- - Tuesday, December 4, 2012

BEIJING — China’s leaders pledged Tuesday to reduce pomp, ceremony and red carpets for senior officials, who are long accustomed to lavish trappings and distance from ordinary citizens.

In a meeting presided over by newly named Communist Party chief Xi Jinping, members of the 25-member Politburo agreed that officials should reduce ostentation and bureaucratic visits, meetings and talks “in order to remain close with the public,” state media reported.

Chinese government bureaucrats are notoriously status conscious, and even low-level county officials can travel in chauffeur-driven cars.

Chinese microbloggers often mock the arrogance and corruption of officials, leading in some cases to disciplinary action against government and Communist Party leaders whose behavior is seen as particularly outrageous.


Two new arrests made in Jewish school attack

PARIS — A man and a woman were arrested Tuesday in southern France on suspicion of links to an Islamic militant who killed Jewish schoolchildren and French paratroopers earlier this year, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.

The arrests, the first in the case since March, may throw new light on suspicions that Mohamed Merah did not act alone in the attacks, which left seven dead and terrified France.

Merah was killed later in a shootout with police.

One of Merah’s brothers, Abdelkader, is already in custody on preliminary charges of complicity in the killings. Their oldest brother is among those who have suggested a third man may have played a role.

The man arrested Tuesday was picked up in the city of Albi in southern France, and the woman — his ex-girlfriend — was arrested in Toulouse, the prosecutor’s office said. It released no other details.


Swede charged with violating Iran sanctions

STOCKHOLM — A Swedish man has been charged with breaking international sanctions against Iran after trying to export advanced technical material typically used in uranium-enrichment activities, officials said Tuesday.

Police did not disclose the identity of the 31-year-old, who is accused of attempting to sell 11 state-of-the-art valves to Iran in February and April last year.

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