Good morning, and happy Monday. Here are some of the stories we’re following today:
1. Gunman holding hostages in Australian cafe
Five hostages managed to flee a chocolate shop in Sydney, but more hostages were being held by a suspected Islamist gunman Monday. Police won't say how many hostages are inside the shop, as the situation passed 13 hours. A black flag used by Islamist groups in the Middle East has been shown in the window. Police said they were in contact with the captor, but would not specify by what means. They said no one inside the shop appears to be injured. Read more in NEWS.
2. Three Alabama inmates back in jail after escape
Three inmates who overpowered a jailer and escaped from an Alabama jail on Saturday morning were all back in custody by Monday morning. Two of the inmates, one charged with burglary and the other with capital murder, were recaptured separately Sunday. The last inmate, also charged with capital murder, was located and arrested early Monday. The U.S. Marshals Service and several local jurisdictions were involved in the search, which spanned two states. Read more in NEWS.
3. Suspect arrested in death of Auburn football player
Markale Deandra Hart, 22, is charged with murder in connection with the Sunday morning shooting death of Auburn football player Jakell Mitchell, 18. Mitchell was found with apparent gunshot wounds after police received a call of shots in the area of an apartment complex near the school's campus. Mitchell was redshirted this football season, meaning he practiced with the team but didn't play in games. He was previously an offensive weapon at Opelika High School. Police said the motive of the shooting is under investigation. Read more in NEWS.
4. Senate passes $1.1 trillion spending bill
After days of back and forth within Congress, the Senate passed a spending bill. The bill funds most of the government until September 2015, although it sets up another battle over the funding of the Department of Homeland Security early next year. Twenty-one Democrats and 19 Republicans voted against the measure. The legislation had narrowly passed the House after Democrats objected to language that loosens financial regulations. Read more in POLITICS.
5. Bond movie script stolen in Sony hack
The producers of James Bond films say an early version of the screenplay for the new movie "SPECTRE" was part of the major cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. The film's production firm is afraid the hackers might publish the script, but warned that it is protected by copyright and "all necessary steps" will be taken to protect the creators' rights. Read more in NEWS.
And now this ...
A brewing company in New York has created some beer cheer this holiday by making a Christmas tree out of kegs. Talk about "getting lit."