TOULOUSE, France -- Civil servants wave union flags during a demonstration in southwestern France. Thousands of teachers, hospital workers and civil servants walked off the job throughout the country Thursday in a wave of strikes aimed at the conservative government on wages and benefits.
Afghan warlord escapessuicide bomb attack
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan warlord Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum escaped unhurt Thursday from a suicide bomb attack that injured more than 20 people gathered for prayers in his northern home town of Sheberghan. Dostum is an Uzbek militia leader who also ran for president last year and helped oust the Taliban in 2001. The encounter shook residents of a city that has been spared such attacks until now. "This was the best city in Afghanistan to have good security in," said Khisraw Zafar, who was sitting a few rows behind Dostum at open air prayers. "Now people say that even Sheberghan is getting insecure." A spokesman for the ousted Taliban government said it carried out the attack, wire services reported.
Seventh bird flu death
HANOI, Vietnam -- Vietnam confirmed early today the seventh human death from bird flu in three weeks and neighboring Thailand recorded its first case among poultry this year as health experts expressed concern about a possible repeat of last year's devastating outbreak. About 330,000 birds have died or been slaughtered because of the virus in Vietnam this year, and the World Health Organization is worried infection could spread rapidly with the start of the Feb. 9 Lunar New Year holiday.
hBaby weighs 16 pounds
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- A 38-year-old woman in northeastern Brazil has given birth to a son weighing more than 16 pounds, hospital officials said. Francisca Ramos dos Santos delivered 16 pound, 11-ounce Ademilton on Tuesday at the Albert Sabin Maternity Hospital in Salvador, 900 miles northeast of Sao Paulo, said hospital director Rita Leal. "It is the biggest baby ever born in the hospital's 12-year history and I think it could very well be one of the biggest ever born in this country," Leal said in a telephone interview.
Picasso sells on Costco
SEATTLE -- Costco shoppers were offered an online deal this month -- an original Picasso. The crayon-on-paper drawing of a face signed and dated by Pablo Picasso was listed for $39,999.99 on the retailer's Web site Jan. 12. It sold Wednesday, said Jim Sinegal, Costco's chief executive, who would not identify the buyer. The Issaquah-based discount retailing giant may be better known for bulk chicken and cases of soda, but the Costco.com site features an eclectic mix of items, from caskets to computers to sports equipment.
Bob Jones to retire
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Bob Jones III said Thursday he will retire as president of the Christian university that bears his name, ending a 34-year reign during which the school grabbed headlines because of its racial policies and fundamentalist views. Jones' son will take over as president of the school in May. The 65-year-old Jones, whose grandfather founded Bob Jones University 78 years ago, said it was time for someone younger and "closer to the present generation" to take over. Jones said he will spend more time traveling and preaching but will remain a visible part of the campus, as chairman of the board of trustees and perhaps as "grandpa" to 5,000 students who attend college at the campus in Greenville, about 100 miles northwest of Columbia.