It's time for direct talks, netanyahu says
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that it's time to move to direct talks with the Palestinians and that he will raise the issue with President Barack Obama in Washington next week. "We want to move as speedily as possible to direct talks because the kind of problem that we have with the Palestinians can be resolved in peace and can be arranged only if we sit down together," Netanyahu said after talks in Paris with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Indirect talks began early this month and have raised hopes that direct negotiations could begin soon. Obama will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on June 9.
Israel to block activists from Gaza
Israel on Thursday unveiled a massive makeshift detention center in the country's main southern port, vowing to stop a flotilla of hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists trying to break a three-year blockade of the Gaza Strip this weekend. Military authorities said that masked naval commandos would greet the eight ships deep out at sea, escort the vessels to port and give each of the activists a stark choice: leave the country or go to jail. Some 750 activists have set sail for the Gaza coast, carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian supplies. They are expected to reach the Israeli coast on Saturday.
Japan to be sued over whaling
Australia announced today it will take Japan to the International Court of Justice in a major escalation of its campaign to prevent whaling in the Antarctic Ocean. The decision to take legal action against Australia's important trading partner underlines the government's "commitment to bring to an end Japan's program of so-called scientific whaling" in the southern seas, Environment Minister Peter Garrett and Attorney-General Robert McClelland said in a joint statement. Japan gets around an international ban on commercial whaling by arguing that it harpoons hundreds of whales each year for scientific research.
205 claim abuse at Jesuit schools
Deepening the sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, a special investigator released a report Thursday saying that 205 former students claimed they had been abused in Jesuit schools and that the actual number could be higher. The Rev. Stefan Dartmann, Germany's leading Jesuit official, immediately issued a statement acknowledging "with shame and guilt, our failure."
United Nations: Developed nations pledged more than $4 billion Thursday to finance a program meant to help poor countries protect their forests and slow global warming.
Vanuatu: A powerful magnitude 7.2 earthquake shook this South Pacific nation today, briefly triggering a tsunami watch for the region, officials said. There were no immediate reports of damage or injury.