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Pope Francis vists ruined city in Iraq as part of historic trip

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Pope Francis vists ruined city in Iraq as part of historic trip

MOSUL, Iraq – Muslim and Christian residents of Mosul told Pope Francis of their lives under the brutal rule of Islamic State on Sunday as the pontiff blessed their vow to rise up from ashes, telling them that “fraternity is more durable than fratricide.”

Francis, on a historic trip to Iraq, flew into the Mosul by helicopter to encourage the binding of sectarian wounds and to pray for the dead of any religion.

The 84-year-old pope walked past ruins of houses and churches to a square that was once the thriving centre of the old town. The northern city was occupied by Islamic State from 2014 to 2017.

“Together we say no to fundamentalism. No to sectarianism and no to corruption,” the Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, Najeeb Michaeel, told the pope. Francis sat on a white chair surrounded by skeletons of buildings and dangling staircases.

Mosul’s Old City is home to ancient churches and mosques that were destroyed in 2017 during the bloody battle by Iraqi forces and an international military coalition to drive out Islamic State.

Corruption and infighting among Iraqi politicians still slow efforts to rebuild Mosul and large parts of the city remain in ruins.

The pope, visibly moved by the devastation around him, prayed for all of Mosul’s dead.

“How cruel it is that this country, the cradle of civilization, should have been afflicted by so barbarous a blow, with ancient places of worship destroyed and many thousands of people – Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and others – forcibly displaced or killed,” he said.

“Today, however, we reaffirm our conviction that fraternity is more durable than fratricide, that hope is more powerful than hatred, that peace more powerful than war.”

In an apparent direct reference to Islamic State, he said hope could never be “silenced by the blood spilled by those who pervert the name of God to pursue paths of destruction.”

He then read a prayer repeating one of the main themes of his trip, the first by a pope to Iraq, that it is always wrong to hate, kill or wage war in God’s name.

Fighters of Islamic State, a Sunni militant group that tried to establish a caliphate across the region, ravaged northern Iraq from 2014-2017, killing Christians as well as Muslims who opposed them.

Iraq’s Christian community, one of the oldest in the world, has been particularly devastated by the years of conflict, falling to about 300,000 from about 1.5 million before the U.S. invasion of 2003 and the brutal Islamist militant violence that followed.

Father Raid Adel Kallo, pastor of the destroyed Church of the Annunciation, told how in 2014 he left with 500 Christian families and how fewer than 70 families are present now.

“The majority have emigrated and are afraid to return,” he said.

“But I live here, with two million Muslims who call me father and I am living my mission with them,” he added, telling the pope of a committee of Mosul families who promote peaceful coexistence among Muslims and Christians.

The pope, blanketed in intense security on his trip to Iraq, has stressed religious tolerance.

On Saturday he held a historic meeting with Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric and visited the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham, condemning violence in the name of God as “the greatest blasphemy”.

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Mysterious lights streak across Seattle sky

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Mysterious lights streak across Seattle sky

Stargazers in the Pacific Northwest were left puzzled by another mysterious light show that illuminated the sky on Tuesday night.

Residents in the Seattle-area posted video on social media that showed lights streaking across the sky shortly after 9 p.m.

“Anyone know what I’m looking at flying by in the sky tonight? #ufo #seattle,” one Twitter user wrote, along with a video of passing lights.

Another person said on Twitter: “Um, someone want to explain this line of lights that just streaked across the Seattle sky? #ufo”

But the National Weather Service’s Seattle office tweeted that the lights appear to be linked to an earlier SpaceX satellite launch out of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Less than two months ago, a similar light show in the same area left residents equally confused at first.

But the streaking lights were determined to be the remains of a SpaceX rocket entering earth’s atmosphere.

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California woman arrested for allegedly harrasing black delivery driver

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California woman arrested for allegedly harrasing black delivery driver

A California woman is facing hate crime charges for allegedly harassing a black delivery driver with racial slurs last month, a report said.

Julie Warland, 35, is accused of targeting Amazon driver Kendall McIntosh on April 18 as he was finishing up his deliveries in North Berkeley, KRON reported.

Warland, along with her boyfriend, allegedly confronted McIntosh and Warland accusing him of speeding.

McIntosh told the station that the couple followed him to his next stop, where Warland allegedly started screaming at him and calling him names, including the n-word.

“Instantly just started cursing me out like, first sentence I’m getting cursed at,” McIntosh said.

“I was getting just racially profiled from the jump,” he said.

During the confrontation, Warland also jumped into the delivery van and grabbed a hold of the steering wheel to prevent McIntosh from leaving, he told the outlet.

“I was just trying to do my job and she wouldn’t allow me to,” McIntosh said.

Neighbors recorded part of the confrontation.

In a clip obtained by KRON, Warland and her boyfriend can be seen approaching McIntosh in front of a truck. Screaming can also be heard in the footage.

Berkeley police are treating the incident as a hate crime.

Warland is charged with suspicion of false imprisonment, battery, using offensive words and willfully threatening a person based on their appearance, the report said.

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Murder suspect and his infant son killed in police shootout

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Murder suspect and his infant son killed in police shootout

A Mississippi man who allegedly murdered two people was killed along with his infant son after he kidnapped the child and led police on a wild chase that ended in a shootout on Monday night.

The shootout occurred after Eric Smith, 30, led police on a miles-long pursuit that began in Louisiana, where he allegedly shot dead his ex-girlfriend Christin Parker, 32, and her 26-year-old nephew Brandon Parker earlier on Monday, WLOX reported.

Smith then kidnapped the child before police located his vehicle, leading to the chase.

After crossing into Mississippi, Smith avoided a tire deflation device laid out by police and eventually stopped his car in Harris County.

With the infant inside the car, Smith and police exchanged gunfire. Smith was shot and killed.

The baby, identified as La’Mello Parker, was also struck, according to the report.

Parker was hospitalized, but pronounced dead early Tuesday morning, authorities said.

The county coroner will determine if the baby was struck by a bullet or shrapnel, the report said.

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