Rio vows to stay tough
The state government for Rio de Janeiro vowed on Wednesday to maintain its tough campaign against organized crime despite criticism from Amnesty International that human rights were being violated. “Not respecting human rights is the taking of innocent people hostage by criminals who set their own rules ... Being warlike is criminals terrorizing citizens at gunpoint,” the state secretary for public security, Sergio Cabral, told reporters. An Amnesty report released on Wednesday accused Rio authorities of “warlike and draconian” measures in their battle against the gangs that control many city slums.
Illegal logging gang nabbed
Federal police said they arrested at least 40 members of an illegal logging operation in an Amazon tribal Indian reservation on Wednesday amid growing concern over destruction of the world’s largest rain forest. The operation cleared the equivalent of 70,000 football fields of virgin forest in the Vale do Guapore Indian reserve in Mato Grosso state, the police said. Among those arrested were loggers, highway and military police officers, farmers and state civil servants.
■ UNITED STATES
Same-sex wedding date set
Barring a stay of a historic California Supreme Court ruling, same-sex couples will be able to wed in the state beginning June 17. California said on Wednesday it chose June 17 because the state Supreme Court has until the day before to decide whether to grant a stay of its May 15 ruling legalizing gay marriage. The guidelines from the chief of California’s office of vital records to the state’s 58 county clerks also contained copies of new marriage forms that include lines for “Party A” and “Party B” instead of bride and groom. A group opposed to gay marriage has asked the court to stay its decision until after the November election. Meanwhile, same-sex unions might soon be recognized in New York, where the governor has directed state agencies to do so.
■ UNITED STATES
Space plumber needed
NASA said the toilet on the International Space Station (ISS) became blocked on Tuesday, forcing the three astronauts on board to go next door — to use the toilet at the Soyuz capsule moored at the station. The liquid waste handling function of the toilet broke down, NASA said, adding that the two Russians and one American at the station were able to fix a “urine bypass” on the ISS toilet. NASA spokeswoman Nicole Cloutier said the space shuttle Discovery, scheduled to arrive at the ISS on Monday with seven astronauts aboard, would be carrying toilet parts to help repair the station’s prickly plumbing.