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Salvage crews finish pumping oil cargo from sunken barge in Lake Erie, most tanks found empty

TOLEDO, Ohio Salvage crews have finished pumping hazardous oil-based substances from a sunken barge that apparently had been sitting undiscovered on the bottom of Lake Erie for nearly 80 years, the U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday.

Federal officials overseeing the underwater operation say the barge no longer poses an environmental threat.

A political tempest over grief, gun control and prayer plays out after latest mass shooting

WASHINGTON It’s a natural reaction in times of grief: Politicians from both parties offered supportive thoughts and prayers for those killed in the San Bernardino shootings. But within hours, social media was awash with pushback from gun control advocates calling out those who offer prayers without pushing for tighter gun laws.

US-led coalition targets oil facilities controlled by Islamic State group in eastern Syria

LONDON British Tornado jets struck oil fields in eastern Syria on Thursday that help finance the Islamic State group and Germany prepared to send reconnaissance aircraft to the Middle East as coalition forces stepped up efforts to fight the militants.

Pope Francis says in Central African Republic there should be no violence in the name of God

BANGUI, Central African Republic Pope Francis ventured into a volatile Muslim neighbourhood of Central African Republic’s capital on Monday to bring his message of reconciliation to the city’s main mosque, insisting that Christians and Muslims have long lived peacefully together here and that religion can never justify violence.

Vatican puts 2 journalists on trial in process decried by media groups as ‘Kafka-esque’

VATICAN CITY Two Italian journalists who wrote books detailing Vatican mismanagement faced trial Tuesday in a Vatican courtroom along with three people accused of leaking them the information, in a case that has drawn scorn from media watchdogs.

Fear grips Syria’s Raqqa as airstrikes intensify, IS stiffens defences after Paris attack

BEIRUT Islamic State militants are stiffening their defences for a possible assault on their de facto capital of Raqqa, as international airstrikes intensify on the Syrian city in retaliation for the Paris attacks. IS fighters are hiding in civilian neighbourhoods and preventing anyone from fleeing, former residents say.