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Thursday, Dec 18th

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US believed FBI mole passed secrets to IRA in Thatcher murder plot, files reveal

FBI mole in IRA plotThe US government suspected that a mole inside the FBI was passing secrets to Irish republican militants who repeatedly plotted to assassinate Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s and 90s, files released to the Guardian showed on Monday.

A series of investigations by federal agents into alleged plots to murder Thatcher during visits to the US are detailed in hundreds of pages of FBI files involving the former prime minister, which were made public following a freedom of information request made after her death.

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Israeli jets 'strike near Damascus' - Syrian state TV

Syria hit by Israeli jetsIsrael has been accused of carrying out two air strikes on Syria near the capital Damascus, according to Syrian and Lebanese television reports.

Israeli planes bombed the area near Damascus international airport and the town of Dimas, media reports said. Residents said they heard explosions.

No casualties were reported. There has been no confirmation of the air strikes from Israel.

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Prosecutor freezes accounts of ex-Vatican bank heads

vatican funds frozenThe Vatican's top prosecutor has frozen 16 million euros in bank accounts owned by two former Vatican bank managers and a lawyer as part of an investigation into the sale of Vatican-owned real estate in the 2000s, according to the freezing order and other legal documents.

Prosecutor Gian Piero Milano said he suspected the three men, former bank president Angelo Caloia, ex-director general Lelio Scaletti, and lawyer Gabriele Liuzzo, of embezzling money while managing the sale of 29 buildings sold by the Vatican bank to mainly Italian buyers between 2001 and 2008, according to a copy of the freezing order reviewed by Reuters.

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600,000 Filipinos flee as typhoon blows near

Philippine typhoonHaunted by Typhoon Haiyan's massive devastation last year, more than 600,000 people fled Philippine villages and the military went on full alert Saturday to brace for a powerful storm only hours away from the country's eastern coast.

Typhoon Hagupit — Filipino for "smash" or "lash" — was expected to slam into the central Philippines Sunday morning and hammer parts of a region where Haiyan's tsunami-like storm surges and ferocious winds left more than 7,300 people dead and missing in November last year. The typhoon slightly weakened Saturday but remained dangerously powerful and erratic.

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Huge Israeli Arms Buy Nobody's Talking About

fi35The Israeli parliament has become a turbulent place in the past few weeks — even more so than usual. What with key politicians getting fired, there’s been lots of chatter about what this shake-up will mean for the Israel-U.S. relationship. But it may not mean very much at all.

It’s worth noting that while coalition disputes (supposedly) led to the dissolution of the parliament this week, the cabinet still functioned well enough to approve on Sunday a $2-billion deal to purchase stealth fighter jets from American aerospace company Lockheed Martin.

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US teacher killed as Americans targeted in separate Abu Dhabi attacks

Ibolya RyanAmerican citizens in the United Arab Emirates were targeted in attacks that saw the killing of a teacher and the attempted murder of a doctor.

On Monday, a 47-year-old American schoolteacher was stabbed to death in a bathroom of the Boutik Mall in the capital Abu Dhabi. A female suspect has been arrested, though she has not been publicly identified.

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Vatican finds hundreds of millions of euros 'tucked away': cardinal

George PellThe Vatican's economy minister has said hundreds of millions of euros were found "tucked away" in accounts of various Holy See departments without having appeared in the city-state's balance sheets.

In an article for Britain's Catholic Herald Magazine to be published on Friday, Australian Cardinal George Pell wrote that the discovery meant overall Vatican finances were in better shape than previously believed.

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