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7 Die in shootout between police and gang in Venezuela

Caracas, Dec 15 (EFE).- At least seven people, including six suspected criminals and a law enforcement agent, died in a shootout, Venezuelan Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez said. The shootout occurred in a city in western Venezuela on Saturday when officers tried to search several houses being used by members of a "mega gang dedicated to extortion and kidnapping," Rodriguez said. Gang members, who "were behind a long list of murders," opened fire on officers with "automatic rifles and pistols," the interior minister said.

Alberta MLA Steve Young dropped a day before joining cabinet over Taser case

EDMONTON - Edmonton member of the legislature Steve Young was dropped from cabinet before he was even sworn in Friday due to concerns over a decade-old Tasering incident from his police days. "He's got a couple of personal issues that he brought to our attention and we decided this probably wasn't the right time for him to go into cabinet," Premier Alison Redford told reporters after the newest members of her 29-person cabinet were sworn in during a ceremony at Government House.

California granted two-month extension for reducing prison crowding

(Reuters) - California will have an extra two months to reduce crowding in its mammoth and troubled prison system, a panel of federal judges ruled on Wednesday. The three-judge panel gave the state permission to continue negotiating with lawyers for inmates over poor medical care and crowded conditions, saying California could have until April 18 to reach a settlement with the inmates or be forced to reduce crowding, even if that means releasing some inmates early. (Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

French surveillance bill to expand intelligence-gathering powers; critics say it goes too far

PARIS - The French government, which was among the most vocal critics of U.S. spying practices, is now coming under fire for trying to expand its own digital surveillance capabilities. A law making its way through parliament would give French intelligence services access to telephone and Internet usage data that would let them locate and follow a target of a terrorism investigation in real time. The law also expands the number of agents allowed to access this information to include those from the finance and budget ministries.

Challenge for New York's new top cop: Refine tactics, keep results

By Chris Francescani NEW YORK (Reuters) - Incoming New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton faces a delicate task: delivering on his boss's campaign promises to rein in the department's most aggressive tactics while preserving the sharp decline in crime his predecessor achieved.

Microsoft joins move to encrypt Web traffic

Microsoft is joining the movement to encrypt traffic that flows across its networks, citing "serious concerns" about government surveillance. The move by Microsoft follows similar actions by Google and Yahoo in the wake of revelations of vast online surveillance programs led by the US National Security Agency.

EU makes action plan to stop migrant tragedies

The European Union published a list of proposals Wednesday aimed at avoiding tragedies like an October sinking of a refugee boat off Italy's Lampedusa island that killed 300 people. "Two months ago the tragedy in Lampedusa triggered a very wide and emotional reaction across Europe -- a chorus of voices calling for actions to avoid such disasters in the future," said EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem in a statement. "Today we are putting on the table measures and proposals for a truly European response that can make a difference."

Football: Brazil unrest, crime are top security worry

With the World Cup set to kick off six months from now, Brazilian officials see street protests and resurgent criminal violence in some of Rio's slums as top security concerns. This Latin American powerhouse is pulling out all the stops to ensure security for the hundreds of thousands of visitors expected for the planet's most-watched sporting event, the first to be held in Brazil since 1950.

Police subdue Ohio student armed with pellet gun

CLEVELAND, Ohio (Reuters) - A Toledo, Ohio student, armed with a pellet gun and holed up by himself at a high school was taken into custody on Monday after police used a non-lethal "bean bag" projectile to end a standoff, authorities said. The 14-year-old Scott High School student displayed a pellet gun, but did not threaten anyone with it, Toledo Police Lieutenant Mark King said. King did not identify the student. "It was a pellet gun, but it looked real," King said in a telephone interview.

Inmate gives himself up after taking hostage at Edmonton Remand Centre

EDMONTON - A hostage taking at an Edmonton jail ended Sunday with no injuries. Alberta Justice and Solicitor General spokesman Dan Laville says an inmate who took another inmate hostage at the Edmonton Remand Centre on Sunday has given himself up. Laville says the hostage was unharmed and the aggressor and staff members were also not injured. Police said an inmate was held another person in a cell and hostage negotiators were called in. Laville says a weapon was involved, but said he wouldn't divulge details because of a pending police investigation.
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