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Regime forces advanced Thursday in western Syria in a "vast offensive" against armed opposition groups, as Nato voiced alarm at escalating Russian military activity in the war-torn country. Moscow has dramatically stepped up its nine-day-old air war against foes of President Bashar al-Assad, with heavy bombing by warplanes and cruise missile strikes from the Caspian Sea.

Powerful media magnate Rupert Murdoch apologised on Thursday after suggesting that Barack Obama was not "a real black president," triggering outrage.
The government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras won a crucial vote of confidence vote Thursday, bolstering the left-wing leader as he gets down to implementing reforms demanded by creditors. The governing coalition of the premier's left-wing Syriza party and the nationalist Independent Greeks (ANEL) used their 155-strong majority to pass the motion through the 300-seat parliament.
Belarussian writer Svetlana Alexievich won the 2015 Nobel Literature Prize on Thursday for her work chronicling the horrors of war and life under the repressive Soviet regime. The Swedish Academy hailed the 67-year-old for writings that were "a monument to suffering and courage in our time" - tableaux of World War II, Chernobyl and the war in Afghanistan, crafted through thousands of interviews. "By means of her extraordinary method - a carefully composed collage of human voices - Alexievich deepens our comprehension of an entire era," the academy said.
Lawmakers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party tried to assault an opposition member in a state parliament Thursday over eating beef, as debate rages in India over intolerance of religious minorities. Television footage showed several Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators, who consider cows sacred, pushing and shoving Abdul Rashid, a Muslim, in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir state assembly for holding a provocative "beef party". "No amount of condemnation can be enough for what happened today," opposition leader Omar Abdullah told reporters outside the assembly in occupied Srinagar.
US President Barack Obama on Wednesday apologised to Doctors without Borders (MSF) for a deadly US air strike on an Afghan hospital, as the medical charity demanded an international probe into the incident. Three separate investigations - by the US military, Nato and Afghan officials - are currently under way into Saturday's catastrophic strike in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, which left 22 people dead.
New violence rocked Israel and the West Bank on Wednesday, including three stabbings and an Arab shot dead by police, as Israeli and Palestinian leaders tried to ease tensions. In the occupied West Bank, men thought to be undercover Israeli police opened fire on Palestinian stone-throwers in a group they had infiltrated, wounding three of them.


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Banking Review 2014

Foreign Debt $62.649bn
Per Cap Income $1,512
GDP Growth 4.24%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-1.988 bln
Exports $1.835 bln
Imports $3.823 bln
WeeklyOctober 08, 2015
Reserves $20.05 bln