- The Washington Times - Monday, April 27, 2009

SWITZERLAND

Voters ban nude hikers

APPENZELL | Voters in the heart of the Swiss Alps have banned naked hiking after dozens of mostly German nudists started rambling through their picturesque region.

Appenzell Inner Rhodes voted overwhelmingly at their traditional open-air annual assembly to impose a 200 Swiss franc (about $176) fine on violators. Only a scattering of people Sunday opposed the ban on the back-to-nature activity that took off last fall.

The cantonal government recommended the ban after determining that residents had found nude hiking to be “thoroughly disturbing and irritating.”

BRITAIN

Execution threatened if cleric not freed

CAIRO | Al Qaeda in North Africa said Sunday it would kill a British hostage if London does not release an imprisoned radical preacher.

The group said in a statement posted on an Islamist Web site that it will execute a British tourist held by the group since late January if the extremist Muslim preacher Abu Qatada is not freed in 20 days.

Abu Qatada, a Palestinian-Jordanian, was imprisoned in Britain in 2002 for links with militant groups but was released in 2005. He was re-arrested and is pending deportation to Jordan, where he was sentenced to life in prison in absentia.

Four tourists, including two Swiss, a German woman and a British man, were kidnapped by gunmen Jan. 22 in Niger, their tour operator said.

VATICAN

Pope names five new saints

VATICAN CITY | Pope Benedict XVI named five new saints Sunday, including Portugal’s 14th-century independence leader and a priest who ministered to factory workers at the dawn of the industrial era.

Speaking in a packed St. Peter’s Square, Benedict praised each of the five as a model for the faithful, saying their lives and works were as relevant today as when they were alive.

Benedict singled out the Rev. Arcangelo Tadini, who lived at the turn of the last century and founded an order of nuns to tend to factory workers — something of a scandal at the time, since factories were considered immoral and dangerous places. Tadini also created an association to provide emergency loans to workers experiencing financial difficulties.

“How prophetic was Don Tadini’s charismatic intuition, and how current his example is today, in this time of grave economic crisis,” Benedict marveled in his homily.

ICELAND

Angry voters toss out incumbents

REYKJAVIK | Iceland’s leftist coalition won the country’s general election, according to final results Sunday — a blow for the pro-business Independence Party that many blamed for the collapse of the country’s banking system.

Results showed that a left-wing coalition made up of the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left Green Movement won 34 out of the 63 seats in Parliament.

All five constituencies completed the count with 97.9 percent of the votes tallied. The Social Democrats won 30.5 percent of the vote, or 20 parliamentary seats, while the Left-Green Movement won 21.5 percent, or 14 seats. Both parties have long said they will form a coalition government.

Although the Independence Party won 23.7 percent of the vote — 16 seats — many have blamed its leaders for the country’s economic troubles.

RUSSIA

Election shadows Olympic venue

SOCHI | The Russian city that will host the 2014 Winter Olympics was electing a mayor Sunday after a tightly controlled campaign that underscored the government’s determination to ensure victory for its favored candidate.

Several candidates were barred from the race, and the only outspoken Kremlin foe on the ballot faced harassment on the streets and a smear campaign on television. Many residents said their vote mattered little in a contest whose result seemed clear in advance.

Acting Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov, the candidate from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, was the favorite in a field of six that also included a Communist, a member of ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s party, two little-known businessmen and Boris Nemtsov, a liberal opposition leader.

Russia’s most-prominent election since Dmitry Medvedev succeeded Mr. Putin as president a year ago, the Sochi vote tested the substance behind signals he intends to loosen the grip his predecessor had over politics in nearly a decade in the Kremlin.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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