World briefs 10/24/03

Friday, October 24, 2003

Zimbabwe accused of using food as weapon

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Zimbabwe's government is using food as a weapon, denying it to political opponents as nearly half its people face starvation, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

The group said the government and ruling party punish opponents by manipulating the supply and distribution of subsidized food, as well as the registration of people eligible for international relief.

In a 51-page report, the New York-based group said corruption and profiteering are rampant at the government's Grain Marketing Board, which oversees distribution of most staple food. It said officials divert large quantities of grain at tremendous profit to the black market and neighboring countries.

"Select groups of people are being denied access to food," Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the group's African division said in a statement. "This is a human rights violation as serious as arbitrary imprisonment or torture."

Niagara Falls survivor kicked out of Canada

ST. CATHARINES, Ontario -- A Canadian judge on Thursday agreed to release a U.S. citizen who survived a plunge over Niagara Falls and ordered him to stay out of Canada except for court appearances.

After his brother posted his bail of $1,000 Canadian ($760 U.S.), Kirk Jones spoke briefly with a swarm of reporters before leaving in a sports utility vehicle with a tabloid television crew.

"Monday, I feel like I reached out and touched the face of God and he smiled," Jones said of his plunge. "I'm feeling very happy to be alive. I ask no one to ever try such a stunt again."

-- From wire reports

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