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The sentences come from previous news not latest. I have read these sentence for many times but still can't understand. Does anyone know what it mean? Thanks in advance.

1. "As far as I know, such criminal charges are more often than not pressed as well against these quarters [accused] also in well-developed western democracies"
2. In the past, they felt the need to have a bifurcated life. When they were out in public, they were to be every man or every woman, they wanted to be just American.
3. During a media briefing in New York, Mr. Resler blamed the run-up in energy prices and tight consumer spending since March of 2004 for shaving at least one percent of growth from the U.S. economy this year.
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Hello Kate,

Welcome to the forums. I'm having a hard time understanding these myself. Can you either post the entire paragraph they came from, or give us a link to the news stories?
1. "As far as I know, such criminal charges are more often than not pressed as well against these quarters [accused] also in well-developed western democracies". I guess the writer or speaker believes, or is implying, that some specific criminal charges (we cannot tell what they are from this news item - more contextual information is needed) are applied just as equally in well-developed western democracies as they are in undeveloped or emerging countries.

2. In the past, they felt the need to have a bifurcated life. When they were out in public, they were to be every man or every woman, they wanted to be just American. In the past, they felt they needed to have two different lives - perhaps a sort of double life? That is, a public life, and a private life?

3. During a media briefing in New York, Mr. Resler blamed the run-up in energy prices and tight consumer spending since March of 2004 for shaving at least one percent of growth from the U.S. economy this year. Mr Resler blamed increased energy prices and decreased consumer spending for slowing the growth of the U.S. economy.
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Thanks Grammar Geek and Widget for your replies. I will attach the entire paragraph tomorrow for the material is not here now.

I'd like to point out the phrases ( marked in italic, bold fonts below ) which confuse me. Actually, i can't exactly understand what they mean.
1. "As far as I know, such criminal charges are more often than not pressed as well against these quarters [accused] also in well-developed western democracies"
- Still confused
2. In the past, they felt the need to have a bifurcated life. When they were out in public, they were to be every man or every woman, they wanted to be just American.
- In the past, they felt they needed to have different lives from american-born citizens. But nowadays, they wanted to be just men or women, or to say just american, when they were out in public.
3. During a media briefing in New York, Mr. Resler blamed the run-up in energy prices and tight consumer spending since March of 2004 for shaving at least one percent of growth from the U.S. economy this year.
- It mean reducing, right?

By the way, there must be lots of mistakes in my posts, hope you all can understand what i mean.

Kate, I'm still not sure, but here are a few things. (I didn't see an attachment. Sorry.)

the phrase "more often than not" means "usually." If you "press charges," you wnat that person arrested and tried for that crime. So... usually criminal charages are pressed... and then I lose it again. Against these "quarters" doesn't mean anything to me, and the "also in well-developed western democracies" doesn't make sense grammatically. Do they mean that in these western countries, the same types of criminar charges are usually brought?

The shaving part means to remove a tiny bit. So, your "reduce" is okay.

I'm really not sure what the second one is all about.
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Sorry, I failed to upload my attachment. I edited my post and gave the links of the three news. Thanks a lot!
Kate,

I think this is what the first item means:

An important Russian businessman (Mr Khodorkovsky) is being tried in Russia for tax evasion and fraud. Critics say he is being tried because he has criticised the Russian government. Because of this, western reporters asked Russian Defense Minister, Mr Ivanov, why western nations should view Russia as a trustworthy ally and partner. Mr Ivanov replied that the Khodorkovsky case deals with alleged criminal activity, not violations of democratic principles or human rights. He said that he believed these kind of criminal charges were also laid against important people who allegedly committed similar criminal offences in western societies too.
Many thanks to Grammar Geek and Widget for your detailed and warm-hearted instruction. Now I can understand those well. I really appreciated your help. [A]
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