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Russia: US "losers"...Syrian cease-fire...Times Square security precautions

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HONOLULU (AP) — Russia is referring to U.S. officials as "losers" and is threatening retaliation for sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Thursday for hacking the U.S. presidential campaign. The sanctions include the expulsion of 35 Russian officials in the U.S. Two Russian compounds, one in New York and the other in Maryland, have been ordered closed. And sanctions have been imposed on Russian intelligence agencies and officials. The Obama administration has also released a detailed technical report of Russian cyber tactics. President Barack Obama also hinted that there could be a covert counterattack.

BEIRUT (AP) — If it holds, a Syrian cease-fire could lead to talks next month. It started early Friday and a human rights observer reported early calm. The truce was worked out by Russia and Turkey and is supported by mainstream rebel groups. Six years of war in Syria have left more than a quarter-million people dead and sparked a massive refugee crisis across Europe.

NEW YORK (AP) — Security steps for the New Year's Eve celebration in New York's Times Square include 20-ton sanitation trucks weighted with an extra 15 tons of sand. Sixty-five of the trucks, along with 10 patrol cars, will be placed at intersections surrounding Times Square. There will also be an army of police officers. Seven thousand will be on duty including armed counterterrorism units and bomb-sniffing dogs.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A co-chairman of Republican Donald Trump's New York presidential campaign who made a racist remark about the first lady and an insult about President Barack Obama has been asked to resign immediately from a school board. Millionaire developer Carl Paladino said he hoped Obama would die of mad cow disease and that Michelle Obama would live with a gorilla in Africa. In a special meeting Thursday, the Buffalo school board voted 6-2 to call for Paladino to step down within 24 hours or be removed by the state education commissioner. He has said he won't quit.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Court of Appeals has reversed the conviction of a motorized wheelchair user who had been found guilty of driving under the influence of intoxicants. The court said James Greene should have been considered a pedestrian when he entered a crosswalk in his wheelchair and struck the side of a moving pickup.

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