Pope: Vatican admin is sick

POPE FRANCIS: "The Curia is called on to always improve itself and grow in communion, holiness and knowledge to fulfill its mission."

3:49 AM  Pope Francis issues a blistering critique of the Vatican bureaucracy that serves him.

Princess Cristina to stand trial

FACING TAX CHARGES: Spain's Princess Cristina arrives at the courthouse of Palma de Mallorca in Palma Mallorca, Spain.

3:46 AM  Cristina de Borbon, sister of Spain's King Felipe VI, is to stand trial on tax fraud charges.

Gunman's body released

Man Haron Monis

If no one claims the Sydney siege gunman's body, the state will pay for a destitute's burial.

Tensions high after killings video

Volunteer EMTs talk about the ambulance that responded to the officers' slaying in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York.

Critics blame NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and his aggressive efforts to reform police for the murders.

Farewell for siege victims

Katrina Dawson, Tori Johnson

Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson will both be honoured in Sydney on Tuesday.

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australia

Santa and his helpers save a life

Life-saving Santa team: Bill Rowles, Nick Carey and Grant Morgan outside theTelarah fire station in Maitland.

Santa has already given a NSW man the best present – he saved his life.

Gunman's partner jailed

Woman accused of stabbing and setting fire to Sydney siege gunman's ex-girlfriend has bail revoked.

Call to decriminalise drugs

Abbott's win for women

americas

Tensions high after cop killings video

Volunteer EMTs talk about the ambulance that responded to the officers' slaying in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York.

Critics blame NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and his aggressive efforts to reform police for the murders.

'I do not condone killing'

Black Lives Matter protesters distance the budding movement from killing of NYPD officers.

Double amputee Les Baugh

Prosthetics for double amputee video

Man who lost both his arms 40 years ago has been fitted with a pair of prosthetics he can control with his mind.

europe

Best of the worst

MAN OF THE YEAR?: Russian President Vladimir Putin remains popular with his constituents, if not with the rest of the world.

It's a time for reflection, much of it packaged in high and lowlights of the year.

Facebook blocks Putin critic

Social network bows to pressure page protesting the imprisonment of anti-corruption blogger.

SILENT NIGHT: British and German soldiers together on the battlefield near Ploegsteert, Belgium during December 1914.

Christmas in wartime

Sounds of a German Christmas carol suddenly drifted across the frigid air: "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht".

middle east

Cheers as IS mountain siege broken gallery video

Life on Mount Sinjar.

Children cheered and the Iraqi Kurdish flag fluttered as minority Yazidis trapped by the Islamic State on a mountain see the end of their siege.

Aus drops 100 bombs in Iraq

Australian combat aircraft operating over Iraq have dropped more than 100 bombs, each striking an Islamic State target.

Texan Mark Oberholtzer's old work truck ... Jihadists from Ansar al-Deen Front fight Syrian goverment forces near Aleppo, Syria.

Texas plumber's truck in jihad

A Texas plumber has no idea how his old work truck ended up in the hands of Islamists in Syria.

asia

Taking on Disneyland

LIT UP: The Han Show is marketed as a "stage spectacle considered the most ambitious in the world".

Chinese property mogul looks to take on Disney in his own backyard, opening rival theme parks.

Monkey won't give up on buddy video

The moment a monkey brought another monkey back to life - and the tension-filled 20 minutes the revival took - have been caught on video.

A makeshift memorial for the victims of the school attack.

School shooting arrests

Authorities have made several arrests in the case of the Taliban school attack that killed 148 in the north-western city of Peshawar, officials said.

africa

IMF slowed Ebola response

A health worker wearing protective gear attends to a newly admitted suspected Ebola patient in a quarantine zone at a Red Cross facility in the town of Koidu, Sierra Leone.

International Monetary Fund policies have left healthcare systems in African countries underfunded.

Worst outbreak, Ebola death toll exceeds 7000

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7000, with the latest deaths in Sierra Leone.

Liberia, health workers and a dead body presenting with Ebola symptoms at Duwala market in Monrovia

Ebola overshadows election

Turnout for Liberian parliamentary elections appeared to be low as concerns about Ebola kept many voters at home.

south pacific

Priest co-ordinates pregnant woman's rescue on Facebook

Martin We-en posted this and other photos of Clara Sowei Manu to Facebook to organise a life-saving mission.

Martin We-en didn't need to pray for the youths and helicopter he needed to save a woman in labour.

Fiji drops sex-assault case

After a lengthy investigation, Fiji authorities won't prosecute resort employee accused of sexually assaulting girl staying in hotel with NZ family.

NORMALISING RELATIONS: Defence minister Gerry Brownlee, seen in a file photo, is in Suva for talks with his Fijian counterparts.

NZ rebuilds ties to Fiji

New Zealand is rebuilding defence ties to Fiji, with aerial surveillance and officer training set to resume early next year.

Video

Tensions high after cop killings

Critics blame NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and his aggressive efforts to reform police for the murders.