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France wins battle to ban anti-Semitic comedian

France’s Socialist government on Thursday claimed a last-gasp victory in its battle to prevent a controversial stand-up comic from launching a nationwide tour with a show widely condemned as anti-Semitic. Less than two hours before the comic, Dieudonne M’Bala M’Bala, was due to take the stage in the western city…

U.S. and Cuba resume talks on migration agreements

Cuba and the United States held talks Thursday on compliance with a nearly two-decade-old agreement aimed at encouraging safe and legal migration, both sides said. The Cuban foreign ministry said the talks, the second since the two countries resumed contacts on migratory issues last year, “took place in a respectful…

Castro makes first public appearance in nine months

Cuban leader Fidel Castro has appeared in public for the first time in nine months, attending an art gallery opening near his home, the local press reported Thursday. Official media in Cuba and several foreign news outlets ran photographs showing a hunched Castro, 87, using a walking stick as he…

Orbital Sciences Corporation launches first cargo mission to space station

Orbital Sciences Corporation on Thursday launched its unmanned Cygnus cargo ship on the company’s first regular supply mission to the International Space Station. The liftoff of the Antares rocket carrying the ship took place at 1:07 pm (1807 GMT) from Wallops Island, Virginia, according to footage carried by the US…

Gov. Chris Christie sacks top aide while denying involvement in ‘Bridgegate’ scandal

An “embarrassed and humiliated” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sacked a top aide Thursday in response to a mushrooming scandal over a vindictive bridge lane closure that threatens his presumed presidential aspirations. The Republican apologized repeatedly for his office’s connection to the shutting down of local lanes on the George…

Pakistan father hails teenage son for stopping suicide bomber

The father of a Pakistani teenager killed after tackling a suicide bomber Thursday hailed his son for saving “hundreds” of lives through his bravery. Aitzaz Hassan, aged around 15, died in hospital after stopping the bomber, who blew himself up, at the gates of his school in the northwestern district…

Five bodies found in Russian region near Winter Olympic host city of Sochi

Russia on Thursday launched a counter-terrorism operation after six bodies riddled with bullets were found in a region bordering that of Winter Olympic host city of Sochi, just weeks before the start of the Games. Two districts in the southern Stavropol region were placed on high alert after the bodies…

Pope Francis to meet with France’s socialist president

French President Francois Hollande will meet Pope Francis this month, the Vatican said on Thursday, after failing to visit on four previous trips to Rome since being elected and with his popularity at a low ebb. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters that the meeting would take place on January…

Four bodies from crashed U.S. Air Force helicopter recovered in Britain

The bodies of four members of the US Air Force whose helicopter crashed while training in eastern England were recovered from marshland on Thursday, police said. Their bodies were taken to a nearby hospital by private ambulance for a post-mortem examination, Norfolk police said. It will take many more weeks…

Incoming Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen sees stronger growth this year

Incoming US Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen said in an interview published Thursday that she sees the US economy picking up in 2014. “I think we’ll see stronger growth this year. Most of my colleagues on the Fed’s policymaking committee and I are hopeful that the first digit (of GDP…

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