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In brief: Governor fired day after protests

Beirut – Syrian President Bashar Assad fired the governor who oversaw the city of Hama on Saturday, a day after massive protests rocked the longtime center of opposition to his family’s rule.

The official state news agency reported without comment that Assad had removed the governor of Hama province, Ahmad Khaled Abdul-Aziz, from his post.

Some observers speculated that the governor had been punished for being too lenient with the anti-government protesters.

But at the least it seemed likely that the firing was related to the turnout Friday in Hama, a city of more than 500,000 north of Damascus, the Syrian capital.

Premier says tax won’t apply to gas

Canberra, Australia – Prime Minister Julia Gillard softened the impact of her unpopular carbon tax plans today by promising it will not increase Australian gasoline prices.

She said the tax would never be applied to gasoline despite transport being Australia’s third-largest and fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The government plans to tax big polluters for every ton of carbon gas they produce beginning July 1 next year in a bid to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan is weighing the ruling center-left Labor Party down in disastrous opinion polling because of fears about how it will affect costs, particularly electricity costs.

Gas, water hinder rescuers

Beijing – A buildup of volatile gas is hampering rescue efforts in one Chinese coal mine and high levels of water are slowing them in another as emergency crews race to reach 40 miners trapped for a second day.

State media reports and local officials gave sober assessments today of the rescues under way in the two separate accidents in two southern provinces Saturday after days of heavy rains.

Hezbollah leader defies indictments

Beirut – Hezbollah’s leader vowed Saturday never to turn over four members of his Shiite militant group who have been indicted in the 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, saying in a defiant speech that “even in 300 years” authorities will not be able to touch them.

In his first comments since the indictments were announced Thursday, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah also promised the country would not see a new “civil war” linked to the findings of the U.N.-backed tribunal. But the assurance came with a tacit warning that peace in Lebanon depends on the government bowing to Hezbollah’s power and not pushing ahead with arrests.


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