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Obama says Sony hack not an act of war

File photo of a security guard standing at the entrance of United Artists theater during the premiere of the film "The Interview" in Los AngelesBy Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama moved to prevent U.S. anger at North Korea from spiraling out of control on Sunday by saying the massive hacking of Sony Pictures was not an act of war but instead was cyber-vandalism. Washington's long-standing dispute with North Korea, which for years has centered on its nuclear weapons program, has entered new territory with the accusation that Pyongyang carried out an assault on a major Hollywood entertainment company. ...

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:55:08 -0500
U.S.-led forces launch 13 air strikes in Iraq, three in Syria
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.-led forces attacked Islamic State targets on Sunday with 13 air strikes in Iraq and three in Syria, using fighter, bomber and other aircraft, the U.S. military said. Four of the Iraq strikes were near Sinjar in the north of the country, which destroyed Islamic State buildings, tactical units and vehicles, while other Iraqi cities targeted included Tal Afar, Ramadi, Mosul and Baiji, according to the Combined Joint Task Force. The strikes in Syria over the weekend were focused around the contested city of Kobani near the Turkish border, it said in a statement. ...
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:48:05 -0500
Tunisians vote in historic presidential run-off

A woman shows her ink-stained finger after casting her vote at a polling station in TunisBy Patrick Markey and Tarek Amara TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisians voted on Sunday in a presidential run-off election that completes the country's transition to full democracy nearly four years after an uprising which ousted autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali. With a new progressive constitution and a full parliament elected in October, Tunisia is hailed as an example of democratic change for a region still struggling with the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring revolts. ...

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 07:33:07 -0500
Four militants hanged in Pakistan as execution campaign widens
By Syed Raza Hassan and Nadia Saleem ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan hanged four Islamist militants on Sunday in the second set of executions since the government lifted a moratorium after the Taliban massacred 132 children and nine others at a school last week. None of those hanged has anything to do with Tuesday's school rampage in Peshawar, and some Pakistani commentators have said the executions are intended to divert attention from the failure to satisfy public demands to find the killers. ...
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:09:00 -0500
Economic issues whip up Israelis in chocolate pudding election

A customer checks loaves of bread at a bakery in the southern Israeli city of AshkelonBy Steven Scheer and Tova Cohen JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's high cost of living is set to dominate a March 17 election that could shake up Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition, with voter anger symbolized by an overpriced dessert. In a country where the influence of small parties makes elections notoriously hard to forecast, many experts still expect rightwing leader Netanyahu to keep power. But the focus on domestic policy and economics, rather than on security and Palestinian peacemaking, means the outcome is even more difficult to predict than usual. ...

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:50:54 -0500
Egypt allows in travelers from Gaza for first time since October

A member of the Palestinian security forces carries a girl as she waits to cross into Egypt at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza StripBy Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA (Reuters) - Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing on Sunday for incoming passengers from the Gaza Strip for the first time in almost two months, Palestinian and Egyptian officials said. Rafah is the only major crossing between impoverished Gaza, home to 1.8 million Palestinians, and the outside world that does not border Israel, which blockades the strip and allows passage mainly on humanitarian grounds. ...

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 05:53:14 -0500
China wins aerial freestyle team event in Beijing
BEIJING (AP) — China won the first ever aerial team event on the freestyle World Cup on Sunday to wrap up a successful weekend for the home nation inside the Bird's Nest stadium.
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:50:34 -0500
Egypt court tries 26 men for debauchery

Egyptian law does not expressly ban homosexuality but gay men have previously been arrested and charged with debauchery insteadAn Egyptian court on Sunday tried 26 men for alleged debauchery after accusing them of homosexual activity at a Cairo public bathhouse in a case that sparked international condemnation. The handcuffed defendants, many of them crying, arrived in court with their heads bowed as police pushed them inside a metal cage, an AFP correspondent reported. The defendants were arrested on December 7 in a night raid on a hammam in central Cairo's Azbakeya district. An Egyptian television presenter who filmed the raid as the near naked men were loaded aboard police trucks aired the footage days later.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:49:49 -0500
Guinea leader warns Boko Haram risks spreading in region

Alpha Conde, pictured on November 26, 2014 at the presidential palace in Conakry, says Islamic extremism risks spreading throughout west AfricaGuinea's president warned Sunday that Islamic extremism risked spreading throughout west Africa and called on countries in the region to do more to help Nigeria in its struggle against Boko Haram. Alpha Conde's comments came after the radical group kidnapped 185 people in northeast Nigeria on December 14, in a chillingly similar event to the April abduction in Chibok of more than 200 school girls. "We hope that we will become aware of this and put an end to the danger of Boko Haram. Boko Haram has carried out a series of abductions in Nigeria this year, boosting their supply of child fighters, porters and young women reportedly used as sex slaves.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:47:35 -0500
Hoffenheim routs Hertha Berlin 5-0 away in Bundesliga
BERLIN (AP) — Hertha Berlin slumped to a 5-0 loss at home to Hoffenheim on Sunday, increasing the hosts' relegation fears on the last day before the Bundesliga winter break.
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:43:18 -0500
US mulls putting NKorea on terrorism sponsor list

Cars drive by the Sony Pictures Plaza building in Culver City, Calif., Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. President Barack Obama declared Friday that Sony "made a mistake" in shelving the satirical film, "The Interview," about a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader. He pledged the U.S. would respond "in a place and manner and time that we choose" to the hacking attack on Sony that led to the withdrawal. The FBI blamed the hack on the communist government. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)HONOLULU (AP) — President Barack Obama says the United States is reviewing whether to put North Korea back on its list of state sponsors of terrorism as Washington decides how to respond to what he calls an "act of cybervandalism," not one of war, against a movie company.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:41:54 -0500
Samp and Genoa miss chance to end the year in 3rd

Sampdoria forward Manolo Gabbiadini celebrates after scoring during a Serie A soccer match between Sampdoria and Udinese, in Genoa, Italy, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Carlo Baroncini)Sampdoria and Genoa missed the chance to end the year in third spot as both teams failed to win in the final round of Serie A fixtures before the winter break.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:40:29 -0500
Elton John weds David Furnish after 21 years together

David Furnish (left) and Elton John at the wedding of Britain's Prince William and Kate Middleton, at Westminster Abbey in central London, on April 29, 2011British pop superstar Elton John married long-time partner David Furnish in Windsor on Sunday, the ninth anniversary of their civil partnership, with David Beckham and actor Hugh Grant among the guests. The 67-year-old singer posted a picture on photo-sharing website Instagram of himself and Furnish in blue suits brandishing a pen as they signed a form. A fleet of luxury cars whisked the A-list guests through the gates of the couple's estate in Windsor, west of London, close to the castle where Queen Elizabeth II spends much of her time. Former footballer Beckham arrived with his children and wife Victoria while comedian David Walliams was spotted with model wife Lara Stone.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:40:08 -0500
Top Asian News at 4:30 p.m. GMT
HONOLULU (AP) — President Barack Obama says the United States is reviewing whether to put North Korea back on its list of state sponsors of terrorism as Washington decides how to respond to what he calls an "act of cybervandalism," not one of war. "We're not going to be intimidated by some cyberhackers," Obama said.
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:32:17 -0500
Sierra Leone urges safe burials to stem Ebola

FILE- In this Saturday Nov. 8, 2014 file photo, Ebola health care workers bury the body of a person suspected of dying of Ebola virus on the outskirts of Monrovia Liberia. Ebola has killed more than 2,000 people in Sierra Leone and unsafe burials may be responsible for up to 70 percent of new infections, say experts. Officials are resorting to increasingly desperate measures to clamp down on traditional burials in Sierra Leone, where Ebola is now spreading fastest. The head of the Ebola response has even threatened to jail people who prepare the corpses of their loved ones. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh, File)DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The radio announcement is chilling and blunt: "If I die, I want the deaths to stop with me."

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:30:32 -0500
Pope's role in Cuba deal fractures Cuban-American flock

In this photo taken Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, Rev. Juan Rumin Dominguez talks to a reporter at Our Lady of Charity Catholic church in Miami. Many Catholics have expressed pride in seeing Francis stirring hopes of progress in communist Cuba, but some Cuban-Americans say their spiritual leader betrayed them (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)MIAMI (AP) — The key role Pope Francis played encouraging talks between Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro left fractures among his flock in South Florida, where many older Roman Catholics equate the Castro brothers with the devil.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:28:31 -0500
US companies eager to embrace Cuba face hurdles

FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2014 file photo, tourists take a ride in a classic American convertible car with the Cuban national flag painted on the trunk, in Havana, Cuba. American businesses have begun imagining ways to capitalize on last week’s announcement that the United States will restore diplomatic ties with Cuba and ease curbs on trade with one of the last surviving communist regimes. The opening to Cuba could benefit, among others, U.S. farmers, auto and tractor makers, airline and hotel companies and telecom equipment makers. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Cargill aims to sell more corn and soybeans. MasterCard covets another site for Americans to swipe credit cards. Marriott sees beachfront property that needs hotels.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:13:33 -0500
Security agents raid Sudan rights group's office

Sudanese women browse the internet at an office in Khartoum on December 14, 2010Sudanese security agents raided the headquarters of a human rights monitor Sunday and seized computers, a member of the group said, nearly two weeks after one of its founders was arrested. National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) agents arrived at the office of the Sudan Human Rights Monitor in the early afternoon and searched the premises. He said the NISS did not close down the group, which documents human rights violations in Sudan. Britain's ambassador to Sudan, Peter Tibber, tweeted he was "concerned by raid on Sudan HR Monitor".

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:12:54 -0500
Pakistan says arrests made in Taliban school carnage
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's interior minister says authorities have made arrests in the case of the Taliban school attack that killed 148 in the northwestern city of Peshawar.
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:11:27 -0500
Rival Libya govt urges foreigners to return to Tripoli

Municipality workers clean up the debris as Libyan security forces inspect the scene of a car bombing outside the United Arab Emirates embassy building in Tripoli on November 13, 2014Libya's Islamist-backed rival government called Sunday for diplomats and foreign firms to return to Tripoli, pledging to protect them despite an attack on the empty home of the Swiss ambassador. "We call on diplomatic missions and foreign firms to return to Tripoli," the government of self-declared prime minister Omar al-Hassi said in a statement. "Foreigners who reside in Libya enjoy the same protection the state offers to its citizens," it said. On Friday gunmen broke into the residence of the Swiss ambassador in Tripoli and looted the uninhabited house, before chased away by security forces.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:11:01 -0500
Mozambique rescues kidnapped 'drug baron'

Police patrol on November 16, 2013 in Mozambique's central port city of BeiraMozambique police have rescued a wealthy businessman branded a "drug baron" by the US government who was kidnapped in Maputo more than a month ago, state media said Sunday. Momade Bachir Suleman was freed in a dawn operation Saturday in Macia town, some 130 kilometres (80 miles) north of the capital Maputo. Interior Minister Alberto Mondlane had earlier confirmed his release in an interview with public radio. He was subjected to a US assets freeze and visa ban, but remains well connected to Mozambique's political and economic elite.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:07:44 -0500
Lamy Chappuis wins 1st Nordic combi WCup in 1 year

France's winner Jason Lamy Chappuis celebrates in the finish area after the Nordic Combined World Cup competition in Ramsau, Austria, on Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)RAMSAU, Austria (AP) — World champion Jason Lamy Chappuis of France won a Nordic combined World Cup event Sunday for his first victory in a year and 27th overall.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:05:17 -0500
Ligety beaten by Hirscher again in GS race

Ted Ligety, of the United States, skies on his way to take second place during an alpine ski, men's World Cup giant slalom race, in Alta Badia, Italy, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)ALTA BADIA, Italy (AP) — Ted Ligety needs some training.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 11:01:20 -0500
Tunisians vote for post-revolution president

A Tunisian woman wearing the national flag casts her vote on December 21, 2014 at Ariana polling station near TunisTunisians voted in the runoff of the country's first free presidential election on Sunday, with authorities urging a big turnout to consolidate democracy after a chaotic four-year transition. Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa condemned what he called a "desperate attempt" to disrupt the embrace of democracy in the nation that triggered the Arab Spring. The second round vote pits 88-year-old favourite Beji Caid Essebsi, leader of the anti-Islamist Nidaa Tounes party, against incumbent Moncef Marzouki, who held the post through an alliance with the moderate Islamist movement Ennahda. "It is time to move on and set up long-lasting institutions," said Raja Gafsi, a 58-year-old worker, who like most voters is anxious to see political and economic stability and security return to Tunisia.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:57:19 -0500
Sunderland strikes late in 1-0 win over Newcastle

Sunderland's Adam Johnson, center, scores his goal during their English Premier League soccer match against Newcastle United at St James' Park, Newcastle, England, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)NEWCASTLE, England (AP) — Adam Johnson scored a 90th-minute winner as Sunderland beat Newcastle 1-0 in the Premier League on Sunday for an unprecedented fourth straight victory in the north-east derby.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:55:22 -0500
Shipulin wins biathlon mass-start race in Slovenia

Russia's Anton Shipulin celebrates in the finish area of the men's 15 km mass start competition at the Biathlon World Cup event, in Pokljuka, Slovenia, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. A provisional result sees Shipulin as the winner. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)POKLJUKA, Slovenia (AP) — Anton Shipulin of Russia sprinted away from three rivals to win a 15-kilometer mass-start race for his second biathlon World Cup victory in three days on Sunday, while Kaisa Makarainen of Finland won the women's event.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:52:17 -0500
200 Gazans enter Egypt as Rafah reopens for two days

Palestinians await permission to enter Egypt as they gather inside the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and southern Gaza Strip on December 21, 2014Around 200 Palestinians left Gaza and entered the Egyptian Sinai through the Rafah crossing on Sunday after Cairo authorised a temporary reopening of the border, a Palestinian official said. It was only the second time in two months that Egypt had opened the Rafah terminal. All of those crossing were either seeking medical treatment or were holders of a permit to stay overseas, according to Maher Abu Sabha, director of border crossings in the Gaza Strip.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:30:12 -0500
Marseille beats Lille 2-1 to end year atop Ligue 1

Marseille supporters wearing Santa Claus hats, shout slogans, during the League One soccer match between Marseille and Lille, at the Velodrome Stadium, in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)PARIS (AP) — Marseille beat Lille 2-1 Sunday to ensure it ended the year top of Ligue 1.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:20:43 -0500
France probes possible lone wolf 'radical Islamic' attack

The police station in Joue-les-Tours, where French police shot dead a man who attacked them with a knife while shouting "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great" in Arabic)on December 21, 2014Joué-lès-Tours (France) (AFP) - France on Sunday probed a suspected 'radical Islamic' attack on police that left two officers seriously injured and the assailant dead, prompting security to be stepped up at police and fire stations nationwide. Bertrand Nzohabonayo was shot dead Saturday after entering a police station in the central town of Joue-les-Tours armed with a knife, seriously wounding two officers -- slashing one in the face -- and hurting another. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who rushed to the scene of the attack on Saturday, said he had ordered "security measures to be stepped up" for police personnel and firefighters across the country. Nzohabonayo had previously committed petty offences but was not on a domestic intelligence watch-list although his brother is known for his radical views and once pondered going to Syria, the source said.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:13:43 -0500
US to review NKorea terror status after Sony hack: Obama

Workers remove the poster for "The Interview" from a billboard in Hollywood, California, December 18, 2014The United States is mulling whether or not to place North Korea back onto its list of state sponsors of terrorism President Barack Obama said in an interview aired Sunday following the communist nation's alleged cyber attack on Sony Pictures. The film about a fictional CIA plot to kill the country's leader infuriated North Korea. Obama's remarks, in the interview which taped on Friday, followed a call from a leading US senator to re-consider North Korea's terror designation.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:04:53 -0500
Kurds push into Sinjar; Iraqis battle for airport

Iraqi Kurdish forces head to battle Islamic State militants, on the summit of Mount Sinjar, in Iraq, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. Iraqi Kurdish fighters pushed their way Sunday into the town of Sinjar, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against Islamic State militants who captured the town last summer. Loud explosions and intense gunbattles were heard from inside the town. (AP Photo/Dalton Bennett)SINJAR, Iraq (AP) — Backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, Kurdish fighters pushed into the contested northern Iraqi town of Sinjar on Sunday, touching off heavy clashes with Islamic State militants who have controlled the area for months.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:04:42 -0500
Iraq Kurd chief hails advances in anti-jihadist battle

Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani speaks to journalists during a visit to Mount Sinjar in the autonomous Kurdistan region, in northwestern Iraq on December 21, 2014Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani hailed advances by peshmerga fighters against the Islamic State group Sunday as they battled the jihadists for a northern town with the backing of US-led strikes. Thousands of the autonomous Kurdish region's peshmerga launched a major operation on Wednesday which broke the second IS siege this year of Mount Sinjar. The Kurdish offensive threatens the links between the city of Mosul, the main IS stronghold in Iraq, and territory the militants control in neighbouring Syria. In addition to breaking through to the mountain, "a large part of the centre of the town of Sinjar was also liberated," he said of the district's main settlement to the south.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:04:33 -0500
U.S. firm finds malware targeting visitors to Afghan government websites

A magnifying glass is held in front of a computer screen in this picture illustration taken in BerlinBy Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Malicious software likely linked to China is being used to infect visitors to a wide range of official Afghan government websites, U.S. cybersecurity researchers say. ThreatConnect, a Virginia-based cybersecurity firm, said its researchers last week found a corrupted JavaScript file that is being used to host content on "gov.af" websites, and there are no antivirus protections available for the malware. ...

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:04:28 -0500
Sudan rights group says raided after opposition unity deal
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Security forces raided the Sudanese Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday, just weeks after jailing its former leader, the monitoring group's leader said, in what activists fear is a widening crackdown ahead of a presidential election in April. The government has increased pressure on political parties and civil society organizations that have expressed sympathy with armed rebels that it considers traitors. The former head of the Observatory was arrested this month after signing a largely symbolic unity deal with opposition parties and rebels. ...
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:55:44 -0500
Assad tells Iran's Larijani he backs local truces

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the Speaker of Iran's parliament Ali Larijani that Syria will continue to fight "terror" -- a term the regime has used for its opponents, both armed and peaceful, since the outbreak of a 2011 revoltSyria's President Bashar al-Assad told a top official from key supporter Iran Sunday his regime is working on "reconciliations" to end the brutal civil war, state news agency SANA said. His regime refers to local truces agreed between troops and rebels in several opposition-held areas as "national reconciliations". "President Assad emphasised the Syrian people's determination to eradicate terrorism," said SANA, adding that he would also continue to press for "national reconciliations... all over Syrian territory". Russia and Iran are Assad's main allies, supplying him with financial, military and political support in his bid to crush the rebellion.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:52:53 -0500
Belarusian independent news sites blocked
MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Several independent news websites have been blocked in the former Soviet republic of Belarus, where the government exerts close control of news media.
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:38:02 -0500
Rising anger as Nicaragua canal to break ground

FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2014 file photo, farmers shout slogans against the construction of the planned inter-oceanic canal as they arrive for a national protest march in Managua, Nicaragua. The project is slated to open a huge waterway over what is now the town of Rio Grande, an evangelical-dominated town of 2,000 people with only a dirt road amid fields of corn, beans, banana and sorghum. Everything within 10 kilometers (6 miles) would be subject to expropriation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix, File)RIO GRANDE, Nicaragua (AP) — As a conscripted soldier during the Contra War of the 1980s, Esteban Ruiz used to flee from battles because he didn't want to have to kill anyone. But now, as the 47-year-old farmer prepares to fight for his land, Ruiz insists, "I'm not going to run."

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:32:15 -0500
Egypt President awards medal to retired spy chief

In this photo provided by Egypt's state news agency MENA, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, right, gives a medal and a badge for the Republic Award to intelligence chief Gen. Mohammed Farid el-Tohamy in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. El-Sissi awarded el-Tohamy one of the state's highest awards after ordering his retirement. (AP Photo/MENA, Mohammed Samaha)CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has awarded the country's intelligence chief one of the state's highest awards after ordering his retirement.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:31:46 -0500

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