Putin signs bill to ban US adoptions

Russia's move to prohibit Americans from adopting Russian orphans is the latest threat to the Obama administration's flagging attempt to ''reset'' relations between the two Cold War rivals. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has signed a bill to ban US adoptions of Russian children that the country's parliament approved in retaliation for a new US law sanctioning Russians accused of human rights violations. The prohibition goes into effect on January 1, according to a statement from the Kremlin. The US expressed ''deep concerns'' about the ban, with a State Department spokesman, Patrick Ventrell, saying more than 60,000 Russian children had been adopted by Americans in the past 20 years. The State Department reports that 962 Russian children were adopted by Americans in 2011, about one in 10 US international adoptions. ''It is misguided to link the fate of children to unrelated political considerations,'' he said in a statement yesterday. ''The welfare of children is simply too important to tie to the political aspects of our relationship.'' The action and reaction reflect a relationship already strained by friction over other issues, such as democracy promotion, missile defence, weapons proliferation and the conflict in Syria.


Berlusconi divorce to cost $4m a month

The former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has reportedly obtained a divorce from his second wife, Veronica Lario, and will have to pay her almost $4 million a month in alimony. Corriere della Sera reported the ruling by a court in Milan, which came days after Berlusconi, 76, announced his new girlfriend was 49 years younger than him. Ms Lario, 56, has accused him of consorting with underage women and announced in 2009 that she was seeking a divorce after a newspaper published a report that he had attended the 18th birthday party of a sometime lingerie model who reportedly called him daddy.


Missing British girl returns from Pakistan

A six-year-old girl is on her way home to Britain more than three years after she was abducted by her father and taken to Pakistan, police say. Atiya Anjum-Wilkinson disappeared in November 2009 after going to stay with her father, Razwan Ali Anjum. The former insurance salesman told the girl's mother, Gemma Wilkinson, that he was taking Atiya to Southport in northwest England but instead took her to the Pakistani city of Lahore. He told his former partner that she was ''never going to see Atiya again''. Anjum is serving a fourth consecutive prison sentence in Britain for refusing to reveal his daughter's whereabouts despite a court order. Sources told Britain's Press Association agency that Atiya had been found in Pakistan after new information had come to light. A judge had described the case ''as bad a case of child abduction as I have encountered''. It is thought Atiya was found after police issued a computer-generated image of what Atiya would look like now - a day before her sixth birthday in November. Speaking then, her mother said: ''It's been an absolute nightmare. As to her whereabouts we know nothing. We've had no contact. I'm worrying every day, every single day. Everything is affected by it. When I close my eyes I see her.''


This story Putin signs bill to ban US adoptions first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.