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North Korea denies hacking Sony

File photo of a security guard standing at the entrance of United Artists theater during the premiere of the film "The Interview" in Los AngelesBy Jack Kim and Steve Holland SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea has said U.S. accusations that it was involved in a cyberattack on Sony Pictures were "groundless slander," and that it wanted a joint investigation into the incident with the United States. The United States stands by its assertion that North Korea was to blame, a White House National Security Council (NSC) spokesman said on Saturday, in response to the remarks. U.S. ...

Sun, 21 Dec 2014 05:33:37 -0500
U.S. sends four Guantanamo prisoners home to Afghanistan

The frontier road parallels the security fence leading to the Northeast gate at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval BaseBy Matt Spetalnick WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four Afghans held for over a decade at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been sent home, the Pentagon said on Saturday, the latest step in a gradual push by the Obama administration to close the jail. The men were flown to Kabul overnight aboard a U.S. military plane and released to Afghan authorities, the first such transfer of its kind to the war-torn country since 2009. With the repatriation of the four Afghans, Guantanamos detainee population has been whittled down to 132. ...

Sat, 20 Dec 2014 12:16:01 -0500
Afghan Taliban decry 'biased' U.N. report on civilian casualties

By Kay Johnson KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan's Taliban on Sunday accused the United Nations of "enmity and political motives" in reporting that three-quarters of a record-high number of civilians killed and wounded this year were victims of the insurgents. Denouncing a U.N. report as "biased and unfounded", the insurgents accused U.N. investigators of intentionally skewing statistics to blame the Taliban. ...

Sun, 21 Dec 2014 04:57:21 -0500
New leadership seeks to rebuild EU self-confidence

File photo of a bird flying past a banner showing an image of European Commission President Juncker in BrusselsBy Paul Taylor BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Short, snappy and focused on two priorities - reviving sagging investment in Europe and standing firm towards Russia, the first European Union summit under new leadership was a demonstrative break with the past. Donald Tusk, the former Polish prime minister who took over the chairmanship of the 28-nation European Council this month, put his briskly opinionated stamp on the meeting of EU leaders, sending them home a day early after a show of unity and purpose. ...

Sun, 21 Dec 2014 05:30:22 -0500
Cuba says U.S. must respect its communist system

Cuba's President Castro speaks with his first vice-president Diaz Canel during a session of the National Assembly in HavanaBy Daniel Trotta HAVANA (Reuters) - President Raul Castro demanded on Saturday that the United States respect Cuba's communist rule as the two countries work to restore diplomatic ties, and warned that Cuban-American exiles might try to sabotage the rapprochement. U.S. President Barack Obama this week reset Washington's Cold War-era policy on Cuba and the two countries swapped prisoners in a historic deal after 18 months of secret talks. Cubans have treated the end of open U.S. hostility as a triumph, especially the release of three Cuban intelligence agents who served long U.S. ...

Sat, 20 Dec 2014 13:29:33 -0500
Russia growls across the border as Lithuania readies for euro

Visvaldas Matijosaitis, chief executive of Viciunai Group, inspects as people work in at a Viciunai fish factory in KaunasBy Alistair Scrutton and Andrius Sytas KYBARTAI, Lithuania (Reuters) - Geopolitics plague Lithuanians at this frozen Russian border post, where a return trip by car can mean 48 hours of queuing. It is a reminder for some of why the former Soviet republic will cement its move to the West by joining the euro zone next month. Tensions with Moscow have simmered ever since Lithuania became the first republic to declare independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, although only 6 percent of the population are Russian speakers, far fewer than in its Baltic neighbors. On Jan. ...

Sun, 21 Dec 2014 04:09:22 -0500
Top Asian News at 10:30 a.m. GMT

SYDNEY (AP) An Australian woman was charged with murder on Sunday in the deaths of seven of her children and her niece, whose bodies were found inside her home, police said. Mersane Warria, 37, was charged with eight counts of murder in a bedside hearing at a hospital in the northern city of Cairns where she is recovering from stab wounds, Queensland state police said.

Sun, 21 Dec 2014 05:32:18 -0500
Russia sees harsh crackdown on independent media

In this photo taken on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, engineers work in a control room in the Dozhd's studio-apartment in Moscow, Russia .Russias only independent TV channel, Dozhd, faced all sorts of pressure this year and while the government was careful not to shut it down, a Kremlin-instigated smear campaign is causing a slow demise of this rare independent broadcaster. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)MOSCOW (AP) Among the five TV journalists interviewing Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the odd one out was easy to spot. Mikhail Zygar's questions were sharper than those of the others, who headed back to spacious television studios while Zygar broadcast his piece from a Moscow living room.

Sun, 21 Dec 2014 05:28:38 -0500
Kurds push into Sinjar; Iraqis battle for airport

Iraqi Kurdish forces gather on the roof of their makeshift base, as they look upon areas held by Islamic State militants outside of Mosul, less than 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the newly liberated village of Kasr Reej, Iraq, Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. Sporadic clashes between Iraqi Kurdish fighters and Islamic State extremists, as well as other logistics problems, are delaying the evacuation of the last Yazidis still trapped on Sinjar mountain, an Iraqi lawmaker said Friday. (AP Photo/Zana Ahmed)SINJAR, Iraq (AP) Kurdish fighters are pushing their way into the town of Sinjar, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against Islamic State militants who captured the town last summer.

Sun, 21 Dec 2014 05:17:12 -0500
Hirscher leads 1st run in Alta Badia; Ligety 7th

ALTA BADIA, Italy (AP) Three-time defending overall World Cup winner Marcel Hirscher held a slight lead over two Frenchmen following the opening run of a giant slalom Sunday on the Gran Risa course.

Sun, 21 Dec 2014 05:15:46 -0500
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