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Putin says Russia economy will be cured but offers no remedy

Russian President Putin attends his annual end-of-year news conference in MoscowBy Timothy Heritage and Alexei Anishchuk MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin assured Russians on Thursday that the economy would rebound after the ruble's dramatic slide this year but offered no remedy for a deepening financial crisis. In an assured performance at a three-hour news conference, Putin blamed the economic problems on external factors and said the crisis over Ukraine was caused by the West, which he accused of building a "virtual" Berlin Wall to contain Russia. ...

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 08:55:26 -0500
Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnap 100 women, children in Nigeria
By Lanre Ola MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) - Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped more than 100 women and children and killed 35 other people on Sunday during a raid on the remote northeast Nigerian village of Gumsuri, a security source and resident said on Thursday. Although no one has claimed it yet, the attack bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, which abducted more than 200 women in April from a secondary school in Chibok, only 24 km (15 miles) from this latest attack. ...
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:46:17 -0500
'Another Wall falls': Europe hails U.S.-Cuba breakthrough

The European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini attends a news conference in KievBRUSSELS (Reuters) - Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall reunited Europe, the European Union hailed a "historic turning point" in the Caribbean with the renewal of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States. "Today another Wall has started to fall," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement. "These moves represent a victory of dialogue over confrontation. ...

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 05:55:05 -0500
Some Pakistan militants denounce school attack, amid national outrage

Students hold candles for the victims of the Pakistan Taliban attack on the Army Public School, during a rally in LahoreBy Jibran Ahmad and Katharine Houreld PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) - As Pakistanis unite in grief over the killings of 132 schoolchildren by the Pakistani Taliban, several other militant groups have been quick to condemn the carnage too. Most such groups have slaughtered civilians themselves, but the wave of outrage following the school attack is threatening the relative freedom they enjoy in Pakistan. The country is home to a range of armed militant groups. Some, like the Pakistani Taliban, fight against the state. ...

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:38:24 -0500
Islamic State fight to take at least three years: U.S. general

Smoke raises behind an Islamic State flag after Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters took control of Saadiya from Islamist State militantsWASHINGTON (Reuters) - The general in command of U.S. forces involved in the fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria said on Thursday he thought it would take a minimum of three years to achieve a turning point against the group. Asked at a Pentagon briefing about progress on the ground, Army Lieutenant General James Terry said that the first U.S. air strikes had taken place only four months ago and counseled patience, estimating it would "at least take a minimum of three years." (Reporting by Phil Stewart and David Alexander; Editing by Susan Heavey)

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:02:38 -0500
Suicide bombers kill at least seven in Yemen port: sources
DUBAI (Reuters) - Suicide attackers set off two car bombs in Yemen's Red Sea port city of Hodeida on Thursday, killing themselves and seven other people, sources in the Shi'ite Muslim Houthi movement and medical officials told Reuters. Three other suspected bombers were killed by members of a local security patrol before they were able to attack, the Houthi sources said. "The bombs rocked the city. They were targeting a building that belonged to Houthi movement officials," said a resident. ...
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:33:05 -0500
Palestinian leader supports more talks on UN bid

FILE - In this April 1, 2014 file photo Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas talks during a leadership meeting in Ramallah. The examples from recent weeks signal that disagreeing with Abbas and his inner circle comes at a price for Palestinians. Critics say that after a decade in power, Abbas has created an increasingly authoritarian system with little room for dissent. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed, File)RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he supports further negotiations over a draft resolution on ending Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands that was submitted to the U.N. Security Council for a possible vote.

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:00:48 -0500
Suspected Islamic extremists kidnap 185 in northeast Nigeria
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Islamic extremists killed 35 people and kidnapped at least 185, fleeing residents said Thursday of an attack near the town where nearly 300 schoolgirls were taken hostage in April.
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:00:33 -0500
Cyclist Santambrogio tests positive for doping
AIGLE, Switzerland (AP) — Italian rider Mauro Santambrogio faces a lifetime ban after testing positive for doping shortly before a previous ban expired.
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:58:52 -0500
Tsipras vows to break Greece's 'bad spell'

Greece's leftist main opposition Syriza party leader Alexis Tsipras looks on during an interview with Reuters in AthensBy Renee Maltezou and Deepa Babington ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's radical leftist Syriza party will cancel austerity and ask Europe to erase a big chunk of Greek debt to free the country from the dark spell it has fallen under, leader Alexis Tsipras told Reuters on Thursday. In an interview at his party headquarters in a gritty Athens district, Tsipras sought to reassure markets wary of Syriza sweeping into power, saying he was committed to keeping Greece in the euro and keeping the budget balanced before debt costs. ...

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:53:05 -0500
Bernie Ecclestone back on F1 board, to stay as CEO
LONDON (AP) — Bernie Ecclestone has been re-appointed to the Formula One board and will continue to serve as chief executive.
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:33:29 -0500
Top Asian News at 4:30 p.m. GMT
TOKYO (AP) — How do you say "damage control" in Japanese? Sony Corp. is sealed within a hermetic cone of silence as executives try to prevent the slow motion train wreck at Sony Pictures from damaging the rest of the sprawling business empire. Sony's miseries with its television and smartphone businesses were bad enough. Now its American movie division, a trophy asset, is facing tens of millions of dollars in losses from leaks by hackers that attacked the company over a movie that spoofs an assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:32:49 -0500
Sweden doubles waste fee for nuclear power plant operators
(Reuters) - Sweden's government has decided to almost double a fee nuclear power plant operators pay to the nuclear waste fund, in order to help it cover the rising costs of decommissioning, the environment ministry said on Thursday. Sweden's state-owned utility Vattenfall operates Forsmark and Ringhals power plants, and Germany's E.ON operates Oskarshamn plant. Finnish utility Fortum, which operates Loviisa power plant, also has stakes in Forsmark and Oskarshamn. The nuclear industry will have to pay 0.04 Swedish crowns per kilowatt-hour from 2015-2017, up from 0. ...
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:32:11 -0500
Denmark targets 2 accused of jihadi propaganda
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Danish authorities have opened criminal cases against two men accused of incitement to violence by spreading jihadi videos and images online.
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:31:54 -0500
Germany arrests 3 accused of spying for Turkey
BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors say they have arrested three Turkish men accused of spying on compatriots in Germany for Turkish intelligence.
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:27:55 -0500
Actress Diane Guerrero writing memoir

FILE - In this May 15, 2014 file photo, actress Diane Guerrero attends Netflix's "Orange Is The New Black" Season 2 premiere at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York. Henry Holt and Company announced Thursday that the Colombian-American actress known for “Orange is the New Black” and “Jane the Virgin” is working on a memoir scheduled for early 2016. The book is called “In the Country We Love,” and will tell of her family’s ordeal when her parents and older brother were taken from their home in Boston and deported to Colombia in 2000. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP, File)NEW YORK (AP) — Through her own story, Diane Guerrero wants to change the lives of others.

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:27:20 -0500
US stocks rise; Oracle leads technology stocks higher

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. The market is opening sharply higher, building on gains from the day before after the Federal Reserve indicated it was in no rush to raise interest rates. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks rose Thursday, led by gains in technology stocks after Oracle surged following a strong earnings report. Energy stocks fell back as oil gave resumed its slide.

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:25:58 -0500
Aer Lingus rejects bid by British Airways parent
DUBLIN (AP) — Irish airline Aer Lingus has rejected a takeover bid by the International Consolidated Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways and Spain's Iberia.
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:24:29 -0500
Warehouse holding Ebola supplies in Guinea catches fire

FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014 file photo, a healthcare worker dons protective gear before entering an Ebola treatment center in the west of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Dr. Brima Kargbo, Sierra Leone's chief medical officer, confirmed Thursday Dec. 18, 2014, that Dr. Victor Willoughby died earlier in the day after being tested positive for Ebola on Saturday, the 11th doctor in the country to die from the disease that is ravaging West Africa. (AP Photo/Michael Duff, FILE)CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — A Guinean official says a fire at a warehouse at the Conakry airport has destroyed crucial medicine to help fight Ebola.

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:23:06 -0500
Arsenal's top-4 consistency a target for Liverpool

Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez leaps to control the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium, London, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)LONDON (AP) — However many blips and bumps Arsenal endures through the season one outcome is a constant: finishing in the Premier League's top four.

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:21:40 -0500
New control center to fight rise in attacks in Afghan capital

Afghan security forces inspect at the site of a suicide attack in KabulBy Hamid Shalizi and Jessica Donati KABUL (Reuters) - A new control center is to be created to coordinate security forces and fight a rise in Taliban attacks in Kabul, the capital's police chief said on Thursday, hours after a bomb killed a police officer and injured three in the city. As most foreign troops withdraw this month, Afghanistan has seen waves of suicide bombings and commando-style assaults by the Islamist insurgents. ...

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:20:59 -0500
Montenegro expected to extradite 3 men to US
PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) — Montenegro has started extradition procedures for three men who have been charged by a New York court with conspiring to kill Americans and aid terrorists.
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:20:21 -0500
Pope praises the diplomacy of US-Cuba accord

Pope Francis salutes at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis praised the "small steps" of diplomacy and peacemaking that brought about the rapprochement between the U.S. and Cuba, expressing joy over the outcome that he helped bring about.

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:19:23 -0500
Spain's state prosecutor steps down after spat over Catalonia

Pro-independence citizens hold up giant letters reading "We are ready, Independence" during the final meeting before the 9N consultation, in BarcelonaMADRID (Reuters) - State prosecutor Eduardo Torres-Dulce, a key figure in the spat between Spain and Catalonia over an attempt to stage an independence vote, resigned on Thursday with the opposition saying he had come under undue pressure from the government. Torres-Dulce had fought for the independence of his role when the central government pressed him to bring a lawsuit against Catalan head Artur Mas for going ahead with a symbolic vote on secession from Spain after Madrid blocked a full-blown referendum in the courts. ...

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:19:06 -0500
US sanctions mother-in-law of Mexican drug lord
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is imposing sanctions on the mother-in-law of a Mexican drug lord because she allegedly concealed assets from a drug cartel's operations around the world.
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:18:05 -0500
Puerto Rico crime crackdown nets 300-plus suspects
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Police in Puerto Rico have arrested more than 310 people in one of their biggest crime sweeps of the year.
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:13:00 -0500
Yemen's parliament approves new Cabinet

A Yemeni man reads al-Thawra newspaper outside their offices in Sanaa, Yemen, Wednesday. Dec. 17, 2014. Yemen's powerful Shiite rebels shut down a strategic Red Sea port on Wednesday, and stormed the offices of the country's main state newspaper, officials said. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen's parliament on Thursday approved a new government despite months of violence and political wrangling that has shaken the country.

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:08:26 -0500
Tsarnaev appears in court for 1st time since 2013
BOSTON (AP) — Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev returned to court Thursday for the first time since he was arraigned in July 2013, and he received a shout of encouragement from the mother-in-law of a man who was shot and killed while being questioned by law enforcement after the bombings.
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:07:49 -0500
Boston suspect makes rare court appearance

This undated image released by the FBI shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who denies 30 chargesAccused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev made his first public appearance in 17 months Thursday, walking in court for a final hearing before his trial begins January 5. Wearing a black sweater and gray pants, the 21-year-old with shaggy hair and beard took his place in the US federal court in Boston without uttering a word. Held at Fort Devens prison hospital around 44 miles (70 kilometers) from Boston, he was not previously seen in public since entering his not guilty plea. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police as the pair tried to escape the Boston area several days later.

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:06:09 -0500
Jihadists claim murders in 2013 of Tunisia secularists

Abou Mouqatel (R) -- an IS militant wanted by Tunisian authorities for murder and whose real name is Abou Bakr al-Hakim -- speaking next to fellow militants claiming the 2013 twin assassinations of two Tunisian secular politiciansJihadists who have joined the Islamic State group claimed Thursday the 2013 murder of two secular politicians that plunged Tunisia into crisis, warning of more killings just days before a presidential runoff election. "Yes, tyrants, we're the ones who killed Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi," Abou Mouqatel, a dual French national wanted for their murders, said in a video released on the Internet. It was not clear where the video was filmed, but Abou Mouqatel claimed they were in an area under the control of IS, which has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq. You will not have a quiet life until Tunisia implements Islamic law," added the militant, whose real name is Boubakr al-Hakim.

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:59:47 -0500
Sony cyberattack may be costliest ever

This photo provided by Columbia Pictures - Sony shows, Randall Park, center, as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Columbia Pictures' "The Interview." North Korea has been linked to the unprecedented act of cyberwarfare against Sony Pictures that exposed tens of thousands of sensitive documents and escalated to threats of terrorist attacks that ultimately drove the studio to cancel all release plans for "The Interview." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures - Sony, Ed Araquel)NEW YORK (AP) — The unprecedented hack of Sony Pictures which a U.S. official says is linked to North Korea may be the most damaging cyberattack ever inflicted on an American business.

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:59:40 -0500
Hedge fund billionaire's wife will not contest divorce ruling

Jamie Cooper-Hohn, wife of top hedge fund boss Chris Hohn, leaves the High Court after a divorce hearing, in central LondonLONDON (Reuters) - Jamie Cooper-Hohn, estranged wife of hedge fund billionaire Christopher Hohn, will not contest a divorce settlement announced last month that awarded her less than half the family fortune. Cooper said in a statement on Thursday she had chosen not to appeal the judgment, opting instead to focus on her charitable activities and raising her children. American-born Cooper, 49, had sought half the assets, estimated at around $1.5 billion. ...

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:59:36 -0500
Irish face new abortion row over brain-dead woman

FILE - A Saturday, July 6, 2013 file photo showing Stephen and Pauline O'Brien, foreground, holding Catholic rosary beads as they march through Ireland's capital, Dublin, in an anti-abortion protest. Ireland is debating its constitutional ban on abortion again because of a case involving a brain-dead pregnant woman on life support. Irish media reported Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, that family members want to turn off the woman’s life support systems but doctors are refusing because the law requires them to defend the right to life of her 16-week-old fetus. Fetuses typically cannot survive outside the womb until around 24 weeks. (AP Photo/Shawn Pogatchnik, File)DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland is debating its ban on abortion again as doctors keep a brain-dead pregnant woman on life support, awaiting a judge's verdict on what do to with the living fetus.

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:57:17 -0500
UK police investigate three alleged murders in child sex inquiry

Scotland Yard is looking into the disappearance of three young boys as part of an ongoing investigation into child abuse allegations dating back to the 1970sLondon (AFP) - Scotland Yard is investigating the possible murders of three boys as part of its inquiry into allegations of a historic Westminster paedophile ring, the force said Thursday.

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:55:51 -0500
Video says Tunisia assassinations by Islamic State
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — A new video has surfaced claiming responsibility for the 2013 assassinations of two Tunisian politicians in the name of the Islamic State group.
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:55:20 -0500
Exiles divided on plans to thaw US-Cuba relations

Anti-Castro protester Sisay Barcia, right, argues with pro-Obama supporter Peter Bell, left, in the Little Havana area of Miami, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Barcia expresses his disagreement with a surprise move announced by senior Obama administration officials that could pave the way for a major shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)MIAMI (AP) — All eyes in the U.S. immediately turned to Miami, where many expected the country's largest population of Cuban exiles to pour angrily into the streets, when Cuban and American leaders announced they would restore diplomatic relations after a standoff lasting more than a half-century.

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:54:45 -0500
Iran to hold major naval drills at end of December

Iranian Naval troops march during the annual military parade marking the anniversary of Iran's war with Iraq (1980-88) in Tehran, on September 22, 2014Iran will hold widespread naval drills extending to the Gulf of Aden in December, its navy chief said Thursday, asking foreign forces to "leave the area" to avoid incidents. The week-long exercises -- the first on this scale since the election of reformist President Hassan Rouhani in June last year -- are set to start on December 25 and take place between the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Aden, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayari was quoted as saying by the official Irna news agency. "The ballistic capacity of Iran will be on display during exercises including missile launches," Sayari said. Sayari called on foreign forces to leave the drill zone for the duration of the exercises.

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:54:37 -0500
2 more Irishmen charged in IRA home bugged by MI5
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Two more Irishmen have been charged with Irish Republican Army-related offenses as part of a lengthy eavesdropping operation by MI5.
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:54:30 -0500
Acquitted of Rwanda genocide, now left in legal limbo

Former Rwandan Minister for the Public Functions Prosper Mugiraneza sits 06 Novembre 2003 in the UN International Crime Tribunal on Rwanda in Arusha, TanzaniaSitting behind his desk in a secure house in a quiet neighbourhood of Arusha, Prosper Mugiraneza looks at family photos taken before he was arrested in Cameroon 15 years ago. Since then he has never seen his oldest son, after being charged with playing a leading role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide and hauled to the city in northern Tanzania, the home of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). ICTR registrar Bongani Majola explained that no country wants to take them in, leaving the court -- which is in the process of wrapping up its last cases and closing its doors -- with a final logistical headache.

Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:51:24 -0500
How the AP-NORC Center Russia poll was conducted
The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Poll of Russia was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago with fieldwork by GfK Russia from Nov. 22-Dec. 7. It is based on a nationally representative random sample of 2,008 Russians age 18 and older.
Date Posted : Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:49:30 -0500

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