While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Dec 24 edition

Sony streams North Korea comedy The Interview online

Entertainment giant Sony released The Interview – a movie that outraged North Korea by lampooning dictator Kim Jong-Un – online for US viewers on Wednesday.

The madcap comedy became available for rent in the United States from 1800 GMT (2am Singapore time on Dec 25) on several platforms, one day before its Christmas Day limited theatrical release.

It was to be distributed on Google’s YouTube for US$5.99 (S$7.92), on the Google Play app for Android devices, on a dedicated website, seetheinterview.com, and on Microsoft’s Xbox Video after a brief announcement from the studio.

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Pakistan to establish military courts for terrorism-related cases

Pakistani leaders have agreed to establish military courts for terrorism-related cases, after meeting to discuss a national plan of action following a deadly Taleban school attack, officials said Wednesday.

The parties met to chart out a plan to combat terrorism after the attack last week on a military-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar that killed 150 people, mostly schoolchildren.

The meeting also passed a unanimous resolution condemning the attack last Tuesday which was the deadliest in the history of the country.

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Christmas pilgrims gather in Bethlehem after hard year

Millions of Christians around the world began Christmas celebrations on Wednesday, with worshippers in the Middle East marking the occasion after a violence-plagued year that brought suffering to many.

The not-so-little West Bank town of Bethlehem was bustling with activity ahead of the biggest night of the year which will culminate in midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity built over the spot where Christians believe the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus.

But for many faithful across the region, the festivities will be tinged with sadness following a year of bloodshed marked by a surge in the persecution of Christians that has drawn international condemnation.

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Nigerian girl, 14, recounts would-be suicide bombing

A 14-year-old Nigerian girl who was arrested with explosives strapped to her body told journalists Wednesday that her parents volunteered her to take part in a suicide attack.

The girl, who was identified as Zahra'u Babangida, was arrested in Kano on Dec 10 following a double suicide bombing in a market that killed 10 people.

She was presented to journalists by police and instructed to recount how Islamist militants allegedly forced her to take part in the attack.

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Football: Balotelli not suited to Liverpool's style, says Rodgers

Mario Balotelli will return to Liverpool's squad for the festive programme but manager Brendan Rodgers was hardly effusive in his praise of the Italy's striker's credentials on Wednesday.

Balotelli, 24, has struggled to make an impact at Anfield since his £16 million (S$33 million) move from AC Milan in August, managing two goals in 15 games, while his off-field antics have also made headlines.

At his pre-match news conference Rodgers welcomed mercurial Balotelli'a return for a busy holiday programme, starting with a trip to lowly Burnley on Friday, but suggested the former Manchester City player is not suited to Liverpool's style.

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