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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…

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…

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…

China’s spending on renewable energy soars

World’s biggest polluter spends £4bn a year on wind and solar power generation in single region as it aims to cut fossil fuel use. The remote, wind-blasted desert of northwestern Gansu could be the most unloved, environmentally abused corner of China. It is home to the country’s first oilfield and…

Devastating ‘mini-tornado’ hits Australian city

A devastating “mini-tornado” tore through the city of Townsville on Tuesday, ripping roofs off houses, bringing down power lines and injuring nine people as wild weather pounded northern Australia. The Queensland State Emergency Service said it had received dozens of calls for help, with nine people needing treatment, mostly for…

French election campaign on hold after school shooting

PARIS — France effectively put its election campaign on hold Monday after a gunman killed three children and a teacher at a Jewish school and candidates set politics aside to condemn the shocking attack. President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialist frontrunner in the presidential race, Francois Hollande, cancelled campaign events…

Palestinian prisoner hospitalized amid hunger strike

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories — A Palestinian woman prisoner who has been on hunger strike for 33 days was taken to hospital briefly on Monday over health concerns, Palestinian and Israeli officials said. “Hanaa al-Shalabi was transferred this evening to Israel’s Meir hospital after her state of health deteriorated,” Palestinian prisoner…

Retired police officer said he was personally followed by News of the World surveillance team

Lisa O’Carroll, guardian.co.uk The News of the World “jeopardised” the hunt for the Ipswich serial killer in 2006 after it hired former special forces soldiers to follow a police surveillance team tracking suspects, the Leveson inquiry has heard. Dave Harrison, a retired officer with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca),…

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