Obama hints at changing phone records collection WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama suggests he may be ready to rein in some of the bulk collection of Americans' phone records to allay the public's privacy concerns. At an end-of-year news conference, Obama said he has not yet made any decisions about the National Security Agency's collection programs. But he offers the first indication that he may be willing to change some parts of the controversial program that collects and stores Americans' phone records. He says there may be "another way of skinning the cat."
Obama: 2014 can be breakthrough year for America' WASHINGTON (AP) - Citing strong progress on the economy, President Barack Obama said at his annual year-end news conference Friday that 2014 "can be a breakthrough year for America" after a long season of recession and slow recovery. Yet he suggested that given widespread criticism, he may alter the power of the National Security Agency to collect information on Americans.
Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky a free man BERLIN (AP) - After spending 10 years in Russian jails for what many in the West believe were trumped-up offenses, Mikhail Khodorkovsky left prison a free man Friday and immediately flew to Germany. Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned his long-time rival Friday morning and the country's Federal Penitentiary Service said Khodorkovsky quickly left the IK-7 prison in the remote northwestern village of Segezha.
Spy panel wants duplicate oversight board replaced WASHINGTON (AP) - For months, two review panels given nearly identical assignments by President Barack Obama have been studying how the White House should change or limit the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. They have functioned separately - with different experts and private and public hearings - but with almost the same mandate. So it was at least a little surprising when the first panel, which recommended changes to NSA's programs this week, urged the White House to abolish the second panel and replace it with a new one.
Libyan intelligence official killed outside home TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) - Gunmen shot and killed a top Libyan military intelligence official Friday outside his home in an eastern city known as a stronghold for an Islamic extremist militia, the latest in a string of assassinations targeting government officials and others. Col. Fatallah Abdel-Rahim al-Qazeri died outside his home in Darna following a relative's wedding, a security official said. Al-Qazeri had been named as head of military intelligence in the restive city of Benghazi earlier this month, the official said.
Canadian court strikes down anti-prostitution laws TORONTO (AP) - Canada's highest court struck down the country's anti-prostitution laws Friday, a victory for sex workers who had argued that a ban on brothels and other measures made their profession more dangerous. The ruling drew criticism from the conservative government and religious leaders. The 9-0 Supreme Court ruling found that the laws violated the guarantee to life, liberty and security of the person. But the ruling won't take effect immediately because it gave Parliament one year to respond with new legislation.
South African trade union says Zuma must resign JOHANNESBURG (AP) - In a move that could have major political ramifications for South Africa's ruling African National Congress party, the country's biggest trade union called Friday for President Jacob Zuma to resign and said it will not support the ANC in next year's elections. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, or NUMSA, the biggest affiliate of the umbrella union movement COSATU which is one of the partners in the ruling ANC tripartite alliance, said President Jacob Zuma's administration has been marked by one scandal after another.
India demands apology for diplomat arrest in NYC NEW DELHI (AP) - India's information minister lashed out at the United States on Friday and demanded an apology for the treatment of a diplomat who was arrested in New York, saying America cannot behave "atrociously" and get away with it. The Dec. 13 arrest and strip-search of Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general in New York, has sparked a diplomatic storm between the United States and India. U.S. prosecutors say Khobragade lied on a visa form about how much she paid her housekeeper and actually paid her around $3 per hour. The diplomat has pleaded not guilty.
Syrian rebel chief urges unity ahead of talks BEIRUT (AP) - The commander of Syria's main Western-backed rebel group appealed for unity in the insurgency's ranks Friday, trying to ease rifts with Islamic extremist rivals ahead of an international peace conference for Syria in January, over which the opposition is sharply divided. In a sign of the bitterness over the talks, the leader of one of the most powerful militant factions, the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, vowed to torpedo the talks and branded as a traitor anyone in the opposition who joins the gathering with the government of President Bashar Assad.
Fury and frustration over Target data breach NEW YORK (AP) - Potential victims of credit card fraud tied to Target's security breach said they had trouble contacting the discounter through its website and call centers. Angry Target customers expressed their displeasure in comments on the company's Facebook page. Some even threatened to stop shopping at the store. Target apologized on Facebook and said it's working hard to resolve the problem and is adding more workers to field calls and help solve website issues.