Government's candidate out of presidential election
PORT-AU-PRINCE | Officials dropped the government-backed candidate from a presidential runoff on Thursday, ending a standoff with the United States and other foreign powers over a first round of voting marred by fraud and disorganization.
The electoral commission said the March 20 runoff will match former first lady Mirlande Manigat against Michel Martelly, a carnival singer known as "Sweet Micky." The announcement, made after dawn following more than 13 hours of deliberations, means Jude Celestin is out of the race.
The decision is expected to head off a repeat of rioting in December after the commission announced that Mr. Celestin had edged Mr. Martelly for a place in the runoff according to the preliminary results of the Nov. 28 vote.
Airport bomber's kin suspected in deadly blast
MOSCOW | Russia's top security official said Thursday that several people with information on last month's suicide bombing at the country's biggest airport have been detained and that the bomber was under the influence of mind-altering drugs.
Alexander Bortnikov said relatives of a woman killed preparing a suicide bombing in Moscow are suspected of providing assistance in the airport attack. The Jan. 24 bombing at Domodedovo Airport killed 36 people and wounded 180.
Al-Maliki accused Iran, Syria of insurgent aid
BAGHDAD | A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused Iran and Syria of arming insurgents in September 2009 - a charge that would boost American claims that the neighboring countries were launching pads for violence in Iraq.
He made the statement more than a month after deadly bombings at government buildings that led to a dispute with Syria over accusations that Damascus was harboring Sunni terrorists.
Mr. al-Maliki told U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill on Sept. 22, 2009, that five Shiite militants were captured trying to smuggle weapons in a Toyota Land Cruiser, according to the memo posted on the WikiLeaks website.
Catholics to host AIDS conference
The Vatican will host an international conference in May on preventing AIDS and caring for those afflicted with it, amid continued confusion over its position concerning condoms as a way to prevent spreading the deadly disease.
The Vatican's Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers also said Thursday it is working on a set of guidelines for Catholic doctors, nurses and others who care for people with AIDS.
Pope Benedict XVI made headlines late last year when he said in an interview that someone, such as a male prostitute, who uses a condom might be showing a sign of a more moral sexuality because he is looking out for the welfare of another person.
The comments raised questions about whether the pope was justifying condom use in a break with church doctrine. The Vatican insisted he was not.
Parliament backs Berlusconi in sex scandal
ROME | The Italian parliament Thursday rebuffed prosecutors' request to search some of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's properties as part of a prostitution probe.
Milan authorities claim Mr. Berlusconi paid for sex with a minor and then used his office to cover it up. They wanted to search the offices of a Berlusconi accountant suspected of handling payments on behalf of the prime minister to the minor and to other young women who attended parties at his villas. Mr. Berlusconi has denied wrongdoing.
From wire dispatches and staff reports