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 Google and Microsoft stand with Sony against hackers

Google and Microsoft joined forces with Sony on Wednesday, using their online might to release "The Interview" film to online audiences despite threats from hackers.

 Polanski denied chance to close US rape case

 A Los Angeles judge refused Wednesday to reopen the case of filmmaker Roman Polanski, who pleaded guilty in 1977 to raping a 13-year-old but left the United States before sentencing.

 Facebook teams with NFL to score with online video

Facebook said Thursday it had teamed with the National Football League to show ad-sponsored video clips at the leading social network.

The move comes as Facebook tries to tackle a multi-billion-dollar television advertising realm seen as ripe for disruption by Internet technology.

"This is a small video sponsorship test, and we will be evaluating how people, publishers, and marketers respond to this kind of co-branded video content on Facebook," the Silicon Valley-based social network said in an email reply to an AFP inquiry.

 Genes linked to developmental disorders

British scientists said today that they had discovered 12 genes linked to developmental disorders in children that can cause heart defects, seizures and intellectual disability.

Blackpool appeal for Ranger to return

Controversial striker Nile Ranger has gone missing and his Championship club Blackpool have not seen him for two weeks, manager Lee Clark said on Wednesday.

Former Newcastle and Swindon player Ranger is in London, Clark believes, but he has been unable to contact the 23-year-old, who is absent without leave.

Clark told Blackpool newspaper The Gazette: "If anyone can let us know where he is, send me a letter and we will go from there.

Football: Zola appointed as Cagliari boss

Serie A strugglers Cagliari have appointed club favourite Gianfranco Zola as their new coach, the club announced on Wednesday.

 Mexican family of 8 dead in suspected murder-suicide

A Mexican soldier is suspected of strangling his six children and beating his wife to death before hanging himself, authorities said Wednesday.

 Christmas pilgrims gather in Bethlehem after hard year

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

 The art (and pitfalls) of diplomatic gift-giving

Christmas shoppers who struggled to buy something for the man who has everything should spare a thought for those whose daily job is finding the right gift for the world`s most powerful leaders.

Forget Santa`s workshop in the North Pole -- year round the elves of the State Department`s busy protocol office have to select and wrap thoughtful gifts as an important symbol marking diplomatic visits.

They also have to log all the gifts presented to President Barack Obama, as well as Vice President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State John Kerry and their spouses.

 Ban Ki-moon condemns Jordan pilot kidnapping

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday expressed his "concern" over a Jordanian pilot captured by the Islamic State jihadist group after his plane went down in Syria.