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Government and politics

Stopgap spending bill clears Senate, goes to Obama

Congress sends short-term spending bill to Obama; would avert feared federal shutdown
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Congress has sent President Barack Obama a short-term spending bill that will keep the federal government operating through Wednesday and avert a government shutdown.

Senate passage came Saturday with only hours to spare before an earlier stopgap measure was set to expire.

By a voice vote, senators approved the latest short-term funding bill as lawmakers continue to wrangle over a $1.1 trillion spending package and Obama's nominations.

That package would cover much of the government through most of 2015.

Protesters of police killings march on DC

'A sea of people': Marchers rally in DC to decry deaths of unarmed black men at police hands
Matthew Barakat, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Thousands of protesters marched down iconic Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday, arriving at the Capitol to call attention to the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police and call for legislative action.

"What a sea of people," said Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, killed by an officer in New York in July. "If they don't see this and make a change, then I don't know what we got to do. Thank you for having my back."

Thousands protest election results in Poland

Thousands of opposition party supporters in Poland protest election results
Vanessa Gera, The Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland - Thousands of supporters of a conservative opposition party in Poland marched on Saturday to protest the results of recent local elections, which party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski says were falsified.

The November elections were marred by problems, with a computer glitch delaying results and many ballots declared invalid because voters apparently were confused and marked them incorrectly.

Islamic State group shoots down Iraqi helicopter

Officials say Islamic State group shoots down Iraqi helicopter near Samarra, killing 2 pilots
Qassim Abdul-Zahra And Bassem Mroue, The Associated Press

BAGHDAD - Islamic State group militants shot down an Iraqi military helicopter, officials said Saturday, killing the two pilots onboard and raising fresh concerns about the extremists' ability to attack aircraft amid ongoing U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

Day of insurgent violence kills 19 in Afghanistan

Afghan insurgency leaves 19 killed in 3 attacks as violence spikes ahead of drawdown
Lynne O'Donnell And Amir Shah, The Associated Press

KABUL - Three separate Taliban attacks killed at least 19 people in Afghanistan on Saturday, including a senior judicial official and personnel working to clear one of the most heavily mined regions of the world.

The attacks came amid a spike in violence just weeks before the international military mission in Afghanistan comes to an end on Dec. 31., 13 years after the September 11 attacks sparked a U.S.-led invasion to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban's extremist regime.

US Senate OKs defence policy bill

Senate backs defence bill expanding military campaign against Islamic extremists
Donna Cassata, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Congress on Friday sent President Barack Obama a massive U.S. defence policy bill that endorses his stepped-up military campaign of air strikes and training of Iraqis and moderate Syrian rebels in the war against Islamic State militants.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill that authorizes funds for basic military operations, including construction of new ships, aircraft, and weapons as well as a 1 per cent pay raise for the troops. The vote was 89-11.

Cuba: Rappers targeted by USAID program 'victims'

Cuba: rappers, other artists targeted by USAID program were 'victims' of 'treachery'
Andrea Rodriguez And Laura Wides-Munoz, The Associated Press

HAVANA - Cuban rappers targeted by a clandestine U.S. program are "victims" unknowingly swept into an effort to spark an anti-government youth movement, the Cuban government said Friday in its first reaction to an Associated Press investigation into the initiative.

Vice Minister of Culture Fernando Rojas described the U.S. Agency for International Development program as "treachery" that drew in rappers Los Aldeanos and other Cuban musicians.

Thousands of Italians protest economic reforms

Italian unions shut down basic services, march in 50 cities against govt economic reforms
The Associated Press

MILAN - Tens of thousands of union workers marched through more than 50 Italian cities on Friday to protest government economic reforms that they say erode their rights.

Non-union, anti-government protesters clashed with police in some cities, including Milan, where students dressed as Santa Claus jumped the fence at a regional government office building and threw bottles and other objects. Police dispersed that protest with tear gas; authorities said 11 officers were injured.

London hit by air traffic control computer failure

London airspace briefly closed due to air traffic computer failure; flights delays linger
Danica Kirka And Gregory Katz, The Associated Press

LONDON - The airspace over London was briefly closed Friday afternoon due to what authorities said was a computer failure at one of Britain's two air traffic control centres. The British government demanded an investigation into the "unacceptable" disruption.

The 35-minute shutdown caused flight delays in and out of London and flight slowdowns in other parts of Europe that officials said would linger into Saturday.

Obama: NFL 'behind the curve' on Rice case

Obama: NFL 'behind the curve' on rice case, applauds new policies
Jim Kuhnhenn, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama says the Ray Rice domestic violence case showed that the National Football League was "behind the curve" in setting policies about athlete behaviour. He says new policies now in effect will send a message that there is no place for such behaviour.

He says in an interview Friday with Colin Cowherd on ESPN radio that "an old boys' network" at the NFL that had created "blind spots."

He says: "You don't want to be winging it when something like this happens; you want to have clear policies in place."

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