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WORLD IN BRIEF: Egyptian PM promises reforms

Egyptian PM promises reforms

CAIRO -- Egypt's prime minister promised to fight corruption Thursday as a new Cabinet was sworn in under under pressure from protesters demanding faster change and the removal of those tied to the ousted regime of President Hosni Mubarak.

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf also said he would work to end Egypt's hated emergency laws, which empower authorities to arrest and detain people without charge.

The new government comes as tensions rise in Egypt over what many perceive as the army's reluctance to act against the former regime. Several hundred protesters have been camping out in Cairo's central Tahrir Square -- the epicenter of the uprising that ended Mubarak's rule on Feb. 11 -- to try to keep up pressure on the military council ruling the country.

Explosions erupt as Syrian city besieged

BEIRUT -- Gunfire and explosions erupted Thursday in the city at the heart of Syria's anti-government uprising as soldiers launched a massive crackdown, witnesses said. Terrified residents cowered inside their homes and used mosque loudspeakers to call for blood donations to help the wounded.

Details about the siege in Homs were sketchy, as most witnesses told The Associated Press they were too scared even to look out their windows. The city has seen some of the most intense violence as the regime tries to stamp out a revolt that has lasted more than four months.

Murdoch testimony contradicted

LONDON -- James Murdoch has been contradicted over testimony in which he claimed to have been unaware of a critical piece of evidence in Britain's phone hacking scandal.

Murdoch was quizzed by parliamentarians earlier this week over an email dating back several years which suggested that other journalists at his company were involved in the campaign of illegal espionage whose exposure has rocked Britain's public life.

At the time, Murdoch's News International claimed that only a single rogue reporter was responsible for the spying. But in a joint statement former News of the World editor Colin Myler and former News International legal manager Tom Crone said Thursday that they had in fact informed Murdoch of the email.