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Briefs (right)

U.N. Creates Rapid Relief Fund
For Disasters

By Stephanie Strom

The United Nations on Thursday announced the creation of a $500 million fund that will be used to respond to disasters sooner, saving lives and lowering the cost of providing relief.

The new pool of money, known as the Central Emergency Response Fund, has already attracted $256 million in pledges from governments ranging from Britain, which has pledged $70 million, to Kazakhstan and Thailand, which are putting $25,000 and $10,000 into the fund, respectively. In the future, it will accept donations from corporations and eventually individuals.

Canada has pledged $17.24 million, the United States $10 million and on Thursday the Netherlands surprised U.N. officials by doubling its original $11.9 million pledge.

The money will be made available to U.N. agencies responding to food, medical and other emergency needs immediately following a disaster.

China Criticizes United States
On Human Rights

By Joseph Kahn

China criticized the human rights record of the United States on Thursday, arguing that racial discrimination remained pervasive and that the American military abused prisoners held at detention centers abroad.

In a sharply worded response to the annual State Department report on human rights conditions globally, which was released in Washington on Wednesday, China’s State Council, or Cabinet, said the American government should concentrate on improving its own rights record.

“As in previous years, the State Department pointed the finger at human rights situations in more than 190 countries and regions, including China, but kept silent on the serious violations of human rights in the United States,” the Chinese report said.