• Nation and World Briefs
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     | August 16,2014
     

    WASHINGTON

    Critics slam Pentagon program

    The Missouri police department at the center of an uproar over the shooting death of an unarmed black teen-ager acquired two armored Humvees and other military gear for free through a Pentagon program that critics blame for “militarizing America’s Main Streets” and aggravating clashes between police and protesters.

    The Ferguson Police Department received the two Humvees as well as a generator and a flatbed trailer under the surplus equipment program run by the Defense Logistics Agency, which is in charge of getting supplies of all types for the military.

    News footage and photos of police outfitted in paramilitary gear clashing with protesters in Ferguson — a largely black suburb of St. Louis with a mostly white police force — have provided new impetus to efforts to rein in the Pentagon program. It provides assault weapons and other surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies across the country.



    DAEJEON, South Korea

    Pope to youth: Reject materialism

    Pope Francis called Friday for Catholics to combat the allure of materialism, an appeal that might be a hard sell in South Korea, a newly rich and hyper-competitive country.

    Far from being considered an evil, the trappings of wealth are often linked here to the hard work, sacrifice and gritty persistence of generations who hustled their nation out of war, dictatorship and poverty into an Asian powerhouse.

    “I don’t want to knock successful people off their pedestal just because they have a lot of money,” said Kim Eui-kyun, a 61-year-old from Seoul who described himself as a lapsed Catholic. “If someone has made a fortune for himself, fair and square, and has a lot of money, I don’t think that’s something to be condemned. I look up to them, actually, and I wonder, ‘What did I do wrong?”’


    Francis made the call during his first public Mass in Asia. He received a boisterous welcome from tens of thousands of young Asians gathered for a Catholic festival in the central city of Daejeon. During his homily, Francis urged the faithful to reject “inhuman” economic policies that disenfranchise the poor and “the spirit of unbridled competition which generates selfishness and strife.”

    It’s a theme he has raised frequently during his pontificate, railing against the “idolatry of money” and the excesses of capitalism that leave the poorest even further on the margins of society. While his message has been met with skepticism among some conservatives in the U.S. who have branded him a Marxist, it has been welcomed in much of the developing world and even some South Koreans said Friday he had a point.



    PITIGLIANO, Italy

    Mourners remember journalist

    Several hundred mourners packed the ornate cathedral of this hilltop Tuscan town on Friday to remember Associated Press video journalist Simone Camilli as a committed storyteller who had found personal and professional contentment in the Middle East. An image of Camilli, leaning pensively over the balcony of the AP office in Gaza with smoke billowing behind him, stood near the simple unfinished wooden casket that accompanied his body back to Italy, and which his family chose to retain in deference to his preference for simplicity.

    “You might think he was a thrill-seeker. Simone wasn’t one of those,” said friend and AP colleague Chris Slaney. “His best work was filmed far from the front lines. He was proud of items which were simple, human stories well-told.”

    --– The Associated Press

    Camilli was killed Wednesday in the Gaza Strip when leftover ordnance believed to have been dropped in an Israeli airstrike blew up. Also killed was freelance Palestinian translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash, who was buried Wednesday. Four police engineers also died in the explosion and AP photographer Hatem Moussa was among three people badly wounded.

    Video images made by Camilli were projected in the cathedral complex in Pitigliano, and mourners streaming to the funeral Mass were visibly moved as they paused to watch.

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