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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
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 northern Iraq, which destroyed Islamic State buildings, tactical units and vehicles. Other Iraqi cities targeted included Tal Afar, Ramadi, Mosul and Baiji, according to the Combined Joint Task Force. The strikes in Syria focused around the contested city of Kobani near the Turkish border, it said in a statement. (Reporting by Doina Chiacu)
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:22:50 -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
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
South Korea prosecutors investigate data leak at nuclear power plants
By Sohee Kim and Meeyoung Cho SEOUL (Reuters) - Seoul prosecutors have launched an investigation into a leak of non-critical data at South Korea's nuclear power operator, the prosecutors' office said on Sunday, as worries mount about nuclear safety and potential cyberattacks from North Korea. An official with the prosecutors' office confirmed media reports that they had traced the location of an IP address linked to the leak and had dispatched investigators to the site. ...
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 06:44:31 -0500
Greek PM offers 2015 election once bailout talks complete

Greece's PM and leader of ruling conservative New Democracy party Samaras addresses parliamentary group in AthensBy George Georgiopoulos ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras offered to bring pro-European independents into the government on Sunday and held out the prospect of new elections in late 2015 in exchange for backing by lawmakers to elect a new president. Speaking in an unscheduled television address on Sunday, he said Greece had a duty to finish negotiations with the European Union and International Monetary Fund to exit its bailout accord next year. ...

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:02:34 -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
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 10:17:17 -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 10:14:44 -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, 2014Jou้-l่s-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 "" websites, and there are no antivirus protections available for the malware. ...

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:04:28 -0500
Top Asian News at 3:00 p.m. GMT
HONOLULU (AP) — The United States is reviewing whether to put North Korea back onto its list of state sponsors of terrorism, President Barack Obama said as the U.S. decides how to respond to the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment that law enforcement has blamed on the communist nation. Obama described the hacking case as a "very costly, very expensive" example of cybervandalism, but did not call it an act of war. In trying to fashion a proportionate response, the president said the U.S. would examine the facts to determine whether North Korea should find itself back on the terrorism sponsors list.
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 10:02:14 -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) — The United States is reviewing whether to put North Korea back onto its list of state sponsors of terrorism, President Barack Obama said as the U.S. decides how to respond to the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment that law enforcement has blamed on the communist nation.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:57:47 -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
Hirscher beats Ligety on bumpy Badia GS course

Marcel Hirscher, of Austria, powers past a gate on his way to clock the fastest time during the first run of an alpine ski, men's World Cup giant slalom race, in Alta Badia, Italy, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Marco Trovati)ALTA BADIA, Italy (AP) — Marcel Hirscher beat Olympic champion Ted Ligety by a large margin Sunday in an unusually bumpy World Cup giant slalom race for his third consecutive victory in technical events.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:49:56 -0500
Gulf producers blame oil price on 'irresponsible' output

A flame from a Saudi oil installion is seen in the desert near the oil-rich area of Khouris on June 23, 2008Oil-rich Arab Gulf countries on Sunday blamed "irresponsible" non-OPEC producers for a plunge in global crude prices, but voiced confidence that markets would rebound. World prices have fallen almost 50 percent since June, mainly due to a supply glut, the weak global economy and a strong US dollar. UAE energy minister Suhail al-Mazrouei, in a clear reference to shale and sand oil output from North America and other emerging energy markets, attributed the price dive to "newcomers". "One of the main causes is irresponsible production by some producers from outside the (OPEC) organisation," he told an energy forum in Abu Dhabi.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:46:58 -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
Celtic's 8-game winning run ends at Dundee United
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Celtic's eight-game winning run in the Scottish Premiership came to an end with a 2-1 loss at Dundee United that revived the title race on Sunday.
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:24:29 -0500
Afridi to retire from ODIs after World Cup
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi will retire from one-day international cricket after the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year.
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:23:26 -0500
Germany prospect Oztunali joins Werder Bremen on loan
BREMEN, Germany (AP) — Germany youth international Levin Oztunali is joining Werder Bremen on loan from Bundesliga rival Bayer Leverkusen.
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:18:42 -0500
Super-G crash makes Vonn wait in bid for record

Elisabeth Goergl, of Austria, center, the winner, celebrates on podium with Anna Fenninger, of Austria, left, second placed and Tina Maze, Slovenia, right, third placed after an alpine ski women's World Cup Super-G, in Val d'Isere, France, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)VAL D'ISERE, France (AP) — American Lindsey Vonn's bid for a record-equaling 62nd World Cup win will have to wait a little while longer.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:12:47 -0500
Happy day: Elton John, David Furnish marry in England

FILE - A Wednesday Dec. 21, 2005 photo from files showing pop star Elton John, right, and his longtime partner David Furnish, after they had a civil ceremony at the Guildhall in Windsor, England. Elton John and his partner David Furnish plan to tie the knot for a second time this weekend, following the legalization of same-sex marriage in Britain. The singer's spokesman, Gary Farrow, said Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, that the ceremony will be private. Same-sex couples have been allowed to marry in Britain since March. Previously, gay couples could form civil partnerships, which carried the same legal status as marriage but without the title. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)LONDON (AP) — Entertainer Elton John and longtime mate David Furnish officially married Sunday on the ninth anniversary of the day they entered into a civil partnership.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:11:07 -0500
Iran nuclear diplomat gets key post as head of foreign oil deals
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran has appointed a backstage strategist in nuclear talks with world powers as chief of foreign petroleum contracts, the oil ministry said, a job that will hinge largely on any settlement of its atomic dispute with the West. Amir-Hossein Zamaninia is a veteran diplomat who was sidelined under hardline former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before resurfacing as adviser on the nuclear negotiations revived by moderate President Hassan Rouhani. ...
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:06:48 -0500
Tunisians votes in historic presidential runoff

Tunisians walk past a polling station in Tunis, Tunisia, Sunday Dec. 21 , 2014. Tunisians voted on Sunday for a new president in a runoff between a symbol of the country's previous regimes and a veteran human rights activist who came to power after the revolution of 2011. (AP Photo/Ilyess Osmane)TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisians voted on Sunday for a new president in a runoff between an official from the country's previous regimes and a veteran human rights activist who came to power after the 2011 revolution.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:05:29 -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 whom were crying, arrived at a Cairo court with their heads bowed as police pushed them inside a metal cage, an AFP correspondent reported. The men were arrested on December 7 in a night-time police raid on a hammam in the Azbakeya district of central Cairo. An Egyptian television presenter filmed the raid and aired it days later.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:05:16 -0500
Chievo beats Verona 1-0 in Serie A derby match
Chievo Verona beat city rival Hellas Verona 1-0 amid controversy in a Serie A derby match Sunday.
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:05:05 -0500
Greek prime minister open to 2015 early elections
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's prime minister says early general elections could be called by the end of 2015 if the current legislature can elect a president and if negotiations with the country's creditors on post-bailout aid are completed.
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 08:51:14 -0500
Saudi teen killed during raid on 'terrorists': residents

The Saudi interior ministry said it killed four militants during Saturday's operation in Awamiya town to arrest the suspects who shot dead a soldier a week earlierA teenager was accidentally killed during a Saudi raid against "terrorists" in a town populated by minority Shiites, residents of the area said on Sunday. The interior ministry said it killed four militants during Saturday's operation in Awamiya town to arrest the suspects who shot dead a soldier a week earlier. A resident of Awamiya said the youth appeared to have been killed "by mistake. Asked about the claims, the interior ministry said that police in the Eastern Province, which includes Awamiya, were to issue a statement.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 08:47:55 -0500
Greek PM offers elections in 2015 for presidency vote deal

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had until now steadfastly refused to bring forward the elections, which are normally due in June 2016Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Sunday offered to hold early elections in late 2015 to clinch a crucial presidential vote next week that could affect the country's economic future. "We can find the proper timeframe for national elections, even at the end of 2015", provided a president is elected and crunch EU-IMF loan talks are concluded, Samaras said in a nationally televised address. Upcoming votes in parliament to elect a successor to President Karolos Papoulias, whose term ends in March, look likely to end in a stalemate which would automatically spark early elections. Should that also fail, a third and final vote requiring 180 votes would be held on December 29.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 08:42:57 -0500
Jordan hangs 11 men after eight-year death penalty moratorium

Jordan executed 11 men convicted of murder by hanging on Sunday, the interior ministry said, as it ended an informal eight-year moratorium on the death penaltyHuman rights groups took Jordan to task on Sunday as the country ended an eight-year moratorium on the death penalty with the hangings of 11 men convicted of murder. The men were executed at dawn in a prison abut 70 kilometres (45 miles) from the capital Amman, interior ministry spokesman Ziyad Zoobi was quoted as saying by the official Petra news agency. Interior Minister Hussein Majali suggested recently that the moratorium might end, saying there was a "major debate" in Jordan on the death penalty and that "the public believes that the rise in crime has been the result of the non-application" of capital punishment. "The authorities have been confronted in recent years with a wave of violence, criminality and murders and want to meet the challenge by opting for deterrence and the renewed application of the death penalty," said Oraib Rantawi, head of Amman's Al-Quds Centre for Political Studies.

Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 08:40:02 -0500
2014 frustrates US hopes for Israeli-Palestinian peace
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is ending 2014 much in the same way he started it, frustrated in efforts to push Israel and Palestinians toward peace.
Date Posted : Sun, 21 Dec 2014 08:37:08 -0500
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