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Police in Rome arrest violent Coliseum ‘gladiator’ gangs

Italian police have arrested 20 gladiator impersonators in an undercover sting aimed at ending a violent racket operating around Rome’s most famous tourist sites, Italian press reported on Thursday. Police disguised as gladiators, dustbin men and members of the public raided the gang made up of seven families working with…

Italy austerity plan draws wide criticism

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s second austerity package in less than a month met with a chorus of criticism a day after becoming law, with the largest union federation threatening a general strike over the “injustice” of the measures. President Giorgio Napolitano on Saturday signed the emergency decree introducing sweeping austerity measures to…

Israel PM pledges ‘concrete’ economic solutions amid protests

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday pledged “concrete solutions” to the cost of living in Israel but warned that reforms would be constrained by the fragility of the world economy. A day after police said at least 50,000 people protested in Israel’s “periphery” towns and cities, Netanyahu told…

23 dead as Syria ships, tanks blast city

DAMASCUS — Syrian ships and security forces killed more than 20 people in an assault Sunday on the port city of Latakia, activists said, as world leaders demanded an immediate end to the ruthless crushing of dissent. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement that at least…

Taiwan plans ‘anti-aircraft carrier’ missile

TAIPEI — Taiwan is developing a new mobile version of its supersonic “aircraft carrier killer” missile, a legislator said Sunday, after China sparked regional concerns with sea trials of its first carrier. Research on the development of the land-based missile, a variant of the existing Hsiungfeng (Brave Wind) III, is…

Italy’s main trade union calls general strike

ROME — Italy’s biggest trade union, the CGIL, on Sunday called for a general strike against the government’s new austerity plans. Union chief Susanna Camusso, speaking in the daily La Repubblica newspaper, said the CGIL (Italian General Confederation of Labour) would hold a meeting on August 23 to fix a…

Ahmadinejad: Nuclear weapons a waste of money

MOSCOW — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called nuclear weapons a waste of money Sunday as he prepared to receive a top Russian security official for crisis mediation talks. Ahmadinejad said he was looking to build a closer relationship with Moscow and expecting to see the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant…

First ‘gay’ wedding celebrated in Cuba

HAVANA — Braving drizzling rain and people’s prejudices, a Cuban man and transgender woman tied the knot here in what has been described as the first “gay marriage” on the Communist-ruled island. Ignacio Estrada and Wendy Iriepa were married in a civil ceremony in Havana’s Palace of Weddings on the…

Libya rebels enter strategic town near Tripoli

ZAWIYAH, Libya (Reuters) – Libyan rebels hoisted their flag in the center of this town near the capital on Sunday after the most dramatic advance in months cut offMuammar Gaddafi’s capital from its main link to the outside world. The swift rebel advance on the town of Zawiyah, about 50…

Israeli cost of living protests spreading from city to city

BEERSHEBA, Israel (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of people gathered across Israel Saturday to call for lower living costs in an effort to show the government their protest movement has countrywide support. The gatherings followed a rally last weekend in Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial capital, in which over 250,000 demonstrators…

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