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George H.W. Bush released from intensive care

Former US president George H.W. Bush is on the mend and has been released from intensive care, a spokesman said Saturday. “President Bush’s condition has improved, so he has been moved today from the intensive care unit to a regular patient room at The Methodist Hospital to continue his recovery,”…

Pope attends ecumenical gathering of 40,000 young Christians

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday attended an ecumenical gathering of around 40,000 young people in Rome’s St Peter’s Square. The young Christians — Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox — came to Rome as part of a European meeting of the Taize community, an ecumenical monastic order in Taize in eastern France.…

French soccer league cheers defeat of government’s 75% tax proposal

The French Football League (LFP) on Saturday welcomed news that France’s top constitutional body had thrown out plans by the Socialist government to introduce a 75-percent upper income tax rate. The rate would have applied to anyone earning over one million euros a year – therefore top footballers such as…

First African smartphone launched in Rep. of Congo

A Congolese inventor has unveiled what he says is the first African-designed smartphone. Verone Mankou, 27, told AFP that the so-called Elikia, which means “hope” in the local language, went on sale the day before in the Republic of Congo. Mankou, head of the company VMK, said the Android-powered device…

Toxic cough syrup kills 24 in Pakistan

At least 24 people, mostly drug addicts seeking a fix, have died after drinking toxic cough syrup in an eastern Pakistani city, officials said on Saturday. The deaths started occurring Wednesday in the industrial city of Gujranwala, some 70 kilometres (43 miles) north of Lahore, with most of the victims…

Russian jet overshoots runway and plows into road, killing 4

Four people were killed and four were injured Saturday when a Russian-made airliner overshot a runway on landing at a Moscow airport and crashed onto a nearby highway, officials said. “According to updated information, four people were killed and four more were injured,” an interior ministry official told RIA Novosti.…

Saudi Arabia budget surplus hit $102.9 billion in 2012

Saudi Arabia said on Saturday that its budget surplus hit 386 billion riyals ($102.9 billion) in 2012 as oil-dominated revenues surged, according to state television. Revenues were expected to reach 1.24 trillion riyals ($330.4 billion) by the end of the year, while expenditure would be 853 billion riyals ($227.5 billion),…

Planet Earth will ring in the new year with ‘quirky’ traditions

As the clock strikes 12 on Monday, millions will pop champagne corks and light fireworks while others indulge in quirkier New Year’s rituals like melting lead, leaping off chairs or gobbling grapes. One of the world’s oldest shared traditions, New Year’s celebrations take many forms, but most cultures have one…

Small South Carolina town cannot find a mayor

Little Mountain, S.C., which has 292 people and one stoplight, also has a job opening: mayor. “There is currently no mayor in Little Mountain,” said Ezra Klein, filling in for Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show Friday night, “which is odd. The mayor manages about a $90,000 budget — not…

Mich. governor approves new regulations for abortion clinics

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed into law new regulations for abortion clinics, reported Reuters, which Planned Parenthood claims threatens access to the procedure in the state. Clinics that provide more than 120 abortions annually will now have to be licensed freestanding surgical outpatient facilities. Synder argued, “This bill respects…

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