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Fires downgraded in Australia but threat not over MELBOURNE: Most bushfires raging in Australia were downgraded from emergency levels Tuesday as crews battled to get the upper hand on blazes that have destroyed 34 homes and razed a huge area of land.The hot windy conditions that fanned scores of major infernos across the nation's southeast on Sunday eased although officials said at least 18 fires were still burning across Victoria state and warned of more challenging times ahead.Victoria Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said three key fires remained a concern, with a total of 34 houses so far confirmed to be destroyed and 350,000 hectares (865,000 acres) burned."We're hoping the cyclone in Western Australia will send some rain down, but there is no significant rain forecast otherwise," he told 3AW radio."We're looking at this bushfire season to last all of February and into March."Many of the fires are burning in difficult terrain -- hills, valleys and rocky areas ...

Abe hails election of pro-nuclear Tokyo governor TOKYO: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday welcomed the election of a conservative governor of Tokyo in a result analysts say will help boost Abe's economic reform agenda and reinforce his drive to restart Japan's nuclear reactors.Backed by Abe's ruling coalition, Yoichi Masuzoe -- a former television pundit and one-time cabinet minister -- was an easy winner Sunday ahead of 15 rivals, including a former premier campaigning for an end to atomic power."It was good ...
Australian wildfires destroy at least 20 homes MELBOURNE: At least 20 homes have been razed in the worst fire conditions Australia has seen since a deadly 2009 inferno which killed 173 people, with flames threatening the country's second-largest city, officials said Monday.Hot, dry winds and soaring temperatures fanned scores of major blazes across the southeast on Sunday, with Victoria state sweltering through its worst fire risk weather in five years."They were ferocious fires, they ran hard, they hit homes," said fire commissioner ...
North Korea rescinds US envoy's invitation WASHINGTON: North Korea has cancelled a US envoy's visit to discuss the fate of a Korean American imprisoned there, and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson offered to travel instead, American officials said Sunday.No reason was given for Pyongyang's decision to rescind Ambassador Robert King's invitation. But State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki stressed that North Korea had promised last year it would not use jailed Christian missionary Kenneth Bae as a "political bargaining chip."Bae, a US ...
Five dead, 600 injured as snow storm hits Japan: reports TOKYO: The heaviest snow in decades in Tokyo and other areas of Japan has left at least five dead and 600 injured across the country by early Sunday, reports said.As much as 27 centimetres (10.6 inches) of snow was recorded in Tokyo by late Saturday, the heaviest fall in the capital for 45 years, according to the meteorological agency.The snow storm hit the capital on the eve of its gubernatorial election. Observers say the heavy ...
Australian navy makes big drug bust off Tanzania SYDNEY: The Australian navy said Saturday it seized and destroyed 353 kilogrammes of heroin with an estimated street value of more than Aus$700 million (US$627 million) in a mission off the coast of Tanzania.HMAS Melbourne discovered the haul when crew boarded a vessel on Wednesday as part of a mission "in support of deterring terrorism and promoting peace and security in the maritime regions of the Middle East and Indian Ocean".The navy said the material ...
Australia welcomes Corby parole, urges privacy SYDNEY: Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Saturday welcomed the decision by Indonesia to parole drug trafficker Schapelle Corby and called for her privacy to be respected.The 36-year-old, whose incarceration has fascinated the Australian public, was granted parole on Friday in Bali, where she was convicted and jailed for 20 years in 2005 for trying to smuggle marijuana into the tourist island."The decision by Indonesia's minister for law and human rights is welcomed," said Bishop. ...

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Banking Review 2013

Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-2.380 bln
Exports $2.181 bln
Imports $4.561 bln
WeeklyNovember 13, 2014
Reserves $13.268 bln