Humanitarian group protests U.S. policy
Members of an American humanitarian aid group arrived Saturday in Cuba in defiance of U.S. law and wearing T-shirts calling for "regime change" in the United States.
About 120 volunteers with Pastors for Peace flew in from Tampico, Mexico, where they had loaded a caravan of 12 vehicles filled with goods including medicine, computers and bicycles onto boats bound for Cuba -- all in violation of a long-running U.S. trade embargo.
The volunteers, who ranged in age from 10 to 91, came in from the United States and six other countries. They wore T-shirts reading "Regime Change in the US -- Not in Cuba."
The U.S. embargo against Cuba, which aims to squeeze the island's economy and push out Cuban President Fidel Castro, is now in its fourth decade.
Progress on AIDS treatment slow
The World Health Organization reported Saturday that an estimated 440,000 people with AIDS in developing countries are receiving life-extending drugs, well short of the 500,000 it hoped would be receiving treatment by now on its way toward a goal of putting 3 million people on such medications by 2005.
The target of 3 million represents half of the estimated 6 million people in developing countries who will probably die within a year or two if they do not receive antiretroviral drugs.
A shortage of trained health care workers is one of the biggest obstacles to getting people into treatment, according to U.N. officials.
The report was released on the eve of the 15th International AIDS Conference, which opened Sunday in Thailand.
Floods kill 22 more in South Asia
Floodwaters raging in South Asia killed 22 more people, as villagers drowned, died of waterborne disease, and were electrocuted or crushed under their collapsing homes, officials said Saturday.
Soldiers were called out Saturday in parts of India's Bihar state, and helicopters and boats rescued people stranded on roofs and in treetops.
Some 170 people have died in flooding this year across South Asia, where many people live in weak mud houses, with little access medical care.
The latest deaths brought the toll in India to 144 so far this year.
All of the region's major rivers, including the Ganges, Sone, Ghaghra, Gandak, Bagmati and Kosi were rising, the federal government's Central Water Commission said in a statement.
Country suspended from diamond trade
A U.N.-backed body barred the Republic of Congo from the legitimate world diamond trade, accusing it of blatantly sending millions of dollars in smuggled gems onto the global market.
Suspending the west African country was "necessary to safeguard the credibility and integrity" of international efforts to block black-market conflict diamonds from the $60 billion annual diamond business, said the group.
The suspension was imposed after a May 31-June 4 mission to Republic of Congo that concluded the country had smuggled in from surrounding nations virtually all of the reported 5.2 million carats Republic of Congo had been putting into the market each year through Europe and the Middle East.