- Myanmar city to hold rare but 'flawed' polls
Myanmar's main city is poised to go to the polls on Saturday for the first municipal vote in six decades, but observers warn the process is riddled with flaws and could cast a shadow over crucial 2015 general elections. For many the ballot in Yangon, home to more than five million people, will offer the first taste of voting under the country's quasi-civilian government and a rare chance to steer the direction of its biggest commercial hub.
- Japan inflation slows and output slips, keep BOJ under pressure
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese annual core consumer inflation slowed for a fourth straight month in November due largely to sliding oil prices, highlighting the challenges the central bank faces in achieving its 2 percent inflation target.
- Comanche leads late on first day of Sydney-Hobart
- Wake to be held for 1 of 2 slain NYPD officers
- Oil edges above $60 as Libyan output slumps
By Alex Lawler LONDON (Reuters) - Oil edged above $60 a barrel on Friday as unrest in Libya cut supplies, offsetting a growing supply glut in top consumer the United States and weak imports by Japan. Fighting in Libya has cut output there to 352,000 barrels a day, a state oil company spokesman said on Thursday, or about half November's average. This countered the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) report showing a big stockbuild. ...
- Kiev and rebels to exchange hundreds of prisoners soon: security service
KIEV (Reuters) - Kiev and pro-Russian separatists will exchange hundreds of prisoners soon, an aide to the head of Ukraine's SBU state security service said on Friday, as the military reported a slight increase in rebel attacks. The agreement to swap 125 Ukrainian servicemen for 225 rebels held by Kiev followed peace talks between envoys of Ukraine, Russia, the separatists and European security watchdog OSCE on Wednesday. "We've prepared 225 people, which we will hand over. The main thing is for this not to fall through now," the SBU's Markiyan Lubkyvsky told Reuters by telephone. ...
- Sony's PlayStation, Microsoft's Xbox offline in 'hacker attack'
The online gaming networks for Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox consoles -- hot gifts this Christmas -- went dark in what hackers said was a coordinated attack. The disruption started Christmas Day and went into Friday, PlayStation and Xbox said on their Twitter feeds, adding that they were working to restore service. The name is the same used by a group of hackers that has targeted Sony in the past, though it was not possible to verify the Twitter account's authenticity.
- Turkish teen accused of insulting Erdogan freed from custody
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A teenager was released from custody on Friday after his arrest for allegedly insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan caused uproar in the country.
- Texas movie set used by John Wayne fading away
BRACKETTVILLE, Texas (AP) — Time and Mother Nature are threatening to dismantle the Alamo. Not the original, but the replica 18th-century Spanish mission and Old West movie set John Wayne built for his Oscar-nominated 1960 movie and that for decades was a tourist mecca and film production site.
- Asian Tsunami Anniversary: LIVE REPORT
- Syrian air force kills 45 civilians in stepped-up raids: monitor
AMMAN (Reuters) - At least 45 civilians were killed and some 175 wounded when aircraft bombed a northern Syrian city controlled by Islamic State, as Bashar al-Assad's government stepped up air raids, residents and a monitoring group said on Friday. Helicopters and war planes dropped barrel bombs -- steel drums full of shrapnel and explosives -- on residential and industrial areas in the city of al Bab and neighboring Qabaseen, northeast of Aleppo, on Thursday and overnight, locals said. "People were going about scraping a living and there were no armed groups in the market, only poor people. ...
- Ruble rebounds sharply from lows as exporters sell dollars
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's ruble rose on Friday to its strongest levels in more than three weeks, in a sharp rebound from its recent all-time lows, after the government ordered exporters to sell some of their hard currency revenues.
- Azerbaijan's station raided by police
BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — A radio station funded by the U.S. government says its office in Azerbaijan's capital of Baku has been raided by prosecutors who claim to have a court decision to shut it down.
- Sydney to Hobart off to flying start
Newcomer Comanche was off to a blinding start in Australia's 70th Sydney to Hobart yacht race Friday, blitzing all rivals including seven-times line honours winner Wild Oats XI in Sydney Harbour. The 100-foot Comanche was ahead of Wild Oats, also a supermaxi, to the first mark as 117 yachts set off on the 628 nautical mile endurance race down Australia's east coast in scorching summer conditions. With the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House as a backdrop and thousands of spectators on boats and harbourside vantage points, the yachts enjoyed a 15 to 18 knot southeasterly breeze which helped them off in what is thought to be a record start. They have now turned south towards Hobart into a stiff southerly which is testing boats and sailors with uncomfortable seas, with four yachts retiring so far -- including one with hull damage and another with a damaged rudder.
- Japan stimulus mulled as inflation, output weaken
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning about 3.5 trillion yen ($29 billion) in fresh stimulus, including subsidies and job-creating programs, to help pull the world's third-largest economy out of recession.
- Asia marks 10 years since Indian Ocean tsunami
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) — Crying onlookers took part in beachside memorials and religious services across Asia on Friday to mark the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami that left more than a quarter million people dead in one of modern history's worst natural disasters.
- Aboard Sri Lanka's tsunami train, an anguished hope of reunion
By Dinuka Liyanawatta PERELIYA, Sri Lanka (Reuters) - Ten years after a towering wave hurled the Sri Lankan train Samudra Devi off its tracks and killed more than 1,000 people, passenger Shanthi Gallage still carries a faint hope of finding her missing husband and daughter. Samudra Devi, or "Ocean Queen", made a special journey on Friday to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed an estimated 40,000 people in Sri Lanka when it pounded its sand-fringed coastline. ...
- Talks on Ukraine settlement break down
MINSK, Belarus (AP) — The foreign ministry of Belarus, which has been hosting Ukraine peace talks, says the much-anticipated round of negotiations on Friday has been scrapped.
- Prosecutors raid LG headquarters over washing machine row with Samsung
By Hyunjoo Jin SEOUL (Reuters) - Prosecutors raided the headquarters of LG Electronics on Friday as part of a probe into whether the South Korean company had damaged the washing machines of rival Samsung Electronics at retail stores in Germany, LG said. The raid comes amid an increasingly bitter rivalry between the two companies which compete in home appliances, TVs and smartphones, and ahead of the world's biggest consumer electronics show at Las Vegas in January. ...
- Activists launch condom campaign against Russian opposition
MOSCOW (AP) — Pro-Kremlin activists are distributing condoms on the streets of Moscow with the images of opposition leaders whom they blame for the collapse of the Russian currency.
- US missile strikes kill 7 militants in NW Pakistan
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) — A suspected U.S. drone fired missiles at two compounds in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region Friday, killing at least seven alleged militants, while security forces killed the alleged planner of the deadly recent attack on a school, Pakistani officials said.
- Shares mostly higher in quiet holiday trading
TOKYO (AP) — Shares were mostly higher in quiet trading Friday, as most markets in the region and across the globe were closed for the Christmas holiday. China's Shanghai Composite Index extended gains in the second day of a rebound from this week's earlier sell-off.
- Mauritania condemns man to death for "insulting the prophet"
By Kissima Diagana NOUAKCHOTT (Reuters) - Mauritania on Thursday condemned a man to death for "insulting the prophet", a human rights group said, a day after the country opened the trial of an anti-slavery activist. Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir, 28, was arrested a year ago for writing an article about the Prophet Mohammad and the caste system, an extremely sensitive subject in a West African country with deep social and racial divisions. He claims his article has been misinterpreted. ...
- Islamist gunmen attack African Union base in Somalia
By Abdi Sheikh and Fiesal Omar MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Eight Islamist gunmen infiltrated the main African Union (AU) base in Mogadishu on Thursday and killed three peacekeepers and a civilian contractor, the AU mission in Somalia said. Somali militant group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, which lasted several hours, and said it had killed 14 peacekeepers. Witnesses reported hearing bomb blasts and volleys of gunfire through the day. ...
- Rocket hits storage tank at Libya's biggest oil port
By Ayman al-Warfalli and Ahmed Elumami BENGHAZI/TUNIS, Libya (Reuters) - A rocket set a storage tank at the eastern Libyan oil of port Es Sider on fire as armed factions allied to competing governments fought for control of the country's biggest export terminal, officials from both sides said on Thursday. Clashes were also reported from Sirte, a city west of Es Sider, killing up to 19, among them 14 guards at a power plant, residents said. No more details were available. ...
- Factors shaping 2016 presidential race
Key factors as the 2016 presidential race begins to take shape:
- Democrats optimistic on 2016 presidential chances
ATLANTA (AP) — Republicans crowed in 2004 that freshly re-elected President George W. Bush had established a "permanent governing majority" for the GOP. Eight years later, Democrats were touting the enduring power of the "Obama coalition" to keep their party in the White House.
- Sanders: I'll decide on presidential run by March
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders says he'll decide by March whether to launch a 2016 presidential campaign and, if so, whether he'll seek the Democratic nomination. Either way, Sanders says he wouldn't run just to nudge the debate to the left.
- Aussie Test skipper Smith leads from the front to torment India
- Crawford, Paul lead Clippers over Warriors 100-86
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Golden State Warriors shot as dreadfully in the fourth quarter as the Los Angeles Clippers did in the first. As a result, the team with the NBA's best record absorbed its fifth loss of the season and second at Staples Center in three days.