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Kenya legislators exchange blows over new security law

Fight breaks out in Kenyan parliament over new anti-terror security measure
Tom Odula, The Associated Press

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.

Poll: 81 per cent back Putin even as ruble falls

AP-NORC Poll: 81 per cent of Russians back Putin even as ruble falls and economic woes grow
Laura Mills And Lynn Berry, The Associated Press

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.

Lawyer defends acts of Nigeria soldiers sentenced to death

Lawyer justifies acts of 54 young soldiers sentenced to death for refusing to fight extremists
Bashir Adigun And Michelle Faul, The Associated Press

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.

Cubans hope for better future with US-Havana deal

Cubans hope for better future with renewal of relations with US
Andrea Rodriguez And Anne-Marie Garcia, The Associated Press

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."

Australian leader: Siege may have been preventable

Australian leader says deadly siege may have been 'a preventable atrocity'
Kristen Gelineau, The Associated Press

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.

Palestinians set deadline for Israeli occupation

Palestinians set deadline for Israeli occupation; Israel suffers sharp rebuffs in Europe
Cara Anna And John-Thor Dahlburg, The Associated Press

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.

Sony cancels 'The Interview' amid terror hack threats

Sony cancels 'The Interview' release amid terror hack threats
Jake Coyle, The Associated Press

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."

Colombian rebels announce unilateral cease-fire

Colombian rebels declare historic unilateral cease-fire with their government
Andrea Rodriguez, The Associated Press

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.

US, Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord

Historic US-Cuba deal to patch long-broken relations could lead to flow of money and people
Julie Pace And Matthew Lee, The Associated Press

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.

US wins release of spy held for years in Cuba jail

Cuban who spied for US wins freedom after years as prisoner; release part of thaw in relations
Ken Dilanian, The Associated Press

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.

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