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Pope calls on Church to VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI called on Sunday on the Church and its faithful to "renew" and "refocus on God by disowning pride and egoism" in his penultimate Angelus prayer before he steps down.   "The Church calls on all its members to renew themselves which constitutes a fight, a spiritual battle, because the evil spirit wants us to deviate from the road towards God," he said from his balcony overlooking tens of thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.   Local authorities said a crowd of more than 100,000 people had turned out to see the 85-year-old pope, who announced Monday that he would step down on February 28 after eight years in office due to advanced age.   Many of the faithful waved flags and held up banners saying "grazie" or "danke", the words for thank you in Italian and the pope's native German.   The pontiff thanked the crowd for turning out in such ...

Blasts kill 15 in Baghdad   BAGHDAD: A series of bombings in city Baghdad killed at least 15 people on Sunday, officials said, the latest to hit Iraq as it struggles with protests and a political crisis.     Three car bombs struck the sprawling Sadr City slum in the north of the city, while one car bombs also exploded in Ameen, Al-Husseiniyah and Kamaliyah in the east, and a roadside bomb blew up in Karrada in central Baghdad, security and medical officials said.       Another roadside bomb ...

Russia halts search for meteorite in stricken region CHELYABINSK: Russian authorities halted their search on Sunday for the meteorite that spectacularly struck the Urals last week, leaving about 1,200 people injured and damaging several thousand buildings.   The 10-tonne space rock streaked over the Chelyabinsk region in central Russia in a blinding fireball on Friday just as the world was braced for a close encounter with a large asteroid.   Residents of Chelyabinsk, a city of 1.1 million and the centre of Russia's heavy industry, were struggling ...

Thousands marry in first GAPYEONG: Thousands of Unification Church members got married in a mass wedding in South Korea Sunday -- the first since the death of their "messiah" and controversial church founder Sun Myung Moon.   Some 3,500 identically-dressed couples -- many of mixed nationality who had met just days before -- took part in the ceremony at the church's global headquarters in Gapyeong, east of the capital Seoul.   Mass weddings, some held in giant sports stadia with tens of thousands ...

Correa favored for reelection in Ecuador vote   QUITO: Ecuadorans head for the polls Sunday in national elections, in which President Rafael Correa is the overwhelming favorite to win re-election and possibly gain greater backing for his brand of socialism.   Three private polls show Correa, who first came to power in 2007, with between 48.2 and 61.5 percent support, far ahead of his nearest rival, banker Guillermo Lasso.   That would enable the charismatic, US-educated economist to win another four year term in the first round ...

Beppe Grillo: the live wire of Italy ROME: Comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement are the wild card in Italian politics, after making big gains among voters with a blend of populism and anti-corruption initiatives.   Bushy-haired 63-year-old Grillo has been travelling in a camper van to rallies across the country, drawing large crowds of young people, pensioners and women sick of traditional politicians caught with their hands in the till.   The Internet-based movement, which grew out of Grillo's hugely popular blog, forced ...

Singapore SINGAPORE: Former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew is recovering in hospital after suffering from an irregular heartbeat, the government said Saturday.   Lee, 89, will remain at Singapore General Hospital for a few days, said a statement issued by the office of his son, current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.   The elder Lee was confined on Friday "after experiencing a suspected transient ischaemic attack (TIA) associated with a prolonged episode of atrial fibrillation", or an irregular heartbeat, ...


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