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Pope praises Christians in Saudi Arabia.

Pope praises Christians in Saudi Arabia

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI lauded the contributions of Christians in Saudi Arabia - a kingdom that embraces a strict version of Islam, restricts worship by other faiths and bans Bibles and crucifixes - in the first meeting ever Tuesday between a pope and reigning Saudi king.

Benedict and the Vatican's No. 2 official raised their concerns during separate meetings with King Abdullah, the protector of Islam's holiest sites.

Breakup of Belgium kingdom a possibility

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Belgium reached a record of 149 days without an acting government Tuesday, and slumped closer to a collapse of coalition talks between the country's French- and Dutch-speaking politicians.

The stalemate and the growing support of Flemish nationalist parties has sparked widespread talk of a possible breakup of the kingdom that is split into Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north and Francophone Wallonia in the south. Some opponents of separatism in and around Brussels have responded by flying the red-black-and-yellow Belgian tricolor from their homes, a rare public show of patriotism.

Scientist finds new pig species in Amazon

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - A Dutch scientist thinks he has discovered a new species of wild pig nearly twice the size of other pigs in Brazil's Amazon region.

At four feet long and 90 pounds, the pig is the latest in a string of new species that Marc van Roosmalen reported to have found since 1996. His findings were published in the Oct. 29 edition of the German scientific journal Bonner Zoologische Beitrage.

Van Roosmalen, said his discovery of the peccary - a kind of wild pig he dubbed Pecari maximus - points out the need to protect the region as a habitat for wild species.

U.N. reports material was not hazardous

UNITED NATIONS - A panel of experts has confirmed that a mysterious substance found in the U.N. weapons inspection office and initially suspected of being a chemical warfare agent was non-hazardous, the U.N. said Tuesday.

The material was found Aug. 24 at the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, or UNMOVIC, office with an inventory number that was later matched to records indicating it could be phosgene, a chemical substance used extensively in World War I as a choking agent.

China announces space station project

BEIJING - China plans to launch a space station by 2020, a state-run newspaper reported Wednesday, the same day the country's first lunar probe entered its final orbit to start studying the moon's surface.

China attaches great prestige to its ambitious space program, seeing it as a way to validate its claims to being one of the world's leading scientific nations. The country has sent astronauts into space twice in the past four years and launched its moon probe about a month after rival Japan.

Boat filled with migrants adrift 3 weeks

MADRID, Spain - Dozens of migrants trying to reach Europe spent three weeks at sea off West Africa's coast and threw nearly 50 bodies overboard after their vessel lost power and supplies dwindled, officials said Tuesday.

The boat, which set out from Senegal with as many as 150 people and apparently traveled hundreds of miles, was found Tuesday by a Mauritanian patrol boat, a Spanish Civil Guard official said.

It was one of the highest death tolls this year among Africans trying to escape poverty and reach Europe's southern gateway.
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Title Annotation:Wire International
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 7, 2007
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