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Pope meets revolutionary icon Fidel Castro

Pope Benedict XVI met Wednesday with Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro on the last day of his trip to bolster the Roman Catholic church’s ties with Cuba’s Communist leaders. Shortly after celebrating mass before 500,000 people in the heart of Havana, Benedict met with the 85-year-old Castro for about 30…

Two arrested as Greek police find ‘priceless’ statue

ATHENS — Greek police arrested two men after they allegedly tried to sell a 1,500-year-old statue for 500,000 euros, officials said Wednesday, describing the nearly intact find as “priceless”. The 1.2-metre (3.9-foot) statue of a kore, an archaic maiden, was found hidden in a sheep pen on Tuesday in the…

Georgia toasts tourists with alcoholic fountain

TBILISI — The authorities in Georgia are hoping to intoxicate tourists with their country’s charms by building a fountain which pumps out strong alcoholic liquor instead of water once a week. The fountain being built on top of a new tower in the Black Sea resort of Batumi will pump…

Egypt military warns against interference in its businesses

CAIRO — Egypt’s ruling military has warned against any interference in its murky economic empire amid a burgeoning power struggle with Islamists who control parliament, state media reported on Wednesday. The warning comes as the military prepares to hand power to a civilian leader when presidential elections end in June,…

Colombia’s former president calls America’s drug war a ‘failure’

Cesar Gaviria Trujillo, the former president of Colombia, told a Spanish-language radio station this week that America’s war on drugs has been a disastrous “failure” that the ruling political parties simply refuse to talk about. “Society does not want to accept that people consume [drugs],” he told RCN Radio in…

Chinese twins seek historic sex change

Two young Chinese women undergoing sex-change surgery at a Shanghai hospital are hoping to be the first twins in the country to change their gender, a state-backed newspaper said Wednesday. The 25-year-old sisters from the southwestern province of Yunnan have already undergone preliminary surgery at a military hospital in the…

Italy PM blames Germany, France for Euro debt crisis

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti on Wednesday said the root of the eurozone’s debt woes lay partly in the irresponsible parenting ofGermany and France during the bloc’s infancy. Monti told reporters in Tokyo that because the eurozone’s two largest players had not abided by fiscal rules, they had set a bad example…

U.S. could fly spy drones from Australian territory

Australia on Wednesday said it may allow Washington to use its territory to operate long-range spy drones, as part of an increased US presence in the Asia-Pacific that has rankled China. The United States and Canberra are planning a major expansion of military ties, with the first of a 2,500-strong…

Afghan women still being punished for ‘moral’ crimes: report

Hundreds of Afghan women are languishing in prison having been accused or convicted of so-called “moral crimes”, including “running away” and having sex outside marriage, campaign group Human Rights Watch said Wednesday. The report released in Kabul, I Had to Run Away, said that President Hamid Karzai’s Western-backed government had…

Taliban offers online Islamic advice service

Worried about whether Islamic verses on Facebook are allowed? Or that suicide bombers kill innocent civilians? Afghanistan’s Taliban have set up a new question-and-answer section on their website to address such issues. The facility on Voice of Jihad, the official website of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan — the Taliban’s…

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