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U.S. backed talks with ISIS over American hostage: newspaper

LONDON - U.S. counter-terrorism officials backed negotiations with two prominent jihadi clerics in a failed attempt to save the life of an American hostage who was later beheaded by Islamic State militants, the Guardian newspaper reported on Friday.

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Putin says Russia economy will be cured, offers no remedy

MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin assured Russians on Thursday that the economy would rebound after the ruble's dramatic slide this year but offered no remedy for a deepening financial crisis. | Video

World, Russia 18 Dec 2014

China arrests American Christian aid worker near North Korean border

BEIJING - China arrested on Friday a Korean American Christian aid worker who was being held near the country's border with North Korea, signaling a toughening crackdown on Christian activists in the sensitive region.

World, China, North Korea 6:13am EST

U.S. jobless claims signal firmer labor market; other data mixed

WASHINGTON - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting the labor market continued to strengthen.

18 Dec 2014

U.S. Secret Service too insular, needs outside leader, more agents: review

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Secret Service needs an outsider to overhaul the insular agency, beef up staffing and improve training - after building a higher fence around the White House, an independent review concluded on Thursday.

18 Dec 2014

Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnap 172 women, children in Nigeria

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria - Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped 172 women and children and killed 35 other people on Sunday during a raid on the northeast Nigerian village of Gumsuri, residents said on Thursday.

World, Africa 18 Dec 2014
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Eight children killed in Australia in reported mass stabbing

SYDNEY - Eight children have been killed and a woman who was mother to seven of them was injured in the northern Australian city of Cairns, police said on Friday, in what several media outlets reported was a mass stabbing. | Video