World briefly 12/29


Fiscal talks continue

WASHINGTON — The end game at hand, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders made a final stab at compromise Friday to prevent a toxic blend of middle-class tax increases and spending cuts from taking effect at the turn of the new year.

Success was far from guaranteed in an atmosphere of political mistrust — even on a slimmed-down deal that postponed hard decisions about spending cuts into 2013, and pessimism vied with optimism in a Capitol where lawmakers grumbled about the likelihood of spending the new year holiday in the Capitol.

Congressional Democrats said Obama was ready with a revised offer to present.

But that drew a denial from a person familiar with the talks, who said the president would review his proposal from a week ago, when he urged lawmakers to preserve tax cuts for most while letting rates rise for incomes above $250,000 a year. At the same time, Obama said lawmakers should extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless. The person was unauthorized to discuss the private meeting publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Indian rape victim dies in Singapore hospital

NEW DELHI — Doctors say a young Indian woman who was gang-raped and severely beaten on a bus in New Delhi has died at a Singapore hospital.

A statement by Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth hospital where the 23-year-old victim was being treated said she “died peacefully” early Saturday.

The horrific ordeal of the woman galvanized Indians, who have held almost daily demonstrations to demand greater protection from sexual violence, from groping to rape, that impacts thousands of women every day, but which often goes unreported.

She and a male friend were traveling in a public bus on Dec. 16 evening when they were attacked by six men who raped her and beat them both. They also inserted the rod in her body, stripped both naked and threw them off the bus on a road.

Police: NYC subway push victim from India

NEW YORK — The man who was shoved to his death in front of a subway train Thursday night was a 46-year-old from India who lived in New York City and worked for a printing business, police said.

Investigators on Friday searched for an unidentified woman who rose from a bench and suddenly pushed the man in the back with both hands, sending him flying onto the tracks as a train entered an elevated station in Queens.

Police released surveillance video of the woman fleeing the area and have been interviewing witnesses, including some who said she was mumbling and cursing to herself before the attack.

Some witnesses said the man had been shielding himself from the cold by waiting in a stairwell before he ventured out onto the platform to see if the train was coming. They also said he had no interaction with the woman, who immediately darted down the stairway after she pushed him.

Putin signs anti-U.S. adoption bill

MOSCOW — 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.

By wire sources