TODAY'S WORLD HEADLINES

US, Cuba announce historic thaw in ties 18-Dec-14, 12:16 AM | Reuters

Sierra Leone goes door-to-door to fight Ebola surge 18-Dec-14, 2:08 AM | Agence France-Presse

Israeli PM slams EU Court decision to take Hamas off terror blacklist 18-Dec-14, 4:15 AM | Philippine News Agency | Xinhua

Afghan Taliban condemn Pakistan school attack 17-Dec-14, 3:37 PM | Agence France-Presse

Swiss central bank introduces negative interest rate 4:38 pm | Agence France-Presse (UPDATE - 5:00 p.m.) Switzerland's central bank announces it was introducing negative interest rates, in a bid to stop the Swiss franc -- a safe haven currency -- from gaining further value.

Boko Haram kill 32, kidnap scores in Nigeria Boko Haram kill 32, kidnap scores in Nigeria 4:20 pm | Agence France-Presse Boko Haram militants killed 32 people and kidnapped scores of others in an attack on…

Saudi rulers reconsider ties to Wahhabi clergy Saudi rulers reconsider ties to Wahhabi clergy 4:14 pm | Angus McDowall, Reuters Saudi Arabia's ruling Al Saud royal family are trying to adjust their relationship with the…

Church of England names first woman bishop Church of England names first woman bishop 4:03 pm | Phile Noble, Reuters The Church of England appointed its first female bishop on Wednesday, overturning centuries of tradition…

Tipped off by 5-yr old, cops nab US dad for stuffing drugs in baby\ Tipped off by 5-yr old, cops nab US dad for stuffing drugs in baby's diaper 2:10 pm | Reuters Police in Alabama arrested a man after finding 14 grams of heroin hidden in his…

BUSINESS NEWS

EU grants Philippines\ EU grants Philippines' bid to increase duty-free exports Under GSP+, more than 6,200 Philippine products can enter the EU duty-free.

Philippine electronics industry hikes exports target Philippine electronics industry hikes exports target From 5-8 percent earlier, SEIPI has increased its goal to 7-11 percent.

More heavy power users join Meralco\ More heavy power users join Meralco's opt-out program ahead of summer shortfall So far, 76 companies have joined the program.

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Colombia to honor Garcia Marquez with banknotes 1:43 pm | Peter Murphy, Reuters Colombia to honor Garcia Marquez with banknotesColombia's central bank will print banknotes to honor the country's most celebrated writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who died in April and who is renowned as the father of magical realism storytelling.

Close shaves underscore dangerous Russia-NATO aerial cat-and-mouse games 10:50 am | Bryan McManus, Agence France-Presse Close shaves underscore dangerous Russia-NATO aerial cat-and-mouse gamesRecent close shaves between Russian fighters and civilian aircraft highlight the dangers of the cat-and-mouse game being played out between Moscow and the West in European skies amid the crisis in Ukraine, analysts say.

Palestinians present draft UN resolution on final peace deal with Israel 9:58 am | Carole Landry, Agence France-Presse Palestinians present draft UN resolution on final peace deal with IsraelPalestinians on Wednesday presented a draft UN resolution laying out terms for a final peace deal with Israel but sought to avoid a clash with the United States by saying they were open to negotiations on the text.

Pope leads global praise for 'historic' thawing of US-Cuba ties 9:20 am | Clare Byrne, Agence France-Presse Pope leads global praise for \Pope Francis led a chorus of global plaudits for Wednesday's breakthrough in US-Cuban relations, hailed as 'historic' in Europe and South America and prompting celebrations on the streets of Havana.

'I was mistaken for a waiter, valet driver': Obama speaks on America's persisting racial biases 6:08 am | Agence France-Presse \Barack and Michelle Obama revealed their experiences of racism in a wide-ranging interview with celebrity weekly People Magazine published Wednesday.

Melting Arctic ice, rising temps seen as planet warms 5:40 am | Kerry Sheridan, Agence France-Presse Melting Arctic ice, rising temps seen as planet warmsRecord high temperatures in Alaska, below average snow cover across the Arctic and excess summer ice melting in Greenland were observed this year by scientists, raising new concerns about global warming.

Israeli PM slams EU Court decision to take Hamas off terror blacklist 4:15 am | Philippine News Agency | Xinhua Israeli PM slams EU Court decision to take Hamas off terror blacklistIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the European Union (EU)'s General Court on Wednesday for ordering to remove Hamas group from the union's terror blacklist.

Clinton vs Bush, again? Is US democracy becoming a family affair? 3:36 am | Agence France-Presse Clinton vs Bush, again? Is US democracy becoming a family affair?Jeb Bush has announced he will run for president, and Hillary Clinton is expected to do the same soon. In 2016, the race to the White House could be a family affair.

Chinese villagers seek to banish HIV-infected boy: state media 2:31 am | Engen Tham, Reuters Chinese villagers seek to banish HIV-infected boy: state mediaAuthorities in a Chinese village have launched a "thought education" campaign after more than 200 villagers signed a petition to banish an eight-year-old boy infected with the HIV virus, state media said on Wednesday.

Sierra Leone goes door-to-door to fight Ebola surge 2:08 am | Agence France-Presse Sierra Leone goes door-to-door to fight Ebola surgeSierra Leone on Wednesday said health workers would go door-to-door as part of sweeping efforts to stem the spread of Ebola in the west of the country, which has also been hit by a ban on New Year revelries and travel restrictions.

US chooses Japan to maintain F-35 jets in Asia: sources 1:35 am | Andrea Shalal and Timothy Kelly, Reuters US chooses Japan to maintain F-35 jets in Asia: sourcesThe Pentagon has chosen Japan as the Asian site for heavy maintenance of Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 fighter jets once the new warplanes start operating around the world, sources familiar with the program said on Wednesday.

US, Cuba announce historic thaw in ties 12:16 am | Reuters US, Cuba announce historic thaw in ties(UPDATED - 8:00 p.m.) The United States will restore diplomatic relations it severed with Cuba more than 50 years ago, a major policy shift ending decades of hostile ties with the communist-ruled island, President Barack Obama said on Wednesday.