'Finally': Pope meets Russian Orthodox leader MEXICO CITY (AP) - With an exclamation of "Finally," Pope Francis embraced Patriarch Kirill on Friday in the first meeting between a pontiff and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, a brief but historic encounter held during a stopover in Cuba before the pope flew on to Mexico. The meeting in the small, wood-paneled VIP room of Havana's airport was a landmark development in the 1,000-year schism that has divided Christianity. "We are brothers," Francis said as he embraced Kirill. The men exchanged three kisses on the cheek. "Now things are easier," Kirill agreed. "This is the will of God," the pope said.
The Latest: Mexico greets pope with extravagant show A smiling Pope Francis has been greeted at Mexico City's airport with a rock concert-like show with blue floodlights illuminating a stage and bandstands and crowds waving yellow handkerchiefs. Mariachis serenaded as his chartered plane pulled to a stop and people shouted "Brother Francis, you're already Mexican."President Enrique Pena Nieto, suffering the lowest approval ratings for a Mexican leader in a quarter century, and his wife met Francis on a red carpet.The crowd roared as the three walked together, stopping to speak with four children in folk dress. Then the lights dimmed and the crowd waved lights as the official song composed for Francis' visit was performed. Men in broad sombreros and women in flowing red skirts danced on the tarmac.Francis stepped to a group of children dressed in white offering blessings and placing his hand on top of each head.Then the trio veered from the red carpet and made a pass closer to the crowd in grandstands. A gust of wind blew the pope's hat from his head. He briefly donned a black sombrero before handing it back to its mariachi owner.
The Latest: Sanders ducks question about reparations COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Latest on the 2016 presidential campaign (all times local): 8:45 p.m. Bernie Sanders is stressing his commitment to investing in poor communities, but won't directly answer questions about reparations for African-Americans. A question-and-answer session in Minneapolis Friday generated some tense moments as attendees pushed Sanders for more specifics on his policies. One woman asked Sanders to "talk specifically about black people and reparations." Sanders says, "It's not just black, it is Latino. There are areas of America, in poor rural areas, where it's white." He says "the time is long overdue" to invest in poor communities.
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Diplomats aim for temporary Syria truce in a week BEIRUT (AP) - A diplomatic push for a temporary pause in Syria's civil war and the delivery of humanitarian aid faced huge hurdles Friday, with Russia saying it would continue its airstrikes and government planes dropping leaflets urging rebels to surrender because "the belt is narrowing around you." A plan for the "cessation in violence" announced by the U.S. and Russia does not go into effect for a week, and while the Syrian opposition expressed "cautious optimism," it also said more innocent civilians would be killed in that span. Government forces, aided by a withering Russian bombing campaign, are trying to encircle rebels in Syria's largest city of Aleppo and cut off their supply route to Turkey.
US deploys more Patriot missiles in South Korea SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - The United States temporarily deployed an additional Patriot missile battery in South Korea in response to North Korea's nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch, ahead of talks next week to set up an even more sophisticated U.S. missile defense in a move that has worried China and Russia. The new tough stance follows South Korea's decision to shut down an inter-Korean factory park that had been the rival Koreas' last major symbol of cooperation, but that Seoul said had been used by North Korea to fund its nuclear and missile programs. North Korea responded by deporting South Korean citizens, seizing South Korean assets and vowing to militarize the park.
Brazil minister says no doubt Zika connected to microcephaly BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) - Brazil's health minister said Friday that authorities were "absolutely sure" that the Zika virus is connected to devastating birth defects and rejected criticism that the government was slow to investigate the surge of cases that set off international alarms. Marcelo Castro made the remarks during an interview with The Associated Press in Brazil's capital. He spoke a day before tens of thousands of soldiers and health inspectors were to take to the streets in an unprecedented drive to encourage residents to be vigilant for mosquito breeding sites. The goal: visit 3 million homes in more than 350 cities.
Two 15-year-old girls fatally shot at Phoenix-area school GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Two 15-year-old girls died Friday in a shooting at a suburban Phoenix high school that initially caused panic among parents who could not reach their children but later emerged as a murder-suicide. Police announced that a suicide note was found at the shooting scene near the cafeteria area of Independence High School in Glendale. They said the girls each were shot once, were declared dead at the scene and a weapon was found near the bodies. "Information gathered by detectives reveal the two girls were very close friends, appeared to also be in a relationship," Glendale police spokeswoman Tracey Breeden said in a statement Friday afternoon.
'No rhyme or reason' for machete attack at Ohio restaurant COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - From the front door, the man with the machete didn't have a straight path to people in the booths at the small suburban restaurant. He stepped by the welcoming greeting on the front glass, past the half-wall entryway divider and the display case of kataifi and other Mediterranean pastries. Immediately, police said, he started swinging. "There was no rhyme or reason as to who he was going after," said Sgt. Rich Weiner, a Columbus police spokesman. By the time it was over, four adults were wounded and the attacker was dead, shot by police in a confrontation a few miles away.
Facebook nude-painting case can face trial in France PARIS (AP) - If you post a 19th-century nude painting on Facebook, is it art or impermissible nudity? That question is now cleared for trial in France, after an appeals court there ruled that an aggrieved user can sue the social network over the issue. Five years ago, Facebook suspended the account of Frederic Durand-Baissas, a 57-year-old Parisian teacher and art lover, without prior notice. That was the day he posted a photo of Gustave Courbet's 1866 painting "The Origin of the World," which depicts female genitalia. Durand-Baissas wants his account reactivated and is asking for 20,000 euros ($22,550) in damages.
Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia 1st to draw lifetime drug ban NEW YORK (AP) - Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia became the first player to receive a lifetime ban under Major League Baseball's drug agreement after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance for the third time. The commissioner's office said Friday that Mejia tested positive for the anabolic steroid Boldenone, which athletes have used to increase muscle mass and once was popular for use in horse racing. The 26-year-old right-hander was the Mets' closer in 2014, then was suspended for 80 games last April 11 following a positive test for Stanozolol, a drug popular among bodybuilders. At the time, he said, "I can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system." Mejia returned July 12, appeared in seven games for New York, then was banned for 162 games on July 28 after a positive test for Stanozolol and Boldenone.