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World - More than 50 UK Catholic priests defrocked for sex abuse

More than 50 Roman Catholic priests in England and Wales have been defrocked for sex abuse since 2001, the Church`s child protection watchdog revealed on Thursday. Some 52 priests have been laicised, or stripped of their ministry, the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC) said, following the implementation of new procedures to protect children and vulnerable adults. Between 2003 and 2013, 598 abuse allegations against the clergy were reported by dioceses and religious congregations in England and Wales, of which 77 percent were related to sexual abuse, said the NCSC, an independent body that works within the Church framework. `Since 2002, we have automatically referred any allegation that comes forward, historic or current, to the police,` NCSC chairman Danny Sullivan told AFP.

Thursday, July 24, 2014  21:35


World - EU economic sanctions on Russia likely to be adopted next week

Proposed European Union sanctions on sectors of the Russian economy will not be adopted before next week, the European Commission said on Thursday. EU ambassadors were discussing Commission proposals to restrict Russian access to EU finance and defense and energy technology on Thursday. As and when the member states have decided ... how they want to proceed and exactly what they want to do, then at that stage the Commission ... will present legislative proposals,` Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd told reporters. `Those legislative proposals would then have to be adopted by the appropriate procedures, by the member states, normally next week,` he added.

Thursday, July 24, 2014  11:48


Business - Republican lawmaker to grill U.S. SEC over Ackman tactics

By Sarah N. Lynch WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. lawmaker will pressure the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday to consider a raft of reforms, after William Ackman`s aggressive efforts to take over Allergan Inc raised concerns about loose rules governing disclosure and shareholder voting. Republican Representative Edward Royce of California plans to grill SEC Corporation Finance Director Keith Higgins at a House Financial Services hearing. `I am especially interested in the SEC`s process when looking at novel or creative deals like the announced joint-bid by Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Pershing Square for Allergan, Royce said in a statement. Mr. Higgins` appearance before the committee is an opportunity to make sure that the Commission is making robust reviews of these sorts of deals to ensure strong investor protections and market transparency. Saat Alety, Royce`s spokesman, said that Royce is prepared to take legislative action if the SEC fails to fix the problem on its own.

Thursday, July 24, 2014  05:20


World - Factbox: EU paper details options for sanctions against Russia

European Union countries are considering tougher sanctions against Russia over its role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the downing of the Malaysian airliner that killed 298 people last week. Ambassadors of the 28-nation bloc met on Thursday to discuss options drafted by the executive European Commission, that could be turned into legal measures and approved as early as next week. Following are the key points of a Commission options paper that was the basis for the discussion: CAPITAL MARKETS * Russian banks with state ownership over 50 percent would not be able to raise capital through new share or debt issues on European Union`s capital markets * The ban would apply to debt, equity and other financial instruments with maturity longer than 90 days issued by state-run financial institutions after the ban enters into force * The ban would include both primary and secondary markets * The sanctions are expected to boost Russia`s borrowing costs, undermine public finances * Russian government debt would not be part of the ban in the initial stage.

Thursday, July 24, 2014  16:16


World - Beijing shuts big coal-fired power plant to ease smog: Xinhua

Beijing has closed the first of four large coal-fired power plants set to be de-commissioned as part of the city`s efforts to cut air pollution, official news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday, citing the local planning agency. Xinhua said the authorities had shut down the Gaojing Thermal Power Plant`s six 100 megawatt generating units. The plant is owned by the China Datang Corporation, one of China`s big five state power firms. In the face of growing public anger about persistent smog in the Chinese capital, the government has been under intense pressure to cut coal use and relocate industry.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014  13:08


World - Probe finds hardline Islam school plot in Birmingham

A British government-commissioned report found evidence on Tuesday of a coordinated effort to Islamise state-run schools in the city of Birmingham by taking control of their governing bodies. The investigation into allegations of a hardline Muslim `plot` at state-run schools said people in positions of influence had either supported or failed to challenge efforts to introduce `aggressive` Islam. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan told lawmakers the report by former police counter-terrorism chief Peter Clarke was `disturbing` and announced measures to regulate more closely who was involved in running schools. `There has been co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action, carried out by a number of associated individuals, to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos into a few schools in Birmingham,` Clarke`s report said.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014  16:32


Middle East - 9/11 Commission a decade later: `Terrorism not going away`

America`s longest war. Much more National Security Agency surveillance. An alphabet soup of new government departments and agencies. Long security lines at airports.

Thursday, July 24, 2014  04:28


World - EU call for views on U.S. trade deal draws huge response

The European Commission`s call for views on a contentious part of a planned EU-U.S. free trade deal has drawn almost 150,000 responses that will take months to process, a senior EU official said on Friday. Many advocacy groups oppose aspects of the planned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that they say would prevent national governments from intervening to protect consumers and the environment. The Commission, the EU`s executive body which is negotiating the deal with the United States on behalf of the 28 EU countries, launched a public consultation, concluding on Sunday, on the pact`s investment protection provisions. The EU`s chief negotiator, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, told a news conference at the end of a sixth round of negotiations over the pact that the Commission had received nearly 150,000 responses and would not be able to produce a report on its findings until November.

Friday, July 18, 2014  20:16


World - Malawi says arson possible in ballot box fire

Malawi`s electoral commission has said arson cannot be ruled out in a warehouse fire that destroyed ballot boxes containing votes from a disputed election just days after a court ordered a recount. `Having analysed the preliminary reports, the commission is of the view that arson cannot be ruled out,` Maxon Mbendera, the head of the Malawi Electoral Commission, said in a statement late Thursday. Mbendera said the government warehouse in the capital Lilongwe had been heavily guarded by armed police officers when the fire broke out on Tuesday night, destroying 1,500 ballot boxes, gas cylinders and gas lamps used during May 20 elections. Opposition parties claim that the fire was deliberately started to destroy evidence that could have overturned the parliamentary victory of a member of newly elected President Peter Mutharika`s party.

Friday, July 18, 2014  08:39


Europe - EU sets 30% energy savings target

Members of the European Union will have to boost their energy efficiency by 30% by 2030 according to Commission.

Thursday, July 24, 2014  08:28

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