World briefs: China against use of dollar

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WASHINGTON -- The fiscal impasse that has partially shut the U.S. government now threatens to trigger a U.S. default that would roil financial markets worldwide, leading an agitated China to suggest replacing the dollar as the international reserve currency.

There is no viable alternative to the dollar as the centerpiece of the global financial system, and there probably won't be for the foreseeable future, experts said. But Washington's debt limit standoff -- coming on the heels of similar brinkmanship in 2011 -- could accelerate efforts to find an alternative.

China echoed calls from world financial officials urging an end to what it called the "pernicious impasse" in the U.S. over funding the government and raising the $16.7 trillion debt limit.

Buckingham Palace arrest

LONDON -- A 44-year-old man was arrested Monday after he tried to enter Buckingham Palace with a knife, police said.

Queen Elizabeth II was not in the building at the time, the palace said.

The man was stopped by police at a gate of the London palace and the knife was found during a search of the man, Scotland Yard said.

Two arrests were made last month at the palace after a man climbed a fence and entered the queen's residence.

African prize unawarded

LONDON -- For the fourth time in five years, a prestigious multimillion-dollar prize offered to African leaders for good governance went unawarded Monday, renewing questions about the stringency of its rules, the paucity of contenders and the state of the continent's democracy.

The prize, named for Mo Ibrahim, a Sudan-born telecommunications billionaire, was designed to reward democratically elected African leaders who retire voluntarily at the conclusion of their mandated terms after displaying strong qualities of governance and leadership.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation said Monday that it had considered every African head of state or government who had retired in the past three years, but had decided not to award the prize this year. The foundation did not elaborate on its reasons for withholding the award.

4 of 7 aid workers freed

BEIRUT -- Gunmen in Syria released three Red Cross staffers and a Red Crescent volunteer who had been kidnapped in rebel-held territory, the international agency said Monday.

The fate of three other Red Cross workers who were also seized Sunday in the northwestern Idlib province remained unclear, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

About two dozen miles away, near Turkey, a car bomb went off in the market of the town of Darkoush on Monday, while it was crowded with people shopping for the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha holiday. The blast set cars on fire and sent people running.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 27 people were killed, while another activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, put the death toll at 15.

Pilgrims start hajj

MOUNT ARAFAT, Saudi Arabia -- About 2 million Muslims from around the world prayed at a desert hill in Saudi Arabia on Monday at the start of the annual hajj pilgrimage.

It is on Mount Arafat, marked by a white pillar, where Islam's Prophet Muhammad is believed to have delivered his last sermon to tens of thousands of followers some 1,400 years ago, calling on Muslims to unite. Hajj is a central pillar of Islam and all able-bodied Muslims are required to perform it once in their lives.


First Published October 14, 2013 8:00 PM


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