• December 18, 2014

Military Pulse

Parliament OKs German soldiers for Afghan mission

BERLIN (AP) — Lawmakers have given the go-ahead for Germany to contribute up to 850 soldiers to the NATO-organized training and advisory mission in Afghanistan that will start work next month.

Analysis: New focus on how Pakistan will address militancy

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Many wonder if the attack that killed 148 people at a Pakistani school will be a watershed in the country's long, conflicted history with Islamic militancy.

FACT CHECK: Putin on the ruble collapse, Ukraine

MOSCOW (AP) — A fact-checking look at some of Russian President Vladimir Putin's statements on the ruble collapse and the Ukrainian crisis from his annual news conference Thursday:

Suspected Islamic extremists kidnap 185 in northeast Nigeria

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Islamic extremists killed 35 people and kidnapped at least 185, fleeing residents said Thursday of an attack near the town where nearly 300 schoolgirls were taken hostage in April.

More US troops going to Iraq in a couple of weeks

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. commander in Iraq says additional American troops will begin moving into the country in a couple of weeks to train local forces.

Montenegro expected to extradite 3 men to US

PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) — Montenegro has started extradition procedures for three men who have been charged by a New York court with conspiring to kill Americans and aid terrorists.

3 wounded as UN vehicle hits roadside bomb in northern Mali

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The U.N. force in Mali says three peacekeepers were wounded when a vehicle carrying Chadian troops hit a roadside bomb in the country's north.

Poll: 81 percent back Putin even as ruble falls

MOSCOW (AP) — 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.

Putin: West is trying to 'defang' the Russian bear

MOSCOW (AP) — Vowing never to let the West defang his proud nation, President Vladimir Putin promised Thursday to fix Russia's economic woes within two years by diversifying and voiced confidence that the plummeting ruble will soon recover.

UK police probe murder claims in child abuse case

LONDON (AP) — British police said Thursday they are investigating three allegations of murder as part of an inquiry into claims that politically powerful people sexually abused children several decades ago.

Lawyer defends acts of Nigeria soldiers sentenced to death

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — 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.

AP IMPACT: Abused kids die as authorities fail to protect

BUTTE, Montana (AP) — At least 786 children died of abuse or neglect in the U.S. in a six-year span in plain view of child protection authorities — many of them beaten, starved or left alone to drown while agencies had good reason to know they were in danger, The Associated Press has found.

Iraq PM drops lawsuits against journalists

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday ordered the withdrawal of all government lawsuits against journalists and media outlets, marking a departure from his predecessor Nouri al-Maliki, who was widely accused of using state institutions to target his political enemies.

Iran to hold military drill near strategic passage

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's state TV says the military will hold a massive drill near the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf next week.

AP source: North Korea linked to Sony hacking

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal investigators have now connected the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. to North Korea, a U.S. official said Wednesday, though it remained unclear how the federal government would respond to a break-in that exposed sensitive documents and ultimately led to terrorist threats against moviegoers.

AP IMPACT: Abused kids die as officials fail to protect

BUTTE, Montana (AP) — At least 786 children died of abuse or neglect in the U.S. in a six-year span in plain view of child protection authorities — many of them beaten, starved or left alone to drown while agencies had good reason to know they were in danger, The Associated Press has found.

AP source: US probe links NKorea to Sony hacking

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal investigators have now connected the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. to North Korea, a U.S. official said Wednesday, though it remained unclear how the federal government would respond to a break-in that exposed sensitive documents and ultimately led to terrorist threats against moviegoers.

Cubans cheer historic renewal of US relations

HAVANA (AP) — Bells tolled in celebration and teachers halted lessons midday as President Raul Castro told his country Wednesday that Cuba was restoring relations with the United States after more than a half-century of hostility.

Correction: Brain Injury Program-NFL story

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — In a story Dec. 16 about the Eisenhower Center, The Associated Press, based on information from the center, reported erroneously that it will be the primary facility used by the NFL Players Association for treating brain injuries and other neurological issues through the After the Impact program. According to the NFLPA, the center is one of the facilities the group uses to treat a number of health-related issues.

Key dates in US relations with Cuba

Key events in U.S.-Cuba relations:

Immigrants closer to driver's licenses in Arizona

PHOENIX (AP) — Thousands of young immigrants moved a step closer to getting driver's licenses in Arizona when the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday rebuffed the governor's latest attempt to deny them the privilege.

Freed American endured years of declining health

WASHINGTON (AP) — Alan Gross spent five years wasting away in a Cuban prison, losing hope that he would ever be free and at one point apparently contemplating suicide. He dropped more than 100 pounds, developed hip problems and lost most of the vision in one eye.

US wins release of spy held for years in Cuba jail

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.

Quotes from Pakistani families over school attack

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Reaction to the killings of 148 people — almost all of them students — at a military-run school in northwestern Pakistan:

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