Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.
Russia brands new sanctions roadblock to Ukraine peace

Ukrainian soldiers fire a missile with a man-portable air-defense system during exercices near the city of Shchastya, north of Lugansk, on December 1, 2014Russia accused the West on Saturday of stoking unrest in Ukraine by adopting anti-Kremlin sanctions that further erode the prospect of peace talks to end the separatist war. The sudden glimmer of hope that the end of Europe's worst violence since the 1990s Balkans conflicts was approaching has seen Western allies step up their pressure on Russia, already reeling from its worst economic crisis of Vladimir Putin's 15-year rule. The United States matched a similar measure by the European Union by slapping a trade ban on Kremlin-controlled Crimea. Canada went a step further by also targeting Russia's vital oil and gas industry.



Putin says Russia won't be intimidated over Crimea

Russian President Putin attends his annual end-of-year news conference in MoscowBy Vladimir Soldatkin MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will not be intimidated over its actions in Ukraine and Crimea, President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday as his foreign ministry warned that it was preparing to retaliate against fresh Western sanctions. Both the European Union and United States adopted tighter restrictions on investments in Crimea this week, while Canada rachetted up its own sanctions directed at Moscow. ...



Cuba sees long struggle ahead before U.S. lifts embargo

Cuba's President Castro speaks with his first vice-president Diaz Canel during a session of the National Assembly in HavanaHAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban President Raul Castro told parliament on Saturday the country faces a "long and difficult struggle" before the United States removes its economic embargo, despite the historic agreement this week to restore diplomatic ties. U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday reset Washington's Cold War-era policy against Cuba, but he still needs the Republican-controlled Congress to lift the embargo. (Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)



Madonna releases new songs after leaks

Madonna she decided to put out her new songs immediately after in-studio versions of her tracks dripped onto the InternetMadonna on Saturday suddenly released six new songs months ahead of schedule, upset that early versions had leaked online. The pop icon's new songs, available immediately for sale and streaming online, will be part of her first album in three years, "Rebel Heart," which comes out in March. Please consider these six songs as an early Christmas gift," Madonna said in a statement. The new songs include "Living for Love," which is driven by a house beat that harks back to some of Madonna's earlier anthems.





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