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  • Pope Benedict helped free American from Cuba

    VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis rightly got credit for helping bring the U.S. and Cuba together and free U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross. But it was Francis’ predecessor, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, who made the first high-level Vatican manoeuver to release Gross, spurred in part by an unlikely group of papal lobbyists. The American…

  • Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The detective work blaming North Korea for the Sony hacker break-in appears so far to be largely circumstantial, The Associated Press has learned. The dramatic conclusion of a Korean role is based on subtle clues in the hacking tools left behind and the involvement of at least one computer in Bolivia previously…

  • World War II bomb defused in German city

    BERLIN (AP) — A World War II bomb has been successfully defused in an eastern German city after some 9,700 people were evacuated from the surrounding area and a meeting of a state legislature was interrupted. The 250-kilo (551-pound) bomb was found during construction work Thursday morning near the main railway station in Potsdam, near…

  • Putin: West wants to defang, declaw Russian bear

    MOSCOW (AP) — Sternly warning the West it cannot defang the metaphorical Russian bear, a confident-looking President Vladimir Putin promised Thursday to shore up the plummeting ruble and revive the economy within two years. While he issued a litany of sharp rebukes against the West, Putin struck a conciliatory note on Ukraine, saying that the…

  • Suspected Islamic extremists kidnap 185 in Nigeria

    MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Islamic extremists killed 35 people and kidnapped at least 185 in an attack near the town where nearly 300 schoolgirls were taken hostage in April, witnesses said Thursday. In Sunday night’s attack on the village of Gumburi, most of the kidnapped were young women, children and members of a civilian defense…

  • US stocks rise; Oracle leads technology stocks higher

    NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks rose sharply Thursday, led gains in by technology stocks as Oracle surged following a strong earnings report. Energy stocks lagged the market as the price of crude oil resumed its slide. KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 35 points, or 1.7 percent, to 2,047 as of…

  • Iraqi Kurdish troops open corridor to Sinjar

    IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi Kurdish forces battling Islamic State militants managed on Thursday to open up a corridor to Sinjar Mountain so that thousands of people from the country’s Yazidi minority who have been trapped there can flee, said a senior Kurdish official. The development was an incremental step in the battle to retake…

  • Botched cyberattack on Syria group blamed on IS

    LONDON (AP) — A botched cyberattack aimed at unmasking Syrian dissidents has experts worried that the Islamic State group is adding malicious software to its arsenal. Internet watchdog Citizen Lab says an attempt to hack into systems operated by dissidents within the self-styled caliphate could be the work of hackers affiliated with the Islamic State…

  • Russian sailors leaving France without warship

    PARIS (AP) — Hundreds of Russian sailors pulled out of a French port Thursday, bearing perfumes for their loved ones but lacking the controversial bounty they came for: a 1-billion-euro, French-built warship that has become a hostage to the biggest East-West conflict since the Cold War. The Vladivostok helicopter carrier is part of a strange…

  • Analysis: New focus on how Pakistan will address militancy

    ISLAMABAD (AP) — Many wonder if the attack that killed 148 people at a Pakistani school will be a watershed in the country’s long, conflicted history with Islamic militancy. But Pakistan has had many potential turning points in the war on terror that at the time were called game changers. “If you look back I…

  • Colombia’s government rebuffs rebel truce

    BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia’s government on Thursday rebuffed a unilateral truce declared by the country’s largest rebel group, saying the guerrillas’ conditions are unacceptable until a peace deal is reached. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia on Wednesday said it would lay down its weapons for an unlimited period to bolster peace talks that…

  • Aer Lingus rejects bid by British Airways parent

    DUBLIN (AP) — Irish airline Aer Lingus has rejected a takeover bid by the International Consolidated Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways and Spain’s Iberia. Shares in the Dublin-based carrier surged by as much as 21 percent Thursday amid rumors of a bid. Those gains were sharply pared after IAG issued a statement…

  • FACT CHECK: Putin on the ruble collapse, Ukraine

    MOSCOW (AP) — A fact-checking look at some of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statements on the ruble collapse and the Ukrainian crisis from his annual news conference Thursday: ___ ON THE RUSSIAN ECONOMY: PUTIN: “We will rely on these reserves. And I’m sure we will be able to confidently solve major social issues, will be…

  • US-Cuba rapprochement complicates LatAm politics

    CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The renewing of ties between Cuba and the United States complicates matters for Havana’s chief ally, Venezuela, which has been moving in the opposite direction, becoming more stridently anti-American. While Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and leaders across Latin America are applauding Cuba’s decision to swap prisoners with the U.S. in return…

  • FIFA meets amid crisis over Garcia’s resignation

    MARRAKECH, Morocco (AP) — Amid another crisis at FIFA, President Sepp Blatter and his executive committee opened a two-day meeting Thursday to discuss the sudden resignation of ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia and whether to publish his confidential World Cup report. Garcia quit Wednesday in protest over the handling of his World Cup bid investigation. The…