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Pope Benedict to Hold Outdoor Mass in Washington


US - POPE: Pope Benedict will hold an outdoor Mass today in Washington as he continues his six-day visit to the United States. A crowd of more than 45-thousand is expected at Nationals Park, the new stadium for the city's major-league baseball team. Later in the day, the pope is scheduled to meet with Catholic educators at the city's Catholic University, and host an interfaith gathering with leaders of several religions. During an evening prayer service Wednesday, the pope rebuked American bishops for their handling of the child abuse scandal in the U.S. Catholic church.

KENYA: Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has taken the oath of office as part of a new power-sharing Cabinet formed after a deadly post-election crisis. Mr. Odinga was sworn in today in front of President Mwai Kibaki and former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Mr. Annan brokered the agreement between Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga, and has urged Kenyans to support the newly-appointed coalition government. The new minister for medical services tells VOA the Cabinet has already begun working together to help the country recover from the post-election crisis, particularly the problem of internally displaced people.

OLYMPIC TORCH: Pro-Tibetan activists are staging protests across India today, as officials conduct the Olympic torch relay in the capital, New Delhi. Police in the financial capital, Mumbai, arrested about 25 people as they tried to storm the Chinese consulate. The activists are condemning a crackdown by Olympics host China on recent demonstrations in Tibet. In New Delhi, some 15-thousand security personnel have been mobilized to guard against violence. Indian authorities shortened the original torch relay route and have limited public access to the route.

SOKOR - SAMSUNG: Special prosecutors in South Korea have indicted Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee on charges of tax evasion and breach of trust. The charges against Lee, announced today in Seoul, were brought in connection with a three-month probe of alleged corruption at South Korea's biggest family-run conglomerates, known as "chaebol." But prosecutors say they will not place the 66-year-old Lee under arrest. The probe was launched in January after Samsung's former chief attorney said the company had created a special slush fund to bribe government officials.

EAST TIMOR - PRESIDENT: East Timor's president, Jose Ramos-Horta, has returned home after more than two months of treatment in Australia for wounds sustained in an assassination attempt. Thousands of supporters and school children waving East Timorese flags welcomed their leader today as he stepped off the plane in the capital, Dili. Mr. Ramos-Horta was flown to a Darwin, Australia hospital after rebels ambushed him outside his home on February 11th. The attack was led by rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, who was killed in the ambush.

US - CAMBODIA PLOT: A jury in Los Angeles, (in the western U.S. state of) California has convicted a Cambodian-born U.S. citizen of orchestrating a failed coup attempt against the government of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Yasith Chhun was found guilty Wednesday on four charges against him that included conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, and engaging in a military expedition against a country with which the United States is at peace. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison when he is sentenced on September eighth.

MALAYSIA - MEDIA: Malaysian authorities have shut down a Tamil-language daily newspaper, saying it violated media guidelines. Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar says the government has revoked the publishing license of Makkal Osai, an outspoken newspaper that has had previous run-ins with the government. It was not immediately clear just how the newspaper had violated government guidelines, and why Makkal Osai was absent from newsstands today. The newspaper has given wide coverage to recent opposition rallies and to Indian activists who marshaled some 20-thousand ethnic Indians to protest against alleged racial discrimination late last year.

IRAQ: A suicide bomber has attacked a funeral in northern Iraq, killing at least 49 people and wounding at least 20 others. Police sources say the bomber blew himself up today in a village near Kirkuk. The funeral was for two members of a local group that has been fighting al-Qaida forces. The violence follows a series of fatal bombings this week in Sunni Arab areas. On Tuesday more than 50 people were killed and almost 100 wounded in attacks in Baquba and Ramadi. U.S. and Iraqi military authorities blamed al-Qaida for the attacks.

BRITAIN - US: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will meet with U.S. President George Bush today at the White House. Mr. Brown and Mr. Bush are expected to discuss the struggling global economy, which has contributed to both leaders' low approval ratings in their home countries. They are also expected to discuss Britain's intentions to reduce the number of its troops deployed in southern Iraq. After their talks, Mr. Bush will host a private dinner for the British leader and his wife in the White House.

BRAZIL - BIOFUELS: Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says the production of biofuels is not contributing to world food scarcity. He spoke Wednesday in Brasilia, at a meeting of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. Earlier this week, a U.N. agency (UNESCO) report said biofuel is diverting food crops toward fuel production. It warned that hunger is approaching a crisis stage in parts of Asia, while food riots are erupting in African and Caribbean nations.

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