- - Monday, August 16, 2010

MEXICO

Supreme court upholds gay adoptions

MEXICO CITY | Mexico’s Supreme Court voted Monday to uphold a Mexico City law allowing adoptions by same-sex couples.

The justices voted 9-2 against challenges presented by federal prosecutors and others who had argued the law fails to protect adoptive children against possible ill effects or discrimination, or to guarantee their rights to a traditional family.

Justices voting with the majority argued that once same-sex marriages had been approved, it would be discriminatory to consider those couples less capable of parental duties than heterosexual couples.

The court voted earlier this month by the same margin to uphold same-sex marriages themselves under a Mexico City law enacted March 4.

The law applies only in Mexico City, but other states must respect marriages and adoptions made in the capital.

CANADA

Concern grows for Burma elections

OTTAWA | Canada has “serious concerns” that elections in Burma later this year will be held under “oppressive conditions,” Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said Monday.

“While Canada welcomes the Burmese military regime’s commitment to hold democratic elections, we have serious concerns that the elections will be held under oppressive conditions and that they will not be conducted in line with international standards,” Mr. Cannon said in a statement.

Burma’s junta said Friday it would hold its first election in two decades on Nov. 7, about a week before democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s current house arrest is due to expire on Nov. 13.

PERU

American apologizes for aiding rebels

LIMA | American activist Lori Berenson apologized Monday for aiding leftist rebels and asked a Peruvian court to let her remain free on parole after serving 15 years of her 20-year sentence behind bars.

The 40-year-old New Yorker acknowledged collaborating with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, but said she was never a member of the group or involved in violent acts.

“If my coming to Peru has meant harm to the country, I am sorry and I regret it,” she told the criminal appeals court in Lima.

Prosecutors are trying to have Berenson sent back to prison for the remainder of her sentence, arguing that a May decision granting parole was riddled with errors.

The three-judge panel will have up to 15 days to announce its decision. If the court revokes parole, Berenson would be required to return to prison with her 15-month-old son, Salvador.

BRAZIL

U.N. fights to halt ever-expanding deserts

FORTALEZA | The U.N. on Monday launched a campaign to save the planet from deserts that are threatening a third of the planet along with the livelihoods of more than a billion people.

The decade-long initiative aims to “reverse and prevent desertification” and to soften the effects of drought in affected areas “to support poverty reduction and environmental sustainability,” said Luc Gnacadja, the executive secretary of the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification.

Parched land and deserts today are home to one-in-three people on Earth, or 2.1 billion people, 90 percent of whom are in developing nations. One billion people struggle to find enough food to survive in such inhospitable terrain.

According to the U.N., such land accounts for 40 percent of the planet’s land surface and supports a third of all crops and half of all livestock.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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