BBC News with Zoe Diamond
A long-awaited report on ways to cut America's huge budget deficit has come up with radical proposals. They include a rise in the retirement age, a cut in the government's defence and social security spending and a reform of the US tax system. Paul Adams reports from Washington.
Members of the commission were unanimous. America's prosperity and its very place in the world are gravely threatened by the country's massive problems with debt. The plan, drawn up by the commission's two co-chairmen, includes proposals so drastic that members have yet to vote on them. Republicans don't like the prospect of overall tax increases while Democrats think that cutting social security and other benefits is asking too much of America's less well-off.
The White House has appointed an anti-terrorism expert to lead efforts to tackle damage caused by the release of thousands of classified US documents by the Wikileaks website. In a statement, the White House said the man, Russell Travers, would be responsible for identifying areas of structural reform needed in the wake of the leaks, or advising on mitigation measures and making policy recommendations. Latest reports from the United States suggest that the online shopping company Amazon has stopped hosting the Wikileaks website. The whistle-blowing organisation is thought to have moved to Amazon's servers after it came under attack earlier this week.
Spanish police have disrupted what they describe as a vast network involved in supplying false passports to al-Qaeda as well as other groups. Six Pakistanis and a Nigerian were arrested in Barcelona. Two more Pakistanis and a Thai national said to be leaders of the network have been detained in Thailand. Sarah Rainsford has the details from Madrid.
Spain's interior ministry says this police operation has disrupted an extensive and important network, one that was supplying travel documents allowing groups linked to al-Qaeda to move freely around Europe. Those detained are accused of robbing tourists. The stolen documents were sent to Thailand to be forged, then passed on to extremist groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for the deadly attacks on Mumbai two years ago.
The Brazilian government says deforestation in the Amazon has fallen to its lowest level in more than 20 years. Satellite monitoring showed around 6,450 sq km of Amazon rainforest were cleared in 2009 to 2010. Paulo Cabral reports from Sao Paulo.
Deforestation in the Amazon has been dropping consistently since 2004, but the reduction this year was smaller than the authorities expected. The deforested area over the last 12 months was 14% smaller than the level observed in the previous year. Satellite data released by the Brazilian space research institute shows that deforestation of large farms has been significantly reduced; but on the other hand, there's been an increase in the destruction of smaller areas.
World News from the BBC
The US says America, Japan and South Korea will hold high-level talks next Monday on North Korea. The North shelled a South Korean island last week, and the head of South Korea's spy agency has warned that further attacks are highly likely. He told parliament that the shelling was linked to attempts to install Kim Jong-il's third son as the North's next leader.
Cuba has launched a public debate on plans to transform its struggling socialist economy by reducing the role of the state and boosting private enterprise. Ordinary Cubans are being encouraged to discuss the changes in meetings so that their views can be taken into account at a congress of the ruling Communist Party next April. It's not clear how much influence they'll have as the details of the economic changes have not been announced, and the government insists the socialist nature of Cuba is irrevocable.
The Sri Lankan government is turning a vast area of jungle that was the base for the Tamil Tiger rebel movement into a wildlife sanctuary. It says that the former war zone in the north would be used to help wild elephants. The area was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting during the final stages of Sri Lanka's bloody civil war 18 months ago.
A new study suggests that there could be three times more stars in the Universe than previously thought. According to the astronomers, this means that there are probably many more planets as well, which, they say, makes it more likely that there's life elsewhere. Here's our science correspondent Pallab Ghosh.
Astronomers have assumed that the composition of all galaxies is the same as our own. But using new, more powerful instruments, researchers have discovered that older galaxies contain 20 times more small, dim stars called red dwarfs than younger galaxies, such as our own. The discovery also increases the estimate of the number of planets in the Universe and therefore makes it even more likely that there's life somewhere else in the cosmos.