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In Britain, ongoing struggles over laws regulating euthanasia

MANCHESTER, England -- Tony Nicklinson, a man paralyzed from the neck down following a stroke seven years ago, wept before television cameras after he was told that he had lost a two-year legal battle to change the law on euthanasia.

Three High Court judges rejected the claim brought by Nicklinson, 58, and another stroke victim named only as Martin, 47, that doctors should be able to end the men's lives at a time of their choosing under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees a right to private and family life.

But the judges said in their Aug. 16 ruling that Nicklinson wanted "to be able to choose to end his life by voluntary euthanasia," and such a change would have consequences far beyond the two cases.

"It is not for the court to decide whether the law about assisted suicide dying should be changed," the judges said. "Under our system of government these are matters for Parliament to decide, representing society as a whole, after parliamentary scrutiny, and not for the court on the facts of an individual case or cases."

Archbishop asks for international help to stop terrorism in Nigeria

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VATICAN CITY -- The president of the Nigerian bishops' conference called for the international community to help his country improve its security operations to stop the "fundamentalist, fanatic" Boko Haram terrorist group.

The day after a Catholic church, an elementary school and a police station in Damagun were attacked, presumably by Boko Haram members, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Jos told Vatican Radio: "There is high religious tension in Nigeria, but we are not at war between Christians and Muslims. The Boko Haram is at war with Christians, because they have vowed they will kill Christians because they are 'infidels.' This is a fact, but it is not the whole Islamic community."

In its two-year campaign to impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law on the entire country, Boko Haram has been blamed for more than 1,400 deaths of Christians, Muslims and police officers.

South African bishops call for inquiry into mine violence

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- South Africa's bishops condemned the killings at a platinum mine in Marikana and called for a judicial inquiry into the circumstances that led to the violence.

Thirty-four people died and 78 were injured Thursday when police opened fire on striking miners who, armed with machetes and homemade spears, were gathered on a rocky outcrop at the mine, 60 miles northwest of Johannesburg.

Another 10 people, including two policemen, had already been killed in violence at the mine since the start of an illegal strike Aug. 10.

"The senseless loss of life, especially through wanton violence, is always a tragedy and needs to be condemned in the strongest terms," the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference said Friday in a statement.

"There are a lot of questions and not many answers," Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg said Friday in a telephone interview. The mine is located in his diocese.

Philippines reproductive health bill survives Catholic 'Prayer Power'

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QUEZON CITY, Philippines -- On a voice vote, the Philippines House of Representatives Aug. 6 ended debate on a reproductive health bill that has been hotly contested in the chamber and strongly opposed by the country's Catholic hierarchy since it was introduced in March 2011.

The vote followed a weekend of prayer vigils and rallies organized by the Catholic church that drew tens of thousands to oppose House Bill 4244, titled Act Providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development.

Social responsibility groups ask ABC, NBC to report global banking manipulation

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WASHINGTON -- It's not exactly sexy or easy to report, but why did ABC World News and NBC Nightly News totally ignore recent revelations of one of the biggest global banking scandals ever?

That's the question three U.S. religious organizations devoted to social responsibility in financial affairs raised in early August.

Expert: Peace for Syria will not come from the outside

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Syria's 18-month revolution has already claimed the lives of 20,000 people. What began as an "Arab Spring" rebellion for reform is fast becoming a full-scale civil war of regional, perhaps global significance, according to many observers.

The escalation in fighting in the Syrian cities of Damascus and Aleppo in early August, along with an announcement by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that he would resign as special envoy to Syria after his term expired this month, seemed to confirm this view.

To better understand the war in Syria, NCR spoke with Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. Bennis has been a writer, analyst and activist on Middle East and U.N. issues for many years. Her numerous books include primers on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the U.S.-Iran crisis, and the U.S. war in Afghanistan. In late June, she authored "Syria: No to Intervention, No to Illusions," an essay widely circulated on the Web. The interview was edited for length and clarity.

Priest's homily leads to deportation from Zambia

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LUSAKA, Zambia -- Zambian authorities deported a Rwandese Catholic priest after he was detained for two days and questioned for preaching about poverty and justice for the poor during a Mass.

Edgar Lungu, minister of home affairs, confirmed that Father Viateur Banyangandora, pastor of the parish in Lundazi, Zambia, was sent to his homeland Aug. 1. He declined to say why the priest, 40, was deported.

"Father Banyangandora's conduct was found to be a danger to peace and good order in Zambia," Lungu said.

Zambian church officials had no immediate comment on the deportation.

Father Banyangandora was picked up at his residence by police at about 5 p.m., July 30, and taken to Lusaka, the Zambian capital, for questioning, said Father Evan Sakala, the parish's parochial vicar.

Father Sakala explained that police pointed to comments that Father Banyangandora made in which he castigated the government over its handling of an impasse between cotton growers and cotton ginners. Authorities, Father Sakala said, apparently considered the comments capable of inciting people to rise against the government.

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