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IS shoots down warplane in Syria, captures Jordanian pilot

ISIS shoots down Jordanian planeThe Islamic State group captured a Jordanian pilot after shooting down his warplane over Syria, Jordan said Wednesday, in the extremists' first successful downing of an aircraft from the international coalition waging an air campaign against the extremists.

The show of the extremists' capabilities underscored the risks for the United States and the multiple Arab and European countries whose warplanes are participating in bombing campaign aimed at pushing back the jihadis' control across much of Syria and Iraq. It also posed Jordan with a nightmare scenario — its pilot was the first foreign soldier to fall into the extremists' hands.


Iraq: Suicide attack kills 24 people near Baghdad

Iraq bombingA suicide bomber detonated his payload among a group of pro-government Sunni militiamen near the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 24 people.

The attacker mingled with the militiamen as they gathered at a military base in the town of Madain, about 20 kilometers (14 miles) south of Baghdad, to receive their monthly paychecks, two police officers said. At least 15 of the dead were Sunni militiamen and the rest were soldiers, while 55 others were wounded, they said.


Orangutan Declared To Have Basic Legal Rights In Argentina

orangutan has legal rightsIn what may be a first, an appeals court in Argentina has recognized a nonhuman as having basic legal rights. A Buenos Aires judge ruled in favor of advocates who are calling for more freedom for a 28-year-old orangutan who was born in a zoo.

The advocacy group filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on the orangutan's behalf, which would require proof of a justified detention.


Israel pumping millions into settlements before vote

West Bank settlementIsrael's outgoing government is pumping millions of dollars into Jewish settlements in the West Bank for public buildings and roads ahead of national elections, an official said Tuesday, in what opponents view as a political ploy aimed at gaining favor with hard-line voters.

The official said the spending spree had been held up by former Finance Minister Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid party, who was fired early this month in a move that helped trigger the early election. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.


Record 17,000 join 'Pinstripe Nazi' anti-Islam march in Germany

17000 pin stripe nazis march in germanyA record 17,000 people have joined the latest in a string of demonstrations against Islam in Dresden, eastern Germany, celebrating the rise of their far-right populist movement by singing Christmas carols.

The march on Monday night was organised by Patriotic Europeans Against Islamisation of the West – a group that has grown rapidly since its first protest in October.

Politicians from all major parties have been stunned by the emergence of the right-wing nationalists who vent their anger against what they consider a broken immigration and asylum system.


South Korean nuclear operator hacked amid cyber-attack fears

S. Korea nuclear plant oprater hackedSouth Korea’s nuclear plant operator has said its computer systems have been breached, raising fears that hackers, including those with possible North Korean links, could shift their focus to key infrastructure.

The violation prompted a safety drill on Monday at nuclear plants around the country. The precautionary exercise comes days after the US blamed Pyongyang for hacking Sony Pictures, which led the company to cancel the release of a Hollywood satire about the fictional assassination of the secretive state’s leader, Kim Jong-un.


Vatican bureaucracy has "spiritual Alzheimer's"

Pope FrancisPope Francis launched a blistering attack on the Vatican bureaucracy Monday, outlining a "catalog of illnesses" that plague the church's central administration, including "spiritual Alzheimer's" and gossipy cliques.

The pope's traditional Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was less an exchange of warm wishes than a laundry list of what the pontiff called the "ailments of the Curia" that he wants to cure.


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