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Pope bids Catholics farewell at last mass

Posted by Nuttapon_S On February - 14 - 2013 1 COMMENT

Pope Benedict XVI calls for end to religious hypocrisy before capacity crowd at St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican.

Pope Benedict XVI has bid farewell at his final public mass before a capacity crowd at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

“Thank you. Now, let’s return to prayer,” the 85-year-old pontiff said on Wednesday, bringing an end to several minutes of applause that had clearly moved him.

In his last address, the pontiff condemned “religious hypocrisy” and called for an end to divisions, saying that “the face of the Church is sometimes marred by sins against the unity of the Church and divisions in the clergy”, an apparent reference to the paedophilia or Vatileaks scandals plaguing the institution.

In an unusual gesture, bishops took off their mitres in a sign of respect and a few of them wept.

The mood inside St Peter’s Basilica was sombre during the Mass, as if the weight of Benedict’s decision and the finality of his pontificate had finally registered with the thousands of faithful present.

But the Basilica erupted in a rousing, minutes-long standing ovation as Benedict exited for the last time as pope, bringing tears to the eyes of some of his closest collaborators.

Pope Benedict XVI made his first public appearance since his shock resignation announcement earlier this week, asking thousands of cheering pilgrims at the Vatican to “keep praying for me”.

The pope said he had made his decision “for the good of the church”.

New pope

He was greeted amid chants of “Benedetto”, his name in Italian, at his weekly audience in the Paul VI auditorium, with a prominent banner reading: “Thank You, Holiness.”

The pontiff, the first to resign voluntarily in centuries, said he could feel the faithful’s love “almost physically in these difficult days”.

The mass is traditionally held in the Santa Sabina Church on Rome’s Aventine Hill, but was moved to St Peter’s Basilica out of respect for the outgoing pontiff and to accommodate the crowds.

Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, has said he expects a new pope in place in time for Easter, which falls on March 31 this year, although no date has yet been set for the secret conclave to elect a new leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

As rumours fly over front-runners for St Peter’s throne, commentators have said age may be a key factor in selecting a new pope, with 117 cardinals eligible to vote for one of their peers.

Man Utd hold Real in Madrid

Posted by Nuttapon_S On February - 14 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Manchester United were indebted to an outstanding performance from goalkeeper David de Gea as they came away from the Bernabeu with a highly satisfactory Champions League draw against Real Madrid.

Danny Welbeck gave Sir Alex Ferguson’s side an early lead and a crucial away goal from Wayne Rooney’s corner – but former United golden boy Cristiano Ronaldo inevitably responded with a classic header to draw Real level before the interval.

In an enthralling encounter that lived up to Real coach Jose Mourinho’s claim that it was “the match the world wanted to see”, both sides created opportunities to take a crucial lead to Old Trafford for the second leg of this last-16 tie in three weeks’ time.

De Gea brilliantly turned Fabio Coentrao’s shot on to the post early on and, as a tight and tense game entered its closing stages, Robin Van Persie saw his drive pushed on to the bar by Real keeper Diego Lopez and had another attempt scrambled off the line by Xabi Alonso seconds later.

United’s Spanish keeper, returning to his home city after making his name as a youngster with Real’s great rivals Atletico, distinguished himself with a succession of saves and a display that backed up Ferguson’s claim that he is approaching maturity and growing into life at Old Trafford.

The result leaves the second leg delicately balanced but even as United took the acclaim of their travelling fans it was clear much work is still to be done before they can contemplate a place in the last eight. Real ominously illustrated their attacking riches led by the magnificent Ronaldo, who will relish his return to Manchester.

United were without captain Nemanja Vidic and it soon became clear that Phil Jones was not under orders to shadow Ronaldo, with Rooney pushed to the right flank.

The tone was set for a magnificent first half as Real poured forward into attack. Angel Di Maria went narrowly wide and it took a top-class save from De Gea to touch Coentrao’s low drive on to the upright.

After surviving that early pressure, United exploited Real’s weakness at set pieces to secure an away goal after 20 minutes as Welbeck pulled away from Sergio Ramos to meet Rooney’s corner and angle a fine header away from Lopez.

For all Real’s failings at the back, they were attacking United from all angles. It was no surprise when they restored parity on the half hour – and no surprise that the source was Ronaldo.

In a moment reminiscent of his goal for United in the 2008 Champions League victory against Chelsea in Moscow, Ronaldo hung in the air to meet Di Maria’s delivery and direct a header past the diving De Gea.

The celebration against his former club was subdued but this iconic arena did not hold back as his name rang around the Bernabeu.

United, however, had been encouraged by Real’s defensive frailties as a stretching Welbeck almost produced the perfect response, only to direct his finish off target. Rooney then gave Real another anxious moment by shooting narrowly wide.

Mourinho was prowling his technical area throughout and responded to chants of “sit down Mourinho” from United’s travelling support perched high to his right with an imperious wave.

Real maintained their impetus after the break and De Gea was in action again with an athletic stop at the far post to block Coentrao once more.

Little had been seen of Van Persie, apart from an early yellow card after a clash with Sergio Ramos, but he burst into the action and could have twice restored United’s lead.

He was unfortunate as his rising shot was touched on to the bar by Lopez but he was guilty of a bad miss when he was presented with time and space in the area seconds later.

As Real waited for an offside flag that never came, the normally clinical striker miscued his shot and its lack of power allowed Alonso to recover and clear off the line.

De Gea rescued United again with 11 minutes left as Real continued to press, diving away to his right to clutch Sami Khedira’s effort.

Van Persie had one more chance to snatch a win for United in the closing seconds, but his angled drive was touched to safety by Lopez.

Militants killed in southern Thailand attack

Posted by Nuttapon_S On February - 14 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Thailand’s military says its troops have killed 16 militants who stormed a base in the violence-hit south of the country.

The attack took place before dawn on Wednesday in Narathiwat province, near the border with Malaysia.

No military casualties were reported in the attack, which the Thai army said had involved dozens of militants.

Thailand’s three southernmost provinces have been plagued by unrest in recent years.

More than 5,000 people have been killed since a decades-old separatist campaign reignited in the Muslim-majority region in 2004.

Separatists carry out regular attacks, usually roadside bombings or drive-by shootings.

‘Extra alert’

Wednesday’s attack is the biggest loss of life in several years. Officials had earlier put the toll at 17 but revised it down.

Pramote Phromin, a spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command, told Reuters news agency that up to 60 militants wearing military fatigues approached the base at around 01:00 (18:00 GMT on Tuesday).

Soldiers at the base had been tipped off by locals ahead of the attack, officials said.

“There have been frequent attacks this month, so every unit has been on the lookout. Officers have been assigned on a night watch at every base,” Capt Somkiat Ponprayun, provincial marine corps special task force chief, told the Associated Press.

“This week, residents in Bacho district have also informed the soldiers of small armed movement here and there, which put us on extra alert,” he added.

The three southern provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat were annexed to Siam, as Thailand was then known, more than a century ago. Most of the residents are Muslims, unlike the majority Buddhist population in Thailand.

The Thai government has deployed tens of thousands of troops and police to the region, but has been unable to quell the violence.

On Sunday five soldiers were killed by suspected militants in a bomb attack in Yala, a neighbouring province.

The government has recently suggested imposing a curfew in certain parts of the region.

“If we impose a curfew then militants will find it more difficult to enter the area,” Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung said.

A temporary curfew has been put in place in six areas in response to the attack.

Imprisoned former editor seeks temporary freedom

Posted by Nuttapon_S On February - 13 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

BANGKOK, Feb 13 – Thai activist and former magazine editor, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, who was recently sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on two lese majeste charges, sought leniency and permission for a release on bail to the Criminal Court today.

In an open letter submitted by his lawyer to Criminal Court Chief Judge Thawee Prachuablarb, he compared his case to former comedian Yossawaris Chuklom, alias Jeng Dokchik, who was charged with similar offence and was released on bail.

His lawyer said Mr Somyot personally wrote the letter, saying he has never contemplated fleeing. The lawyer added that he intended to use the same letter to officially seek bail for Mr Somyot in 30 days.

Two controversial articles which led to the charges against Mr Somyot were published under a pseudonym in the Voice of Thaksin magazine. He was handed five-year jail terms for each of the two articles. (MCOT online news)