· A class action on behalf of 1.5 million women employees at Walmart, the world's largest retailer, who claimed discrimination in pay and promotion was rejected by the US Supreme Court on the grounds that the plaintiffs could not show a common grievance. At the annual shareholders' meeting of Carrefour, the world's second largest retailer, protestors complained about the small number of female executives in the company. lIn Greece the prime minister, George Papandreou, won a narrow vote of confidence in his financial policies but will have to face parliament again to get specific approval for many austerity measures, some of which involve the sale of the Greek state's “diamonds in the crown”. lPresident Obama announced the start this year of the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. At least two senior generals expressed carefully-worded reservations about the President's decision. l In Bahrein the Sunni-led government accused eight pro-documentary Shias of “plotting to overthrow the government” and secured life sentences against all of them. Lesser sentences of up to 15 years imprisonment were passed on 13 other accused.

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