Sex education to stay despite church ire
Mexican educators and officials defended public school sex education programs Friday from criticism by Roman Catholic Bishop Felipe Arizmendi of the San Cristobal de las Casas diocese in Chiapas state, who said such teachings make celibacy vows more difficult for priests to keep. Education Secretary Alonso Lujambio told reporters that public school sexual education texts "seek to make our boys and girls responsible, to take responsibility for their actions, and for that they need information." The programs, Lujambio said, are careful to avoid "hurting any social sensitivities." On Thursday, Arizmendi said, "in the midst of the invasion of so much eroticism, it is not easy to remain faithful in celibacy, or in respecting children."
Judge rejects Amazon dam delay
A judge on Friday overturned a decision that could have delayed construction of a huge Amazon dam opposed by environmentalists, Indians and James Cameron, the director of Avatar. The judge reversed a decision to suspend contract bidding scheduled for next week and also overturned the suspension of the environmental license for the 11,000-megawatt Belo Monte dam, according to a statement from Brazil's solicitor general. Environmentalists and indigenous groups say Belo Monte would devastate wildlife and the livelihoods of 40,000 people who live in the area to be flooded. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says the dam is essential for Brazil's future energy needs.
50,000 told to leave land along railway
An estimated 50,000 people who live 100 feet on either side of Kenya's railway lines could see their homes destroyed after the government railway gave the squatters 30 days to move, prompting residents on Friday to threaten to resist violently. The government order has been criticized by an international human rights group and by those affected, most of whom are slum dwellers in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. The government did not offer a resettlement plan. "People have been living and working on these lands for years, and a 30-day notice period is wholly inadequate," said Justus Nyang'aya, director of Amnesty International in Kenya.
FOND VERRETTES, Haiti
Spanish helicopter crashes, killing 4
Four soldiers died in the fiery crash of a Spanish military helicopter Friday in the rugged mountains of eastern Haiti, the United Nations said. The soldiers were part of Spain's effort to help in Haiti's recovery and reconstruction following the Jan. 12 earthquake, which the government says killed as many as 300,000 people. Spain has about 450 soldiers in Haiti helping the recovery effort. They are not attached to the 9,000-member U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti.
Premier consoles quake survivors
Prime Minister Wen Jiabao spent Friday in the Tibetan high country, comforting survivors of this week's devastating earthquake in a prominent display of concern by the country's Han leadership for one of China's most troubled ethnic minorities. The government raised the official death toll of this week's quake to 1,144, from 791 earlier in the day, with many thousands more injured and suffering.