BELFAST — Unmarried and same-sex couples in Northern Ireland should be allowed to adopt children, a Belfast judge ruled Thursday, overturning a 1987 adoption law that discriminated against both groups.
Gay rights activists praised the ruling in favor of a lawsuit pursued by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.
But Health Minister Edwin Poots, an evangelical Protestant opposed to gay partnerships, said the government would appeal.
Belfast High Court Justice Seamus Treacy ruled that the law clearly violated European human rights laws on privacy and discrimination.
Other parts of the United Kingdom already permit gay and unmarried heterosexual couples to adopt children. But Northern Ireland's law restricted applicants to married couples and single adults, including gays.
Premier calls on U.S.to speed up arms delivery
BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called Thursday for Washington to speed up its delivery of weapons, barely a week after Iraq signed $4.2 billion in arms deals with Moscow.
Mr. Maliki's remarks came as he met Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in Baghdad and spoke of the "need for the Iraqi army to develop its defensive abilities to protect Iraq's security and national sovereignty."
He urged the U.S. to "speed up the arming of the Iraqi army with what they need in terms of defensive weapons."
Mr. Carter told Mr. Maliki he had come to discuss Baghdad's defense and counterterrorism needs, adding that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta would visit Baghdad soon for similar reasons.
The two sides also discussed the conflict in Iraq's western neighbor Syria.
On Oct. 9, Russia unveiled $4.2 billion in arms deals with Iraq, making it Baghdad's second-largest weapons supplier after the U.S.
Extradition approved for ex-Navy officer
SANTIAGO — Chile's Supreme Court has approved an extradition request for a former U.S. military officer wanted in the 1973 killings of two Americans, including one whose disappearance was the focus of the movie "Missing," a lawyer said Wednesday.
Former U.S. Navy Capt. Ray E. Davis was charged last year in the deaths of journalist Charles Horman and student Frank Teruggi, who were killed during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Attorney Sergio Corvalan, who represents Horman's widow, told The Associated Press that the Supreme Court approved by a 4-1 vote a request by Judge Jorge Zepeda to seek Capt. Davis' extradition to face trial in Chile.
Capt. Davis commanded the U.S. military mission in Chile at the time of the Sept. 11, 1973, coup that ousted the democratically elected government of Marxist President Salvador Allende.
Group: Hunger 'critical' in violent area
NAIROBI, Kenya — More than 80 percent of people living in a conflict zone in Sudan's southern region are eating only one meal a day, compared with 10 percent one year ago, a U.S. advocacy group said Thursday, citing research collected from a region where aid groups aren't allowed to operate.
The Enough Project warned that hunger is increasing to dangerous levels in the Sudanese state of South Kordofan.
A study carried out by an aid group showed that girls are suffering the worst. Girls in the region have reached a "critical" level of malnutrition, the most serious classification on the World Health Organization's scale. Boys are just below that level, at "serious."
The research was conducted by an aid group the Enough Project said didn't want to be identified. Sudan forbids aid groups from operating in South Kordofan, where anti-government rebels are fighting government troops. Aid workers must sneak into the region by crossing over the border with South Sudan.
Thousands of families fleeing hunger and violence in the Nuba Mountains have streamed into South Sudan over the past year.
U.S. worried about war refugees
COLOMBO — The United States says it is concerned over Sri Lanka resettling some of its war-displaced civilians without basic facilities in its rush to close down a massive refugee camp.
The U.S Embassy said Thursday that many war-affected families have been resettled in hastily cleared land without adequate shelter, water, sanitation or livelihoods available for residents.
Sri Lanka last month closed a refugee camp that has housed hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tamil civilians since the country's quarter-century civil war ended in 2009.
But the U.N. said 346 people from 110 families who were last to leave the camp could not return home because their lands are occupied by the military.
Pope transfers official who backed U.S. nuns
Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday transferred to the United States a high-ranking Holy See official who had ruffled feathers at the Vatican by openly seeking to mend its frayed ties with U.S. nuns.
Archbishop Joseph Tobin, an American Redemptorist priest, was named archbishop of Indianapolis, where he succeeds Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, who retired last year.
Benedict had tapped Archbishop Tobin, a two-time superior general of the Redemptorist religious order, to be the No. 2 official in the Vatican's office for religious orders in 2010.
At the time, the Vatican had initiated two separate investigations of U.S. nuns, looking into their quality of life and their doctrinal orthodoxy. The investigations were initiated following years of complaints from theological conservatives that American nuns had grown too secular, liberal and political while abandoning traditional doctrine.
In Catholic press interviews soon after his appointment, Archbishop Tobin, 60, had acknowledged the hurt many nuns felt over the Vatican's crackdown and called for a strategy of reconciliation.
• From wire dispatches and staff reports