Eurozone recession deepens

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The recession in the Eurozone deepened in the 4th quarter of 2012, with the gross domestic product contracting 0.60 percent, Eurostat said.

Germany, the engine of the Eurozone economy, saw its GDP decrease 0.60 percent, while Italy's economy contracted 0.90 percent during the October-December 2012 period.

Spain's economy contracted 0.70 percent in the 4th quarter, while the French economy posted a 0.30 percent decline in GDP, compared to the 3rd quarter, Eurostat said.

The Eurozone economy continued to slide in the last three months of last year after officially entering into a recession in the 3rd quarter, when economic output declined 0.10 percent after contracting 0.20 percent in the 2nd quarter.

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American Airlines and US Airways in $11 bn merger

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American Airlines and US Airways said they planned to merge in a deal worth $11 billion, creating the largest carrier in the United States and bringing an end for now to the wave of consolidation in the airline industry.

The new carrier will operate under the American Airlines name and will be based in Fort Worth, Texas, employing about 94,000 people.

"Operating under the American Airlines name, one of the most recognized brands in the world, the combined airline will have a robust global network and a strong financial foundation," the airlines said in a statement.

The carrier will have 950 planes, offer 6,500 flights daily, operate nine hubs, carry 187 million passengers annually and generate revenues of nearly $39 billion.

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"Blade Runner" charged with murder in South Africa

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South African Olympic track star Oscar Pistorius was charged with murdering his girlfriend, who was found dead of four gunshot wounds at the athlete's home in Pretoria, police said.

In comments to reporters outside Pistorius' home, police spokespersons also denied rumors that the sprinter - famed for competing in the Olympic Games despite two leg amputations - had confused his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, with an intruder.

Pistorius made history last July in London when he became the first double-amputee track athlete to compete in the Olympic Games. He went on to qualify for the semifinals in the men's 400 meters.

Nicknamed "Blade Runner" (a reference to the Ridley Scott film and to the fact he runs with high-tech, carbon-fiber prosthetics on both legs), Pistorius has won six Paralympic gold medals.

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Spain earmarks $4.67 bn for job creation

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Spain will devote 3.5 billion euros ($4.67 billion) over the next four years toward efforts to expand economic opportunities for young people and encourage self-employment, the government said.

The investment, which will be co-financed by the European Social Fund, is part of the 2013-2016 Entrepreneurship and Youth Employment Strategy.

Crafted by the government in partnership with labor and business leaders, the strategy includes 15 short-term measures such as financial aid for youths who want to complete their studies and incentives for firms to hire young people.

Unemployment in Spain topped 26 percent at the end of 2012 and the jobless rate among people under 25 stood at 55.1 percent.

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Syrian opposition says it killed Iranian gen'l

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Members of Syria's opposition were behind the killing this week of a senior Iranian general as he traveled from Damascus to Beirut, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The assassination took place near Damascus, according to the U.K.-based group with ties to opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.

Iranian state broadcaster PressTV reported Thursday on an official funeral in Tehran for Gen. Hassan Shateri, a Revolutionary Guard commander for Iran-financed reconstruction projects in South Lebanon, and said he was slain by "Israeli agents."

Because the Assad regime and its allies often describe the Syrian rebels as terrorists and mercenaries on the payroll of foreign powers, including Israel, it is not clear whether Tehran intended to accuse the Israeli government in the general's death.

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Maradona becomes a father again

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Veronica Ojeda, ex-girlfriend of Diego Armando Maradona, gave birth to the Argentine soccer icon's fourth child, her lawyer said.

Diego Fernando Maradona was born late Wednesday night at a clinic in Buenos Aires, Jorge Auruccio told reporters.

Maradona senior, now working in Dubai as a consultant to companies that organize sporting events, "is absolutely up to date about" the condition of mother and baby, the attorney said.

While unsure whether the 52-year-old father would be traveling to Argentina to see his new son, the lawyer said Diego Armando Maradona will send a formal acknowledgment of paternity via the Argentine Embassy in the United Arab Emirates.

EFE