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In brief: Compaore defies protests, calls to step down

From Wire Reports

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso – Burkina Faso’s longtime leader refused to resign Thursday in the face of violent protests that posed the greatest threat to his nearly three-decade rule, saying instead he will lead a transitional government after parliament was dissolved.

Protesters stormed the parliament building and set part of it ablaze in a day of violence around the country to stop a parliamentary vote that would have allowed President Blaise Compaore to seek a fifth term in office. At least one person was killed and several others were wounded amid the melee, authorities said, and a curfew was put in place from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. A state of emergency was imposed for several hours but lifted late Thursday.

In a concession to the protesters, the government withdrew the bill from consideration. But the move did not placate the protesters, and Army Gen. Honore Traore, the joint chief of staff, later announced that government and parliament had been dissolved and a new, inclusive government would be named.

After hours of confusion about whether Compaore would hold on to power or even where he was, the president spoke briefly on television and radio to say he was still in charge and would not step down.

Vatican: Visitors having effect on frescoes

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican said the Sistine Chapel’s precious frescoes are starting to turn white from the air pollution caused by so many visitors passing through each day.

Officials first noticed the whitening patina in 2010 and immediately launched an investigation. While the exact origin is still unknown, officials told an academic conference Thursday that the powdery patina – which covers some frescoes like cracked sugar icing – was believed to be calcium carbonate and calcium bicarbonate deposits. It was easily removed.

Vatican officials have said the Sistine Chapel’s new air conditioning system inaugurated this week would prevent potential damage from rising levels of carbon dioxide and humidity brought on by crowds.

Town bans clown costumes after assaults

PARIS – A small town outside Montpellier in southern France has banned people from disguising themselves as clowns from the streets – especially on Halloween.

This week’s decision by Mayor Pierre Dudieuzere of Vendargues follows a series of incidents around France in which people dressed as scary clowns spooked children and in several cases assaulted people. In one incident, an adolescent assaulted a passerby with an iron bar.

The phenomenon spread over the past few weeks on Facebook, with groups tracking clown sightings across the country. But Vendargues, with 6,000 inhabitants, is apparently the first town to ban clowning around.

The rule, posted Tuesday on the town’s website, said the ban is “absolute” tonight for Halloween and will be in force throughout November for everyone 13 and older.

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