10 in TEN
UN chief calls Russia reforms a step back
UNITED Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay, a former South African judge, yesterday said the new administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin was sliding back to Soviet practices in its handling of dissent and free speech.
She said laws being passed in Moscow would have a detrimental impact on human rights. Her statementwas issued as Russia approved a law tightening government control of civil rights groups, while branding those who get foreign funding "foreign agents" - a term many Russians associate with spies. - Reuters
ICC to investigate Islamist takeover
INTERNATIONAL Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said yesterday she had ordered an immediate inquiry into the situation in Mali where Islamists have taken over the north of the country.
Earlier yesterday, the Al-Qaeda-linked MUJWA Islamist group reportedly released an Italian and two Spanish hostages in northern Mali. The three aid workers were seized in a refugee camp near Tindouf, Algeria, last October and were believed to have been transferred to northern Mali. - Sapa-AFP, Reuters
Olympics organisers say early woes are minor
LONDON Games officials have dismissed concerns over a lost bus driver, a scramble for more security guards and some rain-soaked venues as mere exaggeration - embarrassments that had one tabloid newspaper headline using the Olympic rings to spell out the word "Oops". Organisers said some of the complaints were exaggerated and tried to put the best face on the unfolding security debacle ahead of the games, which start in 10 days.
Some 3500 British troops had to be called in on short notice to fill the security gap. - Sapa-AP
'We can defeat efforts to block oil shipping'
THE US will hold Teheran directly responsible for attempts to disrupt shipping in the oil-rich Gulf region and will be able to defeat any Iranian attempt to shut down seaborne commerce, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said.
"The US is fully prepared for all contingencies here," Panetta said yesterday.
"We have invested in capabilities to ensure that the Iranian attempt to close down shipping in the Gulf is something that we are going to be able to defeat, if they make a decision to do that." - Reuters
Doctors removed wombs illegally to claim money
DOCTORS in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh performed hysterectomies on poor village women without a valid medical reason in order to claim money from a national insurance scheme, Amar Agrawal, Chhattisgarh's health minister said yesterday.
Critics say the programme, launched in 2008 to assist poor families, was exploited by unscrupulous doctors, who have managed to make roughly 10-million rupees [R1.4million] in recent months by removing uteruses without any valid medical reasons. - Reuters
Needles in food force Delta to boost security
DELTA Air Lines Inc said it was taking new steps to ensure the safety of food it serves and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it began a criminal probe after what appeared to be sewing needles were found in sandwiches on four flights from Amsterdam to the US.
Delta spokeswoman Kristin Baur said in a statement on Tuesday that the sandwiches, which are provided to business travellers free of charge, have been replaced as menu items with prepackaged pizza on flights from Amsterdam. - Reuters
Second reactor to be restarted amid concerns
JAPAN was yesterday expected to restart its second nuclear reactor after the Fukushima crisis closed the nation's atomic power plants, even as fresh concerns surfaced about the unit's positioning near a faultline.
The restarts have prompted street protests, with more than 100000 people pouring through central Tokyo on Monday to denounce atomic energy.
The future of nuclear power threatens to dent Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's image ahead of an election that could come later this year. - Reuters
Speculation mounts on early elections
SPECULATION mounted in Israel yesterday that the country was headed for early elections, following the decision of the Shaul Mofaz-led Kadima party to quit the coalition government - only 70 days after it had joined - because of a dispute over a new mandatory national service law.
The departure of the 28 Kadima legislators means that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud Party now heads a coalition commanding the support of 66 of the 120 legislators. - Sapa-dpa
WikiLeaks now 'back open for donations'
WHISTLEBLOWING website WikiLeaks said yesterday that it had found a way to get around the banking blockade that has dramatically cut its donations over the last 18 months.
It aims to use Carte Bleue, a French affiliate of Visa, to beat the blockade and raise $1.2-million (R9.78-million).
Visa and Mastercard banned payments to WikiLeaks when it published 250000 secret US diplomatic cables, embarrassing Washington and governments around the world. - Sapa-AFP
Louis Vuitton 'art' lures China's super-rich
LOUIS Vuitton is courting China's wealthy with one-of-a-kind shoes and bags it is branding as unique works of art to reclaim its exclusive cachet in the luxury market.
The French luxury brand is set to open its largest store in Shanghai on Saturday, complete with a spiral staircase and an invitation-only private floor where big spenders can get their hair done while dreaming up designs for custom bags.
Louis Vuitton routinely ranks among the most admired brands in surveys of Chinese consumers. - Reuters