Thousands pray at Indonesian mosque that survived, 10 years after tsunami

By Gayatri Suroyo, Reuters on Dec. 25, 2014, at 2:54 p.m.
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — Thousands of Indonesians gathered on Thursday to pray at a mosque that was one of the few buildings left standing in Banda Aceh, the city flattened by the Boxing Day tsunami that killed at least 226,000 people 10 years ago. Pictures of the 135-year-old mosque left …
French police and firemen work near a van which was driven into a crowd, injuring 10 people, including five seriously wounded, according to French media, in Nantes Dec. 22, 2014.

Man rams van into Christmas market in France

By Guillaume Frouin, Reuters on Dec. 22, 2014, at 9:59 p.m.
NANTES, France — A man plowed a van into a crowded Christmas market in Nantes in western France on Monday, injuring at least 10 people in the country’s third violent attack in as many days. The driver, who authorities said stabbed himself after the crash, and four people were badly …
Gerardo Hernandez (right), one of the so-called "Cuban Five," reacts with his wife Adriana Perez (left) during Cuban musician Silvio Rodriguez's concert in Havana Dec. 20, 2014.  The United States helped Hernandez, a Cuban spy, imprisoned in California, artificially inseminate his wife back in Cuba, a goodwill gesture while Washington and Havana were engaged in secret talks on restoring diplomatic ties, U.S. officials said on Monday. Now Hernandez and Adriana are expecting his baby in two weeks.

US helped imprisoned Cuban spy artificially inseminate wife

By Daniel Trotta, Reuters on Dec. 22, 2014, at 8:53 p.m.
HAVANA — The United States helped a Cuban spy imprisoned in California artificially inseminate his wife back in Cuba, a goodwill gesture while Washington and Havana were engaged in secret talks on restoring diplomatic ties, U.S. officials said on Monday. Now Gerardo Hernandez and his wife, Adriana Perez, are expecting …
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, speaks to reporters in this 2014 file photo. McConnell in a recent interview with Reuters said he opposes President Barack Obama's thawing of relations with Cuba and criticized his characterization of North Korea's cyber attack against Sony as "cyber vandalism."

‘It was a mistake’: Republican leader Mitch McConnell opposes Obama on Cuba

By Reuters on Dec. 22, 2014, at 7:54 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday he opposed President Barack Obama’s plans to normalize relations with Cuba, and spoke of steps lawmakers could take to try to rein in the new policy. Interviewed by Reuters, McConnell also said that he and Obama had discussed possible major …
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance at the Kim Jong Suk Pyongyang Textile Mill in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang December 20, 2014.

North Korea suffers Internet outage, says US expert

By David Brunnstrom, Reuters on Dec. 22, 2014, at 3:20 p.m.
WASHINGTON — North Korea experienced Internet outages Monday, a U.S. company that monitors Internet infrastructure said, adding that the reason for the problems was not known. “For the past 24 hours North Korea’s connectivity to the outside world has been progressively getting degraded to the point now that they are …
Musician Elton John performs songs off his new album "The Diving Board" with USC Thornton School of Music students in Los Angeles, California, in this Sept. 16, 2013, file photo. John and his partner, David Furnish, tied the knot Sunday, Dec. 21, after same-sex marriage was legalized earlier this year.

British musician Elton John ties the knot under new law

By Reuters on Dec. 21, 2014, at 1:55 p.m.
LONDON — British musician Elton John on Sunday married his long-term partner David Furnish, converting their civil partnership after laws allowing same-sex marriage in Britain came into force this year. John, one of Britain’s most prominent musicians and gay celebrities, announced the wedding by posting an invitation on the social …

U.S.-led air strikes smash ISIS strongholds in Iraq, Syria

By Reuters on Dec. 21, 2014, at 11:48 a.m.
WASHINGTON — 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 …
President Barack Obama answers a question about the cyber attack on Sony Pictures after his end of the year press conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington on Dec. 19, 2014.  Obama and his family plan to depart Washington later in the day to  spend the holidays in Hawaii. Obama said in a recent interview with CNN that he does not consider the cyber attack against Sony an act of war but an act of "cyber vandalism."

Obama: North Korea cyber attack an act of ‘cyber vandalism,’ not war

By Steve Holland and Doina Chiacu, Reuters on Dec. 21, 2014, at 10:09 a.m.
WASHINGTON — 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 longstanding dispute with North Korea, which for years has centered on …

Mandy Rice-Davies, key figure in British political scandal, dies at 70

By David Colker, Los Angeles Times on Dec. 20, 2014, at 7:09 p.m.
Mandy Rice-Davies, whose cheeky testimony enlivened a sex-scandal trial that rocked Britain’s government and aristocracy in the 1960s, died Thursday. She was 70. The cause was cancer, according to a statement from her London publicist, the Hackford Jones agency. Rice-Davies, who denied being a prostitute but admitted to having affairs …
Cuba's President Raul Castro gestures after delivering a speech to members of the National Assembly in Havana on Saturday.

Despite US relationship, Castro says Cuban revolution will live on

By Mimi Whitefield, Miami Herald on Dec. 20, 2014, at 5:12 p.m.
Despite U.S. promises of more trade and travel under renewed diplomatic relations with the communist island, leader Raul Castro said Saturday that Cuba would continue to make economic changes at its own pace and would stick with its socialist model. Responding to criticism that more market-oriented reforms are coming too …
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (center) tours the Kim Jong Suk Pyongyang Textile Mill in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang on Saturday.

North Korea denies hacking Sony, offers joint investigation with US

By Jack Kim and Steve Holland, Reuters on Dec. 20, 2014, at 3:12 p.m.
SEOUL/WASHINGTON — North Korea said on Saturday U.S. accusations that it was involved in a cyberattack on Sony Pictures were “groundless slander” and that it wanted a joint investigation into the incident with the United States. An unnamed spokesman of North Korea’s foreign ministry said there would be serious consequences …
A health worker demonstrates putting on protective gear in a Red Cross facility in the town of Koidu, Kono district in eastern Sierra Leone on Thursday.

Ebola death toll in three African countries hits 7,373, reports WHO

By Reuters on Dec. 20, 2014, at 1:21 p.m.
GENEVA — The death toll from Ebola in the three worst-affected countries in West Africa has risen to 7,373 among 19,031 cases known to date there, the World Health Organization said on Saturday. The latest data, posted overnight on the WHO website, reflected nearly 500 new deaths from the worst …

UN: Civilian deaths in Afghanistan war reach new high in 2014

By Kay Johnson, Reuters on Dec. 19, 2014, at 5:27 p.m.
KABUL — At least 3,188 Afghan civilians have been killed in the intensifying war with the Taliban in 2014, making it the deadliest year on record for non-combatants, the United Nations said on Friday. The numbers are a sharp reminder that the Afghan war is far from over, even as …

Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnap 172 women, children in Nigeria

By Lanre Ola, Reuters on Dec. 18, 2014, at 6:53 p.m.
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped 172 women and children and killed 35 other people on Sunday during a raid on the northeast Nigerian village of Gumsuri, residents said on Thursday. Although no one has claimed responsibility, the attack bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, which abducted more …

EU court: Obesity can be deemed a disability at work

By Julia Fioretti, Reuters on Dec. 18, 2014, at 4:22 p.m.
BRUSSELS — Europe’s top court ruled on Thursday that obese people can be considered as disabled, but stopped short of saying that obesity was a condition that needed specific protection under European anti-discrimination laws. The landmark decision will be closely read by European employers and means that companies might have …

Canadian driver jailed for deaths caused by stopping for ducks

By Reuters on Dec. 18, 2014, at 4:18 p.m.
OTTAWA — A Canadian woman was sentenced to 90 days in jail on Thursday for causing two deaths in 2010 when she stopped her car on a Quebec highway to help a group of ducklings crossing the road. Emma Czornobaj had been convicted in June of two counts each of …

US will not support new Palestinian UN draft resolution

By Reuters on Dec. 18, 2014, at 2:16 p.m.
WASHINGTON — The United States would not support a new Palestinian-proposed U.N. Security Council draft resolution, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Thursday. “It is not something we would support,” Psaki told reporters. Earlier, Israel’s foreign minister described a draft resolution that calls for a peace deal within …

Sun-seeking Canadians urged to visit Cuba now before Americans arrive

By Rod Nickel, Reuters on Dec. 18, 2014, at 2:14 p.m.
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Canadians who want to enjoy uncrowded Cuban beaches and the country’s “frozen in time” charm should act soon before U.S. policy changes open the floodgates for American tourists, a Canadian cruise company warned on Thursday. Travel restrictions have made it difficult for Americans to visit the Communist-run …
New South Wales police officers guard a post near the fenced-off site of the siege at the Lindt cafe in Martin Place, Sydney, on Wednesday.

Australia orders sweeping investigation after deadly hostage siege

By Matt Siegel, Reuters on Dec. 17, 2014, at 9:17 p.m.
SYDNEY — Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Wednesday ordered a sweeping investigation into a deadly hostage siege after tough new security laws and the courts failed to stop a convicted felon from walking into a Sydney cafe with a concealed shotgun. Three people were killed, including hostage-taker Man Haron …
Mohammed Anas, 14, who survived an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, talks to his visitors as he lies on a hospital bed on Wednesday in Peshawar.

Anger and grief as Pakistan buries students massacred at school

By Mehreen Zahra-Malik, Reuters on Dec. 17, 2014, at 9:13 p.m.
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Pakistan on Wednesday began burying 132 students killed in a grisly attack on their school by Taliban militants that has heaped pressure on the government to do more to tackle an increasingly aggressive Taliban insurgency. The authorities, long accused of not being tough enough on extremists, quickly …
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