A political earthquake in Italy is rattling across Europe.  The populist blogger and comedian Beppe Grillo’s strong showing in Italy’s election is signaling what some think is a growing wave of resistance to the European Union’s incredibly unpopular austerity measures.

A gas cylinder exploded aboard a tourist balloon hovering above Egypt’s fabled “Valley of the Kings”, setting it ablaze and sending it plummeting to earth.  Conflicting reports say either 18 or 19 people were killed, most or all of them foreign tourists.

An openly Gay ex-friar-turned-journalist is calling the Vatican’s Gay Sex scandal a “ticking time bomb”.  One Cardinal who might have helped choose a new Pope is forced to resign amid Gay rumors.  Another faces fresh allegations of covering up priestly child abuse.
But at least the Pope knows what color shoes he’ll wear next week.

Sri Lankan authorities are accused of using rape as a weapon against Tamil separatists, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch.  The group says the scores of victims it has interviewed is only the tip of the iceberg.

Japanese whalers had to abandon efforts to refuel in the southern ocean after they say the Sea Shepherd vessels Steve Irwin, Bob Barker and Sam Simon rammed them and made the operation too dangerous.  Paul Watson says it was the Japanese who rammed the activists.

Former KISS guitar player Ace Frehley might find himself back on the road, although not the way he planned.  The bank is reportedly foreclosing on the Space Ace because he apparently hasn’t paid his mortgage in 2 years.

Cyclone Rusty is getting stronger off of the Pilbara Coast, and authorities have issued an emergency relocation notice for people in eastern and western parts of Port Hedland in Western Australia, because the storm surge is expected to be big.  Let’s be extra careful out there!  
Meanwhile, here’s some fresh stuff from the outside world:

A video uploaded to Youtube apparently shows the French family kidnapped by Islamic insurgents in the African nation of Cameroon.  The government of France says its experts are examining the video to make sure it is authentic.

One of Pope Benedict XVI’s final actions in office is coming as a surprise to the world’s 1.1 billion catholics.  He amended Vatican rules to allow the conclave to select his successor to begin much sooner than expected.

South Korea inaugurated its first female president, who promptly issued a stern warning to the Nuclear North.  President Park Geun-hye called on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

The ever health conscious Vladimir Putin has signed a tough new anti-smoking bill into law.  The Russian president is gradually turning the Motherland into a "No Smoking" zone, forbidding puffing away in most public places.

The death of a Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody over the weekend is bringing criticism from Egypt, showing the end of the old order in Middle East geopolitics.

Now that Raul Castro has officially said he will step down when he completes his final term as President of Cuba five years from now, we’re getting an idea of who may be in charge at the end of the decade.

The selection of a new Pope is about to take place the same way that Benedict XVI’s reign is ending:  Under the dark cloud of scandal.  Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien is quitting and pulling out of the Vatican Conclave amid reports he acted inappropriately with Catholic priests under him.

Europe’s Horsemeat scandal has trotted into one of the continent’s biggest retailers, furniture giant Ikea, which pulled its signature Swedish Meatballs off of the shelves in 14 countries.

Geologists are on the verge of what could be a great discovery:  They’re mapping what could be the remains of a previously unknown continent beneath the floor of the Indian Ocean.

Japan sent a military icebreaker ship to the Southern Ocean to protect its whaling fleet against the anti-whaling activists.  So says Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd as he shadows the Japanese whalers.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is ordering US Special Forces out of Wardak province southwest of Kabul.  He accuses the Americans and U.S.-trained Afghan groups of kidnappings and killings in

As Egypt finds itself poised dangerously closer to civil war, the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and opposition parties are trying to sway the balance of power by wooing the all-important military.  But publicly, the military is calling for a resolution of political turmoil.

It turns out that Oscar isn't the only Pistorius facing homicide charges.  The Olympic sprinter’s older brother is himself charged with culpable homicide in a deadly highway collision.

North Korea’s detonation of a nuclear weapon on 12 February set the frost of a new Cold War in East Asia.  Not between Pyongyang and the West, but between North Korea and its long-suffering allies in Beijing who’ve finally lost patience.