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Patriotism and laughter...Pope condemns indifference...Helping hands

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NEW YORK (AP) — It may not be nominated for Academy Awards but "The Interview" is proving popular with those who have seen the film today at several hundred independent theaters. Sony decided to release it today despite the decision of major theater chains not to show it because of terror threats from hackers. That prompted criticism from the White House to Hollywood. The film, which spoofs North Korea's leader, is also available on digital platforms.

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Iraq and Turkey have been talking today about cooperating against the threat posed by the Islamic State group. Iraq's prime minister visited the Turkish capital -- and said he had requested intelligence-sharing and the possible delivery of Turkish arms to Iraqi forces.

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has prayed for the comfort of the families of the children killed in last week's massacre at a military school in Pakistan. In his Christmas Day speech to a crowd in St. Peter's square, the pontiff spoke of the suffering of children around the world. And while much of his message concerned poor countries, Francis had harsh words for some in affluent nations. He prayed for an end to the hardened hearts and indifference.

COLUMBIA, Miss. (AP) — Some volunteers have spent part of their Christmas Day clearing debris in Columbia, Mississippi. A tornado swept through the area two days ago, killing four people. Officials say all power in the town has now been restored.

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (AP) — Donors have given a huge Christmas gift to the surviving relatives of a Maryland mother and her two young sons who were killed when a jet crashed into their home earlier this month. WRC-TV in Washington reports that a family friend collected between 500 and 600 gifts and gift cards totaling $12,000 to $15,000 for the family of Marie Gemmell. An online fundraiser for the family on the site, meanwhile, has topped more than $485,000.

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