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Refugee numbers on the rise

The number of refugees leaving their home country exceeded 11 million in 2007, the United Nations announced this week. In a report by the Office of the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, the agency noted the figure is down from 17.8 million refugees in 1992, but up significantly from 9.9 million in 2006. In a statement quoted in the New York Times, high commissioner Antonio Guterres cited wars, environmental problems, inflation and bad governance as contributing to world instability and increases in refugee numbers.

Kidnapper sentenced

A woman who took a baby from a hospital was sentenced to five years in prison by an Ontario court this week. Brenda Batisse plead guilty to abducting an hour-old baby girl from the maternity ward of Sudbury Regional Hospital last November. Ontario provincial police eventually located the child seven hours later in a home 200 kilometres south of Sudbury. According to the National Post, assistant crown prosecutor Len Walker sought a sentence of seven years while the defence asked for a non-custodial conditional sentence of 18 months followed by three years of probation. The defence plans to file an appeal.

Man caught with handgun at Calgary Airport

A Calgary man has been charged after a handgun and several rounds of ammunition were found in his luggage at the Calgary International Airport. Airport baggage screeners saw an X-ray image of what appeared to be a handgun inside a carry-on item of the passenger bound for Saskatoon on Tuesday afternoon. The motive is still unclear. In a story in the Calgary Herald, security authority spokesman Mathieu Larocque noted that finding a real weapon in carry-on is rare. More often screeners discover what appear to be weapons, but turn out to be toys or facsimiles.

American Midwest largely underwater

Thousands of people have been forced from their homes as a series of storms across the American Midwest have caused widespread flooding. Many residents of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin have been evacuated following the storms, which spawned damaging tornadoes and have caused 13 known deaths. The Associated Press is reporting that the most severe flooding in the state of Iowa has moved from the eastern part of the state to the west, threatening areas along the Mississippi River in Illinois and Missouri. The National Weather Service expects rivers in the region to crest late in the week and into the weekend.

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