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China says time is ripe to liberalize interest rates

China’s central bank chief says conditions are ripe for Beijing to liberalise interest rates, a move analysts say would boost domestic demand as the nation’s exports are hit by overseas turmoil. Beijing has cut the nation’s growth target for 2012 as its export-driven economy slows, and a key policy focus this year will…

Myanmar army accused of rape, torture: report

Myanmar troops have committed serious rights abuses against civilians in an offensive against ethnic rebels that has forced tens of thousands to flee their homes, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday. Fighting erupted in June 2011 between the military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in an area of Kachin state surrounding controversial Chinese-backed hydropower projects, shattering a…

U.S. Marines set to arrive in Australia next month

US Marines are set to arrive in Australia’s tropical north next month as Washington increases its military presence as part of a renewed emphasis on the Asia-Pacific, reports said Tuesday. State radio said about 250 Marines were set to deploy to Darwin from early April as part of a process that will…

Physicists look for changes in Earth’s gravity through gnome

Physicists looking at anomalies in Earth’s gravity have turned to agarden gnome named Kern, which has been shipped around the globe to have himself weighed at locations ranging from Lima, Mumbai and Mexico to Sydney, New Caledonia and the South Pole. The experiment is a twist on the “travelling gnome” prank, in…

30 dead as Iraq rocked by wave of violence on anniversary of U.S.-led invasion

Near-simultaneous attacks in several Iraqi cities killed at least 30 people on Tuesday on the anniversary of the US-led invasion of the country, just days before Baghdad hosts a landmark Arab summit. The violence, which left 160 people wounded, was the deadliest to strike Iraq in nearly a month and…

Cigarette firms’ interference slowing anti-tobacco fight

Alleged “interference” by cigarette firms in public health policies is slowing down a UN-backed global campaign against tobacco use and its related health risks, a report said Tuesday. The report by the civil society group Framework Convention Alliance said major cigarette firms continue to run circles around key provisions of…

Romney looks to win big in Illinois Republican primary

White House hopeful Mitt Romney is looking for a big win in President Barack Obama’s home state Tuesday as he fights to clinch the Republican nomination and focus on November’s general election. Underdog Rick Santorum was pushing for an upset as he rallied conservatives to stay true to their principles…

Energy companies pledge to measure impacts of large dam projects

Critics say new scorecard to evaluate social and environmental impacts of hydropower projects serves dam builders not local communities. Two of the world’s largest energy companies committed last week to assess the impacts of their hydropower projects using new voluntary guidelines to evaluate the economic, social, and environmental consequences of…

Portuguese death rate rise linked to pain of austerity program

Portugal’s health service is being forced into sweeping cuts as last May’s EU/IMF bailout terms begin to bite Maria Isabel Martins got up at 5am to catch a bus from the eastern Portuguese country town of Portalegre to see a consultant in Lisbon about her diabetes. It is a 130-mile…

Syria: leaked documents reveal Bashar al-Assad’s role in crushing protests

Documents leaked by defector from Syrian regime show that Assad personally signed off on security crackdown plans. Leaks of what appear to be official Syrian documents reveal how the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, personally signs off plans drawn up by his government’s crisis management centre, prioritising a security crackdown to…

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