World news: Republican presidential hopefuls lay into Obama

Republican presidential hopefuls attacked US President Barack Obama's handling of the economy in their first major debate of the campaign season, seizing on an issue they hope will open a path to the White House.

The New Hampshire debate unfolded more than six months before the state hosts the first primary of the 2012 campaign, and the Republicans who shared a stage were plainly more interested in criticising Mr Obama than one another.

The seven Republican candidates ganged up on Mr Obama, who remains popular but could be vulnerable in the 2012 race due to the staggering economy and high unemployment.

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Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann used the occasion to announce she had filed papers earlier in the day to enter the race, becoming the first female candidate in the field.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was the nominal front-runner as the debate began.

Recent polls show Mr Romney to be the Republican in the best position to defeat Mr Obama in November 2012, but it is not clear that he can win over the party's right wing and secure the nomination.

King's offer fails to quell protests

Stone throwing youths in a poor southern town exploded in anger at rough handling by police during a visit by King Abdullah II, a symptom of simmering frustrations in Jordan even as the monarch moves toward democratic reform.

The trouble in Tafila came a day after Abdullah went on national television to announce a major concession to months of peaceful protests, accepting the idea of elected governments.

Security Council's Cyprus fear

The UN Security Council expressed concern at the slow pace of negotiations on reunifying Cyprus and urged leaders on the Mediterranean island to intensify talks.

The council echoed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's view that "a solution is well within reach".

Two remain in IMF race

France's Christine Lagarde and Mexico's Agustin Carstens are the two remaining candidates to be the managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

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Israel's central banker, a former number two at the IMF, said he has been disqualified from the race for the group's top job because of his age.

At 67, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer is two years above the age limit of 65 that the IMF has set for an incoming managing director.

Ash grounds more flights

More Australian flights were cancelled today because of ash from a Chilean volcano, as airlines scrambled to fly out thousands of passengers who had been stranded for two days in Melbourne.

About two dozen flights into and out of the southern city of Adelaide were cancelled today.700-year-old relic stolen

A 780-year-old Catholic relic was stolen from a church near Los Angeles, just hours after it was put on display.

Police said the relic was taken from a cabinet inside St Anthony Church in Long Beach yesterday.

Parish staff last saw it at 6am yesterday when they opened the church.

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