Data lifts stocks to 2009 highs on Christmas Eve

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U.S. stocks rallied in a brief pre-holiday session on Thursday, closing at 2009 highs, after data showing a drop in initial jobless claims and growth in durable goods orders suggested an economic recovery was picking up steam.

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Bin Laden’s daughter “in Saudi embassy in Tehran”

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Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran has informed the Iranian authorities that one of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s daughters is in the embassy and wants to leave the country, Iran’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

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U.N. website details peacekeeper sex abuse claims

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The United Nations unveiled a website on Thursday aimed at improving transparency about sexual misconduct allegations and other charges leveled against members of its missions.

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Pilgrims crowd Bethlehem on warm Christmas eve

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Thousands of Christians crowded into Bethlehem on an unseasonably warm Thursday evening, before celebrating Christmas midnight mass in the Church of the Nativity at the birthplace of Jesus.

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Iran security clashes with cleric mourners: website

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Iranian security forces clashed with supporters of dead dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri in the northwestern city of Zanjan on Thursday, a reformist website said.

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Pope knocked to floor but unharmed at mass incident

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A woman jumped over a barricade at the start of Pope Benedict’s Christmas Eve mass on Thursday and lunged at the pope, who was knocked to the floor in the confusion but then resumed the service apparently unharmed.

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What was that you said Senator Reid?

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For months, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid exhorted his fellow senators to vote yes on healthcare reform. But when the big moment came on Thursday, he momentarily voted no — by mistake.

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Senate approves landmark healthcare overhaul

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The Senate approved President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare overhaul on Thursday, backing sweeping changes in the medical insurance market and new coverage for tens of millions of uninsured Americans.

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Military to scrap pregnancy punishment

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The U.S. military in Iraq will scrap a policy early next year that has led to the punishment of some soldiers serving in Iraq for becoming pregnant, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said on Thursday.

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Blizzard warnings for central U.S. before Christmas

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A wide-reaching winter storm with heavy snow and strong winds blasted the central United States for a second day on Thursday, leading weather officials to issue blizzard warnings a day before Christmas.

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