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VATICAN POSTS $5.2M LOSS, BUT DONATIONS RISE

VATICAN CITY

The Vatican said Saturday it had posted its third straight financial loss, registering a $5.2 million deficit for 2009. The financial report released by the Holy See's press office stressed that such losses were not unique considering other governments were running deficits as a result of the economic meltdown. The Vatican said annual donations from churches worldwide, the so-called Peter's Pence, were up in 2009, with Catholics donating $82.52 million last year. The faithful gave $75.8 million in 2008 and $79.8 million in 2007. Leading donors were from the United States, Italy and France. The Vatican has published the annual report since 1981, when Pope John Paul II ordered financial disclosure as part of his efforts to debunk the idea that the Vatican is rich.

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IRAQ

58,000 stray dogs killed in 3 months

Teams of veterinarians and police shooters have killed about 58,000 stray dogs in and around Baghdad over the past three months as part of a campaign to curb an increasing number of strays blamed for attacks on residents. The Baghdad provincial government said in a statement that 20 teams have been moving around Baghdad and the outer-lying districts daily looking for and putting down the dogs.

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GREECE

Gaza aid ship on way to Egypt

A ship commissioned by a Libyan charity organization left Greece headed for the Egyptian port of al-Arish, and not for the Gaza Strip, as originally planned, according to Greek authorities. The cargo ship Amalthea left Saturday from Lavrio, carrying 2,000 tons of food and medical supplies destined for Gaza, mostly donated by Greek companies and charities, organizers said.

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