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Australian spy agencies given greater powers SYDNEY: Australia's intelligence agencies will have enhanced powers after tougher counter-terror legislation passed parliament on Wednesday, despite concerns the changes could hurt press freedom.The government argued the changes were needed to plug gaps in current law and equip agencies to deal with new potential threats, including from militant returning from Syria and Iraq."We are determined to do what we must to secure our freedoms and to keep our people safe," Attorney-General George Brandis said after the vote in the House of Representatives.Under the changes, anyone who identifies an Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) agent or special intelligence operation without authorisation can be jailed for 10 years.In addition, spies will be able to obtain information from "third-party" computers and will be given limited protection from criminal and civil liability in authorised intelligence operations.The minority Australian Greens opposed the bill, which they argued would damage hard-won press freedoms, but the opposition Labor ...

Five more bodies found on Japan volcano, death toll 48: media TOKYO: Five additional bodies have been discovered on a Japanese volcano that erupted without warning, media reported Wednesday, taking the death toll to at least 48.National broadcaster NHK and several other media said the five were in addition to seven that were discovered on the ash-covered peak earlier in the day.Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014 ...
Ailing North Korea leader sends message to China SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, who has not been seen for nearly a month due to apparent health problems, sent a congratulatory message to China on its national day Wednesday, state media said.Kim was last seen in public on September 3. A rare admission from North Korea that he was suffering "discomfort" has triggered frenzied speculation about his health and close scrutiny of any mention of the young leader in state media.The three-paragraph message ...
Hong Kong protesters gear up for biggest protest yet HONG KONG: Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters chanted and booed outside a ceremony to mark the 65th anniversary of Communist China Wednesday, with crowds expected to reach their biggest yet as the city starts a two-day public holiday.Politicians from Hong Kong and the mainland clinked champagne glasses to mark China's National Day while protesters campaigning for free elections gathered in the surrounding streets, after a third night of demonstrations.Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying has faced mounting ...
New Interpol complex in Singapore to boost fight against cyber crime SINGAPORE: A new Interpol centre to be opened in Singapore next year will strengthen global efforts to fight increasingly tech-savvy international criminals, officials said on Tuesday.The Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) will be "dedicated to fighting cyber crime", the global police organisation's secretary general Ronald Noble said in a speech at the centre's new building.Noble and other senior Interpol officials attended the handover ceremony of the building from Singapore to the organisation, based in ...
Japan bomb threat ends school early for 44,000 TOKYO: About 44,000 young children were sent home early in one Japanese city Tuesday when 101 elementary schools were closed because of a bomb threat, police and reports said.Authorities in the central city of Hamamatsu acted after a man telephoned to claim he had planted an explosive device at an elementary school in the city, a local police spokeswoman said.Pupils were sent home and police officers were dispatched to check every school in the city.Copyright ...
China backs Hong Kong leaders against 'illegal' acts: govt BEIJING: China on Tuesday described major pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong as illegal, adding that it supports the Hong Kong government's handling of the protests. "We fully believe in and support the Hong Kong SAR government to deal with this issue," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing. Hua said that beginning Sunday "an illegal assembly" was held in Hong Kong followed by "a series of illegal activities damaging the rule of ...

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Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-2.807 bln
Exports $1.911 bln
Imports $4.718 bln
WeeklyOctober 20, 2014
Reserves $13.436 bln