11 killed in Iraq in twin car bombings
BAGHDAD (AP) Twin car bombings in northern Iraq and separate attacks on the homes of a schoolteacher and a human-rights activist left at least 11 people dead Saturday, government officials said.
Violence is raking Iraq as the Shiite-led government and other political factions are debating a request for some American forces to remain in the country beyond the Dec. 31 deadline for all U.S. troops to withdraw after more than eight years.
While violence is well below what it had been during intense Shiite-Sunni sectarian fighting in 2006 and 2007, militants are again stepping up deadly attacks. That has led to concerns about what happens when the 47,000 remaining U.S. troops are withdrawn.
Police and hospital officials in the northern city of Mosul said two car bombs exploded in quick succession, killing six people. At least one of the bombs seemed aimed at a police patrol.
Abdul-Rahim al-Shimmari, a member of the provincial council, said 52 people were wounded in the blast.
Bahrain rally draws more than 10,000
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) More than 10,000 demonstrators joined Bahrains first public rally in months Saturday as the leader of the Gulf nations main Shiite political party urged backers to press ahead with peaceful protests for greater political rights after fierce crackdowns by security forces.
The event carried twin messages in a nation wracked by unrest since February when protesters took to the streets, inspired by successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
The Sunni monarchy controlling Bahrain allowed the rally in a bid to ease tensions and open dialogue with Shiite-led groups. For opposition forces, the gathering was a chance to voice their demands and show resolve after facing relentless pressure from the Western-backed government, including martial law-style rules removed earlier this month.
With our blood and soul, we sacrifice for Bahrain, the crowds chanted. They later cried we are the winners as security forces stayed back in a mostly Shiite area northwest of the capital, Manama. Police helicopters passed overhead. No clashes were reported.
The strategic island kingdom home to the U.S. Navys 5th Fleet has been in lockdown mode for months as Sunni rulers launched massive arrest sweeps and military patrols to quell the protests. The crackdown included bringing in a 1,500-strong Saudi-led military force to back up Bahrains embattled leadership, which claims that Shiite power Iran seeks to make gains by the unrest.
Israels bank chief applies to head IMF
JERUSALEM (AP) Israels finance minister says the countrys central bank chief has applied to head the International Monetary Fund.
Respected economist Stanley Fischer has headed Israels central bank since 2005 and has held top jobs at the World Bank and at Citigroup Corp.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement Saturday that he supported Fischers candidacy.
The post has traditionally gone to a European, and French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has emerged as the front-runner. The IMFs last director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, quit last month after he was accused of attempting to rape a New York hotel maid.
Kiss on mobsters lips intrigues Italy
ROME A kiss is just a kiss, perhaps. But what does a smooch mean when its planted on the lips of an alleged mobster by another man?
Observers of Italys organized crime syndicates have been trying to figure out the meaning of the kiss earlier this week by a young man in a crowd of onlookers outside Naples police headquarters as Daniele DAgnese was about to be hustled into a squad car.
DAgnese was captured Wednesday, after two years on the run, along with fellow fugitive Carmine Amato, reputed chieftain of the Amato-Pagano crime clan in the Naples-based Camorra syndicate, in a house in an area of quarries on the citys outskirts.
Four men in their 20s told police they wanted to greet DAgnese, considered by investigators to be Amatos bodyguard, before he was taken to jail, according to Naples daily Il Mattino, which quoted one of them as saying we havent seen him in two years.
Although police tried to move the four back from the entrance of the police headquarters while DAgnese emerged, one pushed forward, and while photographers and videographers caught the moment, the man embraced DAgnese, then planted a firm kiss on his mouth.
Turin daily La Stampas correspondent in Naples wrote that the kiss was an obvious gesture to the eyes of clan rivals that foot soldiers in the Amato-Pagano crime family would still be loyal, despite the arrests.
Many mob bosses continue to run their crime families from behind bars, through messages given to visiting spouses or children, prosecutors say.
Lady Gaga to sing after gay parade
ROME (AP) Thousands of people, riding on floats or walking through Romes streets, joined in an annual European gay-pride parade before a performance by Lady Gaga, expected to sing her hit Born This Way at the end of their march Saturday night.
The Europride parade, held every year in a different European city, was noisily and peacefully making its way through the historic center of Rome toward Circus Maximus, the now grassy field where ancient Romans would gather for entertainment.
Organizers hoped the event will draw attention to discrimination gays face in many parts of the world. The U.S. ambassador was among those who invited Lady Gaga to Rome. She agreed to perform one song, sparking anticipation she would sing Born This Way to encourage gay pride.
Organizers said Rome was a significant choice of venue, since it is home to the Vatican, which staunchly opposes legislation that would recognize same-sex marriage or adoption by gay couples.