Sandstorm covers Beijing
BEIJING -- Tons of sand turned Beijing's sky orange as the strongest sandstorm this year hit northern China, a gritty reminder that the country's expanding deserts have led to a sharp increase in the storms.
The sky glowed Saturday and a thin dusting of sand covered Beijing, causing workers and tourists to muffle their faces in vast Tiananmen Square. The city's weather bureau gave air quality a rare hazardous ranking. It said people should cover their mouths when outside and keep doors and windows closed.
Papal letter fails to calm abuse anger
DUBLIN -- Pope Benedict XVI's unprecedented letter to Ireland apologizing for chronic child abuse within the Catholic Church failed Saturday to calm the anger of many victims, who accused the Vatican of ducking its own responsibility in promoting a worldwide culture of cover-up.
Benedict's message -- the product of weeks of consultation with Irish bishops, who read it aloud at Masses across this predominantly Catholic nation -- rebuked Ireland's church leaders for ''grave errors of judgment'' in failing to observe the church's secretive canon laws.
The pope, who himself stands accused of approving the transfer of an accused priest for treatment rather than informing German police during his 1977-82 term as Munich archbishop, suggested that child-abusing priests could have been expelled quickly had Irish bishops applied the church's own laws correctly.
Drug war takes growing toll on Americans
MEXICO CITY -- More Americans in Mexico are falling victim to a wave of drug violence sweeping the country, a change driven home by the recent killing of a U.S. Consulate employee and her husband who were gunned down after leaving a children's birthday party.
The number of U.S. citizens killed in Mexico has more than doubled to 79 in 2009 from 35 in 2007, according to the U.S. State Department's annual count. No figures were available for the first two months of 2010.
American deaths make up only a tiny fraction of Mexico's 17,900 drug-related killings since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon launched a drug war.