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Pope’s butler placed under house arrest in Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI’s butler was released from a Vatican cell and placed under house arrest on Saturday as he awaits a ruling on whether he should stand trial for leaking confidential papers. “His detention is no longer necessary,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters, adding that the ruling would come…

Putin signs Russia into World Trade Organization

President Vladimir Putin on Saturday signed the bill ratifying Russia’s entry to the World Trade Organization after 18 years of often acrimonious negotiations, the Kremlin press office said. Economists have long argued that Russia needed to join the WTO as it was the only major economy outside the body —…

Olympics legend Comaneci takes flame on London tour

Olympics legend Nadia Comaneci held the 2012 torch aloft over London on Saturday as the flame began a seven-day tour of the host city that will culminate at the Games opening ceremony. Olympics organisers hope that with the flame now in the British capital, attention will turn towards sport and…

Departing IMF economist rips fund’s leadership

A departing senior IMF economist has excoriated the fund, alleging it failed to address Europe’s crisis and “suppressed” its challenges, according to a letter published Friday. In the letter obtained by CNN, Peter Doyle also accused Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, of being “tainted” by…

Conflict, hunger, cholera and locusts: Mali’s woes mount

A toddler’s cries ring out in a paediatric ward where about 20 children lie emaciated from malnutrition in this northern Mali town, whose occupation by Islamists has caused a humanitarian crisis. “He is suffering from chronic malnutrition,” says chief nurse Ibrahim Maiga of the crying three-year-old, pointing out other children…

Japan firm ‘told workers to lie’ about radiation dose

A subcontractor at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant told workers to lie about possible high radiation exposure in an apparent effort to keep its contract, reports said Saturday. An executive at construction firm Build-Up in December told about 10 of its workers to cover their dosimeters, used to measure cumulative…

European Parliament head fears ‘social explosion’

European Parliament president Martin Schulz warned on Saturday that Spain’s economic crisis could spark a “social explosion” across the continent. “The demonstrations in Spain show that a social explosion is looming because of the high unemployment rate among young people in Europe,” Schulz told the wide-circulation German daily Bild in…

Olympic torch brought to London by commando descending from military helicopter

The Olympic flame made a dramatic arrival in London on Friday when it was flown in by military helicopter and lowered to the ground by a marine commando a week ahead of the opening ceremony. As the sun went down over the British capital, Royal Marine Martyn Williams abseiled from…

Russian city prosecutes 73 people for ‘homosexual propaganda’

Seventy-three people have been prosecuted for violating new anti-gay legislation imposed in Russia’s former imperial city Saint Petersburg four months ago, police said Friday. The law which punishes public homosexual and paedophile “propaganda” with fines of up to 500,000 rubles (12,800 euros/$15,600) has been criticised by human rights activists as…

Liberian Senate votes on same sex marriage ban

The Liberian Senate on Friday voted unanimously to approve a constitutional amendment prohibiting marriage between gay couples. While homosexuality is considered taboo in Liberia, and ‘voluntary sodomy’ considered a criminal offence, the question of gay marriage had not been expressly addressed in law. The amendment was made to section 2.3…

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