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Files order for accused priests

Advocates for US victims of clergy sex abuse are being ordered to disclose years of records to defence lawyers in the case of an accused priest.

A US county judge in Missouri said lawyers for the accused man had a right to the documents from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (Snap).

Snap said the disclosure order was so broad it could involve sensitive communication with victims in other cases.

Illegal fireworks seized in Italy

Italian police said they had seized tons of illegal fireworks throughout the country in the run-up to New Year's Eve, including a device dubbed "the spread" -- a name inspired by the European financial crisis.

Police on state TV displayed the device, which they said was powerful enough to bring down a house if exploded indoors.

In financial circles, "the spread" defines the difference at auction in interest rates between benchmark German bonds and those of other European countries.

Death sentence for 5 over drugs

A court in southern Vietnam has sentenced five people to death for heroin trafficking.

The five were convicted in Ho Chi Minh City of trafficking 15lb of heroin from neighbouring Cambodia to Vietnam.

The newspaper said three others received life imprisonment on the same charges at the end of the three-day trial by Ho Chi Minh City People's Court.

The court also handed down jail terms ranging from seven to 20 years against six other defendants.

Blues star Etta 'is improving'

Etta James's manager said the terminally ill blues singer is breathing on her own after being taken off a respirator.

Lupe De Leon said that the change in her condition is great news and that the singer's blood pressure was normal.

Mr De Leon said James (73) was put on a respirator when she was taken to hospital in Southern California on December 21 because she was having trouble breathing.