Chatter: World leaders head to Rome




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Roman holiday. World leaders are heading to Rome for the inaugural mass of Pope Francis

Ahead of the new pontiff's inauguration ceremony in St. Peter's Square tomorrow, Vatican City authorities are preparing for an influx of up to a million people including dozens of senior political figures and heads of state. 

US Vice President Joe Biden, a practising Catholic, will represent Washington. Robert Mugabe will be there, too. Zimbabwe's president is also a staunch Catholic, and will conveniently be sidestepping a travel ban that applies to the EU but not to the sovereign Vatican City state.

Back in Zimbabwe, police have arrested four of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's aides and a prominent human rights lawyer following a referendum that would curb Mugabe's powers.

Also heading to Vatican City is an Indian politician facing rape allegations at home. P.J. Kurien, deputy chairman of the upper house of parliament, will lead the Indian delegation despite questions about his alleged role in the gang rape of a teenager in 1996.


Tourist raped in India. Six men are to appear in court today in connection with the gang rape and robbery of a Swiss tourist in central India. 

The woman was attacked as she camped with her husband near a village in Madhya Pradesh state. The couple had been on a three-month cycling trip across India.

The attack comes three months after the fatal gang rape of a woman aboard a New Delhi bus, a crime that sparked a national debate about laws to protect women.

China warning. A Chinese government official has warned the United States against beefing up its missile defenses in the wake of recent tension on the East Asian peninsula (read: North Korea acting crazy again). 

Washington leaders should act "prudently" as they move to address the political issue, foreign affairs spokesman Hong Lei said. He added: "Bolstering missile defenses will only intensify antagonism, and it doesn't help to solve the issue."

The great helicopter escape. Two prisoners have staged a daring escape from jail in the Canadian province of Quebec, using a hijacked helicopter. 

Police said two accomplices working from outside the Saint-Jerome prison near Montreal hijacked a helicopter, forced its pilot to hover over the jail and, using a rope ladder, picked up the two inmates from the prison's rooftop.

But their freedom didn't last long: the jailbreak sparked a massive manhunt, and one of the convicts was swiftly re-arrested while the other was caught a few hours later.


The Thiel method. Sounds innocuous enough. But here at Austria’s Institute of Anatomy, it actually refers to a cutting-edge preservation process developed over decades to embalm human bodies, writes Phil Cain for GlobalPost. 

This special method is based on a salting process similar to one used by butchers to “wet cure” ham. Unlike traditional embalming, bodies remain "floppy" and their tissues retain their living color and feel. Want to learn more? Of course you do.