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Pope Francis sorry for upsetting abuse victims

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Pope Francis has apologised for remarks he made last week in Chile defending a bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse. He said he realised his words hurt many, but repeated his belief that Chilean Bishop Juan Barros was innocent. He was speaking to journalists on board a plane flying back to Rome. On Thursday, the Pope said that victims who had accused Bishop Barros ... Read More »

Germany coalition talks: SPD backs talks with Merkel

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Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) have voted for coalition negotiations with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, their former coalition partners. Earlier this month the two groupings agreed a blueprint for formal talks. Mrs Merkel’s centre-right CDU and its Bavarian CSU ally have been unable to form a government since September’s inconclusive election. The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) won 94 seats in parliament. Initially the SPD ... Read More »

Ethiopia Waldiya: Five killed by police at religious festival

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At least five people have been killed in northern Ethiopia after security forces fired on a crowd at a religious festival who were reportedly shouting anti-government slogans. Many more were injured in the incident in the town of Waldiya. Angry protesters have blocked roads and businesses are closed. There have been nearly three years of opposition demonstrations in Ethiopia. On Wednesday, hundreds of activists were ... Read More »

US shutdown: Government services closed as working week begins

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Hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be unable to report for work on Monday, as the US Senate struggles to end a government shutdown. The shutdown began at midnight on Friday, when lawmakers failed to agree on an extension to federal funding. Efforts to reach a compromise ahead of the working week failed late on Sunday. A vote to end the shutdown was postponed ... Read More »

Kabul: Afghan Forces End Intercontinental Hotel Siege

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An overnight siege of a luxury hotel by gunmen in the Afghan capital has come to an end, security forces say. Six civilians, including a foreign woman, died at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, along with three attackers, the interior ministry said. Some 160 people were rescued after Afghan troops fought through the night to regain control of the building. Some reports suggested gunfire had ... Read More »

US Shutdown: Senate In Bid To End Impasse

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he US Senate is due back in session to try to end a budget impasse before the start of the working week when the shutdown of many federal services will be felt around the country. Hundreds of thousands of federal staff face the prospect of unpaid leave. On Saturday, recriminations flew around over the Senate’s failure to pass a new budget and prevent the shutdown. ... Read More »

Brazil Declares Yellow Fever Emergency In Minas Gerais

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Brazil’s south-eastern state of Minas Gerais has declared a public health emergency following a deadly outbreak of yellow fever. At least 15 people have died there since December. Many areas, including the state capital Belo Horizonte, have been affected. A mass vaccination programme is in place in three southern states. But queues have formed outside clinics in Rio and Sao Paulo amid concerns that vaccines ... Read More »

North Korea crisis: South to continue talks with ‘clear eyes’

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South Korea says it will continue high-level talks with North Korea with “clear eyes” amid global warnings that Pyongyang might be playing for time to continue its nuclear-arms programme. “We have to make the most” of the opportunity, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told the BBC. The two Koreas earlier agreed to march under a “unified Korea” flag at next month’s Winter Olympics in ... Read More »

Ethiopia frees opposition leader Merera Gudina

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Prominent Ethiopian opposition leader Merera Gudina has been released from prison after more than a year in detention. The move on Wednesday came two weeks after Prime Minister Desalegn Hailemariam had announced that jailed “politicians” would have their cases annulled or pardoned “in order to improve the national consensus and widen the democratic space”. The government has so far pardoned more than 500 people arrested in the wake ... Read More »

Ex-CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee held ‘in China spying case’

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A former CIA officer has been arrested in the US on charges of unlawful retention of classified information. Jerry Chun Shing Lee, a naturalised US citizen, was held at New York’s JFK airport on Monday, the US justice department said. He worked for the CIA between 1994 and 2007, when he left for Hong Kong. The case is thought to be linked to an FBI ... Read More »

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