By Emma Batha LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Supermodel turned campaigner against female genital mutilation Waris Dirie said on Thursday she was optimistic that FGM could be eradicated in her lifetime, branding the tradition "a cruel and perfidious war on little girls." "FGM breaches all human rights and has no place in any 21st century society," said Dirie, who underwent FGM in Somalia when she was 5 years old and whose sister bled to death after being cut. Dirie said her Desert Flower Foundation aimed to save 1 million girls across Africa from the "barbaric" ritual in the next few years through a sponsorship project which provides food, kerosene and school fees to families who pledge not to cut their daughters. GROWING MOMENTUM AGAINST FGM Speaking after receiving a human rights award at the House of Lords in London, Dirie welcomed the growing global momentum to stamp out FGM, a procedure which can cause lifelong physical and psychological problems.
US poet, songwriter and singer Rod McKuen, a multiple Academy Award nominee, has died at the age of 81, US media reported. McKuen died on Thursday in Los Angeles of respiratory arrest after suffering from pneumonia, friend and producer Jim Pierson said, according to the Los Angeles Times. McKuen was a prolific composer, working with artists such as Johnny Cash, Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra.