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UK households to pay 1 billion pounds for backup power plants in 2018/19

A farmer works in a field surrounded by electricity pylons in Ratcliffe-on-SoarLONDON (Reuters) - British households will pay nearly 1 billion pounds to help guarantee the country's electricity supply in 2018/19, after a government auction determined who will provide backup power capacity. The auction, held by network operator National Grid, set the price to be paid to capacity holders at 19.40 pounds per kilowatt, giving plant operators clarity on how much their stations can earn in 2018/19. British households will each have to fork out around 11 pounds that year to help pay the generators, the government said on Friday. ...


Jags' Marks caps 21-13 win over Titans with sack

CORRECTS TO SEN'DERRICK MARKS, INSTEAD OF CHRIS CLEMONS, MAKING THE SACK - Tennessee Titans quarterback Charlie Whitehurst (12) is sacked by Jacksonville Jaguars' Sen'Derrick Marks on the final play of an NFL football game, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, in Jacksonville, Fla. Jacksonville won 21-13. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Sen'Derrick Marks slipped by Andy Levitre, grabbed Charlie Whitehurst around the legs and dragged him to the ground.


8 children killed, mother stabbed, in Australia

Police patrol near a house where eight children have been found dead in a Cairns suburb in far north Queensland, Australia, Friday Dec 19, 2014. Queensland state police said they were called to the home in the Cairns suburb of Manoora on Friday morning after receiving a report of a woman with serious injuries. When police got to the house, they found the bodies of the children inside, ranging in age from 18 months to 15 years.(AP Photo/Graeme Bint)SYDNEY (AP) — Eight dead children and a woman suffering from stab wounds were found inside a home in a northern Australian city on Friday, police said.


US not fully prepared for nuclear terrorist attackWASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government isn't fully prepared to handle a nuclear terrorist attack or large-scale natural catastrophe, lacking effective coordination, and in some cases is years away from ensuring adequate emergency shelter and medical treatment, congressional investigators have found.EPA expected to treat coal ash waste like garbage

F ILE - In this Monday, Dec. 29, 2008 file image provided by Greenpeace, coal ash slurry left behind in a containment pond near the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant is shown in Harriman, Tenn., after the dyke at left broke Dec. 22, 2008. The Obama administration is under court order to unveil the rule Friday, Dec. 19, 2014 ending a six-year effort that began after the massive spill at the Tennessee power plant in 2008. Since then, the Environmental Protection Agency has documented coal ash waste sites tainting hundreds of waterways and underground aquifers in numerous states with heavy metals and other toxic contaminants. (AP Photo/Greeenpeace, Wade Payne)WASHINGTON (AP) — Environmentalists and industry experts widely expect the first federal standards for the waste generated from coal burned for electricity to treat the ash like household garbage, rather than a hazardous material.


Poll: Americans skeptical of commercial drones

FILE - I this March 12, 2014 file photo, a drone flown by Brian Wilson, prepares to land after flying over the scene of an explosion that leveled two apartment buildings in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York. Americans are deeply skeptical that the benefits of the heralded drone revolution will outweigh the risks to privacy and safety, although a majority approve of using small, unmanned aircraft in dangerous jobs or remote areas, according to a new Associated Press-GfK opinion poll. By a 2-to-1 margin, those polled said they oppose allowing use drones for commercial purposes. Only 21 percent favor commercial use of drones, while 43 percent oppose it. Another 35 percent were in the middle. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are skeptical that the benefits of the heralded drone revolution will outweigh the risks to privacy and safety, although a majority approve of using small, unmanned aircraft for dangerous jobs or in remote areas, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.


Hack attack spurs call for more NKorea sanctions

A movie billboard is displayed behind a Sony Pictures Entertainment Studio entrance in Culver City, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. Companies across the globe are on high alert to tighten up network security to avoid being the next company brought to its knees by hackers like those that executed the dramatic cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)WASHINGTON (AP) — Suspicions that North Korea was behind a destructive hacking attack against Sony Pictures and a threat against movie theaters are intensifying calls for tougher U.S. steps to cut that country's access to hard currency and declare it once more as a state sponsor of terrorism.


For US and Cuba, normalcy will take many steps

People line up to take the bus outside the Capitolio in Havana, Cuba, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. How does one end almost 54 years of hostility toward a next-door neighbor? That’s about to become clear as the Obama administration and the communist government of Raul Castro move to normalize more than a half-century of bitter animosity between the United States and Cuba. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)WASHINGTON (AP) — How does one end almost 54 years of hostility toward a next-door neighbor?


Asia equity rally continues after Fed rate pledge

Pedestrians are reflected on an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. Asian stocks rallied for a second day Friday after the Federal Reserve's reassurance it was in no hurry to hike interest rates. But shares of Sony Corp. dropped as a hacking scandal rocked its American movies unit. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stocks rallied for a second day Friday after the Federal Reserve's reassurance it was in no hurry to hike interest rates. But shares of Sony Corp. dropped as a hacking scandal rocked its American movies unit.


US tapped contractors to do its sneaky work in Cuba

In this April 1, 2014 file photo, students stand outside a building to find an Internet signal for their phones in Havana, Cuba. In programs revealed by the Associated Press in 2014, USAID secretly created a primitive social media program called ZunZuneo, staged a health workshop to recruit activists and infiltrated Cuba’s hip-hop community. Those programs were part of a grassroots campaign aimed at undermining the Castro government through the citizenry, rather than directly targeting political leaders. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — When the U.S. government's global-aid agency launched secret plans to undermine Cuba's communist government, it didn't turn to the CIA for help. Instead, it used little-known contractors to carry out the operations — leading to multiple detentions and the high-profile arrest of American Alan Gross.


It's law now: 'No Social Security for Nazis'

FILE - In this Dec. 12, 2014 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. President Barack Obama on Thursday capped a swift and forceful response to an Associated Press investigation by signing into law a measure that bars suspected Nazi war criminals from receiving U.S. Social Security benefits. AP’s investigation, which was the impetus for the No Social Security for Nazis Act, found that dozens of former Nazis collected millions of dollars in retirement benefits after being forced to leave the United States. Recipients ranged from the SS guards who patrolled the Third Reich’s network of camps where millions of Jews died to a rocket scientist who helped develop the V-2 rocket that Nazi Germany used to attack London. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Thursday capped a swift and forceful response to an Associated Press investigation by signing into law a measure that bars suspected Nazi war criminals from receiving U.S. Social Security benefits.


Britain could allow women in army close combat role from 2016

Soldiers of the British Army's 2 Signals Regiment parade marking completion of the unit's eight month Afghanistan tour of duty, in YorkLONDON (Reuters) - Britain might allow women to fight in close combat roles for the first time from 2016, the defence secretary said on Friday, in a move that would bring the British army into line with some other Western forces. Britain's army currently allows women to serve on the front line, but does not let them join units whose main function is to engage and kill the enemy. The United States, Australia and Canada are among those nations which already have women in close combat roles. ...


Colorado vows to defend pot law against states' challenge

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning speaks at a news conference in Lincoln, Neb. on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014 annoucing that he and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt are filing a lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a declaration that Colorado's legalization of marijuana violates the U.S. Constitution. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)DENVER (AP) — Colorado's top law enforcement official promises to vigorously defend the state's historic law legalizing marijuana after Nebraska and Oklahoma asked the U.S. Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional, saying the drug is freely flowing into neighboring states.


Essebsi narrow favorite to win Tunisian presidency

Supporters of Tunisian presidential candidate Beji Caid Essebsi gather in the region of Kef, north of Tunis, Tunisia, Wednesday, Dec.17, 2014. The runoff pits Caid Essebsi, 88, a minister and parliamentary speaker under previous presidents,, against outgoing interim president Moncef Marzouki, a veteran rights activist, for Dec.21 second round of the presidential elections. (AP Photo/Ilyess Osmane)TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — For the third time in just two months, Tunisian voters will head to the polls this weekend, this time to elect a president in a runoff vote that presents a stark choice between the country's past and its Arab Spring revolution.


Weird weather lingers in Alaska's largest cityANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A week before Christmas, Alaska's largest city should look like a postcard wonderland, and the last place you'd expect to see equipment making snow.Parity abounds among women's hoops elite

Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey instructs her team on offense in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Stephen F. Austin, Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina coach Dawn Staley is sure of two things this season — there's more parity than ever at the top of women's basketball and her Gamecocks likely won't remain No. 1 for long.


Eight children found dead at Australian property

Police gather outside a house where eight children ranging from babies to teenagers were found dead in the northern Australian city of Cairns on December 19, 2014Eight children ranging from babies to teenagers were found dead at a home in the Australian city of Cairns on Friday, police said, reportedly in a gruesome mass stabbing that comes just days after a deadly siege in Sydney. Prime Minister Tony Abbott called the Cairns tragedy heartbreaking, coming with Australia already in an outpouring of national grief over Monday's dramatic standoff in Sydney, which left two hostages and the gunman dead. Cairns police said they were called to the scene in the northern city and found the bodies of the children, aged between 18 months and 15 years. Cairns is a tropical city with a population of more than 150,000 people and is popular with international tourists as a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia's biggest tourist sites.


Best of the season's 39 bowl games

Alabama head coach Nick Saban watches drills during an Alabama NCAA college football practice, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/AL.com, Vasha Hunt)The College Football Playoff era is here and as the bowl season starts, it feels a bit like a New Year's three-for-one special: Three big games instead of one.


Pakistan: 67 militants killed after school massacre

A Pakistani army officer, stands by a wall riddled with bullet marks, inside the Army Public School attacked last Tuesday by Taliban gunmen, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. The Taliban massacre that killed more than 140 people, mostly children, at a military-run school in northwestern Pakistan left a scene of heart-wrenching devastation, pools of blood and young lives snuffed out as the nation mourned and mass funerals for the victims got underway. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani jets and ground forces killed 67 militants in a northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said Friday, days after Taliban fighters killed 148 people — most of them children — in a school massacre.


Stephen Colbert retires his 'Report' and the host he played

This Sept. 8, 2010 publicity photo released by Comedy Central shows host Stephen Colbert appears on "The Colbert Report," in New York. "The Colbert Report" will end on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, after nine seasons. (AP Photo/Comedy Central, Scott Gries)NEW YORK (AP) — Stephen Colbert is dead.


Warriors beat Thunder 114-109 after Durant injury

Golden State Warriors' Andre Iguodala celebrates after scoring against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr could only shake his head and grin while Kevin Durant put on the best performance of his young season in the first half.


Mainz hoping to catch Bayern in festive spirits

(From L) Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery, Mario Goetze, Thomas Mueller and Xabi Alonso celebrate after the second goal for Munich during their German first division Bundesliga match against Freiburg, in Munich, southern Germany, on December 16, 2014Mainz 05 are hoping to find runaway leaders Bayern Munich distracted by the winter break on Friday with Pep Guardiola's side hunting more Bundesliga records in their final match of 2014. Not if Bayern coach Pep Guardiola has anything to do with it. "No excuses, we're flying to Mainz to win," insisted the Spaniard. Visitors Bayern are poised to snap up another league record at Mainz, having conceded only three goals all season and with the current record for fewest goals against at the halfway stage standing at seven.


NYC event marks winter solstice with music parades

In this Dec. 21, 2013 photo provided by Make Music, the 2013 Make Music Winter celebration of with winter solstice in New York City is shown. On Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, musicians will take to the sidewalks in small parades to mark the start of winter 2014. There will be over a dozen of small parades marking the arrival of the winter solstice throughout New York City. (AP Photo/Make Music, Clara Schuhmacker)NEW YORK (AP) — Walking? Check. In a winter wonderland? Well, it marks the beginning of the season. Bells ringing? Sure, along with trumpets and some fiddles.


China's wealth finds home in Washington state

Debbie Lin, right, of Windermere Real Estate, speaks Manderin as she shows a home for sale to Amy Hsu, left, a real estate broker who was looking at homes on behalf of a client from China, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, in Bellevue, Wash., as fellow broker Josh Avery, center, walks behind them. Seattle-area real estate agents are taking note of growing connections linking China and Washington state, which ranks second to California in real estate sales to Chinese buyers. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)MEDINA, Wash. (AP) — Savvy Seattle-area real estate agents have gained an advantage by paying attention to the growing connections between China and Washington state.


Sierra Leone's leading doctor dies of EbolaFREETOWN (Reuters) - Sierra Leone's leading doctor died of Ebola on Thursday, hours after the arrival in the country of an experimental drug that could have been used to treat him, the government's chief medical officer said. Victor Willoughby was diagnosed with Ebola last week after he treated a man with organ-related problems. The patient, a senior banker, was later diagnosed with Ebola and has since died. The drug, ZMab, was transported in frozen form on a Brussels Airlines flight that arrived overnight. ...At least 28 killed in C.African Republic clashes- Red CrossDAKAR (Reuters) - At least 28 people, including a Red Cross volunteer, have been killed in clashes between Muslim rebels and Christian militia in Central African Republic, a senior official with the humanitarian organisation said on Thursday. The fighting in Mbres began on Tuesday and displaced hundreds of people from the town. Mbres lies on the fault line between the country's Christian-dominated south and the northern regions controlled by Muslim Seleka rebels who briefly seized power last year. ...Kenya security law approved despite disruptions in parliament

Riot policemen hold their dogs as they secure the National Assembly compound in Kenya's capital NairobiBy James Macharia NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's parliament approved new anti-terrorism laws on Thursday after chaotic scenes in which opposition legislators, citing a threat to civil liberties and free speech, threw books at the Speaker, shouted, chanted and sprinkled water over his deputy. Television footage showed legislators exchanging blows in the public gallery before the vote. President Uhuru Kenyatta has faced mounting pressure to boost security since a 2013 attack by Somali al Shabaab rebels on a Nairobi mall that killed 67 people. ...


Marathon bombing survivor in 'Yes to Dress' finale

FILE - In this May 23, 2013 file photo, Boston Marathon bombing survivor Pete DiMartino, of Rochester, N.Y., and his girlfriend, Rebekah Gregory, hold hands prior to DiMartino throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before a Red Sox game at Fenway Park in Boston. DiMartino and Gregory were injured in an explosion near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The couple were chosen for the “Dream Wedding Contest” given by Theknot.com, a wedding planning website. Gregory’s fit-and-flare Sophia Moncelli dress, the couple’s rings and location were chosen by the site’s users. The couple tied the knot last April in front of 125 people at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Her search for the perfect wedding dress is featured in Friday night’s season finale of TLC’s popular reality show, “Say Yes to the Dress.” (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Marathon bombings took Rebekah DiMartino's leg, but they couldn't rob her of her joy as a new bride.


Your Top Plays for Today

In this Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014 photo, Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) drives during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic in Boston. The Celtics traded point guard Rajon Rondo to Dallas on Thursday night, Dec. 18, 2014, cutting ties with the last remnant of Boston's last NBA championship while giving Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks a chance at another title. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)Your Top Plays for Today: AP's Sports Guide


39 bowl games and a reason to watch every one

FILE - In this Sept. 6, 2014, file photo, Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson (7) runs for a 57-yard touchdown against Eastern Washington in the first half of an NCAA football game in Seattle. Shaq Thompson played both offense and defense this season and excelled both ways, making him the perfect guy to be the AP All-America first-team all-purpose player. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)Over the next three weeks, 38 bowl games and a national championship game will be played from Boise to the Bahamas and various points in between. You should watch them all. Here's why:


Fighting in Libya's Benghazi kills 25 in eight days - medics

A Libyan military personnel mans a checkpoint in the city center in BenghaziBENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - At least 25 people have been killed and 103 wounded in the past eight days of fighting between pro-government forces and Islamist groups in Libya's second city Benghazi, medics said on Thursday. That brings the death toll to around 475 since the army and forces led by former general Khalifa Haftar started a campaign against Islamists in the port city in mid-October. The pro-government forces have managed to expel Islamist fighters from the airport area and seize back army camps the Islamists took over in August. ...


Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnap 172 women, children in Nigeria

A woman talks about her escape from violence after Boko Haram insurgents attacked their community weeks ago, at the IDP camp at WurojuliBy Lanre Ola MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) - 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. Although no one has claimed responsibility, the attack bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, which abducted more than 200 women in April from a secondary school in Chibok, only 24 km (15 miles) from this latest attack. ...


Tribal chief of Mali's Tuaregs dies amid stalled peace talks

Tuareg men ride camels in the desert during the 19th Ghat Festival of Culture and Tourism, in GhatDAKAR (Reuters) - The chief of the most powerful Tuareg tribe in northern Mali died on Thursday, signalling a change of leadership as Tuareg separatists are locked in peace talks with the government. The 87-year-old patriarch Intallah Ag Attaher, who had led the Ifoghas tribe for several decades, died in the desert town of Kidal after a long sickness, residents said. His son Alghabass ag Intallah is expected to succeed him as tribal leader and the head of the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA), the name separatists use for northern Mali. ...


In Lebanon, Syrian newborns risk statelessness

In this Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014 photo, Hoda Barakat, right, a registered midwife, takes the blood pressure of Syrian Manal Allan, 24, at a natal clinic in Beirut, Lebanon. Nearly 30,000 Syrian children born as refugees in Lebanon are in a legal limbo, not registered with any government, exposing them to the risk of a life of statelessness deprived of basic rights. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)BEIRUT (AP) — Nearly 30,000 Syrian children born as refugees in Lebanon are in a legal limbo, not registered with any government, exposing them to the risk of a life of statelessness deprived of basic rights.


US agriculture has big appetite for Cuba trade

FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2014 file photo a farmer drives his tractor past a soybean field toward grain storage bins near Ladora, Iowa. U.S. agriculture has a big appetite for freer trade with Cuba, and soybeans are one of the main products Cuba now buys from the United States. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — U.S. agriculture has a big appetite for freer trade with Cuba. From wheat to rice to beans, the industry stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of President Barack Obama's plan to ease economic and travel restrictions imposed against the communist-ruled island.


Federal judge considering Oklahoma's death penalty

File - This Oct. 9, 2014 file photo, shows an arm restraint on the gurney in the the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla. Attorneys for 21 death row inmates who will be in a federal court this week challenging Oklahoma's lethal injection procedure outlined their strategy in court documents that reveal grisly new details in the botched execution of an inmate in April, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma prison system chief who halted an execution in the spring after problems with the lethal injection drugs is expected to testify in a federal challenge to the state's death penalty.


Death threats to Sydney siege gunman's lawyers, magistrate

A card with photos of Katrina Dawson (L) and Tori Johnson, the two hostages killed during a fatal siege in the heart of Sydney's financial district, is seen at a makeshift memorial near the scene, on December 17, 2014Lawyers who defended the Sydney siege gunman on a string of charges and the magistrate who bailed him have received deaths threats, officials said Friday, amid growing anger that he was on the streets. Iranian-born Man Haron Monis, a self-styled Islamic cleric, took 17 people hostage at a cafe in the heart of the city's financial district on Monday. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has ordered an urgent enquiry amid mounting criticism that authorities failed to protect the public, with the backlash extending to the magistrate who released Monis and lawyers who represented him. "To make death threats as has been done against members of the profession for doing a job is really an unfortunate reaction," New South Wales Bar Association president Jane Needham told ABC radio.


Will artists skip studio support after Sony scandal?

A banner for "The Interview"is posted outside Arclight Cinemas, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. A U.S. official says North Korea perpetrated the unprecedented act of cyberwarfare against Sony Pictures that exposed tens of thousands of sensitive documents and escalated to threats of terrorist attacks that ultimately drove the studio to cancel all release plans for "The Interview." (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sony's decision to cancel "The Interview" in the face of terrorist threats is already affecting the way Hollywood does business. It has outraged artists, killing their faith in studios to release edgy content. But it's also inspired a rare hush across a usually chatty industry as everyone from moguls to makeup artists takes stock of the scandal and how it could affect their jobs.


Penn State, BYU to meet for title

Stanford head coach John Dunning claps on the sideline during an NCAA college volleyball tournament semifinal against Penn State in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — It would be difficult to find two schools with more differing pedigrees heading into a championship match than Penn State and Brigham Young.


Amazon's cloud business a harder sell in post-Snowden era

A just-delivered Amazon box is seen on a counter in Golden, ColoradoSAN FRANCISCO/SEATTLE (Reuters) - This spring, Taser International Inc won a small but high-profile contract to supply body cameras to the London police. But the deal nearly collapsed over one issue: where the video footage would be stored.


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