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Indonesian volcanic eruption brings life and cash as well as death and misery

  SIDOMULYO, Indonesia – The ash and debris that Indonesia’s Mount Kelud blasted from its belly brought death and misery, and disrupted international air traffic. But for many of the millions of people cleaning up Saturday in the wake of the explosive eruption, it was also a money earner and a shot of life for …

Suspected Abu Sayyaf extremists abduct couple in southern Philippines, military says

MANILA, Philippines – Suspected Abu Sayyaf extremists kidnapped a Filipino couple in the southern Philippines on Sunday, adding to a group of hostages they are holding that includes two European tourists, military officials said. Bonifacio Salinas and his wife got off a motorcycle taxi and were walking back to their home in Jolo town in …

Huge Philippine charity walk for Typhoon Haiyan survivors breaks 2 Guinness records

MANILA, Philippines – A Philippine Christian sect has broken two records for organizing the largest charity walk in an effort to raise funds for survivors of last year’s Typhoon Haiyan, a Guinness World Records official said Sunday. Guinness adjudicator Kirsty Bennett said 175,509 members of the Iglesia ni Cristo took part in Saturday’s record-setting walk …

Philippine star corruption witness promises to return nearly $1 million in kickbacks

MANILA, Philippines—A star witness in a corruption scandal implicating powerful Philippine lawmakers publicly acknowledged her role Thursday in deals that defrauded the government of large amounts of anti-poverty funds and pledged to return nearly $1 million in kickbacks she received from corrupt deals. Businesswoman and socialite Ruby Tuason testified at a televised Senate committee hearing that she decided …

David Beckham visits Philippine city devastated by Typhoon Haiyan

TACLOBAN, Philippines—David Beckham visited the storm-devastated Philippine city of Tacloban on Thursday as part of UNICEF’s relief efforts. The central city is still struggling to deal with the impact of super Typhoon Haiyan, which struck on Nov. 8, killing more than 6,200 people and leaving tens of thousands of survivors still homeless. Beckham was welcomed Thursday by hundreds …

Former blue collar workers in Greek town turn to soup kitchens, trash as unemployment rises

PERAMA, Greece—For Perama, the ships have sailed. This working class town at Athens’ western tip once hosted some of the busiest shipyards in Greece, a maritime country with one of the world’s biggest shipping industries. Wages were good and jobs plentiful. Apartment blocks were built quickly along a steep, sea-facing hill from whose heights 2,500 …

Starwood 4Q profit falls but adjusted earnings tops Wall Street view; 2014 guidance is short

STAMFORD, Conn.—Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.’s fourth-quarter net income fell 10 per cent, hurt by some charges. Its adjusted quarterly earnings topped analysts’ estimate, but its guidance for this year was below Wall Street’s view. The Stamford, Conn., company, whose brands include Sheraton and St. Regis, earned $128 million, or 67 cents a share, …

Weekly applications for US unemployment benefits rise slightly to 339,000

WASHINGTON—The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose 8,000 last week to 339,000, evidence that layoffs ticked up. Still, the increase wasn’t enough to suggest the job market is worsening. The Labor Department said Thursday that the four week average of applications, a less volatile measure, increased 3,500 to a seasonally adjusted 336,750. The …

GM recalling nearly 780,000 compacts for ignition trouble; engines can stall and cause crashes

DETROIT—General Motors is recalling nearly 780,000 compact cars in North America because the engines can shut down unexpectedly and cause crashes. The company says six people have been killed in crashes related to the problem. The recall affects Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s from the 2005 through 2007 model years. U.S. safety regulators say the …

Burger King’s profit climbs on strength overseas; Satisfries help North American sales

NEW YORK—Burger King reported a higher quarterly profit as growth overseas helped lift a key sales figure. The Miami-based chain says global sales rose 1.7 per cent at locations open at least a year, with particularly strong results in Asia. In North America, where it introduced lower-calorie french fries called Satisfries, the figure edged up …