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- GOP offer to fix VA gives $10 billion in emergency funds
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- Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death
World Briefs: Soldier gives birth in Afghanistan
Question of the Day
LONDON — A British soldier has given birth to a son while serving in Afghanistan at the same camp where Prince Harry is deployed and a Taliban attack last week killed two U.S. Marines.
The birth in a combat zone field hospital is thought to be the first ever case of its type for Britain's military.
The Fijian national, a gunner with the Royal Artillery, delivered the child Tuesday at Camp Bastion, the major British base in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, which last week suffered a major attack in which two U.S. Marines were killed and six American fighter jets destroyed.
Britain's defense ministry said Thursday that it had not been aware the soldier was pregnant, and stressed that it does not allow female soldiers to deploy on operation if they are pregnant. It declined to say whether the soldier, who has not been named, was aware of her pregnancy.
The woman had deployed to Afghanistan in March, meaning her child was conceived before her tour of duty began.
Police kill 2 more in crackdown on strike
RUSTENBURG — Days after soldiers were deployed, South African President Jacob Zuma's office announced Thursday that he has ordered military forces to assist police trying to control labor unrest in the nation's crucial mining sector.
Despite resolution of the longest and bloodiest strike, two more deaths were reported.
Even as miners returned to work Thursday at the Lonmin PLC platinum mine in Marikana, where police killed 34 miners Aug. 16, labor advocates said police killed two more people: a ruling party municipal councilor who died of injuries from a rubber bullet and a miner who was run over by an armored car.
Mr. Zuma's office said he was invoking the constitution to use the military to support police "in the prevention and combating of crime as well as the maintenance of law and order in the Marikana Area and other areas around the country where needed" until Jan. 31.
The notice from the presidency referred to Section 201 (2) of the constitution, which states that "only the President, as head of the national executive, may authorize the employment of the defense force."
Last weekend some 1,000 soldiers were trucked into the "platinum belt" northwest of Johannesburg.
Poland urges Ukraine to make East-West choice
KIEV — Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski urged Ukraine's leader Thursday to push for integration with the European Union but acknowledged that a key obstacle is the country's jailing of its former premier, Yulia Tymoshenko.
After talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev, Mr. Komorowski said Ukraine must decide whether it wants to align itself with the EU or join a Russia-led customs union.
"It is impossible to implement those two scenarios at the same time," Mr. Komorowski said at a news conference with Mr. Yanukovych. "A choice has to be made."
Mrs. Tymoshenko, the country's top opposition leader and the heroine of the 2004 Orange Revolution, is serving a seven-year jail term on charges of abuse of office while leading natural gas import negotiations with Russia in 2009.
Mrs. Tymoshenko, 51, denies the charges and accuses Mr. Yanukovych, the antagonist of the Orange Revolution, of throwing her in jail in order to bar her from Ukraine's Oct. 28 parliamentary election.
The nation's relations with the EU have been strained over her treatment, which the West has condemned as politically motivated. The EU has balked at implementing a key cooperation deal with Ukraine over the Tymoshenko case.
Mr. Komorowski said Mrs. Tymoshenko's jailing is a key impediment n Ukraine's road into the European club.
Government bans anti-French protests
TUNIS — Tunisia has banned any protests Friday against a French satirical weekly's publication of lewd, crude caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
Interior Minister Ali Larayedh told Shems FM radio Thursday that authorities sensed some groups were planning to pillage and carry out violence after the weekly communal prayers at mosques.
The publication of the cartoons this week by the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris has raised concerns that French interests could face violent protests such as the ones targeting the United States over an amateur video produced in California. The government of France, a former colonial ruler in Tunisia, has ordered its embassies and other official sites in about 20 countries across the Muslim world closed Friday as a precaution.
Calls to protest in Tunisia against the caricatures have turned up in social media.
United Arab Emirates
Militants admit planning to topple government
DUBAI — Islamists detained in the United Arab Emirates have confessed to forming a secret organization that includes a military wing aimed at establishing an Islamist state, a newspaper reported Thursday.
Members of the banned Al-Islah association said they planned to topple the UAE regime, a federation of seven hereditary sheikhdoms, the Alkhaleej daily said, citing unnamed sources close to the investigation.
The group admitted a plot aimed at "seizing power and establishing a religious state or a Caliphate" -- the political system improvised by early Muslims after the death of Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports
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