Vatican prays Pope stays up for World Cup final

ITALY: The Vatican says it is unlikely that Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, would get together to watch their home teams in the World Cup final on Sunday.

Vatican spokesman the Reverend Federico Lombardi said the final is on a bit late for Argentina’s Francis and acknowledged with a chuckle that German-born Benedict was not known as a sports fan. But he did not rule anything out, saying: “We’ll see in the coming days.”

Pope Francis has already given his word that there will be no papal intervention in Argentina’s fortunes, promising he would not pray for any team. Mr Lombardi said: “Both would want the better team to win, without taking sides.”


BRITAIN: Ballroom dancing organisers have defended a proposal which could prevent same-sex dance partners from competing against mixed-sex couples.

The British Dance Council is considering a rule change which would define a dance partnership as being “one man and one lady... unless otherwise stated”.

Critics have claimed the proposal could see same-sex dancer partners banned from ballroom competitions because organisers or competitors are not “comfortable” with their participation.


ENGLAND: A punter won £2,500 (€3,150) by predicting Germany would thrash Brazil 7-1 in the World Cup.

John Moore, 28, an unemployed chef from Woodford, east London, won the bet after placing £5 on the semi-final.

Mr Moore put the bet on with Paddy Power, who said three others had correctly predicted the shock result.


ENGLAND: Twelve critically endangered iguanas seized from Romanian smugglers at Heathrow Airport have been returned to their native Bahamas.

The reptiles were discovered stuffed into suitcases and each wrapped individually in a sock by Border Force staff at the airport’s Terminal 5 on February 3.

Thirteen were rescued, but one was found to have died in transit. The animals were San Salvador rock iguanas, a species so rare that only a few hundred are known to exist. Their trade is strictly controlled.


USA: John Wayne’s heirs are duelling with Duke University over the family’s right to market bottles of bourbon branded with the late movie star’s nickname, Duke.

A federal lawsuit filed last week is the latest salvo in a long-running feud between the North Carolina university and California-based John Wayne Enterprises over who controls the trademark for commercial products featuring the name.

The school says allowing Wayne Enterprises to use Duke could cause confusion and tarnish the value of the moniker. Wayne’s heirs point to the actor’s use of the nickname since childhood.


USA: The Selective Service System says a data glitch prompted it to send notices to several deceased men in Pennsylvania, ordering them to register for the nation’s military draft.

At least two of the letters went to families of men born in the 1800s.

Chuck Huey of Kingston, northeastern Pennsylvania, says a Selective Service notice for his late grandfather recently arrived in the mail. Bert Huey is a First World War veteran who died in 1995 at age 100.

In northwestern Pennsylvania, a similar notice was sent to the late Fred Minnick, who was born in 1894 and died in 1992.

Selective Service spokesman Pat Schuback told The Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre that the error originated with the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles.


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