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Palestinians set first private sector minimum wage

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories — The Palestinian government on Tuesday approved a minimum wage of 1,450 shekels ($376, 290 euros) a month for the private sector, labour minister Ahmed Majdalani said. “This is an unprecedented decision… on which we can build,” Majdalani told AFP, dismissing criticism that the rate was to…

Chavez backs Assad again, blames U.S. for war

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez vowed Tuesday to keep supporting Bashar al-Assad, calling him Syria’s legitimate president and blaming the United States for the war that has raged on for nearly 19 months. “How can I not support the government of Bashar al-Assad if it is the legitimate government of…

Obama jabs Romney in sharp new stump speech

COLUMBUS, Ohio — US President Barack Obama showed new urgency Tuesday as he repeatedly jabbed Republican Mitt Romney in a stylistic shift following his own lackluster debate performance. Obama, using a speeded up, staccato version of his speech, implored students in Ohio to vote and try to get other supporters…

Airline passenger held in Los Angeles after smoke grenade and weapons seized

LOS ANGELES — A 28-year-old man on a plane from Japan was arrested in Los Angeles after he was found wearing body armor and flame-proof pants, and transporting a small arsenal of weapons, officials said Tuesday. Yongda Huang Harris, a naturalized US citizen of Chinese descent, faces a charge of…

Research uncovers the somatosensory basis for pairing red wine with red meat

Why does high-tannin red wine pair well with fatty red meat? According to research published in the October 9 issue of Current Biology, it is because the dry oral sensation produced by red wine counters the slippery oral sensation associated with fattiness. “The mouth is a magnificently sensitive somatosensory organ,…

Study: French online classifieds now outnumber print

French online classified advertisements exceeded ads in print publications for the first in 2011, the Xerfi-Percepta market research firm said on Tuesday, but warned of a slowdown of spectacular growth. “While online classifieds jumped by 17 percent last year, print classifieds fell by 2.6 percent from 2010,” a Xerfi-Percepta study…

‘Gangnam Style’ rapper hailed by UN secretary general

“Gangnam Style” has secured an unlikely accolade after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed South Korean rapper Psy’s global hit as a force for world peace. Ban has found himself displaced as the best-known Korean on the planet by the astonishing success of the chubby rapper’s catchy video — and…

Biologists figure out crow’s ‘party trick’ of using tools

Biologists on Tuesday said they had figured out how the New Caledonian crow, a bird famed for using tools, does its party trick. Corvus moneduloides, a native of France’s South Pacific territory of New Caledonia, is one of the stars of the avian world. It uses its beak to craft…

Brazil activists occupy controversial Amazon dam

More than 150 fishermen and indigenous natives occupied Brazil’s on Tuesday, claiming the project will do irreparable damage to the Amazon ecosystem and their way of life. “This singular alliance of Indians and fishermen is aimed at blowing the whistle on the construction company which has not kept promises made…

Lady Gaga pledges to donate peace prize to AIDS charity

Lady Gaga said on Tuesday she would donate a peace prize given to her by artist and activist Yoko Ono to Elton John’s AIDS charity. “I will be donating this grant to the Elton John AIDS Foundation and I will be working closely with them to ensure that the money…

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