Chatter: Putin signs ban on US adoptions of Russian children




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Need to know:

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has signed into a law a ban on Americans adopting children from Russia.

The move is retaliation for a US law that punishes Russians who have been accused of violating human rights.

The Magnitsky Act, recently passed in the United States, sanctions Russian officials implicated in the 2009 prison death of anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Critics of the new Russian law say orphans are being used as political pawns. But more than half of Russians surveyed in a recent poll supported the adoption ban, according a Moscow-based research firm.

Want to know:

Surging income inequality has turned the United States into one of the most divided developed economies on the planet.

The US is leading a global trend that economists warn has dire consequences.

For our special report on "The Great Divide," GlobalPost journeyed from Brazil to Thailand, and back home to Fairfield County, Connecticut and Selma, Alabama, to get at the "ground truth" of global income inequality and its cost. 

Dull but important:

China has tightened controls on internet usage, a move that critics say further limits freedom of speech.

The Chinese authorities already closely monitor internet traffic and block stories and websites deemed sensitive, through the "Great Firewall of China."

Under the new measures, a previous requirement that users fully identify themselves to internet service providers will now be enforced.

Xinhua news agency, the Chinese government's mouthpiece, claimed the "real-name registration" requirements would protect personal information. 

Just because:

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded Operation Desert Storm, the coalition of 30 countries that drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait in 1991, has died at the age of 78.

Schwarzkopf, who died of complications from pneumonia, was nicknamed “Stormin’ Norman” for his brusque manner.

"Barbara and I mourn the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation,” President George H.W. Bush, who is currently hospitalized, said in a statement.

Strange but true:

South African President Jacob Zuma is getting hounded for saying that having a pet dog is not the African way.

In a speech this week, Zuma angered dog lovers of all colors by saying that black South Africans who buy a dog, take it for walks and to the veterinarian are copying white culture.

He described people who love dogs more than humans as "having a lack of humanity."

But a spokesman for Zuma said the message of the speech was not that animals shouldn't be loved or cared for, rather it was "the need to decolonize the African mind."