Major stock indexes edged mostly higher Monday but the gains were held back by discouraging data on U.S. home sales and a deepening slide in oil prices.
The market is coming off a big advance last week, which gave the Standard & Poor's 500 its second-biggest weekly gain this year.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 78 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,873 as of 11:45 a.m. Eastern. The S&P 500 was flat at 2,070. The Nasdaq composite rose a point to 4,766.
The price of oil fell $1.74 to $55.39 a barrel.
Homebuilders fell following a report that sales of previously occupied homes fell last month to the slowest pace in six months.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.18 percent.News Topics: Business, General news, Stock prices, Home sales, Stock indices and averages, Leading economic indicators, Economy, Real estate, Stock markets, Financial markets
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
LONDON (AP) — The English Football Association has charged Leeds defender Giuseppe Bellusci with racially abusing an opponent.
Norwich striker Cameron Jerome, who is black, complained to the referee during a second-tier match in October that he was verbally abused by Bellusci following a confrontation between the pair.
The FA misconduct charge alleges Bellusci used "abusive and/or insulting words" including a "reference to ethnic origin and/or color and/or race."
Bellusci has until Jan. 2 to respond to the charge. Leeds says as there is "no third party evidence," the Italian will be denying the charge.
The League Championship club added that Bellusci has "consistently made it clear to the club that he did not use racist language."News Topics: Sports, Racial and ethnic discrimination, Soccer, Men's soccer, Discrimination, Human rights and civil liberties, Social issues, Social affairs, Race and ethnicity, Men's sports
People, Places and Companies: England, United Kingdom, Leeds, Western Europe, Europe
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The drone industry is teaming up with the U.S. government and model aircraft hobbyists to launch a safety campaign in response to increasing encounters between small drones and manned aircraft
The campaign by two unmanned aircraft trade associations, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Academy of Model Aeronautics includes the launch of a website, www.knowbeforefly.org , and the distribution of safety pamphlets.
Retailers say small drones, which are indistinguishable from today's more sophisticated model aircraft, are flying off the shelves this Christmas. But the FAA is concerned that amateurs are using the drones in a reckless manner, increasing the likelihood of a collision that could bring down a plane or rain debris down on people.
The FAA is receiving about 25 reports per month of drones sighted flying near manned aircraft.News Topics: Business, General news, Transportation safety, Drone aircraft, Transportation
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (AP) — A spokesman for boxing great Muhammad Ali says the former heavyweight champion's condition has "vastly improved" since he was admitted to a hospital with a mild case of pneumonia during the weekend.
Ali spokesman Bob Gunnell said Monday that Ali's doctors hope to discharge him soon from the hospital where he was admitted on Saturday.
Gunnell has declined to say where the 72-year-old Ali is hospitalized. He has indicated that Ali's bout of pneumonia was caught quickly.
Ali's relatives say they appreciates all the prayers and well wishes for the three-time world heavyweight champion.
Gunnell says no other details are being released because of the Ali family's request for privacy.
Ali has battled Parkinson's disease for years.
Ali and his wife, Lonnie, have homes in Arizona, Michigan and in Louisville.News Topics: General news, Sports, Athlete injuries, Men's boxing, Boxing, Pneumonia, Athlete health, Men's sports, Lung disease, Diseases and conditions, Health, Infectious diseases
People, Places and Companies: Muhammad Ali, Louisville, Kentucky, United States, North America
WASHINGTON (AP) — A French power and transportation company has agreed to pay $772 million in penalties to theU.S. to resolve allegations that it bribed government officials in multiple foreign countries.
Justice Department officials on Monday announced that Alstom SA would plead guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Prosecutors say the company and several subsidiaries falsified books and paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes for contracts for power, grid and transportation projects. Authorities say the bribes were paid in countries including Egypt, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.
The guilty plea was being entered Monday in federal court in Connecticut, where a U.S. subsidiary is located.
The Justice Department says five individuals, including four executives of Alstom and its subsidiaries, have already been charged in connection with bribery-related schemes.News Topics: Business, Bribery, graft and conflicts of interest, Corporate bribery, Transportation and shipping, Crime, General news, Corporate crime, Corporate news, Industrial products and services, Industries
People, Places and Companies: Alstom Sa
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal judge plans to rule whether the lethal injection formula that Oklahoma used for the first time in a botched execution last spring is constitutional.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot said he will rule from the bench later Monday in a case in which 21 death row inmates say the state's use of untested execution drugs and drug combinations on them would amount to experimentation and is unconstitutional.
They sued after the April 29 execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed on the gurney, mumbled and lifted his head during his 43-minute execution that the state tried to halt before it was over.
That was the first time Oklahoma used the sedative midazolam, which the inmates say isn't appropriate for executions.
The state says its new execution protocols are constitutional.News Topics: General news, National courts, Death penalty controversy, Lawsuits, Executions, National governments, Government and politics, Courts, Judiciary, Social issues, Social affairs, Legal proceedings, Law and order, Criminal punishment
People, Places and Companies: Oklahoma, United States, North America
NEWCASTLE, England (AP) — Newcastle defender Jonas Gutierrez has returned to action after being treated for testicular cancer.
The former Argentina international played for Newcastle's under-21s team against West Ham on Monday.
The 31-year-old Gutierrez wrote on Twitter: "Thanks to all the fans for the support that you give through my illness, i am proud to be back. Good game and really happy."
Gutierrez, who played at the 2010 World Cup, disclosed his cancer fight in September.News Topics: Sports, Diagnosis and treatment, Men's soccer, Soccer, Health, Men's sports, Professional soccer
People, Places and Companies: Newcastle, England, United Kingdom, Western Europe, Europe
BOSTON (AP) — Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are again drawing parallels between the media coverage of their client's case to the coverage received by Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in an effort to have the trial moved out of Massachusetts.
In a filing Monday, defense attorneys wrote that because "the crimes charged inflicted actual injury on the entire local population" and "greater Boston, was itself, a victim," the case is similar to the McVeigh case.
McVeigh's 1997 trial was moved to Denver.
Monday's motion was in response to the prosecution's opposition to the defense's change-of-venue request.
A judge rejected Tsarnaev's first request in September to move the trial.
Jury selection in Tsarnaev's trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 5. He has pleaded not guilty.News Topics: General news, Legal proceedings, Boston Marathon bombing, Bombings, Law and order, Events
People, Places and Companies: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Timothy McVeigh, Boston, Oklahoma City, Massachusetts, United States, North America, Oklahoma
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh's mayor has gone undercover for a reality show.
A disguised Bill Peduto appeared on Sunday's episode of the CBS series "Undercover Boss," collecting trash, sawing down trees and helping build a door.
The first-term Democrat donned a wig and beard to blend in as Ed Chadwick from Kentucky.
It didn't work on everyone. One worker saw through the 50-year-old Peduto's "Duck Dynasty"-style costume and lack of chain saw skills.
Corporate donations enabled Peduto to follow another show tradition: bettering employees' lives. He offered tuition and housing payments and promotions.
Peduto says going undercover was the only chance he'll ever have to hear what people say about him when he's not around.
He says the show provided a great opportunity to show off the Steel City.News Topics: Arts and entertainment, General news, Television programs, Entertainment, Reality TV, Municipal governments, Local governments, Government and politics
People, Places and Companies: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, North America
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Novelist Angela Makholwa's fascination with South Africa's violent crime has made her one of the country's most popular writers.
Using sharply drawn characters and intriguing plots, Makholwa's fiction helps South Africans to make sense of the country's high crime rate. A mother of two who runs a public relations firm, Makholwa said she is inspired by the discomfort caused by crime.
"It's a permanent fixture of our lives. It's almost part of the fabric of what it is to be a South African," she said. "It's hard for me to write an idealized version of what it's like to live in Johannesburg or South Africa."
While working as a writer at a glossy magazine, Makholwa became fascinated by the case of a serial killer. For about a year, she interviewed the convict serving 2,410 years in a maximum security prison in Pretoria for the murder and rape of dozens of women. He was courteous, almost sweet, when talking about his life, she said.
The experience led to her first book, "Red Ink," the story of a young journalist telling the story of a serial killer, who unwittingly finds herself at the center of a murder plot.
Her next novel, "The Thirtieth Candle" traced the anxiety of four suburban South African women as they approached their 30th birthdays.
It was her third and most successful book that established Makholwa as a top crime writer. "Black Widow Society" tells the story of a covert cabal of powerful women who assassinate their abusive and wayward husbands.
She knew she got the story right when her own husband, a lawyer, said he was disturbed but entertained by her first draft, said Makholwa.
"Angela has a unique way of capturing modern South African society and in "Black Widow Society" the tables turn and women take control," said Terry Morris, managing director of Pan Macmillan, Makholwa's publisher.
Makholwa, a survivor of domestic violence in an earlier relationship, often explores gender disparities in her books. Her sophisticated and conniving heroines serve as a catharsis for her own experiences and subvert a genre that usually portrays women as victims.
Makholwa's characters are snappy and her descriptions of urban South Africa are vivid, say critics.
Makholwa has sold thousands of books and has a loyal following. In South Africa, the sale of 2,000 books is considered a best seller.
The 38-year-old will not be "burdened" by the idea that she may be portraying an image of a crime-ridden country, she says it would be a "false picture" if a new generation of South African writers ignored crime.
Between April 2013 and March 2014 South Africa recorded 17,068 murders in a population of about 50 million, according to the South African police.
"Some of the crimes that happen here are sometimes so heinous that we're at a loss of how to process them," says Mary Corrigal, a book critic. "It keeps happening and we don't really understand why. The novel presents a space for writers to try and process crime in this country — this terrible phenomenon that holds our society to ransom."
In recent years, crime fiction has become an increasingly popular genre among South African authors and readers, and Corrigal says a common theme of disillusionment and corruption across South African crime fiction paints a "bleak view of society."
"Because the authority figures are corrupt, there's no real redemption," she says. "There's a lingering sense of disorder and chaos."
South Africa's fiction has historically been dominated by an image of a country gripped by racial segregation and conflict, and Makholwa said she is excited to be among a new generation of writers exploring a fresh story for an audience looking for entertainment, not only searching for a message about the past.
"Apartheid as a system was so oppressive that it was the only thing you could think about," said Makholwa. "As South Africans, as a society and as readers, we are maturing. We now truly have an audience that is reading for pleasure."News Topics: Arts and entertainment, General news, Mystery fiction, Books and literature, Crime, Fiction, Racial and ethnic discrimination, Homicide, Entertainment, Discrimination, Human rights and civil liberties, Social issues, Social affairs, Race and ethnicity, Violent crime
People, Places and Companies: South Africa, Africa, Southern Africa
AUGSBURG, Germany (AP) — South Korea forward Ji Dong-won is returning to Augsburg only half a season after he moved to Borussia Dortmund.
Augsburg said Monday that the 23-year-old Ji signed a 3 ½-year contract with the club. Neither team gave details of the transfer deal.
Ji moved to Dortmund in the summer but only played for the club's second team in an injury-hit first half to the season.
Ji said: "I want to regain my form as quickly as possible and help the team to achieve our aims."
Augsburg went into the Bundesliga's winter break in sixth place after an unexpectedly strong start to the season. In contrast, Dortmund is bottom but one.News Topics: Sports, Soccer, Men's soccer, Men's sports, Professional soccer
People, Places and Companies: Dortmund, Germany, Western Europe, Europe, South Korea, East Asia, Asia
ASTANA - Kazakh state nuclear company Kazatomprom is in talks with more than four large international companies on construction of nuclear power plants on its territory, Nurlan Kapparov, the Chairman of the Board of Kazatomprom NC, told New Europe in an interview.
“We are negotiating (on construction of nuclear power plants in Kazakhstan – author’s note) with more than 4 large companies. The negotiations concern security issues, as well as economics of the project, its cost and financing structures... all options are open,” Kapparov said.
He mentioned those companies, which they are negotiating with: French AREVA, Japanese Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Rosatom and Korean companies.
As previously reported, the talks on necessity to build the nuclear power plants in Kazakhstan has been going on for a long time, more than 10 years.
“I have a feeling that everything will go really fast now. At this moment we are at the zero stage for NPP: negotiations are under way, it is necessary to form a team ... we are at the beginning of the first year of the project from idea to realisation,” the head of Kazatomprom noted.
He confirmed an earlier statement appeared in a number of media reports, that construction of two nuclear power plants in Kurchatov and Balkhash is being discussed.
“We will implement the project in Kurchatov with Rosatom, as for Balkhash - there is an open tender,” Kapparov said.
According to him, Kazakhstan does not exclude the use of reactor VBR-300 in Kurchatov that was offered by Russian side.
“VBR-300 will be one of the technologies ... still we do not exclude VBR-300, although it may be VBR-600, or even VBR-1000 ... Everything will be decided through negotiations and calculations. The most important thing is that we do it with Rostatomom, and it is essential,” the Kazatomprom head said.
According to him, the use of a reactor with capacity of at least 1000 is under discussion on the area under the NPP near Balkhash.
As reported previously in the Ministry of Energy of Kazakhstan, the Republic plans to build a nuclear power plant not earlier than in 12 years.
Firstly, it is necessary to develop a feasibility study for the project which may take about two years, the ministry said. Then the construction will take at least 10 years.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency and experience in construction of the first nuclear power plants abroad, the construction period of a nuclear power plant is 10-12 years, the ministry said. Necessary works include site selection of the NPP, designing, construction, fabrication, installation and commissioning of equipment, launching. Infrastructure development, training, creation of the regulatory framework is also required.
Earlier it was planned that construction of the first nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan would begin in 2018, and nuclear power generation was expected in 2023-2024, respectively.
The ministry also reported that currently two possible locations for future nuclear power plants are defined, they are: a district near the town of Kurchatov in East Kazakhstan region (in the place of the pre-existing Semipalatinsk nuclear test site) and the area near Lake Balkhash in Almaty region.
“The final decision of the Government of Kazakhstan on the construction site of the nuclear power plant will be made based on the results of feasibility studies to be developed for the two regions,” the ministry said.
A final decision on the type of reactor that will be installed on future nuclear power plant has also not yet made.
“Currently, analysis of information on the design and operating characteristics of reactors of various [foreign] companies is being performed in order to determine reactor technologies the most appropriate for Kazakhstan,” the ministry said.
At the same time, earlier, the Vice-Minister of Energy Bakhytzhan Dzhaksaliyev reported that two new nuclear power plants will be built in Kazakhstan.
“In the next 2-3 years, in addition to involvement of international experts, we will develop a final decision on construction of these two objects, and this work will continue,” previously said the Vice-Minister of Energy during the recent Kazakh-French business forum in Astana.
Construction of nuclear power plants in Kazakhstan is planned in accordance with the decree of President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Kazakhstan has major reserves of uranium. Since 2009, the country ranked first in the world for production of uranium. In 2013, uranium production in Kazakhstan amounted to 22500 tonnes. Currently Kazakhstan exports all the produced uranium.
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian police say at least 16 people were killed and 25 wounded by a car bomb at a bus station in the northeastern city of Gombe.
Deputy Superintendent Fwaje Atajiri said the explosion happened early Monday.
He would not speculate about who was responsible although the attack bears all the hallmarks of Nigeria's home-grown Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram.
Hundreds of people have been killed by car bombs and suicide bombers this year, mainly in the northeast that is home to the Islamic uprising. Bombs have also killed hundreds in Jos and Abuja, the capital in the center of the country.
The extremists want to impose an Islamic state in Nigeria, which is divided almost equally between Muslims, who dominate the north, and Christians in the south.News Topics: General news, Bombings
People, Places and Companies: Nigeria, West Africa, Africa
NEW YORK (AP) — The police killings of unarmed blacks in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere — and the investigations and tumultuous protests they inspired — was the top news story of 2014, according to The Associated Press' annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.
In a year crowded with dramatic and often wrenching news developments around the world, the No. 2 story was the devastating outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, followed by the conflict in Iraq and Syria fueled by the brutal actions of Islamic State militants.
Among the 85 voters casting ballots, first-place votes were spread among 15 different stories. The Ferguson entry received 22 first-place votes, Ebola 11 and the Islamic State story 12.
The voting was conducted before the announcement that the United States and Cuba were re-establishing diplomatic relations and Sony Pictures' decision to withdraw its film "The Interview" in the wake of computer hacking and threats.
Last year's top story was the glitch-plagued rollout of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, followed by the Boston Marathon bombing. The continuing saga of "Obamacare" made this year's Top 10 as well, coming in fifth.
The first AP top-stories poll was conducted in 1936, when editors chose the abdication of Britain's King Edward VIII.
Here are 2014's top 10 stories, in order:
POLICE KILLINGS: Some witnesses said 18-year-old Michael Brown had his hands up in surrender, others said he was making a charge. But there was no dispute he was unarmed and shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson. In New York City, another unarmed black, Eric Garner, was killed after a white officer put him in a chokehold during an arrest for unauthorized cigarette sales. After grand juries opted not to indict the officers, protests erupted across the country, punctuated by chants of "Hands up, don't shoot" and "I can't breathe." In both cases, federal officials launched investigations.
EBOLA OUTBREAK: The first wave of Ebola deaths, early in the year, attracted little notice. By March, the World Health Organization was monitoring the outbreak. By midsummer, it was the worst Ebola epidemic on record, with a death toll now approaching 7,000, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. A Liberian man with the disease died at a Dallas hospital, followed by a few other cases involving U.S. health workers, sparking worries about the readiness of the U.S. health system.
ISLAMIC STATE: Militant fighters from the Islamic State group startled the world with rapid, brutal seizures of territory in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. and its allies responded with air strikes, hoping that Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground could retake captured areas. Revulsion toward Islamic State intensified as it broadcast videos of its beheadings of several Western hostages.
US ELECTIONS: For months, political oddsmakers sought to calculate if Republicans had a chance to gain control of the U.S. Senate. It turned out there was no suspense — the Republicans won 54 of the Senate's 100 seats, expanded its already strong majority in the House of Representatives, and gained at the state level, where Republicans now hold 31 governorships.
OBAMACARE: Millions more Americans signed up to be covered under President Obama's health care initiative, but controversy about "Obamacare" raged on. Criticism from Republicans in Congress was relentless, many Republican-governed states balked at participation, and opinion polls suggested most Americans remained skeptical about the program.
MALAYSIA AIRLINES MYSTERY: En route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board. In the weeks that followed, aircraft, ships and searchers from two-dozen countries mobilized to look in vain for the wreckage on the Indian Ocean floor. To date, there's no consensus as to why the plane vanished.
IMMIGRATION: Frustrated by an impasse in Congress, President Obama took executive actions in November to curb deportations for many immigrants residing in the U.S. illegally. Republican leaders in the House and Senate pledged efforts to block the president's moves. Prospects for reform legislation were dimmed earlier in the year by the influx of unaccompanied Central American minors arriving at the U.S. border, causing shelter overloads and case backlogs.
TURMOIL IN UKRAINE: A sometimes bloody revolt that toppled President Viktor Yanukovych in February triggered a chain of events that continued to roil Ukraine as the year drew to a close. Russia, worried that Ukraine would tilt increasingly toward the West, annexed the Crimean peninsula in March and backed an armed separatist insurgency in coal-rich eastern regions of Ukraine. The U.S. and its allies responded with sanctions against Russia.
GAY MARRIAGE: Due to a wave of federal court rulings, 19 more U.S. states began allowing same-sex marriages, raising the total to 35 states encompassing about 64 percent of the population. Given that one U.S. court of appeals bucked the trend by upholding state bans on gay marriage, there was widespread expectation that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue and make a national ruling.
VA SCANDAL: The Department of Veterans Affairs became embroiled in a nationwide scandal over allegations of misconduct and cover-ups. Several senior officials were fired or forced to resign, including VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. At the heart of the scandal was the VA hospital in Phoenix; allegations surfaced that 40 veterans died while awaiting treatment there.
Follow David Crary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CraryAPNews Topics: General news, Police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Ebola virus, Legislature, Public opinion, African-Americans, Disease outbreaks, National courts, Government and politics, Aviation accidents and incidents, Same sex marriage, Veterans affairs, Veterans, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Events, Hemorrhagic fever, Infectious diseases, Diseases and conditions, Health, Social affairs, Public health, National governments, Courts, Judiciary, Transportation accidents, Accidents, Accidents and disasters, Transportation, Marriage, Family issues, Gay rights, Human rights and civil liberties, Social issues, Military affairs, Military and defense, Health care policy, Government policy
People, Places and Companies: Barack Obama, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Viktor Yanukovych, Eric Shinseki, United States, Ukraine, Malaysia, West Africa, North America, Eastern Europe, Europe, Southeast Asia, Asia, Africa, Middle East
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:
-- VATICAN-REFORM (sent; developing)
-- NYPD OFFICERS SHOT (sent; developing)
-- CUBA-US (upcoming)
-- SONY HACK-NEXT STEPS (upcoming)
-- TSUNAMI-FORGOTTEN VICTIMS (sent)
-- INDIA-ASBESTOS VILLAGE (sent)
-- OBAMA-YEAR OF ACTION (upcoming)
-- DRONES-SAFETY CAMPAIGN (upcoming)
-- IMMIGRATION-ARIZONA SHERIFF (sent; developing)
-- UNITED NATIONS-NORTH KOREA (sent; developing)
-- MARIJUANA-TRIBES (upcoming)
-- TOP 10 STORIES (sent)
-- TSUNAMI-FORGOTTEN VICTIMS (sent)
-- INDIA-ASBESTOS VILLAGE (sent)
-- CUBA-US TOURISM (sent)
-- CUBA-RUM (upcoming)
-- IRAQ-REALITY TV (sent)
-- FRANCE-CAR ATTACK (sent; developing)
-- AUSTRALIA-FAMILY FOUND (sent)
-- AUSTRALIA-FAMILY KILLED (sent)
-- CHINA-OPERATING ROOM PHOTOS (sent)
-- MOROCCO-TRANSGENDER DANCER (sent)
-- SPAIN-CHRISTMAS LOTTERY (sent)
--TWITTER TREE (sent)
PHOTOS: INDIA-ASBESTOS VILLAGE (sent); TSUNAMI-LASTING IMAGES-SILENT BEACH (sent); EGYPT-MIME-PHOTO ESSAY (sent)
VIDEO: MYANMAR_TSUNAMI_FORGOTTEN_VICTIMS (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):
TOP 10 STORIES
TOP 10 STORIES - AP's top stories of the year, as voted by editors and news directors. By National Writer David Crary. SENT: 900 words, photos.
CUBA-US — We have an interview at midmorning with the head of the Cuban Foreign Ministry's North American Affairs division, Josefina Vidal, which is likely to give us our strongest spot developments. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos.
CUBA-US TOURISM - As the U.S. and Cuba begin to normalize relations for the first time in half a century, experts expect a surge in the number of U.S. tourists under Obama's historic opening. SENT: 940 words, photos.
CUBAN RUM - U.S. rum aficionados are abuzz over the potential for making Cuba Libres with Cuban rum, now that Americans visiting the Caribbean island will be allowed to bring home rum distilled there for the first time since the embargo took effect 55 years ago. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos.
UNITED NATIONS-NORTH KOREA - An angry North Korea refuses to recognize a groundbreaking U.N. Security Council meeting where the country's bleak human rights situation will be discussed for the first time. SENT: 500 words, photos. UPCOMING: Developing; the council is not expected to take action Monday. Meeting is at 3 p.m.
SONY HACK-NEXT STEPS - A look-ahead at how Sony, the entertainment industry, the Obama administration and Seth Rogen are still in clean-up mode following the hack of the entertainment giant and its much-criticized response. UPCOMING: 500 words by 2000 GMT.
NKOREA-SONY HACKING - Obama is "recklessly" spreading rumors of a Pyongyang-orchestrated cyberattack of Sony Pictures, North Korea says, as it warns of strikes against the White House, Pentagon and "the whole U.S. mainland, that cesspool of terrorism." SENT: 380 words, photo.
NKOREA-MOVIES-SONY HACK - North Korea hates the Hollywood film that revolves around the assassination of its leader, but the country has had a long love affair with cinema - of its own particular styling. SENT: 580 words, photos.
FILM-ANGELINA JOLIE - Jolie discusses her ambitious second film as director, the World War II tale "Unbroken." UPCOMING: 900 words by 2300 GMT, photos.
VATICAN-REFORM - Pope Francis issued a blistering critique Monday of the Vatican bureaucracy that serves him, denouncing how some people lust for power at all costs, live hypocritical double lives and suffer from "spiritual Alzheimer's" that has made them forget they're supposed to be joyful men of God. SENT: 780 words, photos. UPCOMING: Developing with reaction, analysis.
VATICAN REFORM-GLANCE - A list of Pope Francis' 15 "Ailments of the Curia" delivered in his Christmas address. SENT: 560 words.
TSUNAMI-FORGOTTEN VICTIMS - May Aye Nwe was buried at a cemetery in southern Thailand soon after the tsunami, along with 400 other unclaimed victims. An AP investigation helped track down two families who didn't know their loved ones were laid to rest there - families now finally able to say goodbye. SENT: 1,040 words, photos.
INDIA-ASBESTOS VILLAGE - Three decades after the asbestos mines were abandoned, nothing is done to remove the enormous piles of broken rocks and powdery dust left behind. The waste spills in a grey gash down the flank of a lush green hill above tribal villages that are home to thousands. SENT: 1,050 words, photos. An EXPANDED version of 1,740 words is also available.
IRAQ-REALITY TV - Haider Ali Motar was convicted of terrorism charges for helping to carry out a string of Baghdad car bombings on behalf of the Islamic State extremist group. Now, he is a reluctant cast member in a popular Iraqi reality TV show that brings convicted terrorists face-to-face with victims. SENT: 930 words, photos.
ISLAMIC STATE - Kurdish fighters in Iraq have pushed deeper into the town of Sinjar, held by the Islamic State group, but are facing stiff resistance from the Sunni militants who captured it in August. SENT: 130 words.
BELARUS-NEW ROLE - As relations between Russia and the West deteriorate, there's one country that's reaping rewards - Belarus. President Alexander Lukashenko relishes his new role as broker of the Ukraine peace talks, and his country profits by reprocessing or simply repackaging European food banned by Moscow in retaliation to Western sanctions. SENT: 910 words, photo.
RUSSIA-ECONOMY - A senior Russian minister expects the ruble to extend its recent gains and says the government is not planning to introduce currency controls on Russian companies. SENT: 410 words.
AUSTRALIA-FAMILY FOUND - A 5-year-old boy and his 7-year-old brother recover in an Australian hospital after surviving with their father for 10 days in the wilderness. SENT: 440 words, photos.
FRANCE-ATTACKS - The prosecutor in the French city of Dijon says the driver who ran down 13 pedestrians in the city has a long history of severe mental illness and no links to terrorism. SENT: 130 words
AUSTRALIA-CHILDREN KILLED - A judge rejects a plea by lawyers for an Australia woman charged with killing eight children to have the next hearing held in a mental health court. SENT: 600 words, photos, videos.
CHINA-POLITICS - The top aide to former Chinese President Hu Jintao has been placed under investigation for disciplinary violations, the official Xinhua News Agency said Monday. SENT: 710 words, photo.
MYANMAR-MINE PROTEST - A woman is fatally shot during a crackdown on protesters at a controversial Chinese-backed copper mine in northwestern Myanmar. SENT: 500 words, photos.
SPAIN-ROYAL CORRUPTION - A Spanish judge orders the king's sister, Princess Cristina, to be tried along with her husband on charges of tax fraud. SENT: 450 words, photos.
ISLAMIC STATE - Kurdish fighters in Iraq have pushed deeper into the town of Sinjar, held by the Islamic State group. SENT: 400 words, photos.
SKOREA-NUCLEAR PLANT-CYBERATTACK - South Korea's monopoly nuclear power company says it is conducting drills against possible cyberattacks after online threats of attack against its plants. SENT: 390 words.
INDIA-RELIGIOUS CONVERSION - Indian opposition lawmakers demand Modi clarify stand on conversion of minorities to Hinduism. SENT: 670 words.
ITALY-NEO-FASCIST PLOT - Italian authorities crack a neo-Fascist plot to attack immigrants and political targets, including magistrates. SENT: 130 words.
CHINA-OPERATING ROOM PHOTOS - China punishes hospital officials after public outrage over operating room photos. SENT: 250 words, photos.
MOROCCO-TRANSGENDER DANCER - Morocco's most famous belly dancer used to be a champion athlete - and a boy. In this conservative Muslim country where homosexuality is illegal, a transgender woman like Noor is not only accepted but is an adored celebrity. SENT: 1,070 words, photos.
SPAIN-CHRISTMAS LOTTERY - Spaniards who bought lottery tickets in an upper middle class Madrid neighborhood hit the jackpot on Monday, getting 400,000-euro ($490,000) payoffs from a 2.5 billion-euro ($3 billion) pot of cash that will be divided among thousands of ticketholders. SENT: 320 words, photos, video.
NYPD OFFICERS SHOT - The nation's largest police force plans massive Christmastime funerals for two officers gunned down in their patrol car, and some union leaders want to use that somber occasion to blame Mayor Bill de Blasio for creating the climate that allowed those slayings to happen. UPCOMING: 700 words by 2000 GMT, photos.
KILLINGS BY POLICE-MILWAUKEE — A prosecutor says he won't file charges against a white former Milwaukee police officer in the fatal shooting of a black man. SENT: 550 words, DEVELOPING.
MARIJUANA-TRIBES - When the federal government announced it would allow American Indian tribes to grow and sell marijuana, the same discussions many had about casinos and alcohol resurfaced. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos.
SOLO TRAIN CREWS - U.S. railroads now want to put a single person in charge of today's huge locomotives, taking another step toward a future in which the nation's rail-cargo system could increasingly resemble toy train sets — highly mechanized networks run by computers or distant controllers. UPCOMING: 800 words by 1700 GMT, photos.
POLICE CHIEF-VIDEO CONTROVERSY — Former police chief who posted videos secretly fed information on people he viewed as extremists to the FBI and state police, according to documents. UPCOMING: 550 words by 1700 GMT, photos.
TWITTER TREE - Twitter users anywhere in the world can control the lights on a holiday display in New Jersey. SENT: 100 words.
GORILLA BIRTHDAY — The first gorilla born in a zoo is turning 58 with a celebration broadcast live to online viewers from her Ohio home. SENT: 140 words, photo.
OBAMA-YEAR OF ACTION - Obama rang in 2014 promising a "year of action" in which he'd deploy the full extent of his executive powers to move his priorities forward over the resistance of a do-nothing Congress. He found both success and failure. UPCOMING: 750 words by 2130 GMT.
IMMIGRATION-ARIZONA SHERIFF - A gadfly attorney and an Arizona sheriff want to halt Obama's immigration program in the first courtroom battle over the initiative designed to spare nearly 5 million people from deportation. SENT: 470 words, photos.
SENATE-2016 - Republicans have the Senate majority now and are set to challenge Obama and the Democrats on Capitol Hill this January. But a much tougher election map two years from now could force the Republicans back into the minority. SENT: 850 words, photos.
MD MEETINGS-SURVIVAL (HOLD FOR RELEASE, 2100 GMT) — Doctors joke that if you're going to have a heart attack, the safest place would be at a big national gathering of heart specialists. But a new study suggests some older heart patients fare better when these doctors aren't around. UPCOMING: For release at 2100 GMT.
FINANCIAL MARKETS-2015 PREVIEW - Can the U.S. hold everyone else above the water? That is the question investors are asking as Wall Street heads into 2015. A strong U.S. economy helped propel stocks higher this year, continuing a bull market that will celebrate its sixth birthday in March. Here's a look at major trends stock strategists see affecting the market in 2015. By Ken Sweet. UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 1800 GMT.
HOME SALES — Fewer Americans bought homes in November as buying slid to its slowest pace in six months. SENT: 440 words, photo.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
CHINA-JACKIE CHAN'S SON - Chinese prosecutors on Monday indicted the son of Hong Kong action film star Jackie Chan on the charge of sheltering others to use drugs, more than four months after he was detained. SENT: 340 words.
TSUNAMI-LASTING IMAGES-SILENT BEACH - Remembering the 2004 tsunami: On an obliterated Thai beach, bodies, debris and deafening silence. SENT: 230 words, photos.
EGYPT-MIME-PHOTO ESSAY - Bright colors, strange clothes and a striking white mask steal the attention of everyday people going about their business in downtown Cairo, a stage for a man waging a lonely campaign to introduce the art of mime to modern Egypt. SENT: photos, 320 words.News Topics: General news, Homicide, Violations of environmental law, Religion and politics, Nuclear power generation, Entertainment industry, 2004 Madrid train bombings, Celebrity legal affairs, Reality TV, Tsunamis, Crime, Accidents and disasters, Government and politics, Asbestos exposure, Economy, Coastlines and beaches, Movies, Access to health care, Immigration, Police, Gender issues, Violent crime, Environmental concerns, Environment, Environment and nature, Religious issues, Religion, Social affairs, Social issues, Electric power generation, Electric utilities, Utilities, Industries, Business, Energy industry, Media and entertainment industry, Events, Celebrity, Entertainment, Arts and entertainment, Television programs, Natural disasters, Environmental health, Public health, Health, Health issues, Law enforcement agencies, Bombings, Terrorism, War and unrest
People, Places and Companies: Seth Rogen, Angelina Jolie, Pope Francis, Alexander Lukashenko, Hu Jintao, Infanta Cristina, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca, Bill de Blasio, Jackie Chan, United States, China, Cuba, North Korea, Myanmar, Italy, Spain, Australia, Belarus, Russia, Egypt, North America, Greater China, East Asia, Asia, Caribbean, Latin America and Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Western Europe, Europe, Oceania, Eastern Europe, Middle East, North Africa, Africa
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian police say car bomb kills 16, wounds 25 at bus station in northeastern city of Gombe.News Topics: General news, Bombings
People, Places and Companies: Nigeria, West Africa, Africa
LONDON (AP) — Police say an "ongoing serious incident" is unfolding in the city center of Glasgow in Scotland.
Emergency services responded Monday to reports that a truck has crashed into a group of pedestrians.
The incident happened near George Square in the central part of the city. Surrounding roads have been closed.
Police weren't immediately able to give further details about the situation.News Topics: General news
People, Places and Companies: Glasgow, United Kingdom, Scotland, Western Europe, Europe
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — A prosecutor says an unlicensed medical practitioner in northwestern Cambodia suspected of negligently infecting more than 100 people with the virus that causes AIDS has been charged with murder and other crimes.
Nuon San, a Battambang provincial court prosecutor, said Monday that Yem Chhrin has been charged with murder carried out with cruelty, intentionally spreading HIV — human immunodeficiency virus — and practicing medicine without a license.
Health officials say 106 people out of more than 800 tested in Roka village were found to have the virus.
Seng Loch, a senior provincial police officer, said Yem Chhrin was arrested over the weekend after being taken into protective custody last week. He said the suspect acknowledged reusing syringes for treatment of patients, a practice that can spread HIV.News Topics: General news, Health, Disease outbreaks, Homicide, Violent crime, Crime, Public health
People, Places and Companies: Cambodia, Southeast Asia, Asia
Kazakhstan's president says the conflict in eastern Ukraine is "nonsense" and is calling on Russia and Ukraine to find a way to resolve it.
Nursultan Nazarbayev's comments Monday, after a meeting in Kiev with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, could carry weight because Kazakhstan is part of a Russia-dominated trade bloc that Moscow sees as a counterweight to the European Union.
Nazarbayev did not single out one side as being in fault in the conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatists that has killed around 4,700 people. Moscow denies allegations that it is providing soldiers and equipment for the rebels.
"I call on Russia and Ukraine to think about finding compromise," he said, according to the Interfax news agency. "This situation is nonsense and should not be taking place.”
Nazarbayev also said that Kazakhstan had agreed to supply coal to Ukraine, but did not give details on volumes or the time frame for deliveries. Any supplies would have to be shipped through Russia.
Coal is viable, now that Ukraine may stop supplying electricity to separatist-held eastern regions if the territories do not adhere to consumption limits imposed across the country due to an energy crisis.
Ukraine used to be self-sufficient in electricity, but months of fighting the pro-Russian uprising has disrupted coal supplies to thermal power plants, which traditionally generate around 40 % of the country's power.
"In order to save the power system we need to impose limits on everyone ... there are no regions of Ukraine that will not be subject to rolling blackouts," Deputy Energy Minister Oleksander Svetelyk said at a briefing.
Referring to Donetsk and Luhansk regions, controlled by rebels who want independence from Kiev, Svetelyk said they would have to ration electricity consumption or face being cut off entirely.
"We warned them today that if they don't turn off like the others (regions), we will turn off flows," he said, adding that the country faced a daily deficit of 3,500 megawatts (MW)or 12.5 percent of its needs.
Kiev stopped paying pensions and social benefits in Donetsk and Luhansk out of worries the funds would end up in rebel hands, but said in November it would continue supplying gas and electricity.
Coal reserves currently stand at 1.5 million tonnes compared with usual winter stocks of 4-5 million tonnes, Svetelyk said.
Ukraine has looked to buying in coal from abroad to restock the depleted reserves, but potential supplies from Russia have been held up at the border and a coal deal with South Africa collapsed amid allegations of corruption.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans bought homes in November as buying slid to its slowest pace in six months.
The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes fell 6.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.93 million. That's down from a revised pace of 5.26 million in October. Over the past 12 months, sales have risen 2.1 percent.
The combination of higher home prices and relatively stagnant incomes has reduced affordability and restrained buying activity. The recent decline in mortgage rates has yet to lure more buyers into the market, just as fewer distressed properties and bargains that attract investors are coming onto the market.
The Realtors estimate that 2014 sales will fall below 2013 levels.
Median home prices rose 5 percent over the past 12 months to $205,300.News Topics: Business, General news, Home sales, Home selling, Home buying, Mortgage rates, Economy, Real estate, Residential real estate, Lifestyle, Mortgages, Personal loans, Personal finance