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Two trawlers, a Russian helicopter, a rescue vessel, two steamboats and a Japanese maritime safety department ship were conducting the search. Efforts were hampered by strong winds and high waves.

Nikolay Sukhanov, a top official from Russia’s Sailors Union, told RIA Novosti he thought the size of the crew, its flag and route could suggest that the ship was poaching in the waters on the Russian-Japanese maritime border.


Pope urges end to Syria bloodshed

Pope Benedict XVI called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria and the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in his Christmas message Sunday, an appeal for peace that was challenged by deadly attacks on Nigerian churches.

Benedict delivered his “Urbi et Orbi” speech (Latin for “to the city and to the world”) from the central loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica overlooking a sun-drenched piazza below, before thousands of jubilant tourists and pilgrims, and hundreds of colorful Swiss Guards and Italian military bands.

The 84-year-old, fresh off a late-night Christmas Eve Mass, said he prayed that the birth of Jesus, which Christmas celebrates, would send a message to all who need to be saved from hardships.

He cited refugees from the Horn of Africa and flood victims in Thailand, among others, and called for greater political dialogue in Myanmar, and stability in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa’s Great Lakes region.

He said he prayed that God would help the Israelis and the Palestinians resume talks.

“May He bring an end to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has already been shed,” he said.


Archbishop: Bonds, trust broken in Britain

LONDON — The summer riots in Britain and the financial crisis have broken bonds and abused trust in British society, the archbishop of Canterbury said in his Christmas Day sermon.

Archbishop Rowan Williams appealed to those congregated at Canterbury Cathedral on Sunday to learn lessons about “mutual obligation” from the events of the past year.

Citing the four days of British riots and the current European debt crisis, the archbishop said “the most pressing question” now facing Britain is “who and where we are as a society.”

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