foreign affairs
July 24, 2014

A woman sentenced to death after refusing to renounce her faith fled Sudan on Thursday — and met Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Meriam Ibrahim was accused of converting to Christianity from Islam, but said that while her father was Muslim, she never had been. Ibrahim told a judge that her father had abandoned the family when she was young and she was raised by her Orthodox Christian mother. She was sentenced to death and gave birth to a daughter, Maya, while in prison. After international pressure, Sudan released Ibrahim in June, and she has been living in the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum for a month.

Ibrahim traveled to the Vatican with her husband, son, and daughter, and met Pope Francis at his Santa Marta residence, the BBC reports. "The pope thanked her for her witness to faith," Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said. The 30 minute meeting showed "closeness and solidarity for all those who suffer for their faith."

Ibrahim's lawyer, Mohamed Mostafa Nour, told BBC Focus on Africa that his client was "unhappy to leave Sudan. She loves Sudan very much. It's the country she was born and grew up in. But her life is in danger so she feels she has to leave." He said that two days ago, a group named Hamza made a statement that they would kill Ibrahim and anyone who helps her. Ibrahim may be gone from Sudan, but her legal troubles are not over: Last week, her father's family, claiming she is a Muslim, filed a lawsuit to get her marriage annulled. Catherine Garcia

keeping up with the republicans
2:15 p.m. ET

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) hasn't really succeeded yet in standing out in a large pool of Republican presidential hopefuls. His polling numbers are no great shakes, and they even caused him to miss out on one recent primetime debate.

But the governor got some good news in Sunday's newspaper — an endorsement from the New Hampshire Union Leader, a big conservative outlet in an early voting state:

Chris Christie is a solid, pro-life conservative who has managed to govern in liberal New Jersey, face down the big public unions, and win a second term. Gov. Christie can work across the aisle, but he won't get rolled by the bureaucrats. We don't need as President some well-meaning person from the private sector who has no public experience.

Gov. Christie is right for these dangerous times. He has prosecuted terrorists and dealt admirably with major disasters. But the one reason he may be best-suited to lead during these times is because he tells it like it is and isn't shy about it. [Union Leader]

It would appear the Union Leader is a paper Christie actually reads, unlike, say, The New York Times. Julie Kliegman

Legal battles
1:30 p.m. ET

Philip Williams, a 69-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, said he returned to West Hempstead, New York, in August after recovering from a knee replacement and ensuing complications to find that his home had been demolished.

Williams has filed a notice of claim, the first step in filing a lawsuit against the town, The Associated Press reported Saturday. The veteran is seeking reimbursement for the house itself and for his belongings, which include his clothing, photos of his children, and his late wife's engagement ring. He has also asked police for a criminal inquiry.

"I'm angry and I'm upset. It's just wrong on so many levels," Williams told AP. "My mortgage was up to date, my property taxes were up to date...everything was current and fine."

Town officials said they held a public hearing before demolishing the house, which they considered a "dilapidated dwelling," after looking into neighbors' complaints. They also said they made attempts to notify Williams of the decision while he was recovering in Florida, a claim the veteran has disputed.

"You see people who went through a tornado or a flood and they say they lost everything, but that's not preventable," Williams said. "This was preventable." Julie Kliegman

we'll never be royals
12:42 p.m. ET

Not only is baby Princess Charlotte fourth in line for the British throne, but she also continues to be unfairly cute. Kensington Palace tweeted out two new photos of the 6-month-old Sunday that were captured by her mother Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. Brace yourself for the adorableness of the baby and her stuffed animal below:

"The Duke and Duchess continue to receive warm messages about Princess Charlotte from all around the world and they hope that everyone enjoys these lovely photos as much as they do," USA Today reports the palace said in a statement. Julie Kliegman

12:18 p.m. ET

Republican presidential hopefuls including Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, and Carly Fiorina have condemned Friday's fatal shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, while denying a link between the attack and pro-life rhetoric.

Authorities have identified Robert Lewis Dear, 57, as the suspected gunman. He reportedly expressed his pro-life sentiments to law enforcement officials when they took him into custody Friday. Trump dismissed the gunman as a "maniac," on NBC's Meet the Press, and defended the edited video footage that pro-life advocates have used to question how Planned Parenthood handles fetal tissue donations.

Huckabee also sought to separate the pro-life movement from Dear's alleged actions.

"Regardless of why he did it, what he did is domestic terrorism," Huckabee said on CNN's State of the Union. "And what he is did is absolutely abominable, especially to those of us in the pro-life movement, because there's nothing about any of us that would condone or in any way look the other way at something like this."

On Fox News Sunday, Fiorina criticized liberals for their response to the shooting, which has included a defense of Planned Parenthood's women's health services.

"This is so typical of the left, to immediately begin demonizing a messenger because they don't agree with the message," she said. Julie Kliegman

paris attacks aftermath
11:39 a.m. ET

French police officers used tear gas to disperse a crowd of hundreds of demonstrators at the Place de la République on Sunday. They also detained about 100 people who had projectiles or other suspicious objects, The Associated Press reports.

The demonstrators were protesting to call on world leaders for a global commitment to curbing climate change, one day before the start of a landmark summit in Paris.

The Paris police chief said the demonstrators violated the ban on protests being enforced under France's ongoing state of emergency, which authorities put in place after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks.

Watch AP video footage of police officers breaking up the protest below. Julie Kliegman

police shootings
10:58 a.m. ET
Jordan Gonzalez/AFP/Getty Images

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty released 326 enhanced images Saturday showing a frame-by-frame analysis of the November 2014 fatal shooting by Cleveland police officers of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy carrying a toy gun.

The images, enhanced by the Washington-based Forensic Video Solutions, seemingly back up reports released by the prosecutor suggesting Timothy Loehmann, the officer who shot Rice, may have believed Rice was armed with a real gun, The Plain Dealer reports.

The Rice family's attorneys are challenging that notion, USA Today reports, and asking the prosecutor to let their own use-of-force experts testify before the grand jury, which is hearing evidence to decide if Loehmann and the other officer involved in the shooting should be criminally indicted.

"The frames contain editorial comments that attempt to make excuses for the officers," Rice family attorney Subodh Chandra wrote in a statement. "Tamir, for example, may be lifting his arm in shocked reaction to being shot. The effort to characterize the evidence is hardly fair play and is one of many reasons the Rice family and clergy throughout Cleveland lack confidence in the prosecutor's fairness in this matter."

The Plain Dealer published copies of the enhanced frames here. Julie Kliegman

refugee crisis
8:34 a.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

After meeting Syrian refugees in Jordan on Saturday, Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson said he still does not want the U.S. to accept them, The Associated Press reports.

The retired neurosurgeon called the refugees he met in the Azraq camp "very hard working, determined people, which should only enhance the overall economic health of the neighboring Arab countries that accept and integrate them into the general population." Carson said the American people, as opposed to the government, should collect billions of dollars to improve the conditions of refugee camps in the Middle East.

Many Republican presidential candidates, governors, and legislators have called on the White House to modify its plan to accept up to 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year, citing security concerns in the wake of the Nov. 13 Paris terrorist attacks carried out by the Islamic State. In response, President Obama and other White House officials have said that the current U.S. process for vetting refugees is already thorough. Julie Kliegman

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