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China must increase ability to win ‘local wars,’ PM says

China must enhance the ability of its military to win “local wars”, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Monday, as Beijing grows increasingly assertive about its territorial claims in Asia. Beijing lays claim to large swathes of the South China Sea which are also claimed by its smaller neighbours, and must…

British paper charges abuse of Bangladeshi workers making Puma, Nike, Adidas

Bangladeshi workers producing sportswear for Puma, Nike and Adidas are being physically abused, a British newspaper claimed on Sunday. Bangladeshis working in factories making clothing for the brands, all three of which sponsor the Olympic Games that begin in London on July 27, reported being beaten, verbally abused and sexually…

Syrian rebel city shelled, Red Cross aids refugees

DAMASCUS — Syrian artillery gunners turned their sights on the rebel city of Rastan, killing seven civilians, monitors said, as the Red Cross delivered aid Sunday to refugees from the battered Baba Amr quarter nearby. The aid distribution came as relief agencies waited for a third straight day for the…

Iraq ministry says vice-president may flee

BAGHDAD — The Iraqi interior ministry on Sunday asked Kurdish authorities to arrest fugitive Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi saying he was planning to flee the country. Hashemi, a member of the secular Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, has been accused by Baghdad of running a death squad. He fled to the…

Anti-Ahmadinejad MPs dominate new Iran parliament

TEHERAN — Iran’s parliament looks certain to be dominated by MPs critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to preliminary election results that also showed a big turnover in lawmakers. The partial results, from elections held last Friday, accounted for two-thirds of the 290 seats in parliament. However the composition, given…

Britain’s top Catholic attacks same sex marriage plans

LONDON — Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric on Sunday attacked the government’s plan to permit civil gay marriage, calling it “madness” and a “grotesque subversion”. Cardinal Keith O’Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, added his voice to religious opposition to the proposals, ahead of the launch this…

‘Better a dictator than gay’: Belarus leader

MINSK — The mercurial Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko lashed out Sunday at recent sanctions imposed by Europe over his rights record by saying he would rather be branded a dictator than be gay. Lukashenko said in impromptu remarks at a mass ski event that the foreign ministers of Poland and…

Taiwan official quits over ‘bird flu cover-up’

A top Taiwan agriculture official has stepped down amid allegations he covered up bird flu outbreaks, a day after authorities said they had culled thousands of chickens. Hsu Tien-lai, the chief of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine had tendered his resignation, Council of Agriculture spokesman…

China’s defense spending on the rise

China announced a double-digit hike in military spending in 2012, in a move likely to fuel concerns about Beijing’s rapid military build-up and increase regional tensions. The defence budget will rise 11.2 percent to 670.27 billion yuan ($106.41 billion), said Li Zhaoxing, a spokesman for China’s national parliament, citing a…

China lead pollution poisons 160 children: report

BEIJING (Reuters) – Lead emission from factories and the natural environment in China’s manufacturing heart of Guangdong has poisoned 160 children, Xinhua said on Sunday in the country’s latest case of unfettered industrial toxins. Children from Dongtang town in Renhua country were found to have “elevated” levels of lead in…

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