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Thursday, Apr 24th

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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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Israel: radical settlers spray hate graffiti on monastery

Jerusalem vandalsVandals scrawled hate graffiti on a Catholic monastery in central Israel and slashed the tires of nearby cars weeks before Pope Francis visits the Holy land, Israeli police said Tuesday.

Slogans against Mideast peace talks with the Palestinians as well as graffiti disparaging Jesus and Mary were found on the outer walls of the Deir Rafat monastery close to Jerusalem.

Israeli police are investigating and searching for suspects, spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

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Huge Earthquake Strikes Off Coast of Chile

chile earthquakeA magnitude-8.2 earthquake off the coast of Chile has sparked tsunami warnings and watches in countries throughout the Pacific, including Peru and Ecuador. Potential threats to Hawaii are currently being evaluated

A magnitude 8.2 earthquake struck off the coast of Chile Tuesday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says a tsunami has been generated as a result of the earthquake, but it remains uncertain if a tsunami will reach land.

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Japan Ends Half-Century Ban on Weapons Exports

Shinzo AbeTaking his nation another step away from its postwar pacifism, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discarded a half-century ban on the export of weapons and military hardware on Tuesday, a move aimed at helping Japan assume a larger regional security role to offset China’s growing military might.

The decision, which had been under consideration for years before Mr. Abe took office, replaced the self-imposed ban dating back to the late 1960s with new, still-restrictive guidelines that permit the export of weapons only to allies and partners that agree not to sell them to third nations without Japanese approval. The new guidelines will also make it easier for Japan to join multinational development projects for expensive new weapons systems, like the American-led effort to build the F-35 stealth fighter jet.

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