Victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy demanded on Wednesday to meet Pope Francis to press their call for the Church to apply a zero tolerance policy including the dismissal of bishops who covered up such offences. The 12 victims met with five Vatican officials a day before the start of an unprecedented conference on clerical abuse that aims to guide senior bishops on how best to tackle a problem that has decimated the Church's credibility. All the survivors of abuse who took part in the meeting, which lasted more than two hours, said they were disappointed the pope did not attend, even though he was not scheduled to be there.
U.S.-backed Syrian forces fighting the Islamic State group handed over more than 150 Iraqi members of the group to Iraq, an Iraqi security official said Thursday, marking the biggest repatriation from Syria of captured militants so far. The official said the IS militants were handed over to the Iraqi side late Wednesday, and that they were now in a "safe place" under investigation. The transfer comes as the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces is involved in a standoff over the final sliver of land held by IS in eastern Syria, close to the Iraqi border.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that an Alabama woman who fled to Syria to join ISIS in 2014 is not a U.S. citizen and, as a result, is not entitled to return to the U.S. with her 18-month-old son, as she had hoped to do. “Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States,” Pompeo said in a statement. “She does not have any legal basis, no valid U.S. passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said honest business people shouldn't have to live under “constant fear of criminal prosecution,” days after the arrest of one of the country's top foreign investors. Echoing previous exhortations to officials and law-enforcement to stop harassing business, which have produced few results, Putin said Wednesday in his annual state-of-the-nation address that “detention is often extended without good reason” and almost half of cases “don't even make it to court. But he didn't mention Baring Vostok Capital Partners Founder Michael Calvey, the American private equity investor who's in pre-trial detention as the latest prominent business figure to face prosecution.
Canada is looking to quickly bring over siblings of a Syrian refugee distraught over the loss of her seven children in a Halifax house fire, the prime minister said Thursday. "The immigration minister is seized with this particular case," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said when asked if Ottawa would fast-track the immigration or asylum process to bring the woman's brothers to Canada in order to provide her with family support. The family was among tens of thousands of Syrian refugees welcomed by Canada over the past four years.
A student involved in a viral confrontation with a Native American man is suing the Washington Post for $250m (£191m) over its coverage of the incident. The defamation lawsuit, filed by Covington Catholic High School pupil Nick Sandmann, claims the newspaper “wrongfully targeted and bullied” him due to its “biased agenda” against Donald Trump. The 16-year-old was wearing one of the president's signature Make America Great Again hats when he attended an anti-abortion rally in Washington in January along with classmates from his Kentucky school.
Southwest Airlines, alarmed by a spike in flight cancellations and delays in the past several days due to reported maintenance issues, has taken the unusual step of publicly apologizing to customers and blaming the mess on its mechanics' union. In a statement late Tuesday, Southwest Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven said the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, which has been in contract talks with Southwest since 2012, has a history of work disruptions and that Southwest will be investigating the "current disruption and exploring all possible remedies.'' He noted that Southwest also has two outstanding lawsuits against the AMFA. "We apologize to our customers who have been inconvenienced by this disruption,'' Van de Ven said.
In fact, the F-21 is an F-16 that Lockheed has upgraded with new cockpit displays, conformal fuel tanks, a larger airframe spine that can accommodate additional electronics, fittings for towed radar decoys, a new infrared sensor and a refueling probe that's compatible with India's Russian-made aerial tankers.
Pope Francis put forward a 21-point plan for combating the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests on Thursday, but the proposals were dismissed by victims as wholly inadequate and a recycling of procedures that already exist. The list of “reflection points” was put forward by the Pope on the first day of a summit that was convened in response to sex abuse scandals that have undermined faith in the Catholic Church around the world. "The holy people of God looks to us, and expects from us not simple and predictable condemnations, but concrete and effective measures to be undertaken," the Pope said as the conference, the first of its kind, got underway at the Vatican.
Chicago police say "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett planned the an attack on himself because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted to promote his career.
Guaido, who is recognized by dozens of countries as Venezuela's legitimate head of state, was poised for a showdown with Maduro's government on Saturday, when the opposition will attempt to bring in food and medicine being stockpiled in neighboring countries. Maduro denies there is a humanitarian crisis and said on Thursday he was considering closing Venezuela's key border with Colombia and would close the country's other main border with Brazil, effectively shutting off any legal land access. The government has said soldiers will be stationed at official crossing points to repel any "territorial violations", although the opposition could attempt to cross anywhere along Venezuela's porous borders.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman vowed to fight terrorism alongside India after talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, days after New Delhi accused Pakistan of planning a major terror attack in Kashmir. Terrorism is a common concern and Saudi Arabia will cooperate with India in fighting it, including in matters like intelligence sharing,” Prince Mohammed said in a press statement alongside Modi in New Delhi. The comments were part of the Saudi royal's delicate diplomacy, as he visits both nuclear-armed South Asian neighbors amid heightened geopolitical tensions.
After months of mostly silence from authorities investigating the disappearance of a Colorado mother on Thanksgiving Day, grim details about her suspected demise emerged this week, including accusations that the woman's fiance beat her to death with a baseball bat while their baby was in the next room. Testimony from investigators at a court hearing Tuesday also revealed that Patrick Frazee had repeatedly asked an Idaho woman with whom he was having an affair to kill Kelsey Berreth, the mother of Frazee's 1-year-old daughter. When she refused, he did it himself, authorities said.
President Donald Trump said Wednesday he is barring a US-born former Islamic State propagandist from returning home, making the highly unusual case that she is not a US citizen. Trump's refusal to admit 24-year-old Hoda Muthana comes just as he is pressing Europeans to repatriate their own Islamic State fighters and will likely face legal challenges, with US citizenship extremely difficult to lose. Trump said on Twitter he has "instructed" Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the country" -- a break with usual US protocol not to comment on individuals' immigration issues.
The European Union and Britain are moving towards a separate legal statement in which the bloc would again stress the temporary nature of the so-called Brexit backstop for the Irish border, diplomats in Brussels said. They spoke of a "parallel declaration" or "interpretative instrument" on the backstop, a day after British Prime Minister Theresa May and the head of the European Union's executive, Jean-Claude Juncker, met in Brussels to seek a way out of the Brexit deadlock. The backstop is an insurance policy designed to avoid border controls between EU member Ireland and British-ruled Northern Ireland after Brexit.
As tax season starts to heat up, people with big plans for their tax refunds may be surprised to find they are receiving less money than in years past. The initial batch of tax refunds in the first two weeks of the season declined an average of 8.7% from last year as of Feb. 8, according to a report from the Internal Revenue Service. The changes likely stem from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act law that passed in December 2017, significantly overhauling the tax code in the U.S. Among the changes were new tax brackets, standard deductions and expanded credits for families with children.
Emissions of carbon dioxide – the greenhouse gas most responsible for global warming – could soar to levels not seen in 56 million years by the middle of next century, scientists warned in a study Wednesday. Though it won't happen in our lifetimes, it could very well happen in the lives of our grandchildren or great-grandchildren. "You and I won't be here in 2159, but that's only about four generations away," said study author Philip Gingerich, a University of Michigan paleoclimate researcher.
If Pope Francis needed a concrete example to justify summoning church leaders from around the globe to Rome for a tutorial on clergy sex abuse, Sister Bernardine Pemii has it. The nun, who recently completed a course on child protection at Rome's Jesuit university, has been advising her bishop in Ghana on an abuse case, instructing him to invite the victim to his office to hear her story before opening an investigation. Starting Thursday, Francis is convening a summit at the Vatican to prevent cover-ups of sex abuse by Catholic superiors everywhere.
The compact-crossover version of the Fiat 500, the 500L, gets a new appearance package that retails for less than $600. As if Fiat ownership wasn't difficult enough to explain on a first date, explaining that you own a 500L is more awkward than a thick nest of back hair. For 2019, Fiat now sells the 500L Urbana Edition, a special model that hides this compact crossover's weirdest parts with blackout trim, and it costs slightly more.
A French TV channel said on Wednesday it had been forced to cut short a live Facebook broadcast from a desecrated Jewish cemetery in eastern France because of an onslaught of anti-Semitic commentary. "Our country is confronted with a resurgence of anti-Semitism undoubtedly without precedent since the Second World War," President Emmanuel Macron said later on Tuesday in an annual speech to Jewish leaders in France. France 3 television said it went live from the first cemetery in the village of Quatzenheim on Tuesday as President Emmanuel Macron was visiting to pay his respects after more than 90 graves were vandalised with swastikas and anti-Semitic abuse.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has refused to endorse Bernie Sanders for the 2020 Democratic nomination, despite working on the senator's first presidential campaign. A spokesperson for Ms Ocasio-Cortez, like Mr Sanders a self-described democratic socialist, refused to comment directly on the 77-year-old's Tuesday announcement he is running for a second time. Any endorsement by Ms Ocasio-Cortez is likely to be influential on the outcome of the race, thanks to her massive support among the grassroots of the party.
Attorneys for Jussie Smollett say they will mount an "aggressive defense" of the "Empire" actor after he was charged with making a false report that he was attacked in Chicago last month. It did not say where Smollett is and when he might turn himself in to police. Chicago police say 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report when he reported that he was attacked by two masked men.
Venezuela's military said Tuesday it was on alert at its frontiers following threats by US President Donald Trump and suspended air and sea links with the island of Curacao ahead of a planned aid shipment. Opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido has vowed to bring aid in from various points Saturday "one way or another" despite military efforts to block it. "The armed forces will remain deployed and on alert along the borders... to avoid any violations of territorial integrity," said Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is set to arrive in China on Thursday in the middle of a multi-country swing through Asia that may burnish his image abroad as ties with western leaders remain strained. The visit will include a meeting with President Xi Jinping and a high-level joint dialogue aimed at boosting relations after the nations agreed to promote a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2016. He's expected to visit South Korea after that in the final leg of his tour after stops in Indonesia and Malaysia were postponed.