Dieter Nagl, Getty Images
Hello, world! Two 3-month-old male polar bear cubs take a walk outside their cave for the first time Tuesday at the Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna.

Austria: Insufficient painkillers

VIENNA — Many people, especially those in developing countries, needlessly suffer during childbirth or cancer because of insufficient painkiller use, a global watchdog said today.

Governments should take steps to improve the availability of opioid analgesics — narcotic drugs used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain, the U.N.-affiliated International Narcotics Control Board said in its annual report for 2007.

Brazil: Tree-farm protesters

SAO PAULO — Police used rubber bullets and tear gas Tuesday to remove 900 activists from a tree farm they had invaded to highlight allegations its Swedish-Finnish operators violated a law forbidding foreign companies from owning certain lands, media reported.

Via Campesina, the farm workers' rights group that staged the invasion, said in a statement that dozens of its members were injured.

Britain: Pubs failing fast

U.K. pubs closed at a rate of 27 a week last year, seven times faster than in 2006, as a smoking ban, falling beer sales and slower consumer spending weighed on business, according to the British Beer & Pub Association.

A total of 1,409 pubs were shut in the year compared with 216 — or four per week — in 2006, the BBPA said Tuesday in an e-mailed statement. In 2005, the number of outlets declined by 102, or two per week, according to the association.

Canada: Unattached right feet

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Three times in less than a year, right feet inside running shoes have been found near separate islands in the Strait of Georgia.

Police don't know if there are any links between them. Speculation in the region is rife, including that the feet were from slaying victims or they were the remains from drownings. Police haven't reached any conclusions.

Costa Rica: Baby-selling scheme

SAN JOSE — Costa Rican police detained 14 people Tuesday, including a family court judge and a lawyer, on suspicion of participating in a scheme in which mothers allegedly were paid to give up their babies.

Police estimated that Costa Rican adoptive parents may have paid the group an average of $10,000 per child. There was no immediate evidence that any of the babies were sent abroad, but police said investigations are continuing.

Norway: Environmental warning

OSLO — The world must respond to climate change and other environmental challenges now while the cost is low or else pay a stiffer price later for its indecision, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Wednesday.

A new report by 30-nation organization looks at "red light issues" in the environment, including global warming, water shortages, energy, biodiversity loss, transportation, agriculture and fisheries.

Russia: Natural gas war

MOSCOW — A new natural gas war brewing between Russia and Ukraine threatened to reduce gas supplies to Western Europe on Tuesday, triggering fears among EU countries of a repeat of the politically charged shutdown of gas supplies in 2006.

Russia's state-owned natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, has cut back its natural gas supplies to Ukraine by half, contending that Ukraine has failed to pay as much as $600 million in debt to Gazprom.