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Updated: 45 min 48 sec ago

BP cuts 255 jobs in Azerbaijan, remains committed to region

11 hours 7 min ago

British oil major BP said on Tuesday it had cut 255 jobs, or around 8 percent of its workforce in Azerbaijan as it trims costs in response to the "challenging market environment". Crude prices have more than halved since June to below $50 per barrel, and oil majors have been cutting capital and operating expenditures as crude prices more than halved since June. BP announced in December a $1 billion (0.66 billion pounds) programme to cut thousands of jobs globally. In Azerbaijan, 105 Azeri nationals and 150 foreigners would be made redundant, BP's Azerbaijan operations said in a statement.

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French jobless total ticks higher to new record - Labour Ministry

11 hours 8 min ago

The number of unemployed people in France rose slightly higher in December to yet a new record high with few signs of improvement in the offing for the euro zone's second-biggest labour market. The Labour Ministry said the number of people registered as jobless in mainland France rose by 8,100 last month to 3,496,400, up 0.2 percent from November and up 5.7 percent over one year. President Francois Hollande has seen his popularity ratings drop to record lows as he failed to live up to promises to turn the job market around, though they have picked up following attacks this month by militant gunmen that killed 17 people.

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Houthis have released kidnapped Yemen aide, sources say

11 hours 9 min ago
Yemen's Houthi movement has freed the presidential chief of staff, whom it seized on Jan. 17 during a power struggle with then President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Houthi official Ali al-Quhoom and two government officials said on Tuesday. The seizure of the aide, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, helped to plunge Yemen into political crisis, resulting in clashes between the Houthis and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's presidential guards that prompted the president and the government to resign. Quhoom said bin Mubarak was freed without any restrictions or conditions as a goodwill gesture to ease tensions in Yemen and in honour of a delegation of tribal leaders from the Shabwa province in southeastern Yemen where the Hadi aide comes from. "Bin Mubarak has just been handed over to Sheikh Awad al-Wazir," he told Reuters by telephone, referring to a tribal leader.
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EDF Energy to cut UK gas prices, but less than rivals

11 hours 15 min ago

By Sarah McFarlane and Karolin Schaps LONDON (Reuters) - EDF Energy will reduce British household gas prices by 1.3 percent on Feb. 11, making the smallest cut to consumer bills among the country's six biggest suppliers who have all now announced price reductions based on lower wholesale costs. Wholesale crude and gas prices in Europe have tumbled due to a global supply glut, reducing some of the energy purchase costs utilities incur. Britain's Chancellor George Osborne, gearing up for a May national election, urged energy companies earlier this month to pass on savings to customers, saying action could be taken if they failed to do so. EDF Energy's rivals have cut gas prices between 3.5 and 5.1 percent, with RWE npower implementing the steepest reduction.

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Gates, UK take lead in $7.5 billion pledge for children's vaccines

11 hours 19 min ago
By Stephen Brown BERLIN (Reuters) - International donors pledged $7.5 billion (5 billion pounds) on Tuesday to immunise 300 million children in poor countries against deadly diseases such as diarrhoea and pneumonia. At a Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) conference in Berlin, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the British government topped the donations list at $1.55 billion and $1.5 billion respectively. German development minister Gerd Mueller said the total reached $7.54 billion, surpassing GAVI's target of $7.5 billion, despite a stronger dollar complicating funding efforts. China, a recipient of GAVI assistance early last decade, has now become a donor.
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Tsipras names anti-austerity Greek cabinet, bank shares dive

11 hours 21 min ago

By Lefteris Papadimas and George Georgiopoulos ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras unveiled a cabinet of anti-austerity veterans on Tuesday, signalling he has no intention of backing away from election pledges despite warning shots from the euro zone and financial markets. Greek markets endured a second day of turmoil on Tuesday, with bank shares diving and investors fearing the anti-bailout government might be set on a collision course with the country's European Union and IMF creditors. Promising to reverse budget cuts and renegotiate Greece's huge debts, Tsipras's leftist Syriza party stormed to power in Sunday's snap election on a wave of anger against the German-backed austerity policies that have driven up poverty and left one in four Greek workers out of a job. Among a team spanning the radical and more pragmatic wings of Syriza, Tsipras named academic economist Yanis Varoufakis as his finance minister.

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MPs to grill Iraq inquiry chairman

11 hours 24 min ago

Sir John Chilcot will face questions from MPs next week amid growing criticism of delays to his report into the Iraq war.

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UK banks face hefty credit card claims after pact with watchdog

11 hours 27 min ago

By Kirstin Ridley LONDON (Reuters) - Around two million Britons who may have been mis-sold insurance to cover events such as credit card fraud will be asked to vote for a scheme that could cost top banks hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation. The scheme, which affects security products on credit and debit cards over an eight-year period, comes after banks have already set aside more than 24 billion pounds to compensate customers mis-sold loan and mortgage insurance. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said on Tuesday 11 lenders and card issuers had voluntarily agreed to compensate customers after "collaborative discussions". The total amount of compensation will depend on how many eligible customers pursue a claim after buying or renewing products such as Sentinel, Safe and Secure Plus and Card Protection between Jan. 14, 2005 and August 2013.

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Beware the Drone Laws

11 hours 27 min ago

"The eagle has crash-landed in Washington," cried Senator Charles Schumer. "The eagle has crash-landed in Washington," cried Senator Charles Schumer of New York, in a statement that used the incident to amplify his call for FAA regulations on drones. The drone that penetrated the White House grounds and triggered a lockdown of the complex was essentially a toy, flown by a man who frantically called the Secret Service after it got away and insisted he never intended to land it near the executive mansion.

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Exclusive - EU aims to complete capital markets union by 2019

11 hours 28 min ago

By Huw Jones LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union will put in place its "capital markets union" by 2019, starting with quick wins like encouraging direct investment in businesses, an EU document seen by Reuters showed. The document, co-written by EU financial services chief Jonathan Hill, sets out a timetable for the first time on a core policy of the European Commission to help revive the bloc's flagging economy. Harmonising rules for capital markets to increase the trade in stocks, bonds and other securities is an important goal for the EU. Sceptics say a fully seamless union of EU capital markets is impossible to achieve.

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Kvyat ready to be surprise of the season

11 hours 35 min ago

By Alan Baldwin MILTON KEYNES (Reuters) - Russian Formula One racer Daniil Kvyat can be as much of a revelation at Red Bull this season as Australian Daniel Ricciardo was last year, according to team boss Christian Horner. Ricciardo took his first three grands prix wins in 2014, his first season at the then-champions after graduating from sister team Toro Rosso, and eclipsed team mate and four times champion Sebastian Vettel along the way. Kvyat, 20, has also now moved up from Toro Rosso following Vettel's departure to Ferrari with Ricciardo becoming the man to beat. "I think in Kvyat we've got a really fast, determined, intelligent driver," Horner told reporters at a Red Bull event on Tuesday.

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Holocaust victims' 'Violins of Hope' to resound in Berlin Philharmonic

11 hours 41 min ago
By Alexandra Hudson BERLIN (Reuters) - A violin thrown some seventy years ago from a train transporting French Jews to the Nazi Auschwitz death camp will sound in the concert hall of the Berlin Philharmonic on Tuesday night, along with other instruments once played by victims of the Holocaust. A French railwayman caught that unknown passenger's violin and gave it to his daughter to play. Years later it found its way into the hands of Israeli violin-maker and restorer Amnon Weinstein, whose extraordinary collection comprises violins embodying their former owners' tragic histories and stories of survival. Around 1.5 million people, mainly European Jews, were gassed, shot, hanged and burned at the camp in southern Poland during World War Two.
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ECB bond-buying plan to boost Italian growth - Bank of Italy

11 hours 41 min ago

The European Central Bank's bond-buying programme will lift Italian growth over the next two years, making it easier for the government to make badly-needed economic reforms, an Italian central bank official said on Tuesday. "The action decided last week by the ECB governing council will contribute significantly to raising growth over the next two years, offering more room to marry reform and growth," Bank of Italy Deputy Director General Fabio Panetta said at a conference in Rome. Italy's biggest employers' group, Confindustria, said on Saturday the ECB plan could raise Italian gross domestic product by 0.8 percent this year and by a further 1 percent in 2016 by weakening the euro exchange rate, thus boosting exports, and by lowering long-term interest rates. Italy has been the euro zone's most sluggish economy over the last decade and has not posted a single quarter of growth since the middle of 2011.

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TV satire burns bright as Israeli election 'campfire'

11 hours 44 min ago

By Dan Williams HERZLIYA, Israel (Reuters) - When Israelis gather around the water cooler to discuss their March 17 election, odds are the conversation will turn to a television satire that has caught even U.S. President Barack Obama's notice in the past. Eretz Nehederet ("Wonderful Country"), which airs weekly on Israel's biggest private station Channel 2, spares no candidate. Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes off as a conniving buffoon and his main challenger, Labour party chief Isaac Herzog, as a needy nerd. Now in its 12th season, the Monday night show boasts a 30 percent audience share in Israel.

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Farrell's bad luck could be Cipriani's England gain

11 hours 45 min ago

By Justin Palmer LONDON (Reuters) - Owen Farrell's misfortune could be Danny Cipriani's gain. The prospect of the talented but often troubled flyhalf laying down a marker for England in World Cup year became more realistic on Tuesday when Farrell was ruled out of the entire Six Nations. His absence with a knee ligament injury elevated Cipriani and Stephen Myler up the pecking order with both contending to be on the bench when coach Stuart Lancaster names his side to face Wales in Cardiff on Feb. 6. With George Ford nailed on to start in the pivotal number 10 role, Lancaster must decide whether maverick Cipriani is ready to continue his road back to redemption in the Millennium Stadium bear pit for the Friday night blockbuster.

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Abu Dhabi slump could have been due to complacency - Kaymer

11 hours 47 min ago

By Matt Smith DUBAI (Reuters) - Complacency may have been the reason twice major winner Martin Kaymer blew a 10-stroke lead in the final round of this month's Abu Dhabi Championship, the German said on Tuesday. The U.S. Open title holder seemed unbeatable in the desert two weeks ago until a startling collapse featuring six dropped strokes in eight holes let in unheralded Frenchman Gary Stal for a maiden European Tour victory. "When you lead by six shots overnight and start off birdie- birdie-par-birdie you almost feel like not much could go wrong," Kaymer told reporters ahead of the Dubai Desert Classic that starts on Thursday. "In golf that little bit of too much confidence can hurt, it's a very fine line." Kaymer, who also landed the U.S. PGA Championship crown in 2010, said his Middle East meltdown would make him an even tougher competitor in the future.

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Romania jails ex-ministers, banker over privatisation plot

11 hours 51 min ago
Two former Romanian government ministers and a Credit Suisse banker were jailed on Tuesday for espionage and treason related to planned privatisations. Former communications minister Zsolt Nagy was given a four-year sentence and former economy minister Codrut Seres was sentenced to four years and six months by the court in Romania, which has come under EU pressure to clean up its government and judiciary. They were convicted of leaking confidential privatisation data and joining an organised crime group that prosecutors said targeted a string of planned privatisations in 2005 to 2007.
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Ireland must avoid repeat of recent overspending - IMF

11 hours 54 min ago

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland must avoid a repeat of recent expenditure overruns to protect the progress made in repairing its public finances, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said at the end of a mission to Ireland on Tuesday. Ireland's budget deficit likely fell by less than expected last year, Dublin said earlier this month, as a jump in year-end government spending, particularly in healthcare, prompted some concern that fiscal discipline may be slipping. ...

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Boehner acknowledges 'stumbles' in Congress' opening weeks

11 hours 57 min ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner (BAY'-nuhr) acknowledges that there've been "a couple of stumbles" in the opening weeks of the new Republican-run Congress.
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Kidnapped Yemen aide will be freed in hours-Houthi official

11 hours 58 min ago
Yemen's Houthi movement plans to free the presidential chief of staff, whom it seized on Jan. 17 during a power struggle with then President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Houthi official Ali al-Quhoom said on Tuesday. A Yemeni official had earlier reported that the aide, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, had been released in Sanaa to a tribal leader from his native Shabwa province in southeastern Yemen. Quhoom, a member of the Houthi politburo, confirmed that a delegation of tribal chiefs headed by Sheikh Awad al-Wazir, a parliament member from Shabwa, were meeting Houthi officials in Sanaa to mediate for bin Mubarak's release. "This is a step to try to end the situation (of political crisis) and in honour of the mediation team." Houthis seized bin Mubarak and threatened unspecified further steps after Hadi unveiled a new draft constitution that would devolve authority to regions, in an attempt to resolve big regional, political and sectarian differences in Yemen.
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by Dr. Radut