Officers detain gay-rights activists as they gather near the State Duma, Russia's lower parliament chamber, in Moscow. About two dozen protesters were detained Tuesday.



Leaders rush forward on China canal deal

MANAGUA - Nicaragua is plowing ahead with a plan to dig a Chinese-funded rival to the Panama Canal across the midriff of the country, fast-tracking a proposal through the ruling-party-controlled congress despite a lack of details about the $40 billion project.

A China-based consortium says it will finance the project and turn over control of the infrastructure to Nicaragua in exchange for a majority of the earnings, which it would share with the Nicaraguan government.

The canal has won the enthusiastic backing of President Daniel Ortega, whose Sandinista Front controls the national legislature with 63 out of 92 lawmakers.

Many outside observers and Ortega opponents point out that nearly every key detail of the project remains a mystery, from the sources of its funding to Nicaragua's share of the profits to the route it would take between the Caribbean and the Pacific.


Anti-gay bill passes on 436-0 vote

MOSCOW - A bill that stigmatizes gay people and bans giving children any information about homosexuality won overwhelming approval Tuesday in Russia's lower house of parliament.

Hours before the State Duma passed the Kremlin-backed law in a 436-0 vote with one abstention, more than two dozen protesters were attacked by hundreds of anti-gay activists and then detained by police.

The bill banning the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" still needs to be passed by the appointed upper house and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, but neither step is in doubt.

South Korea

Talks with North are called off

SEOUL - The Koreas' first high-level talks in years have been scrapped because of a stalemate over who will lead each delegation, South Korea said Tuesday, a day before they were to begin.

The cancellation is a blow to tentative hopes that the rivals were about to improve ties after years of rising hostility.

There had been hope that the talks on reviving two high-profile economic cooperation projects would allow the countries to move past a relationship marred by recent North Korean threats of nuclear war and South Korean vows of counterstrikes.


Reformists rally around 1 candidate

TEHRAN - Iran's presidential race lost one more candidate Tuesday but gained a new script: reformist leaders uniting behind relative moderate Hasan Rowhani to boost his once-improbable shot at victory.

Former Presidents Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani fell behind Rowhani after a rival moderate bowed out in attempts to consolidate reform-minded forces battered by years of crackdowns.

The move forced hard-liners and conservatives favored by the ruling clerics to consider anointing their own unity candidate or risk having Friday's election slip away.


2nd Taliban attack in 2 days kills 17

KABUL - A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed car outside a gate at the Afghan Supreme Court during the afternoon rush hour Tuesday, killing 17 people and wounding 38, all of them civilians, Afghan officials said.

It was the second consecutive day that insurgents staged a significant suicide attack in the capital, and it raised again the question of whether the Afghan government can ensure security from Taliban attackers.

Wire reports