In brief: City prepares itself as volcano acts up

Mexico City – Seismic activity continued Wednesday at the Popocatepetl volcano near Mexico City, and authorities said they have readied shelters and identified evacuation routes in case they should be needed.

Mexico’s National Disaster Prevention Center says there were two explosions at the white-capped volcano between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The center says the volcano spewed a plume of steam about a mile into the sky.

Popocatepetl has put out small eruptions of ash almost daily since a round of activity began in 1994. The eruptions started strengthening two weeks ago and increased even more this weekend.

Alleged recruitment is repeat, Russia says

Moscow – The arrest and expulsion of a U.S. embassy official this week for allegedly attempting, in a ham-handed way, to recruit a Russian intelligence officer was the second such case this year, Russian state television reported Wednesday.

The earlier arrest took place in January, when an embassy official identified as Benjamin Dillon was arrested “in the attempt to recruit a special services officer,” Rossiya-1 TV reported in an interview with a man identified as an officer of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the successor agency to the Soviet KGB. The officer was not identified and his face was hidden in shadow. He said Dillon was a CIA agent.

A U.S. embassy spokesman, Joseph Kruzich, said the embassy would have no comment on the report.

Pope issues sanction on Scottish cardinal

Vatican City – The Vatican on Wednesday ordered a disgraced Scottish cardinal to leave Scotland for several months to pray and atone for sexual misconduct, issuing a rare public sanction against a “prince of the church” and the first such punishment meted out by Pope Francis.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien resigned as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh and recused himself from the March conclave that elected Francis pope after a newspaper reported unnamed priests’ allegations that he acted inappropriately toward them.

O’Brien subsequently acknowledged he had engaged in unspecified sexual misbehavior. He apologized and promised to stay out of the church’s public life.

On Wednesday, the Vatican said O’Brien, once Britain’s highest-ranking Catholic leader, would leave Scotland for several months of “spiritual renewal, prayer and penance.”

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