Pope Benedict XVIvisits his homeland
MUNICH, Germany -- Greeted by a thunderous chorus of church bells, Pope Benedict XVI began a pilgrimage to his native Bavaria on Saturday, a six-day visit laden with meaning for him and the future of his increasingly liberal Roman Catholic flock in Germany. Tens of thousands poured into the narrow streets in this city where he served as priest and archbishop more than a quarter-century ago, before moving to the Vatican as the church's doctrinal watchdog. "My heart beats Bavarian," he assured reporters on his plane from Rome. Benedict, 79, was welcomed by German President Horst Koehler and Chancellor Angela Merkel before his ride to the city's central Marienplatz square, where he prayed at the 17th century statue of the Virgin Mary, the patroness of Bavaria -- Germany's Roman Catholic heartland.
Syria disputes reportson EU border personnel
BEIRUT, Lebanon -- Italy's prime minister said Saturday that Syrian President Bashar Assad has agreed to the deployment of European Union personnel along Lebanon's border with Syria. Syria's official news agency denied news reports that the EU personnel under discussion would be border guards. "The reports by some news agencies that Syria has accepted that European border guards monitor the Lebanese-Syrian borders are not true," the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported. The positioning of European Union guards could help allay Israel's concerns about the smuggling of weapons from Syrian to Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon, which the U.N. Security Council has demanded be stopped under the nearly month-old cease-fire it brokered to end the war in southern Lebanon.
Journalist releasedfrom prison in Sudan
KHARTOUM, Sudan -- American journalist Paul Salopek was released Saturday from a prison in the war-torn Darfur region where he was held for more than a month on espionage charges. A judge in the North Darfur capital of el-Fasher released the Chicago Tribune journalist and his Chadian driver and interpreter after a 13-minute hearing. "We are stopping the case and we are releasing you right now. And that is all," the judge said in English, according to the Tribune. "I am grateful to the Sudanese President al-Bashir, Governor Richardson, the U.S. ambassador, and of course the U.S. consul who visited me in detention, and was helpful for me and my colleagues," Salopek, 44, told a news conference after arriving in Khartoum.
Olmert OKs meetingwith Palestinian leader
JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Saturday he would meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and work closely with him to advance peace efforts. Olmert, who spoke after meeting with visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair, did not say when he would meet Abbas. Olmert said a meeting with Abbas was not conditional on the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier being held captive by militants with links to the ruling Hamas party. But Olmert said no progress would be made in the peace process until the soldier is released, indicating talks with Abbas could help gain Shalit's freedom.
She's a real pistol,so don't mess with her
NEW YORK -- Margaret Johnson might have looked like an easy target in her wheelchair. So when a man tried to grab a chain off her neck Friday, the 56-year-old pulled out her licensed .357 pistol and shot him, police said. "There's not much to it," she said in a brief interview. "Somebody tried to mug me, and I shot him." Johnson said she was in Harlem on her way to a shooting range when the man, identified by police as 45-year-old Deron Johnson, came up from behind and went for the chain. Deron Johnson was taken to Harlem Hospital with a single bullet wound in the elbow, police said. He faces a robbery charge, said Lt. John Grimpel, a police spokesman. Margaret Johnson, who lives in Harlem, has a permit for the gun and does not face charges, Grimpel said. She was taken to the hospital with minor injuries and later released.