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Cuban economy, internet on party agenda ahead of Castro exit

Havana - A dire economic crisis and the "subversive" nature of the internet were on the agenda Saturday and Sunday as a historic congress of the Communist Party of Cuba meets ahead of longtime leader Raul Castro's departure from power.

IMF, World Bank begin push to swap debt relief for green projects

Washington - The idea of forgiving debt held by poor countries in exchange for "green" investments gained ground this week during the spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank, with concrete proposals expected in time for a global climate summit this fall.

Biden sets out 'once-in-a-generation' $2 tn infrastructure plan

Pittsburgh - President Joe Biden on Wednesday unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure plan aimed at modernizing America's crumbling transport network, creating millions of jobs and delivering a "once-in-a-generation" investment that will enable the country to best Ch...

Squeezed by sanctions, pandemic, Cuba finally opens up economy

Havana - Cuba is undergoing a paradigm shift: after decades of tight, centralized control, the communist government is opening up the bulk of its economy to the private sector.

French Caribbean islands in dire straits as new Covid rules hit

Paris - It's February and the palm-fringed beaches of French islands in the Caribbean should be dotted with mainland tourists on mid-term holidays.

France braces for new Covid curbs but set to avoid lockdown

Paris - The French government is expected Thursday to announce new restrictions to stave off a rise in coronavirus cases but unlike some of its neighbours a full lockdown appears off the agenda for now.

Former presidential hopeful Andrew Yang to run for New York mayor

New York - Former US presidential hopeful and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang has announced he will run for mayor of New York City in an election this year that he is an early favourite to win.

French fishermen voice relief at Brexit deal

Lille - French fishing officials on Friday welcomed a post-Brexit trade accord that will allow them to continue plying British waters after January 1, avoiding a "no deal" that could have threatened the livelihoods of thousands.

Wealth of US billionaires soars during pandemic

New York - America's billionaires have seen their wealth rise by more than $1 trillion since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study Wednesday, fueling a debate about higher taxes on the rich.

Macron rejects calls to get tough with Egypt's Sisi on rights

Paris - French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday rejected criticism of his close ties with visiting Egyptian strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, saying that to take a tougher line on respect for human rights would be "counterproductive".

Macron poised to soften lockdown as virus caseload drops

Paris - French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce lighter coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday thanks to a recent drop in new infections, paving the way for shops to reopen swiftly and allow travel for Christmas.

DR Congo hoteliers bet on luxury in troubled east

Goma - The new five-star Serena Hotel in the city of Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, has more than 100 luxury rooms and all of the amenities: a conference centre, restaurants, spas and a gym.

Paris under curfew as Europe battles soaring virus caseload

Paris - Millions of Europeans faced tough new coronavirus restrictions on Saturday as governments stepped up efforts to slow the surge in infections, after the World Health Organization reported a "very concerning" 44-percent rise in European cases over one we...

Last night out in France for millions as virus curfew imposed

Paris - Millions of French people enjoyed a last night of freedom on Friday before a Covid-19 curfew in Paris and other large cities came into force at midnight, for a least a month, prompted by an alarming surge in new cases.

Last night out in France as 20 million face virus curfew

Paris - Millions of French people were looking forward to a last night of freedom on Friday before a Covid-19 curfew in Paris and other large cities comes into force for a least a month, prompted by an alarming surge in new cases.

Dollar makes a comeback as Cuba readies currency devaluation

Havana - The US dollar is making a comeback as the favored currency in communist-run Cuba as the country prepares to devalue the peso to relieve pressure on a battered economy.

US-Israeli delegation lands in Abu Dhabi on historic flight

Abu Dhabi - A US-Israeli delegation led by White House advisor Jared Kushner arrived Monday in Abu Dhabi, on the historic first commercial flight from Tel Aviv to mark the normalisation of ties between the Jewish state and the UAE.

El Al 971 to Abu Dhabi: first Israel-UAE 'commercial flight'

An Israeli-American delegation was set to take off Monday on the first commercial flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi as the US-brokered normalisation agreement between the Jewish state and the UAE takes hold.

New French PM unveils revitalisation plans

Paris - France's new Prime Minister Jean Castex won solid parliamentary backing Wednesday as he outlined plans to revitalise the nation, vowing to make jobs his overarching priority.

Macron picks new interior minister in cabinet revamp

Paris - President Emmanuel Macron Monday replaced his embattled interior minister and shuffled other cabinet positions as he seeks a "new path" to see France through its worst economic crisis since World War II and win re-election.

Build a better, greener world economy after pandemic: Stiglitz

Paris - Business as usual is not an option once the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, according to Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz, who wants new climate-laced metrics to measure growth beyond the blunt instrument of GDP.

French churches reopen as coronavirus restrictions loosened

Paris - French churches were preparing to hold their first Sunday masses in more than two months after the government bowed to a ruling that they should be reopened -- provided proper precautions were taken.

Under the sun, and threat of virus, Italy readies its beaches

Jesolo - Beach season is around the corner and all along Italy's vast coastlines, preparations have begun to attract sun-worshippers and their wallets while safeguarding against the lingering coronavirus.Most beaches throughout the country remain off-limits.

Tests show UVC lamps could light the way in virus fight

New York - Could a new type of ultraviolet lamp be used in stations, airplanes and schools to kill dangerous viruses, becoming a gamechanger in the COVID-19 fight?

For Haitians, die of hunger today or coronavirus tomorrow?

Port-au-prince - When the novel coronavirus first appeared in Haiti authorities and humanitarian experts panicked, worried about the country's decrepit health system -- but the pandemic's economic consequences could prove yet deadlier for the nation's poor.

In virus-hit Cuba, the struggle to get food on the table

Havana - Yadira types out a message to her WhatsApp group, with the name of a Havana store where a supply of chicken has just arrived.

Cuba's private sector suffering from a lack of tourists

Havana - Havana is a ghost town. The American convertibles swooned over by tourists are back in the garage, while most restaurants and cafes are closed.

Debt moratorium 'essential' to help Africa fight coronavirus: Macron

Paris - French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday called for a moratorium on the debt of African countries as "an essential step" to help the continent get through the coronavirus crisis.

At US food banks, a cupboard increasingly bare

Washington - Volunteers are staying home and donations have dried up. The coronavirus pandemic is pressuring US food banks, just as the number of people in need increases.

Demand explodes for New York food banks

New York - New York food banks have become inundated with newcomers deprived of income since the near-total halt of business in the United States' economic capital.
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