Britain recognized Druidry, a neo-pagan belief system that believes nature is its supreme being, as a religion for the first time and gave it charitable status on Saturday.
"There is a sufficient belief in a supreme being or entity to constitute a religion for the purposes of charity law," declared the Charity Commission for England and Wales in response to the Druid Network's application.
The decision will give the religion, known for its worship at Stonehenge (above, in 1999) and other sites, tax advantages and is expected to lead to broader acceptance.
"This has been a long hard struggle taking over five years to complete," said the Druid Network, which is based in England, in a statement on its website.
The British commission noted that Druidry "is animistic and based on a belief that everything has a spiritual dimension." It also noted that the religion recognizes deities within nature and conducts worship ceremonies.
The Druid Network, which has about 350 members, sought charitable status for "the advancement of religion for public benefit and no other purpose," the commission said in its ruling.
The Druid Network says there are public misconceptions about some of its practices.
(CNN) -- Plans to let players control Taliban fighters in the highly anticipated "Medal of Honor" video game have been scrapped amid harsh criticism from military officials and others.
Game publisher Electronic Arts said Friday that it has decided to remove the name "Taliban" from one of the forces in the multiplayer version of the game, which focuses on modern-day fighting in Afghanistan.
The game is set to be released October 12 and is expected to be one of the top video-game rollouts of the year.
Executive producer Greg Goodrich said the development team listened to feedback from friends and families of fallen soldiers who expressed concern over the game's option to let players fight as the Taliban.
"This is a voice that has earned the right to be listened to. It is a voice that we care deeply about," Goodrich said in a written statement. "Because of this, and because the heartbeat of 'Medal of Honor' has always resided in the reverence for American and Allied soldiers, we have decided to rename the opposing team".
New Delhi, India (CNN) -- After harsh criticism and controversy, the 2010 Commonwealth Games will officially begin Sunday in New Delhi, India.
It's the first time India has hosted the international sporting event between countries of the former British Empire.
Britain's Prince Charles, representing his mother, Queen Elizabeth, arrived in the Indian capital Saturday. He, along with Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, will officially declare the games open at a ceremony at Jawarharlal Nehru Stadium.
Excitement filled the air in New Delhi after days of fears that India simply would not be ready in time. Athletes had expressed alarm over the poor condition of their village. Others charged shoddy construction and slammed the government for corruption.
The games afforded India an opportunity to promote a shiny image as an emerging power. The government spent billions on a new international airport, additional metro lines and fresh landscaping along dingy Delhi roads.
Still, India remains a country with millions of poor people, who this week felt brushed aside as the new India tried to put its best face forward.
People like Shanti, a 65-year-old beggar, who said she was detained by police for sitting on the side of a street, where she always sits, hoping that passers-by will drop a few coins in her hands. Or Mala Mangla, who sells balloons on the streets. She said police have told her to disappear for at least a month.
India, they said, was trying to hide them from foreign visitors. They said beggars have been warned to stay off the streets. So have vendors and children who are commonly seen going from car to car begging. And shanties have been torn down.
Lagos, Nigeria (CNN) -- The death toll after Friday's blasts near the Justice Ministry in Nigeria's capital now stands at 12, a presidential spokesman told CNN on Saturday.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, known as MEND, claimed responsibility for the attack in Abuja as the West African country celebrated 50 years of independence.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan later called the action a terror attack that was designed to "disrupt" the anniversary, said presidential spokesman Imo Niboro.
But he said it had nothing to do with Niger Delta issues or MEND.
MEND, which represents militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta, is an umbrella organization of several rebel groups. It has been battling the government for years over fairer distribution of the country's oil wealth.
The explosions struck not long after the group warned crowds Friday to evacuate the venues of the event. Others were wounded in the bombings and many vehicles were damaged.
(CNN) -- A second message presumably from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden urged Muslims to help the people of flood-stricken Pakistan.
The new message, which appeared Saturday on Islamist websites, comes after a similar message surfaced Friday. CNN could not verify the authenticity of the message.
The Pakistani devastation depicted by media reports "does not accurately reflect the crisis".
"There should have been a bigger scale movement [to help victims in] this crisis from the start, especially from able nations like Turkey, the Gulf states and Malaysia," the speaker said.
He also blamed international Muslim leaders for not visiting affected areas.
Produced by as-Sahab, the media arm of Al Qaeda, the remarks are entitled "Second Message - Help your Brothers in Pakistan" and was posted Saturday on Islamist websites known to carry messages by al Qaeda, its supporters and sympathizers.
Rome, Italy (CNN) -- The search for two Americans who went missing during an international gas-balloon race continued Saturday as an underwater robot joined in the pursuit.
Race organizers said Friday a balloon carrying Richard Abruzzo of New Mexico and Dr. Carol Rymer-Davis of Colorado over the Adriatic Sea near Italy made a rapid descent during rough weather, conditions which would make their survival "unlikely".
"This is very pessimistic information," says the statement from the race organization -- Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett.
Race officials from the competition said they lost contact with the balloon as it was over the sea shortly after 8 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET) Wednesday.
Croatian boats have started searching Croatian waters, and an underwater coastal guard unit equipped with an underwater robot is conducting a search, said Italian Coast Guard Warrant Officer Massimo Maccheroni.
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Three drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal region on Saturday killed 18 people, intelligence officials told CNN
Ten people died in one hit targeting a militant hideout, four people died when a vehicle was struck, and four others were killed when another hideout was targeted.
All three occurred in the Data Khel area of North Waziristan.
The intelligence officials did not want to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
While the United States is the only country in the region of Pakistan and Afghanistan known to have the ability to launch missiles from drones -- which are controlled remotely -- U.S. officials normally do not comment on suspected drone strikes.
Saturday's attacks come amid an uptick in drone strikes in that region.
(CNN) -- Anti-China protesters gathered Saturday in Tokyo and six other major cities in Japan to rally against what it calls an invasion of disputed islands that both claim are part of their territories.
Protesters held up Japanese flags and chanted, "We will not allow Communist China to invade our territory".
Beijing says the Diaoyu Islands and most of the South China Sea belong to China, disputing neighboring countries' claims. In Japan, the islands are known as the Senkaku.
The rally was organized by Toshio Tamogami, a former Japanese chief of staff for the Self Defense Force.
Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- CNN anchor Rick Sanchez abruptly left the network Friday afternoon, just one day after making controversial comments on a satellite radio program.
"Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company," according to a statement from CNN. "We thank Rick for his years of service and we wish him well".
On Thursday, Sanchez appeared on the XM Sirius radio program "Stand-Up with Pete Dominick." During the interview with Dominick, Sanchez called "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart "a bigot" and then said that he was bigoted against "everybody else who's not like him. Look at his show, I mean, what does he surround himself with?"
Dominick pressed for specifics, and Sanchez, who is Cuban-American, responded, "That's what happens when you watch yourself on his show every day, and all they ever do is call you stupid".
Dominick, who was once the warm-up comic at Stewart's Comedy Central show and now has a spot on CNN's "John King, USA," noted that Stewart is Jewish and so a minority himself.
(CNN) -- At over 246,000 and counting, he has more Facebook fans than the combined tally of British Prime Minister David Cameron, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and South African head of state Jacob Zuma.
Since Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria's president, created his profile in June of this year, rarely a day goes by without a fresh update -- which appear to be written by Jonathan himself -- concerning recent news events, government policy and, of course, the coming elections.
He also seized public momentum and stole a march on his rivals by choosing the hugely popular social networking site to announce his standing for the forthcoming presidential elections in 2011.
"I Goodluck Ebele Jonathan by the grace of God hereby offer myself and my services to the Nigerian people as a candidate for the office of President" read his Facebook status on September 15, ending a long period of speculation about the likelihood of his candidacy.
"This is the first time in our country that Facebook has ever made the headlines of a national newspaper," Chude Jideonwo, founding member of influential Nigerian activist site Enough is Enough, told CNN.
Washington (CNN) -- The FBI announced Friday more than 60 people are in custody in the United States, United Kingdom and Ukraine after authorities smashed a major international cyber-theft ring that had netted $70 million from the United States alone. To date the perpetrators had attempted to steal $220 million, the FBI said.
"The five individuals detained in Ukraine were the directors of this organized cyber-crime operation," said FBI Assistant Director Gordon Snow.
Snow and other officials said 39 U.S. citizens and 20 U.K. residents were also in custody, arrested for helping to carry out a sophisticated computer theft operation that primarily targeted small to medium businesses and institutions.
A smaller number of churches, nonprofits and individuals were also victims of the cyber ring, authorities said. In total, the FBI has identified 390 targeted victim businesses, institutions or individuals in all parts of the United States.
FBI officials briefing reporters on the international take-down said the criminals selected targets in advance which they believed did not have high level computer security, and were able to tap into the firms' bank accounts.
The first indication of the cyber ring surfaced in Omaha, Nebraska, in May 2009. The FBI then launched Operation Trident Breach which eventually led to the arrests announced Friday.
Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) -- A crash involving two trains in central Indonesia Saturday killed 34 people and injured 36, officials said.
The crash occurred when a train traveling from Semarang in Central Java to the capital of Jakarta was struck from behind by another train headed to Jakarta from Surabaya in East Java, according to Bambang Ervan, transport ministry spokesman.
Four coaches have been lifted off the track, and one remains, said Sugeng Priyono, spokesman for the Indonesian railway company.
Many people were crushed in the last carriage of the first train, which was stationary when the other train slammed into it, survivors said.
"Suddenly I heard a very loud sound from behind," said Anwar Riksono, a passenger who was sleeping when the trains crashed. "It shook so hard and the lights went off".
A crane lifted away large pieces of the train, which were mangled beyond recognition.
The transportation ministry says it is investigating whether the crash was caused by human or technical error.
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil (CNN) -- Brazil's general election Sunday spans across all levels of government, from the presidency to local offices. But the spotlight will be on the presidential race, with a former Marxist guerrilla positioned to become Brazil's first female president.
Dilma Rousseff is the hand-picked successor of President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, who has an 80 percent approval rating. The outgoing president has steered Brazil into a major global economy, and his choice for the next president is influencing voters.
"For president, I'm voting for Dilma," said Jose Mario, a resident of Rio de Janiero. "It's not even that much about Dilma, but because it was President Lula's request".
In Rio de Janeiro's favelas, or slums, residents credit Lula da Silva for helping more than 20 million people climb out of poverty during the president's two terms.
Brazil now has the world's eighth largest economy, which has grown 7 percent a year on the back of a commodities boom and market-friendly policies. Some Brazilians say they think Rousseff will continue Lula da Silva's efforts and help the poor.
There are nine candidates for president of Brazil, but frontrunners include Rousseff, José Serra, Marina Silva and Plinio de Arruda Sampaio. According to the latest polls, Rousseff is the favorite.
Until she was tapped by Lula da Silva, Rousseff was the president's little-known energy minister and, later, his chief of staff.
She is also known for being a former Marxist guerrilla, under the military dictatorship more than three decades ago.
Rousseff is betting she can create more jobs and improve schools and roads, bolstered by a major offshore oil discovery.
Brazil will get more worldwide attention in the coming years, hosting events such as the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.
But many Brazilians and investors still need to be convinced that Rousseff has the political strength to drive through fiscal reform and major infrastructure projects needed to keep the economy booming.