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Catholics urged to stop funding Amnesty

ROME - A senior Vatican cardinal said yesterday that Catholics should stop donating to human rights group Amnesty International because of its new policy advocating abortion rights for women if they had been raped, were a victim of incest or faced health risks.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Vatican's pontifical council for justice and peace, accused Amnesty of turning its back on its mission to defend human rights.

"The inevitable consequence of this decision, according to the cardinal, will be the suspension of any financing to Amnesty on the part of Catholic organisations and also individual Catholics," said a statement from the cardinal's office yesterday. - ( Guardian service)

EU may withhold aid from Bulgaria

BRUSSELS - The European Commission is seriously considering recommending that some financial aid be withheld from new member state Bulgaria because of concern about corruption and maladministration, a senior EU source said.

The EU executive is due to issue a monitoring report on June 27th on Bulgaria and Romania, which could trigger sanctions against one or both states. - (Reuters)

Nazi (93) allowed to leave house arrest

ROME - A court ruling that a 93-year-old Nazi war criminal can leave house arrest every day to work has angered Italians and Jewish groups.

Former SS Capt Erich Priebke was jailed for life by a military court for the massacre of 335 men and boys at the Ardeatine Caves near Rome during the second World War. The killings were in reprisal for a partisan attack on Germans.

He was extradited to Italy in 1995 from Argentina, where he fled after the war. - ( Reuters)

Belgium to explore coalition options

BRUSSELS - Belgium's King Albert has appointed finance minister Didier Reynders to explore coalition options after Sunday's general election, making the prospect of a centre-right government more likely.

Mr Reynders, head of the pro-market Reform Movement (MR), confirmed yesterday that he had accepted the short-term position of informateur and said he aimed to complete his work by the end of the month. - (Reuters)

Earthquake hits Guatemala

GUATEMALA - A strong, 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Guatemala yesterday, the US Geological Survey said, and some buildings were evacuated in the capital.

No injuries were immediately reported. - ( Reuters)

Spielberg endorses Clinton in election

LOS ANGELES - Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg, an influential member of the Hollywood elite, yesterday endorsed New York senator Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008.

"I've taken the time to familiarise myself with the impressive field of Democratic candidates and am convinced that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified candidate to lead us from her first day in the White House," he said. - ( Reuters)

EU foreign labour policies criticised

BRUSSELS - Some European Union countries could face legal action this year for making it difficult for foreign workers to take up jobs, the European Commission said yesterday.

The countries, likely to include Germany and Austria, mount illegal bureaucratic barriers for foreigners working under EU rules, harass them with frequent, detailed checks and require excessive documentation, the commission said. - (Reuters)