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Hamas warns Abbas not to make changes

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Hamas' exiled political chief warned Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday not to make leadership changes without consulting the militant group, taking a hardened stance ahead of negotiations to form a new government.

Khaled Mashaal's strong warning may have been in response to Palestinian press reports that Abbas planned to appoint his current interior minister, Nasser Youssef, as deputy commander of Palestinian security forces. That would enable the Palestinian leader to keep control over the forces.

"I take this opportunity to tell [Abbas] not to make any new moves, changes or appointments" without consulting Hamas, Mashaal told a news conference in Cairo. "I am saying here that Hamas will not deal with any changes and will consider them null and void."


Pope mourns death of priest slain in Turkey

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday mourned the death of a Catholic priest slain in Turkey, and the 16-year-old suspect reportedly said he shot the priest in anger over newspaper drawings of the Prophet Muhammad.

The suspect told interrogators Tuesday that he killed the Rev. Andrea Santoro to avenge the publication of drawings depicting the prophet as a terrorist, Turkish newspapers and CNN-Turk television reported Wednesday, citing anonymous police officials.

Earlier, Bishop Luigi Padovese told reporters in Rome that he believed the killing on Sunday was an "isolated incident" although connected to a "recent anti-Christian climate."

The prophet drawings, which have been printed around the world and include an image of the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb, have sparked violent demonstrations in Muslim countries.


Church to acknowledge its role in slave trade

LONDON (AP) -- The Church of England voted Wednesday to acknowledge its complicity in the global slave trade and to urge governments to fight its modern equivalent: human trafficking.

The General Synod -- a national assembly elected from the laity and clergy of each diocese -- voted unanimously to commemorate next year's 200th anniversary of Britain's abolition of slavery by apologizing to the descendants of slaves for its role in the injustice.

"The profits from the slave trade were part of the bedrock of our country's industrial development," Thomas Butler, the bishop of Southwark, said in a speech before the vote. "Many people and institutions in every part of the country were complicit in the trans-Atlantic slave trade; and I have to say that this includes the Church of England."

The Rev. Simon Bessant told the synod before the 238-0 vote how the church's Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts owned slave-holding sugar plantations in Barbados.


Testimony links thefts of art to Getty curator

ROME (AP) -- An Italian official on Wednesday detailed how police turned up thousands of artifacts, some still covered in mud, in raids against art dealers allegedly linked to a former J. Paul Getty museum curator on trial here.

Anti-art theft official Salvatore Morando also described tests on the composition of a statue of Aphrodite that the Los Angeles museum bought for $18 million in 1988. He said the tests proved the statue was stolen from Sicily.

The statue is among some 40 pieces that Italy wants the Getty to return. The Italian Culture Ministry is currently in negotiations with the California museum.

Morando, an official with the Carabinieri, or paramilitary police, was called by the prosecution to testify in the trial of former Getty curator Marion True, accused of knowingly buying looted artifacts smuggled from Italy.

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