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Vatican acknowledges 'no excuse' for child abuse
Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 07:47

GENEVA (AP) — The Vatican has acknowledged there can be "no excuse" for child abuse, confronted for the first time at length and in public over the global priest sex abuse scandal.

At a U.N. hearing, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's representative in Geneva, says "such crimes can never be justified" whether committed at home, school, sports activities or in religious organizations and structures.

Tomasi told a U.N. committee Thursday the Holy See welcomes any suggestions that could help it in promoting and encouraging the respect of the rights of the child.

He spoke at the beginning of a hearing at which the Vatican is being challenged with allegations it enabled the rape of thousands of children by protecting pedophile priests and its own reputation at the expense of victims.


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Summary

 
Senate ready to send $1.1 trillion spending bill to Obama
Written by ALAN FRAM, Associated Press   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 07:44

WASHINGTON (AP) — Drained of much of its vitriol over the budget, Congress is poised to adopt a $1.1 trillion package financing federal agencies this year, a bipartisan compromise that all but banishes the specter of an election-year government shutdown.

The Democratic-controlled Senate planned to give final congressional approval to the immense spending measure, possibly as early as Thursday. The Republican-run House passed the package Wednesday in a lopsided 359-67 vote that underscored how both parties could claim wins in the measure — and how both saw deep perils in fighting over it.

"Not everyone will like everything in this bill," said Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., the House Appropriations Committee chairman. Rogers and his Senate counterpart, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., were the chief authors. "That's the nature of compromise."

The legislation is a line-by-line follow-up to the budget compromise the two parties pushed through Congress in December that set overall spending limits for the next two years.

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Report: Systemic failures led to Benghazi attacks
Written by BY KIMBERLY DOZIER, AP Intelligence Writer   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 07:12

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan Senate report on the attacks on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, paints a picture of systemic failure of security for U.S. diplomats overseas that led to the deaths of the ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.

The intelligence community didn't send enough warnings, the State Department didn't take the warnings it did get seriously enough, and the military was caught flat-footed when called on to rescue those in need, according to a long-delayed Senate Intelligence Committee report released Wednesday.

U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, information technology specialist Sean Smith and CIA security contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty died in the attacks that took place Sept. 11-12, 2012.

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W.Virginia spill shows vulnerability of water supply
Written by BEN NUCKOLS, Associated Press   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 07:15

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — It's a nightmare scenario that became all too real in West Virginia: a chemical seeped into the water supply and threatened to sicken hundreds of thousands of people.

While no one became seriously ill from last week's chemical spill, some homeland security experts said the emergency was proof the United States has not done nearly enough to protect water systems from accidental spills or deliberate contamination.

Officials found out about the spill when people started calling in complaints about a strong licorice-type smell in the air. West Virginia American Water, which supplies 300,000 people with water in the central part of the state, said it would not have detected the chemical because it's not a substance utilities test for. Before the spill, no standards existed for measuring the chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, in water, the utility said.

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Cheating alleged in U.S. nuclear missile force
Written by LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press ROBERT BURNS, Associated Press   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 07:11

WASHINGTON (AP) — In what may be the biggest such scandal in Air Force history, 34 officers entrusted with land-based nuclear missiles have been pulled off the job for alleged involvement in a cheating ring that officials say was uncovered during a drug probe.

The 34 are suspected of cheating several months ago on a routine proficiency test that includes checking missile launch officers' knowledge of how to handle an "emergency war order," which is the term for the authorization required to launch a nuclear weapon.

The cheating scandal is the latest in a series of Air Force nuclear stumbles documented in recent months by The Associated Press, including deliberate violations of safety rules, failures of inspections, breakdowns in training, and evidence that the men and women who operate the missiles from underground command posts are suffering burnout. In October the general who commands the nuclear missile force was fired for engaging in embarrassing behavior, including drunkenness, while leading a U.S. delegation to a nuclear exercise in Russia.

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