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Pope's rebuke...Mall gunfire...Civil rights leader dies

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Christians around the world are recalling the birth of Jesus. At the Vatican, Pope Francis used a sermon to note the simplicity of Jesus' birth. Francis spoke against what he called societies' intoxication with consumerism, pleasure, abundance and wealth. He also sounded a cry to right injustices. Meanwhile in Bethlehem, recent violence between Palestinians and Israel has left what one tourist calls "an underlying sense of tension."

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian Orthodox Church has sacked an outspoken official who pushed the church to take a more aggressive role in public life. Father Vsevolod Chaplin had headed a church department that promoted cooperation between church and society. Chaplin described his dismissal as an attempt to purge the church of independent voices.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Gunfire has left one person dead at a shopping mall in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department says there was "an officer involved shooting" inside the Northlake Mall. Police say the person who was shot was "armed" and involved in an argument.

HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. (AP) — The overall death toll from violent storms in the Southeast has risen to 11 people in three states. All but four of the deaths were in Mississippi. There were also storm deaths in Tennessee and Arkansas. In Alabama, there has been widespread flooding. About a foot of rain fell near the town of Enterprise. Storms stretching to the Northeast caused hundreds of flight delays.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Influential Florida civil rights leader Dr. Robert B. Hayling has died. Hayling, who was a dentist, spent six months in a Florida jail and reform school in 1964 when he and three others asked to be served at a Woolworth's lunch counter. They were released only after protests by Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson and others. Hayling was 86.

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