- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 13, 2010

FRANCE

French fill trains on Day 2 of strike

PARIS | French commuters elbowed their way onto packed subways and buses Wednesday on the second day of an open-ended strike against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to raise the retirement age to 62. The government held firm despite the walkouts.

Meanwhile, France’s upper house of parliament pushed back a planned vote on the retirement reform bill until next Wednesday to debate some 820 amendments floated by the Socialist-led opposition, said a spokeswoman for Mr. Sarkozy’s governing UMP party in the Senate. It had been scheduled to vote Friday.

Railway workers voted to carry their strike to a third day, hoping to keep up the momentum of a movement that brought at least 1.2 million people to the streets for nationwide protests Tuesday. Strikers continued blocking oil refineries, raising concerns of gasoline shortages.

Elsewhere, however, the strike appeared to diminish, from airports to the Eiffel Tower to student pickets at high schools.

VATICAN CITY

Mideast conflict blamed for Christian exodus

Bishops summoned to the Vatican to discuss the flight of Christians from the Middle East have blamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for spurring much of the exodus and warned that the consequences could be devastating for the birthplace of Christianity.

Some bishops have singled out the emergence of fanatical Islam for the flight. But others have directly or indirectly accused Israel of discriminating against Arab Christians and impeding solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In fact, the working document of the two-week synod accused the Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian territories of creating difficulties in everyday life for Palestinian Christians, including their religious life because their access to holy sites is dependent on Israeli military permission.

Pope Benedict XVI convened the two-week synod, which continued Wednesday, to try to encourage Christians in the largely Muslim region, where the Catholic Church has long been a minority and is shrinking as a result of war, conflict, discrimination and economic problems.

PAKISTAN

U.S. air strikes kill 11 militants

DERA ISMAIL KHAN | Suspected U.S. unmanned aircraft launched four missile strikes at a house and two vehicles in northwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border Wednesday evening, killing 11 militants, including three foreigners, said intelligence officials.

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