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Around the Traps

Fair weather friends 

BEIJING (SE): In an effort to offer fair weather and blue skies to friends gathering for the National People’s Congress which opened on March 3, dirty factories in 18 cities around Beijing were closed down, Radio Free Asia reported.

Several polluting factories had their electricity cut for the week prior to the gathering.

Environmental advocate, Wu Lihong, explained the sporadic burst of zeal as wanting to look good in front of the world cameras that follow the congress. He said cutting the electricity is to prevent collusion between officials and factory owners.


Hunger in Venezuela

CIUDAD BOLIVAR (SE): Every day there are more and more people in Ciudad Bolivar in Venezuela rummaging through the garbage looking for food, because they have nothing to eat, Fides reported on March 7.

“And we are not talking about homeless people or beggars, but of men, women and children looking for food,” the local bishop said.

He added it is not a situation of a few, but there are hundreds of families affected by low wages and high food costs.

He spoke of one man combing the garbage as having a good job, but not enough money to feed his children.


Myanmar’s coming of age

YANGON (UCAN): The Catholic Religious Conference of Myanmar played host to its first international gathering from February 27 to March 3 when the Asia-Oceania Meeting of Religious descended on the cathedral in Yangon.

Sister Margaret Maung said that she believes it is a sign of coming of age, as the once isolated Union of Myanmar was able to hold an international gathering.

The meeting was around the theme of climate change. Myanmar is considered the world’s second most vulnerable country to the vagaries of climate.


Pope Francis talks to magazine run by homeless

VATICAN (CNS): The Pope has given an exclusive interview to an Italian magazine run by homeless people.

Pope Francis told a story from Buenos Aires of a mother with five children when a homeless man knocked on the door asking for food.

She told the children not to give away the food set aside for their father, but some of their own in order to show real generosity.

“If we wish to give, we must give what is ours!” the pope concluded. 

The interview was published in Sneakers on February 28.


Restoration at Holy Sepulchre nears end

JERUSALEM (SE): The restoration of the Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is almost complete. Scaffolding put up in 1947 during the British Protectorate days to support the architectural structure after the 1927 earthquake has been removed.

An ecumenical celebration, scheduled for March 22, will mark the end of the restoration. The Greek company doing the work, told Fides another 10 months and Ä6 million ($47.7 million) will be needed to finish the job.


Vatican deficit drops

VATICAN (SE): The Vatican showed a deficit of Ä12.4 million ($100.75 million)—roughly half of the previous year.

Figures for 2015 are less detailed than the previous year’s, but an accompanying statement explains this is due to a switch to a new accounting system. Full figures for 2016 are expected later this year.

The Vatican city-state produced a Ä59.9 million ($491.35 million) surplus for 2015. Unlike the Holy See which relies on donations and investment dividends, it has significant revenue sources like the Vatican Museums, Vatican Radio reported.


Slain journalist’s mother meets pope

VATICAN (CWN): The mother of James Foley, the journalist from the Unites States of America who was beheaded by the Islamic State in 2014, met with Pope Francis at Domus Sanctae Marthae on March 3 to thank him for his support.

The pope called Diane Foley to offer his condolences after her son was murdered.

“Without my faith I don’t know if I could have survived, to be honest,” Foley’s bereaved mother said. “It has carried me through. To have the head of the Catholic faith reach out to me is so humbling when you think of all the tragedies in the world.”


Philippine amnesty

MANILA (UCAN): The president of The Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, granted executive clemency to 127 prisoners on march 6 on the recommendation of the Department of Justice.

A total of 127 elderly and frail prisoners have been recommended for pardon.

Last December, the Board of Pardons and Parole recommended the release of people aged between 75 and 90 years, both on humanitarian grounds and to free up space in overcrowded prisons.

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