Maternal deaths halved in 20 years

UNITED NATIONS - The global mortality rate for women giving birth has fallen by half over the last two decades, a U.N. report released Wednesday said.

While there has been considerable progress, more work remains because a woman dies of pregnancy-related complications every two minutes, the report said. The report said most were preventable.

It said there were an estimated 287,000 maternal deaths in 2010, a decline of 47 percent since 1990.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 56 percent of the deaths and southern Asia 29 percent. Two countries accounted for a third of global maternal deaths: India at 19 percent and Nigeria at 14 percent, it said.

The United States had 21 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, a total of 880 maternal deaths in 2010, the report said. U.S. maternal deaths rose an average of 2.5 percent a year from 1990 to 2010, it said. - AP

Memorial held for slain reporter

LONDON - Leading politicians and journalists gathered in London on Wednesday to pay tribute to slain war correspondent Marie Colvin, a woman they remembered as fearless, dedicated, and kind.

Colvin, 56, was killed Feb. 22 when army shelling struck the building that served as a makeshift media center in the Syrian city of Homs. She worked for the Sunday Times of London.

Her editor, John Witherow, told a packed memorial service at St. Martin-in-the-Fields church that the world had lost someone "unbelievably special" and praised the American reporter's bravery and dedication.

Colvin's mother and sister attended the memorial, along with Britain's foreign secretary, William Hague, and former Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who read a poem.

Prayers also were said at the memorial for the safety of reporters working in war zones and areas of conflict around the world. - AP

No truce seen in student protests

OTTAWA - A 14-week tuition dispute that has paralyzed many of Quebec's French-speaking universities and colleges, and sometimes erupted into violence on Montreal's streets, appeared to enter a crucial stage Wednesday.

As is the case throughout Canada, Quebec's colleges and universities are mainly public institutions whose tuition rates are set by the provincial government. Quebecers currently pay the lowest rates in Canada.

Now, the government wants to increase the annual university tuition of $2,144 by $321 a year for five years.

Quebec's cabinet was reviewing its options for ending the action, which has threatened the academic year for thousands of students, after the province's education minister, Line Beauchamp, resigned Monday in apparent frustration.

After meeting with representatives of several student groups Tuesday evening, Michelle Courchesne, Beauchamp's successor, said it seemed unlikely that a negotiated settlement was possible.

- AP