Australia: Salaries frozen

CANBERRA — Australia's prime minister has frozen lawmakers' salaries and wants business leaders to follow suit in a gesture to dampen inflation.

But big business on Friday rejected the idea, while opposition lawmakers dared Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to spread the pain further — to 100,000 federal bureaucrats.

When he was elected to the government in November last year, Rudd inherited a booming economy and also an inflation rate nearing a 16-year high of 3.6 percent.

Rudd has ordered government cost cutting to reduce inflationary pressure and on Thursday convinced colleagues in his center-left Labor Party to accept a pay freeze until mid-2009.

Britain: Rethinking space race

LONDON — Britain is rethinking its decision to stay out of the manned space race, the country's science minister said Thursday as the government outlined plans to build an international space research facility.

Science Minister Ian Pearson said it was time to reconsider Britain's 1986 decision not to invest in a manned space flight program, predicting the world is going to witness "a new international wave of new space exploration in the next 10 to 20 years."

China: Darfur policy defended

BEIJING — China defended its policies in Darfur on Thursday and rejected attempts to link the humanitarian crisis to the Beijing Olympics, a day after Steven Spielberg said his conscience would not allow him to continue working as an adviser to the event.

The director's decision was part of growing criticism against China, targeting everything from its food safety to diplomatic policies abroad. Officials have repeatedly argued that the Olympics is a sporting event and should not be "politicized."

President Bush said Thursday that although he was concerned about the slow pace of international action in the Darfur region of Sudan, it wouldn't stop him from attending the Olympics.

He said Spielberg's decision to resign as an artistic adviser to the Olympics was personal.

Ecuador: Killings reported

QUITO — Ecuadorean officials are investigating the reported killing of Huaorani Indians in an Amazonian nature reserve, Security Minister Gustavo Larrea said Thursday.

"The information was passed to us by certain people in the region, and we are trying to confirm it now," Larrea told The Associated Press.

Huaorani leaders said illegal loggers killed five tribesmen in Yasuni National Park more than a week ago — revising their initial estimate of as many as 15 killed.

Several indigenous groups live in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador's largest.

Pakistan: Protest warning

ISLAMABAD — President Pervez Musharraf warned Thursday that he would not tolerate protests after next week's elections, a remark that drew a sharp reminder from Washington that Pakistanis have the right to demonstrate peacefully.

Opposition parties have threatened to launch street protests if they believe Monday's vote for parliament has been rigged. Although Musharraf is not up for re-election, he needs a commanding majority in the legislature to block any move to impeach him.