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Italian journalist gets pope scoop because she knew Latin

An Italian journalist who beat the world’s media on Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign got the scoop on the utterly unexpected news thanks to her knowledge of Latin. “Our Vatican expert Giovanna Chirri was listening to the pope’s speech,” the ANSA news agency’s head of information Luigi Contu told…

Pope Benedict XVI leaves the Catholic Church in a state of crisis

Pope Benedict XVI will leave behind a Catholic Church grappling with crises from child abuse scandals involving priests to confronting radical Islam as well as struggling to find its place in an increasingly secular Western world. German cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who will step down at the end of this month…

Iranian ambassador: ‘High five’ with female MP didn’t break Islamic law

The Iranian ambassador to Germany is insisting that he did not break Islamic law by touching a female member of parliament with a “high five” greeting because he says the contact was accidental. The German magazine Spiegel reported last week that Ali Reza Sheik Attar was caught on video “high-fiving”…

Pope’s brother has known of resignation ‘for a few months’

The pope’s brother said on Monday he has known “for a few months” that Benedict XVI was planning to resign and confirmed that the 85-year-old pontiff was “feeling the burden of his age”. Georg Ratzinger told AFP: “The reason for his resignation is indeed that he is feeling the burden…

Nigerian, Ghanan and Canadian cardinals floated to succeed Pope Benedict XVI

Francis Arinze of Nigeria, Peter Turkson of Ghana and Marc Ouellet of Canada were among the cardinals hotly tipped by bookmakers on Monday to take over from Pope Benedict XVI. William Hill bookmakers named 80-year-old Arinze as their favourite to replace the pontiff following Monday’s shock announcement of the pontiff’s…

France maintains a small but passionate band of horsemeat lovers

“A good roast or a really nice steak – fabulous! Burgers are good too but the way I really like it is raw, minced and served with a garlicky vinaigrette!” Luc Friedrich is a member of France’s dwindling but dedicated band of horsemeat lovers, and it seems the current food…

Russian figure skating icon sues TV commentator over plastic surgery jibe

Figure skating icon Yevgeny Plushenko has launched legal action for defamation against a Russian commentator for Eurosport for claiming that a recent operation was only a public relations stunt, his lawyer said Monday. Plushenko is suing the pan-European channel’s Russian language commentator Andrei Zhurankov, the 2006 Olympic champion’s lawyer Tatiana…

Egypt on high alert as protesters prepare to commemorate Mubarak’s fall

Egypt’s security forces were on high alert Monday ahead of pro-democracy protests to mark the second anniversary of former president Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, a police official told AFP. Authorities have boosted security around the presidential palace, the interior ministry and around Tahrir Square, as well as around key public installations,…

Israel approves construction of 90 settler homes in the West Bank

Israel has given final approval for 90 new homes in Beit El settlement near Ramallah in a move likely to spark tension ahead of a top-level visit by US President Barack Obama, officials and an NGO said Monday. Hagit Ofran of the Peace Now settlement watchdog said the plans had…

Pope Benedict XVI to resign Feb. 28, citing ‘deteriorated’ strength

Pope Benedict XVI on Monday announced he will resign on February 28, a Vatican spokesman told AFP, which will make him the first pope to do so in centuries. “The pope announced that he will leave his ministry at 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) on February 28,” said the spokesman, Federico…

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