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Anglicans soften bid to punish N. Americans

LONDON -- The Anglican Communion yesterday rejected an attempt by traditionalists to punish the US and Canadian wings of the church for their stance on homosexuality, watering down a resolution calling for the North Americans to be suspended from all church bodies. Clergy including Archbishop Peter Akinola, head of the 17.5-million-member Church of Nigeria, submitted the original resolution to the influential Anglican Consultative Council requesting ''that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada withdraw their members from all other official entities of the Communion" for three years. But the council accepted a key change-- ''all other official entities of the Communion" was replaced with a reference to the council's ''standing committee and the inter-Anglican finance and administration committee." The amended resolution was approved by a vote of 30-28. (AP)

COLOMBIA

Measure cuts penalties for right-wing fighters

BOGOTA -- Congress passed a bill granting reduced punishments to right-wing warlords who disarm, a key step in President Alvaro Uribe's strategy to wind down Colombia's decades-long conflict. Opponents said it will let killers off the hook. The legislation demands paramilitary leaders confess their crimes, return stolen goods, and compensate victims. In exchange, prison terms are limited to eight years. A congressional panel yesterday began hammering out a compromise measure after slightly different versions were approved by the lower chamber late Tuesday and by the Senate a day earlier. Uribe was expected to enact the legislation this week. Passage came after Uribe toughened the proposal under pressure from rights groups and US lawmakers. (AP)

UNITED NATIONS

Council votes to boost Haiti security force

The UN Security Council yesterday voted to temporarily enlarge the peacekeeping mission in Haiti by more than 1,000 troops and police in the run-up to elections set for later this year. The council resolution, adopted unanimously, stresses that Haiti's poll must take place on time and that newly elected leaders assume power according to schedule on Feb. 7, 2006. Nearly 7,000 local and regional posts will be contested Oct. 9, while the election for Haiti's president and 129 legislators will take place Nov. 13, said the Provisional Electoral Council. (AP)

ITALY

10 ex-SS officers given life terms in massacre

LA SPEZIA -- An Italian judge sentenced 10 former Nazi SS officers to life in prison yesterday for their role in the murder of 560 Tuscan villagers in one of Italy's worst civilian massacres of World War II. The verdict for the 10 former German officers, all in their 80s, is largely symbolic, as they are unlikely to be extradited from their homeland and are too old to serve prison sentences in Italy. None of the defendants traveled to Italy for the trial. But the handful of survivors and the many relatives who packed out the military court in the port town of La Spezia burst into applause when the verdict was read, with many tearfully hugging one another. ''It is a huge success, an almost unexpected one. We have waited 60 years for this," said Ennio Mancini, who recalls being lined up before a firing squad though he was only 6 years old at the time. ''It is moral compensation." (Reuters)

SPAIN

Senate rejects proposal to legalize gay marriage

MADRID -- The upper house of Spain's parliament voted against a government proposal to legalize gay marriage yesterday, but the legislation remains likely to be made law despite outcry from Catholics. The Senate defeated the bill when legislators from a Catalan Christian Democrat party joined the center-right opposition Popular Party in opposing it. The bill will return to the lower house of parliament next week, where it is expected to win final approval. (Reuters)

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