Deadly attack on Christians

Masked gunmen riding in three SUVs opened fire Friday on a packed bus taking Coptic Christians on a visit to a monastery south of Egypt's capital, killing at least 28 people, including two children, authorities said.

Twenty-two others were reported wounded.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, the fourth against Christians since December, but it bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State group. The bloodshed came on the eve of the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

For years, Islamic militants have been waging an insurgency mostly centred in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, though a growing number of attacks have recently also taken place on the mainland.

The bus was ambushed on a side road in the desert on its way to the remote monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor in Maghagha, about 220 kilometres south of Cairo.

The monastery, reachable only by a short, unpaved route that veers off the main highway, is in Minya province, where Christians account for more than 35 per cent of the population, the highest level of any province.

Security officials quoted witnesses as saying they saw eight to 10 attackers in military uniforms and masks.


Trade, climate G7 focus

Canada is planning to champion the benefits of free trade and action on climate change at the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, even as U.S. President Donald Trump tries to steer the world in another direction.

"There are clearly some areas where the Canadian position may not be universally embraced," Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters Friday morning.

A senior Canadian government official with intimate knowledge of the negotiations says the Paris Agreement on the fight against climate change, which Trump might back out of, and international trade remain major sticking points that will likely keep talks going through the night.

The official noted there are also likely to be gaps between the leaders on migration policy, particularly when it intersects with the issue of international security.

Freeland, though, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who now has the third-most seniority, will be looking to find common ground among the seven leaders around the table while standing firmly behind Canada's positions on those issues.

"We're always going to be clear at these meetings that climate change is a hugely important issue. It's hugely important for Canadians, and we are proud to be taking a strong stand at home, a strong stand around the world on this issue," Freeland said.

Deadly mudslide, floods

Floods and torrents of red mud unleashed by monsoon rains have killed at least 25 people in western and southern Sri Lanka, with another 42 people missing as officials warned Friday the situation could get worse.

Nearly 8,000 people have been displaced by flooding in the affected areas, according to the country's Disaster Management Center.

The government advised people living near swollen rivers and hilly slopes prone to landslides to evacuate, as heavy rains that began Thursday were expected to continue. Homes and roads have been inundated. Schools were closed in the province of Sabaragamuwa, about 90 kilometres east of Colombo.

Aid groups, rescuers and other government workers were ordered to cancel any holidays and remain on alert for the next three days, Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardana said.

Sailors, navy boats and air force helicopters were deployed to rescue marooned flood victims and provide emergency relief.


Schools to out anti-vaxers

The German government wants kindergartens to inform authorities if parents fail to prove they have attended a doctors' consultation on child vaccinations.

The measure is part of a government effort to improve vaccination rates in the country. These have dropped in recent years, exposing children and adults to potentially dangerous illnesses such as measles.

Authorities already can impose a fine of 2,500 euros ($2,800) on parents who persistently refuse to attend the vaccine consultations, compulsory for children attending kindergarten. But the authorities didn't always know which parents had dodged the consultations.

Parliament will vote on the measure Thursday.

Germany has reported 410 measles cases so far this year, more than in the whole of 2016. A 37-year-old woman died of the disease this month in the western city of Essen.

Trump scolds NATO leaders

Surrounded by stone-faced allies, President Donald Trump rebuked fellow NATO members Thursday for failing to meet the military alliance's financial benchmarks, asserting that leaves it weaker and shortchanges "the people and taxpayers of the United States."

Trump, who has often complained back home about other nations' NATO support, lectured the other leaders in person this time, declaring, "Many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years."

The president's assertion immediately put NATO under new strain and did nothing to quiet questions about his complicated relationship with an alliance he has previously panned as "obsolete." Notably, he also did not offer an explicit public endorsement of NATO's "all for one, one for all" collective defence principle, though White House officials said his mere presence at the meeting signalled his commitment.

Fellow NATO leaders occasionally exchanged awkward looks with each other during the president's lecture, which occurred at an event commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. When Trump tried to lighten the mood with a joke about NATO's gleaming new home base — "I never asked once what the new NATO Headquarters cost" — there was no laughter from his counterparts.

Last year, only five of the 28 countries met NATO's two per cent spending goal: the U.S., Greece, Britain, Estonia and Poland.

Jupiter's massive storms

Monstrous cyclones are churning over Jupiter's poles, until now a largely unexplored region that is more turbulent than scientists expected.

NASA's Juno spacecraft spotted the chaotic weather at the top and bottom of Jupiter once it began skimming the cloud tops last year, surprising researchers who assumed the giant gas planet would be relatively boring and uniform down low.

"What we're finding is anything but that is the truth. It's very different, very complex," Juno's chief scientist Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute said Thursday.

With dozens of cyclones hundreds of miles across — alongside unidentifiable weather systems stretching thousands of miles — the poles look nothing like Jupiter's equatorial region, instantly recognizable by its stripes and Great Red Spot, a raging hurricane-like storm.

He calls these first major findings — published Thursday — "Earth-shattering. Or should I say, Jupiter-shattering."

Turning counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere just like on Earth, the cyclones are clearly clustered near the poles. The diameters of some of these confirmed cyclones stretch up to 2,800 kilometres. Even bigger, though shapeless weather systems are present in both polar regions. 

Troops called off streets

Brazil's president on Thursday cancelled an order to deploy the military to the streets of the capital after criticism that the move was excessive and merely an effort to hold onto power amid increasing calls for his resignation.

In a decree published in the Official Diary, President Michel Temer revoked the order issued a day earlier, "considering the halt to acts of destruction and violence and the subsequent reestablishment of law and order." On Thursday afternoon, soldiers began to leave their posts in Brasilia, according to the Defence Ministry.

The troops were deployed late Wednesday following a day of clashes between police and protesters demanding Temer's ouster amid allegations against him of corruption. Fires broke out in two ministries and several were evacuated. Protesters also set fires in the streets and vandalized government buildings. Images in national media, meanwhile, appeared to show police officers firing weapons, and the Secretariat of Public Security said it was investigating. In all 49, people were injured, including one by a bullet.

Temer's popularity has been in a freefall since he took office a little more than a year ago after his predecessor was impeached and removed. Some Brazilians consider him illegitimate because of the way he came to power, and his efforts to pass a series of economic reforms to cap the budget, loosen labour laws and reduce pension benefits have only made him even more unpopular. In addition, several of his advisers have been linked to Brazil's massive corruption investigation, known as Operation Car Wash.

Now, as part of the Car Wash probe, Temer is facing allegations that he endorsed the paying of hush money to a former lawmaker who has been jailed for corruption. Brazil's highest court is investigating him for alleged obstruction of justice and involvement in passive corruption after a recording seemed to capture his approval of the bribe. Temer denies wrongdoing.

Many Brazilians want him out one way or another: They are calling for him to resign or be impeached. The calls for resignation have heated up since the release of the recording and came to a head in Wednesday's protest, when 45,000 demonstrators took to the streets.

Queen visits bomb survivors

Queen Elizabeth met Thursday with children injured in the Manchester concert bombing, consoling them and pronouncing the attack at an event attended by so many young people "wicked."

The 91-year-old monarch visited Evie Mills, 14, Millie Robson, 15, and other youngsters recovering from severe shrapnel wounds at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.

"It's dreadful. Very wicked, to target that sort of thing," the queen told Evie and her parents.

Millie, wearing an Ariana Grande T-shirt, told the queen she had won VIP tickets to the pop star's Monday night concert at Manchester Arena and been injured in the bombing attack after the end of the show. The teenager said she felt fortunate to have survived.

"I have a few, like, holes in my legs and stuff, and I have a bit of a cut, and my arm and just a bit here, but compared to other people I'm quite lucky really," she said.

Elizabeth told Millie she thought Ariana Grande was a "very good singer," adding, "She sounds very, very good."

Millie was one of 12 children under the age of 16 taken to Royal Manchester Children's Hospital by ambulance after the blast that killed 22 people and the suspected bomber.

She said she was walking toward the exit to meet her father when the bomb went off. She remembers the explosion, an intense ringing in her ears, and people screaming. Millie didn't know it right away, but she was bleeding badly from her legs.

"My dad ran over to me and picked me up and then like, we tied jumpers (sweaters) and stuff around the main wounds in my leg," she recalled Thursday. "He just picked me and we ran outside and then a lot of paramedics outside and strangers were just helping us, really."

US to sell off oil stockpile

President Donald Trump's proposal to sell nearly half the U.S. emergency oil stockpile is sparking renewed debate about whether the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is still needed amid an ongoing oil production boom that has seen U.S. imports drop sharply in the past decade.

Trump's budget, unveiled on Tuesday, calls for selling an additional 270 million barrels of oil over the next decade, raising an estimated $16.6 billion. The proposal, on top of planned auctions expected over the next few years, could push the reserve below 300 million barrels by 2025. It now is at 688 million barrels.

The petroleum reserve, created in the wake of the 1970s Arab oil embargo, stores oil at four underground sites in Texas and Louisiana. The reserve guards against disruptions in the flow of oil from the Middle East and other countries, and lawmakers from both parties have long warned against using it to raise money.

But some Republicans say North Dakota's oil-rich Bakken region offers a de facto reserve that can be tapped if needed.

"You know the world's changed a lot in the last decade," said Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., a senior member of the House energy committee. "We're one of the largest oil producers in the world."

Asked if he was worried that Trump's proposal could deplete the reserve, Shimkus laughed. "Not when you have North Dakota and the Dakota (Access) Pipeline," he said.

US leaks bomb probe info

Home searches across Manchester have uncovered important items for the investigation into the concert bombing that left 22 people dead, Manchester's police chief announced Thursday. A British official said Manchester police have decided not to share further information on the probe with the United States due to leaks blamed on U.S. officials.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said the eight suspects detained so far were "significant" arrests and said the searches will take several more days to complete. Police have swooped in on multiple addresses in the northwestern city since Tuesday and those arrested include bomber Salman Abedi's brother Ismail.

Hopkins did not elaborate on the material that has been found so far.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she plans to discuss the leaks with President Donald Trump at the NATO summit in Brussels. She said she plans to "make clear to President Trump that intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure."

British officials are particularly angry that photos detailing evidence about the bomb used in the Manchester attack were published in The New York Times, although it's not clear that the paper obtained the photos from U.S. officials.

British police and security services were also upset that Abedi's name was apparently leaked by U.S. officials and published while British police were withholding it — and while raids were underway in Manchester and in Libya, where the bomber's father lives.

The White House had no immediate comment on the Manchester decision. Trump, in Brussels, ignored two questions from journalists on whether Britain can trust the U.S. with sensitive information.

NATO to join IS fight

NATO's chief affirmed Thursday that the alliance will join the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group but will not wage direct war against the extremists — an announcement timed for U.S. President Donald Trump's first appearance at a summit of the alliance's leaders.

In the wake of this week's suicide bomb attack at a concert in Manchester, NATO leaders are keen to show that the alliance born in the Cold War is responding to today's security threats as they meet in Brussels. Trump has questioned its relevance and pushed members to do more to defend themselves.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that joining the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition "will send a strong political message of NATO's commitment to the fight against terrorism and also improve our co-ordination within the coalition."

But he underlined that "it does not mean that NATO will engage in combat operations."

Prison fight turns massive

In a brawl that officials say was extreme even by the violent standard of California prisons, correctional officers had to open fire to stop a melee that sent eight guards and seven inmates to hospitals.

Pelican Bay State Prison guards in three gun towers fired 19 rifle bullets and three hard foam rounds to stop large groups of prisoners from attacking other correctional officers Wednesday.

The guards had been using pepper spray and batons to break up a fistfight between two inmates when they were swarmed by other felons in an exercise yard teeming with several hundred high-security inmates.

"They just ran toward the incident from several areas of the yard and just rushed the officers," said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. "They overwhelmed them. Overwhelmed is the word I heard again and again."

The eight guards were treated at hospitals and released, though one will have to have shoulder surgery. All eight had facial injuries, bumps, bruises and contusions, Thornton said.

Five of the seven injured inmates suffered gunshot wounds at the prison, which houses about 2,000 inmates near the Oregon border. Four were admitted, including one who was airlifted to a different hospital for a higher level of care. Three were discharged back to prison.

Ninety-seven inmates were isolated in disciplinary housing units after the assault because they are believed to have participated.

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