Small signs of change in Iran as Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration approaches

Hope is tempered by caution both among Iranians and in the west, where some see an opportunity to repair relations A young Iranian couple, Masoud Bastani and Mahsa Amr-Abadi, both journalists and both imprisoned on account of their writing, have seen very little of each other for the past four years. Like many Iranian prisoners … Continue reading

Russia faces vodka boycott in backlash against anti-gay law

LGBT activists target brands including Stolichnaya and Russian Standard in response to ban on ‘gay propaganda’ There’s nothing more Russian than vodka, so when gay and lesbian activists decided to protest against the country’s persecution of homosexuals it made sense to target its most famous drink. The US sex writer Dan Savage, famous for his … Continue reading

Spain train crash: wait to question driver

More details emerge of Francisco Garz n, 52, as he recovers in hospital after train crash that left at least 78 dead The focus of the investigation into Spain’s worst rail accident for 40 years remains on the train’s driver, Francisco Garz n, who has been under arrest in hospital since Thursday evening. Garz n … Continue reading

Bradley Manning’s ‘sole purpose was to make a difference’, lawyer insists

In closing arguments, defence lawyer paints portrait of Wikileaks source as someone without ‘evil intent’ The lawyer representing the WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning has asked the judge presiding over the soldier’s court martial to decide between two stark portrayals of the accused – the prosecution’s depiction of him as a traitor and seeker of notoriety, … Continue reading

Mexican teachers’ union boss arrested for alleged embezzlement of £100m

Officials accuse Elba Esther Gordillo of using union funds to pay for plastic surgery and buy a house in San Diego, US The head of Mexico’s powerful teachers’ union was arrested at an airport near Mexico City on Tuesday for alleged embezzlement, with federal officials accusing her of using union funds to pay for plastic … Continue reading

Shark kills man in New Zealand

Swimmer attacked and killed by great white in a rare fatal shark incident at Muriwai beach, north-west of Auckland A New Zealand man has been attacked and killed by a great white shark in a rare fatal shark incident in the country. Police said they fired shots at the shark after a swimmer was fatally … Continue reading

US to leave troops in Afghanistan after 2014, says German official

US defence secretary calls comments inaccurate and says Nato partners talked about range of options for post-2014 The US defence secretary, Leon Panetta, and his Nato counterparts are considering leaving 8,000 to 12,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014, but a dispute arose on Friday between the US and Germany over whether the force would be … Continue reading

Allow Catholic priests to marry, urges Cardinal Keith O’Brien

Scottish Catholic leader says many struggle to cope with celibacy, as he prepares for trip to Rome to elect next pope The Scottish Catholic leader, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, has said he would be happy for priests to be able to marry. Many priests struggle to cope with celibacy and should be able to marry and … Continue reading

Christopher Dorner: cabin fire was not intentional, say police

Sheriff’s office confirms pyrotechnic teargas canisters were launched into cabin but ‘we didn’t intend to burn it down’ Police have confirmed they started the blaze that engulfed Chris Dorner’s cabin but said the use of pyrotechnic canisters had not been intended to cause a fire. “It was not on purpose. We didn’t intentionally burn down … Continue reading

Che bello! Pope Benedict’s fans and believers assemble for farewell tour

St Peter’s sees crowds crane for a glimpse of the pontiff amid quiet acceptance of an old man’s decision to quit his throne Into the golden basilica of St Peter they crammed: pilgrims with bibles, tourists with guidebooks, teenagers with smartphones, mothers with toddlers; seminarians and Swiss Guards; nuns and non-believers; babies, pensioners and priests. … Continue reading