New Briefs

A Catholic Church relief worker who recently returned from Pakistan's troubled Swat Valley said the 1.5 million civilians displaced by a government crackdown on militants are facing "horrible conditions." "They are without proper shelter and cannot stand the extreme heat," said Eric Dayal, of Caritas Pakistan. • As the government of Sri Lanka declared victory over Tamil separatists engaged in a 26-year battle for independence, Pope Benedict XVI appealed to both sides to protect civilians and asked the international community to provide aid to tens of thousands of refugees. • Disarmament advocates have called upon the Canadian government to endorse U.S. President Barack Obama's commitment to rid the world of nuclear weapons. "The complete elimination of nuclear weapons is the only lasting solution to the grave dangers that threaten our world," said Bruce Blair, president of the Washington-based World Security Institute. • The Vatican is launching iPhone and Facebook applications as part of a brand new Vatican Web site—www.pope2you.net—that is to go live on May 24.

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A Colombian Jesuit reflects on the visit of Pope Francis to his country.
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Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, talk while walking to a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington in July. Senate Republicans are planning a final, uphill push to erase President Barack Obama's health care law. But Democrats and their allies are going all-out to stop the drive. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
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