* Bethlehem fills up with Christmas pilgrims Thousands of Christian pilgrims gathered in Bethlehem's Manger Square on Wednesday to celebrate Christmas under the protection of security forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
* Israel Jittery as Iran Boasts New Defensive Missiles Israel has expressed alarm that Iran may have acquired advanced S-300 surface-to-air missiles which would make any Israeli or American attack on Iran and its alleged nuclear facilities that much harder.
* Russia to raise nuclear missile output fourfold Russia has thrown down a new gauntlet to Barack Obama with an announcement that it will sharply increase production of strategic nuclear missiles.
* Hamas: Israel forcing us to fire rockets With Kassam rockets raining down on cities in the western Negev, including Ashkelon, the Hamas military wing lashed out at Israel late Wednesday.
* Beijing Considers Upgrades to Navy China's top military spokesman said it is seriously considering adding a first aircraft carrier to its navy fleet.
* Russia, China warn of dire economic straits in 2009 Russia and China issued stark warnings on Wednesday about the impact of the crisis on their recently booming economies in 2009.
* EU's new online library reopens The European Union's huge digital library Europeana, which crashed last month just hours after its launch, is back online.
* World woes due to rejection of God: Ahmadinejad The world's troubles are rooted in a rejection of God and if Jesus Christ lived today he would stand up against bullying powers, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will tell Britons on Christmas Day.
* Assad: I hope Obama will pursue Middle East peace 'sincerely' Syrian President Basher Assad on Wednesday expressed his hopes that the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama would bring about a change to U.S. policy on the Middle East.* Hamas pushes for Sharia punishments The Hamas parliament in the Gaza Strip voted in favor of a law allowing courts to mete out sentences in the spirit of Islam.