KGOU

Mark Memmott

The Vatican on Thursday sought to tamp down speculation that Pope Francis wants to reverse church teachings and allow divorced and remarried Catholics and their spouses to take Communion.

One day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was calling off his side's participation in the next session of peace talks with Palestinian leaders, Israel's Cabinet has endorsed that decision and "unanimously decided to cut off contacts," The Associated Press writes.

After two straight weeks in which the figures tracked near their lowest levels in seven years, the number of first-time applications for jobless benefits rose more than expected last week.

The Employment and Training Administration says there were 329,000 such claims filed, up by 24,000 from the previous week's slightly revised figure.

Students at Danwon High School in Ansan, South Korea, began the difficult process of resuming classes on Thursday, eight days after a ferry disaster claimed the lives of more than 200 of their classmates.

According to South Korea's Yonhap News, the seniors (or third-year year students):

The father of a teen who last weekend survived a 5 1/2-hour flight from California to Hawaii in the wheel well of a passenger jet says:

"When I watched the analysis about the extraordinary and dangerous trip of my son on local TVs and that Allah had saved him, I thanked God and I was very happy."

A large piece of metal found earlier this week on the coast of western Australia, which investigators had called an "object of interest" in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and the 239 people who were on board, is apparently not connected to the missing jet.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau reports that "after examining detailed photographs of material washed ashore 10 kilometers east of Augusta, it is satisfied it is not a lead in relation to the search."

Three American citizens were killed Thursday at a Christian organization's hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, when an Afghan security guard opened fire. Another American citizen was reportedly wounded.

One of those killed was an experienced pediatrician from Chicago who had been working at the hospital for seven years, according to media reports. The other two killed were a father and son whose names and ages had not yet been released.

"A Rio de Janeiro slum erupted in violence late Tuesday following the killing of a popular local figure, with angry residents setting fires and showering homemade explosives and glass bottles onto a busy avenue in the city's main tourist zone," The Associated Press writes.

The news from high up the world's tallest mountain continues to be confusing, with some reports implying that a boycott by Sherpas means there will be no climbs to the summit this year and others indicating that there will still be attempts to reach the top.

Based on what we can glean from various news accounts, it appears that some expeditions have indeed canceled their climbs. But it also seems that at least some of the estimated 400 Sherpas on the mountain may be willing to continue on — meaning there will be summit attempts in coming weeks.

The already slim hope that anyone might still be alive aboard the South Korean ferry that sunk a week ago was all but extinguished Wednesday with the news that divers have found no air pockets in key areas of the ship.

The latest word about the teenager who survived a ride Sunday from California to Hawaii in the frigid wheel well of a jet is that he may have hoped to eventually get to Somalia to be with his mother.

After 6 1/2 weeks of false leads and conflicting information about what may have happened to the jet and the 239 people on board, Wednesday's headlines about the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 need to be viewed with considerable caution:

-- " 'Object of interest' found on Western Australian coast." (CNN.com)

There are more data to add to Chicago's well-documented problem with gun violence.

Headlines such as this from the Chicago Sun-Times — "In violent weekend, at least 8 dead, 37 wounded in shootings across Chicago" — set us off in search of news reports after previous weekends.

Update at 12:30 p.m. ET. Despite Government's Concessions, Many Sherpas May Leave:

The likelihood of the upcoming climbing season on Mount Everest being canceled altogether seemed to veer from very possible to very unlikely to somewhere in between within the space of less than an hour on Tuesday as news reports came in from the world's tallest mountain.

With the death toll continuing to rise and likely to exceed 300, the captain and crew of the ferry that sank last week off the coast of South Korea have been called cowards and accused of murder.

Now, though, we're also hearing about the heroic acts of some among the 29-member crew — seven of whom either are confirmed to have died or are missing.

The California teenager who survived a 5 1/2 hour flight to Hawaii in the wheel well of a Boeing 767 was "just a runaway kid with a bad idea," FBI Special Agent Tom Simon says.

Simon also says, according to The San Jose Mercury News, that the unidentified boy's lousy idea wasn't very well thought out: "He ran for the nearest plane. This was not a well-planned thing."

The amazing story of a 16-year-old California boy who the FBI says survived a 5 1/2-hour flight in the frigid wheel well of a jet that flew from San Jose to Hawaii on Sunday raises a logical question:

How does one survive a trip like that when the temperature would have dropped to more than 50 degrees below zero and the air would have been thinner than that at the top of Mount Everest?

Disturbing news from Nigeria about girls kidnapped last week from their school by Islamist extremists grew even more distressing on Monday when parents told authorities that 234 of the young women are still missing.

That's nearly triple the number — 85 — that officials have been reporting.

According to The Associated Press:

Friday's tragedy on Mount Everest in which at least 13 Sherpa guides were killed in an avalanche has led others among that group of Nepalese who lead foreigners up the world's tallest mountain to issue some demands — and threaten to boycott the soon-to-start climbing season if their requests aren't granted.

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