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Shoppers wrestle over a television as they compete to purchase retail items on "Black Friday" at an Asda superstore in WembleyLONDON (Reuters) - British retail sales surged at their fastest annual rate in more than a decade in November, as U.S.-style "Black Friday" discounts drove record sales growth at electrical and department stores. The figures suggest strong economic growth and a recent fall in prices for essentials such as food and fuel are finally starting to translate into higher morale among some households- a good sign for Britain's ruling Conservatives before May's national election, where cost of living issues are centre stage. Retail sales volumes rose 1.6 percent on the month to show 6. ...


12/18/2014 3:51:35 AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Russia's chief rabbi Berel Lazar and Chairman of Federation of Russia's Jewish Organizations Alexander Boroda in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian economy will rebound and the ruble will stabilize, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday at his annual press conference.


12/18/2014 3:41:23 AM

This photo provided by Columbia Pictures - Sony shows, Randall Park, center, as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Columbia Pictures' "The Interview." North Korea has been linked to the unprecedented act of cyberwarfare against Sony Pictures that exposed tens of thousands of sensitive documents and escalated to threats of terrorist attacks that ultimately drove the studio to cancel all release plans for "The Interview." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures - Sony, Ed Araquel)NEW YORK (AP) — The unprecedented hack of Sony Pictures which a U.S. official says is linked to North Korea may be the most damaging cyberattack ever inflicted on an American business.


12/18/2014 3:18:09 AM

Students and teachers celebrate after listening to a live, nationally broadcast speech by Cuba's President Raul Castro about the country's restoration of relations with the United States, at a school in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Castro said profound differences remain between Cuba and the U.S. in areas such as human rights, foreign policy and questions of sovereignty, but that the countries have to learn to live with their differences "in a civilized manner." (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)HAVANA (AP) — 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.


12/18/2014 3:15:57 AM

File photo of Luxembourg's then PM Juncker arriving at a European Union leaders summit in BrusselsBy Robert-Jan Bartunek BRUSSELS (Reuters) - When Jean-Claude Juncker was voted out after two decades running Luxembourg, his victorious rivals were eager not to alienate tax gurus who had helped him make their tiny state rich. Indeed, so close are some to the new government that Ernst & Young's local boss helped negotiate the coalition deal that saw Xavier Bettel succeed Juncker as prime minister a year ago. Recent uproar over leaked documents showing how Luxembourg helped global companies avoid tax has clouded Juncker's first weeks as the EU's chief executive and Bettel has promised things will change. Both parties deny any talk of impropriety and their cooperation seems to worry few of Luxembourg's 240,000 voters.


12/18/2014 3:05:30 AM

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A female motorist hit a group of pedestrians outside a California church as a Christmas service ended, killing one person and leaving up to 11 others injured, police said.

12/18/2014 2:48:18 AM

A "spearfishing" attack aimed at US-based nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) hooked staff with emails crafted to appear as though they were sent from peers using "icann.org" addresses, according to a blog postA "spearfishing" attack aimed at US-based nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) hooked staff members with emails crafted to appear as though they were sent from peers using "icann.org" addresses, according to a blog post. "The attack resulted in the compromise of the email credentials of several ICANN staff members," ICANN said.


12/18/2014 2:35:21 AM

In this photo taken on Nov. 5, 2014, a man walks on the pitch as Qatar’s Aspire Academy plays against a visiting team, San Lorenzo, in Doha, Qatar. Qatar is relying on the academy to train what it hopes will be a competitive team at the World Cup it is hosting in 2022. (AP Photo/John Leicester)DOHA, Qatar (AP) — It's a cold, hard fact of football: Countries with tiny populations don't generally beat big ones with deep wells of talented players.


12/18/2014 2:29:53 AM

FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2004 file photo, Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman and Chief Executive Michael Lynton is seen in Beverly Hills, Calif. In the weeks before hackers broke into Sony Pictures Entertainment, the studio suffered significant technology outages blamed on employees keeping too many old emails and hackers targeted executives to trick them into revealing their online credentials. The company’s chief executive regularly was reminded in unsecure emails from his executive assistant of his own secret passwords for his and his family’s mail, banking, travel and shopping accounts, according to a review of more than 32,000 stolen corporate emails circulating on the Internet. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — In the weeks before hackers broke into Sony Pictures Entertainment, the studio suffered significant technology outages it blamed on software flaws and incompetent technical staffers who weren't paying attention, even as hackers targeted executives to trick them into revealing their online credentials.


12/18/2014 2:15:27 AM

This photo provided by Columbia Pictures - Sony shows, Seth Rogen, center, as Aaron, and James Franco, as Dave, arriving in North Korea to a welcoming crowd in a scene from Columbia Pictures' "The Interview." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures - Sony, Ed Araquel)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.


12/18/2014 2:15:12 AM

Alan Gross, accompanied by his wife, Judy, speaks during a news conference at his lawyer's office in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Gross was released from Cuba after five years in a Cuban prison. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)WASHINGTON (AP) — Fresh off his 2012 re-election victory, President Barack Obama summoned senior advisers to a series of meetings, asking them to "think big" about a second-term agenda, including the possibilities of new starts with long-standing U.S. foes such as Iran and Cuba. Two years later, after painstaking secret diplomacy on separate but surprisingly similar tracks, efforts with Tehran and Havana are in full swing.


12/18/2014 2:13:06 AM

FILE - In this June 14, 1961 file photo, Prime Minister Fidel Castro holds a cigar during a news conference in Havana, Cuba. For over half a century, the U.S. government tried many schemes to overthrow the Castro regime: poisonous cigars, an exploding seashell, the secret Twitter-like service in Cuba. U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014 the United States will re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba and bring change to the longstanding trade embargo. But it was unclear if all secret operations would cease. (AP Photo/RHS)WASHINGTON (AP) — For over half a century, the U.S. government's schemes to overthrow the Castro government were, if not successful, always creative: the poisonous cigars, the exploding seashell, the secret Twitter-like service in Cuba.


12/18/2014 2:08:38 AM

FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014 file photo, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the son of Cuban immigrants, prepares his statement before a news conference where he expressed his disappointment in President Barack Obama's initiative to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Among potential Republican presidential candidates, Rubio led the attack on Obama's plans Wednesday to ease of economic and travel restrictions on Cuba, to open an embassy in Havana and review the communist nation’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)WASHINGTON (AP) — The surprising move by President Barack Obama to restore U.S. ties with Cuba reignited long-simmering political passions over the fate of the island nation, reinforcing yet another difference between Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and several Republicans eyeing bids for the White House.


12/18/2014 2:07:38 AM

From left, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., participate in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, after traveling to Havana earlier today to bring back American prisoner Alan Gross who has been held by the Cuban government. President Barack Obama announced that the United States and Cuba have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, marking a historic shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island after a half-century of enmity dating back to the Cold War. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)WASHINGTON (AP) — Opponents of President Barack Obama's sudden move to re-establish ties with Cuba have little chance of scuttling his effort in Congress.


12/18/2014 2:06:32 AM

A Royal Mail postal van is parked outside homes in Maybury near Woking in southern EnglandLONDON (Reuters) - Shares in Britain's Royal Mail postal service should have been sold at a higher price when the firm was privatised last year, but the lost revenue was lower than previous estimates, a government-commissioned report said on Thursday. Lord Myners, a former Labour minister commissioned to see if the government could improve the way it sells public assets, said on Thursday that Royal Mail could have raised up to 180 million pounds more for the public purse. ...


12/18/2014 1:58:56 AM

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