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Black Sea search...Pope laments children's suffering...WWII Bomb defused in Germany



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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Russian emergency crews are aiming to work all night searching the Black Sea off Sochi for victims and plane debris after a Russian Tu-154 carrying 92 passengers and crew crashed this morning. The military plane had just taken from Sochi on its way to Syria. Among its passengers were members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, a world-famous Russian army choir who planned to perform at a New Year's concert at the Russian military base in Syria. Officials say investigators are considering all possible causes.

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis says Jesus' birth, in a humble stable, calls to mind how some children today must hide in underground bomb shelters, lie on the bottom of overcrowded smugglers' boats or are given weapons instead of toys. During Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Francis decried the suffering in Syria and other war zones, and urged Israelis and Palestinians to "write a new page of history, where hate and revenge give way" toward building a future of understanding and harmony.

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Explosives experts have defused a large World War II aerial bomb in Augsburg, Germany. Some 54,000 residents had to evacuate the southern German city before 10 a.m. this morning, ahead of the delicate operation. City police tweeted news that it was safe to return just before 7 p.m. local time.

CHICAGO (AP) — It'll be a white — but slick and messy — Christmas for the northern Plains and some Western states. National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Gust in Grand Forks, North Dakota, says most of the Dakotas and southwest Minnesota are turning into an "icy, slippery mess" thanks to freezing rain this morning that's expected change into snow as temperatures fall over the course of the day. His advice to would-be travelers in the region: "Stay put."

PITTSBURGH (AP) — It's not your typical NFL Sunday, with only two games on the schedule for Christmas. The Steelers can lock up the AFC North with a win over Baltimore this afternoon in Pittsburgh. Tonight, Kansas City can clinche a post-season spot with a win over Denver. The defending Super Bowl champion Broncos are in a must-win situation to keep their playoff chances alive.

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The Associated Press

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