Must-Reads from Around the World

The Australian government apologies for its forced adoption policy from the 1950s to '70s, Brasilia turns to the U.N. to help prepare its World Cup stadium and the Archbishop of Canterbury has underlined the challenges facing the Church of England on same-sex relationships

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Prime Minister Julia Gillard during House of Representatives question time on March 21, 2013 in Canberra, Australia.

Forced Adoptions — Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has issued an apology for the government’s forced adoption policy between the 1950s and ’70s when tens of thousands of babies of unmarried, mostly teenage moms, were believed to have been taken by the state and given to childless married couples, notes the BBC. Many women said they gave up their children because of the stigma attached to being a single mother at the time, while others said they were drugged or their signatures were forged. Canberra will provide nearly $5.2 million (5 mil. AUD) in funding to those affected by forced adoptions to help them receive more access to records, specialist support and mental healthcare.

World Cup Help — The capital of Brazil is turning to the U.N. for help to finish a new soccer stadium in time for a dress rehearsal for the 2014 World Cup, according to Reuters. This week, the government of Brasilia signed a $17.6 million-agreement with two U.N. agencies. Under the deal, the U.N. will procure services and items such as tents, generators and security cameras for the stadium in Brasilia, which hosts the Confederations Cup — considered a warm-up for next year’s World Cup — in June. Brasilia’s Mané Garrincha stadium, now 87% complete, has an April 21 deadline to meet and the city government turned to the U.N. because, “it can acquire goods and services without going through the complex and lengthy procurement process required by the Brazilian government,” writes Reuters.

Museum-Building Spree — The New York Times reports that China is on a museum-building spree, with some 390 new ones opening in 2011 alone. As the country becomes more prosperous, it is expressing its growing appreciation of art and culture by building new museums — big, small, government-backed, or privately bankrolled. “Given the current trophy value of new art in China, and the fact that the country has, according to Forbes, the world’s second-highest number of billionaires, the prospect of further private museums seems endless,” writes the Times.

South Africa Opposition — The South African opposition group leader Mamphela Ramphele says that the ruling Africa National Congress (ANC) relies on race and lies to stay in power — just like the white supremacists it replaced, reports the Times of London. Ramphele, who helped found the Agang party last month, has vowed to challenge President Jacob Zuma in next year’s elections. She said that, as with lthe apartheid rulers before it, the ANC, which she described as a “despotic regime,” has throughout its 20-year rule perpetuated the myth “that they are responsible for the freedom we are enjoying today,” and that it “allowed color-coding to remain part of our social, economic and political discourse because it serves their interests,” writes the Times of London.

U.K. Gay Marriage — The Archbishop of Canterbury has underlined the challenges facing the Church of England on same-sex relationships, reports the BBC. Speaking ahead of his enthronement as worldwide spiritual leader of the Anglican community Thursday, Justin Welby acknowledged the “stunning quality” of some gay relationships, but said he still supported the Church of England’s formal opposition to active homosexuality. However, he spoke of the need to be clear about homophobia, and to protect the “essential dignity of the human being.” Last month, Welby affirmed the church’s stance against gay marriage before Members of Parliament voted in favor of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, by a majority of 225, notes the BBC.

Karzai’s Replacement – Hamid Karzai’s former chief of staff has declared his intention to replace Karzai as Afghanistan’s leader, reports the Times of London. Omar Dawoodzai, the country’s ambassador to Pakistan, is the first major political figure to announce a plan to run for the presidency. He said that he’s preparing to launch his campaign for the presidential elections (due next year) on a manifesto of maintaining good relations with the West, anti-corruption reforms, eradication of poppy-growing, and a shift of power away from the ageing former warlords who have run the country since 2001. Dawoodzai is seen as a moderating influence with the West, despite strong links with Iran, where he also served as ambassador, writes the Times of London.

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