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As Govt releases political prisoners


Myanmar opposition leaderand Nobel Peace Prize laureateAung San Suu Kyi has confirmed she will run for a parliamentary seat in April by-elections just as Myanmar's government began releasing hundreds of prisoners, including many political detainees, pro-democracy activists say, as the country takes further steps towards political reform and ending its international isolation.

Myanmar state radio and television said last Friday that 651 detainees were being freed to take part in "nation-building".

There was no official word on how many political prisoners would be included in the total, but among them was SaiNyuntLwin, 60, a prominent ethnic minority Shan politician, and KhinNyunt, a former prime minister and military intelligence chief, a senior prison official said.

As IAEA confirms underground nuclear plant

“The US Navy has been preparing for the next confrontation with Iran for years - and has no intention of losing it” Simon Henderson, Washington Institute for Near East Policy

THE possibility of a military clash between the United States (US) and Iran is on the increase by the day. The US military said last Wednesday that a new aircraft carrier strike group had arrived in the Arabian Sea and that another was on its way to the region, but denied any link to recent tensions with Iran and portrayed the movements as routine.

The shift in the powerful US naval assets comes at a moment of heightened tensions with Iran, which has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz - the world's most important oil shipping lane - if US and EU sanctions over its nuclear program cut off its oil exports.

...Mulls Scotland independence

THE United Kingdom (UK), within the next 18 months, may seize to be a single nation as the British government opened discussion last week on proposals to give the Scottish government the legal powers to hold a referendum on independence.

Although he remains strongly opposed to the break-up of the UK, the Prime Minister David Cameron said a referendum should be held soon because the uncertainty about the issue was damaging Scotland's economy.

But Scotland's deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), accused Cameron of “a blatant attempt to interfere” in an issue that should be decided by Scotland and its people.

UN says Syria has 'stepped up killings'


A senior United Nations (UN) official has told the Security Council that Syria accelerated its killing of pro-democracy demonstrators after Arab League monitors arrived, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said. "The under-secretary-general noted that in the days since the Arab League monitoring mission has been on the ground, in fact an estimated 400 additional people have been killed, an average of 40 a day, a rate much higher than was the case even before their deployment," Rice said last week.

Rice was speaking after Lynn Pascoe, the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, briefed the 15-nation Security Council behind closed doors on Syria and other major crises. She said the figure did not include the more than two dozen people killed in a suicide bombing in Damascus last week.

GOVERNMENTS of the world's leading economies have more than $7.6 trillion of debt maturing this year, with most facing a rise in borrowing costs.

Led by Japan's $3 trillion and the United State's $2.8 trillion, the amount coming due for the Group of Seven nations and Brazil, Russia, India and China is up from $7.4 trillion at this time last year. Ten-year bond yields will be higher by year-end for at least seven of the countries, forecasts show.

Investors may demand higher compensation to lend to countries that struggle to finance increasing debt burdens as the global economy slows, surveys show. The International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for growth this year to 4 percent from a prior estimate of 4.5 percent as Europe's debt crisis spreads, the US struggles to reduce a budget deficit exceeding $1 trillion and China's property market cools.

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