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A long-time concern for Chinese Communist regime officials has been trying to maintain the export-driven model that has led to high-speed growth. That’s becoming more and more of a challenge, especially given decreased spending power and increased caution among overseas buyers.

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At a meeting of more than 2,000 tribal elders in Kabul, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called for a security pact with the U.S. that respects full Afghan sovereignty. Karzai told delagates at the meeting that the Afghan-U.S. relationship should be one of two independent states.

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The military crackdown on protesters has continued this week in Syria, where activists claim 25 people were killed on Thursday. There are claims that three of those killed were defectors from the Syrian Army who refused to fire live ammunition at crowds of demonstrators.

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In the border town of Nuevo Laredo, a stronghold of the powerful Los Zetas cartel, the body of a Mexican blogger who had reported on the activities of drug cartels was found decapitated next to a monument in the center of town. The execution was apparently meant as a stark warning to those who would use the Internet to fight back against the crime and violence perpetuated by the cartels.

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