- - Sunday, December 12, 2010


Palin urges Americans ‘not to forget Haiti

TITANYAN | Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Sunday urged her fellow Americans not to forget Haiti as she wrapped up a two-day visit to the crisis-torn Caribbean country.

“I do urge Americans not to forget Haiti,” said Mrs. Palin, who was in Haiti at the invitation of Franklin Graham, an evangelical preacher whose Christian relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse, is involved in cholera-treatment efforts in the deeply impoverished nation.

Haiti is still recovering from the Jan. 12 quake that killed nearly a quarter of a million Haitians a year ago, and the 1.3 million people made homeless by the disaster are still living in makeshift camps and under tents and tarps in the sprawling capital Port-au-Prince.

The country has more recently been hit by a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 2,000 people and is wracked by political upheaval over a contested presidential election that has sparked violent street protests.


Australia unveils banking reforms

SYDNEY | Australia unveiled tough changes to finance laws Sunday, banning unpopular mortgage fees and cracking down on price collusion between major banks in a bid to boost competition in the sector.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said the reforms aim to empower consumers, bolster smaller lenders and secure credit flows to both consumers and business, pledging a “fair go in the banking system.”

Targeting Australia’s “big four” banks, the reforms ban exit fees on new home loans and allow the competition regulator to prosecute lenders for colluding on rates, after large increases sparked an angry consumer backlash.


100 hurt in clash between garment workers, police

CHITTAGONG | Garment workers demanding the implementation of a new minimum wage clashed with police at an industrial zone in southeastern Bangladesh on Sunday, leaving up to three people dead and 100 hurt, police and news reports said.

A police official said authorities opened fire and used tear gas after thousands of workers attacked factories and smashed vehicles at the Chittagong Export Processing Zone. The zone houses about 70 foreign companies that mainly manufacture garments, shoes and bicycles, and employ about 150,000 workers.


Rebels welcome move to free detainees

MANILA | A Philippine government decision to drop charges against 43 health workers detained for months on suspicion of being insurgents will bolster planned talks on ending the 4-decade-long communist rebellion, the rebels said Sunday.

On Friday, President Benigno Aquino III ordered prosecutors to drop charges against the “Morong 43,” named after the coastal town east of Manila where they were arrested in February.

While the underground Communist Party of the Philippines welcomed the decision, it said Mr. Aquino’s government needs to do more to improve human rights, adding that about 400 other political detainees are still being held.


Heavy rain, winds batter Middle East

BEIRUT | Heavy rain and fierce winds pummeled countries across the Middle East on Sunday, killing a woman in Lebanon, sinking a ship off Israel’s coast and prompting Egypt to close its largest Mediterranean port.

The storm, which caused temperatures to plunge to below freezing in some places, ended weeks of unseasonably warm and dry weather across the region that caused dozens of forest fires in Lebanon and helped feed a massive blaze in Israel that destroyed thousands acres of forest.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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