BRATISLAVA, Slovakia -- The European Central Bank cut its benchmark interest rate to a record low Thursday but remained unwilling to deploy more powerful weapons that many economists say are needed to jolt the Continent out of recession.
The central bank trimmed its main rate to 0.5 percent from 0.75 percent. The move was seen by many as mostly symbolic, to avoid the impression that the bank and its president, Mario Draghi, were sitting on their hands as recession spread across the eurozone.
Arming of rebels revisited
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is rethinking its opposition to arming the rebels who have been locked in a civil war with the Syrian regime for more than two years, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday, becoming the first top U.S. official to publicly acknowledge the reassessment.
During a Pentagon news conference with British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, Mr. Hagel said arming the rebels was one option that the administration was considering in consultation with its allies. But he said he personally had not decided whether it would be a wise or appropriate move.
Peace accord vote sought
JERUSALEM -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Thursday that any peace agreement with the Palestinians should be put to a referendum, a move some Israelis view as a potential obstacle to a deal even as Secretary of State John Kerry works intently to renew long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The statement came as his special envoy, Isaac Molho, and Tzipi Livni, Israel's minister of justice, who holds a special portfolio dealing with the peace process, were in Washington for a meeting with Mr. Kerry. The Israelis were to meet later with Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary-general, in New York.
Death could strain ties
NEW DELHI -- A convicted Indian spy who was on death row in Pakistan has died from head injuries sustained in a jail attack by fellow prisoners, an incident that threatens to further strain relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
Sarabjit Singh was arrested in 1990 and later found guilty of spying and involvement in deadly bomb blasts in Pakistani cities. His family has said he hails from a border village in the northern Indian state of Punjab and had crossed the countries' frontier by mistake.
Benedict at new home
VATICAN CITY -- Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI came home to the Vatican on Thursday for the first time since he resigned Feb. 28, beginning an unprecedented era for the Catholic Church of having a retired pontiff living alongside a reigning one.
Pope Francis welcomed Benedict outside his new retirement home -- a converted monastery on the edge of the Vatican gardens -- and the two went into the adjoining chapel to pray together.
The Vatican said Benedict, 86, was pleased to be back and that he would "dedicate himself to the service of the church above all with prayer."
Guilty plea in sex case
LONDON -- An elderly British television and radio personality has admitted to 14 counts of sexually abusing girls age 9 to 17 decades ago, it emerged Thursday.
Stuart Hall, 83, pleaded guilty to the charges last month, but the news media was barred from reporting the plea until now.
Mr. Hall, a familiar figure in a career spanning five decades, was arrested in December and questioned as part of Operation Yewtree, a far-reaching criminal investigation into allegations of sexual abuse from as long as 50 years ago.