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Saturday, October 16, 2021 10:11 PM

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PARIS, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- France was rocked Saturday by another day of massive protests against President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to raise the retirement age.

Estimates of the number of marchers at demonstrations in Paris and about 200 other cities ranged from 825,000 to about 3 million, Le Monde reported. The low figure came from the Interior Ministry and the higher ones from unions.

A strike by oil refinery and rail workers continued for a fifth day, the BBC said. Airports are expected to begin running out of jet fuel.

Earlier Saturday, Economy Minister Christine Lagarde issued a statement calling for calm, the BBC reported.

"There is no reason to panic over this. I am sure that we will unblock the situation through intelligent social dialogue," Lagarde said.

The Chamber of Deputies has already approved a pension reform package that would raise the minimum age for receiving a government pension from 60 to 62 and the age for a full pension from 65 to 67. The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday.

Unions are calling for another national strike Tuesday.

Iranian-American released from prison

TEHRAN, Iraq, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- A 71-year-old Iranian-American businessman was freed Saturday from a prison in Tehran.

Reza Taghavi was jailed for passing $200 to an opposition group, ABC News reported. He spent 30 months in Evin Prison, where Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, two U.S. hikers arrested on the Iraqi border, are still inmates.

"I didn't do anything wrong, someone just asked me take this money to help someone," Taghavi said.

Taghavi told ABC conditions were difficult in Evin. His cell held 34 inmates with beds for only 16, although the older men got the best sleeping space. He did a lot of reading and watched the U.S. TV show "24" on Wednesday nights with other inmates in the prison theater.

He did not know how long he would be incarcerated.

"It was very hard, every day, counting the days, and thinking it's going to be soon," he said. "I was told it's going to be next week, nothing happens. It's going to be next week, nothing happens."

His wife Mahnaz, who was in Tehran, said she wants to get her husband back to Los Angeles as quickly as possible.

4 hurt in balloon-paraglider collision

COTTONWOOD, Ariz., Oct. 16 (UPI) -- A hot air balloon and a paraglider crashed after a collision Saturday morning at a balloon festival in Arizona.

The operator of the paraglider and the three people on board the balloon all survived with injuries, the Verde Independent reported.

Airfest 2010 began at about 7 a.m. as more than 10 balloons began launching from the Cottonwood Airport. Two paragliders, both using motorized wings, also took off.

Police said one of the paragliders got too close to one of the last balloons to take off and became entangled in its ropes. The balloon fabric was ripped.

Gareth Braxton-Johnson, a spokesman for the Cottonwood Police Department, said the paraglider pilot, Kenneth Ritchie, 65, suffered head and spinal injuries and was airlifted to a hospital. Eric Wadleigh, 53, who was piloting the balloon, and his passengers, Susan Evans and Jon Bidolf, were also transported to hospitals.

Braxton-Johnson said neither Ritchie nor Wadleigh had been interviewed Saturday afternoon. The crash is being investigated by local police and federal aviation regulators.

6 to become Catholic saints

VATICAN CITY, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- There was a festive air in Rome Saturday, the day before the Catholic Church gains six new saints, including the first for Australia, observers said.

The Catholic New Agency reported a sense of excitement was palpable in the streets of Rome where Catholic pilgrims, many of them wearing colored caps or scarves, were gathering for the canonization ceremony where Pope Benedict XVI will preside.

About 8,000 people traveled from Australia to Italy for the ceremony that will make a saint of 19th-century nun Mary MacKillop, who was 24 when she co-founded the Congregation of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart. She lived from 1842 to 1909 and will be known as St. Mary of the Cross after the church determined she was responsible for curing two people of cancer.

"This is a time of celebration for all Australians, who live in a country where every day freedom of religion is applied, respecting the beliefs of others," Italian news agency ANSA quoted Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard as saying.

"Mary MacKillop was a pioneer who personified the essence of our values and the best of the Australian spirit."

ANSA said the others to be canonized are the 19th-century founder of a nuns' order near Naples, Giulia Salzano; a 15th-century nun from Marche, Camilla Battista da Varano; a 15th-century Polish priest, Stanislaw Soltys; a 19th-century Canadian cleric, Andre Bessette; and the 19th-century Spanish founder of another religious order, Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola.

(Source: UPI )
(Source: Quotemedia)
 

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