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In brief: Sanctions figure in airfare spike

TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian local airlines have increased their airfares by up to 70 percent amid Western sanctions on the oil and banking system, the official IRNA news agency reported on Tuesday.

The report quotes Hamid Reza Pahlevani, head of the country’s aviation organization, as saying it authorized airlines to increase the airfares to compensate for the high price of aircraft fuel by Iran’s state-owned fuel company.

The hike is the biggest increase in local airfares since the early 1990s.

In May, Iran doubled the price of fuel for Iranian airlines, which are mostly state-owned.

France OKs plan to boost business

PARIS – France’s government has promised $25 billion in tax credits to businesses as part of a “competitiveness pact” that it hopes will spark innovation and lower unemployment – but falls short of calls in a recent report for a “shock” to the economy.

The announcement of the plan Tuesday came a day after a government- commissioned report by Louis Gallois, former head of Airbus parent EADS, which said that the country’s ailing economy needed a big kick to stay globally competitive.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the government’s plan would put the country “back at the heart of the world economy.”

France faces several major economic challenges, including an unemployment rate of 10.8 percent, and labor regulations that make firing so difficult it has discouraged hiring.

Binders on radicals destroyed in error

BERLIN – German media report that authorities have mistakenly shredded dozens of binders containing files on far-right extremists.

News agency dapd reported that local lawmakers in the state of Berlin were informed of the incident Tuesday.

The website quotes Berlin’s top security official, Frank Henkel, as saying none of the files likely related to the far-right National Socialist Underground, which is suspected of killing 10 people between 2000 and 2007.

Prosecutors said Tuesday they plan to file charges soon against “several people” accused of involvement with the group.

Teacher sentenced in headscarf case

LUXOR, Egypt – A teacher in southern Egypt was convicted of child abuse Tuesday and given a six-month suspended sentence, after she cut the hair of two schoolgirls for not wearing the traditional Muslim headscarf.

The incident last month in the village of Qurna drew criticism from rights groups and local officials.

Eman Abu Bakar, the ultraconservative teacher, wears a niqab, which leaves only her eyes visible. She was initially transferred to another school as a rebuke. Then the father of one of the girls and a national center for children’s rights filed a complaint, accusing the teacher of abuse.

Abu Bakar told local papers at the time that she resorted to cutting the girls’ hair only after warning them repeatedly to cover their heads.

The court also fined the teacher $8.


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Pope Francis to create 14 new cardinals in June

UPDATED: 8:55 a.m.

updated  Pope Francis on Sunday revealed his latest picks to be cardinals in the Catholic Church, including his chief aide for helping the poor in Rome and prelates based in Iraq and Pakistan, where Christians are a vulnerable minority.