Taliban gunmen taunted school captives

Taliban gunmen who stormed a school in northwest Pakistan toyed with captive students by suggesting some could be let go before lining them up and gunning them down in front of their classmates.

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US-Cuba diplomatic breakthrough

President Barack Obama announces the US will end its sanctions on Cuba after 50 years and will move to normalise diplomatic relations.

Nick O'Malley 5:37 AM   Obama has opened the door to restoring full diplomatic relations with Cuba after 50 years of sanctions and embargo, announcing that the US would seek to open an embassy in the coming months.

EU backs resolution on Palestinian state

Palestine flag.

1:30 AM   The European Parliament has adopted a compromise motion that did not follow some European national legislatures in backing immediate recognition of a Palestinian state.

Pakistan buries students massacred at school

A girl's shoe lies on the floor in the bloodied ceremony hall where many students were executed.

Mehreen Zahra-Malik 6:29 AM   A tour of the school revealed a place shattered by hours of fighting, its floor slick with blood and walls pockmarked with bullet holes. 

Latest world news

New York state to ban fracking, Governor Andrew Cuomo says

Despite widespread fracking in the US, the process remains controversial.

Thomas Kaplan and Jesse Mckinley 9:05 AM   Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration announced Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York state because of concerns over health risks, ending years of uncertainty over the disputed method of natural gas extraction.

Los Angeles police to buy 7000 body cameras

Continuous record: Los Angeles Police Sergeant Dan Gomez demonstrates a video feed from his on-body camera into his mobile phone during a news conference in Los Angeles.

Max Ehrenfreund 7:20 AM   Los Angeles police, who addressed racism and corruption earlier than many other US police forces, are buying 7000 body cameras.

Exclusive US university mistakenly says 'yes' to hundreds of rejected applicants

A prestigious US university mistakenly sent an email telling hundreds of applicants they had been accepted.

Nick Anderson 7:08 AM   One of the United States' top universities mistakenly told applicants they had been accepted and later had to correct itself.

Church of England appoints its first woman bishop

Reverend Libby Lane is pictured during the announcement to name her first woman bishop by the Church of England, after a historic change in its rules.

9:54 PM   The Church of England appointed its first ever female bishop on Wednesday, overturning centuries of tradition in a Church that has been deeply divided over the issue.

North Korea ends three years' mourning for 'Dear Leader'

North Koreans gather in front of a portrait of their late leader Kim Il-sung, left, and Kim Jong-il, right.

Park Chan-Kyong 9:41 PM   North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has led tens of thousands of military and party officials in a ceremony to mark the end of three years of mourning for former supremo Kim Jong-il.

Sierra Leone to start house-to-house searches for Ebola patients

Travel restrictions and house-to-house searches for those in Sierra Leone.

9:20 PM   Sierra Leone said it would start house-to-house searches for Ebola patients on Wednesday and impose internal travel restrictions as part of a new push to combat the epidemic.

Napster co-founder donates millions for allergy research

Donating millions: Sean Parker.

Ariana Eunjung Cha 9:15 PM   Sean Parker of Napster fame is donating $24 million to create a new research institute at Stanford University with the mission of finding a cure - not just another treatment - for allergies.

Sydney siege: Iran 'requested extradition' of gunman in 2000

Killed by police: Man Haron Monis.

Megan Levy 9:03 PM   Iranian police had requested the extradition of Man Haron Monis, the gunman who was shot dead in the Martin Place siege, 14 years ago but Australian authorities refused to hand him over, according to Iran's police chief.

Fries shortage hits McDonald's in Japan

Do you want... um, something other than fries with that?

Anna Fifield 9:06 PM   Already reeling from a butter shortage, Japan is being buffeted by another food crisis: McDonald's is running out of french fries and will start rationing the crispy delicacy.

Layoffs begin at The New York Times as buyout volunteers fall short

<i>The New York Times</i>: More staff to go.

Ravi Somaiya 9:00 PM   The New York Times and its primary union said on Tuesday that the paper was laying off at least 21 employees because it had not received enough voluntary buyouts to cover newsroom budget cuts.

R&B star Ashanti cross-examined by convicted stalker

Ashanti leaving the court room on Tuesday.

James C McKinley Jr 8:53 PM   For a stalker, a courtroom is one of the few places one can come face to face with one's obsession.

Canberra children touch Pakistan's High Commissioner's heart

Pakistan High Commissioner to Australia, Naela Chohan.

Henry Belot 6:08 PM   Pakistan’s High Commissioner was moved to tears by a tribute from local children after the murder of more than 130 children in Peshawar.

Time for Pakistanis to unite and defeat this menace

Malala Yousafzai on the balcony of the Grand Hotel in Oslo, where she received her Nobel peace prize.

Jason Koutsoukis 5:01 PM   The attack clearly demonstrates the conflict at the heart of the Pakistani military and political establishment, half of which not only sympathises with the Taliban’s aims, but actively supports its activities.

Anguish, outrage in Pakistan after attack on school

Student Mohammad Baqir is comforted by his uncle after learning that his mother, a teacher at the school, was killed.

Tim Craig 4:27 PM   The mass targeting of children draws condemnation from across Pakistan's political spectrum - a rare display of unity in a country where Islamist violence is often quietly accepted.

Widespread fraud confirmed in Afghan presidential vote

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (centre) at a press conference in Kabul on December 10.

Joseph Goldstein 2:20 PM   A report by European election observers suggests that more than 2 million votes - about a quarter of those cast - in the Afghan presidential runoff came from polling stations with voting irregularities.

Child soldier numbers soar amid conflict in Central African Republic

A child soldier fighting for the Seleka movement in Central African Republic in March 2013.

Matt Wade 12:15 AM   The number of child soldiers recruited by armed groups in the Central African Republic have quadrupled since the outbreak of a bloody civil war two years ago.

How the Pakistani Taliban grew into a deadly force

One-time Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.

Carlotta Gall 11:39 AM   Ferocious fighters, the Pakistani Taliban are loosely aligned with other terrorist forces across Afghanistan and Pakistan. But who really are they and why do they shoot children?

New York Magazine’s $US72 million teenage stock trader Mohammed Islam says he made it all up

Damir Tulemaganbetov, left, with his friend Mohammed Islam in the office of public relations firm 5WPR.

Terrence McCoy 10:49 AM   Sixteen-year-old Mohammed Islam wants you to think he's a big shot. On his website, Ettaz Financial, he wears a pair of fogged-over glasses, expression serious, sporting a red tie on a snowy day.

What we learned from Guantanamo Bay and the torture archipelago

A US soldier at the Bagram prison in Afghanistan in November 2009.

Maher Mughrabi 10:44 AM   Whatever else may be said about him, George W. Bush displayed an uncanny knack for establishing the limits of our knowledge.

One dead, now only five northern white rhinos left in the world

Extinction looms: Angalifu, the northern white rhino that died recently.

Amy Hubbard 10:36 AM   The weekend death of the northern white rhino Angalifu, 44, leaves only five of his kind in the world.