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  • Hack of War?    11:55am ET 

Rebuffing President Obama, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sunday suggested that North Korea's cyberattack on Sony Pictures was indeed an act of war.

"The president does not understand that this is a manifestation of a new form of warfare," McCain said on CNN's State of the Union. "When you destroy economies, when you are able to impose censorship on the world and especially the United States of America, it's more than vandalism."

Earlier in the program, Obama told CNN the attack was not an act of war but rather "an act of cybervandalism that was very costly."--Jon Terbush

 
  • Watch this    11:39am ET 

Dr. Evil is a bumbling wannabe super villain, but even he thinks North Korea is failing at this whole evildoer business.

Former Saturday Night Live star Mike Myers returned to the show this weekend in the character of his Austin Powers bad guy, hijacking the broadcast to deliver an important message: "I've preempted this program because I'm furious that North Korea and Sony Pictures have given evil a bad name." --Jon Terbush

 
  • Watch this    11:16am ET 

The tension between New York City police and Mayor Bill de Blasio reached a new low point Saturday when members of the police force symbolically turned their backs on the mayor as he arrived for a press conference to discuss the murder of two police officers.

The spat began when de Blasio, responding to a grand jury's decision to not bring charges in the Eric Garner chokehold case, said police sometimes treat people differently because of their race. Outraged and feeling as if they'd been thrown under the bus, officers then threatened to ban the mayor from police funerals.

Following Saturday's shooting, the head of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association, Pat Lynch, said there was "blood on the hands" of de Blasio and others at city hall. And when de Blasio arrived for a press conference, many officers turned away from him. --Jon Terbush

 
  • This just in    10:12am ET 
Dan Kitwood / Getty Images
Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

A regional Al Qaeda branch on Sunday condemned the Taliban's slaughter last week of 149 Pakistanis at a school in Peshawar.

"Our hearts are bursting with pain and grief over this incident," Osama Mehmood, a spokesman for the group's South Asia chapter, said. While reaffirming its opposition to the U.S. and Pakistan, the group added that the attack — which resulted in the death of 132 students — had "crossed the limit."

Pakistani security forces on Saturday said they killed five members of the Taliban in the area.

 
  • Hackers    9:26am ET 
Christopher Polk / Getty Images
Christopher Polk / Getty Images

President Obama on Sunday said the U.S. would weigh whether to add North Korea to its list of state sponsors of terror, though he stopped short of calling the Sony Pictures cyberattack an act of war.

"I think it was an act of cyber vandalism that was very costly, very expensive," Obama said on CNN's State of the Union. "We take it very seriously. We will respond proportionately."

The federal government last week confirmed speculation that North Korea was behind the attack. Days earlier, Sony decided to nix a buddy comedy that had been scheduled for a Christmas release about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

 
  • RIP    7:53am ET 
Spencer Platt / Getty Images
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

A lone gunman on Saturday shot and killed two New York City police officers in Brooklyn before taking his own life in an armed standoff.

The shooter, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, is believed to have killed his ex-girlfriend near Baltimore earlier Saturday before heading north and vowing on social media to kill police officers, too. Police said Brinsley killed officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos while they sat in a squad car — possibly before they even had time to draw weapons — and then fled into a nearby subway station where he shot himself.

Police Commissioner William Bratton called the attack an assassination, saying the officers were "targeted for their uniform and for the responsibility they embraced to keep the people of this city safe." The shooting comes at a time of heightened tension in the city between police and the general public following the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases.

 
  • eyes on russia    December 20 
Hannah Peters/Getty Images
Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin said new sanctions from the European Union and United States were put in place, "just for the mere fact that we exist."

"Obviously, no one will succeed in intimidating us, to deter, to isolate Russia," he added in remarks reported by Reuters.

The U.S. and EU both instated tighter sanctions against Crimean investments this week, and Canada has redoubled its own sanctions against Moscow. Russia's economy is on tenuous ground; plummeting global oil prices, combined with the sanctions, have caused the ruble to lose more than 40 percent of its year-to-date value. Experts anticipate a recession to grip the country by early 2015.

But the Kremlin did not back down in its most recent statements.

"It is sad that the countries which call themselves democratic resort to such methods in the 21st century," a ministry statement read on Saturday. "Meanwhile, we will work on retaliatory measures."

 
  • Changing it up    December 20 
Facebook.com/Miss World 2014
Facebook.com/Miss World 2014

Saying that the Miss World pageant should be focused more on "outreach, and what a woman could do with a title like Miss World," the organization announced that future pageants will not include a swimsuit round.

"It isn't the path they're trying to take," Chris Wilmer, the national director of Miss World America, told ABC News. "It's not just a beauty contest, it's 'beauty with a purpose.' There didn't seem to be a purpose to have the swimsuit."

The pageant plans to replace the bikini round with a "beachwear round," instead, which Wilmer described as "more of a fashion competition." The 64th Miss World pageant was held on Dec. 14 in London, so it now marks the final competition that included swimsuits.

 
  • Really? Really.    December 20 
iStock
iStock

That's cold, Siberia.

Tax collectors in Russia have apparently discovered a good way to get people to pay off their debts — by threatening to seize their cats, BBC News reports. Local news sources have reported on several instances in which the felines were eyed as collateral when their owners refused to pay up.

In Novosibirsk, a student reportedly owed about $200 in unpaid taxes, and bailiffs arrived to seize anything of value. They couldn't find anything, except for the man's British Shorthair cat and its kittens.

"Because the animals are pedigree and expensive, the representative of the law decided to place the cat brood under arrest," a statement from the region's court marshal's service read.

The man paid up, his cats were returned, and the bailiffs headed out, off to search for the next collateral kitty.

 
  • Discoveries    December 20 

Just in time for the holidays!

Israeli archeologists have excavated a grand, arched entryway that led to Herod the Great's Jerusalem palace, NBC News reports. King Herod, who appears in the Bible's story of Jesus' birth, apparently did not use the unearthed corridor much; archeologists think the entryway was back-filled when the palace was turned into a burial monument to the late king.

(Facebook.com/The Herodium Expedition at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

(Facebook.com/The Herodium Expedition at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem)


In addition to the corridor, archeologists also discovered a fresco-decorated vestibule, along with secret tunnels. The Israeli government says it hopes to turn the newly unearthed site into a tourist destination, where visitors can enter the palace, "in the same way that Herod entered it 2,000 years ago."

 
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