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Italy Clouds Overshadow Renzi's Second Anniversary

Bullish and boyish in equal measure, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is not shy about blowing his own trumpet.

To mark his second anniversary as premier, which falls on Monday, the Twitter-loving 41-year-old has posted a slideshow on his Facebook page vaunting his achievements since seizing power in an internal putsch inside his center-left Democratic Party (PD).

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What He Wanted and What He Got: Assessing Cameron's EU Deal

After two long days of talks, the European Union agreed a deal late Friday to recast Britain's EU membership at Prime Minister David Cameron's urging ahead of an in-out referendum.

Here are details of what Cameron was hoping for, as laid out in a letter to EU President Donald Tusk in November, and what he has achieved through a series of compromises couched in often ambiguous diplomatic language:

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Referendums that Have Shaped the EU

Britain will vote on whether to stay in the EU in a make-or-break referendum expected in June, after Prime Minister David Cameron sealed a reform deal in Brussels on Friday.

National referendums have often determined the direction taken by the European Union, whether by admitting new members, expanding its powers via treaty changes, or embarking on new projects:

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Pope's Contraception Comments: Evolution or Revolution?

Pope Francis's hint that the Vatican could relax its ban on contraception in response to the Zika virus was hailed as a shift in Church thinking Friday - but not everyone was convinced it amounts to meaningful change.

"Pope Francis signals openness to birth control for Zika," read a headline on the Boston Globe's Vatican-watching website that reflected much media coverage around the world.

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Trump's Pope Pushback could Have Political Calculus

When Republican frontrunner Donald Trump offered a provocative retort Thursday to criticism by Pope Francis, it may have been a calculated political move to boost his standing ahead of South Carolina's presidential primary. 

Two-thirds of South Carolinians are Protestants, with evangelical voters comprising the largest voting block in the state during its Republican primary, which is being held on Saturday.

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Ukraine's Yatsenyuk Hobbled despite Winning No-Confidence Vote

Ukraine's pro-Western government has been left politically weakened and under even fiercer pressure from foreign allies to pursue reforms needed for the release of vital aid despite narrowly surviving a no-confidence vote.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was left standing but battered after a white-knuckle fight in parliament Tuesday that saw deputies muster only 194 of the 226 votes needed to force out his cabinet over its perceived failure to tackle graft.

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Siege Warfare in Syria Revives Debate over Ancient Tactic

Syrian government troops who have besieged dozens of rebel-held communities are moving toward their biggest target yet — the opposition-controlled neighborhoods of the city of Aleppo, where some 300,000 people risk being trapped.

Sieges were widely used for centuries as a military tool — from Jerusalem to Leningrad and Sarajevo — and aren't defined outright as a war crime. However, recent images of emaciated civilians in blockaded areas, such as the Syrian town of Madaya, have prompted global outrage.

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Syria Conflict Takes Kurds towards Autonomy

Syria's Kurds, long held in disdain by Damascus, are edging towards autonomy in their heartland along Turkey's border as they capitalize on the tactical goals of both Washington and Moscow.

To the dismay of Ankara, Kurdish forces have seized on the collapse of rebels in the northern province of Aleppo in the face of Russian-backed regime gains to advance to within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the border.

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Russia and Turkey Run Risk of Escalation over Syria

Turkey and Russia are already waging a proxy war in Syria as Istanbul backs rebels against Syrian government troops supported by Moscow. 

But the recent escalation in rhetoric has sharpened fears of a direct confrontation, analysts warn.

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Yatsenyuk: Ukraine's Unlikely Firebrand

Arseniy Yatsenyuk once said that taking the job of Ukrainian prime minister was an act of "political suicide" and on Tuesday he appeared to have been proved right.

Facing charges he has been unable to deliver on a pledge to tackle corruption and fix the economy, the bespectacled pro-Western premier was asked to step down by the president "in order to restore trust in the government".

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