Man kills 2 firefighters in New York


At least two firefighters died and two more were wounded when they were shot while responding to a fire in a small town in upstate New York, media reports said.

The incident occurred at about 5:30 a.m. in Webster, outside Rochester, when an armed man opened fire in front of a burning building that the firefighters were trying to extinguish, the Daily News said.

The suspected gunman was found dead outside the building, according to Webster police chief Gerald Pickering in remarks to reporters collected by The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

One of the two wounded firemen is recovering satisfactorily in a Rochester hospital but, for the moment, the condition of the other firefighter is not known, a hospital spokesman told CNN.




Rihanna donates $1.75 mn to hospital in Barbados


Singer Rihanna has donated $1.75 million to a hospital in Barbados in memory of her grandmother Clara "Dolly" Braithwaite, who died in June, U.S. media reports said.

The 24-year-old singer visited the hospital Saturday with her mother, Monica Fenty, and her grandma's husband, Lionel, E! News said.

The donation from the Barbados-born artist will go to the radiation department at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown, which will be renamed the Clara Braithwaite Centre for Oncology and Nuclear Medicine.




Shootouts leave 7 police, gunman dead in western Mexico


At least eight people, including seven police officers, were killed and eight others wounded in three shootouts involving police and drug cartel gunmen on the border of Jalisco and Michoacan states in western Mexico, officials said.

The shootouts occurred on Sunday, Michoacan Attorney General's Office and security officials told Efe.




India and Russia sign arms deals worth $3 bn


India and Russia signed a dozen accords in New Delhi in such areas as defense - with the delivery to India of war materiel worth some $3 billion - and the promotion of direct investment between the two countries.

At a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia promised to deliver 71 helicopters of the Mi-17V-5 model - 12 more than agreed to in 2010 - and 42 Su-30MKI fighters to be assembled in India, the IANS news agency reported.

After the meeting, Singh said in a communique that another principal point discussed in the meeting with Putin was the possible construction of two new nuclear reactors in the southern Indian town of Kudankulam.

For Singh, the development of the nuclear energy program is a "key pillar" in the bilateral relations between both countries, and said that, with the first two units almost completed, there has been "great progress" in the construction of another two.




China's capital deals with coldest temps in 25 years


The cold wave chilling most of China these days has set records for low temperatures in several regions of the country, notably in the capital city of Beijing that registered a low of minus 15 degrees C (5 degrees F), very close to its all-time record of minus 15.2 C (4.6 F) in 1985, the Chinese national weather service said.

A dozen provincial capitals were hit with temperatures colder than 10 C below zero (14 F), while an area in the autonomous region of Xinjiang in northwestern China plunged to a low of minus 49 C (minus 56 F).




Spain's King Juan Carlos discusses economic crisis in Christmas message


Spain's King Juan Carlos defended the idea of making austerity compatible with economic growth and emphasized that the country is "part of the solution to the global crisis."

In his traditional televised Christmas address, which this year was broadcast for the first time on the Royal Household's online channel on YouTube, the king devoted a large portion of his remarks to reflecting on the "serious economic crisis" Spain is experiencing.

After emphasizing that Spaniards are going through "one of the most difficult periods" in the country's recent history, he said that "today's sacrifices will guarantee tomorrow's well-being in a reasonable period of time, such that the protection of social rights may be ensured."




Afghan police officer kills 5 companions in their beds


At least five Afghan police officers died when a fellow officer opened fire on them as they were sleeping at a control post in the northern province of Jawzjan, a police source told Efe.

The attack occurred around 5 a.m. (0030 GMT) in the Qush Tepa district, according to the head of the provincial police, Abdul Aziz Ghairat, who added that the shooter was an "undercover Taliban."

"According to our investigation, (the attacker fled to) the Taliban after the incident," the source added.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the deed in the name of the insurgent movement.




Woman wearing Afghan police uniform kills U.S. civilian


A woman wearing an Afghan police uniform in Kabul shot to death a U.S. contractor working with NATO forces in this country, a government official told Efe.

According to the spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, Hagen Messer, the contractor was murdered in the police headquarters in Kabul.

He said that after the incident the woman was arrested and she is now in police custody.