Report: Benedict defends ’emeritus pope’ title to critic

BERLIN –  A German newspaper that quoted letters by Benedict XVI hitting back at criticism of his 2013 resignation said Friday that he was responding to a conservative German cardinal who took issue with his decision to take the title “emeritus pope.” The Bild daily, which first reported on the letters Thursday, gave more details of November correspondence it said it obtained between the German-born Benedict and Cardinal Walter Brandmueller — a prominent critic of Benedict’s successor, Pope Francis. Many conservative critics long for Benedict’s more doctrinaire papacy and question…

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300,000 sign petition backing bus driver who slapped child, 12, for running into street

A French bus driver for Paris transit authority RATP faces disciplinary action for slapping a boy who walked in front of his bus. A petition in support of him has gained over 300,000 signatures as of Friday.  (Facebook via RATP) A petition supporting a French bus driver who faces disipline for slapping a 12-year-old boy who ran into the street has gained more than 300,000 signatures as of Friday, reports said.  The bus driver was forced to “sharply hit the brakes and rough up customers inside” to avoid striking the…

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Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang dies of illness at 61

next FILE – In this Sept. 13, 2018, file photo, Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang meets with Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi at the Presidential Palace during the World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Hanoi, Vietnam. Official media say Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang has died at age 61 due to illness on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (Kham/Pool Photo via AP, File) prev FILE – In this March 23, 2018, file photo, Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang greets journalists as he waits for arrival of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei…

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Burkina Faso cracks down on motorbike-riding extremists

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso –  Growing attacks by motorbike-riding extremists who flee into the forest have led Burkina Faso’s government to ban the use of motorbikes and bike carts from sunset to sunrise in its troubled east. The West African nation also announced this week it will monitor cars and trucks in the area near the border with Niger, which is fast becoming a hideout for extremist groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State organization. The government says some 20 members of security forces were recently killed in the region.…

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5 years after mall Kenya attack, al-Shabab’s threat grows

NAIROBI, Kenya –  Five years after al-Shabab fighters burst into a luxury shopping mall in Kenya’s capital, hurling grenades and starting a days-long siege that left 67 people dead, analysts say the Somalia-based extremist group has been pushed down Africa’s east coast as far as Mozambique as its regional threat expands. The assault on Westgate Mall on a sunny weekend afternoon horrified the world and exposed weaknesses in Kenya’s security forces after it took them hours to respond. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta promised reforms. Now the government of East Africa’s…

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US military joins search for missing boys in Thailand cave as rescue shifts to hunt for other entrances

The attempted rescue of a dozen boys and their soccer coach after a heavy rainstorm flooded the entrance to a popular cave in Thailand has turned into a hunt for another entrance, as U.S. military and British cave expects joined the search on Thursday. Heavy rain has hampered the search and some of the rescue divers have been forced to turn back after floodwater seeped into a second chamber of the caves, five days after the group was reported missing. “There’s not much we can do right now,” Interior Minister…

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AP Explains: Iran reopens uranium plant in its latest gamble

TEHRAN, Iran –  Iran says it has restarted production at a “major” uranium facility involved in its nuclear program, though it still pledges to follow the terms of the country’s landmark atomic deal now under threat after President Donald Trump pulled America out of the accord. Iranian comments about the Isfahan plant, which produces material needed to make enriched uranium, appear aimed at pressuring Europeans and others to come up with a way to circumvent new American sanctions. Already, many international organizations are pulling back from promised billion-dollar deals with…

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EU leaders seek ways to halt migrants amid political turmoil

BRUSSELS –  European Union leaders were gathering Thursday to examine new ways to stop migrants entering Europe, desperate to ensure that their differences over managing the flows do not tear the 28-nation bloc apart. The number of people arriving in Europe seeking sanctuary or better lives has dropped significantly, but anti-migrant parties have consolidated their powers, winning votes as they exploit fear of foreigners. The political crisis caused by the EU’s inability to share responsibility for those entering is undermining German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s leadership. It’s also helped bring an…

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Activists: Airstrike on shelter kills 17 in southwest Syria

BEIRUT –  A barrage of airstrikes hit rebel-held areas in southwestern Syria on Thursday, killing at least 17 civilians hiding in an underground shelter as government forces pressed their offensive to reclaim a region that was until recently part of a negotiated truce. The strategic southwestern corner of Syria extends from the border with Jordan in the south to the western frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. It also lies south of the capital, Damascus, and has been under a so-called de-escalation agreement reached between Russia, the main government ally,…

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Fire sweeps through market in Kenya’s capital, killing 15

In this image from TV, a fire fighter damps down the charred debris after a fire swept through a marketplace in Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday June 28, 2018. Authorities report that several people are known to have died and about 70 are receiving hospital treatment, with rescue teams still searching for more bodies and survivors in the burned marketplace. (AP Photo) NAIROBI, Kenya –  A fire swept one of Nairobi’s largest open-air markets early Thursday, killing 15 people and sending 70 injured to hospitals, an official said. Nairobi County Commissioner Kangethe…

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