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French President Makes Trip to Ebola-Affected Nation


ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images(CONAKRY, Guinea) -- French President Francois Hollande traveled to Guinea on Friday, making him the first Western leader to travel to an Ebola-affected nation.

Hollande made the trip to get a first-hand look at the conditions in Guinea and to declare the international community's "duty" to support the nation, according to his website. Upon arrival, Hollande told reporters that he wanted to "salute the organizations that are dedicated to treating the Guinean people."

Hollande met with Guinean President Alpha Conde, promising to continue providing support for the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

According to his website, Hollande will visit the Pasteur Institute at Donka Hospital in Conakry and take part in a round table on the international response to Ebola. Later on Friday, the French President will hold a joint press conference with President Conde, take part in a reception in honor of Guinea's French community, and meet with French medical staff working in Guinea.

Hollande will then spend the weekend in Senegal for a summit of French-speaking nations.

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Dozens Killed in Explosion at Nigeria Mosque


Pontuse/iStock/Thinkstock(KANO, Nigeria) -- Dozens were killed or wounded in an attack on a Nigerian mosque.

According to BBC News, the attack took place during Friday prayers. No group immediately took responsibility for the attack.

Gunfire and three explosions were reported, according to BBC News.

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US Forces Conduct 16 Airstrikes in Iraq, Syria


pablographix/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. military forces conducted 16 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria between Wednesday and Friday.

According to U.S. Central Command, just two of those strikes took place in Syria -- one near Kobani and one near Aleppo. Those strikes struck one ISIS fighting position, a staging area and a tactical unit. Assisting U.S. forces in those strikes were forces from Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The strikes in Iraq destroyed five ISIS bunkers, 12 ISIS vehicles, a bulldozer, two fighting positions, an armored vehicle and a heavy weapon, while striking an ISIS-occupied building, a large unit, seven tactical units and two units.

Forces from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the U.K. took part in the strikes within Iraq.

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US-Style Black Friday Lands in the UK With ‘Predictable’ Chaos


iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- U.S.-style Black Friday has hit British shores with an unprecedented force, even resulting in a few arrests and a shopper’s broken wrist.

Tens of thousands of shoppers flocked to the malls and the main streets across the country to bag a bargain on a day that has become increasingly popular there in recent years. The big rush apparently caught many of the stores off guard, so, unsurprisingly, the resulting chaos this morning included some stampeding shoppers climbing over each other to get their hands on items, as well as occasional violence.

Police in the north of the U.K. were reportedly called to a Tesco store to restore calm, tweeting, "at least two people arrested at #BlackFriday sales events already this morning. Keep calm people!’’

Giant retailer Tesco said only a "small number" of stores were affected, according to the BBC.

But Sir Peter Fahy, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, said in a statement, "The events of last night were totally predictable and I am disappointed that stores did not have sufficient security staff on duty,’’ adding, "This created situations where we had to deal with crushing, disorder and disputes between customers.

Almost 200 shoppers refused to leave one store even though they were warned that all their stock had been sold, according to the BBC. Fights erupted with one man threatening to “smash a staff members face in," police said.

A shopper described to the BBC how Black Friday frenzy began Thursday night at one store: "I looked at the massive crowd to see people climbing over shelves and displays, staff running for cover, fights breaking out, stock flying through air, people breaking through carrying televisions - and this was before the sale had even started."

Some people who did not want to venture into the chaotic stores instead tried their luck online. But to no avail, when some of the main retailers’ websites crashed from the rush of shoppers trying to purchase goods electroniacally.

Retailers are banking on Black Friday being their biggest shopping day this year in the U.K., with credit card companies such as Visa hoping people will spend more than $800 million on cards alone. And they are also predicting that the spending spree will continue through the weekend and into Cyber Monday with some estimating the weekend will generate at least $2.6 billion.

As for Friday’s commotion, The Greater Manchester Police Department listed several incidents to which it has responded in Tesco stores there:

-“At 11:34 p.m. on Thursday 27th November 2014, officers were called to Tesco Central Park, Wigan after reports of several hundred people trying to enter the store. Two men were ejected before control was regained.

-Officers were also called to Tesco on Ashton Road West at 11:40 p.m. yesterday, after more than 500 people attended the store.

-The Tesco store at Ellesmere Shopping Centre in Walkden was closed down after a crowd of more than 500 people attended. Shoppers were asked to leave.

-The Tesco Extra in Stretford was closed after fights broke out between shoppers trying to get their hands on sale stock. A woman suffered minor injuries after being hit by a falling television and an ambulance was called. The store was closed at 12:36 a.m., just over half an hour after the sales event started.

-Shortly after 1:05 a.m. on Friday 28th November 2014, police were called to Tesco on Woodrow Way, Salford. One man was arrested on suspicion of assault after his conduct in store was challenged by staff. He threatened to “smash” a staff member’s face in.

-At 12:40 a.m. on Thursday, officers were called to Tesco Extra on Barton Road, Middleton, following reports that around 200 people would not leave, despite being told stock had all gone. Doors had been locked but they refused to leave. No arrests were made.

-Shortly after 12:05 am on Friday, police called to Tesco Extra on Stockport Road, Hattersley, following reports of fighting in store. Approximately 300 people were present in store and staff were advised to close. One man was arrested for a public order offense.”

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How Syrian Electronic Army Pulled Off Thanksgiving Day Hacks


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Syrian Electronic Army re-emerged Thanksgiving Day to pull off a minor but annoying hack via a U.S. firm.

The pro-Syrian government collective of hackers was able to pull off a hack on several Western media outlets and retailers Thursday by targeting Gigya, a U.S. firm that connects businesses to customers via social media.

Among the websites that said they were affected were the Dallas Morning News, the Boston Globe and the Daily News in New York. Several retailers were also reportedly briefly affected by the hack, which greeted users with the pop-up message, "You've been hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)."

CEO Patrick Salyer of Mountain View, California-based Gigya Inc., which is contracted by more than 700 companies, said in a blog post the company "identified sporadic failures with access to our service” on Thanksgiving morning.

Salyer said hackers were able to reroute traffic from Gigya's website to an outside server, allowing them to place the pop-up message on various websites.

Despite the minor annoyance, Salyer wrote, "neither Gigya’s platform itself nor any user, administrator or operational data has been compromised and was never at risk of being compromised. Rather, the attack only served other JavaScript files instead of those served by Gigya."

The problem of traffic being rerouted was resolved about one hour after Gigya detected the breach, Salyer said.

A Twitter account belonging to the Syrian Electronic Army took responsibility for the breach.

 

Happy thanks giving, hope you didn't miss us! The press: Please don't pretend #ISIS are civilians. #SEA pic.twitter.com/ZXzMWbXoYp

— SyrianElectronicArmy (@Official_SEA16) November 27, 2014


The pro-Syrian government hacking collective, which was most active between 2011 and 2013, has claimed responsibility for a number of high-profile cyberattacks on major Western media outlets.

The group hacked numerous Western media outlet last year, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. The group also caused mayhem when it briefly took overTthe Associated Press Twitter account and sent out a tweet claiming there were explosions at the White House and the president had been injured.

The fake tweet created enough anxiety to send U.S. stocks tumbling.

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Australia Brightens With Record-Setting Christmas Lights Display


iStock/Thinkstock(CANBERRA, Australia) -- Christmas will certainly be a bit brighter in Australia this year, thanks to a lawyer who has put together a record-setting Christmas light extravaganza at a shopping center in the country down under.

David Richards, who’s from the capital city of Canberra, has continued the classic Christmas tradition of stringing lights, but with 1,194,380 of them in his case, setting the record for the biggest, LED light depiction, according to Guinness World Records.

“Christmas lights really get people into the festive spirit," Richards told Guinness. "We decorated our home for years, and people came from everywhere to see our lights. This year, who knows how many people will come along?"

Canberra's Petrie Plaza now features a 3-D image constructed of lights covering more than 41,000 square feet in the shape of three large, Christmas presents tied together. The exhibit trumps the previous record set by Oltin yo’l GTL in 2012 in Shuran, Uzbekistan, using 1,012,840 lights, according to the Guinness website.

Richards and his family are using the exhibit to continue another tradition of raising funds for SIDS and Kids ACT, a charity dedicated to preventing sudden and unexpected deaths in children age 6 and younger and one the Richards have supported after it helped them through a loss they suffered in 2002.

“We have architects, civil engineers, tradies, construction companies, sound engineers... all volunteering and donating goods and services, as well as wonderful sponsors including Canberra CBD Limited, Luton Properties, BLOC and the Canberra Centre,” Richards told Guinness, adding that it took months of planning.

Richards is not a new addition to the Guinness Book, having set a different record last year when he decorated his home using 502,165 Christmas lights. He also held the same record in 2011.

He and his family throughout the years have raised over $200,000 for SIDS and Kids ACT.

Guinness did not immediately return calls for comment.

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Pope Says Turkey Has Responsibility to Promote Peace in the Region


iStock/Thinkstock(ANKARA, Turkey) -- Pope Francis praised Turkey for welcoming hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria and Iraq, but said the rest of the world has a moral obligation to do more to help.
 
In a speech alongside Turkish President Recep Erdogan during the pope’s three-day visit to the country, the Catholic leader said that Turkey has a great responsibility to promote peace in the region, which is wracked with civil war in Syria and the advance of Islamic militants in Iraq.
 
The pope repeated his assertion from the spring that it’s legitimate to stop an unjust aggressor through force within the confines of international law.

But, he said a military response is not the sole answer. He called for commitment to dialogue and a concerted global effort to the fight hunger, poverty, and sickness.

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Attack Rocks Diplomatic Neighborhood in Kabul


MatthewBrosseau/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Hours after an attack on a British embassy vehicle in Kabul killed at least five people, a second explosion ripped through a diplomatic neighborhood of Kabul.

The Afghan Deputy Interior Minister said that three suicide attackers were involved in the second explosion. One detonated explosives and the other two were killed by Afghan national security forces.

The deputy minister said that the attackers attempted to enter a foreigner's guest house but were foiled. One guard was injured, but no one other than the attackers were killed, the deputy minister said.

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Soccer Legend Pele Hospitalized with Infection


Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Getty Images(SAO PAOLO, Brazil) -- Soccer legend Pele remains in a Sao Paolo hospital on Thursday with an infection.

According to a medical bulletin from the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, Pele was admitted on Monday for evaluation. It was later determined that the soccer star has a urinary tract infection that required intravenous antibiotics.

The hospital on Wednesday said that Pele was in stable condition. He had previously stayed at the same hospital following surgery to remove kidney stones earlier this month, according to The Guardian.

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Australian Cricket Player Dies After 'Freak Accident'


Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images(SYDNEY, Australia) -- Phillip Hughes, the Australian cricket player who was struck in the head or neck by a ball on Tuesday died Thursday.

In a statement released by Cricket Australia, team doctor Peter Brukner said that Hughes "never regained consciousness following his injury."

"He was not in pain when he passed and was surrounded by his family and close friends," Brukner added. Hughes sustained his injury while playing for South Australia. While he was batting, a delivery bounced and struck Hughes in the area of his neck and head, requiring surgery. After surgery, he received treatment in intensive care.

"The word tragedy gets used far too often in sport," said Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland, "but this freak accident is now a real-life tragedy. Just shy of his 26th birthday, Phillip has been taken from us far too young."

A two-day test match between Cricket Australia and India scheduled for Friday and Saturday has been cancelled.

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At Least Five Killed, 30 Injured in Afghanistan Attack on British Embassy Vehicle


Photo by Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- At least five people were killed and 30 injured in an attack on a British Embassy vehicle in Kabul on Thursday.

United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Philip Hammon confirmed the attack, announcing the death of a British national civilian security team member and an Afghan national working for the Embassy. A second British member of the security team was injured in the attack.

"I condemn this appalling attack on innocent civilians supporting our diplomatic activity," Hammond said. "This outrage brings home to us once again the courage and perseverance of the people of Afghanistan and members of the international community who support them, who have lived together through decades of conflict."

BBC News reports that three other Afghans were killed and at least 30 more were injured in the attack.

"We will not allow such inhumanity to deter us from continuing our partnership with the Government of Afghanistan," Hammond vowed. "I have nothing but admiration for the staff of the Embassy, British and Afghan, who work at great personal risk to help build a better future for Afghanistan."

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Egypt Temporarily Opens Border Crossing into Gaza


iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing into Gaza on Wednesday for the first time in over a month.

More than 3,500 Gazans stranded on the Egyptian side are expected to come home on Wednesday and Thursday.

Egypt closed the border after suspicions that Hamas helped terrorists in Sinai carry out a deadly attack last month that left more than 30 Egyptian security officers dead.  

Palestinian leaders are calling on Egypt to extend the border opening beyond just two days, saying Gazans not only need to come home, they need to go into Egypt for medical and professional reasons.

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Special Ops Team Frees Al Qaeda Hostages from Yemeni Cave in Raid


PeterHermesFurian/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A team of U.S. special operations forces conducted a joint raid in a remote region of Yemen Tuesday to rescue eight hostages being held in a cave by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Elements of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six participated in the daring pre-dawn raid in a remote region near the border with Saudi Arabia.

A U.S. official confirmed that about two dozen U.S. special operations forces and a team of Yemeni counterterrorism troops conducted a raid early Tuesday morning near the border with Saudi Arabia that rescued six Yemenis, a Saudi and an Ethiopian. It was unclear how long the hostages had been held by the al Qaeda affiliate.

Another U.S. official told ABC News that elements of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six participated in the raid. SEAL Team Six is the elite special operations unit involved in high-risk missions including the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The U.S. official said the special operations team was inserted into the remote border region by helicopter then made its way to a cave where the hostages were rescued after a firefight that killed seven al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters. The teams then evacuated the area by helicopter.

On Tuesday, the Yemeni government confirmed the raid in Hadhramaut Province but said only Yemeni counterterrorism forces had participated. The U.S. participation in the rescue was first reported by The New York Times.

Pentagon officials referred questions about the raid to Yemeni authorities on Tuesday.

“I would just tell you we continue to support Yemeni counterterrorism efforts and would refer you to them to talk to any operations,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters at a Pentagon briefing.

For several years, the U.S. military’s elite Joint Special Operations Command has conducted drone strikes against AQAP targets inside Yemen.

This raid could be the first known instance where American forces have conducted a ground raid inside Yemen.

The Yemeni government has authorized the American military drone strikes, though it has painted them as airstrikes conducted by Yemen’s air force.

Yemen has been beset in recent months by sectarian battles, as a Shiite rebel group from northern Yemen known as the Houthi has battled the Yemeni government for more autonomy. The group has taken over parts of the capital of Sanaa and attempted to recapture territory in the southern part of the country controlled by AQAP.

The violence in the capital has led to the occasional downsizing of U.S. embassy personnel in Sanaa.

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Queen Elizabeth Offers Warm Welcome to Guests with Help from Heater


Chris Jackson/Getty Images(LONDON) -- She may possess a vast fortune and masterpieces on her wall, but that doesn't mean she's not frugal when it comes to heating costs.

Queen Elizabeth was presented Wednesday with a lifetime achievement award for her devotion to equestrian sport by Princess Haya of Jordan at Buckingham Palace -- but it was her electric heater insider her ornate fireplace that got some attention.

The small heater has garnered notice in the past.

Last year, The Express newspaper reported on the heater, saying, "It is just the heater you might find in any student bedsitter. But despite her...personal fortune, the 86-year-old monarch is as cost-conscious as any other pensioner."

No word on whether Princess Haya noticed the small heater.

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US Military Launches 17 Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria, Iraq


iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- The U.S. military continued its attack against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets in Iraq and Syria this week, conducting 17 more airstrikes on Nov. 24-26.

According to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), 10 of the strikes were in Syria, near Kobani. They destroyed four staging areas and six fighting positions, and hit a fighting position, a large unit and two tactical units.

In Iraq, the remaining seven airstrikes destroyed a bulldozer, two vehicles, three buildings and a fighting position, and struck a large unit near Mosul; destroyed a tank, a HMMWV and a vehicle, and hit two units near Kirkuk; destroyed a HMMWV and a vehicle near Sinjar; damaged a checkpoint near Ramadi; destroyed a vehicle and damaged another near Bayji.

CENTCOM said all the aircraft used in the attacks managed to exit the areas safely.

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