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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is calling for courageous defense of children to protect them from abuse.

Francis made no mention of the church scandals in many countries in which clergy abused children and hierarchy covered up for them. At a Mass he celebrated Sunday in crowded St. Peter's Square, Francis said abuse victims are in his prayers.

He stressed that all must work with courage so that children, who are among the most vulnerable people, be always defended and protected.

Ignoring sometimes heavy rain, Francis toured the square in a popemobile, but left the vehicle to embrace disabled adults and children along his route.

In a surprise, he ventured beyond the Vatican's confines, riding the popemobile down a Rome boulevard to greet thousands of cheering faithful who couldn't fit in the square.

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BEIRUT (AP) — Syria says the recent Israeli airstrikes against its territory are a "flagrant violation of international law" and have made the Middle East "more dangerous."

Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi read out a Cabinet statement to reporters Sunday in Damascus following an emergency government meeting.

Al-Zoubi says the Israeli attack is evidence of the Jewish state's links with Islamic extremist groups trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad's regime.

He adds that Syria has the right and the duty "to defend its people by all available means."

In a letter sent to the United Nations and the U.N. Security Council, Syria sats the attacks aim "to give direct military support to terrorist groups" fighting the government.

Syria's government refers to rebels trying to topple President Bashar Assad's regime as "terrorists."

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Less than a week after students and faculty marched in protest of Saint Louis University President, Father Lawrence Biondi, he stepped down.

Bionbi announced his plan to resign in front of a crowd at Chairfetz Arena during a celebration of his 25 years of leadership. A statement released by SLU on Saturday night said in part, "Just as I helped lead SLU's transformation when I arrive here more than 25 years ago, I know it is now time for the next transformation to begin."

Biondi says he will assist in the search for a new president. That process will start this fall.

Sunday, 05 May 2013 09:02
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PECULIAR, Mo. (AP) — A 21-year-old Missouri man is accused of impersonating a police officer during two traffic stops, including one that sparked an armed confrontation with a shotgun-toting teenager.

The Kansas City Star reports Beaudonavan Martin Jr. of Peculiar has been charged with two felony counts of unlawful use of a weapon and one misdemeanor count of impersonating an officer.

One man told police the suspect was "cussing and very angry" during an encounter Tuesday night. In a second case that night, a teenage couple asked a friend to get his shotgun because someone was tailgating them and flashing his lights.

The two victims arrived at the friend's location and say the suspect got out of his vehicle holding a handgun and ordered the teen with the shotgun to drop it.

Sunday, 05 May 2013 09:01
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