Syria prays for rain at President Assad's request

DAMASCUS, Syria — Imams across Syria are directing Muslims to pray for rain during this week's congregational Friday prayers.

Syrian President Bashar Assad directed imams to pray for rain in this week's prayers through a circular distributed by the Religious Affairs Ministry, SANA state news agency reported Tuesday.

SANA says insufficient rains and a changing climate have hurt crop yields this year. Most of Syria's precipitation comes in winter.

Friday prayers are the most important weekly prayers in the Muslim world. Imams deliver weekly sermons on topics ranging from family to politics and, in this case, the weather.

In Israel, Jewish worshippers prayed for rain at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Thursday after Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel called for prayers to relieve the country's drought-hit farming sector.

Abuse case against LDS leaders to go to trial

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A jury in West Virginia will hear the evidence against the Mormon Church in a lawsuit accusing local church officials of covering up allegations that the son of officials abused 12 children over more than five years.

The Journal reports that the lawsuit filed by children who were between the ages of 3 and 12 when they say they were sexually abused by Christopher Michael Jensen will go to trial Jan. 8 in Berkeley County. Jensen was sentenced in 2013 to 35 to 75 years in prison for sexually abusing two minors.

The lawsuit was initially filed in 2013, and accuses the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and its leaders of covering up the abuse, enabling Jensen to commit further acts and trying to intimidate plaintiffs' families.

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