2012 YEAR IN REVIEW

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  • Kuwait urges Gulf reforms as oil prices fall
    Kuwait urges Gulf reforms as oil prices fall

    Kuwait's finance minister on Saturday called for economic reforms by energy-dependent Gulf states to cope with a drop in oil prices that has hurt their public finances. Saleh said the Gulf states must diversify their economies and "reduce dependence on oil". "Implementing these policies has become inevitable," Saleh told the meeting, which International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde was also attending. Forecasts indicate a healthy economic growth for the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) averaging 4.5 percent in 2014-2015, Saleh said.

  • Google exec makes record skydive from edge of space
    Google exec makes record skydive from edge of space

    A Google executive set a new record Friday by jumping successfully from near the top of the stratosphere -- some 135,000 feet, or 41,000 meters high, his project website said. The record dive by 57-year-old Alan Eustace, who is a "senior vice president of knowledge" at Google, was conducted as part of the Stratospheric Explorer project to allow manned exploration of the stratosphere above 100,000 feet. According to a statement from the Paragon Space Development Corporation, Eustace completed the four-hour mission over Roswell, New Mexico, using a specially designed space suit and balloon module to carry him to the stratosphere. "He spent a short time, around a half hour, experiencing the wonders of the stratosphere before being released from the balloon.

  • Russia turns back clocks to permanent Winter Time
    Russia turns back clocks to permanent Winter Time

    Russia on Sunday is set to turn back its clocks to winter time permanently in a move backed by President Vladimir Putin, reversing a three-year experiment with non-stop summer time that proved highly unpopular. Russia will also tinker with its time zones in order to revert to the full 11 zones from Kamchatka in the Pacific to Kaliningrad on the borders of the European Union -- reduced to nine by previous president Dmitry Medvedev. In one of his highest-profile reforms, Medvedev had backed Russia's move to permanent Summer Time (Greenwich Mean Time plus four hours) in 2011 on the basis that changing clocks upset people's biorhythms and made for "unhappy cows". Moskovsky Komsomolets daily ran a cartoon of man hanging himself on the hands of a clock, saying: "I'm so sick of you changing all the time."

  • Has ISIS Crossed a New Red Line?
    Has ISIS Crossed a New Red Line?

    Throughout this unrelenting spate of recent Middle Eastern conflicts, the specter of chemical weapons have spurred the drawing of red lines and the sending of arms. For ISIS, its bloody advance across Iraq and Syria was cause enough to inspire American airstrikes as well as the arming of opposition forces, but now the radical Sunni Islamist group is also being accused of committing attacks using chemical weapons.

  • Washington school shooter Jaylen Fryberg's personal struggles revealed on social media
    Washington school shooter Jaylen Fryberg's personal struggles revealed on social media

    Social media posts penned by the shooter in Friday’s rampage at a Washington State high school portray a head-over-heels teenager who grew more and more tormented when the relationship fell apart.

  • 25 European banks set to fail health checks: sources

    By John O'Donnell and Andreas Framke FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A group of 25 banks have failed European health checks, while up to 10 of those continue to have a capital shortfall, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday, providing a snapshot of the health of the region's lenders. The health checks, led by the European Central Bank, found that banks in countries including Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia and Portugal had fallen short of a minimum capital benchmark at the end of last year and that up to 10 remained in difficulty now, the sources said. ...

  • Mussolini air raid shelter opens to tourists
    Mussolini air raid shelter opens to tourists

    ROME (AP) — A Roman villa's wine cellar, which was converted into an air raid shelter for Benito Mussolini and the Italian dictator's family, is opening its anti-gas, double steel doors to tourists.

  • SpaceX ship returns to Earth loaded with lab results
    SpaceX ship returns to Earth loaded with lab results

    SpaceX's unmanned Dragon spacecraft left the International Space Station and returned to Earth on Saturday after a month in orbit, NASA said. Astronauts at the orbiting lab manipulated the space station's robotic arm to detach the Dragon on time, at 9:57 am (1357 GMT), in what the US space agency called a "very clean release." The unmanned craft, which has been docked in orbit since September 23, ferried back some 3,200 pounds (1,450 kilograms) of materials, including results from experiments conducted on the space station. The SpaceX vessel is the only spacecraft currently capable of returning with cargo.

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