News from Europe

"Russia says suicide bomber was militant's widow"

NY Times: Baby-faced, she looks barely a teenager. But the pistol she is holding in the photograph suggests the violent destiny that she would choose: blowing herself up in a subway station in Moscow during the morning rush on Monday. And posing with his arm around this 17-year-old woman is the man who would put her on this path, a 30-year-old militant leader who lured her from her single mother, drew her into fundamentalist Islam and married her. He was killed by federal forces in December, driving her to seek revenge.

U.S. and Russia sign historic nuclear weapons pact

The Globe: U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed on Friday to a sharp cuts in the nuclear arsenals of both nations in the most comprehensive arms control treaty in two decades. “We have turned words into action,” Mr. Obama declared. Mr.

Pope Benedict writes a letter on how to deal with sexual abuse

BBC: Pope Benedict has written a pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland with guidelines on preventing and punishing sexual abuse of children by priests. It follows revelations last year of paedophilia within the Irish Catholic Church, which rocked the institution. Scandals involving Roman Catholic priests have also been reported from a number of other countries, including the Pope's native Germany. It is unknown if the letter, to be read at Sunday Mass, includes an apology.
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Clare Short says cabinet misled on Iraq war legality

BBC: Tony Blair's cabinet was "misled" into thinking the war with Iraq was legal, ex-International Development Secretary Clare Short has told the UK's inquiry. She said Attorney General Lord Goldsmith had been "leaned on" to change his advice before the invasion. Mr Blair "and his mates" decided war was necessary, and "everything was done on a wing and a prayer", Ms Short said. She quit the cabinet two months after the March 2003 invasion, in protest at planning for the war's aftermath.

Switzerland to ban construction of minarets

Oh the Swiss. 57.5% of the country voted in favour of a referendum on banning the construction of minarets in Switzerland. While encroaching on freedom of religion, the move is indicative of the continual rise in anti-Islamic sentiments in Western Europe, particularly in France and the Netherlands.


"Karadzic defiant at Hague hearing"

BBC: Ex-Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has insisted he needs more time to prepare his defence, during his first appearance at his war crimes trial. Mr Karadzic told a procedural hearing in The Hague that he had not been given the opportunity to go through vast amounts of prosecution documents. He is representing himself and last week boycotted the start of his trial. Full story

Scientology: where's the love?

So France is choosing to convict the Church of Scientology for fraud, refusing to recognize it as a religion, "arguing that it is a purely commercial operation designed to make as much money as it can at the expense of often vulnerable victims." I find that most humorous. I mean, really, what is the difference between a book about talking snakes and bushes, and men that live in the stomachs of whales, and a book about Thetans creating the universe in a primordial past? Both are absurd to any rationalist.

France's trial of the decade

National Post: Dubbed France's political trial of the decade, the judicial drama features a Who's Who of big names in French politics, industry and intelligence circles. Dominique de Villepin, France's former-prime minister, went on trial yesterday on charges of plotting to smear his arch-rival and torpedo his bid for the presidency. "I am here because of one man's will. I am here because of the dogged determination of one man, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is also President of the French republic," he said as he arrived at the Paris court with his wife and children.