Aid workers guilty of fraud
Two aid workers have been convicted of fraud for trying to bring 103 children from central Africa to the country for adoption, claiming they were orphans from Darfur. The court also sentenced Eric Breteau and Emilie Lelouch of the charity Zoe’s Ark to two years in prison on Tuesday. Four other members of the group were given suspended sentences. The six workers were arrested in Chad in 2007 as they sought to put the children on a plane. An investigation found they were from Chad, not neighboring Sudan’s troubled Darfur region, and most were not orphans. The workers were sentenced to eight years’ forced labor in Chad for kidnapping. However, they were later repatriated and pardoned by Chad’s president, clearing the way for the trial.
Gay marriage bill advances
The country on Tuesday came a step closer to legalizing gay marriage when the lower house of parliament approved a highly controversial bill allowing same-sex couples to wed and adopt children. The legislation, a key election pledge of Socialist President Francois Hollande, was passed by 329 votes to 229 in the National Assembly and must now win final approval in the Senate, or upper house of parliament. The vote came 10 days after lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to adopt its key article, which redefines marriage as a contract between two people, rather than between a man and a woman. The Senate will debate the proposed law from April 2.
Woman kills dogs, self
A woman who lived with 13 dogs shot dead 10 of her pets and then killed herself on Tuesday when authorities came to take away the animals, police said. Three police officers and four local officials knocked on the door of the 49-year-old’s house in the small town of Friesen to reclaim her pets after authorities had decided she was maltreating them. She slammed the door in their faces and soon afterward, shots were heard. The police forced their way into the house and, upon discovering three dead dogs on the ground floor, sealed the premises and the surrounding area. The officers called a special commando team for back-up and this unit found the dog owner shot dead along with seven more Australian Shepherds.
Bikini photos anger royals
An Italian magazine has infuriated the royal family after publishing paparazzi pictures of a pregnant Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing in a bikini on a private holiday in the Caribbean. The publication of the first royal “baby bump” photographs comes months after the same gossip magazine, Chi, published topless pictures of the duchess on a private holiday in France. A royal spokeswoman said the publication was “a clear breach of the couple’s right to privacy.”
Satellites find water loss
Satellites have detected a large loss of fresh water reserves in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins during a seven-year period beginning in 2003, a new study has found. The river basins, which water parts of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria, have lost almost as much water as is in the Dead Sea, the study found. Part of the loss was attributed to a 2007 drought that dried out soil and shrank snowpacks, and another part to the loss of surface water from lakes. However, most of it — about 60 percent — was traced to the pumping of groundwater, which typically increases during and after a drought.