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By James Mackenzie ROME (Reuters) - Prime Minister Enrico Letta called on parliament on Wednesday to back his government or risk chaos as he promised a package of reforms he said would lift Italy's stagnant economy back to growth after two years of recession. Opening a debate in the lower house ahead of his third confidence vote since October, Letta said Italy had avoided reforms for 20 years and could no longer afford to delay, with protests across the country this week underlining the bitter public mood after years of painful austerity. "I'm determined to work with everything I have to prevent the country falling back into chaos," he said, pledging to throw his weight behind efforts to fight a growing tide of political disillusion and hostility to the European Union. As well as a new electoral law and measures to untangle the conflicting web of powers between different levels of the administration, he promised to overhaul parliament to remove the Senate's power to vote no confidence in the government.
By Benjamin Kang Lim and Ben Blanchard BEIJING (Reuters) - China has put Zhou Yongkang, one of the most powerful politicians of the last decade, under virtual house arrest while the ruling Communist Party investigates accusations of corruption against him, several sources said on Wednesday. He was the domestic security tsar and a member of the party's Politburo Standing Committee - the pinnacle of power in the country - when he retired last year. Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered a special task force formed in late November or early December to look into several accusations brought against Zhou by political rivals, sources with ties to the leadership told Reuters, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions for discussing secretive elite politics. "Zhou Yongkang's freedom has been restricted.