Pope Francis urges Philippine authorities to reject corruption
Pope Francis has called for authorities in the Philippines to reject corruption and urged them to work to end the country’s “scandalous” poverty. On his first full day in Asia’s largest Catholic nation, an unprecedented level of security prevented the pope from walking among the crowds as he typically likes to do, AP reported. In a speech to President Benigno Aquino III and other officials in the presidential palace, Francis said that more than ever, political leaders must be “outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good.”
Warring factions agree on ‘agenda’ for Libyan unity govt
Libya’s warring factions have agreed on an “agenda" to form a unity government, AFP reported, citing UN officials. After two days of UN-brokered talks in Geneva, the participants agreed “on an agenda that includes reaching a political agreement to form a consensual national unity government and the necessary security arrangements to end the fighting,” a statement read.
China arrests 60,500 in drug sweep
Police in China have arrested 60,500 people for drug-related crimes and seized 11.14 metric tons of narcotics in a vast sweep, Reuters said. Authorities handled 52,800 drug crime cases from late September to December during a campaign dubbed “Ban drugs in hundreds of cities,” according to a report by Xinhua news agency. The campaign will last until April. Around 180,000 drug users had been punished by mid-December.
German police raid suspected Islamist cells in Berlin, 1 arrested
German police officers raided suspected Islamist cells in and around Berlin early Friday. An alleged leader of a group planning to carry out an attack in Syria was arrested, AFP reported. The man, 41, of Turkish origin, is suspected of “leading an Islamist extremist group made up of Turkish and Russian nationals from Chechnya and Dagestan,” police said. There is no indication that the group was preparing attacks inside Germany.
Ebola crisis has ‘passed the tipping point’ - UN envoy
The Ebola crisis has “passed the tipping point,” AFP quoted the UN special envoy as saying. UN Ebola coordinator David Nabarro cited fresh data from the World Health Organization showing that all three hardest-hit countries in West Africa had registered the lowest weekly tally of new cases in months. Liberia reported its lowest weekly number of new cases since early June. Guinea and Sierra Leone both saw the fewest new cases since August. There is now a reasonable chance the deadly outbreak could end quickly, Nabarro said.
2 Italian women abducted in Syria released, return to Rome
Two Italian aid workers abducted in northern Syria last summer arrived in Rome on Friday, a day after they were released, AFP reported. Greta Ramelli, 20, and Vanessa Marzullo, 21, were welcomed by Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni after their flight from Turkey landed at Ciampino military airport near the Italian capital at 0300 GMT. The women from Lombardy disappeared on July 31 near Aleppo in northern Syria three days after they arrived from Turkey