Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
Aging Japan: Neighboring suburbs face divergent futures as one grays, one grows
Katsuya Kodama's wife died two years ago, and the 77-year-old keeps her ashes on a Buddhist altar in their suburban Tokyo home. "I talk to her morning and night, tell her everything," he said. "I sit on the chair she used in the bath while ill. Sitting where she sat makes me feel close to her."
France drops fuel tax hike as 'yellow vest' anger persists
President Emmanuel Macron's government is dropping further fuel-tax hikes in next year's budget in the face of protests across France over living costs, his prime minister said on Wednesday, a day after announcing their suspension for six months. The Macron administration is struggling to defuse the anger driving the "yellow vest" protests, as it reels from the worst riots seen in central Paris in five decades last Saturday.
Yemen peace talks set to start on Thursday in Sweden
A team from Yemen's Saudi-backed government arrived in Sweden to attend peace talks starting on Thursday with members of the Iran-aligned Houthi group, in a renewed U.N. push to end a war that has pushed the country to the brink of starvation. A U.N. source said the two sides were unlikely to hold direct talks at a renovated castle outside Stockholm and that special envoy Martin Griffiths and his team would shuttle between them for the consultations, the first since 2016.
U.S. confirms its Iran envoy met Saudi energy minister in Vienna
The U.S. government confirmed that Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih met with U.S. special representative for Iran Brian Hook in Vienna on Wednesday, contradicting a Saudi denial that the talks had taken place. Sources familiar with the meeting said earlier that Hook, a senior policy adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, had spoken with Falih a day before the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries was due to debate oil output cuts.
May's Brexit deal under fire as legal advice stiffens opposition
Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal came under fire from allies and opponents alike on Wednesday after the government was forced to publish legal advice showing the United Kingdom could be locked indefinitely in the European Union's orbit. After a string of humiliating parliamentary defeats for May the day before cast new doubt over her ability to get a deal approved, U.S. investment bank J.P. Morgan said the chances of Britain calling off Brexit altogether had increased.
Without gas for cremation, even dying is a struggle in Venezuela
Angelica Vera of Venezuela's western state of Zulia planned to cremate her father's remains after he died of cancer in November because hyperinflation has pushed the cost of funeral services beyond her financial reach. But the cemetery could not offer a cremation because it had no natural gas, which is in ever shorter supply even though the OPEC nation holds some of the world's largest energy reserves.
Mexico's new president throws down gauntlet to oil majors
Mexico's new president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said on Wednesday he would not cancel contracts issued to foreign and national oil companies by his predecessor but challenged them to pump oil quickly or no further oil fields would be offered. Lopez Obrador took office on Saturday, promising to increase the government's role in the energy industry and roll back what he described as a 36-year neo-liberal era in which successive governments gradually opened up the economy.
Mexico suggests work visas for Central Americans, wants U.S. to do same
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador proposed on Wednesday offering more work visas for Central Americans and said the United States should do the same, part of a negotiation aimed at stemming the northward flow of migrants. Lopez Obrador, who took office on Saturday, said he would discuss immigration with U.S. President Donald Trump in coming days, including increasing investment in southern Mexico and Central America.
Turkish authorities seek arrest of journalist Dundar over 2013 protests
Turkish authorities have issued an arrest warrant for journalist Can Dundar as part of an investigation into protests in Istanbul in 2013 against President Tayyip Erdogan's rule, state-run Anadolu agency said on Wednesday. Prosecutors said he played an active role in the protests and provoked public unrest through social media. They also said he supported members of a terrorist organization against the police, the news agency said.
Facebook gave data on user's friends to certain companies: documents
Facebook Inc let some companies, including Netflix and Airbnb, access users' lists of friends after it cut off that data for most other apps around 2015, according to documents released on Wednesday by a British lawmaker investigating fake news and social media. The 223 pages of internal communication from 2012 to 2015 between high-level employees, including founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, provide new evidence of previously aired contentions that Facebook has picked favorites and engaged in anti-competitive behavior.
(With inputs from Reuters)
(With inputs from agencies.)