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Sexual assault protests ... Syrian airstrike ... Powerball jackpot now $900 million

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BERLIN (AP) — Hundreds of anti-Islam demonstrators and leftwing counter-protesters took to the streets of Cologne, Germany. The gathering was in response to a string of New Year's Eve sexual assaults and robberies in the city blamed largely on foreigners. Police kept the two groups apart. Earlier, hundreds of women's rights activists rallied outside Cologne's landmark cathedral.

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — The Syrian government says it's ready to attend this month's peace talks with the opposition in Geneva. Meanwhile, a new airstrike in the north of the country has killed and wounded scores of people, including many militants. One activist group says the raid killed 39 people, while another group puts the figure at 51.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Local and federal authorities in Philadelphia have been trying to verify the motive of a suspect accused of ambushing a police officer. Police say Edward Archer has confessed to firing a hail of bullets at Officer Jesse Hartnett, who was wounded in the attack. Archer is said to have told investigators he did it for Allah and the Islamic State group.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A sickening stench from an out-of-control natural gas leak has driven thousands of residents from an upscale community in the Los Angeles area. The 11-week leak has spewed massive amounts of methane and is blamed for headaches, nausea and nosebleeds. Southern California Gas Co. doesn't expect the leak to be contained until March.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Just hours before tonight's drawing, the Powerball jackpot has increased to $900 million. Lottery officials say a single winner would have the option of being paid $900 million through annual payments over 29 years or opting for a $558 million lump-sum cash payout. Officials say that if no one wins today, the next jackpot will be ... $1.3 billion.

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