Belarus enjoys bonanza amid Russia-West tensions

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, right, welcomes Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during their meeting in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Mykola Lazarenko, Pool)MINSK, Belarus (AP) — As relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated, there's one country that's reaping rewards — Belarus, whose authoritarian leader was once dubbed "Europe's last dictator" by the United States and the European Union.



US renews elusive push for Mideast peace

FILE - In this Dec. 15, 2014 file-pool photo, Secretary of State, John Kerry meets with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Villa Taverna in Rome. Kerry is ending 2014 much in the same way he started it: Frustrated in his efforts to push Israel and Palestinians toward peace. Facing a diplomatic showdown over Arab plans to force Israel from occupied Palestinian lands within three years, Kerry readied himself this week for a 72-hour trip to Jordan to craft a less explosive alternative. By Thursday, the crisis appeared to have been averted: Palestinian and Jordanian officials said they would not force their resolution to an immediate vote in the United Nations Security Council _ in part because the U.S. threatened to veto it. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File-Pool)WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry is ending 2014 much in the same way he started it, frustrated in efforts to push Israel and Palestinians toward peace.



As Air Force fixes nuke flaws, future debated

FILE - In this April 15, 1997 file photo, Air Force Lt. Jerome White stands at the door of his missile launch capsule 100-feet under ground where he and his partner are responsible for 10 nuclear-armed ICBM's, in north-central Colorado. Faced with one of its biggest challenges in years, repairing a troubled nuclear missile corps, the Air Force has taken an important first step by admitting, after years of denial, that its problems run deep and wide. (AP Photo/Eric Draper)WASHINGTON (AP) — Faced with one of its biggest challenges in years — repairing a troubled nuclear missile corps — the Air Force has taken an important first step by admitting, after years of denial, that its problems run deep and wide.



China promises medical care for HIV-positive boy: state media

An 8-year-old boy - who suffers from HIV and was given the pseudonym Kunkun by Chinese media - sits on the doorstep of his home in a village in Xichong county, southwest Sichuan province, on December 18, 2014China's health ministry has promised to provide medical care and a living allowance for an eight-year-old HIV-positive boy targeted by villagers for expulsion, state media reported Monday, in a case that has drawn widespread condemnation. The health ministry has also pledged to conduct spot checks around China to uncover any other violations of anti-discrimination policies, the state-run paper reported. The provincial Communist Party committee is investigating reports of the petition to expel the boy, the Global Times newspaper, with close ties to the party, quoted an unnamed propaganda official as saying. The boy was left with his grandfather when both his parents quit the impoverished village to seek work and remains in his grandfather's care in the village for the present, the Beijing News indicated.



Asian markets gain as oil rebounds

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian markets were mostly higher Monday after the Fed's pledge not to rush to raise interest rates prompted investors to add risky assets ahead of the year-end holiday. A rise in the price of oil boosted energy stocks.


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