3 Persian Gulf states recall ambassadors

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar on Wednesday in an unprecedented public split between Gulf Arab allies who have fallen out over the role of Islamists in a region in turmoil.

Qatar’s cabinet voiced “regret and surprise” at the decision by the three fellow members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, but said it would not recall its own envoys.

The Saudi-led trio said Qatar has failed to honor a GCC agreement signed Nov. 23 not to back “anyone threatening the security and stability of the GCC whether as groups or individuals — via direct security work or through political influence, and not to support hostile media.”

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are especially upset over Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement that challenges dynastic rule.

They also resent the way Qatar has sheltered influential Brotherhood cleric Yusuf Qaradawi and given him regular airtime on its pan-Arab satellite television channel Al Jazeera.

Kuwait and Oman did not join the diplomatic rebuke of Qatar.

— Reuters

Pope criticized on sex abuse remarks

Pope Francis is coming under increasing criticism that he simply doesn’t get it on sex abuse.

Three months after the Vatican announced a commission of experts to study best practices on protecting children, no action has been taken, no members appointed, no statute outlining the commission’s scope approved.

Francis hasn’t met with victims, hasn’t ousted a bishop convicted in 2012 of failing to report a suspected abuser, and insisted Wednesday that the church had been unfairly attacked on abuse.

In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Francis acknowledged the “profound” wounds abuse leaves, but then added: “The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution that has moved with transparency and responsibility. No one has done more. And yet the church is the only one that has been attacked.”

Victims’ advocates called his tone archaic and urged Francis to show the same compassion he offers the sick, poor and disabled to victims of sex abuse by priests.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said Wednesday that there was no doubt the commission would eventually propose new initiatives to protect children and be a model for the church and society.

— Associated Press

Illegal miner killed in clash, firm says

A Canadian mining company said Wednesday that an illegal miner was killed in a clash with guards at the firm’s silver mine in central Mexico.

Great Panther Silver of Vancouver, B.C., said in a statement that the confrontation occurred Tuesday night at its mine in Guanajuato, capital of the central state of the same name.

The company said illegal miners “have been entering the mine by force . . . such that we have had to hire an armed security force.” Thieves and illegal miners steal small quantities of rich ore, but also put the mines’ employees and themselves at risk.

— Associated Press

Quebec’s premier calls election: Quebec Premier Pauline Marois dissolved the legislature and called an election in a bid to gain a majority of seats for her pro-independence Parti Québ écois, a development that could lead to another referendum on separation from Canada. The possibility of a breakaway, however, remained distant. Polls show that the idea lacks popular support.

Costa Rican candidate bows out: Johnny Araya, the ruling party candidate in Costa Rica’s presidential election, abandoned his campaign a month before the runoff, a move that appeared to guarantee victory for leftist Luis Guillermo Solís. Araya, of the centrist National Liberation Party, said he would no longer campaign, though under the constitution his name will stay on the ballot. He said he made the decision after polls showed him way behind Solís. Araya’s party has been in power for eight years.

A bid to get shark off the menu: Conservationists said they have launched a shark-saving campaign in the Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago, trying to stop locals and tourists from eating deep-fried shark sandwiches. Many have long considered “bake & shark” sandwiches to be an essential part of a visit to Trinidad’s popular Maracas Beach. But the local Papa Bois Conservation group wants a ban on catch and trade of the sharks.

— From news services