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Highlights from the world's press

Compiled by Carlyle Laurie for CNN
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(CNN) -- The Times of London says Pakistan "must reconsider the scheduled hanging" of Briton Mirza Tahir Hussain.

"The case has attracted considerable attention because of the decision to retry him in a religious court after he had been acquitted in a civil one, and because of the increasingly high-profile calls for clemency by Western politicians and public figures.

"Intervening in the legal proceedings of other countries, especially in criminal cases, is fraught with risk. There is an understandable wish to save the life of a fellow citizen, but rarely is there complete access to all the facts presented to the court."

'Sentenced to die'

The Independent leads with the headline: "Sentenced to die." The article focused on how Iraqi civilians are playing a terrible price as medical care is destroyed.

Iraqi doctors warned that "as many as half of the civilian deaths, calculated at 655,000 since the 2003 invasion, might have been avoided if proper medical care had been provided to the victims."

The campaign group Medact said: "Easily treatable conditions such as diarrhea and respiratory illness caused 70 per cent of all child deaths", and that "of the 180 health clinics the US hoped to build by the end of 2005, only four have been completed and none opened."

NGO closure

The Washington Post reports that "on Thursday Russia suspended the activities of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Republican Institute and more than 90 other foreign non-governmental organizations, saying they failed to meet the registration requirements of a controversial new law designed to bring activists here under much closer government scrutiny."

Justice Ministry official, Natalia Vishnyakova, said in a telephone interview: "We are not speaking about closing organizations; that is out of the question.

"We are working properly, and put all our efforts into making it even faster. It is not at all complicated, believe me, absolutely not. It's really their own headache. On our part, we provided all necessary conditions."

Population control

The Wall Street Journal says: "In Estonia, paying women to have babies Is paying off."

"Estonia stands out because it has made a dramatic shift, from laissez-faire to aggressive activism, in an attempt to alter its future. And as other nations slowly start to address the risk of declining birthrates, the effort there is being closely watched around the world.

"Estonia should be a test site for the rest of Europe," says Kristina Täht, who advises the population minister on family policies.

George Michael

In an exclusive interview, George Michael told The Daily Mirror that cannabis was, "very good for creative people". But he added: "It can be a terrible, terrible drug."

"You've got to be in the right position in life to take it. You've got to have achieved most of your ambitions because it chills you out to such a degree you could lose your ambitions."

He added: "There's not another drug in life that I'm glad I took but grass."

George Michael.

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