SAN FRANCISCO >> Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers were found in contempt of court Friday for continuing their relentless campaign to disrupt the annual whale hunt off the waters of Antarctica. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a commissioner to determine how much Paul Watson and members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society he   Full Story
 
NEW YORK >> Despite an early start, sales data provided to The Associated Press shows that stores may once again have to rely on procrastinators to save the holiday shopping season. Sales were up 1.8 percent from Nov. 1 through Monday compared with the same period a year ago, according to data tracker First Data Corp.   Full Story
 
The Associated Press
JERUSALEM >> A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck southern Israel on Friday, the Israeli military said, in the first such attack since September. The military said air raid sirens were sounded in the Eshkol region bordering the Palestinian coastal territory. The projectile landed in an open field, causing no injuries or damage, according to police.   Full Story
 
The Associated Press
PRAGUE >> Experts will meet in Kenya next month to discuss ways to save the critically endangered northern white rhinos from extinction. The recent death of two of the rhinos in zoos has left only five captives left: a female at San Diego Zoo, a femaleat the Czech Dvur Kralove zoo, and two females and a male at Kenya's Ol Pejeta Conservancy.   Full Story
 
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. >> The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday refused to block gay marriages in Florida, the latest of about three dozen states allowing same-sex weddings. In a one-paragraph order, the court decided not to step into the Florida case. A federal judge previously declared Florida's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional and said same-sex marriage licenses could start being issued in the   Full Story
 
WASHINGTON >> 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.   Full Story
 
WASHINGTON >> 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. The Obama administration is under court order to unveil the rule Friday, ending a six-year effort that began after a massive spill at a Tennessee power plant in 2008.   Full Story
 
The Associated Press
BEIJING >>Faced with rising cybercrime like the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, companies worldwide are under pressure to tighten security but are hampered by cost and, for some, reluctance to believe they are in danger. The Sony attack, which U.S. officials blamed on North Korea, was unusual because it included threats of violence if the Hollywood studio released its movie "The   Full Story
 
ISLAMABAD >> Pakistani warplanes and ground forces killed at least 77 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. Meanwhile, a Pakistani prosecutor said the government will try to cancel the bail granted to the main suspect in the 2008 Mumbai   Full Story
 
BERNE, N.Y. (AP) — A 19-year old New York woman is accused of killing a 5-year-old cousin in her care and then calling in a false report that two masked intruders took the boy from their Albany-area home. Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple says Tiffany Van Alstyne is being arraigned on a second-degree murder charge in the killing of Kenneth White.   Full Story
 
Photo courtesy of the office of Sen. Patrick Leahy
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is being credited by congressional sources as a key player in brokering the release of Alan Gross, a federal subcontractor who was held in a Cuban prison for five years, Politico reported Wednesday. The political news website said Leahy, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.   Full Story
 
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON >> Fresh off his 2012 re-election victory, President Barack Obama summoned senior advisers to a series of meetings, asking them to "think big" about a second-term agenda, including the possibilities of new starts with long-standing U.S. foes such as Iran and Cuba. Two years later, after painstaking secret diplomacy on separate but surprisingly similar tracks, efforts with Tehran   Full Story
 
Pavel Golovkin — The Associated Press
MOSCOW >> Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday to fix Russia's economic woes within two years, voicing confidence that the plummeting ruble will recover and promising to diversify Russia's gas-dependent economy. Speaking with strong emotion and looking confident, Putin also displayed a defiant stance toward the West, which he insisted was still trying to destroy Russia.   Full Story
 
BAGHDAD >>Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday ordered the withdrawal of all government lawsuits against journalists and media outlets, marking a departure from his predecessor Nouri al-Maliki, who was widely accused of using state institutions to target his political enemies. The move reflects al-Abadi's "keenness to ensure freedom of expression.   Full Story
 
Ahn Young-joon, File — The Associated Press
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA >> Most North Koreans have never seen the Internet. But the country Washington suspects is behind a devastating hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment has managed to orchestrate a string of crippling cyber infiltrations of South Korean computer systems in recent years, officials in Seoul believe, despite North Korea protesting innocence.   Full Story