First Latin American nation makes gay marriage legal

President Cristina Fernandez signed a new law Wednesday making Argentina the first country in Latin America to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.

Civil registries across the nation will now begin processing long lists of marriage applications from gay couples. The first such ceremony in Buenos Aires is set for Aug. 13.


Images confirm reports of Myanmar’s nuclear aims

Allegations by a Myanmar defector that the military-run country is pursuing a nuclear program are corroborated by newly available commercial satellite images, Jane’s Intelligence Review said in an article released Wednesday.

Photos of buildings and security fences near the country’s capital, Naypyidaw, confirm reports by Major Sai Thein Win of machine tool factories and other facilities alleged to be part of a nascent program to build nuclear weapons, the magazine reported from London.


Mafia’s money laundering rises as banks stop lending

The mafia has cranked up money laundering activities in Italy after the credit crunch prompted banks to stop lending, leaving a funding gap that criminal capital has filled, according to the Bank of Italy.

“The crisis has given organized crime room to thrive because access to credit has become more difficult,” said Anna Maria Tarantola, the central bank’s deputy general director. “Whoever holds large amounts of cash, like crime groups, can make investments that aren’t possible for others. They can now invest in fully legal businesses.”

The central bank’s financial intelligence unit tracked 15,000 suspicious transactions in the first half of 2010, up 52 percent from a year earlier, and exceeding the total for all of 2008, said Tarantola, who’s in charge of banking oversight.

Money laundering occurs when criminals hide illegal income by funneling it through legitimate channels.

GABORONE, Botswana

Court prohibits Bushmen from drilling wells for water

A court in Botswana ruled Wednesday that indigenous dwellers in one of the driest parts of the world will not be allowed to drill wells for water.

The Botswana High Court said the Bushmen people were not entitled to use a well already established on their traditional land in the Kalahari Game Reserve or excavate a new one.

The government has argued that the Bushmen’s presence in the reserve is not compatible with preserving wildlife and that living in such harsh conditions offers few prospects.

In 2006, another court allowed the Bushmen to return to desert-like homelands where diamond mining claims and a new luxury tourist lodge led to their eviction by the government.

Hundreds returned and their leaders protested that they were denied water to drive them away again.