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TMCNet:  AP Top News at 8:20 a.m. EST

[December 19, 2013]

AP Top News at 8:20 a.m. EST

(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Target: 40M card accounts may be breachedMINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Target says that about 40 million credit and debit card accounts may have been affected by a data breach that occurred just as the holiday shopping season shifted into high gear. The chain said that accounts of customers who made purchases using their cards at its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have been exposed. The stolen data includes customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the three-digit security codes located on the backs of cards.

Putin to pardon jailed tycoon KhodorkovskyMOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin says he will pardon jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky after more than a decade in prison. Putin told reporters after his marathon news conference Thursday that Khodorkovsky submitted an appeal for pardon and he intends to grant it.

10 Things to Know for TodayYour daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday: 1. WILL OBAMA REIN IN NSA SPYING UN finds systematic disappearances in SyriaGENEVA (AP) — A U.N. panel probing war crimes in Syria reported Thursday that people around the country are systematically vanishing without a trace as part of a widespread campaign of terror against civilians. The expert panel said it found "a consistent country-wide pattern" of Syrian security, armed forces and pro-government militia seizing people in mass arrests or house searches and at checkpoints and hospitals, then making them disappear — and denying that they even exist. Most of the victims have been young men.

Bernanke's new formula for pleasing investorsWASHINGTON (AP) — In his final performance, Ben Bernanke rewrote the script. Investors had been on edge for months about when the Federal Reserve might slow its economic stimulus. A pullback in the Fed's bond purchases, they feared, could jack up interest rates and whack stocks. Bernanke's mere mention of the possibility in June had sent stocks tumbling.

White House greets budget deal with caution, hopeWASHINGTON (AP) — There were no champagne corks popping at the White House after Congress passed a two-year budget deal, no declarations of a new era of cooperation in President Barack Obama's second term. Instead, the modest agreement that passed Wednesday served as a stark year-end reminder of how low expectations for Washington sank in 2013, particularly for a president who hoped his resounding re-election would clear the way for progress on immigration, the long-term debt and tax reform.

Ukraine leader tilts toward RussiaKIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych on Thursday suggested that Western governments should not interfere in the country's internal affairs, as he appeared to tilt further toward Russia after it offered his economically struggling country a $15-billion bailout. In a move that is certain to spark further anger among thousands of pro-Europe protesters occupying the capital's main square, Yanukovych said his government may partially commit to a Russian economic union that critics say mimics Soviet-era dominance.

Pakistan protests may make US fly war cargo outWASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials, frustrated that hundreds of military shipments heading out of Afghanistan have been stopped on the land route through Pakistan because of anti-American protests, face the possibility of flying out equipment at an additional cost of $1 billion. More than a week after Pakistani officials promised Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that they would take "immediate action" to resolve the problem, dozens of protesters are still gathering on the busy overland route, posing a security threat to convoys carrying U.S. military equipment out of the war zone before combat ends a year from now.

Funds to allow blind NYer to keep aging guide dogNEW YORK (AP) — Enough donations have been raised to allow a blind man to keep the aging guide dog that went onto the subway tracks with him when the man lost consciousness and fell from a station platform, officials say. "The spirit of giving, Christmas ... exists in New York," a tearful Cecil Williams said Wednesday, calling the outpouring of money and good will a "miracle." Rodman in NKorea to prep for game on leader's BdayPYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Former NBA star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea on Thursday to meet leader Kim Jong Un and put the finishing touches on plans to bring 12 ex-NBA players to Pyongyang for a Jan. 8 exhibition game marking the leader's birthday. Rodman said the game is on track despite the recent execution of Kim's uncle in a dramatic political purge. Rodman's visit comes less than a week after North Korea announced the execution of Jang Song Thaek, an unprecedented fall from grace for one of the most powerful figures in the country. Jang's execution sparked speculation by foreign analysts over the future of the Kim regime.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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