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18 Jan

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Pope Francis thrills Manila as 3 million turn up for mass

Crowds fill main park in the capital as pontiff draws Philippines trip, in which he has strongly emphasised poverty, to a close

An estimated 3 million people filled Manila’s main park and surrounding areas for Pope Francis’s final mass in the Philippines on Sunday, braving a steady rain to hear the pontiff’s message of hope and consolation for the south-east Asian country’s most downtrodden and destitute.

Francis made a triumphant entry into Manila’s Rizal Park riding on a popemobile based on the design of a jeepney, the modified US army second world war jeep that is a common means of public transport here. He wore the same cheap, plastic yellow rain poncho handed out to the masses during his visit to typhoon-hit Tacloban a day earlier………………..

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On Tuesday, Obama will propose an ambitious plan to raise fees on banks in order to create tax cuts for the middle class.

On Tuesday, Obama will propose an ambitious plan to raise fees on banks in order to create tax cuts for the middle class. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP

Obama to propose $325bn plan to provide tax cuts for the middle class

President seeks to provide middle-class tax breaks by levying higher fees on banks, closing loopholes for trust funds, and raising the capital gains threshold

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address will propose closing multibillion-dollar tax loopholes used by the wealthiest Americans, imposing a fee on big financial firms and then using the revenue to benefit the middle class, senior administration officials said on Saturday.

Obama’s annual address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night will continue his theme of income equality. The administration is optimistic it will find some bipartisan support in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives and Senate…………………..

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Other News

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aj america

Syrian opposition to snub Moscow peace talks invite

Syrian opposition to snub Moscow peace talks invite

Most key opposition groups say they don’t trust Russia will be a neutral arbiter or that Assad is serious about peace

Topics:

Syria’s War

Syria

Russia

Bashar al-Assad

ISIL

International

Greek police arrest four in connection to Belgian attack plot

Greek police arrest four in connection to Belgian attack plot

The ringleader of a recently dismantled cell in Belgium may be among those arrested

Topics:
Greece
Counterterrorism
Terrorism
Belgium
CIA
International

Senators call on Saudi Arabia to cancel public flogging of blogger

Senators call on Saudi Arabia to cancel public flogging of blogger

Eight senators wrote a letter to King Abdullah warning that further human rights violations could threaten relationship

Topics:

Saudi Arabia

Human Rights

Press Freedom

Senate

International 

Refugees in Australian camp sew own lips shut in protest

Refugees in Australian camp sew own lips shut in protest

Hundreds more commence hunger strike, citing fears for their personal safety

Topics:

International

Australia

Immigration

Migrants

Refugees

Hunger Strike

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aj america

Opinion

pope environ

Conservatives misfire on ‘pagan green’ pope’s encyclical

American right wing mounts myopic attack on pontiff’s anticipated letter on environment

American right wing mounts myopic attack on pontiff’s anticipated letter on environment

Though Pope Francis won’t release his encyclical letter on the environment until this summer, the conservative contingent of the American commentariat has already rendered its verdict. Feverish disavowals of the encyclical — the contents of which are known only by subject matter and not one jot by text — have appeared in major conservative outlets, from Fox News to Forbes to sundry right-wing Catholic magazines. What is the substance of their furor?

The sheer diversity of complaints issuing from those who have no specific knowledge of the letter’s content should be enough to indicate a more general animus motivating these hypothetical gripes. In Forbes, Steve Moore accused Francis of advancing a “modern pagan green religion” and proclaimed that the encyclical will, through circuitous routes, “make the poor poorer.” On a Dec. 30 edition of Fox News’ “Special Report,” correspondent Doug McKelway surmised that the letter would put Francis in line with “environmental extremists who favor widespread birth control.” Crisis magazine, a hard-right Catholic publication, featured a piece by Rachel Lu suggesting that the unpublished encyclical “smack[s] of intellectual faddism,” while Maureen Mullarkey opined in a First Things post that the pope’s letter is evidence that “he is an ideologue and a meddlesome egoist.” A pompous pagan pope with no concern for the poor doesn’t sound much like the foot-washing Francis we all know, but the accusation that the pontiff is an ideologue is likely more telling than the author intended………………….

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