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Thursday, December 25, 2014
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Afghans hope for change after bloody year
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- When Graeme Smith arrived in Afghanistan in 2005, he drove across the country from Kabul south to the Talban's former capital Kandahar on a newly paved road that cut travelling time from a bone-rattling 14 hours to just six.... 12/25/2014 7:58 AM

HK police arrest 12 pro-democracy protesters
HONG KONG (AP) -- Hong Kong police arrested 12 protesters blocking several roads in the Mong Kok neighborhood overnight Wednesday as pro-democracy demonstrators returned to the site hundreds had occupied for more than two months, police said.... 12/25/2014 7:56 AM

Citigroup to sell Japan retail bank unit to SMBC
TOKYO (AP) -- Citigroup has agreed to sell its retail banking business in Japan to Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., the companies said Thursday.... 12/25/2014 7:54 AM

Queen Elizabeth II praises workers who fight Ebola
LONDON (AP) -- Queen Elizabeth II will use her traditional Christmas broadcast to call for international reconciliation and to praise medical workers fighting Ebola in Africa.... 12/25/2014 7:25 AM

Survivors huddle after violence in India kills 72
SHAMUKJULI, India (AP) -- Rina Vor was putting her four young children to sleep in her village in India's remote northeast when she heard the gunfire. She gathered the children and ran for safety.... 12/25/2014 7:23 AM

Cuba relations with Catholic Church at high point
HAVANA (AP) -- Golden rays of tropical sunlight slant through the caved-in roof of Saint Thomas de Villanueva chapel, illuminating tiles graced by the faces of saints. Vandals shattered the stained-glass windows and scrawled their names on the thick walls during decades of frigid relations between the Roman Catholic Church and Cuba's communist government.... 12/25/2014 5:35 AM

China tightens church control ahead of Christmas
BEIJING (AP) -- Two days before Christmas, members of a rural Christian congregation in the eastern city of Wenzhou welded some pieces of metal into a cross and hoisted it onto the top of their worship hall to replace one that was forcibly removed in October.... 12/25/2014 5:29 AM

AP PHOTOS: Fresh donkey milk for sale on streets of Chile
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- Ricardo Alegria is a different sort of milk man. For a quarter century or more, he and his brother Marco have led donkeys through the streets of Chile's capital, milking them on the spot for customers.... 12/25/2014 5:26 AM

Pope celebrates Christmas Eve Mass and calls Iraqi refugees
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis celebrated Christmas Eve with a late-night Mass Wednesday in St. Peter's Basilica and a phone call to some Iraqi refugees forced to flee their homes by Muslim militants.... 12/25/2014 3:18 AM

Nicaragua moves to break highway blockade
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) -- National police special forces and soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets on Wednesday to clear a roadblock erected by residents in southern Nicaragua to protest a proposed transoceanic canal.... 12/25/2014 2:29 AM

Faithful flock to Bethlehem for Christmas
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) -- Several thousand Christian pilgrims on Wednesday flocked to the biblical town of Bethlehem for Christmas Eve celebrations at the traditional birthplace of Jesus, lifting spirits after a year of conflict and failed peace efforts.... 12/25/2014 12:32 AM

Mexico wants to ban nets, save endangered porpoise
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexican authorities are proposing a $37 million plan to ban gillnet fishing in most of the upper Sea of Cortez to save the critically endangered vaquita marina, the world's smallest porpoise.... 12/25/2014 12:03 AM

Spain: New king says corruption must be eliminated
MADRID (AP) -- Spain's new King Felipe VI insisted in his first Christmas Eve speech Wednesday that seemingly endless examples of corruption across the country incensing voters must be stamped out.... 12/24/2014 11:55 PM

North Korea: No 'physical reaction' to new film
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- North Korea says it likely will have no "physical reaction," just condemnation, to the release of the comedy film "The Interview," which depicts the assassination of leader Kim Jong Un.... 12/24/2014 10:18 PM

Text of Pope Francis' homily during Christmas Eve Mass
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The Vatican's official English-language translation of Pope Francis' prepared homily, to be delivered in Italian, during Christmas Eve Mass on Wednesday in St. Peter's Basilica. Spelling and style are the Vatican's.... 12/24/2014 10:01 PM

Priests march, protest attacks in southern Mexico
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Dozens of Roman Catholic priests and hundreds of parishioners marched through the southern Mexico city of Ciudad Altamirano on Wednesday to demand the release of a kidnapped priest and protest a series of kidnappings, killings and robberies of priests.... 12/24/2014 9:48 PM

10 years after tsunami, Indonesian family reborn
MEULABOH, Indonesia (AP) -- It all started with a dream that led to a chance meeting: A girl who had been swept away by the Indian Ocean tsunami a decade ago.... 12/24/2014 9:02 PM

Islamic State extremists capture Jordanian pilot
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -- Islamic State militants captured a Jordanian pilot after his warplane crashed in Syria while carrying out airstrikes Wednesday, making him the first foreign military member to fall into the extremists' hands since an international coalition launched its bombing campaign against the group months ago.... 12/24/2014 8:59 PM

Pakistan to set up military courts for terrorism
ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Pakistan's prime minister announced Thursday the country will set up special trial courts under the supervision of military officers to prosecute terrorism cases in the wake of the Taliban school massacre.... 12/24/2014 8:59 PM

Israel strikes Gaza after Palestinian sniper fire
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israeli forces on Wednesday struck targets in the Gaza Strip, killing a Hamas militant, after its troops came under attack by Palestinian snipers while patrolling the Israeli side of the border, the military said.... 12/24/2014 8:48 PM