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Chicago awaits more protests over police shooting
CHICAGO (AP) - The white officer who shot a black Chicago teen 16 times has been charged with murder and jailed. The graphic video of the slaying has been made public. And in the hours after the footage was released, protesters seemed to honor pleas for restraint. The question now is whether those efforts will be enough to address the simmering resentment that authorities took more than a year to share the footage and charge the officer who emptied an entire magazine into the teen even after he had crumpled to the ground. City officials and community leaders had long braced for the release of the dash-cam video showing the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

Russian crackdown on Muslims fuels exodus to Islamic State
Security forces keep devout Muslims under surveillance in places like Komsomolskoye, raiding their homes and hauling them in to provide DNA samples and fingerprints. Many in Dagestan, however, see the heavy-handed security presence as not only fueling an exodus to Syria of Islamic State recruits, but also serving to rid this part of predominantly Muslim southern Russia of potential militants by encouraging them to flee. The two decades of Russia?s war on Islamic insurgency in the North Caucasus, mainly in Chechnya and Dagestan, have fostered a generation of cut-throat Islamist fighters and given rise to a culture of violence and police profiling that has pushed conservative religious groups to the margins of society and into the jaws of the IS.

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Some in military suspended for deadly Afghan hospital attack
WASHINGTON (AP) - American soldiers and airmen who killed and wounded dozens of civilians in a strike on an Afghanistan hospital violated the rules of engagement and have been suspended as they await disciplinary action, U.S. military officials said Wednesday. Briefing reporters on the results of two investigations, Gen. John Campbell, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, described an egregious series of human and technical failures that led a U.S. warplane to mistakenly destroy a medical charity's hospital in northern Afghanistan last month. But Campbell and other officials would not say how many people had been removed from their jobs nor whether those high up the chain of command will be subject to discipline.

Brussels schools reopen, maximum threat alert still in place
When Brussels resident Annelaure Leger dropped off her two children at school on Wednesday, she said the task felt like nearly every other day - save perhaps for the machine gun-toting policeman and camera crews capturing the moment. After a four-day shutdown sparked by a threat alert across the Belgian capital, Leger was relieved that classes were back in session, even though she had to take her bike since the subway was still not running in her neighborhood. ?It was like Christmas come early for the children,? Leger said. ?They stayed at home and played with the neighbors? kids.? She said their family lives partly in Paris and that the children are very aware of what?s happening both there and in Belgium.

Pope urges Kenyans to work for peace
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Pope Francis is urging Kenyans to work for peace, forgiveness and a more just distribution of the country's enormous resources as he begins his first-ever visit to Africa. Francis was received upon arrival Wednesday at Nairobi's airport by President Uhuru Kenyatta on the first leg of a six-day pilgrimage that will also take him to Uganda and the Central African Republic, a country torn by fighting between Christians and Muslims. In his opening speech to Kenyatta and the country's diplomatic corps at Nairobi's State House, Francis urged all Kenyans to work for peace and forgiveness in order to heal ethnic, religious and economic divisions.

Shariah law key in Palestinian artist?s Saudi death sentence
When Palestinian artist Ashraf Fayadh was tried last year on blasphemy-related charges, the Saudi judges overseeing the case rejected the prosecution?s request for a death sentence for apostasy. Instead, he was sentenced to 800 lashes and four years in prison over the content of a book of poetry he wrote and for illicit relations with women based on photos he had on his phone. An appeal was filed and the case was sent back to the lower court, but this time around judges threw out defense witness testimony, refused to accept Fayadh?s repentance when weighing the case and sentenced him to execution for apostasy on Nov. 17.

Cheap gas fueling expanded Thanksgiving travel day
LOS ANGELES (AP) - An expanded version of America's annual Thanksgiving travel saga was under way Wednesday with gas prices low and terrorism fears high. An estimated 46.9 million Americans are expected to take a car, plane, bus or train at least 50 miles from home over the long holiday weekend, according to the motoring organization AAA. That would be an increase of more than 300,000 people over last year, and the most travelers since 2007. Among the reasons given for the increase: an improving economy and the cheapest gasoline for this time of year since 2008. On Tuesday, some travelers were gearing up for an early exit.

UN weather agency: It's record hot out there this year
WASHINGTON (AP) - Because of man-made global warming and a strong El Nino, Earth's wild weather this year is bursting the annual heat record, the World Meteorological Organization announced on Wednesday. The United Nations weather agency's early bird report on 2015 says it is the hottest year on record, surpassing last year's record heat. It made the proclamation without waiting for the end of the year because it has been so extraordinarily hot, forecast to stay that way and unlikely to cool down enough to not set a record. The report comes the week before world leaders assemble in Paris to try to negotiate an agreement to fight climate change.

Referees struggle with respect amid growing hostility
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Jimmy Woods has been a youth official for nearly 30 years, and he's lost count of how many football games he has refereed and how many times he's been yelled at, threatened or insulted. Oh, he remembers the details. He has been surrounded by angry parents following games, told he "has no integrity" by coaches and cursed at as recently as this season by players and fans at a private high school in Little Rock. "People don't respect the emblem anymore," said Woods, a 50-year-old firefighter who officiates games on the side. "They think you're out to get them or cheat them." Violence against referees is as old as sport itself, and most are familiar with awful stories from lower-division soccer matches in Europe or South America.