- - Sunday, September 9, 2012


CASTEL GANDOLFO — Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday characterized his trip to Beirut later this week as a pilgrimage for peace for the entire Middle East region and its anguished people.

Benedict told pilgrims at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo near Rome that, while finding solutions for the Middle East’s problems seems difficult, people “shouldn’t resign themselves to violence or worsening tensions.”

He noted that during his three-day visit to the Lebanese capital, which begins Friday, he would meet with Lebanese authorities as well as Christians from Lebanon and other nearby countries.

“I am not unaware of the often-dramatic situation endured by the populations of this region which has been for too long torn by incessant conflict,” Benedict said. “I understand the anguish of many Middle Easterners steeped daily in sufferings of every kind, which afflict sadly, and sometimes mortally, their personal and family life.”

The pope urged the international community to support efforts at dialogue and reconciliation, as he stressed “the importance for the whole world of a stable and lasting peace in the entire region.”


Opposition activist to run in mayoral race

MOSCOW — A prominent activist says she has been approved to run for mayor of a Moscow suburb in a vote considered key for the Russian opposition.

Yevgeniya Chirikova gained fame several years ago by leading a campaign to save a forest in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, a movement that in 2010 prompted the largest opposition rally in a decade and has helped save parts of the threatened forest.

The Khimki election is seen as a litmus test for opposition activists’ electability. It also could test the tolerance for dissent in President Vladimir Putin’s government.

Russian election officials have barred many opposition candidates from running, finding fault with small details in their bids.

Ms. Chirikova and her campaign chief, Nikolai Lyaskin, wrote Sunday on Twitter that her candidacy was approved.


Kurdish festival marred by clashes with police

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