Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced plans to expand the Russian central government's powers in response to recent terror attacks on Beslan and two Russian airliners (see JURIST's report on arrests in Beslan case here). Speaking Monday at a meeting of government leaders, Putin said the new authority will allow him to appoint regional governors that are currently elected, as well as move more of the Duma (official site in Russian), the Russian Parliament, to a party-list election process. Currently only half of the Duma's 450 representatives are elected on a party-list basis. Putin has also established a commission to examine the government's response to the attacks (see JURIST's report here), as well as possible methods for cutting down on terror, including the establishment of a new state counter-terrorism agency, the introduction of a color-coded alert system, and the reinstitution of the death penalty. BBC has more. Russian liberals have already condemned the proposals, according to a report on MosNews.com.... Legislative elections in Hong Kong have ended, with pro-democratic parties picking up only three more seats despite the anticipation of a better result. The elections drew a record turnout of voters (view the official results here). Xinhua News has more.... The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child opened its 37th annual session today in Geneva. The Committee began by expressing its sympathy and support for the victims of the Beslan school terrorist attacks. The Committee reviews complaints against states that have signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child and also works to encourage and enhance the treatment of children throughout the world. View the UN press release here.... Tensions appear to be rising over the planned handover of the Bakassi region of Nigeria. The oil-rich peninsula was ruled to be part of Cameroon under a 2002 ICJ ruling on boundary dispute (view the opinion here). The peninsula is home to tens of thousands of Nigerians, and the Nigerian representative was critical of the ICJ's ruling, claiming that it was illegal for the Nigerian government to cede land that was listed as Nigerian in the nation's constitution. BBC has more.