Popes comments do not endorse birth control
VATICAN CITY (AP) The Vatican on Tuesday sought to clarify the popes controversial comments about condoms and HIV, saying he by no means suggested condom use could be condoned as a means of avoiding pregnancy.
The Vaticans moral watchdog, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a statement Tuesday saying some commentators had misunderstood and misrepresented the popes remarks in a book-length interview released last month called Light of the World.
The Vatican has been under pressure from conservative theologians to issue such a clarification amid widespread confusion about what Pope Benedict XVI meant and whether he was breaking with church teaching.
In the book, Benedict said that condoms werent the real or moral solution to battling HIV and AIDS. But he said the intention to use condoms in some cases, such as for male prostitutes, could be a first step toward a more moral and responsible human sexuality.
WikiLeaks Julian Assange says hes victim of leaks
LONDON (AP) It has come to this: Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is complaining that someone leaked a Swedish police report about his alleged sexual offenses.
In an interview with the British newspaper The Times, Assange complained about reporting in the rival newspaper The Guardian, which is one of several publications that has been helping WikiLeaks edit its trove of secret U.S. diplomatic files in exchange for an early look at them.
The Guardian published details Saturday of the Swedish police report in which two women accuse Assange of rape, based on what it described as unauthorized access to prosecutors files. Assange claimed the newspaper was selectively publishing parts of it, and questioned the timing of the leak, saying it was given to the paper a day before his bail hearing last week.
Palestinians, Israelis trade rocket fire, airstrikes
JERUSALEM (AP) Israel on Tuesday launched an unusually heavy series of airstrikes on Gaza in retaliation for Palestinian rocket attacks, raising the prospect of a new round of bloody fighting after a relative lull for two years.
The military said the Israeli strikes hit seven different targets in Gaza. Palestinian officials said eight militants were wounded. Then the Palestinians fired another rocket at southern Israel, lightly wounding a 16-year-old Israeli girl.
The violence came after the deaths of five Gaza militants Saturday in the deadliest Israeli assault on the coastal strip in months, indicating a trend of escalation. Two years ago, incessant rocket barrages from Gaza led Israel to launch a punishing three-week invasion that left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead, including many civilians.
Christmas tree sign of new propaganda war
GIMPO, South Korea (AP) As troops stood guard and a choir sang carols Tuesday, South Koreans lit a massive steel Christmas tree that overlooks the worlds most heavily armed border and is within sight of atheist North Korea.
The lighting of the tree after a seven-year hiatus marked a pointed return to a tradition condemned in Pyongyang as propaganda. The provocative ceremony which must receive government permission also was a sign that President Lee Myung-baks administration is serious about countering the Norths aggression with measures of its own in the wake of an artillery attack that killed four South Koreans last month.
While the North has made some conciliatory gestures in recent days indicating to a visiting U.S. governor that it might allow international inspections of its nuclear programs Seoul appears unmoved.