[1] Pope 'Should Meet Irish Clerical Sex Abuse Victims'
The head of Ireland's Catholic Church has said he expects Pope Francis to meet victims of clerical sex abuse during his visit to Dublin next week.

In a wide-ranging BBC News NI interview at Armagh Cathedral, Archbishop Eamon Martin described clerical sex abuse as "sinful and criminal".

Pope Francis will arrive in Dublin on Saturday 25 August and attend the World Meeting of Families.He will also travel to Knock Shrine in County Mayo as part of his tour.

Since the last papal visit in 1979 by Pope John Paul II, the Catholic Church in Ireland has been engulfed in scandal with the uncovering of widespread clerical sexual abuse of children and cover-ups.Archbishop Martin said he expected Pope Francis to deal with the issue directly.

[2] India Monsoon Floods 'kill 106' In Kerala
More than 100 people are thought to have died in devastating monsoon floods in India's southern state of Kerala, the worst in almost a century. Rescuers battled torrential rains to save residents, with nearly 150,000 reportedly left homeless. The state government said many of those who died were crushed under debris caused by landslides. With more rains predicted and a red alert in place, the main airport has reportedly been shut until 26 August.

A state official told AFP that 106 people had now died, while the Economic Times in India reports 114 have been killed. Hundreds of troops have been deployed to rescue those caught up in the flooding, alongside helicopters and lifeboats. The government has urged people not to ignore evacuation orders. It is distributing food to tens of thousands who have fled to higher ground.

"We're witnessing something that has never happened before in the history of Kerala," Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters. "Almost all dams are now opened. Most of our water treatment plants are submerged. Motors are damaged." He added that the failure of the state government of neighbouring Tamil Nadu to release water from a dam had made the situation worse.

[3] Islamic State Claims Kabul's Latest Deadly Attacks
Militants from the Islamic State (IS) group have said they were behind two recent attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul in which dozens of people died. On Wednesday, 48 people were killed in the bombing of an education centre. Most of them were students studying for university entrance exams. On Thursday, a training centre for the intelligence services was attacked.

IS said it carried out the "commando" operation and claimed to have caused high casualties. Afghan officials said at least two militants were killed but did not mention any other deaths or injuries. Also on Wednesday, Taliban militants said they could no longer guarantee safe passage for Red Cross staff working in Afghanistan, amid a row over the treatment of Taliban prisoners in a jail in Kabul.

IS claimed the attacks via its media outlet Amaq. The militants said about 110 people were either killed or wounded in Thursday's attack that began in the morning. Meanwhile, Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai said the attackers had fired rocket-propelled grenades as well as automatic rifles, and that security forces had held back from assaulting the building where the gunmen had taken position. After some seven hours, officials said the two attackers were killed.

[4] “The Press Is Not the Enemy of The People,” Senate Declares in Resolution
The Senate unanimously passed a resolution by Democrats on Thursday condemning attacks on the free press and affirming that "the press is not the enemy of the people," President Trump's label for the media.

The move came as more than 300 newspapers and other media outlets joined The Boston Globe in publishing editorials Thursday promoting freedom of the press and refuting Trump's denouncements.

"We can't let statements by the president declaring the press is the enemy of the people go unchallenged," said Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii. "Both parties complain about the media but who would argue with Thomas Jefferson who wrote that “our liberty depends on the freedom of the press and that cannot be limited without being lost."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., joined Schatz in introducing the resolution, which passed with unanimous consent by voice vote.

[5] Birmingham Mosques Attacked with Catapults During  Prayers
Muslim groups in the UK have condemned catapult attacks on two mosques in the city of Birmingham, which smashed several windows during evening prayers.

The Masjid Qamarul Islam mosque and the nearby Al-Hijrah mosque were hit with large ball bearings fired from a heavy-duty catapult on Wednesday.

Armed police officers were "deployed as a precaution", local police said on Twitter.

On Thursday, police said they had opened an investigation into the attacks, which are being treated as hate crimes, adding that extra officers would be deployed in the area.

"Whilst we don't fully know the motives yet, these ball bearings are the size of marbles - [and have the] potential to kill," said the Birmingham-based Bahu Trust, which runs several British mosques.

[6] Pompeo Forms Iran Action Group  for Post-Nuclear Deal Policy
Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, has formed a dedicated group to coordinate and run the country's policy towards Iran following President Donald Trump's unilateral withdrawal from a multinational nuclear deal with Tehran.

Pompeo announced the creation of the Iran Action Group (IAG) at a news conference on Thursday, naming Brian Hook, the State Department's director of policy planning, as its head.

"We are committed to a whole of government effort to change the Iranian regime's behaviour and the Iran Action Group will ensure that the Department of State will remain closely synchronised with our interagency partners," he said.

"The IAG will also lead the way in growing efforts with nations which share our understanding of the Iranian threat."

Speaking to reporters after Pompeo, Hook said Iran's "malign activities" were "wide-ranging" and Washington's new strategy was addressing all manifestations of "the Iranian threat".

"The new Iran Action Group will be focused on implementing that strategy," added Hook, who will have the formal title of the Special Representative for Iran.

[7] Ex-CIA Boss Says He Will Not Be Scared  Into Silence by Trump
Former CIA Director John Brennan said on Thursday he would not be silenced by Donald Trump, a day after the president revoked the Obama-era official’s security clearance and said the move was directly tied to the Russia investigation.

Retired Navy Admiral William McRaven, who oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL operation that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, responded to Trump’s move by praising Brennan and asking the president to revoke his security clearance as well.

In a statement on Wednesday, Trump said he revoked Brennan’s authorization for making what he called “unfounded and outrageous allegations” about his administration and was evaluating whether to strip clearances from other former top officials. Brennan and the others have criticized the Republican president.