IVORY COAST: Regime blamed for murders
Security forces and militias loyal to incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo have been carrying out systematic murders and rapes targeting his rival's supporters following the disputed presidential election, a human rights group said in a report released Wednesday. After interviewing more than 100 witnesses, the New York-based Human Rights Watch concluded that postelection violence was overwhelmingly committed by Gbagbo supporters to intimidate people living in neighborhoods that voted for the internationally recognized leader, Alassane Ouattara. The UN says at least 260 people have been killed since Ouattara's victory was pronounced by the electoral commission and certified by the UN. That result was overturned by the Constitutional Council after it invalidated more than half a million votes from Ouattara strongholds.
ITALY: Warning of a food crisis
Risks of global instability are rising as governments cut subsidies that help the poor cope with surging food and fuel costs to ease budget crunches, the head of the UN World Food Program said. "We're in an era where the world and nations ignore the food issue at their peril," Josette Sheeran said in an interview at the agency's Rome headquarters. The global recession has eroded government aid that helped people in poorer countries afford bread, cooking oils and other staples. The trend raises the odds of unrest even though prices have improved in many nations from 2007 to 2009, she said. The UN's Food Price Index surged to 214.8 in December, exceeding the previous record in 2008 when rising costs and fears of shortages sparked riots from Haiti to Egypt. More than 100 people have died in Tunisia in protests against food inflation, unemployment and alleged corruption, according to the UN.
BRITAIN: Assange seeks more outlets
WikiLeaks hopes to enlist as many as 60 news organizations around the world in a bid to help speed the publication of its massive trove of secret U.S. diplomatic memos, the site's founder said Tuesday. Julian Assange told The Associated Press he was trying to reach beyond the major newspapers, such as The New York Times and The Guardian, that worked with him on earlier releases, saying he already has about 20 media partners, and could triple that number in the next three months.