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The Associated Press

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Europe exhales after another good week

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) â¿¿ Europe has taken a step back from the brink.

Three weeks into the year, borrowing rates for debt-saddled countries have fallen to more manageable levels. Auctions of government debt have gone better, a sign of increased investor confidence.

And while it may have been an embarrassment, especially to France, a sweeping downgrade of nine European countries last week by Standard & Poor's, the credit rating agency, has been met with a shrug in financial markets.

All this is in stark contrast to the final weeks of last year, when countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece watched helplessly as the costs of managing their debt spiraled ever higher, and governments fell in Athens and Rome.

High hurdles remain: Greece must still cut a deal with its private creditors, to say nothing of the long-term problems â¿¿ massive debt, uncompetitive economies and the prospect of years of cutbacks in public spending.

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NZ police raid file-sharing site founder's mansion

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) â¿¿ New Zealand police raided several homes and businesses linked to the founder of Megaupload.com, a giant Internet file-sharing site shut down by U.S. authorities, on Friday and seized guns, millions of dollars and nearly $5 million worth of luxury cars, officials said.

Police arrested founder Kim Dotcom and three Megaupload employees on U.S. accusations that they facilitated millions of illegal downloads of films, music and other content costing copyright holders at least $500 million in lost revenue. Extradition proceedings against them could last a year or more.

With 150 million registered users, about 50 million hits daily and endorsements from music superstars, Megaupload.com was among the world's biggest file-sharing sites. According to a U.S. indictment, the site, which was shut down Thursday, earned Dotcom $42 million in 2010 alone.

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