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PROGRAM ON EXCHANGES WITH U.S. IS CANCELED

RUSSIA

Russia has pulled out of a long-standing American high school exchange program after a teenage Russian boy who befriended a gay couple sought asylum in the United States on the grounds that he faced persecution at home as a homosexual. Russia officials accused the United States of endangering the welfare of a child, while U.S. officials suggested that the Kremlin was using the case as a pretext to further impair diplomatic relations. Pavel Astakhov, Russia's presidential ombudsman for children's rights, called it "an outrageous case" in announcing that Russia would no longer allow several hundred students to spend an academic year in the United States under the Future Leaders Exchange. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki expressed "regret" over the decision.

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Elsewhere

Newark, N.J.: A New Jersey nun credited with curing a boy's eye disease in the 1960s moved a step closer to sainthood Saturday in what church officials said was the first beatification Mass held in the United States. The beatification Mass for Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, who died in 1927, was led by Cardinal Angelo Amato at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. Beatification is the third in a four-step process toward sainthood.

Washington: President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama observed their 22nd wedding anniversary a day late with a celebratory dinner Saturday night in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood.

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