- - Sunday, November 7, 2010

AZERBAIJAN

Voters choose new parliament

BAKU | Nearly 700 candidates competed Sunday for the 125 seats in the single chamber of the parliament of Azerbaijan, an oil-rich former Soviet republic that is under the firm hold of President Ilham Aliyev and his party.

A wide range of parties was represented, and about half the candidates ran as independents, but the main rivalry was between Mr. Aliyev’s YAP party and the opposition block Musavat.

Central Election Commission Chairman Mazahir Panahov, speaking on state television, expressed his hope that the elections would be transparent and democratic. Preliminary results were not expected before Monday.

The Musavat leader, however, said he doubted the counting of the vote would be fair.

“The opposition’s chances are high, but high in terms of the number of votes it will get,” Isa Qambar said after casting his ballot.

SPAIN

Pope slammed by gays, cheered by faithful

BARCELONA | Gays staged a mass “kiss-in” and feminists took to the streets as the pope’s visit to Spain’s most progressive city sparked outrage from some groups on Sunday, although tens of thousands of faithful turned out to cheer him.

About 200 gays locked lips for five minutes, breaking off to shout “get out,” and “pedophile” as the 83-year-old Benedict XVI made his way to Barcelona’s emblematic Sagrada Familia church, which he consecrated a basilica.

The protesters were met by supporters of the pope, who cried out: “Long live the pope. Here is the pope’s youth.”

ITALY

More building collapses possible at Pompeii

ROME | Italy’s culture minister says more buildings inside the ancient Roman city of Pompeii could collapse, a warning that comes a day after a 2,000-year-old house once used by gladiators disintegrated into rubble.

The collapse Saturday at one of Italy’s main tourist attractions was a source of embarrassment for the government and the country. Culture Minister Sandro Bondi went to Pompeii on Sunday to survey the damage.

RUSSIA

Putin roars off in Formula One car

MOSCOW | Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took a Formula One race car for a spin on Sunday, reaching speeds of almost 150 mph.

Mr. Putin signed a deal last month with Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone to bring F1 racing to Russia starting in 2014, and his televised test drive could help raise the profile of the sport in Russia.

It also fits with the action-man image he has cultivated over the years, beginning with his startling flight into Chechnya in 2000 in a fighter jet.

After receiving instructions, Mr. Putin climbed into the bright yellow race car wearing a matching jumpsuit and then drove off by himself along an empty road near St. Petersburg. He spun out at one point, but regained control.

When he finished the drive and was told his maximum speed, he smiled and said in English: “For the first time, it’s good.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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