- - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

UNITED KINGDOM

Irish ex-priest jailed for child porn

LONDON — A defrocked Roman Catholic priest who admitted molesting more than 20 children in California has been sentenced to three years in prison in Ireland for possessing child pornography, court officials said Tuesday.

Oliver O'Grady, 66, was arrested in Dublin in December 2010 after leaving a computer containing pornographic images of children on a flight from Amsterdam.

O’Grady worked in Northern California from 1971 until 1993, when he was arrested for abusing two brothers. He served seven years in prison and was deported to his native Ireland in 2000. He later moved to the Netherlands for several years.

O'Grady was the subject of the Academy Award-nominated 2006 documentary “Deliver Us From Evil.” In the film, he spoke openly of abusing more than 20 children as he was shuffled from one parish to another in California through the 1970s and ‘80s.

PAKISTAN

Fighting over mountaintop kills over 60

PARACHINAR — Fighting between soldiers and Taliban militants over a strategic mountaintop in northwestern Pakistan has killed more than 60 people, a government official said Tuesday.

The battle started a week ago when government troops seized the top of Jogi mountain in the Kurram tribal area from militants, sparking clashes that killed six soldiers and 20 insurgents, said Wajid Khan, a local government administrator.

The militants retaliated Tuesday by attacking the soldiers who were trying to hold the location, touching off another round of fighting that killed 10 troops and more than 30 insurgents, Mr. Khan said.

The area is home to militants loyal to Pakistani Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud.

IRAQ

Sunni-backed lawmakers return to parliament

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s parliament reconvened Tuesday after Sunni-backed lawmakers ended their boycott to protest alleged persecution of Sunni officials, a development that could restore some stability in the war-ravaged country.

Last month, the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc banned lawmakers and government ministers from parliament and Cabinet sessions after the Shiite-led government issued an arrest warrant against Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges.

The boycott brought government work to a standstill and plunged the country into a political crisis just days after the U.S. completed its military withdrawal in mid-December.

The sectarian political fight has been accompanied by a surge in violence, killing more than 200 people this month and raising fears of a civil war.

RUSSIA

Radiation blamed for space probe failure

MOSCOW — The head of Russia’s space agency said Tuesday that cosmic radiation was the most likely cause of the failure of a Mars moon probe that crashed to Earth this month, and he suggested that a low-quality imported component may have been vulnerable to the radiation.

Vladimir Popovkin also said a manned launch to the International Space Station is being postponed from March 30 because of faults found in the Soyuz capsule.

The statements underline an array of trouble that has afflicted the country’s vaunted space program in recent months, including the August crash of a supply ship for the space station and last month’s crash of a communications satellite.

Since the end of the U.S. space-shuttle program last year, Russian craft are the only means to send crews to and from the space station.

SOUTH KOREA

U.S. diplomat sees ‘hope’ with N. Korea

SEOUL — A senior U.S. diplomat on Tuesday expressed “hope in diplomacy” for settling differences with North Korea, but he reassured ally South Korea that a lasting U.S.-South Korea military presence will back up any talks.

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt M. Campbell, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, also said Pyongyang must improve relations with rival Seoul before it can have better relations with the world.

EUROPE

Death toll from cold spell nears 60

KIEV, Ukraine — A severe cold spell in Eastern Europe has left at least 58 people dead over the past week, including dozens who were homeless.

Hundreds have sought medical help for hypothermia and frostbite, while snow and ice have disrupted traffic, cut off power and forced schools to close.

Temperatures have plunged to minus 17 degrees Fahrenheit in some parts of the region, and authorities are urging people to stay indoors or dress warmly.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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