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IMF: Economic Crisis Could Spark Unrest


WORLD ECONOMY: The head of the International Monetary Fund warned Monday that social unrest may erupt in many places unless nations take stronger action to boost the global economy. Dominique Strauss-Kahn urged countries to expand their proposed stimulus packages to bolster faltering economies. At a conference in Spain, he said the world may face a global recession which could drag on longer than necessary without strong action. The IMF managing director said even China's roaring economy will not escape the global slowdown. He said the IMF might cut its forecast for the country's economic growth next year from more than eight percent to around five percent.

ZIMBABWE: Zimbabwe state media reports a military commander who is also an ally of President Robert Mugabe has been shot. The media is calling the shooting an assassination attempt. "The Herald" newspaper says Air Force Commander Perence Shiri was shot in the arm as he drove to his farm Saturday. Minister of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi told "The Herald" the attack appears to be part of a series of attacks targeting government officials and establishments. Mr. Mugabe's government has in the past accused the opposition MDC of terror tactics as part of campaign to remove Mr. Mugabe, who has been in power since independence.

UN - IRAN NUCLEAR: The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, are to meet today with representatives from some Arab countries to discuss Iran's nuclear program. Officials said the meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York is meant to address concerns over the program. Iran says its intent is not to make weapons but only to generate energy for civilian use. The U.N. Security Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Iran as a means of getting Tehran to suspend its uranium-enrichment program -- but Iran has not complied. U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has said he will break with past U.S. policy and hold direct talks with Iran if necessary.

BURMA - MEDIA: An association representing more than 18-thousand publications from 102 countries has urged Burma to stop jailing journalists and advocates of free expression. The World Association of Newspapers released a statement Monday at a meeting in Beirut, Lebanon that condemned the policies of Burma's military government, describing that government as one of the most repressive in the world. The statement also called on Burma's Southeast Asian neighbors to pressure the country to adopt international standards of free expression. The non-governmental organization says Burma holds more than 21-hundred political prisoners, many of them journalists and free speech activists.

BURMA - DIRTY LIST: A British activist group that campaigns for change in Burma has added 30 new companies to its annual so-called "dirty list" of enterprises that it says are helping support the country's military government. The Burma Campaign U.K. says this year's list is the longest ever and includes some 170 companies. The group says that many of the new additions over the past year have come in the gas, oil and dams sectors. The group adds that with the number of political prisoners doubling over the past year to more than two-thousand, the list shows that current sanctions are not working.

CHINA - CENSORSHIP: China has apparently resumed blocking several foreign Web sites, just months after removing the ban for the Beijing Olympic Games. Among the sites blocked since Monday are Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International, the BBC's Chinese-language site, and VOA. The Web sites had been unblocked shortly before the start of the Games, which were held in August. Liu Jianchao, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, says he is unsure about the specific cases involving each Web site, but says the government is managing the Web sites according to law.

ECUADOR DEBT: The Ecuadorean government announced Monday that it is defaulting on a second bond payment, a 30 million-dollar obligation held by foreign creditors. The declaration came three days after President Rafael Correa said the country would not make payments on another bond issue. Analysts say the defaults effectively cut Ecuador off from outside financing. Mr. Correa formed a special commission to examine Ecuador's debt on a series of global bonds. The commission issued a report last month, ruling that the debt was tainted by what it called illegality.

INDIA - CHIMP: Reports from India say a male chimpanzee in a Kolkata zoo has taken revenge on visitors after apparently being teased by a crowd on Sunday afternoon. The reports say visitors threw stones at the chimpanzee named "Babu" to get its attention and that the chimp, in turn, picked up some of the stones and hurled them at the crowd. A woman and her six-year-old daughter were injured. This is not the first time Babu has been in trouble. Last year, Babu and a female chimpanzee escaped from their enclosure by breaking the lock.

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