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RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Good morning, everyone.

There is news to report about the Middle East. The Israeli Army will not press charges against officers who order the use of cluster bombs during last year's war with Lebanon. Officials with the army made that announcement yesterday. The United Nations and human rights groups have accused Israel of dropping about four million cluster bombs, many of those in civilian areas in Lebanon. More than 30 people have been killed by cluster bombs and landmine explosions in Lebanon since the '06 war. After a yearlong investigation, Israeli military officials said the bombs were used to stop Hezbollah guerillas from firing rockets into Israel and were, I quote, "a military necessity."

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Christians are expected to visit Bethlehem this Christmas holiday. Last night during Bethlehem's midnight mass, Latin patriarch Michel Sabbah said the Holy Land can't be the land of life for some and for others the land of death, exclusion, occupation or political imprisonment. His politically charged homily appealed for peace and called for independence for Palestinians. Sabbah is the Catholic Church's top official in the Holy Land and the first Palestinian to hold that title.

And (unintelligible) from around the world gathered at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome last night to hear Pope Benedict XVI celebrate the Christmas Eve mass. In his message, he talked about the need to take care of the Earth.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli has more.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI: In his homily, the Pope asked, does the contemporary world still have time and space for God. Can he enter into our lives or have we occupied all the available space in our thoughts, our actions, our lives for ourselves? Benedict replied, God does not allow himself to be shut out and find space even if it means entering through the stable. The Pope compared the humble stable in which Christ was born with what he called the ill-treated world of today, a world disfigured through the abuse of energy and selfish and reckless exploitation.

MARTIN: NPR's Sylvia Poggioli in Rome.

And along with the memory of jazz great Oscar Peterson, today, we mark the passing of another artist: choreographer Michael Kidd, whose athletic dances for ballet, Broadway and Hollywood won him many fans over a 50-year career and many awards, five Tonys and an Oscar. Some of those big hits: "Finian's Rainbow" in 1947, "Guys and Dolls" in 1951, and "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" in 1954. That's his best known film because of the unique athletic moves he put into the choreography. In recent years, Kidd directed television specials and scenes for two music videos for Janet Jackson.

That's the news. It's always online at npr.org.

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