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VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis denounced corrupt politicians, businessmen and priests for the second day in a row today, scaling up his criticisms as prosecutors crack down on a series of bribery scandals afflicting several major public projects in Italy.
Francis said the poor are hurt most by such crimes since they suffer when hospitals don’t have affordable medicines or schools have insufficient materials.
“The corrupt politician, the corrupt businessman, the corrupt priest — all three hurt the innocents, the poor, because it’s the poor who pay for the parties of the corrupt,” he said.
EUROPEAN UNION: US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack popped up in Europe today to push the US case on disputed issues in farm trade.
The Obama administration and European Union are negotiating a new trade and investment agreement and Mr Vilsack said it’s hard to imagine any deal being approved by the US or EU that doesn’t include agriculture.
The US wants Europe to allow genetically modified crops and food processing techniques, including the use of chlorinated rinses to process poultry carcasses. EU officials and European consumer groups are much less enthusiastic.
FRANCE: Anti-discrimination groups demanded government action today in response to an attack on a Roma teenager.
The teen was left for dead after a group of people who suspected him of burglary seized him from his camp and beat him unconscious.
Police union official Luc Poignant said that about a dozen people went into the Roma camp late on Friday in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine after an apartment was burgled. Police found the victim abandoned by a road.
Mr Poignant said the young man was put into a medically induced coma “because he was in so much pain.”
MYANMAR: The government told Washington today that its constitution was none of its business.
The United States said that Myanmar should reform its constitution to allow its citizens a free choice over who should be its next president after a parliamentary committee last week voted against changing a clause that bars opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president.
But presidential spokesman Ye Htut said it was the responsibility of Myanmar’s parliament and people to decide how the constitution should be amended.
SPAIN: Police said today they were holding 10 people including a former Guantanamo Bay detainee for recruiting men to fight in Iraq and Syria.
The Interior Ministry said eight of the suspects were Moroccans or men born in Morocco. An Argentinian and a Bulgarian were also detained in Monday’s raids.
The ministry identified one of those arrested, Moroccan Lahcen Ikassrien, as suspected leader of a cell which sent nine militants to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
UNITED STATES: The New York Botanical Garden announced today that it is planning a major exhibition on Frida Kahlo next year that will examine how nature influenced her artwork.
It will also reimagine Kahlo’s garden and studio outside Mexico City, known as Casa Azul.
“Frida Kahlo’s Garden” will be on view from May 16 2015.
A group of rare paintings and works on paper highlighting Kahlo’s use of botanical imagery will also be on display.
KENYA: Extremists attacked a coastal area for the second night in a row on Monday night, killing at least nine people.
Al-Shabab militants who attacked Majembeni village also claimed responsibility for the Sunday night attack in nearby Mpeketoni that killed 48 people.
The group said it carried out the attack because of Kenya’s “brutal oppression of Muslims in Kenya,” including the killings of Muslim scholars in Mombasa.
PAKISTAN: Clashes between police and supporters of an anti-government cleric have killed at least five people in the country’s east.
Lahore Police Chief Shafiq Gujjar said five protesters were killed today. But Jinnah Hospital head Dr Abdur Raof said it had received eight bodies so far, all shot to death.
The clashes occurred between police and followers of Canada-based Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri.
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