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Struggling Gulf Air sacks staff as unions reject revamp

Bahrain’s loss-making flag carrier Gulf Air, struggling against competition from other regional carriers, has embarked on a sweeping restructuring plan that has annoyed unions over heavy job cuts. The company said this week it had sacked 15 percent of its staff and closed four more routes in January as it…

Six people die as blizzards hit northern Japan

At least six people died in a spate of snow-related incidents as blizzards swept across the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido over the weekend, police and news reports said Sunday. A 40-year-old woman and her three teenaged children were found dead late Saturday in a car buried under snow in…

Caller ID inventor struggles to collect royalties

Fifteen years after he patented caller ID technology, Brazilian inventor Nelio Jose Nicolai is no millionaire. Quite the opposite: out of work since 1984, the co-inventor of the ubiquitous tool is still fighting to collect royalties. “This revolutionized cellular telephony,” Nicolai proudly told AFP of his BIMA technology, recalling the…

Obama appoints new coordinator for Middle East and other regions

President Barack Obama has appointed a new coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf, the White House announced Saturday. Philip Gordon, a veteran foreign policy expert, will take up his post on March 11. The appointment came two weeks before Obama is set to visit Israel, Ramallah…

American musician stars in top film at African film festival

A French-Senegalese director’s film about a man who knows he will die at the end of the day took the top prize Saturday at Africa’s largest film festival, Fespaco in Burkina Faso. “Aujourd’hui” (Today) by director Alain Gomis follows Satche, played by American hip hop musician and slam poet Saul…

Weather could force 2022 World Cup to be played in the winter

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke on Saturday confirmed the 2022 World Cup in Qatar could be moved to the winter if research shows holding the tournament in the region’s intense summer heat would be dangerous for players. Since being awarded the right to host the event, Qatar’s tournament organisers have…

Conservationists descend on Thailand as wildlife conference kicks off

Global conservationists will converge in Bangkok for the start of key endangered species talks on Sunday, as host Thailand faces pressure to curb rampant ivory smuggling through its territory. The plight of elephants and rhinos — threatened by poaching networks driven by insatiable demand for tusks and horn from Asian…

Curiosity rover on standby as NASA addresses computer glitch

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has been temporarily put into “safe mode,” as scientists monitoring from Earth try to fix a computer glitch, the US space agency said. Scientists switched to a backup computer Thursday so that they could troubleshoot the problem, said to be linked to a glitch in the…

Chavez’s foreign minister asks country to let him get chemo in peace

Venezuela’s foreign minister demanded Saturday that President Hugo Chavez be allowed to recover in peace after the government revealed for the first time that the cancer-stricken leader was in chemotherapy. Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Chavez, 58, was in a “battle” to recover as the socialist leader rests in a…

Peruvian mayor at book fair: I don’t read

The mayor of Peru’s third-largest city inaugurated a book fair by saying he does not like to read. “People close to me know that I do not read, that I never write. But I took time last night to go over some papers and be able to explain what a…

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