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Pope celebrates 85th birthday with Bavarian singalong

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI on Monday sang along to the anthem of his native Bavaria in Germany to celebrate his 85th birthday, which makes him the oldest pope since Leo XIII who died in 1903 aged 93. The pope began his birthday with mass in the frescoed Pauline…

Doctors fight to save the life of six-legged Pakistani baby

Doctors in Pakistan are fighting to save the life of a baby boy born with six legs because of a rare genetic condition, hospital officials said Monday. The infant was born to the wife of an X-ray technician a week ago, Jamal Raza, the director of National Institute of the…

U.S. nominee Jim Yong Kim chosen to lead World Bank

The World Bank chose Korean-American physician Jim Yong Kim as its next chief Monday in a decision that surprised few despite the first-ever challenge to the US lock on the Bank’s presidency. The Bank’s directors chose Kim, a 52 year old US health expert and educator, over Nigerian Finance Minister…

Gay men kiss as Muslims protest atheist convention in Australia

A kiss between two gay men angered Muslims who were protesting outside the Global Atheist Convention in Australia over the weekend. Gregory Storer and his partner, Michael Barnett, were attending the convention in Melbourne when they were confronted by a group of Muslim protesters holding signs that that said, “Atheism…

Police probe ‘killer’ python in urban Japan

Police in urban Japan were Monday probing the death of a man whose body was found next to a 6.5-metre (21 foot) python. Shoji Fujita, 66, was found dead outside his home in Ushiku city, 50 kilometres (30 miles) northeast of Tokyo, with a reticulated pythonsitting next to him, a local…

Kidnapped penguin ‘Dirk’ rescued from sharks and dogs

Dirk, a fairy penguin stolen from an Australian marine park, has been safely returned, but not before being hounded by a dog and chased by another animal, possibly a shark. Police allege three young men broke into Sea World on Queensland’s Gold Coast on Saturday night, swam in the dolphin enclosure and then stole seven-year-old Dirk as…

UN chief urges ‘maximum restraint’ from Syria regime

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon urged “maximum restraint” from the Syrian regime and cooperation from the opposition Monday as UN military observers began to monitor a fragile ceasefire. “It is very important that the cessation of violence must continue,” he said at a news conference in Brussels. “The Syrian authoritiesmust exercise maximum restraint” and “the opposition forces should…

Norway gunman Breivik pleads not guilty as trial opens

Anders Behring Breivik pleaded not guilty Monday for his massacre of 77 people in Norway last July in a defiant start to his trial that saw him greet the Oslo courtroom with a far-right salute. While families of the victims fought back tears, Breivik showed little emotion and sat stony-faced as…

Taiwan launches drill simulating Chinese invasion

Taiwan kicked off its biggest annual war game Monday, testing its ability to defend of the capital Taipei against a Chinese attack and ward off a blockade of its main naval base. Thousands of reservists reported for the five-day drill, which is codenamed “Han Kuang (Han Glory) No 28″. Hundreds of troops were also deployed…

Philippines hails start of U.S. war games

The Philippines hailed the start of major war games with the United States on Monday as a timely boost to their military alliance, amid a tense territorial dispute with China. More than 6,000 Filipino and US soldiers will take part in the 12 days of exercises across the Philippines, which come as the host nation is embroiled…

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