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VATICAN CITY: New abuse rules found wanting

The Vatican revised its in-house rules to deal with clerical sex abuse cases Thursday, targeting priests who molest the mentally disabled as well as children and doubling the statute of limitations for such crimes. Abuse victims said the rules offer few substantive changes, and what is needed are rules to punish bishops who shield pedophiles. Women's ordination groups criticized the new rules because they included the attempted ordination of women as a "grave crime" subject to the same punishments meted out for sex abuse. The rules, which cover the canonical procedures and penalties for the most serious sacramental and moral crimes, were issued as the Vatican confronts one of the worst scandals in recent history: revelations of hundreds of cases of priests who raped and sodomized children, bishops who covered up, and Vatican officials who stood by passively.


Still no report on rights of children

The head of a UN panel in Geneva said Thursday the Vatican has failed to send the United Nations a report on child rights, now almost 13 years overdue. Like all countries that signed the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Vatican is required to submit regular reports on its efforts to safeguard child rights. But the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has received no explanation from the Holy See for why it missed a 1997 deadline, the committee's chairwoman, Yanghee Lee, told The Associated Press.


IRAN: Bombs kill 20 outside mosque

Twin bombings killed at least 20 people outside a mosque in the southeast Thursday, including members of the Revolutionary Guard, in attacks that came less than a month after Iran hanged the leader of militant insurgents in the region. The explosions, apparently suicide bombings, were reported to have torn through a crowd of Shia worshipers at the mosque in the provincial capital, Zahedan.


AFGHANISTAN: 5 health employees abducted

Gunmen kidnapped five Health Ministry employees in volatile Kandahar province while insurgents killed a district official elsewhere, reportedly on the orders of the Taliban supreme leader, officials said Thursday. Also in the south, two U.S. service members were killed in a roadside bombing, NATO said. Members of a medical team were abducted Wednesday while returning to Kandahar city after visiting a project in Maiwand district. In neighboring Uruzgan province, insurgents manning a makeshift checkpoint pulled a district leader out of his vehicle and shot him dead on Tuesday.


EUROPE: It's hot from Germany to Russia

It's so hot that women in bikinis are sunbathing in Kolomenskoye park in Moscow. A heat wave across much of Europe is causing crops to wither and roads to melt. From the Urals mountains to western Germany, a week of temperatures hovering stubbornly in the mid-90s has baked northern parts of Europe.

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