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Page One: Headlines for 3/18/14 Posted: Mar 18 2014 12:36PM

Istafanos Youssif, a university student from the port city of Suez, Egypt, stands inside the damaged Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Suez on 28 February. The church was among dozens of Christian properties that came under attack last August in the predominantly Muslim country. (photo: CNS/James Martone)

Egypt’s human rights situation is going from ugly to uglier (Christian Science Monitor) The severe abuses meted out to Egyptian citizens are gradually crushing any hopes of a pluralistic, truly democratic society. Jails teem with some 16,000 political activists; torture in detention centers and police stations reported to be growing more prevalent, not less so; and the taboo broken last August when the military attacked a Muslim Brotherhood protest camp at Rabaa al Adawey square. The group has since been outlawed. And while it’s true that the group’s supporters are bearing the brunt of the crackdown, it goes much wider…

A priest braces for the conquest of Crimea (Time) Archbishop Kliment of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate began evacuating the holy icons from his church about two weeks ago, as soon as he realized that the region of Crimea, where he serves as the leader of his faith community, would soon fall to the Russians. He wasn’t so much afraid of looting or arson from the Russian soldiers occupying his region of Ukraine, although that concerned him too. He was preparing for nothing less than the nullification of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Under Russian rule, “we will simply be liquidated,” he says. “Our church is an enemy to the order that Russia would impose here, and our churches would be either looted or in the best case forced to close…”

Russia moves to annex Crimea with Putin decree (Vatican Radio) Russian President Vladimir Putin has recognized Crimea as an independent state and says approving the region’s entry into the Russian Federation makes sense. He informed Russia’s parliament shortly after the European Union and the United States announced sanctions against dozens of officials from Russia and Ukraine who they blame for Russia’s military incursion into Crimea…

Scores killed and scores injured in Iraq attacks (AINA) Heavily armed militants attacked the home of a militiaman north of Baghdad on Sunday, killing and decapitating his wife and two sons and killing another person in a brutal assault before dawn. In the Baghdad area on Sunday, meanwhile, a bombing and two shootings killed three people, security and medical officials said. The latest bloodshed came a day after five car bombs were set off in commercial areas of the Iraqi capital, killing 15 people and wounding more than 50 others…