Winter Olympics opens in Sochi The opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games takes place in Sochi today against a backdrop of controversy. The Games are widely seen as President Vladimir Putin's pet project, a chance to project the image of a confident Russia onto the world stage. Critics estimate that a third of the US$51 billion spent on the Games - the most expensive Winter Olympics in history - was lost to corruption, while gay activists have called for a boycott because of Russia's laws against the promotion of homosexuality. Security will be also be tight as Russia guards against the threat of homegrown terrorism from the Caucasus. And let's not forget, some sport will be taking place too. Love and respect for animals at pet exhibition Pet shop owners and exhibitors will gather at the Hong Kong Pet Show 2014 and 9th International Pet Products Expo, which open in the city today. The theme of the two-day event at the Hong Kong Exhibition Centre is "Love and Respect" for animals. Verdict due in case of controversial comic A decision is expected today in the trial of the polarising French comedian Dieudonne. France's socialist government has branded the comic an anti-Semite and he has been accused of defamation for his various statements, including those evoking Ilan Halimi, a young Jew tortured and killed in 2006. Dieudonne claims the quenelle , his trademark inverted Nazi salute , is anti-establishment and anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic. Deadline for Congress to raise debt limit The United States Congress has until the end of today to raise the country's US$17.3 trillion debt limit. The limit - the maximum amount of debt the federal government can issue to the public and other federal agencies - was suspended in October, as a short-term fix to the debt ceiling crisis, which resulted in a 16-day shutdown of government agencies and programmes. Australian drug trafficker hopes for Bali release Schapelle Corby, the Australian woman sentenced to 20 years in jail in 2005 after being caught trying to smuggle 4.1kg of marijuana into the resort island of Bali, could earn a reprieve today. Indonesian Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin is due to make an announcement on her case and speculation has been mounting that he will grant the 36-year-old an early release. If granted parole, Corby would still be bound to live on Bali until 2017. Tunisia adopts new constitution French President Francois Hollande will be among the world leaders in Tunisia today, as the North African nation celebrates the adoption of its new post-Arab spring constitution, which has been widely acclaimed for its progressive character. Tunisia's 2011 uprising to overthrow dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali sparked the broader Arab spring movement that swept through the region.