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Hostage situation in Sydney...Rescue operation in Saudi capital...Jeb Bush dropping hints

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SYDNEY (AP) — There's a hostage situation playing out in a cafe in Sydney, Australia, this morning. Police say they do not know exactly how many people the gunman is holding, but five have escaped. Also uncertain is the motive, but at one point two people inside the cafe were seen holding up a flag with an Islamic declaration of faith that has often been used by extremists.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Police in Saudi Arabia's capital say a rescue operation to free three laborers taken hostage by a gunman has left a member of the security forces dead. Riyadh police say the attacker armed with an assault rifle seized the workers Sunday evening near a mosque and opened fire when surrounded by police. He was eventually wounded and captured.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is set to deliver the commencement address at the University of South Carolina today. The appearance comes just weeks before Bush's self-imposed deadline to decide whether to run for president. It's Jeb Bush's second visit in three months to the state that will host the 2016 presidential primary season's first contest in the South. Bush has been dropping hints that he might run, telling a Miami television station over the weekend that he thinks he would be a good president.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California has received funding for a statewide earthquake warning system. The Los Angeles Times reports that Congress allocated $5 million for the program in the massive spending bill approved this weekend. Scientists have tried to make the public alert system available but funding has been a problem. Sen. Dianne Feinstein calls the $5 million "a down payment," adding "more funding is necessary to complete the system."

NEW YORK (AP) — Merriam-Webster's has picked its 2014 word of the year. The word is "culture." The selection was based on significant increases in lookups this year over last year on, along with spikes of concentrated interest. Oxford Dictionaries' chose "vape," which comes from the electronic cigarettes. And picked "exposure," during a time of tragedy and fear due to Ebola.

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