1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook, IL 60062
Market research company GfK's monthly consumer confidence index fell to -12 from -11 in October, wrong-footing analysts who had expected a small rise. The survey showed Britons were more pessimistic about their own finances and less willing to splash out on big-ticket items despite a brighter economic outlook.
South Africa's top official anti-graft watchdog is recommending President Jacob Zuma repay some of a $21 million publicly funded "security upgrade" to his private home, which included a swimming pool and marquee area, a newspaper reported on Friday. The Mail and Guardian weekly said the Public Protector's provisional report, entitled 'Opulence on a Grand Scale', found Zuma had derived "substantial" personal gain from the home improvements paid for by the state. Zuma's spokesman declined to comment on the newspaper report. No one was immediately available to comment from the office of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
A European Union bid to draw mighty ex-Soviet state Ukraine into the Western fold headed for failure at a summit ending Friday held amid a worsening EU-Russia tug-of-war. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said Ukraine's refusal to get closer to the West by signing a landmark deal Friday shows that its President Viktor Yanukovych is taking the country "nowhere." "The Ukrainian president is not ready to go further into integration with the European Union," she told reporters on the second and final day of a difficult summit between EU leaders and six ex-Soviet states that has highlighted East-West tensions. "I think that today's Ukrainian leadership (is) choosing the way which is going nowhere," the Lithuanian president said.
By Peter Griffiths LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's plan to ban khat, a leafy plant chewed as a stimulant in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula, should be dropped because it could alienate immigrants and damage counter-terrorism operations, lawmakers said on Friday. Parliament's Home Affairs Committee, a panel with influence but no legal power, said the ban was not based on any evidence of medical or social harm. Banning the use of khat, or qat, would create tension between the police and immigrants, particularly Somalis who have settled across Britain, the committee said in a report. It would also be seen as a betrayal by Kenya, where growing khat is a big source of income in some areas, the panel added.
British house prices rose at their fastest rate in more than three years this month, data from mortgage lender Nationwide showed on Friday, just a day after the Bank of England announced steps to curb rising house prices. Nationwide said house prices in November were 6.5 percent higher than a year earlier, the biggest increase since July 2010 and larger than economists had expected, though still around 6 percent below their peak in late 2007. On the month, house prices were up 0.6 percent, in line with forecasts but below the 1.0 percent seen in October. Gardner did not refer to the BoE's decision on Thursday to put the brakes on a scheme launched last year to help boost mortgage lending.
By Adama Diarra BAMAKO (Reuters) - Malian soldiers clashed with stone-throwing protesters who blocked a visit by the prime minister to the northern rebel stronghold of Kidal on Thursday. Several demonstrators were wounded but there were conflicting accounts of who was to blame. The west African country is in the process of restoring democracy after a coup last year led to al Qaeda-linked Islamists taking control of the north. A French-led military offensive routed the Islamists, but tension remains between the central government and Tuareg separatists demanding an independent homeland they call Azawad.
By Ghaith Shennib and Ayman al-Warfalli TRIPOLI/BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - More than 40 people were killed on Thursday in an explosion at an army depot in southern Libya after locals tried to steal ammunition, officials said, while four soldiers died in clashes in the restive eastern part of the country. The incidents highlighted the turmoil in Libya where the government is trying to restore order in the oil-producing country, which is awash with weapons after the 2011 ouster of Muammar Gaddafi. Libya's nascent military is struggling to secure army bases and curb Islamist militants, militias and gangs who fought in the uprising against Gaddafi but refuse to disarm and control parts of the country. The four soldiers were killed in Benghazi as clashes erupted between army special forces and militant Islamists of the Ansar al-Sharia group, officials said.
When Lina Afvander got her HIV diagnosis, it came with a set of prescriptions and a disclosure obligation, which legally requires HIV-positive people in Sweden to reveal their status before having sex. "My strategy is that I don't expose myself to this situation that often, I just don't have that much casual sex," the 35-year-old Swede said. Quite a bitter pill to swallow in itself, an HIV diagnosis in Sweden also brings with it the risk of criminal prosecution if the legal responsibility, intended to prevent the spread of the virus, is not met. But Sweden's use of criminal law in HIV cases, one of the most stringent in the world, is now being challenged as experts argue that people on effective anti-retroviral therapy have an extremely low risk of transmitting the disease.
By Michael Georgy and Abdel Rahman Youssef CAIRO (Reuters) - Two high-profile Egyptian trials, both arising from years of turbulent protests, have delivered sharply contrasting sentences in the space of just a few months. The verdicts stunned the opposition and rights campaigners, even by the standards of a crackdown in which security forces have killed hundreds of Islamists and arrested thousands since the army overthrew President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July. We could not believe that Egypt would lock up its girls with the excuse that they are a threat to security," said Ramadan Abdel Hamid, whose 15-year-old daughter Rawda and wife Salwa were among those sentenced. "Is this what is going to calm Egypt?" As army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi implements a promised roadmap towards elections, the United States is watching closely and has repeatedly urged the interim government to treat its opponents with restraint.
SAO PAULO (AP) — A safety engineer at the World Cup stadium where a giant crane collapse killed two workers allegedly warned his supervisor of possible problems with the operation, only to have his concerns brushed aside, a labor union leader charged Thursday, as sniping over the accident heated up.