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The Chinese government said Tuesday that it will increase subsidies to low-income families if soaring inflation keeps on rising. Officials have told businesses to seek permission before raising prices substantially and have warned that increases deemed unacceptable may be reversed.

Two of Turkey's major political parties reached a deal that would allow female students to wear Islamic head scarves at universities if their proposed constitutional amendment is passed by Parliament. The bill submitted Tuesday stipulates that scarves must be tied under the chin in order to leave faces more exposed.

Emergency teams in the central Venezuelan town of Altagracia de Orituco waited outside a bank Tuesday where a tense standoff continued Tuesday between four gunmen who held 30 customers and bank employees hostage and police who were trying to win their release.

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Italian President Giorgio Napolitano met Tuesday with conservative leader Silvio Berlusconi (above), who has demanded early elections after last week's resignation of his center-left rival. Napolitano could choose to dissolve Parliament and call elections three years ahead of schedule or give the mandate to a respected, above-the-fray figure to create an interim government.

In a rare mass protest, about 500 Afghan women gathered in the conservative southern province of Kandahar Tuesday to demand that kidnappers free Cyd Mizell, an American aid worker, and that the government make a concerted effort to find her and her Afghan driver. Mizell, who works for the Asian Rural Life Development Foundation assisting women with small business projects, was abducted Saturday by unidentified kidnappers.

A suicide car bomber targeted a US patrol Tuesday in Mosul, Iraq, killing at least one Iraqi and wounding 15 others in the attack, military and police officials said. The explosion occurred a day after a roadside bomb killed five US soldiers in the increasingly lawless northern city, where the unrest stands in sharp contrast to a significant decline in bloodshed most everywhere else in Iraq in recent months.

Bolivia's indigenous President Evo Morales met Monday with Wilson Changaray (l.), a leader of the Guarani Indians, for a ceremony in which the government handed over 38 land titles. Indigenous South Americans contend that national states have imposed their rule throughout the Americas.

In a project intended to assist decisionmaking on environmental issues, New Zealand, US, and Italian marine scientists launched a two-month voyage to Antarctica's northern coast Tuesday. The voyage, the first of a series in a multinational research project, will probe previously unexplored areas in order to survey marine ecosystems and habitats, some at depths of 13,000 feet.

Several international charitable groups have succeeded in cleaning up and restoring older portions of Kabul, Afghanistan's war-torn capital city. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture has spent $8 million to restore 11 homes, and the Turquoise Mountain Foundation has just completed restoration of the 130-year-old Peacock House, so called because of carved detailing to its windows.

One major gold mine in South Africa resumed full production Tuesday, but most mine operations were slow to come back on line after last week's unresolved power outage became a national emergency. President Thabo Mbeki faces criticism for years of underinvestment in power generation.

Islamic militants firing rockets and mortars clashed with Somali troops and their Ethiopian allies in fighting that killed at least 17 civilians and two Ethi-opian soldiers in Mogadishu, witnesses said Tuesday.

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