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Christmas Eve in Bethlehem...Family rescued in Arizona...Finnish app no reindeer game


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BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — Thousands of pilgrims and tourists from around the world together with locals began Christmas Eve celebrations in Jesus' traditional birthplace of Bethlehem. The faithful braved chilly weather outside Manger Square in the biblical West Bank town as traditional Christmas songs like "Jingle Bells" played in Arabic over loudspeakers. One visitor from Louisville, Kentucky, says it's "very meaningful" to be in the place "where everything started."

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's president is commending his military for "crushing the remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents" in their forest hideaway in the country's northeast. President Muhammadu Buhari's victorious statement came as the Islamic State group claimed a successful attack on an army barracks in northeast Nigeria's Yobe state. Meanwhile, there are reports that the insurgents have been further to the south.

JACOB LAKE, Ariz. (AP) — Search crews have rescued a Pennsylvania family that got stranded in the snow on a forest road in northern Arizona. They had been trying to reach the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is closed for winter. The Coconino (koh-koh-NEE'-noh) County Sheriff's Office says the mother walked approximately 26 miles since Thursday afternoon in search of help. The father and the couple's 10-year-old son hiked to an area where they found cellphone service yesterday and called for help.

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — More than 54,000 people in the German city of Augsburg will have to leave their homes Christmas morning while authorities defuse a 1.8-ton aerial bomb from World War II. Police say it's impossible to say exactly how long it will take to make the bomb safe. Finding bombs from the war is not unusual in Germany.

ROVANIEMI, Finland (AP) — There's good news for Rudolph and his reindeer friends — an app is helping officials reduce the number of reindeer killed in traffic accidents in Finland. Some 300,000 reindeer freely wander the wilds of Lapland in Arctic Finland, and an estimated 4,000 are killed every year through road accidents. Most occur during the dark winter months when the animals are hard to spot. But a smartphone app called "Porokello," Finnish for "Reindeer Bell," allows drivers to tap their smartphone screens to register any reindeer spotted near roads. Using GPS technology, the app creates a 1-mile warning zone for the next hour.

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