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PARIS (AFP) - Wildlife numbers have plunged by more than half in just 40 years as Earth's human population has nearly doubled, with the worst decline in the tropics, a survey of more than 3,000 vertebrate species revealed on September 30.

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UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - World leaders on September 23 urged ambitious action to combat climate change, but pledges remained well short of goals, with a year to go for an accord.

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BEIJING (AFP) - The number of Chinese companies exporting "tools of torture" has surged during the past decade, Amnesty International said on September 23, with many devices being acquired by rights violators.

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BERLIN (AFP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged further economic support for Myanmar if it holds fair elections next year and does more to protect ethnic minorities.

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RIYADH (AFP) - Saudi men have been banned from marrying women from Myanmar, three other Asian nations and an African country as the Gulf state toughens rules restricting marriage with foreigners, a daily newspaper reported on August 6.

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Myanmar's human rights record has come under sharp criticism in Washington at a hearing of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, with its chairman calling for visa bans against those responsible for violence against Muslims in Rakhine State.