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Nation & world briefs, July 26

Brazil

Pope tells pilgrims to shake up the church

Pope Francis showed his rebel side yesterday, urging young Catholics to shake up the church and make a “mess” in their dioceses by going out into the streets to spread the faith. It’s a message he put into practice by visiting one of Rio’s most violent slums and opening the church’s World Youth Day on a rain-soaked Copacabana Beach.

Francis was elected pope on a mandate to reform the church, and in four short months he has started doing just that: He has broken long-held Vatican rules on everything from where he lays his head at night to how saints are made. He has cast off his security detail to get close to his flock, and his first international foray as pope has shown the faithful appreciate the gesture.

Dubbed the “slum pope” for his work with the poor, Francis received a rapturous welcome in the Varginha shantytown, part of a slum area of northern Rio de Janeiro so violent it’s known as the Gaza Strip.

Halliburton to admit to destroying evidence

Halliburton Energy Services has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence in connection with the 2010 Gulf oil spill, the Department of Justice said yesterday.

Federal officials said in a news release that criminal information charging Halliburton with one count of destruction of evidence was filed in federal court in Louisiana.

Halliburton has agreed to pay the maximum fine, be on probation for three years and continue to cooperate with the government’s criminal investigation, according to a news release, which did not list the amount of the fine.

The Houston-based company has also made a $55 million voluntary contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It was not a condition of the court agreement, the news release said.

Syria

U.N.: Death toll in war surpasses 100,000

The number of dead in Syria’s civil war has passed 100,000, the U.N. chief said yesterday, calling for urgent talks on ending 2½ years of violence even as President Bashar Assad’s government blasted the United States as an unsuitable peace broker.

In the latest example of the relentless carnage, a car bomb killed at least 10 people and wounded 66 in a pro-regime residential area near the capital.

All international attempts to broker a political solution to the Syrian civil war have failed. Despite a stalemate that has settled in for months, both sides still believe they can win the war and have placed impossible conditions for negotiations.

The Associated Press

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