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Miami Beach Synagogue Vandalized

Nazi swastikas and the name of the Islamist movement Hamas were spray-painted in red on the entrance to a Jewish synagogue in Miami Beach, local media reported Monday.

The vandalism, which authorities were investigating as a probable "hate crime," was discovered by a neighborhood watch patrol where the Torah V'Emunah synagogue is located.

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Pope Begs Forgiveness for Fascist Persecution of Protestants

Pope Francis has asked forgiveness from Protestant Pentecostalists persecuted by Catholics under Italian fascism in the 1930s, religious news agency i.media said Monday.

"Among those who persecuted and denounced the Pentecostalists -- almost as if they were crazy people who tarnished the race -- there were also Catholics," Francis said during a meeting with 350 Protestant evangelicals in Caserta in southern Italy.

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Millions Displaced in 2013 Due to Religious Beliefs

Conflicts and repression around the world in 2013 triggered the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory, a U.S. report said Monday, revealing millions had fled their homes.

"In almost every corner of the globe, millions of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and others representing a range of faiths were forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs," the United States said in its annual International Religious Freedom Report.

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U.S., Major EU States Urge 'New Measures' against Russia

The leaders of the United States, Germany, France, Britain and Italy agreed Monday on the need to impose new sanctions on Russia over its presumed role in Ukraine's insurgency, the French presidency said.

President Barack Obama, Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Francois Hollande, Prime Minister David Cameron and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi "confirmed... their intention to adopt new measures against Russia," the French presidency said after the five leaders held telephone talks.

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Fleeing Ukrainians Turn Seaside Resorts into Refuge Camps

With their sunburnt backs, flip-flops and baseball caps, the families lolling about the Ukrainian resort town of Sjedove on the Azov Sea could be mistaken for holidaymakers.

But they are all refugees, fleeing the deadly combat in east Ukraine as the fighting has escalated in recent days and come closer and closer to large cities.

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Britain Plans Major Exercises in Poland amid Ukraine Crisis

Britain on Monday announced major joint manoeuvres in Poland in October, part of a string of NATO exercises in the region aimed at reassuring eastern Europe members jittery over a resurgent Russia.

"I can announce today exercise Black Eagle, which will be a significant Polish and UK armored exercise with over 350 British armored and other vehicles and some 1,350 British personnel," British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said in Warsaw.

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Russia Says OSCE Observers at Ukraine Border 'in Next Few Days'

Russia said Monday that observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) would be deployed at its border checkpoints with rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine in the next few days.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that OSCE monitors would see that Russia is not sending arms and fighters to help the rebels.

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Philippine Militants Kill 21 Muslims Marking Eid

Islamic militants on Monday massacred 21 people, including one child, who were travelling to a village feast in the southern Philippines to mark the end of Ramadan, the military said.

About 50 Abu Sayyaf gunmen opened fire on two vehicles in the remote town of Talipao on Jolo island, killing 21 people and wounding 11 others, regional military spokeswoman Marine Captain Rowena Muyuela told Agence France Presse.

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U.S. Slams Release of Venezuelan ex-Intel Chief

The United States said Monday it was "deeply disappointed" after Aruba released a former Venezuelan military chief wanted in the U.S. for drug trafficking charges.

A State Department spokesperson said Washington had made a "legitimate request" for the arrest of retired major general Hugo Carvajal in line with its extradition treaty with Aruba and the Netherlands and was "disturbed by credible reports" that the Venezuelan government had threatened both territories to win Carvajal's release.

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Study: U.S. Data Sweep Harms Press, Democratic Rights

Large-scale surveillance by the U.S. government has begun to have an impact on press freedom and broader democratic rights, a study released Monday showed.

The report by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch found that the vast surveillance efforts aimed at thwarting terrorist attacks have undermined press freedom, the public's right to information as well as rights to legal counsel.

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