POZNAN, Poland (AP) — Poland's defense minister praised long-range missiles the country is buying from the U.S. as the most modern military equipment Poland has ever had and said that they are especially needed at this time of tension in the region.
A NATO member, Poland for years has worked to modernize a military once based on Soviet-built equipment. Those efforts intensified after Russia annexed Crimea earlier this year and gave support to the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, actions that have made Warsaw nervous.
"Never in history have we had such modern weapons as we are getting as a result of this deal," Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said Thursday at a ceremony for the $250 million deal. The deal, already signed in the U.S., was signed by a Polish general Thursday.
The ceremony took place in a hangar with F-16s and a model of the missile at the Krzesiny air base in the city of Poznan. The deal includes the purchase from U.S. aerospace and defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. of 40 joint air-to-surface missiles, which will be integrated into the Polish air force's fleet of F-16 fighter jets.
Siemoniak added that now, with the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, such modern weaponry "is especially needed."
Both he and the U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Steven Mull, hailed the deal as a sign of the strength of the U.S.-Polish alliance.
The deal for the 40 AGM-158 JASSM-type missiles also includes associated equipment, training and logistical support needed to make them operational.
Delivery is to take place in 2015 and 2016, and the missiles are scheduled to be operational in 2017.
Both the U.S. State Department and Congress approved the deal this fall, making Poland the third country allowed to buy the missiles after Australia and Finland.News Topics: Business, General news, Military and defense, Government and politics
People, Places and Companies: Lockheed Martin Corp, Tomasz Siemoniak, Poland, Poznan, Crimea, Russia, Eastern Europe, Europe, Ukraine
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — With nine different winners in the last 11 years, no one could ever accuse the Champions League of being predictable.
It does appear, however, that an established "Big 4" has been created in Europe's premier club competition — and this year's group stage backs up the theory.
Barcelona, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, the last four winners of European soccer's top prize, were the top teams in group play, which finished Wednesday. In each of the last three seasons, at least three of that quartet has reached the semifinals of the Champions League. Madrid and Barcelona did so in 2011, too.
So, heading into the knockout stage that kicks off in February, it would be a big surprise if this season's champion didn't come from this small pool of juggernauts — teams who currently are playing football at another level to the rest.
"Everybody's there, so the Champions League starts now," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said of a last-16 lineup that contains 11 of the teams who advanced in the 2013-14 season.
No club has ever successfully defended the Champions League title since the competition's inception in 1992. Could Madrid be about to end that jinx?
At top of the Spanish league, a team boasting the attacking talents of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema was the only one to pick up a maximum 18 points in the group stage. Madrid has won its last 19 games in all competitions and Ronaldo, the reigning world player of the year, has already reached 30 goals for the season.
"I know I've got an extraordinary team," Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said after Tuesday's 4-0 win over Ludogorets Razgrad. "I don't tire from saying this."
Any side that contains Lionel Messi will always have a great chance, and Barcelona will be expected to reach the semifinals after missing out last season. Barcelona's defense remains a concern — although it has only conceded seven goals in 14 games in the Spanish league — but Wednesday's 3-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain at Camp Nou gave a taster of what to expect from its expensively assembled, all-star attack.
Messi — with his record-extending 75th Champions League goal — was on the score sheet along with Neymar and Luis Suarez. The trio is six weeks into its new partnership and when the last 16 comes around it could be unstoppable.
"We know that together we can go places," Suarez said Wednesday after Barcelona sealed first place in its group for the eighth straight season.
Bayern's only defeat in a tough-looking Group E came at Manchester City after playing more than 70 minutes with 10 men and conceding twice in the last five minutes to lose 3-2. The German champions have few weaknesses in their team, with their attack looking even stronger with the addition of Robert Lewandowski, and have a coach in Pep Guardiola who has gone all the way before in the Champions League, with Barcelona in 2009 and '11.
Chelsea, meanwhile, has found a cure to its attacking frailties of last season with the signing of Spain striker Diego Costa and was the top-scoring team in the group stage, with 17 goals in six games. Traditionally strong in defense, Eden Hazard is developing into one of the world's best wingers and Cesc Fabregas has brought more creativity into the team's midfield.
"Last season, for sure we were not one of the top four and we played in the Champions League semifinals," Mourinho said. "Let's see what we can do this season."
Mourinho said there will be some "sharks in the ocean" in Monday's draw for the last 16. He was probably referring to Man City, PSG and Italian champion Juventus, who appear to be the strongest teams among the runners-up.
Europe has been waiting for big-spending City, English champions twice in the last three seasons, to find its feet in the Champions League. And a 2-0 win at Roma on Wednesday that sealed advancement was viewed by some as a coming-of-age result, secured without arguably its four key players in Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Vincent Kompany.
City's flaws and tactical limitations in Europe were exposed previously in the group stage, though, and it is unlikely to infiltrate the four favorites.News Topics: Sports, Men's sports, UEFA Champions League, Men's soccer, Professional soccer, Soccer, Events
People, Places and Companies: Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema, Carlo Ancelotti, Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski, Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Vincent Kompany, Spain, Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester, Europe, Vermont, England, Western Europe, United Kingdom, United States, North America
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
MOUNT DORA, Florida (AP) — A sexual predator has won almost $3 million from a Florida Lottery scratch-off ticket.
Orlando television station WKMG (http://www.local6.com/index.html) reported Wednesday that Timothy Poole purchased the winning ticket last weekend at a convenience store near Orlando.
Poole is listed on a Florida Department of Law Enforcement website as a sexual predator.
The television station says Poole was arrested in 1999 for on a charge of sexually battering a 9-year-old boy. Poole denied the allegations but pleaded guilty to attempted sexual battery and was sentenced to time served in jail.
His probation was revoked in 2003 after he failed to show up for counseling sessions. He was sentenced to three years in prison and released in 2006.
Poole tells WKMG he was wrongly accused.
Information from: WKMG-TV, http://www.local6.com/index.htmlNews Topics: General news, Lotteries, Crime
People, Places and Companies: Florida, Orlando, United States, North America
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
MALELANE, South Africa (AP) — Branden Grace made light work of the Leopard Creek Country Club course as he shot a 10-under 62 to claim a three-shot lead after the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship on Thursday.
Although the South African missed an eagle chance at the last hole that would have seen him equal the course record, that was his only disappointment of the day as he fired in 10 unanswered birdies.
Grace's compatriot, Jake Roos, lay second after his first day as a full European Tour member, leading fellow rookie Matt Ford by one stroke after the Englishman's 6-under 66.
Ford was joined in third place by countryman Danny Willett, who carried his good form through from last weekend's win at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.News Topics: Sports, Men's sports, Men's golf, Golf
People, Places and Companies: Branden Grace, Jake Roos, Matt Ford, Danny Willett, South Africa, Southern Africa, Africa
BETHESDA, Maryland (AP) — An American nurse who was exposed to the Ebola virus while volunteering in Sierra Leone is being admitted to the National Institutes of Health near Washington, D.C.
The NIH says in a statement that the nurse was expected to be admitted to the Bethesda, Maryland, facility on Thursday. The NIH says the nurse has not tested positive for the deadly virus. The nurse's identity was not released.
An NIH spokeswoman says the nurse will be taken to a special unit designed to isolate transmissible diseases.
The hospital previously helped treat a Dallas nurse infected while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who fell ill with Ebola shortly after arriving in the U.S. and later died. The nurse, Nina Pham, survived and is Ebola-free.News Topics: General news, Ebola virus, Hemorrhagic fever, Infectious diseases, Diseases and conditions, Health
People, Places and Companies: Maryland, Sierra Leone, United States, North America, West Africa, Africa
MIES, Switzerland (AP) — Qatar is among six bidders to host basketball's World Cup in 2019 or 2023.
The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) says China, Germany, the Philippines and Turkey also want to host one of the next two tournaments.
FIBA says Germany may bid alone or with France.
The FIBA ruling board will choose the 2019 host in June, and may pick the 2023 host from the remaining bidders.
FIBA did not specify when the 32-nation 2019 tournament would be played. Its men's world championship traditionally starts in late-August and finishes in mid-September.
Qatar will host football's World Cup in 2022, the athletics worlds in 2019, and the handball worlds in January.News Topics: Sports, Men's sports, 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, FIBA Basketball World Cup, International basketball, Men's basketball, Basketball, Events
People, Places and Companies: Qatar, Middle East
NEW YORK (AP) — Medieval manuscripts and papal documents relating to St. Francis of Assisi are going on display in Brooklyn's Borough Hall.
New York City officials say it's the first time the documents have left Italy in 700 years.
The 13th and 14th century texts come from the Sacred Convent of St. Francis in Assisi.
The 19 Franciscan texts document the theological teachings and life of the patron saint of the poor.
Among them is Codex 338. It's a collection of the earliest writings and documents relating to Francis. It includes the Canticle of the Creatures, considered the first literary document written in the vernacular.
The U.N. hosted a private exhibition of the manuscripts last month.
The Brooklyn exhibition runs Dec. 17 through Jan. 14, except Sundays, Christmas and New Year's Day.News Topics: General news
People, Places and Companies: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States, North America
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — A divided Supreme Court of Canada says police can conduct a limited search of a suspect's cellphone when they are arrested without getting a search warrant, but they must follow strict rules.
In its precedent-setting, 4-3 ruling, the country's top court said Thursday that the search must be directly related to the circumstances of a person's arrest and the police must keep detailed records of the search.
Three dissenting justices said the police must get a search warrant in all cases except in rare instances where there is a danger to the public or the police, or if evidence could be destroyed.
It is the first time the Supreme Court has ruled on cellphone privacy, an issue that has spawned a series of divergent lower court rulings.News Topics: General news
People, Places and Companies: Canada, Ontario, North America
MOSCOW (AP) — Relishing an opportunity to turn the tables on the U.S., Russia says the Senate's investigation into the CIA torture practices has highlighted rampant rights abuse.
The Foreign Ministry's rights envoy, Konstantin Dolgov, said in Thursday's statement that the evidence contained in the report "contradict the U.S. aspirations to serve as a model of democracy."
Dolgov says the report has proven "flagrant and systemic rights abuse" and pointed that only an executive summary of the 6,700-page report was released. He urged international organizations and rights groups to urge the release of full report and the prosecution of those involved in abuses.
The Russian statement, which comes amid U.S.-Russian tensions over Ukraine, marked an attempt by Moscow to turn the tables on continuous Western criticism of Russia's rights abuses.News Topics: General news, Government and politics, International relations, Torture and interrogation tactics, Acts of torture, Prisoner rights, Human rights and civil liberties, Social issues, Social affairs, Treatment of prisoners, Human welfare
People, Places and Companies: Moscow, Russia, Eastern Europe, Europe
Here's a look at how AP's general news coverage is shaping up today. Some plans are subject to change.
Among today's coverage highlights as we see them:
-- CIA TORTURE REPORT (sent; developing)
-- SECRET CUBAN HIP-HOP (sent; developing)
-- ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS (sent; developing)
-- HONG KONG-DEMOCRACY PROTESTS (sent; developing)
-- CONGRESS SPENDING (sent; developing)
-- CLEVELAND POLICE-JUSTICE PROBE (sent; developing on merits)
-- POLICE PROTESTS-MUSIC (upcoming)
-- CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT-Q&A (upcoming)
-- GOOGLE-SPAIN (sent; developing)
-- GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATONS (sent; developing)
-- KILLINGS BY POLICE-TECHNOLOGY (sent)
-- GANGNAM-STARTUPS (sent)
-- WWI-CHRISTMAS TRUCE (sent)
-- SALVATION ARMY-KETTLE STOLEN (sent)
-- BRITAIN-CHURCHILL'S DAUGHTER (sent; developing)
PHOTOS: CALIFORNIA STORMS (sent; developing); HONG KONG PROTESTS (sent); WWI CHRISTMAS TRUCE (sent)
VIDEO: CALIFORNIA STORMS (sent; developing); us_cuba_hip_hop (sent); hong_kong_protests (sent); mummy_update (sent)
Here are details of those stories, plus others we have in the works for today and notable pieces that we sent in the past 10 hours (all times GMT):
AP INVESTIGATION: SECRET CUBAN HIP-HOP - A U.S. agency secretly infiltrated Cuba's underground hip-hop movement, recruiting unwitting rappers to spark a youth movement against the government, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. SENT: An abridged version of 1,200 words has been sent, photos, video. An expanded version of 3,400 words has also been sent. UPCOMING: Developing; seeking reaction in Cuba and Washington.
- SECRET CUBAN HIP-HOP-5 FINDINGS - SENT: 330 words, photos.
- SECRET CUBAN HIP-HOP-TIMELINE - SENT: 410 words, photos.
HONG KONG-DEMOCRACY PROTEST - Hong Kong authorities clear away the last barricades and tents of a 2 ½-month protest movement Thursday but the dozens of student leaders and other activists they took away vowed their fight for greater democracy wasn't over. SENT: 700 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: Developing with a look at next steps.
ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS - Israeli and Palestinian pathologists disagreed Thursday on whether a blow to the body or a bad heart was the main cause of death of a Palestinian Cabinet minister who collapsed shortly after scuffling with Israeli troops during a West Bank protest. SENT: 540 words, photos.
FRANCE-PALESTINIAN STATE - French Senate wants government to recognize Palestinian state, hoping to speed up peace talks. SENT: 140 words.
ISRAEL-IRELAND - Israel slams Irish decision recognizing Palestine; says parliament gave voice to anti-Semitism. SENT: 140 words.
BRITAIN-SLAVERY - British police on Thursday charged a 74-year-old man who allegedly held three women against their will in a London house for 30 years. SENT: 130 words.
GERMANY-NSA SURVEILLANCE -Germany's chief federal prosecutor said Thursday his office so far has found no actionable evidence that Chancellor Angela Merkel's calls were tapped by the U.S. National Security Agency, but the investigation continues. SENT: 300 words.
YEMEN - A top al-Qaida leader in Yemen on Thursday blamed Obama for the recent deaths of two hostages, an American and a South African, in a failed rescue operation. SENT: 600 words, photo.
JAPAN-ELECTION-NATIONALISM - A projected landslide victory for Japan's ruling party in Sunday's parliamentary elections could give Prime Minister Shinzo Abe political breathing space to push forward with his long-held nationalist agenda. SENT: 920 words, photos.
BRITAIN-CHURCHILL'S DAUGHTER - Auction of artifacts from Churchill's daughter shows private side of a famous family. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: Developing.
CHINA-BANNING VEILED ROBES - The regional capital of China's restive western region of Xinjiang has introduced a law banning veiled robes in public amid measures taken by Beijing to curb Muslim extremism. SENT: 370 words.
CHINA-CASTRO AWARD - Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro is this year's winner of China's Confucius Peace Prize, portrayed by organizers as an alternative to the Nobel Prize, which they see as biased against China. SENT: 400 words.
MYANMAR-DAMMING THE SALWEEN - Dam projects on mighty Salween River threaten to re-ignite Myanmar's civil war. SENT: 1,330 words, photos.
SYRIA TO URUGUAY - Syrian refugee family bound for Uruguay struggles with memories of war, leaving loved ones. SENT: 510 words, photos.
ROMANIA-STREET DOGS - Romanian street dogs visit Bucharest elderly; dogs find purpose, elderly find friends. SENT: 530 words, photos.
MONACO-ROYAL TWINS - Tell the world, make noise, take the day off: How royals celebrate births in the monarchy. SENT: 620 words.
WWI-CHRISTMAS TRUCE - A century later, mythic thud of a ball on Christmas reverberates as World War I is remembered. SENT: 780 words, photos.
CIA TORTURE REPORT — CIA Director John Brennan is pushing back hard against the wave of criticism following the report detailing harsh interrogation tactics employed by intelligence community people against terrorism war-era detainees. SENT: 980 words. UPCOMING: Updating from 1830 GMT news conference; 1,000 words by 2030 GMT.
CONGRESS SPENDING — Growing opposition among Democrats and persistent opposition from the tea party Republicans has left a $1.1 trillion government-wide spending bill teetering. SENT: 700 words. UPCOMING: Developing; House vote tentatively scheduled for 1930 GMT. Developing.
CLOSING GUANTANAMO - A frustrated Obama tries to move forward with closing Guantanamo prison over stiff opposition. SENT: 800 words, photo.
CLEVELAND POLICE-JUSTICE PROBE - The mayor holds a news conference to discuss a US Justice Department report that strongly criticized the police department for a pattern of excessive force and civil rights. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: Updating from 1500 GMT news conference; 300 words by 1700 GMT; more on merits.
POLICE PROTESTS-MUSIC — As crowds protest police shootings across the U.S., some of them are working with a soundtrack. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos.
KILLINGS BY POLICE-TECHNOLOGY - Oregon lawyers are developing a "Driving While Black" free phone app that aims to provide advice to people of all races on how to safely interact with police during traffic stops. SENT: 500 words, photo, interactive.
EXCHANGE STUDENT SHOT - A former patrol officer who discussed gun laws with the girlfriend of a Montana man who fatally shot a German exchange student testifies at the man's murder trial. SENT: 320 words, photos. UPCOMING: 500 words after testimony ends.
MUMMY-CONSERVATION WORK - Conservation work has started at Chicago's Field Museum on the 2,500-year-old mummy of a 14-year-old Egyptian boy. SENT: 130 words, photos, video.
EBOLA VACCINE SUSPENDED - Swiss researchers have suspended the testing of one of the leading Ebola vaccine candidates after some volunteers reported unexpected side effects. SENT: 130 words.
BIRD FAMILY TREE-HIGHLIGHTS (HOLD FOR RELEASE, 1900 GMT) - A massive international project has produced a new evolutionary family tree for birds, giving new insights into their history. A look at the highlights. UPCOMING: HOLD FOR RELEASE AT 1900 GMT, 600 words, photos.
GOOGLE-SPAIN - Google's decision to close Google News in Spain because of a law requiring aggregators to pay news publishers for linking content also means that the publishers' content will vanish around the world. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: Developing.
SKOREA-GANGNAM-STARTUPS - The uber-trendy Seoul neighborhood made famous by the "Gangnam Style" K-pop hit is making a name as a bustling center for tech startups. SENT: 950 words, photos.
- SKOREA-GANGNAM-STARTUPS PEOPLE - What Gangnam people say about startup boom in the trendy district. SENT: 360 words.
DIGITAL LIFE-GIFT GUIDE-HIGH-TECH STOCKING STUFFERS - If you were good, you might ask for one of these little high-tech gems. SENT: 900 words, photos, interactive.
.OBAMA-BUSINESS — Obama is meeting with corporate advisers and pushing for a simpler tax code for businesses and expanded trade. SENT: 220 words. UPCOMING: Developing from 1600 GMT, meeting; 250 words by 1700 GMT.
JAPAN-AIR BAG RECALLS — Honda, Nissan and Mitsubishi announce more recalls for the same possibly defective Takata air bags that Toyota recalled earlier this month after one exploded during scrapping in Japan. SENT: 450 words.
ITALY-FERRARI'S VALUE - Ferrari takes aim at luxury goods world to boost brand value ahead of share listing. SENT: 920 words, photos.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS - "Birdman" squawked loudest in the Golden Globes nominations, flying away with a leading seven nods including best picture in the comedy or musical category. SENT: 700 words, photos. UPCOMING: Developing. With LIST.
SONY HACK-EMAILS - Angelina Jolie was still in the Hollywood spotlight Thursday, following the latest in a series of leaked emails in the Sony hacking scandal that calls the actress and director a "spoiled brat." UPCOMING: 600 words by 1900 GMT, photos.
BOOKCON-DIVERSE-BOOKS - National Book Award winners Sherman Alexie, Jacqueline Woodson among speakers at BookCon 2015. SENT: 300 words.
WORLD TRADE CENTER-ARTWORK GLANCE — World Trade Center tower features large-scale, bold and colorful artworks in lobbies. SENT: 500 words, photos.
INTERNET SURVEY - Would-be 2016 presidential candidates take note: the Internet may potentially make or break your campaign. SENT: 540 words, photo.News Topics: General news, Protests and demonstrations, Homicide, Legislature, Torture and interrogation tactics, Government and politics, Crime, World War I, Parliamentary elections, Intelligence agencies, Nationalism, Political and civil unrest, Violent crime, Prisoner rights, Human rights and civil liberties, Social issues, Social affairs, Treatment of prisoners, Human welfare, Events, Elections
People, Places and Companies: Angela Merkel, Shinzo Abe, Fidel Castro, John Brennan, Birdman, Angelina Jolie, Sherman Alexie, Palestinian territories, Hong Kong, Cuba, United States, United Kingdom, Israel, Seoul, Japan, East Asia, Spain, Germany, Middle East, China, Romania, Greater China, Asia, Caribbean, Latin America and Caribbean, North America, Western Europe, Europe, South Korea, Eastern Europe
SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Some 6,000 people have protested in the Bulgarian capital Sofia against government plans to raise the retirement age.
The rally Thursday was organized by the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions after the government announced plans to lift the retirement age by four months to 63 years and 8 months for men and to 60 years and 8 months for women.
Bulgaria, the poorest European Union member, has a rapidly aging population of 7.3 million, one third of which are retirees. Most of them have to survive with an average pension of 160 euros ($200) a month. Protesters demanded an increase of the pensions instead of the retirement age.
"We do not want life-long labor for miserable pensions" read one of the slogans at the protest.News Topics: General news, Protests and demonstrations, Government pensions and social security, Political and civil unrest, Government business and finance, Business, Government and politics
People, Places and Companies: Bulgaria, Sofia, Europe, Eastern Europe
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas says a senior U.N. envoy held a rare meeting with the No. 2 in the Islamic militant group to find ways to speed up Gaza reconstruction after the summer war between Israel and Hamas.
The group says Robert Serry, U.N. coordinator for the Middle East peace process, held talks with Moussa Abu Marzouk of Hamas at the U.N. headquarters in Gaza City on Thursday. Hamas is shunned by the West as a terror group.
U.N. officials would only say that Serry meets with Hamas officials when needed.
The U.N. is leading rebuilding efforts in Gaza, where the war damaged or destroyed thousands of homes.
Hamas seized Gaza in 2007 and remains in power there despite a unity agreement with the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.News Topics: General news
People, Places and Companies: Gaza Strip, Middle East, Palestinian territories
BRUSSELS (AP) — The city of Brussels, which the famous Belgian cartoon character Tintin roamed as an intrepid reporter, has plenty on offer for any inquisitive mind. And the Belgian capital is making it easier for tourists. It is planning to make more of its center a no-go area for cars, opening up more medieval and 19th century streets for carefree strolling and biking. Enough of the city's attractions are free to fill the best part of two vacation days.
Don't let your jaw drop when you start out at the very center of the old town. The world may have other stunning city squares — Venice's St. Mark's Square comes to mind — but count Brussels' Grand Place among the best. Stand on the gleaming cobblestones, look any which direction and a great piece of architecture will stand out. The 15th-century City Hall is Gothic art at its most elegant. And if its beauty doesn't fully move you, try figuring out why the white spire doesn't rise from the middle of the building. Legend has it the architect threw himself from the tower to his death when he realized it was off-center, but it's likely that various construction issues led to the asymmetry. Guilds, which are professional associations from various crafts and industries, occupy many of Baroque buildings surrounding the square, including one for Belgium's beer brewers.
GALERIE DE LA REINE/DU ROI
A block from the Grand Place is the exquisite Galerie de la Reine/du Roi, a 19th-century jewel of hallowed halls with glass ceilings, apartments lining the upper floors and loads of luxury boutiques and chocolate shops laid out along a magnificent quarter-mile. Chocoholics have Marcolini, Neuhaus, Mary and Corne within smelling distance. The list also includes Godiva, a Belgian brand that's become ubiquitous in the United States. Gaze left, right, front and back amid the chocolatiers and you realize what it must have been like for Charlie in Roald Dahl's "Chocolate Factory." Of course you'll have to pay to indulge in a taste, but smells and sights are free. Some of the shops look like museums, with pralines exhibited liked prized possessions behind glass.
Stroll past painter Pieter Breughel's old haunts in the Marolles district and go up in a glass elevator to come face to face with Brussels' humongous, super-eclectic Justice Palace. If ever the "Assassin's Creed" video game needs a 19th century setting for its hero to climb into and up and over, this is it: columns, marble and statues galore, and, for good measure, so much renovation scaffolding that has been there so long, it is in need of renovation too. Court cases, from terror trials to petty theft, are still held there on weekdays. Warning: Don't lose your way!
Considering Brussels' often rainy weather, it's good to have indoor sightseeing options, and another great one is the Army Museum in the Cinquantenaire Park close to the European Union headquarters. It is one of the few big museums where entry is free, and its collection of planes, parked on the ground or suspended from the ceiling, leaves kids in awe. With the centennial of World War I in full flow, military history is at the center of attention again. Note that the permanent collection is free, not the special exhibits.
The 1950s look brand-new again now that Brussels's best-known monument, the Atomium, has been renovated and turned into a gleaming symbol of the city. There is a fee to enter, but the best views are from outside where it costs nothing to behold the 102-meter (335-foot) monument with nine giant balls depicting an iron crystal. The structure was meant to symbolize the power of atomic science and the quest for a better future when Brussels hosted the World's Fair in 1958. In 2014, it just looks like one of the strangest buildings around. Still, it is a must-see in Brussels and it is surrounded by a scenic park that leads to the royal palace.
Raf Casert can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rcasertNews Topics: Travel, Lifestyle, Museums, Travel destinations, Recreation and leisure, Leisure travel
People, Places and Companies: Roald Dahl, Brussels, Belgium, Europe, Western Europe
Lululemon's third-quarter earnings sank 9 percent as a spike in expenses outweighed revenue gains, but the yoga gear company's performance still topped Wall Street expectations.
The Canadian company also nudged up its full-year earnings forecast while lowering its expectation for revenue.
Its U.S.-traded shares climbed almost 8 percent on morning trading.
Overall, Lululemon earned $60.5 million, or 42 cents per share, in the quarter that ended Nov. 2. That compares to earnings of $66.1 million, or 45 cents per share, the previous year.
Analysts expected, on average 38 cents per share in the most recent quarter, according to FactSet.
Revenue climbed 10 percent to $419.4 million but fell short of analyst expectations for $424.7 million.
Selling, general and administrative expenses also jumped 16 percent in the quarter to $129.9 million.
Total comparable sales, which includes sales at stores open at least a year and direct-to-consumer revenue, rose 3 percent on a constant dollar basis.
Lululemon Athletica Inc. now expects full-year adjusted earnings to range between $1.74 and $1.78 per share, up from its previous forecast for $1.72 to $1.77. But the company also dropped revenue guidance to between about $1.77 billion and $1.78 billion from $1.78 billion to $1.8 billion.
Analysts forecast earnings of $1.77 per share on $1.8 billion in revenue.
The company's stock jumped $3.60, or 7.7 percent, to $50.30 in morning trading. The shares had tumbled 21 percent so far this year, as of Wednesday's close, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has climbed 9 percent.News Topics: Business, Earnings estimates, Corporate stock, Earnings reports, Earnings, Financial performance, Corporate news
People, Places and Companies: Lululemon Athletica Inc
LONDON (AP) — Sotheby's is selling books, furniture, a humidor and other possessions from a leading Briton who traveled the world on high-level diplomacy during World War II, met Roosevelt and Stalin, and loved a good cigar.
It's not wartime leader Winston Churchill, but his daughter Mary, and the auction of her artworks and artifacts offers an unusually personal look at her father, and a pivotal moment in history.
Frances Christie, head of modern and postwar British art at Sotheby's, calls the 280 artifacts "little slices of history."
The star lot in Wednesday's sale, valued at 400,000 to 600,000 British pounds ($627,000-$940,000), is an Impressionist-style oil painting by Winston Churchill of the goldfish pond at his Chartwell home.
His daughter, Mary Soames, died in May aged 91.News Topics: Arts and entertainment, General news, Arts and collectibles auctions, Painting, Shopping, Lifestyle, Visual arts
People, Places and Companies: Winston Churchill, United Kingdom, Western Europe, Europe
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are opening slightly higher as the market bounces back from its biggest drop since October.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 75 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,607 as of 9:35 a.m. Eastern time Thursday. The Dow fell 268 points the day before, its worst drop in two months.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 12 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,039. The Nasdaq composite rose 31 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,715.
The price of oil fell 23 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $60.70 a barrel in New York. Crude is trading at a five-year low.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged up to 2.18 percent.News Topics: Business, General news, Stock prices, Stock indices and averages, Leading economic indicators, Economy, Stock markets, Financial markets
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Shares on the Athens Stock Exchange are again suffering heavy losses after officials in the governing coalition conceded they were still short of the support needed to stop the government collapsing in a parliamentary vote this month.
In late afternoon trading Thursday, shares were down nearly 8 percent, while the yield on Greece's 10-year-bond jumped to nearly 9 percent.
Despite recently emerging from recession, the country was thrown back into uncertainty this week, when conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras called an early vote in parliament to elect a new president — despite requiring support from opposition lawmakers to avoid a stalemate.
The deputy trade minister, Gerasimos Giakoumatos, in a radio interview Thursday said "at the moment we do not have the numbers."News Topics: Business, General news, Economy, Government and politics, Presidential elections, National elections, Elections
People, Places and Companies: Antonis Samaras, Greece, Athens, Western Europe, Europe
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Nominees for the 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards, announced Thursday in Beverly Hills, California, by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association:
—Picture, Drama: "Boyhood," ''Foxcatcher," ''The Imitation Game," ''Selma," ''The Theory of Everything."
—Picture, Musical or Comedy: "Birdman," ''The Grand Budapest Hotel," ''Into the Woods," ''Pride," ''St. Vincent."
—Actor, Drama: Steve Carell, "Foxcatcher"; Benedict Cumberbatch, "The Imitation Game"; Jake Gyllenhaal, "Nightcrawler"; David Oyelowo, "Selma.
—Actress, Drama: Jennifer Aniston, "Cake"; Felicity Jones, "The Theory of Everything"; Julianne Moore, "Still Alice"; Rosamund Pike, "Gone Girl"; Reese Witherspoon, "Wild."
—Director: Wes Anderson, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"; Ava DuVernay, "Selma"; David Fincher, "Gone Girl"; Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, "Birdman"; Richard Linklater, "Boyhood.
—Actor, Musical or Comedy: Ralph Fiennes, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"; Michael Keaton, "Birdman"; Bill Murray, "St. Vincent"; Joaquin Phoenix, "Inherent Vice"; Christoph Waltz; "Big Eyes."
—Actress, Musical or Comedy: Amy Adams, "Big Eyes"; Emily Blunt, "Into the Woods"; Helen Mirren, "The Hundred-Foot Journey"; Julianne Moore, "Maps to the Stars"; Quvenzhane Wallis, "Annie."
—Supporting Actor: Robert Duvall, "The Judge"; Ethan Hawke, "Boyhood"; Edward Norton, "Birdman"; Mark Ruffalo, "Foxcatcher"; J.K. Simmons, "Whiplash."
—Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, "Boyhood"; Jessica Chastain, "A Most Violent Year"; Keira Knightley, "The Imitation Game"; Emma Stone, "Birdman"; Meryl Streep, "Into the Woods."
—Foreign Language: "Force Majeure Turist," ''Gett: The Trial Of Viviane Amsalem," ''Ida," ''Leviathan," ''Tangerines Mandariinid."
—Animated Film: "Big Hero 6," ''The Book of Life," ''The Boxtrolls," ''How to Train Your Dragon 2," ''The Lego Movie."
—Screenplay: Wes Anderson, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"; Gillian Flynn, "Gone Girl"; Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, "Birdman"; Richard Linklater, "Boyhood"; Graham Moore, "The Imitation Game."
—Original Score: Alexandre Desplat, "The Imitation Game"; Johann Johannsson, "The Theory of Everything"; Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, "Gone Girl"; Antonio Sanchez, "Birdman"; Hans Zimmer, "Interstellar."
—Original Song: "Big Eyes" (music and lyrics by Lana Del Rey), "Big Eyes"; "Glory" (music by John Legend, Common), "Selma"; "Mercy Is" (music and lyrics by Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye), "Noah"; "Opportunity" (music and lyrics by Greg Kurstin, Sia Furler and Will Gluck), "Annie"; "Yellow Flicker Beat" (music and lyrics by Lorde), "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1.
Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award: George Clooney.News Topics: Arts and entertainment, General news, Movies, Entertainment, Pop music, Golden Globe Awards, Music, Musical theater, Award shows, Events, Theater, Performing arts
People, Places and Companies: St. Vincent, Steve Carell, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jake Gyllenhaal, David Oyelowo, Jennifer Aniston, Felicity Jones, Julianne Moore, Rosamund Pike, Reese Witherspoon, Wes Anderson, David Fincher, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Keaton, Bill Murray, Joaquin Phoenix, Christoph Waltz, Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Helen Mirren, Quvenzhane Wallis, Robert Duvall, Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Arquette, Jessica Chastain, Keira Knightley, Emma Stone, Meryl Streep, Gillian Flynn, Alexandre Desplat, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Hans Zimmer, Lana Del Rey, Del Rey, John Legend, Patti Smith, Sia, Will Gluck, Lorde, Cecil B. DeMille, George Clooney, California, United States, North America
COTONOU, Benin (AP) — Tens of thousands of people have marched through the streets of Benin's largest city, demanding that the government schedule repeatedly delayed local elections.
Thursday's march through Cotonou, the West African nation's commercial capital, was organized by opposition parties upset that elections originally scheduled for March 2013 have not taken place. They were initially postponed until December 2013 because of issues with electoral lists. The government most recently promised to hold them before the end of 2014.
The march comes a day after a similar one in the capital, Porto-Novo.
Political tension over the local elections has been exacerbated by the fact that the opposition also suspects that President Boni Yayi is trying to change the constitution so he can run for a third term in 2016.News Topics: General news, Government and politics, Elections, Local elections
People, Places and Companies: Benin, Cotonou, West Africa, Africa