Police departments on alert after NYC cops killed NEW YORK (AP) - Big-city police departments and union leaders around the country are warning the rank and file to wear bulletproof vests and avoid making inflammatory posts on social media in the days after a man ambushed two officers and shot them to death inside their patrol car. The killings of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu on Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn heightened fears about the safety of law enforcement officials nationwide. The gunman, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, had vowed in an Instagram post to put "wings on pigs" as retaliation for the deaths of black men at the hands of white police.
Pope in blistering critique of Vatican bureaucrats VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis issued a blistering critique Monday of the Vatican bureaucracy that serves him, denouncing how some people lust for power at all costs, live hypocritical double lives and suffer from "spiritual Alzheimer's" that has made them forget they're supposed to be joyful men of God. Francis' Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was no joyful exchange of holiday good wishes. Rather, it was a sobering catalog of 15 sins of the Curia that Francis said he hoped would be atoned for and cured in the New Year.
Late at night, Christie doing 2016 foreign policy homework NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - It's after 9 p.m. on a Sunday night in late November and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is deep into a conference call, talking about nuclear weapons and Iran. One voice is advocating a hard line, arguing against allowing Iran any capability to enrich uranium. Another summarizes the status of current negotiations and argues that forcing Iran to give up enrichment entirely isn't realistic.
Convict in 1964 civil-rights deaths won't confess PARCHMAN, Miss. (AP) - Craggy-faced and ornery, Edgar Ray Killen bears the signs of his 89 years. His hands are still scarred and rough from decades in the east Mississippi sawmills. He has a muscular build even as he maneuvers in his wheelchair. Time has not softened his views and he remains an ardent segregationist. And he steadfastly refuses to discuss the "Freedom Summer" slayings of three civil-rights workers, which sparked national outrage, helped spur passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and landed him behind bars.
Big changes coming to Cuba tourism with US opening HAVANA (AP) - U.S. tourists are roaming the streets of Old Havana, listening to lectures on Art Deco architecture and meeting with jazz musicians. What they aren't doing yet - at least most of the time - is lounging in the sun and sipping mojitos at white-sand-beach resorts. American citizens have been allowed to visit Cuba on such "people to people" trips since 2011, one of President Barack Obama's first moves toward detente with the communist-run island - provided their scheduled activities are sufficiently educational, and down time is kept to a minimum.
AP-GfK Poll: Cards, gifts cross religious lines WASHINGTON (AP) - Christmastime is here and a new poll reveals the cards and gifts that are part of celebrating the holiday are ubiquitous, even among those who don't share the Christian beliefs behind the story of the Magi who gave the first Christmas gifts. According to the Associated Press-GfK poll, 77 percent of Americans plan to exchange gifts this holiday season and 48 percent will send greeting cards. The gift-giving set includes about 8 in 10 Christians and 73 percent of those who say they have no religious beliefs.
Judge seems skeptical of challenge to Obama immigration plan WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal judge on Monday appeared deeply skeptical of an Arizona sheriff's lawsuit seeking to halt President Barack Obama's plan to spare nearly 5 million people from deportation. U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell questioned whether Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio had legal standing to challenge the immigration program announced last month. She suggested the topic is better left for Congress and the Obama administration to sort out.
China indicts Jackie Chan's son on drug charge BEIJING (AP) - Chinese prosecutors on Monday indicted the son of Hong Kong action film star Jackie Chan on the charge of sheltering others to use drugs, more than four months after he was detained. If convicted, singer-actor Jaycee Chan could be jailed for up to three years.
Skiers have reservations over airbag safety system VAL GARDENA, Italy (AP) - Some skiers are concerned they will turn into the puffy "Michelin Man" when they are not supposed to. Others are afraid they will lose precious hundredths of a second due to slightly more wind resistance.