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Reports: jailed Russian tycoon leaves house arrest

MOSCOW (AP) — Vladimir Yevtushenkov, a Russian tycoon placed under house arrest in September in a move that rattled markets, has reportedly been released from under house arrest just hours before President Vladimir Putin's annual televised press conference.

UK sold Royal Mail too cheaply, but not by much - official report

A Royal Mail postal van is parked outside homes in Maybury near Woking in southern EnglandLONDON (Reuters) - Shares in Britain's Royal Mail postal service should have been sold at a higher price when the firm was privatised last year, but the lost revenue was lower than previous estimates, a government-commissioned report said on Thursday. Lord Myners, a former Labour minister commissioned to see if the government could improve the way it sells public assets, said on Thursday that Royal Mail could have raised up to 180 million pounds more for the public purse. ...


Sudan warns South Sudan against "hostile moves" by rebels in its territory

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan's intelligence chief warned South Sudan against "hostile moves from its territory", saying any incursion by rebel forces based in its neighbour would be treated as an "assault" by Juba. In comments broadcast by a Sudanese news channel, Mohamed Atta named two camps in neighbouring South Sudan's Northern Bahr el Ghazal state and urged Juba to disarm the rebels there. Each side has accused the other of harbouring rebels seeking to destabilize the other, but tensions have spiked again since the collapse of African Union-brokered talks in the Ethiopian capital on Dec. 9. ...

Japan's Suga: Don't think Sony hack issue to affect Japan-North Korea talks

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's top government spokesman on Thursday said he does not think the cyber-attack against Sony Pictures will directly affect talks on the abduction issue between Japan and North Korea. U.S. investigators have determined North Korea was behind a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures, a U.S. government source said, an unprecedented act that has forced the studio to cancel releasing a comedy about the fictional assassination of North Korea's leader. ...

Ebola toll nears 7,000; rate of spread slows in Sierra Leone - WHO

Grave digger holds a sign with the name of an Ebola victim during funerals at a cemetery in FreetownGENEVA (Reuters) - The death toll in the Ebola epidemic has risen to 6,915 out of 18,603 cases as of Dec. 14, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday. There are signs that the increase in incidence in Sierra Leone has slowed, although 327 new cases were confirmed there in the past week, including 125 in the capital Freetown, the WHO said in its latest update. "A major operation has been implemented to curb the spread of disease in the west of the country," it said.


Donors and WHO responded too slowly to West Africa Ebola outbreak - report

By Misha Hussain DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the nations that fund it failed to respond quickly and effectively to the deadly West Africa Ebola outbreak despite repeated warnings by aid agencies, a UK parliamentary committee said on Thursday. Ebola cases are rising dramatically in Sierra Leone, and the House of Commons International Development Committee said the international response was still "being outpaced on all fronts" by the spread of the Ebola virus in the former British colony. ...

AP IMPACT: Abused kids die as officials fail to protect

In this Nov. 13, 2014, photo, Jennifer Blaz, 34, poses for a photo in her home in Butte, Mont., holding a photograph of her daughter, Mattisyn Blaz.Matthew Blaz, 33, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the death of their infant daughter. (AP Photo/Lido Vizzutti)BUTTE, Montana (AP) — At least 786 children died of abuse or neglect in the U.S. in a six-year span in plain view of child protection authorities — many of them beaten, starved or left alone to drown while agencies had good reason to know they were in danger, The Associated Press has found.


1 dead, several injured as car hits pedestrians

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A woman drove into a group of pedestrians Wednesday night on the Pacific Coast highway, killing one person and leaving several others injured, police said. The crash occurred outside a church where a Christmas service had just ended.

Vegas hotelier faces gambling commission scrutiny

This Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows, Sam Nazarian, CEO of SBE Entertainment, during the ceremonial ringing of the bell at SLS Las Vegas. The Los Angeles nightlife entrepreneur who recently revamped the Sahara Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip into a hipper, sleeker destination is facing another interrogation into past misdeeds as he seeks a Nevada gambling license. Nazarian is scheduled to appear before Nevada’s Gaming Commission on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Jeff Scheid)LAS VEGAS (AP) — The man who started a hospitality empire with a Los Angeles nightclub and turned the Sahara Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip into a hipper, sleeker destination is facing questions for the second time this month from gambling regulators about his cocaine use and questionable business dealings.


14 charged in meningitis outbreak that killed 64

Associate Attorney General Stuart Delery speaks after U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, right, announced indictments of 14 owners and employees from the New England Compounding Center Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Boston. More than 750 people in 20 states were sickened, and 64 died after they contracted fungal meningitis and other illnesses in 2012 from tainted steroids made by the Framingham, Mass., company. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)BOSTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors charged 14 people in a 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people nationwide in what authorities called the largest criminal case ever brought in the U.S. over contaminated medicine.


Ebola centres overflow as Sierra Leone steps up fight

Health workers carry the body of an Ebola victim for burial at a cemetery in FreetownBy Emma Farge DEVIL HOLE, Sierra Leone (Reuters) - Ebola centres in Sierra Leone overflowed on Wednesday as health workers combed the streets of the capital Freetown for patients, after the government launched a major operation to contain the epidemic in West Africa's worst-hit country. President Ernest Bai Koroma said on national television that travel between all parts of the country had been restricted as part of "Operation Western Area Surge", and public gatherings would be strictly controlled in the run-up to Christmas. ...


U.S. doctor who recovered from Ebola will return to Liberia

(Reuters) - A doctor from Massachusetts who came down with Ebola while volunteering in Liberia will return to West Africa in January to resume medical work, the missionary group he works with said on Wednesday. Rick Sacra, 52, recovered from Ebola under treatment in September at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. He was one of three American health workers for Christian missionary groups who came down with Ebola in Liberia and were flown to the United States for treatment. ...

Nigeria's Buhari picks southern Christian lawyer as running mate

Presidential aspirant and former Nigerian military ruler Buhari speaks as he presents his manifesto at All Progressives Congress party convention in LagosABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's main opposition contender Muhammadu Buhari has picked southern Christian lawyer Yemi Osinbajo to be his running mate in elections set for February 2015, the party leader said on Wednesday. Choosing a Christian from the south to run for the number two job alongside a Muslim northern presidential candidate fits a pattern in Nigerian elections of trying to balance ethnic and religious sentiments to maximise voter appeal. ...


Kenya parliament to vote on amendments meant to improve security

A general view of a special Parliamentary session at Parliament Building waiting to be addressed by Kenya's President Kenyatta in capital NairobiBy Edith Honan NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's parliament is due to vote on Thursday on a bill to let police hold suspects in terrorism-related cases for a year and take other measures that rights activists say would threaten civil liberties and free speech. The proposed amendments to the existing security law, which include extending the time suspects can be held without charge to 360 days from 90 days, follows a spate of attacks by Islamist militants on Kenya's border region with Somalia that has killed dozens of people. ...


Somalia's former prime minister nominated to post again

Somalia's PM Sharmarke speaks at FAO headquarters during a food security summit in RomeBy Omar Faruuq MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia's president nominated a former government chief, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, on Wednesday to become prime minister again, hoping to end a period of political turmoil during which two men have been pushed out of the job in less than a year. Parliament voted the last premier, Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, out of office earlier this month. Both he and his predecessor fell out with the president over the make-up of their cabinets. ...


NY rapper Bobby Shmurda faces gun, drug charges

FILE -- In this Oct. 30, 2014 file photo, Bobby Shmurda arrives at Power 105.1's Powerhouse 2014 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Shmurda whose real name is Ackquille Pollard has been arrested in New York City in a gun and narcotics investigation. Authorities said Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, that he was apprehended after leaving a Manhattan recording studio. Several others were also taken into custody. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP, File)NEW YORK (AP) — An up-and-coming rapper who performs under the name of Bobby Shmurda will face gun and drug trafficking charges when an arraignment is unsealed in court.


Fed rate wording boosts Asian stock markets

The facade of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014. Global stocks were mostly lower Wednesday Dec. 17, 2014 as oil prices tumbled again while investors waited for a U.S. Federal Reserve statement on monetary policy. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)Asian stock markets powered higher Thursday, sweeping aside worries about a flagging global economy after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would remain "patient" in its approach to raising interest rates.


Court documents: Suspect destroyed kidnap evidence

FILE In this photo taken July 29, 2014 in Conway District Court in Conway, N.H., Nathaniel Kibby, of Gorham, N.H. listens during his arraignment charged with kidnapping a 14-year-old girl. Kibby has been indicted on charges he kidnapped the 14-year-old girl, imprisoned her and sexually assaulted her over nine months. Two courts on Wednesday Dec. 17, 2014 released indictments on 200-plus counts charging Kibby with kidnapping, sexual assault and criminal threatening, among others. He has been jailed on $1 million bail since his arrest. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, Pool, file)CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Fearing arrest, the New Hampshire man charged with kidnapping, imprisoning and sexually assaulting a teenage girl over nine months ordered his captive to lie to police and help him destroy evidence by wiping off fingerprints and pouring cleaning fluid into drains, according to court documents.


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