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WORLD: Evolution and creation both right, says Pope Francis
It is possible to believe in both evolution and the Catholic church's teaching on creation, according to Pope Francis, who has warned against portraying God as a magician who made the universe with a magic wand. He also spoke out about the big bang, today considered as the origin of the world, saying it does not contradict the divine act of creation. He added: “When we read the creation story in Genesis we run the risk of imagining that God was a magician, with a magic wand which is able to do everything. But it is not so. He created beings and let them develop according to internal laws which he gave everyone, so they would develop, so they would reach maturity.” JM
IRAN: Journalists detained after acid attacks report
At least four members of semi-official news agency, Isna, were detained on Monday (27-10) after covering a string of acid attacks in the city of Isfahan. Despite being one of the first Iranian media organisations to focus on the assaults and interview victims, the agency has come under attack from hardliners. The viscious attacks, which involved motorbike-riding assailtants throwing acid in the face of at least eight women, have sparked protests in Isfahan and Tehran. Many believe the victims were chosen because of the way they were dressed despite authorities denying this. One of those arrested was Isna photographer, Arya Jafari, who documented last week's protests, but his photos were later distributed worldwide. Jason Stern, from New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, said: “This case deals with everything Iranian hardliners can't stand: critical media coverage, street protests, women's rights and government accountability.” JM
Australia: Government trying to confirm death of top IS militant
Australia is seeking to confirm reports that senior Australian IS (Islamic State) recruiter Mohammad Ali Baryalei has been killed in Syria. The Afghan-born aspiring actor and former nightclub bouncer is believed to have died in fighting four or five days ago while reportedly facilitating the passage of volunteer IS fighters into Syria at the Turkey-Syria border. He is alleged to have recruited scores of Australians to fight with IS in the Middle East and is also said to have encouraged a public beheading and a plot to carry out “demonstration killings” in Sydney. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said: “We are currently seeking to verify those reports so I can't confirm at this stage.” RK
Zambia: President Michael Sata dies in London
The 77-year-old Zambian president Michael Sata has died in London where he was being treated in a private hospital for an undisclosed illness. President Sata died in the capital's King Edward VII's Hospital on Tuesday (28-10) night. Under the country's constitution an election for a new leader will have to be held within 90 days. The president's death comes just days after Zambia celebrated the 50th anniversary of independence from the UK. Sata has rarely been seen in public since returning from the UN General Assembly last month, where he failed to make a scheduled speech. He became president in September 2011.RK
SPAIN: 51 top figures arrested in anti-corruption sweep
Dozens of public officials, bureaucrats and business leaders across Spain were arrested on Monday (27-10) as part of a corruption investigation. The raid is the latest in a series of scandals which have entangled Spanish politicians and bankers, and occurred just a day after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy downplayed the scale of corruption. Speaking on Sunday, Rajoy tried to portray the issue as a case of a few bad apples, saying “a few small incidents isn't the same thing as 46 million people nor all of Spain”. Top members of Rajoy's ruling People's Party (PP) were among the 51 arrested as part of an investigation into a “network of corruption” involving contracts worth around €250m. The Socialist party said it would expel any of its members arrested.JM
TUNISIA : Secular Party Takes Lead
Tunisian secular party Nidaa Toumes takes lead on Sunday’s (26/10) newparliamentarian election. It has won more than 80 seats among217. On the other hand Islamist party Ennahda won 67 seats. The result would be a setback for Ennahda, which led a government after winning the most seats in 2011 in the first free election after the fall of Ben Ali.In This second free election in Tunisia no party expected to win outright, some coalition is likely during weeks of deal-making to form a new government. Presidential elections next month may also delay the immediate formation of a new government.JM
UK: Gender gap widens
The UK has fallen out of the top 20 countries for gender equality in Global Gender Gap Report rankings, recording its lowest overall score since 2008. This places Britain behind Scandinavian countries and the Philippines, having slipped from 18th to 26th. The list has been dominated in the last two years by northern Europe with Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden topping the rankings, while Nicaragua, Rwanda and the Philippines were also rated above the UK. The drop in the country's overall rating is attributed to a significantly lower score in 'economic participation', which measures the ratios of women in the workforce, wage equality and the number of women in senior roles. However, the UK also failed to make the top 20 in any of the report's four categories – economy, education, health and politics.AN
Ukraine crisis: votes in snap elections
Ukrainian voters are going to the polls in snap elections for a new parliament. President Petro Poroshenko called the poll as he aims to cement a new direction for the country after the ousting of pro-Russian leaders earlier this year. He also made a surprise visit to the restive Donbass region, the site of a continuing pro-Russian insurgency. About 3m people in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions in Donbass will not take part in the vote.The separatists in eastern Ukraine plan to hold their own polls next month.RK
Ebola: New commander takes over US Ebola mission in West Africa
A new commander on Saturday (25-10) took over the US military mission to combat Ebola in West Africa. In Monrovia, Major General Gary Volesky of the US Army 101st Division took command of troops that are part of Washington's effort to counter the deadly outbreak, a Defense Department statement said. West Africa is the epicenter of the outbreak that has killed nearly 5,000 people. "Just 38 days ago, Major General Darryl Williams arrived in Liberia to form an advance detachment in his capacity as commanding general, US Army Africa prior to the formal establishment of this Joint Forces Command," the statement said. RK
ISIS : British Jihadis want to Return Home
At least 30 British jihadi fighters seek to flee Islamic State are being issued with death threats. They had travelled to join rebels fighting the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad but had subsequently become embroiled with Isis. Moazzam Begg (46) , who has extensive contacts in Syria confirmed the reality of the news. He said, “When it becomes solidified as an Islamic State, a caliph, and you swear allegiance, thereafter if you do something disobedient you are now disobeying the caliph and could be subject to disciplinary measures which could include threats of death or death.” JM
UK: Police killer Harry Roberts to be freed
A notorious killer who shot three unarmed police officers 45 years ago will be released from prison within days. Police chiefs say the parole board's decision to release Harry Roberts, 78, who was jailed in 1966, is a “slap in the face”. He shot dead three officers in front of children playing in a street after they pulled over a van containing Roberts and two others, which contained weapons for their planned robbery. Roberts received three life sentences for the crimes that shocked the country. Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the decision is a “slap in the face for the families of the three police officers he brutally murdered who, once again, are forced to re-live their pain and loss”. JM
South Sudan: Peace deal offers hope
There is a glimmer of hope that peace may be restored to South Sudan following a meeting with three factions of the ruling party on Monday (20/10). Meeting in the Tanzanian city of Arusha they accepted joint responsibility for the war that has devastated the nation for the past 10 months. The factions of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement signed a deal acknowledging a “collective responsibility”. The talks in Arusha are the first sign of improvement, but peace will not be achieved without the support of both President Salva Kiir and his sacked former deputy, Riek Machar. JM
Ottawa shooting: Canada will not be intimidated
Canadian PM Stephen Harper has said his country "will never be intimidated" after a deadly gun attack near the national parliament in the capital Ottawa. Gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau killed a soldier at an Ottawa war memorial, before forcing his way into the building and dying in a shootout with police. The attack came two days after an alleged convert to jihadi ran down and killed another soldier in what authorities branded a terrorist attack. Authorities raised the security threat level from low to medium on Tuesday, which came as Canadian jets were to join the US-led air armada bombarding Islamist militants in Iraq. Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned that "facts are still being gathered" as he condemned the “despicable attack." RK
UK: NHS needs extra £8bn say health bosses
Drastic changes and extra cash are needed to ensure the NHS can safeguard its future, easing pressure on hospitals and giving patients better care. A five-year plan highlighted that an annual £30bn shortfall would open by 2020, which needs to be plugged by switching funds from hospitals into other services, such as GP surgeries. NHS bosses warned that patients may suffer “severe” consequences if Westminster doesn't accept the need for funding to increase from £100bn to £120bn by the end of the next parliament – an extra £8bn on top of planned increases in line with inflation. Sources close to health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the government plans to "respond substantively" to the report in due course. RK
Nepal: Mountain rules tightened in wake of Himalayan disaster
Trekkers will be required to take guides and weather forecasts improved when the Nepalese government introduces new rules, following the country's worst hiking disaster. The tourism department has said trekkers will be required to rent a GPS tracking unit to help authorities trace them and take a trained local guide, when new rules are introduced in the spring. At least 41 people were killed last week when a blizzard and avalanches swept across the mountans in northern Nepal. Of those, 21 were foreign trekkers from countries including Canada, Poland, Slovakia, India, Japan, China and Israel. Tourism department official Tulasi Gautam said: “The main reason for the high number of casualties is that those trekkers without proper guides were prompted to continue with their trek in attempts to beat the storm. So we plan to strictly enforce new rules of no trekking without porters or proper guides.” JM
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