Afghanistan: Taliban inroads

KABUL — A tenth of Afghanistan is off limits to aid workers because attacks by Taliban insurgents make it too dangerous, hindering the delivery of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable Afghans, a United Nations report says.

The assessment echoes a finding by the director of U.S. national intelligence, who told a Senate committee last month that Taliban insurgents control about 10 percent of the country.

That judgment by Michael McConnell was hotly disputed by Afghan officials.

Brazil: Invasion of snakes

RIO DE JANEIRO — Snakes — including one 10-foot anaconda — are increasingly invading the eastern Amazon's largest city, driven from the rain forest by destruction of their natural habitat, the government's environmental protection agency said Tuesday.

The agency, known as Ibama, has been called out to capture 21 snakes this year in Belem, a sprawling metropolis of 1.5 million people at the mouth of the Amazon River, Ibama press officer Luciana Almeida said.

No poisonous snakes were reported, she said. But the captured snakes included a 10-foot anaconda, usually a jungle recluse.

Chile: Poor to get pensions

SANTIAGO — Some 600,000 poor Chileans will receive monthly pensions starting in July under a law signed Tuesday by President Michelle Bachelet that plugs gaps in Chile's widely copied private pension system.

Bachelet, who signed the legislation on her second anniversary as president, called the measure "one of the most important social reforms in decades."

The $2 billion a year program covers groups left out by private pensions — the poor and self-employed, housewives, street vendors and farmers who saved little for retirement — granting about a quarter of the nation's work force public pensions by 2012.

China: Inflation soaring

BEIJING — Soaring food costs drove China's inflation to its highest level in nearly 12 years in February, according to data reported Tuesday, raising the risk of unrest as communist leaders prepare for the Beijing Olympics.

The 8.7 percent rise in the consumer price index over last February exceeded forecasts and raised the likelihood of interest rate hikes or emergency steps by Chinese leaders, who already have imposed price controls on food.

Communist leaders worry about a political backlash if soaring prices erode rising living standards.

Guyana: Activist charged

GEORGETOWN — A veterans-rights activist was charged Tuesday with inciting terrorism and sedition for allegedly attempting to trigger anti-government disorder in this restive South American country.

Magistrate Melissa Robertson-Ogle refused bail to retired Lt. Oliver Hinckson, 64, whom the government accuses of ties to gangsters who staged two recent shooting rampages, killing 23 people. Hinckson pleaded innocent to the charges.

India: Tibetans defy ban

RANITAL — Hundreds of Tibetan exiles pressed ahead Tuesday with a march from northern India to their Himalayan homeland, defying a police ban on the demonstration against Beijing's hosting of the 2008 Olympics.

The march, which started Monday, was expected to take six months, reaching Tibet during the Aug. 8-24 Beijing Games in a bid to turn the Olympic spotlight onto China's often harsh 57-year rule over the Himalayan region.

Kenya: Power-sharing deal

NAIROBI — Kenyan lawmakers took another step Tuesday toward approving a power-sharing deal to end the country's deadly political crisis sparked by a disputed presidential election.

A committee was convened Tuesday that will debate two bills needed to implement the power-sharing accord President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga struck last month.

In the past week, politicians across the divide have endorsed the power-sharing deal — indicating lawmakers will pass the bills quickly and without much resistance.