefront pot shops would be affected. But at least 16 pot shops or their landlords received letters this week warning face they would face criminal charges and confiscation of their property if the dispensaries do not shut down in 45 days.

The Associated Press obtained copies of the letters that a prosecutor sent to at least 12 San Diego dispensaries. They state that federal law "takes precedence over state law and applies regardless of the particular uses for which a dispensary is selling and distributing marijuana."

"Under United States law, a dispensary's operations involving sales and distribution of marijuana are illegal and subject to criminal prosecution and civil enforcement actions," according to the letters signed by U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy in San Diego. "Real and personal property involved in such operations are subject to seizure by and forfeiture to the United States ... regardless of the purported purpose of the dispensary."


Missing Mo. girl's parents dispute police allegation they're not cooperating; plan statement

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The parents of a missing 10-month-old Missouri girl planned to make a public statement Friday after police announced that the couple had stopped talking with detectives investigating the baby's disappearance.

Jeremy Irwin and Deborah Bradley didn't speak to the media Thursday night after a police news conference accusing them of no longer cooperating, but relatives read a statement insisting they never had stopped. The family said the couple would have more to say Friday.

"We've been cooperative from day one, and we continue to assist the police with the investigation," the family statement said.

After their Thursday night news conference, authorities announced they were shutting down the command post about a mile from the family home. Police spokesman Darin Snapp sent out a news release saying authorities believed they had done everything they could "regarding geographic searches."

Authorities released few other details and reiterated they still have no suspects in their search for Lisa Irwin, whose parents say was snatched from her crib sometime late Monday or early Tuesday. Kansas City police spokesman Steve Young declined to elaborate on what would happen to the investigation without the parents' cooperation.


Men at Work lose bid to appeal ruling that they copied flute riff in global hit 'Down Under'

SYDNEY (AP) — Australian rockers Men at Work on Friday lost their final court bid to prove they did not steal the distinctive flute riff of their 1980s hit "Down Under" from a children's campfire song.

The High Court of Australia denied the band's bid to appeal a federal court judge's earlier ruling that the group had copied the signature flute melody of "Down Under" from the song "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree."

"Kookaburra," a song about Australia's famous bird of the same name, was written more than 70 years ago by Australian teacher Marion Sinclair for a Girl Guides competition. The song went on to become a favorite around campfires from New Zealand to Canada. The wildly popular "Down Under" remains an unofficial anthem for Australia.

Sinclair died in 1988, but publishing company Larrikin Music — which now holds the copyright for "Kookaburra" — filed a copyright lawsuit in 2009.

Last year, Federal Court Justice Peter Jacobson ruled that the "Down Under" flute riff replicated a substantial part of Sinclair's song. The judge later ordered Men at Work's recording company, EMI Songs Australia, and "Down Under" songwriters Colin Hay and Ron Strykert to pay 5 percent of royalties earned from the song since 2002 and from its future earnings.