RUSSIA

Putin signs adoption ban

President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a law banning Americans from adopting Russian children, abruptly terminating the prospects for more than 50 youngsters preparing to join new families and sparking critics to liken him to King Herod. The move is part of a harsh response to a U.S. law targeting Russians deemed to be human rights violators. Although some top Russian officials including the foreign minister openly opposed the bill, Putin signed it less than 24 hours after receiving it from Parliament, where it passed both houses overwhelmingly. The law also calls for the closure of non-governmental organizations receiving American funding if their activities are classified as political — a broad definition many fear could be used to close any NGO that offends the Kremlin. The law takes effect Jan. 1, the Kremlin said. Children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said 52 children who were in the pipeline for U.S. adoption would remain in Russia.

SINGAPORE

Gang rape victim dies

A young Indian woman who was gang-raped and severely beaten Dec. 16 on a public bus died today at a Singapore hospital. Her horrific ordeal galvanized Indians to demand greater protection for women from sexual violence that impacts thousands of them every day. She “passed away peacefully” with her family and officials of the Indian embassy by her side,” said Dr. Kevin Loh, the chief executive of Mount Elizabeth hospital where she had been treated since Thursday.

UNITED NATIONS

Need outpaces donations

The director of U.N. humanitarian operations said crises driven by drought, floods and conflicts are escalating every year and there isn’t enough money to help more than 50 million people from Syria to Africa’s parched Sahel region that need help. John Ging said that for thousands of needy people the result is more suffering, worsening malnutrition and loss of life. “The needs are outstripping the means,” he said in a year-end interview. “There’s a global financial crisis and this is just an equation that doesn’t work. We have to find solutions.”

Compiled from wire reports.