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'Happiness' key theme for China

BEIJING — China's government vowed Saturday to clamp down on inflation and urgently raise incomes as it pushes to spread the benefits of economic growth at a time when living standards are rising but so are popular calls for greater change.

In a speech that is China's equivalent to the American president's State of the Union address, Premier Wen Jiabao said there would be more assistance to working class and rural Chinese who have not benefited from the country's rapid growth.

"Happiness" is a key theme for the authoritarian government this year, as it seeks to pull down inflation that has caused public grumbling and deliver more sustainable growth rather than the breakneck pace that has fouled the environment and widened a yawning rich-poor gap.

British queen plans first visit to Ireland

LONDON (AP) —Queen Elizabeth II will make her first-ever visit to the Republic of Ireland — the first ruling British monarch to go there in a century marked by Ireland's brutal war of independence from Britain and the grueling conflict in Northern Ireland.

The long-anticipated visit by the 84-year-old queen will highlight Ireland's reconciliation with its former colonial master and the slow blooming of peace in neighboring Northern Ireland.

Buckingham Palace and the Irish government confirmed the queen would visit this year, accompanied by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. British and Irish officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak, said they were planning a three-day visit in May.

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