20 December 2014

Obama: No justification for murder of NYC police

HONOLULU (AP) — President Barack Obama says he unconditionally condemns the murder of two police officers shot in broad daylight on Saturday in New York.

20 December 2014

Today in History

Today is Sunday, Dec. 21, the 355th day of 2014. There are 10 days left in the year. Winter arrives at 6:03 p.m. Eastern time.

20 December 2014

French police kill 'Allahu Akbar' attacker

Forensic officers collect evidence outside the police station in Joue les-Tours on December 20, 2014 where a man attacked three policemen with a knife while shouting "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great" in Arabic)Joué-lès-Tours (France) (AFP) - French police shot dead a knife-wielding man who attacked three officers in a police station while shouting "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great"). The man wounded one officer's face at the entrance to the police station in Joue-les-Tours near the central city of Tours and injured two others before he was killed. The attacker "shouted 'Allahu Akbar' from the moment he entered until his last breath," the source said. "It looked like the sort of act called for by Islamic State," the source said.


20 December 2014

Castro hails US-Cuba thaw, but says won't change political system

Cuban President Raul Castro gestures at the end of the Parliament Annual Session, on December 20, 2014 in HavanaCuban President Raul Castro said he was ready to discuss any topic with Washington after the historic bilateral rapprochement, but warned not to expect political change. Castro spoke at the close of the twice-yearly meeting of the one-party National Assembly, which unanimously ratified the deal between Havana and Washington, in a session largely focused on the island's historic renewal of ties with Washington. "The Cuban people cheer this correct decision of US President Barack Obama. "In the same way that we have never suggested the United States change its political system, we will demand respect for ours," Castro said.


20 December 2014

N. Korea proposes joint probe with US into Sony cyber attack

Workers remove a poster for "The Interview" from a billboard in Hollywood, California, December 18, 2014North Korea called Saturday for a joint investigation with the US into a crippling cyber attack on Sony Pictures, denouncing Washington's "slandering" after President Barack Obama warned Pyongyang of retaliation and the US sought help from China on the issue. The US blames North Korea for the hacking which prompted the cancellation of the Christmas Day release of "The Interview", a madcap romp about a CIA plot to kill leader Kim Jong-Un which infuriated the rogue state. Mark Stroh, a National Security Council spokesman, Saturday reiterated the White House's confidence that North Korea was behind the attack on Sony, adding, "if the North Korean government wants to help, they can admit their culpability and compensate Sony for the damages this attack caused".


20 December 2014

North Korea faces UN Security Council scrutiny

North Koreans bow before portraits of late leaders Kim Il-Sung and son Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang on the third anniversary of the death of Kim Jong-Il in PyongyangNorth Korea comes under scrutiny Monday at the UN Security Council in the first-ever meeting on its dismal rights record, amid calls for Pyongyang to be referred to the International Criminal Court. Until now, the top UN body has focused on North Korea's nuclear program as a security threat, but the scope has widened to human rights following the release of a UN commission of inquiry report. US Ambassador Samantha Power said the UN report released in February confirmed that "the human rights violations in North Korea are among the worst in the world.


20 December 2014

Uzbekistan votes in parliamentary polls

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Uzbek President Islam Karimov meet at Tashkent International airport on December 10, 2014President Karimov has transferred some powers to parliament in recent years, including a mechanism for a vote of no confidence in the government and allowing the party with the majority of seats to nominate the prime minister. Four parties -- the Liberal Democratic Party, People's Democratic Party, the Democratic Party Milly Tiklanish (National Revival) and the Social Democratic Party Adolat (Justice) -- are competing to fill 135 seats. Sunday's vote will mark 90 days until presidential polls are held in March. Uzbekistan's parliament made constitutional changes shortening the presidential term from seven to five years in 2012.


20 December 2014

Holder calls police shootings 'act of barbarism'

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder is condemning the shooting deaths of two New York City police officers as senseless and an "unspeakable act of barbarism."

20 December 2014

GOP to back 'The Interview' if it gets to theaters

WASHINGTON (AP) — The GOP is calling on supporters to buy a ticket to the movie "The Interview" if theater owners reverse their decision not to show the film amid threats of retaliation for its comedic take on assassinating North Korea's leader.

20 December 2014

US seeks to overthrow Venezuela government: official

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (C), First Lady Cilia Flores (L) and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez are pictured at an event in Caracas on December 9, 2014Tighter new US sanctions against Venezuela are aimed to foment violent unrest to try to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, his defense minister said Saturday. "This US interference is aimed at promoting violence... against our institutions" to oust staunch US critic Maduro, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino told Telesur television. US President Barack Obama signed a law on Thursday to allow sanctions against senior Venezuelan officials accused of violating the rights of protesters during anti-government demonstrations that rocked the country earlier this year. The text approved just over a week ago by both houses of the US Congress would freeze assets and deny visas to Venezuelan authorities responsible for violence and political detentions triggered by the protests.


20 December 2014

Chicago mayor's teenage son mugged near home

CHICAGO (AP) — A spokeswoman for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the mayor's 17-year-old son was mugged near the family's home.

20 December 2014

Protesters gather at America's biggest shopping mall

Workers shovel snow off part of the Mall of America on December 12, 2010 in MinnesotaProtesters gathered at the Mall of America, in Bloomington in the Midwestern state of Minnesota, and held up signs with slogans such as "Black Lives Matter," which has become a rallying cry for nationwide demonstrations against police. Photos posted on Twitter showed dozens of demonstrators -- including several shopkeepers -- placing their hands in the air. The gesture is a tribute to Michael Brown, a black teen killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.


20 December 2014

At least one killed in clashes at Gabon opposition rally

Protesters clash with police in the Rio district of Libreville on December 20, 2014 during a demonstrationA student was killed in clashes at an opposition rally in Gabon's capital, where police fired tear gas to disperse protesters demanding the resignation of President Ali Bongo Ondimba. At least 20 people were arrested in scuffles between police and demonstrators, an AFP journalist saw. Public prosecutor Sidonie Flore Ouwe, who told reporters shops "were ransacked" and cars set on fire in the unrest, confirmed that a 30-year-old male student was killed in the clashes. Security forces were out in large numbers Saturday to prevent hundreds of demonstrators from gathering at Libreville's Rio Intersection for a rally that had been outlawed by the interior ministry the day before.


20 December 2014

Ebola-ravaged Liberia holds long-delayed Senate vote

A campaign poster for retired footballer George Weah, one of 139 candidates in elections to Liberia's SenateLiberians voted Saturday in long-delayed Senate elections in the Ebola-ravaged west African nation as UN chief Ban Ki-moon wound up a regional tour to assess the fight against the epidemic. In nearby Guinea, where the UN chief staged a one-day Saturday before heading to Mali, violence broke out in southern Kissidougou when hundreds of youngsters went on the rampage against an Ebola health centre set up by Doctors Without Borders (MSF). In Liberia, the vote for 15 of the 30 seats in the upper house of parliament had been postponed twice already since October as the epidemic swept the impoverished nation. More than 3,340 people have now died from Ebola in Liberia, making it the country with the highest number of fatalities in the current outbreak, followed by Sierra Leone and Guinea.


20 December 2014

Colombia rebels begin indefinite, unilateral ceasefire

Residents and policemen carry the corpses of five soldiers killed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla during combat in a rural area of Santander de Quilichao, Department of Cauca, Colombia, on December 19, 2014Leftist rebels in Colombia began a unilateral ceasefire Saturday hailed as a key step in peace negotiations -- but uncertainty marred the truce, which the guerrillas threatened to break if attacked by the army. "Today, the FARC's unilateral and indefinite ceasefire began. I hope it will turn into a bilateral and final ceasefire, and we can put an end to a war that's lasted more than 50 years," President Juan Manuel Santos said at a ceremony in La Guajira in the country's northeast. Santos, who earlier had called the ceasefire "a positive gesture that goes in the right direction," added that he hoped the move would facilitate ongoing peace talks in Havana.


20 December 2014

Scottish prosecutor reaffirms Lockerbie bomber's guilt

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, the only person convicted for downing a US passenger jet that killed 270 people over Lockerbie, boards an aircraft at Glasgow airport in Scotland, on August 20, 2009London (AFP) - Scotland's leading prosecutor on Saturday reaffirmed the guilt of Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi over the bombing of a Pan Am jet over the town of Lockerbie 26 years ago, killing 270 people.


20 December 2014

Sudan postpones elections by 11 days: electoral body

Sudanese women arrive at a polling station to vote in the gubernatorial and legislative elections being held in Kadugli on May 2, 2011Sudan's electoral body said on Saturday it had postponed elections planned for next year by 11 days to April 13, without giving reasons for the decision. Voters had been due to head to the polls on April 2 to elect the president, members of parliament and state governors. "All the election process will be delayed for 11 days," National Electoral Commission chief Mukhtar al-Assam told AFP by phone. It also remains unclear whether polling for state governors will take place as President Omar al-Bashir suggested a constitutional amendment last month that would allow people to be appointed to the posts, rather than elected.


20 December 2014

Militants attack bus on Kenyan coast, no injuries

Police officers patrol a road around the Masjid Swafaa mosque in Kenya's coastal town of Mombasa on November 19, 2014Islamist gunmen on Saturday opened fire on a passenger bus along the Kenyan coast but fled without injuring anyone, witnesses and officials said, nearly a month after Shebab militants executed 28 non-Muslim bus passengers in the country. After stopping the bus by shooting its tyres, three of the attackers climbed on board and identified themselves as "mujahedeen" (holy warriors), but then took off after apparently assuming those on the bus were all Muslims, said passenger Abarufa Kokane. The bus, carrying around 50 passengers, was travelling from the port city of Mombasa to Lamu, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of the Somalian border. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but in July Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab claimed an assault on a bus near the same town in which seven people were killed.


20 December 2014

Egypt says it backs Palestinian UN resolution

A Palestinian protester waves a national flag near the West Bank village of Wadi Fukin, on September 5, 2014Egypt said on Saturday it supports a draft resolution submitted by the Palestinians to the UN Security Council setting out terms for a final peace deal with Israel. The Palestinians on Wednesday presented the resolution setting a 12-month deadline for wrapping up negotiations on a final settlement and the end of 2017 for completion of an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri held talks in Cairo on the resolution during which Shoukri offered Egypt's support for the move, a foreign ministry statement said.


20 December 2014

Israeli aircraft hit Gaza for first time since truce

Palestinian protesters take cover from tear gas thrown by Israeli security forces during clashes following a demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Turmus Aya, north of Ramallah on December 19, 2014Israeli aircraft hit Gaza on Saturday for the first time since an August truce ended a 50-day war after a rocket hit the Jewish state, witnesses and the army said. A Palestinian health ministry spokesman in the Gaza Strip said there were no casualties in the air strike, which came just hours after the rocket hit an open field in southern Israel on Friday without causing casualties or damage. It was the third time a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave struck within Israel since the August 26 truce between Israel and Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, the territory's de facto rulers. The Israeli army said the air strike in the southern Gaza Strip had "targeted a Hamas terror infrastructure site".