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Costs dampen New Year's mood

For most Russians, it's not New Year's without a Salad Olivier, a dish meant to augur prosperity. This year, soaring food costs mean the tradition can also be a painful reminder of how rapidly many Russians' wealth is fading amid recession and Western sanctions.

The mix of chicken, potatoes, peas, carrots and mayonnaise - which was introduced by a Belgian chef in the 19th century, and shed richer ingredients like grouse and crayfish amid food shortages under the Soviets - will cost 35 percent more to prepare this year.

The stiff rise, reported by the federal statistics office, comes amid the deepest economic downturn in President Vladimir Putin's 15 years in office.

"Before, you could buy jewelry or expensive perfume for the New Year," says 65-year old Nikolai Skomorokhov, who retired this month. "This time, it's about the bare minimum. We're mostly spending on the celebration."

- AP


Police: Wedding guests arrested

Israeli police said Tuesday they have arrested Jewish suspects who appeared in a video of a wedding at which guests can be seen celebrating an arson attack that killed a Palestinian toddler.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the groom and three wedding guests were arrested Tuesday and they are suspected of incitement and unlawful weapon possession.

The video, aired by Channel 10 last week, shows a rowdy crowd of skullcap-wearing youths brandishing rifles and dancing to music with lyrics calling for revenge.

Some appear to be stabbing photos of Ali Dawabshe, who died when suspected Jewish extremists firebombed his family home in the West Bank in July. The groom told Channel 10 he did not see his guests defiling photographs of Dawabsheh.

- AP

Many are angry

over Japan pact

There's relief among South Korean and Japanese diplomats after the two countries announced an "irreversible" settlement of a decades-long standoff over Korean women forced into sexual slavery by Japan's World War II military. But activists and many of the elderly victims were furious Tuesday.

Both sides compromised in Monday's surprise deal, so neither got everything it wanted. Nationalists in Japan are angry over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's apology. Some South Koreans say President Park Geun-hye settled for far too little money - about $8 million - and that Japan still hasn't taken legal responsibility for atrocities during its colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

But the apparent finality of the deal - both sides called the matter "resolved finally and irreversibly," if faithfully implemented - has been largely accepted so far, after decades in which the issue ruined ties between the two powerful Northeast Asian democracies.

- AP