Paris: The number of journalists killed because of their work rose to 76 this year from 60 in 2008, the media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders has said. Wars and elections have been the main threats to journalists in 2009, said Jean-Francois Julliard, secretary general of the watchdog group (Reporters sans frontieres-RSF). Violence committed against journalists pre- or post-election have been especially high in 2009 in countries with weak democracies. The year also saw an increase in the number of journalists kidnapped (33 compared with 29 in 2008) and physically attacked or threatened (1,456 compared with 929) and more bloggers were censored (151 in 2009 against 59 in 2008). Repression has increased on the Internet, as the number of countries affected by censorship nearly doubled from 37 in 2008 to 60 in 2009.
Chicago airport to get full-body scanners next yr
Chicago: In the wake of the attempt by a Nigerian to blow up a US-bound plane on Christmas day, security at airports across the country has been tightened, with full-body scanners expected to be installed at the OHare International Airport here by next year. The Transportation Security Agency plans to bring the full passenger body-scanning equipment, which see through a persons clothing to detect suspicious packages or weapons, at the airport by the first 3-4 months of 2010, Chicago department of aviation commissioner Rosemarie Andolino told reporters on Wednesday.
Wildfires destroy homes in west Australia
Perth: Wildfires roared across a swath of western Australia on Wednesday, razing almost 40 homes and sending hundreds of people fleeing for their lives, officials and witnesses said. At least three people were injured. Two major blazes burned out of control overnight after breaking out Tuesday afternoon in a wheat and sheep farming district north of the coastal city of Perth, forcing the evacuation of the township of Toodyay and threatening a second town, Badgingarra, farther north. The two fires scorched a combined total of more than 33,000 acres (13,400 hectares) of forest and farmland before cooler conditions on Wednesday helped hundreds of firefighters contain the them.