National Briefs


Catholic bishops vow fight

with Obama over abortion

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops vowed Tuesday to confront the Obama administration over its support for abortion rights. In an impassioned discussion on Catholics in public life, several bishops said they would accept no compromise on abortion policy. Many condemned Catholics who had argued it was morally acceptable to back President-elect Obama because he pledged to reduce abortion rates. And several prelates promised to call out Catholic policymakers on their failures to follow church teaching. Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pa., singled out Vice President-elect Joe Biden, a Catholic native of Scranton who supports abortion rights. The discussion occurred on the same day the bishops approved a new “Blessing of a Child in the Womb.” The prayer seeks a healthy pregnancy for the mother and makes a plea that “our civic rulers” perform their duties “while respecting the gift of human life.” Associated Press

New Orleans

Obese children as young as 10 had the arteries of 45-year-olds and other heart abnormalities that greatly raise their risk of heart disease, say doctors who used ultrasound tests to take a peek inside. About a third of American children are overweight and one-fifth are obese. Many parents think that “baby fat” will melt away as kids get older. But research increasingly shows that fat kids become fat adults, with higher risks for many health problems. The studies were reported Tuesday at an American Heart Association conference. Associated Press


Taliban seize trucks hauling

supplies for U.S.-led troops

Suspected Taliban fighters hijacked trucks carrying Humvees and other supplies for U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan, authorities said Tuesday after a brazen attack near the Khyber Pass. The assault highlighted the vulnerability of a vital supply route for the 65,000 U.S. and NATO forces battling a resurgent Taliban in landlocked Afghanistan. Some 60 masked militants blocked the route at several points before overpowering the convoy, said Fazal Mahmood, a government official in Khyber tribal region. The militants took about 13 trucks along with the drivers, who were thought to be Pakistani. Associated Press


The head of the U.N. called for an immediate cease-fire in eastern Congo to urgently help at least 100,000 refugees cut off by fighting in rebel-held areas. “Because of the ongoing fighting, these people have received virtually no assistance. Their situation has grown increasingly desperate,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday. He said for at least 100,000 refugees trapped behind rebel lines around the towns of Rutshuru and East Masisi the “lifeline has been cut off,” and their situation is “dire.” Associated Press