Jaclyn Diaz

Six U.S. oil executives held for three years in Venezuela were convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms Thursday.

Known as the Citgo 6, the men are all employees of the Houston-based refining company of the same name, which is owned by Venezuela's state oil company, PDVSA.

Five of the men, Gustavo Cárdenas, Jorge Toledo, Jose Luis Zambrano and Alirio Zambrano, and Tomeu Vadell, all U.S. citizens, were sentenced to eight years and 10 months. Jose Pereira, a permanent resident of the U.S., received 13 years, The Associated Press reports.

Germany is extending its current coronavirus lockdown measures through mid-December, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced this week.

The country will remain under measures introduced in early November that include limits on private gatherings and it will keep bars, restaurants, and museums closed.

Residents will be given some leeway around the Christmas holiday. Members of one household can meet up with 10 people between Dec. 23 to Jan. 1. Children under 14 are exempt.

Updated at 3:27 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily barred New York from enforcing strict attendance limits on places of worship in areas designated coronavirus hot spots, in a decision released just before midnight on Wednesday.

Russia says it caught a U.S. Navy ship illegally operating in Russian waters in the Sea of Japan and "chased off" the offending ship on Tuesday.

The area in question has been claimed by Russia as part of its territorial waters since 1984, but the U.S. does not recognize that claim.

Updated at 5:03 a.m. ET

International travelers heading to England could cut their mandatory quarantine time by more than half under new rules announced by the British government Tuesday.

Starting Dec. 15, certain travelers could cut their 14-day mandatory quarantine down to five days if they take a COVID-19 test and the results are negative.

Updated at 2:20 a.m. ET

David Dinkins, New York City's only African American mayor, died Monday night at 93.

Dinkins led New York in the early 1990s as its mayor, a position he called "the greatest job there is."

Dinkins' office operations manager, Lynda Hamilton, confirmed his death to NPR early Tuesday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is raising concerns with the leaders of the world's wealthiest countries that when a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, poorer countries could miss out.

Speaking on Sunday during a two-day virtual G20 global summit, Merkel said progress toward developing a system for distribution to less wealthy countries has been slow and that she would raise the issue with the global vaccine alliance, GAVI.

U.K.-based pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has developed a vaccine that initial results show to be "highly effective in preventing" COVID-19, the company announced Monday.

Patrick Quinn, the co-creator of the viral Ice Bucket Challenge, has died at the age of 37 after a seven-year fight with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.

The Ice Bucket Challenge, which took the Internet by storm in 2014, raised $115 million for the ALS Association and more than $220 million around the world for ALS research, according to the association.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Antony Blinken for the coveted secretary of state post.

Blinken, 58, has extensive foreign policy experience, serving as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser under President Barack Obama.

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