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World Newsbits for August 8, 2014


Rome (Reuters) — Pope Francis has urged 50,000 German altar servers not to waste time on the Internet, smartphones and television, but to spend their time on more productive activities.

“Maybe many young people waste too many hours on futile things,” the 77-year-old Pope said in a short speech to the altar servers – young people who help the priest during religious services – who had come to Rome on a pilgrimage. “Our life is made up of time, and time is a gift from God, so it is important that it be used in good and fruitful actions.” Activities cited by Francis as futile were: “chatting on the Internet or with smartphones, watching TV soap operas, and (using) the products of technological progress, which should simplify and improve the quality of life, but distract attention away from what is really important.”


Buenos Aires (AFP) — An elderly Argentine woman hugged her long-lost grandson for the first time Wednesday in an emotional meeting, 36 years after he was snatched by the country’s then dictatorship. The heart-warming scenes came just a day after Estela Carlotto, the 83-year-old head of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo human rights group, learnt that her grandson Ignacio Hurban had finally been found thanks to DNA testing. ”Guido Montoya Carlotto was happily able to hug his family, which tirelessly searched for him without stopping for 36 years,” the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo said in a statement, using the name given to the grandson by his mother and pleading for privacy.


Houston (AP) — The US Army has begun questioning Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl about his disappearance in Afghanistan that led to five years in captivity by the Taliban, his attorney and an Army spokeswoman said. Bergdahl was questioned at Fort Sam Houston in Texas where he has been staying since returning to the US, said his attorney, Eugene R. Fidell on Wednesday. “Sgt. Bergdahl answered all questions put to him. The interview is proceeding. It has been a productive expenditure of time,” Fidell said in a telephone interview during a break in the questioning. Fidell declined to comment on what specific questions Bergdahl was asked.


Wellington, New Zealand (AP) — The crew aboard a New Zealand fishing boat on Thursday hauled up a surprising and gruesome catch: a small plane with a body in the wreckage. Authorities suspect the plane is a 5.7 meter aerobatic biplane that was home-assembled from a kit and flown by missing Auckland pilot Daroish Kraidy. The crew of the San Kawhai was trawling for fish when they brought up a plane in the boat’s nets at about 10 a.m., said Trish Sherson, a spokeswoman for fishing company Sanford. Typically, trawl nets are dragged in a wide arc along the ocean floor to ensnare fish. Buoyancy can make it easier to lift heavy objects in the water than on land.


Cincinnati (AP) — Three federal judges weighing arguments in a landmark gay marriage hearing peppered attorneys on both sides with tough questions, with one judge expressing deep skepticism about whether courts are the ideal setting for major social change and another saying the democratic process can be too slow.The judges in the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals considered arguments in six cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, setting the stage for historic rulings in each state that would put more pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the issue once and for all. Wednesday’s hearing was the biggest so far on the issue.