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Pope urged to recognise Palestinian state

ROME — The Melkite Greek Catholic Church leader will ask the pope to recognise the Palestinian state when he arrives next week for his first visit to Lebanon, a country riven by religious rivalries, a Catholic website said Thursday. Patriarch Gregory III Laham, the spiritual head of Lebanon’s second largest…

FARC rebels to seek ceasefire in Colombia peace talks

HAVANA — Colombia’s FARC rebel group said Thursday it will seek a ceasefire in Latin America’s oldest armed conflict when peace talks begin next month with the government, which has ruled out a truce. “We will propose a ceasefire as soon as we sit down at the negotiating table,” Mauricio…

Pope gets fancy new electric car to move around Vatican grounds

French automaker Renault has given Pope Benedict XVI an electric car to whizz around in within the grounds of the Vatican and his summer home of Castel Gandolfo, the Holy See said Thursday. The new white pope-carrier, a Kangoo Maxi Z.E. model bearing the pontifical crest of arms on its…

French rocker Johnny Hallyday back in the hospital after health scare

Veteran French rocker Johnny Hallyday is back in hospital in Los Angeles after a health scare in the Caribbean and is due to be released on Friday, his manager said. “He has been undergoing medical examinations since Tuesday but he only slept last night,” Sebastien Farran said in a text…

FAO: Global food prices remained steady in August

Global food prices remained steady in August, the United Nations food agency said Thursday, but warned that “the game is not over” as it was only the beginning of the harvest season. An overall FAO index of food prices averaged 213 points last month, the same level as in July…

Brazil is world’s largest crack market: study

SAO PAULO (AFP) – Brazil is the world’s largest market for crack and the second for overall cocaine use, researchers from the Federal University of Sao Paulo (UNIFESP) said Wednesday. A survey by UNIFESP’s National Institute of Science and Technology for Public Policy on Alcohol and Other Drugs found that…

Hong Kong goes to the polls amid China tensions

HONG KONG: Hong Kong goes to the polls on Sunday to elect a new legislature that will lay the ground rules for direct elections, amid growing disquiet over mainland China’s hold over the former British colony. The vote is taking place against a steady drumbeat of protests, fueled by resentment…

Australia PM cancels speech over ‘gay lifestyle’ controversy

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday withdrew from speaking at a Christian lobby conference after its head suggested smoking was healthier than a gay and lesbian lifestyle. Gillard was due to address the Australian Christian Lobby’s meeting in October but pulled out over the “offensive” and “inappropriate” comments about…

Police arrest 6 after fireworks blaze kills 38 in India

Indian police arrested six people on Thursday and were hunting for the boss of a fireworks factory where 38 people were killed in a blaze that highlighted the industry’s lax safety standards. Firefighters battled for hours to control the fire that broke out Wednesday afternoon at Om Sivasakthi plant in…

Girl found alive under bodies of her slain family in France

The father of a family slain in the French Alps was identified Thursday as Saad al-Hilli, a 50-year-old born in Baghdad, a French police source said. The father, mother and grandmother from the same family were found dead on Wednesday following a shooting in which another man also died. Two…

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