Culture

 

British Queen celebrates

World News

 

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that Syria could be weeks away from a "big transition", following on from international talks in Vienna at the weekend.

 

 

 

Public museums and other cultural venues in the Paris area will reopen Monday afternoon, three days after the terror attacks in the French capital, the culture ministry said.

The museums will reopen at 1:00 pm (1200 GMT) on Monday, shortly after the country observes a minute of silence, the ministry said in a statement Sunday.

Cinemas were also ordered to close following the attacks but most of them reopened Sunday after a 24-hour closure.

 

 

 

French President Francois Hollande said Sunday he wanted the state of emergency declared after the Paris attacks to last three months, parliamentary sources told AFP, a move that would cover the upcoming UN climate conference.

"He told us he wanted the state of emergency to last three months," one of the sources said.

 

 

 

Germany's second biggest energy company, RWE, saw profits from its core coal and gas business plummet again in the first nine months of the year, it said Thursday.

In Frankfurt, shares in RWE tanked over 8 percent to 11.44 euros after it said 2015 profits would "only just" meet the company's forecast range of 1.1-1.3 billion euros.

Like other German power giants, RWE has been hit by rock-bottom wholesale prices as it competes against subsidised renewables like wind and solar power.

RWE, Germany's largest electricity producer, however saw its net profit boosted to 1.94 billion euros ($2.08 billion), against 994 million a year ago, by the sale of oil and gas exploration division RWE Dea.

The sale allowed the RWE Group to reduce its huge debt to 25.8 billion euros on September 30.

However, data reflecting the utility's ongoing business operations again looked bleak.

 

 

 

 

Slovenia began erecting razor wire along the border with fellow EU member Croatia on Wednesday in a move the government says will help it better manage a record influx of migrants.

Slovenia last month suddenly found itself on the Balkans route taken by thousands of migrants heading to northern Europe after Hungary sealed its borders with Croatia and Serbia.

More than 180,000 passing have passed through the small EU member state of two million people since mid-October, all but a handful heading for Austria and beyond.

"We have started erecting technical obstacles on the southern border in two areas," Interior Ministry spokesman Bostjan Sefic said at a news conference in Ljubljana.

He said the barriers near the towns of Brezice and Razkrizje would initially remain in place for six months.

In total, Ljubljana plans to fence off 80 kilometres (50 miles) of its 670-kilometre frontier with Croatia, Austria's chancellery said Wednesday after a meeting with Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec in Vienna.

 

 

 

 

A spectacular pink diamond, the largest of its kind to ever appear at auction, goes under the hammer in Geneva on Tuesday, with an expected sale price of more than $23 million (21.4 million euros).

The precious jewel's anticipated sale by Christie's is part of a week of auctions that could see another coloured gemstone set a new world record.

That stone, a 12.03-carat blue diamond described by experts as flawless, is being sold by rival auction house Sotheby's on Wednesday, possibly fetching a record $55 million.

"Coloured diamonds...have seen sustained growth during the last few years. Partly because of their great rarity, but equally because of their beauty," said David Bennett, head of Sotheby's international jewellery division.

Christie's 16.08-carat pink diamond is the largest cushion-shaped stone classified in the elite "fancy vivid" category to come to auction.

Rahul Kadakia, the International Head of Jewellery at Christie's, told AFP that the stone dubbed "In the Pink" could end up selling for more than $30 million.

He noted that the record price per carat for a pink diamond was set in December 2009 by Christie's in Hong Kong, when a five-carat stone sold for more than $10 million.

If In the Pink, owned by an American family for the past 15 years, matches that mark, it could fetch more than $32 million he said.

The jewel, he added, has been priced "well below what it is actually worth."

 

 

 

 

Cowboy-hat wearing Wellington Jighere from Nigeria crushed his English opponent 4 - 0 at the World Scrabble Championship in Australia to become first African to bag the word game's global title.

Jighere was among more than 120 competitors who travelled to Perth for the World English-language Scrabble Players' Association Championship, which culminated in Sunday's best-of-seven final against England's Lewis Mackay.

"He had to battle for four days to emerge on top but once he got there -- maybe he was a little fresher, or got a bit of luck -- everything fell into place for him and he won four-nil," Adam Kretschmer, one of the organisers of the event, told AFP of Jighere's effort.

The Nigerian used such high-scoring words as "fahlores", "avouched" and "mentored" as he puzzled his way to victory.

"It is the first time that an African has won in these world championships," Jighere told The Guardian after the win.

But he conceded that: "Nigel is still the master. It just happens that today was my day."

It was a reference to New Zealander Nigel Richards who dominates English-language Scrabble, with three world championships, five North American titles and 11 wins at the prestigious King's Cup in Thailand, sponsored by the Thai royal family.

Richards stunned the francophone world in July when he also won the game's French version even though he doesn't speak the language and only spent nine weeks studying the official Scrabble dictionary.

 

 

 

Melting ice in West Antarctica is a major concern for global sea levels, and a key area may already be unstable enough to unleash three meters of ocean rise, scientists said Monday.

The study follows research out last year, led by NASA glaciologist Eric Rignot, warning that ice in the Antarctic had gone into a state of irreversible retreat, that the melting was considered "unstoppable" and could raise sea level by 1.2 meters (four feet).

This time, researchers at Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research pointed to the long-term impacts of the crucial Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica, which they said "has most likely been destabilized."

While previous studies "examined the short-term future evolution of this region, here we take the next step and simulate the long-term evolution of the whole West Antarctic Ice Sheet," the authors said in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They used computer models to project the effects of 60 more years of melting at the current rate.

This "would drive the West Antarctic Ice sheet past a critical threshold beyond which a complete, long-term disintegration would occur."

In other words, "the entire marine ice sheet will discharge into the ocean, causing a global sea-level rise of about three meters," the authors wrote.

"If the destabilization has begun, a three-meter increase in sea level over the next several centuries to millennia may be unavoidable."

Even just a few decades of ocean warming can unleash a melting spree that lasts for hundreds to thousands of years.

"Once the ice masses get perturbed, which is what is happening today, they respond in a non-linear way: there is a relatively sudden breakdown of stability after a long period during which little change can be found," said lead author Johannes Feldmann.

 

 

 

 

Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski on Friday said he was pleased that a Polish court decided against extraditing him to the United States to face sentencing for raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

 

 

 

Fresh anti-Israeli violence saw three Palestinians shot dead in the West Bank while efforts to douse tensions over Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound by installing cameras at the site ran into trouble.

A surge of violence in the conflict showed no sign of abating as Palestinians, most of them teenagers from the powder-keg city of Hebron, staged more lone-wolf knife attacks against Israeli soldiers and clashed with troops in the occupied West Bank.

Stabbings and violent protests have become daily occurrences since simmering tensions over the status of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City boiled over in early October, leaving scores dead.

On Monday night, Israel said it carried out an air strike against two Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip after a rocket fired from across the border crashed into an open field, without causing any injuries.

Of the three Palestinians that were shot dead Monday, one stabbed an Israeli soldier in the neck and another was killed while attempting a stabbing attack, the army said.

 

 

Separately, a 17-year-old was shot dead when clashes erupted near Hebron, but the cause of the protest was not given.

Monday's violence took the number of Palestinians killed in attempted attacks and clashes to 56. An Israeli Arab attacker was also killed.

And after Israel agreed on Saturday to install surveillance cameras at Al-Aqsa, which US Secretary of State John Kerry described as a "game changer", the measure quickly hit its first obstacle.

The Jordanian-run trust which administers the site, known as the Waqf, complained that when its officials showed up to install the cameras early on Monday, they were blocked by Israeli police.

"We consider the matter evidence that Israel wants to install cameras that only serve its own interests," said Waqf.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back in a statement, arguing arrangements to install the cameras "were supposed to be coordinated at the professional level".

When announcing the agreement, Kerry said Jordanian and Israeli technical teams would have to meet to discuss its implementation.

But Sheikh Azzam al-Khateeb, head of the Waqf, said it was Jordanian King Abdullah II who had made the decision to go ahead with the installation.

"There is no other authority in the mosque except the administration of the Jordanian Islamic Waqf... no one has the right to (carry out) this action except the Waqf administration," Khateeb told AFP.