'Harney is not helping blind'

CAMPAIGNERS say the Government is doing nothing to tackle blindness despite predictions that cases will soar 170pc over the next 25 years.

The Vision Impaired Service Providers Alliance (Vispa) said there were still no official figures for the number of blind people in Ireland.

Vispa chair Avril Daly said: "Many eye conditions are degenerative and preventable, so we are calling on Health Minister Mary Harney to act without further delay and deliver on a vision strategy for this country."

Fine Gael health spokesman James Reilly said: "We have the ludicrous situation of the Central Statistics Office collecting unusable information. All we know is the total number of people who may be deaf or blind, but we don't know which is which."

Swastika brand burned on man

three men are accused of branding a swastika on a mentally challenged man's arm using a heated metal clothes hanger.

The gang was charged in New Mexico with kidnapping, battery and causing bodily harm. The victim, a 22-year-old Navajo Indian, also had a swastika shaved into his hair.

"We'll explore every conceivable available avenue in charging them with a hate crime," said a prosecution spokesman.

Women all rise in US courts

President Barack Obama is set to nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, a source said.

It means the court will have three female justices for the first time in history.

Known as sharp and politically savvy, Ms Kagan has led a blazing legal career as first female dean of Harvard Law School and first woman to serve as the top Supreme Court lawyer.

Checkpoints horror in Iraq

Gunmen using silenced weapons attacked at least six checkpoints in Baghdad, killing seven Iraqi soldiers and policemen.

A source said the attacks showed a new tactic was being used by Sunni Islamist insurgents. All checkpoints were attacked at dawn.

"This was a message to us that they have cells everywhere," he said.