Government and politics
NAIROBI, Kenya - Fistfights and scuffles broke out in Kenya's parliament Thursday as legislators passed a controversial security measure which the government says will help fight terrorism but which critics say are meant to silence dissent by curtailing civil liberties.
Opposition legislators threw the papers on the floor and chaos erupted in which government supporters hit and tore the clothes of opposition senator Johnston Muthama, who was seated in the public gallery.
MOSCOW - From a Western perspective, Vladimir Putin's days as president of Russia should be numbered: The ruble has lost about half its value, the economy is in crisis and his aggression in Ukraine has turned the country into an international pariah.
And yet most Russians see Putin not as the cause, but as the solution.
ABUJA, Nigeria - A human rights lawyer says 54 soldiers have been sentenced to death because they embarrassed Nigeria's military by demanding weapons to fight Islamic extremists, and says they were justified in not going on what would have been a suicidal mission.
Defence attorney Femi Falana said Thursday he will take all legal measures to prevent authorities from carrying out a "genocidal verdict" of death by firing squad delivered Wednesday night by a court-martial.
HAVANA - Cubans cheered the surprise announcement that their country will restore relations with the United States, hopeful they'll soon see expanded trade and new economic vibrancy even though the 53-year-old economic embargo remains in place for the time being.
"This opens a better future for us," said Milagros Diaz, 34. "We have really needed something like this because the situation has been bad and the people very discouraged."
SYDNEY - Australia's prime minister said Thursday that a deadly siege in a Sydney cafe may have been preventable, as the chorus of critics demanding to know why the gunman was out on bail despite facing a string of violent charges grew louder.
Israel suffered back-to-back diplomatic setbacks in Europe on Wednesday, while the Palestinians at the United Nations set a deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from lands captured nearly 50 years ago by the end of 2017.
In Geneva, the international community delivered a stinging rebuke to Israel's settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, saying the practice violates Israel's responsibilities as an occupying power.
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Under the threat of terrorist attacks from hackers and with the nation's largest multiplex chains pulling the film from their screens, Sony Pictures Entertainment took the unprecedented step of cancelling the Dec. 25 release of the Seth Rogen comedy "The Interview."
HAVANA - Colombia's largest rebel group announced an indefinite, unilateral cease-fire Wednesday, saying guerrillas will refrain from staging attacks so long as they aren't targeted by the U.S.-backed military.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia made the announcement in Cuba at the end of another round of peace talks aimed at ending Latin America's oldest insurgency.
WASHINGTON - After a half-century of Cold War acrimony, the United States and Cuba moved on Wednesday to restore diplomatic relations — a historic shift that could revitalize the flow of money and people across the narrow waters that separate the two nations.
WASHINGTON - This much is known about the Cuban man who spied for the United States and was released Wednesday in a historic prisoner swap: He had access to closely held intelligence information at the highest levels of the Cuban government.
His information was so good, officials said Wednesday, that it helped American authorities ferret out a number of Cuban spies in the United States, including two senior U.S. government officers who were among Cuba's most prolific operatives.