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Updated: 19 min 16 sec ago

Hundreds celebrate 'mud people' festival in the Philippines

59 min 52 sec ago

Filipino devotees muddied their faces and covered themselves with dried banana leaves on Saturday to celebrate a religious festival which also has roots in Japan's occupation of the country during World War II. The annual "Taong Putik" or "Mud People" festival, held in the town of Aliaga, 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Manila, honours John the Baptist. Hundreds of men, women and children walked to a muddy field at dawn and covered themselves from head to toe with mud and dried banana leaves, with some residents saying their appearance was meant to evoke the attire of John the Baptist in Biblical times. According to the Bible, the prophet John donned clothes made of camel's hair and ate locusts and wild honey as he announced the coming of Jesus Christ.


Australia upbeat after seeing off Italy with late tries in Brisbane

1 hour 7 min ago

Coach Michael Cheika said Australia were improving and would be ready to take on New Zealand in the Rugby Championship after fighting off Italy 40-27 on Saturday. Late tries to Bernard Foley and Reece Hodge staved off the threat of a second shock defeat following last week's loss to Scotland, after Italy had narrowed the scores to 28-27 with 10 minutes left. The nature of the win will do little to ease the pressure on the hosts, who were criticised ruthlessly both by media and supporters following the 24-19 defeat to Scotland.


US wanted terror leader may have fled Philippine city: army

1 hour 10 min ago

One of America's most wanted terrorists may have escaped a five-week battle with Islamist militants in a southern Philippine city, which began with a raid to capture him, the military said Saturday. Isnilon Hapilon, a veteran Filipino militant said to be the leader of the Islamic State (IS) group in Southeast Asia, has not been seen in the battle zone in Marawi City, said Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, head of the military's Western Mindanao Command. An attempt by government troops to arrest Hapilon in Marawi on May 23 triggered a rampage by Islamist militants flying black IS flags and backed by some foreign fighters who seized parts of the mainly Muslim city.


Colombia's ELN rebels free two kidnapped Dutch reporters

1 hour 21 min ago

Rebels with Colombia's National Liberation Army (ELN) group have freed two Dutch journalists snatched days ago in the country's northeast, officials said Saturday. Colombia's ombudsman office, which handles human rights issues, wrote on Twitter that the rebel group freed reporter Derk Johannes Bolt, 62, and his cameraman Eugenio Ernest Marie Follender, 58, in a rural area of Norte de Santander state. The office posted an accompanying photo purporting to show the pair, pictured with some of the rebels, along with Colombian human rights officials.


Ireland beat Japan 35-13 to complete tour whitewash

1 hour 36 min ago

Ireland overpowered Japan 35-13 on Saturday for their second straight win over their hosts to finish with a perfect record in their three-game summer tour. Joe Schmidt's second-string side looked on course to rack up 50 points for the third successive match -- the first of which was against the USA -- as they ran in four first-half tries in Tokyo. The signs were ominous for Japan's "Brave Blossoms" when Garry Ringrose raced clear to score under the posts and flanker Josh van der Flier wriggled over in the corner in the first 10 minutes.


Five London tower blocks evacuated over fire safety fears

1 hour 43 min ago

Residents of 800 London flats were hurriedly evacuated Saturday due to fire safety fears over their tower blocks' external cladding, after urgent testing prompted by the deadly Grenfell Tower inferno. The cladding on the five Chalcots Estate towers is similar to that used on Grenfell, widely blamed for the rapid spread of the massive blaze last week that is presumed to have killed 79 people. The dramatic decision follows urgent testing of the towers' exteriors, which were installed by the same contractor as the Grenfell Tower.


Over 140 people feared buried in China landslide

1 hour 49 min ago

Chinese rescuers scoured through rocks on Saturday in a frantic search for more than 140 people feared buried after a landslide smashed through a mountain village in southwest Sichuan province. A couple and a baby were rescued and taken to hospital after 46 homes in the village of Xinmo were swallowed by huge boulders when the side of a mountain collapsed, according to the local Maoxian, or Mao county, government. Rescuers used ropes to move a massive rock while dozens of others, aided by dogs, searched the rubble for survivors, according to videos posted online by the Maoxian government and state broadcaster CCTV.


US wanted terror leader may have fled Philippine city: army

3 hours 19 min ago

One of America's most wanted terrorists may have escaped a five-week battle with Islamist militants in a southern Philippine city, which began with a raid to capture him, the military said Saturday. Isnilon Hapilon, a veteran Filipino militant said to be the leader of the Islamic State (IS) group in Southeast Asia, has not been seen in the battle zone in Marawi City, said Lieutenant General Carlito Galvez, head of the military's Western Mindanao Command. An attempt by government troops to arrest Hapilon in Marawi on May 23 triggered a rampage by Islamist militants flying black IS flags and backed by some foreign fighters who seized parts of the mainly Muslim city.


Hischier makes deal with NHL Devils, Knights opt for Glass

Sat, 06/24/2017 - 04:58

Nico Hischier became the first Swiss player to be taken first overall on Friday when the New Jersey Devils made the slick center the top pick in the National Hockey League entry draft. "I am speechless," said Hischier, who played last season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. It is an incredible feeling." Unlike the last two drafts, this year there was no consensus on who would be the top pick as Hischier and Canadian Nolan Patrick were considered the top two players available.


Moody's raises Greece's sovereign bond rating after bailout

Sat, 06/24/2017 - 03:55

Credit ratings agency Moody's on Friday raised Greece's long-term issuer rating to "Caa2" from "Caa3" after eurozone governments extended a credit lifeline to the country. It pointed to a mid-June agreement reached by Greece's creditors to relaunch an aid plan to the country, which had been blocked for months due to disagreements between eurozone countries -- especially Germany -- and the International Monetary Fund. The move reduces the spectre of a short-term crisis, after eurozone governments agreed to give Greece a new credit lifeline of some 8.5 billion euros ($9.5 billion).


Around 100 people feared buried in China landslide

Sat, 06/24/2017 - 03:39

Chinese authorities launched a frantic search for around 100 people feared buried after a landslide smashed through a mountain village in southwest Sichuan province on Saturday, local authorities said. "There are several tonnes of rock," local police captain Chen Tiebo told the state broadcaster CCTV. Chen said the heavy rains that hit the region in recent days had triggered the landslide.


Around 100 people feared buried in China landslide: authorities

Sat, 06/24/2017 - 03:38

Around 100 people are feared buried after a landslide smashed through their village in southwest China's Sichuan Province early Saturday, local officials said, as they launched an emergency rescue operation. Landslides are a frequent danger in rural and mountainous parts of China, particularly at times of heavy rains.


In Argentina, music cures the soul

Sat, 06/24/2017 - 03:29

Picture a hospital: the bustle of harried doctors and nurses, time dragging for lonely patients, and the pervasive sadness of a place for the sick and dying. "It touches me to see how this affects the patients.


CIA knew in August that Putin sought to boost Trump: report

Sat, 06/24/2017 - 02:41

The CIA had top-level intelligence last August that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered an operation to help Donald Trump win the US presidential race, the Washington Post reported on Friday. The intelligence shocked the White House and put US security chiefs on a top-secret crisis footing to figure out how to react. After Trump's shock victory, there were strong regrets among administration officials that they had shied from tough action.


CNN uses sketch artist at no-camera White House briefing

Sat, 06/24/2017 - 02:29

US media went back to the past on Friday to cover the daily White House press briefing, after President Donald Trump's administration banned cameras from the event. Cable news channel CNN sent sketch artist Bill Hennessy to the famous West Wing press room, a change from the American courtrooms where he normally works. Instead of broadcasting the briefing live, CNN carried only audio of White House spokesman Sean Spicer's session with journalists.


Margot Robbie uses nappy rash cream as lip balm

Sat, 06/24/2017 - 01:00

The star's unconventional beauty regime has prompted questions from her husband.


Stunned residents turfed out of London towers in the night

Sat, 06/24/2017 - 00:02

Baffled and bewildered, residents of five London tower blocks were dragging their belongings through the dark streets early Saturday, having been told to pack their bags and get out due to fire safety concerns. What difference would another night have made?" asked Melanie Tham as she evacuated her home on the Chalcots Estate in north London following a snap decision by the Camden Council local authority, a few hours before midnight Friday. The cladding on the Grenfell Tower, visible three miles (five kilometres) away across London, is widely blamed for spreading the fire that so quickly engulfed the block last week, leaving 79 people presumed dead.


Qatar receives list of demands as Gulf crisis worsens

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 23:09

Qatar on Saturday confirmed it had received a 13-point list of demands from Saudi-led allies in a major escalation of the ongoing diplomatic crisis in the Gulf. The list -- which apparently includes a call for Qatar to close down broadcaster Al-Jazeera -- are the demands that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt want met to end a diplomatic and trade "blockade" of Qatar, lasting almost three weeks. Doha has been told that it faces "divorce" from its Gulf neighbours unless it takes their demands seriously.


Helmut Kohl's son calls funeral plans 'unworthy' of legacy

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 22:28

The elder son of Germany's legendary chancellor Helmut Kohl, who died last week, called on Friday the plans for his father's funeral "unworthy" of a man considered the father of German reunification, further enflaming a family feud with his stepmother. "I find the latest developments not worthy of my father, nor of Germany and Europe," said Walter Kohl, 53, who with his brother Peter are from Kohl's first marriage. In an interview on the weekly Die Zeit website, Walter Kohl criticised the lack of national funeral services, which were refused by his stepmother Maike Kohl-Richter.


Suicide bomber targeting Mecca hurts six: Saudi police

Fri, 06/23/2017 - 22:12

Six foreign pilgrims were hurt on Friday in Saudi Arabia when a suicide bomber targeting Islam's holiest site of Mecca blew himself up, the Interior Ministry said. Ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki told Saudi television that police "foiled the terrorist plan that targeted the security of the Grand Mosque, pilgrims and worshippers." In dawn raids on Mecca and the Red Sea city of Jeddah officers arrested five suspects, including a woman, before surrounding the bomber's location around the Grand Mosque.