Nun who said she was cured named

PARIS - Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre is the French nun whose testimony of a mystery cure from Parkinson's disease is likely to be accepted as the miracle the Vatican needs to beatify Pope John Paul II, an official at the Paris maternity hospital where she works said yesterday.

The nun's identity has been one of the church's most closely guarded recent secrets. She says she was cured of Parkinson's after she and her community of nuns prayed to John Paul.

The nun, a member of the Congregation of Little Sisters of Catholic Motherhood in Aix-en-Provence in southeast France, works at the Sainte-Felicite hospital in Paris, the official said on condition of anonymity because an official announcement is expected Sunday.

The French newspaper Le Figaro, in an unsourced report late yesterday on its Web site, first identified the nun by name. - AP

Castro doing well, older brother says

HAVANA - Fidel Castro's older brother, Ramon, said yesterday that Fidel was doing very well almost eight months after intestinal surgery, but he jokingly dodged reporters' questions about whether the leader would soon appear in public.

"He's in one piece," Ramon, 82, a farmer and rancher, said of Fidel, 80, as he toured a cattlemen's fair and rodeo with his good friend John Parke Wright, a Florida cattleman. "These Castros are strong!"

Bolivian President Evo Morales this month said he expected that Fidel Castro would soon return to public life - perhaps even the presidency - by April 28.

Fidel Castro temporarily ceded power to his brother Raul, 75, the defense minister, in July after announcing he had had surgery.- AP

Group says Russia beat ex-detainees

MOSCOW - Russian law enforcement agencies have tortured three former Guantanamo inmates and subjected them and four others to harassment and abuse, a U.S.-based rights group said in a report today.

Human Rights Watch urged the United States to do more to protect the rights of terrorism suspects subject to extradition, saying it should not transfer people to countries where they may be tortured.

Allison Gill, Moscow director for the group, said three of seven men who were released from the U.S. military prison in Cuba in 2004 had been beaten and tortured. The report said four have been forced into hiding.

Russia's Interior Ministry declined to comment on the accusations. The Federal Security Service, the KGB's main successor agency, also declined to comment immediately.- AP


A gas explosion in a Chinese coal mine killed 19 miners and left seven missing, a government news agency said today. The explosion struck the Yujialing mine in Linfen, in Shanxi province, the Xinhua news agency said. It was the second major mine disaster in 10 days in Shanxi, after an explosion that killed 21 last week.

Russia's scientific elite, in a rare show of disobedience to the Kremlin, voted yesterday against a government-proposed charter that would have transferred control of the historically independent Academy of Sciences to the state.

A sniper's daylight assassination of a Russian businessman outside a Kiev courthouse where he was on trial for extortion fueled fears that contract killings are again on the rise in Ukraine.