Abbas hopeful Trump
will back independence
RAMALLAH — The Palestinian president expressed hope Wednesday that President-elect Donald Trump will support the Palestinian quest for independence, saying little is known about the incoming American leader’s policies.
In a sprawling speech that lasted well over three hours to his Fatah Party, President Mahmoud Abbas said he hopes that 2017 will be the year that the Palestinians finally gain independence and that he would seek Trump’s help in achieving that goal.
Trump has said he would like to broker a Mideast peace deal, but he has given few details on how he hopes to do so. He has raised concerns among Palestinians because many of his advisers take hard-line positions that favor Israel, and his campaign platform made no mention of Palestinian independence — a U.S. position for the past two decades.
Make 5-pound note
‘fat-free,’ vegans ask
LONDON — The Bank of England’s new plastic 5-pound note is stronger, cleaner and safer — but apparently not suitable for vegetarians.
Vegans and vegetarians are calling for the new bank notes, which have only been in circulation for two months, to be replaced because they are made with a substance derived from animal fat.
The Bank of England confirmed on Twitter that the notes contain “a trace of a substance known as tallow” — a rendered form of animal fat, processed from suet, which is sometimes used in soaps and candles.
70 migrants found
in snowy forest
THESSALONIKI — Authorities picked up about 70 migrants, including children, in a snowy forest near the northern city of Thessaloniki on Wednesday, as smugglers turned to previously popular routes into the European Union rather than the sea crossing from Turkey.
Members of the group, who said they were from Syria, told Greek police they had crossed the Evros River on the Greek-Turkish border in dinghies and were then brought to Thessaloniki hidden in a truck.
The truck driver left them in the forest late Tuesday, and they spent the night there in the snow, authorities said. Police are searching for the driver.
Scorsese meets pope, discusses new movie
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has met with director Martin Scorsese, whose new film, “Silence,” about Jesuit missionaries in 17th-century Japan, was screened this week in Rome.
The Vatican says that during the pontiff’s “very cordial” meeting Wednesday with Scorsese, Francis mentioned he had read the novel on which the film is based. Francis is a Jesuit who joined the order while a young man in Argentina with the idea of becoming a missionary in Japan. But health problems scuttled that dream.
Francis thanked Scorsese for his gift of two paintings. The work of an 18th-century Japanese artist, the paintings served as a reference for some of the details in the film.