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Musharraf Bans Bhutto and Sharif

President Musharraf said on Pakistani television that former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif will not be permitted to return to Pakistan in advance of the elections expected for later this year. Ms. Bhutto, who faces corruption charges, has said that she will return.

Musharraf has been under fire by political opponents for his firing of Pakistan's chief judge, and has seen riots, 40 died in riots this past weekend, and an increase in challenges to his authority. Critics are doubtful of Musharraf's intentions with regard to the Pakistani constitution, and likewise he faces Islamists who support the Taliban now fortifying in Pakistan's western frontier.

China Increases Yuan Appreciation Allowance

In advance of meetings with Treasury Secretary Paulson next week, China has taken measures to permit faster appreciation for the yuan. The US and Europe have been critical of the Chinese maintaining the currency's artificially low value. This step, along with a rise in interest rates and a reduction in bank loans is aimed at slowing the pace of growth in the Chinese economy and, more importantly, quelling critics ahead of the meetings between Secretary Paulson and Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi. Paulson is expected to press China on the currency issue, along with the trade imbalance and digital media piracy.

After the move was announced, the dollar fell against the Yen, Euro and British pound.

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