Pope presides over trimmed Easter Vigil service
VATICAN CITY | Pope Francis is celebrating a trimmed-back Easter Vigil service after having reached out to Muslims and women during a Holy Week in which he has begun to put his mark on the Catholic Church.
Francis processed into a darkened and silent St. Peter's Basilica at the start of the Saturday service, which recalls the period between Christ's crucifixion on Good Friday and resurrection on Easter Sunday. One of the most dramatic moments of the Easter Vigil service — when the pope would share the light of his candle with others until the entire basilica twinkled — was shortened this year as were some of the Old Testament readings, in keeping with Francis' aim to not have his Masses go on too long.
NKorea says it is in a 'state of war' with SKorea
SEOUL, South Korea | North Korea warned Seoul on Saturday the Korean Peninsula had entered "a state of war" and threatened to shut down a border factory complex that's the last major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.
Analysts say a full-scale conflict is extremely unlikely, noting the Korean Peninsula has remained in a technical state of war for 60 years. But the North's continued threats toward Seoul and Washington, including a vow to launch a nuclear strike, have raised worries a misjudgment between the sides could lead to a clash.
In Washington, the White House said Saturday the United States is taking seriously the new threats by North Korea but also noted Pyongyang's history of "bellicose rhetoric."
North Korea's threats are seen as efforts to provoke the new government in Seoul, led by President Park Geun-hye, to change its policies toward Pyongyang, and to win diplomatic talks with Washington that could get it more aid.
Eiffel Tower evacuated after bomb threat
PARIS | Police said the Eiffel Tower, one of the world's top tourist attractions, has been evacuated after an anonymous caller phoned in a bomb threat. A Paris police official said nearly 1,400 people were evacuated following a request from tower operators after the warning Saturday. Police then searched the monument with sniffer dogs for possible explosives, and set up a broad security perimeter.
French authorities have stepped up counterterrorism measures in recent weeks amid heightened concern about threats to France over its military campaign against al-Qaida-linked fighters in Mali, which began more than two months ago.
Kenyan Supreme Court upholds election result, loser urges peace, unity
NAIROBI, Kenya | Kenya's Supreme Court on Saturday upheld the election of Uhuru Kenyatta as the country's next president and the loser accepted that verdict, ending an election season that riveted the nation with fears of a repeat of the 2007-08 postelection violence.
Jubilant Kenyatta supporters flooded the streets of downtown Nairobi, honking horns, blowing plastic noisemakers and chanting. But supporters of defeated Prime Minister Raila Odinga angrily protested after the verdict and police fired tear gas at them outside the Supreme Court.
Two young men participating in riots were fatally shot in Kisumu, police spokesman Masoud Mwinyi said. Odinga, who had challenged the election results, accepted the court ruling and urged national unity and peace.
Egypt issues arrest warrant for TV satirist for allegedly insulting Islam
CAIRO | Egypt's state prosecutors ordered the arrest Saturday of a popular television satirist for allegedly insulting Islam and the country's leader, in a move that government opponents say is aimed at silencing critics of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
The arrest warrant for Bassem Youssef, who has come to be known as Egypt's Jon Stewart, followed an order earlier this week by the country's top prosecutor to arrest five prominent pro-democracy activists in what is seens as a widening campaign against dissent.
The acceleration in legal action targeting protesters, activists and critics comes against a backdrop of continued unrest in the country. Political compromise between the well-organized Islamists in power and their vocal liberal and largely secular critics remains elusive, while the country's economy is in near free fall.