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Bolivia’s president presents pope with bizarre-looking hammer and sickle crucifix

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Bolivia’s President Evo Morales handed Pope Francis an unusual and some say “provocative” gift Thursday during the pontiff’s visit to the country: a carving of Christ crucified on a wooden sickle and hammer.

The sculpted juxtaposition of two of the world’s most potent symbols, Christianity and communism, was made by Jesuit priest Luis Espinal.

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A poet and artist, Espinal was assassinated in 1980 by right-wing paramilitaries, and the pope paid tribute to him Wednesday on his way from the airport to La Paz, stopping at the site of his death.

Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope.

Local Catholic leaders said the unusual gift fits with Morales’ quirky personality.

“We’re used to the creative originality of President Morales,” said Eugenio Coter, from the Church’s Bolivian Amazonian missionary region.

“This is a provocation, a joke” said Bolivian Bishop Gonzalo del Castillo.

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Bolivia’s communications minister, Marianela Paco, explained that the gift was symbolic: “The sickle evokes the peasant, the hammer the carpenter, representing humble workers, God’s people.”

“That was the intention of this gift, there was no other,” she told Radio Patria Nueva.

The Vatican said the pope made no specific comment on the gift.

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Religious expert Francisco Zaratti said the gift was anachronistic.

“In the ’70s such an object made sense, it represented a commitment to socialism. Today after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it belongs to the past,” he said.

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Trump threatens 25 percent tariffs on European cars if he can’t ink a new EU trade deal

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US President Donald Trump relaunched a major trade offensive against Europe on Wednesday, threatening to hit the EU with damaging auto tariffs if Europeans failed to agree a long-delayed trade deal.

"The European Union is tougher to deal with than anybody. They've taken advantage of our country for many years." Trump told Fox Business News on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"Ultimately, it will be very easy because if we can't make a deal, we'll have to put 25 percent tariffs on their cars," he added.

Trump added that his attention would now to turn to Europe, after he sealed a trade truce with China after several years of a trade war that destabilised the world economy.

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Why teen depression rates are rising faster for girls than boys

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We’re in the middle of a teen mental health crisis – and girls are at its epicenter.

Since 2010, depression, self-harm and suicide rates have increased among teen boys. But rates of major depression among teen girls in the U.S. increased even more – from 12% in 2011 to 20% in 2017. In 2015, three times as many 10- to 14-year-old girls were admitted to the emergency room after deliberately harming themselves than in 2010. Meanwhile, the suicide rate for adolescent girls has doubled since 2007.

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Get ready for Enron II: Republicans are re-opening the energy market to underhanded dealing

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Neil Chatterjee, head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is taking our nation back to pre-Enron days when the commission was so weak it didn’t even explicitly prohibit manipulating energy markets.

Under Chatterjee, a former Mitch McConnell aide, the number of new investigations was halved – to 12 – in fiscal 2019, compared with the previous year. The commission reached just two settlement agreements for $14 million, a sixth or less of the annual average for penalties since 2007.

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