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China condemns cyberattacks, but says no proof North Korea hacked Sony

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry delivers remarks as China's Foreign Minister Wang looks on, before their meeting in WashingtonBy Megha Rajagopalan and Steve Holland BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China said on Monday it opposed all forms of cyberattacks but there was no proof that North Korea was responsible for the hacking of Sony Pictures, as the United States has said. North Korea has denied it was to blame and has vowed to hit back against any U.S. retaliation, threatening the White House and the Pentagon. The hackers said they were incensed by a Sony comedy about a fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which the studio has pulled. ...

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 04:34:38 -0500
U.S. leads 22 more air strikes against Islamic State: task force
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S.-led coalition conducted 12 air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria on Monday and 10 strikes Iraq, the U.S. military said in a statement. In Iraq, the strikes hit near the strategic northern Iraqi town of Sinjar as well as near Asad, Tal Afar, Ramdi, Mosul and Falluja, the Combined Joint Task Force said. They destroyed six units of Islamic State fighters as well as a weapons factory, numerous buildings and several vehicles, it said. ...
Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:45:07 -0500
Budget pressure unlikely to deflect Iran from nuclear goals

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani gives a news conference on the sidelines of the 69th United Nations General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters in New YorkBy Mehrdad Balali DUBAI (Reuters) - A big oil price slide will hurt Iran's attempts to rescue battered living standards, but economic pain is unlikely to soften its stance in nuclear talks or end aid to allies such as Syria, matters seen by its ruling clerics as strategic priorities. Economic misery due to sanctions and mismanagement has been a reality for years, and while social strains in the 76 million population are deep, the clerics will seek to contain them, say experts examining Iran's budget plans for 2015. ...

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 06:21:45 -0500
Exclusive: WHO says Syria opens Aleppo, other troubled areas for medical aid

A woman carries a child as she walks past a boy selling yogurt along a street in Aleppo's Bab al-Hadeed districtBy Oliver Holmes BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Syrian government has approved the delivery of medicine and surgical supplies to three areas of the country aid workers were previously unable to reach regularly, including opposition-held Aleppo, the World Health Organization said on Monday. Elizabeth Hoff, the WHO's Syria representative, told Reuters the areas freed for access are Aleppo, the besieged Damascus district of Mouadamiya, and Eastern Ghouta, outside the capital. Security constraints from the civil war have been the biggest impediment to aid deliveries, Hoff said. ...

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 10:08:27 -0500
Veteran Essebsi wins Tunisian election, riots break out in south

Beji Caid Essebsi, Nidaa Tounes party leader, gestures outside the party headquarters in TunisBy Tarek Amara TUNIS (Reuters) - Veteran politician Beji Caid Essebsi has won Tunisia's first free presidential election, official results showed on Monday, the final step in a transition to democracy after an uprising that ousted autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011. But rioting broke out in one southern city, with police firing teargas to disperse hundreds of youths who burned tyres and blocked streets to demonstrate against the victory of an official from Ben Ali's old guard. Essebsi beat rival and incumbent Moncef Marzouki with 55.68 percent of the vote against 44. ...

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:39:37 -0500
Pope says Vatican administration is sick with power and greed

Pope Francis leads his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the VaticanBy Philip Pullella VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican's top administrators would have been expecting an exchange of pleasantries at their annual Christmas meeting with Pope Francis on Monday. Instead, he chose the occasion to issue a stinging critique, telling the priests, bishops and cardinals who run the Curia, the central administration of the Roman Catholic Church, that careerism, scheming and greed had infected them with "spiritual Alzheimer's". ...

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 08:29:53 -0500
Stocks advance amid oil price stability hopes
LONDON (AP) — Global stock markets rose strongly Monday amid hopes that some stability was emerging in oil markets following a rout that's seen prices slide to five year lows.
Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 08:29:56 -0500
Norwegian jail blocks 220 letters from mass murderer Breivik

Norway mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, pictured in court in Oslo in August 2012, is serving a 21-year jail termNorway's prison authorities said Monday they had seized over 200 letters from mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik to prevent him from setting up a network outside jail. Breivik killed 77 people in a bombing in Norway's capital Oslo and in a shooting rampage on a nearby island in July 2011. He said he committed the attacks to prevent a "Muslim invasion" of Norway. "We have refused to send some letters from Breivik for reasons of security.

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 10:08:25 -0500
Spain hands out $3B in planet's biggest lottery

Owners of a lottery office celebrate after selling the first Christmas lottery prize “El Gordo” (“The Fat One”) in La Eliana, near Valencia, eastern Spain, Spain, Monday Dec. 22, 2014. The drawing is underway in Spain for the world's biggest lottery payoff, a euro2.5 billion ($3 billion) pot of cash that will be divided among thousands of ticketholders. The top prize for this year's "El Gordo" (The Fat One) drawing are tickets that will win euro400,000 ($490,000). Many more people who bought 20-euro ($24) tickets will take home smaller amounts.(AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)MADRID (AP) — Spaniards who bought lottery tickets in an upper middle class Madrid neighborhood hit the jackpot on Monday, cracking open bottles of champagne on the streets as they celebrated winning 400,000-euro ($490,000) payoffs from a 2.5 billion-euro ($3 billion) pot of cash divided among thousands of ticketholders.

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 10:07:21 -0500
Burundi arrests brother of suspected France Islamist attacker

The police station in Joue-les-Tours, central France, where police shot dead a man who attacked them with a knife while shouting "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great" in Arabic) pictured on December 21, 2014Authorities in the central African nation of Burundi said Monday they had arrested the brother of a man who was killed in France after a suspected Islamist-motivated attack. A spokesman for Burundi's National Intelligence Service said Brice Nzohabonayo was detained in the capital Bujumbura shortly after his brother Bertrand Nzohabonayo attacked a police station in the central French town of Joue-les-Tours.

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 10:06:57 -0500
Top Asian News at 3:00 p.m. GMT
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An angry North Korea, now on the defensive over a U.S. accusation of hacking, is refusing to take part in a groundbreaking U.N. Security Council meeting Monday where the country's bleak human rights situation will be discussed for the first time. International pressure has built this year on Pyongyang after a sprawling U.N.-backed inquiry of alleged crimes against humanity and warned that young leader Kim Jong Un could be held accountable. And attention has focused on the North in recent days, as the Obama administration on Friday blamed it for the devastating hacking attack on Sony over the film "The Interview," which portrays Kim's assassination.
Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 10:02:24 -0500
Brutal French driver attack 'not a terrorist act'

French police stand on December 21, 2014 at the site in Dijon where a driver ploughed into a crowd injuring 13 peopleA Frenchman who ploughed into pedestrians shouting "Allahu Akbar" had been to psychiatric hospital 157 times and had no known links to jihadist groups, a prosecutor said Monday, easing concerns the attack was inspired by Islamic extremism. The incident in the eastern town of Dijon left 13 people hurt in a scene one witness described as "apocalyptic" and came a day after a man assaulted police in the central town of Joue-les-Tours with a knife, slashing one officer in the face. In Saturday's attack, Bertrand Nzohabonayo, a French convert to Islam who was born in Burundi, was shot dead after entering a police station in Joue-les-Tours armed with a knife, seriously wounding two officers and hurting another. The anti-terror branch of the Paris prosecutor's office quickly took over a probe into the attack amid heightened vigilance over potential "lone wolf" attacks by individuals heeding calls for violence by the Islamic State jihadist group.

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 10:02:10 -0500
88-year-old ex-minister wins Tunisia election

Presidential candidate Beji Caid Essebsi, 88-year-old former minister, leaves his party headquarters, Monday Dec.22, 2014 in Tunis. Newspapers in Tunisia have followed exit polls in proclaiming Beji Caid Essebsi the winner of the presidential election. Official results are expected later Monday but polls immediately after voting ended gave Beji Caid Essebsi around 55 percent of the vote.(AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — An 88-year-old veteran of Tunisia's political establishment won the country's presidency, according to official results issued Monday, capping a four-year-long democratic transition.

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 10:01:57 -0500
China to investigate ex-President Hu's top aide
BEIJING (AP) — The top aide to former Chinese President Hu Jintao has been placed under investigation for unspecified disciplinary violations, the official Xinhua News Agency said Monday, in a sign that President Xi Jinping is removing his predecessor's influences while consolidating his power.
Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:55:45 -0500
Anti-Islamist Essebsi wins Tunisia presidential vote

Anti-Islamist Beji Caid Essebsi, named as the winner in Tunisia's first free presidential election, arrives at his party's headquarters on December 22, 2014 in TunisAnti-Islamist politician Beji Caid Essebsi won Tunisia's presidential election with 55.68 percent of the vote, beating incumbent Moncef Marzouki, the electoral commission said on Monday. A former prime minister, he clinched 1.7 million of votes cast against Marzouki's more than 1.3 million in Sunday's runoff, electoral commission chief Chafik Sarsar told a news conference. The election is seen as a landmark for democracy in the North African nation where the Arab Spring was born, and set Tunisia apart from its neighbours where turmoil persists despite popular uprisings that toppled veteran dictators.

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:54:45 -0500
Russia bails out bank following ruble slide

Alexei Kudrin gestures during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. Alexei Kudrin, Russia’s finance minister in 2000-2011, has predicted a major economic crisis in Russia next year even if the prices on oil, the backbone of the Russian economy, go up. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has bailed out a mid-sized bank for about $500 million to save it from bankruptcy— a clear sign that the slide in the value of the ruble in the wake of sliding oil prices is straining the banking system.

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:51:56 -0500
Kurdish fighters face resistance from IS in Iraq

Kurdistan Iraqi regional government President Massoud Barzani arrives to support Kurdish forces as they head to battle Islamic State militants, on the summit of Mount Sinjar, in the town of Sinjar, 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. Barzani vowed to crush the Islamic State group as fighting rages in Sinjar. (AP Photo/Zana Ahmed)MOUNT SINJAR, Iraq (AP) — Kurdish fighters in Iraq pushed deeper Monday into the town of Sinjar, held by the Islamic State group, but are facing stiff resistance from the Sunni militants who captured it in August.

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:51:35 -0500
Wounded ex-NBA player Carl Herrera improves in Venezuela
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The team coached by former NBA player Carl Herrera says his condition is improving following a shooting in Venezuela.
Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:47:18 -0500
Belarus enjoys bonanza amid Russia-West tensions

In this Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014 photo a Belarusian man examines imported fruit at the central market Komarovka in Minsk, Belarus. Belarus has profited handsomely on its new role of a key conduit for European food banned by Moscow in retaliation to Western sanctions.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)MINSK, Belarus (AP) — As relations between Russia and the West have sunk to their lowest point since the Cold War, there's one country that's reaping rewards — Belarus, whose authoritarian leader was once dubbed "Europe's last dictator" by the United States and the European Union.

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:40:01 -0500
Russia watchdog blocks web pages calling for Navalny support protest: activists

Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny arrives to attend a court hearing in MoscowBy Andrey Kuzmin MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Internet watchdog is working to block social networking sites rallying support for a mass protest next month backing Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, activists said on Monday. Navalny, a leader of the 2011-12 Moscow protest movement against President Vladimir Putin's rule, is facing charges of stealing 30 million roubles from two firms, between 2008 and 2012, in a case he has dismissed as politically motivated. ...

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:39:51 -0500
Pope launches scathing attack on Vatican plagued by ills

Pope Francis speaks during the audience of the Curia, the administrative apparatus of the Holy See, at the Vatican on December 22, 2014Pope Francis lambasted the Vatican's bureaucracy on Monday, saying some within the Church had a lust for power, were indifferent to others and suffered from "spiritual Alzheimer's". The Argentine used a Christmas speech to cardinals, bishops and priests to list a catalogue of ailments plaguing some at the very top and urging a "cure". He said the Vatican was riven with "existential schizophrenia", "social exhibitionism", "spiritual Alzheimer's" and a lust for power, all of which have led to an "orchestra that plays out of tune". Since then the pontiff has establish a series of specialist bodies to tackle corruption and poor management in the Vatican, including the naming of eight cardinals from around the world to advise him on the Curia overhaul.

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:35:46 -0500
10 years after tsunami, victim's mom learns body wasn't lost

In this photo taken on Nov. 7, 2014, Aye Pu, mother of May Aye Nwe, 20, who was lost at sea during the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, wipes her tears during an interview at her home in Seint Paing, Myanmar. An Associated Press investigation helped track down two families with loved ones at the Tsunami Victims' Cemetery in southern Thailand, including Maye Aye Nwe’s mother. As the 10th anniversary of the disaster approaches, Aye Pu, now a 55-year-old widow, says her healing process can finally begin. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)SEINT PAING, Myanmar (AP) — Of all the moments to chase a dream, May Aye Nwe chose the morning of Dec. 26, 2004.

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:35:03 -0500
North Korea skipping UN Security Council meeting
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An angry North Korea, now on the defensive over a U.S. accusation of hacking, is refusing to take part in a groundbreaking U.N. Security Council meeting Monday where the country's bleak human rights situation will be discussed for the first time.
Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:30:04 -0500
Palestinians say Gaza reconstruction pledges unfulfilled
JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian official says international donors have not yet followed through on their pledges to rebuild Gaza.
Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:29:44 -0500
Prosecutor: No terror link in France car rampage

This photo provided Monday, Dec. 22, 2014 by local newspaper Le Bien Public shows rescue workers tending at victims after a driver deliberately slammed into passersby in several spots in Dijon, central France, Sunday Dec. 21, 2014. French police are raising security after an attack on officers in central France, and the country’s top security official is arriving in the city where a driver ran down 11 pedestrians. (AP Photo/Christian Guileminot; Le Bien Public)PARIS (AP) — French officials called for vigilance but warned against jumping to conclusions Monday after a pair of weekend attacks — one in which a driver ran down 13 bystanders, and another in which a recent convert to Islam knifed police officers.

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:24:22 -0500
Panel: Asahi not to blame for criticism of Japan
TOKYO (AP) — An independent panel says there is no clear evidence that reports by the Asahi newspaper quoting fabricated witness accounts led to international criticism over Japan's use of Asian women in wartime military brothels.
Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:24:15 -0500
German bishops signal opening for some divorcees
BERLIN (AP) — The head of the German Bishops' Conference says German bishops support allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive communion "under certain conditions."
Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:20:01 -0500
Bomb blast at NE Nigeria bus station 'kills at least 20'

Soldiers patrol in the north of Borno state close to a Islamist extremist group Boko Haram former camp near Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, on June 5, 2013A bombing at a bus station in Gombe city in northeast Nigeria killed at least 20 people on Monday, the latest violence in the region repeatedly targeted by Boko Haram, the Red Cross said. Nigeria is set to hold a general election on February 14, but relentless bloodshed has raised security concerns ahead of the poll, with some warning that voting may be impossible in large parts of the northeast. The Red Cross mobilised with 20 body bags and they have all been exhausted," said Abubakar Yakubu Gombe, area secretary for the Red Cross. The bomb was planted near a bus that was filling up with passengers, said Mato Yakubu of the National Orientation Agency, a government body responsible for the media.

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:18:19 -0500
Actress Billie Whitelaw dies aged 82 after long career
LONDON (AP) — British actress Billie Whitelaw, who collaborated closely with Irish playwright Samuel Beckett and appeared on stage and screen for decades, has died in a London nursing home at age 82.
Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:17:53 -0500
Presidents meet to discuss peace in South Sudan
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa's government says President Jacob Zuma has travelled to East Africa for talks on the South Sudan peace process.
Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:03:32 -0500
China probes former senior aide to Hu Jintao over graft

File photo of Ling, elected vice chairman of the CPPCC, attending the opening ceremony of the CPPCC in BeijingBy Ben Blanchard and Benjamin Kang Lim BEIJING (Reuters) - China's ruling Communist Party announced a corruption investigation into a one-time senior aide to former president Hu Jintao on Monday, as President Xi Jinping opens another front in his sweeping battle against deep-rooted graft. In a terse and brief statement on its website, the party's anti-corruption watchdog said that Ling Jihua was being investigated for "suspected serious discipline violations", the usual euphemism for graft. It gave no other details. ...

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:02:19 -0500
UK accounting watchdog probes Tesco accounts

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said in a brief statement that it will investigate the financial figures for the last three years reported by Tesco and audited and prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)London (AFP) - Britain's accounting watchdog on Monday launched a probe into Tesco's accounts after the troubled supermarket giant admitted overstating its profits earlier this year.

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 09:00:22 -0500
A list of Pope Francis' 15 "Ailments of the Curia"
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis listed 15 "ailments" of the Vatican Curia during his annual Christmas greetings to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the central administration of the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church. Here's the list.
Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 08:52:12 -0500
Zimbabwe's president fires more cabinet members
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe's festive season is marked by continued political infighting and financial austerity, as the president fired two more cabinet ministers and the country's civil servants learned they will not get annual holiday bonuses.
Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 08:50:26 -0500
Nazarbayev: Ukraine conflict is 'nonsense'
MOSCOW (AP) — Kazakhstan's president says the conflict in eastern Ukraine is "nonsense" and is calling on Russia and Ukraine to find a way to resolve it.
Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 08:42:23 -0500
Landmine explosion wounds seven soldiers in southeast Turkey
DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Seven Turkish soldiers including a battalion commander were wounded on Monday when their armoured vehicle drove over a land mine in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey, the military said. It did not say who planted the mine, or when, but Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants have carried out such attacks on military vehicles in the past. The wounded were hospitalized and the gravity of their injuries was not immediately known. ...
Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 08:39:32 -0500
Airbus delivers first next-generation plane to Qatar Airways

Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier poses near one of the two Airbus A350-900 aircrafts for the Qatar Airways company at the Airbus Group center in Toulouse, southern France on December 22, 2014Airbus delivered its first next-generation A350-900 plane to Qatar Airways Monday in a formal ceremony that kickstarts its bid to erode rival Boeing's dominance in the lucrative long-haul market. Qatar Airways's first A350 had been due to be delivered on December 13 in the southwestern French city of Toulouse where Airbus is based, but the airline postponed the handover at the last moment, citing equipment in the cabin that did not correspond to its requirements. "My dear Akbar, you are a demanding customer, particularly demanding and sometimes even a little too demanding, but you are also one of the architects of the A350," Airbus chief Fabrice Bregier told Qatar Airways head Akbar al-Baker at the ceremony.

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 08:36:17 -0500
China indicts Jackie Chan's son on drug charge

In this March 31, 2011 photo, Hong Kong actor Jaycee Chan speaks during an awards ceremony for the Chinese entertainment industry in Beijing, China. Chinese prosecutors say on Monday, Dec. 22, 2014, that they have formally indicted Jaycee Chan, son of Hong Kong action film star Jackie Chan on the charge of sheltering others to use drugs, more than four months after he was first detained. (AP Photo) CHINA OUTBEIJING (AP) — Chinese prosecutors on Monday indicted the son of Hong Kong action film star Jackie Chan on the charge of sheltering others to use drugs, more than four months after he was detained.

Date Posted : Mon, 22 Dec 2014 08:34:23 -0500
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