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Published: Saturday, July 10 2010 11:09 p.m. MDT

Cuba: Pictures of Castro

HAVANA — New photographs of a smiling, tracksuit-clad Fidel Castro greeting workers at a scientific think tank were posted on the blogs of two Cuban journalists and a media website Saturday, offering a rare glimpse of the reclusive revolutionary leader in a public forum.

Castro, 83, appears slightly stooped but otherwise healthy in the pictures, which were said to have been taken Wednesday during a visit to the National Center for Scientific Investigation in Havana.

Germany: Asteroid photos

BERLIN — The European Space Agency has taken the closest look yet at asteroid Lutetia in an extraordinary quest some 280 million miles in outer space between Mars and Jupiter.

The comet-chaser Rosetta transmitted its first pictures from the largest asteroid ever visited by a satellite Saturday night after it flew by Lutetia as close as 1,900 miles, ESA said in Darmstadt, Germany.

"These are fantastic and exciting pictures," space agency scientist Rita Schulz said in a webcast presentation. She said it would take several weeks before all 400 pictures and all data from the high-precision instruments aboard Rosetta would come through to Earth.

Guinea: Election runoff

CONAKRY — Guinea's Supreme Court says a runoff vote to choose the country's next president will be held Aug. 1.

The second round had originally been scheduled July 18, but the Supreme Court has needed more time to sort through fraud complaints. According to preliminary results from the June 27 first round, former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo garnered about nearly 40 percent of votes cast, compared to just over 20 percent for longtime opposition politician Alpha Conde.

Greece: Ship Egypt-bound

ATHENS — A ship commissioned by a Libyan charity organization has left Greece headed for the Egyptian port of al-Arish, and not for Gaza, as originally planned, according to Greek authorities.

The Moldovan-flagged cargo ship Amalthea left around 8 p.m. local Saturday from the port of Lavrio, southeast of Athens, carrying 2,000 tons of food and medical supplies destined for Gaza, mostly donated by Greek companies and charities, organizers said.

Italy: Vatican posts loss

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican said Saturday it had posted its third straight financial loss, registering a euro4.1 million ($5.2 million) deficit for 2009.

The financial report released by the Holy See's press office listed revenues of euro250.18 million against expenses of euro254.28 million. Most of the expenses went to support Pope Benedict XVI's activities and the Holy See's offices, especially Vatican Radio, the voice of the pope that is broadcast on five continents in 40 different languages and produced by 200 journalists.

Japan: Election Sunday

TOKYO — Japanese voters cast ballots in a parliamentary election today that is viewed as a test of confidence in the ruling Democrats' 10 months in power.

Polls show that Prime Minister Naoto Kan's party will likely lose seats in the 242-member upper house, where half the seats are up for grabs, partly because he has suggested that Japan needs to raise its sales tax in coming years as the country's population ages and shrinks. The vote won't directly affect the ruling Democratic Party of Japan's grip on power because it has a majority in the more powerful lower house.

S. Korea: War inquiry

SEOUL— In a political about-face, a South Korean commission investigating a century of human rights abuses has ruled that the U.S. military's large-scale killing of refugees during the Korean War, in case after case, arose out of military necessity.

Shutting down the inquiry into South Korea's hidden history, the commission also will leave unexplored scores of suspected mass graves believed to hold remains of tens of thousands of South Korean political detainees summarily executed by their own government early in the 1950-53 war, sometimes as U.S. officers watched. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Korea was established in December 2005 under the late liberal President Roh Moo-hyun.

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