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Friday, Apr 18th

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Famed Jesuit priest abducted, beaten and executed in Syria

Jesuit priest executed in SyriaAn activist Jesuit priest who spent three years living alongside besieged civilians and rebels in the Syrian city of Homs was assassinated Monday, according to the Vatican, which said he was abducted by unidentified gunmen who beat him before executing him in front of his monastery.

Father Francis Van Der Lugt, 75, a Dutch Jesuit priest, came to Syria in 1966 and eventually founded a home for children and adults with mental disabilities outside Homs, where he lived before the three-year-old civil war started. After fighting began, he relocated to the rebel-held neighborhood of Bustan al Diwan in Homs Old City, where he worked with refugees and civilians during the more than two-year-old siege by regime forces.

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Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline accused of bribery in Iraq

ClaxoSmithKline accusedDrugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, already facing corruption accusations in China, is now investigating allegations of bribery in Iraq, the British company said on Sunday.

The latest controversy centers on claims that the company hired government-employed physicians and pharmacists in Iraq as paid sales representatives to improperly boost use of its products.

"We are investigating allegations of improper conduct in our Iraq business. We have zero tolerance for unethical or illegal behavior," a company spokesman said.  The investigations are ongoing.

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Pro-Russians storm offices in 3 east Ukranian cities

Ukranian city offices attacked Pro-Russian protesters have stormed government buildings in three eastern Ukrainian cities.  In Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv they clashed with police, hung Russian flags from the buildings and called for a referendum on independence.

Ukraine's acting president called an emergency security meeting in response.

The unrest comes amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine over the removal of pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych and Russia's annexation of Crimea.

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2 priests, Canadian nun abducted in Cameroon

2 priests, nun kidnapped in CameroonsArmed groups on Saturday abducted two Italian priests and a Canadian nun working as missionaries in northern Cameroon, Italy's government and Catholic church officials said.

Italy's foreign ministry identified the priests as Giampaolo Marta and Gianantonio Allegri, but declined to give other details, including the Canadian's identity, to avoid compromising efforts for the missionaries' release.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said Pope Francis was praying for the three and "expressed hope for a solution."

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Mass faintings in Cambodia sicken over 200 garment workers

Mass faintings CambodiaMore than 200 Cambodian garment workers have been hospitalized after episodes of mass fainting at three factories this week, highlighting problems within an industry that is critical to the kingdom's fledgling economy.

The plants all make clothes for brands such as sportswear giants Puma SE and Adidas. Both companies said they were investigating the incidents and would respond soon.

Tainted food, poor working conditions and the spraying of insecticide are suspected causes, AFP news agency reported, citing Khim Sunsoda, deputy governor of Pur Senchey district, where the incidents happened.

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Israel cancels Palestinian prisoner release

Palestinian prisonersIsrael will not free an expected fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners because of the Palestinians' push for recognition at the United Nations, Israel's chief negotiator said Thursday.

A statement from negotiator Tzipi Livni sent to The Associated Press described the Palestinians' decision to seek accessions to 15 international conventions through the U.N. violated the terms set for the prisoners' release. That comes as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described their U.N. move as a response to Israel's failure to release prisoners as promised at the end of March.

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US secretly created 'Cuban Twitter' to stir unrest

Cuban twitter created by USIn July 2010, Joe McSpedon, a U.S. government official, flew to Barcelona to put the final touches on a secret plan to build a social media project aimed at undermining Cuba's communist government.

McSpedon and his team of high-tech contractors had come in from Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Washington and Denver. Their mission: to launch a messaging network that could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans. To hide the network from the Cuban government, they would set up a byzantine system of front companies using a Cayman Islands bank account, and recruit unsuspecting executives who would not be told of the company's ties to the U.S. government.

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