West ups defense spending to keep ahead of Chinese tech: conference report

MUNICH (Reuters) – The United States led a rise in Western defense spending in 2018 as it moved to keep ahead of Chinese and Russian pushes into advanced military technology, a report said on Friday. U.S. Marines test night optics during Advanced Naval Technology Exercise 2018 (ANTX-18) at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, March 20, 2018. U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Rhita Daniel/Handout via REUTERSAnd U.S. President Donald Trump will likely press European states to spend even more at a NATO conference in April, the International Institute for Security Studies…

Spain PM Sánchez sets snap election for April

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has called a snap general election for April 28, after Catalan nationalist MPs withdrew support for the Socialist government’s budget. It is just eight months since Mr Sánchez took office, heading a minority government reliant on Catalan support. Opinion polls suggest that no single party would win a clear majority. But conservatives and the far-right Vox party are expected to do well. The Catalan crisis is still simmering. Catalan separatist MPs rejected Mr Sánchez’s budget bill after the government refused to discuss the region’s right…

Wall Street divided on Brexit: Goldman sees a deal, JPMorgan sees a delay

LONDON (Reuters) – As the United Kingdom’s Brexit crisis deepens, two of the titans of Wall Street have starkly different views of the ultimate outcome: Goldman Sachs sees a 50 percent probability of a ratified deal while JPMorgan sees a delay. British and EU flags flutter outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Toby MelvilleUnless Prime Minister Theresa May can get a Brexit deal approved by the British parliament, then she will have to decide whether to delay Brexit or thrust the world’s fifth largest economy…

Indian PM Modi warns Pakistan of strong response for Kashmir attack

NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR (Reuters) – India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday promised a strong response to a car bombing in Kashmir that killed 44 paramilitary that his government blamed on Pakistan, ratcheting up tensions with the nuclear-rival. FILE PHOTO: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks with the media inside the parliament premises on the first day of the winter session, in New Delhi, India, December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File PhotoThe attack on a military convoy in Jammu and Kashmir where India has been battling an insurgency was the worst in…

Exclusive: Alibaba in talks on stake in China operations of Germany’s Metro – sources

HONG KONG/DUESSELDORF (Reuters) – Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is in talks with Germany’s Metro about taking a stake in the German wholesaler’s China operations, three sources told Reuters on Thursday. FILE PHOTO: German retailer Metro AG sign is seen on the steps of their headquarters in Duesseldorf, Germany March 02, 2018. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen/File PhotoMetro and Alibaba declined to comment. The talks are at an early stage and could still fall apart, the sources said. Alibaba’s interest comes after rival Tencent last year signed a partnership deal with…

Pompeo: U.S. aims to ‘get as far down the road as we can’ with North Korea

WARSAW (Reuters) – The United States aims to “get as far down the road as we can” ahead of a summit with North Korea in Vietnam this month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday. Pompeo said he was sending his team back to Asia in the coming days for further discussions around all issues discussed at a groundbreaking Singapore summit last June between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump announced last week he would hold a second summit with Kim in…

Chicago police dispute reports ‘Empire’ actor investigated for staging attack

(Reuters) – Chicago police contested media reports on Thursday that officers were investigating whether “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett staged being physically assaulted because he was being written out of the television show. FILE PHOTO: Jussie Smollett performs a tribute to President’s Award recipient John Legend at the 47th NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, California February 5, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File PhotoChicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said there was no evidence to support a report by Chicago ABC7 television, which cited sources familiar with the investigation. “Media reports about the Empire incident…

Chicago police reject report ‘Empire’ actor investigated for staging attack

FILE PHOTO: Jussie Smollett performs a tribute to President’s Award recipient John Legend at the 47th NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, California February 5, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo(Reuters) – Chicago police dismissed a media report on Thursday that officers were investigating whether “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett staged being physically assaulted because he was being written out of the television show. Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said there was no evidence to support the report by Chicago ABC7 television, which cited multiple unnamed sources. “(Police Superintendent) Eddie Johnson has contacted @ABC7Chicago…

Oil prices hit 2019 highs amid OPEC-led supply cuts

Oil prices rallied on Friday, with Brent crude futures hitting fresh 2019 highs amid U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and Iran and supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Brent pushed above $65 per barrel for the first time in 2019, before edging back to $64.91 a barrel by 0143 GMT. That was still 0.5 percent above the last close. The international benchmark for oil prices is at a near 3-month high and set for a 4.5 percent gain for the week. U.S. West Texas Intermediate…

Living dangerously, one foot at a time, in ‘Free Solo’

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Alex Honnold lives life dangerously. Shannon Dill, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin and Evan Hayes hold their award for Documentary for the film ‘Free Solo’ with Alex Honnold at the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Britain, February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Toby MelvilleOne of an elite group of “free solo” rock climbers, he scales sheer vertical cliffs thousands of feet high, alone and without a rope. Now his death-defying ascent in 2017 of the towering El Capitan granite…

‘Forever haunted’ Parkland mourns a year after shooting

PARKLAND, Fla. (Reuters) – One year after the Valentine’s Day massacre inside a Florida school, students and families leading a nationwide push for school and gun safety paused on Thursday to mark the anniversary of the deadliest U.S. high school shooting. School buses brought only a handful of students to a shortened class day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a former student with an assault gun killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018. A moment of silence and community service activities took place at local…

Trump retreats on border bill but vows emergency declaration to get wall

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will sign a border security and federal spending bill to avert another government shutdown but also will declare a national emergency to try to obtain funds for his promised U.S.-Mexico border wall, the White House said on Thursday, drawing immediate criticism from Democrats. The bipartisan legislation, passed by the Republican-led Senate on Thursday before going to the Democratic-led House of Representatives for final congressional approval, denied Trump the funds he had demanded for a border wall, one of his central 2016 campaign pledges. In…

Clooney, Pitt among Hollywood actors yelling ‘cut’ over Oscar award changes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Robert de Niro on Thursday joined a growing protest in Hollywood over plans by Oscars organizers to present cinematography, editing and some other awards during commercial breaks at next week’s Academy Awards ceremony. FILE PHOTO: Actor, executive producer, and director George Clooney speaks on a panel for the Hulu series « Catch-22 », during the Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, California, U.S., February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File PhotoSandra Bullock, Emma Stone and Jon Hamm also added their…

Amazon pulls plug on New York City headquarters

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc abruptly scrapped plans to build a headquarters in New York after opposition from local politicians and some of its would-be neighbors, the third most-valuable public U.S. company said on Thursday. Amazon’s search for a second headquarters, which it described as HQ2, was deemed a massive, year-long public relations success, garnering worldwide publicity and interest from cities across the United States and Canada. Accustomed to fawning advances from municipal leaders around the country, Amazon seemed startled by the brusque, even rude, welcome it got from some New…

After ex-policeman’s murder sentence, divisions in Chicago persist

CHICAGO (Reuters) – After white former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was sentenced last month for the 2014 killing of black teen Laquan McDonald, top local officials urged the third-largest U.S. city to pull together to close a painful chapter in its history. FILE PHOTO: Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke watches the prosecution’s closing statements during his trial for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., October 4, 2018. Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/Pool via REUTERS/File PhotoBut the nearly seven-year prison…

BP’s vision of the near future sees renewable power and natural gas dominating energy

In a not-too-distant future, renewable energy becomes the world’s biggest source of power generation. A quarter of the distances that humans travel by vehicle will be in electric cars. U.S. dominance in the oil market begins to wane, and OPEC’s influence is resurgent, as crude demand finally peaks. div > div.group > p:first-child »> That is the vision laid out by British oil and gas giant BP on Thursday in its latest Annual Energy Outlook. The closely followed report lays out a vision through 2040 for Earth’s energy future, provided…

Skripal poisoning: Bellingcat names ‘third man’ in Salisbury case

A third man has been named as a suspect in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury last year. Investigative website Bellingcat claims that he is Denis Vyacheslavovich Sergeev, a Russian military intelligence officer. It says he came to the UK at the same time as two suspects alleged to have carried out the March 2018 attack. The website claims the officer travelled internationally under the pseudonym Sergey Fedotov. MI6 double agent Sergei Skripal, 67, and his daughter Yulia, then 33, were poisoned with a nerve agent known…

Chicago police question two over alleged attack on ‘Empire’ actor

FILE PHOTO: Jussie Smollett performs a tribute to President’s Award recipient John Legend at the 47th NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, California February 5, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo(Reuters) – Chicago police are questioning two persons of interest who were in the area when “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett said he suffered a racist and homophobic assault, authorities said on Thursday. Detectives used surveillance camera footage to identify the pair, whose names have not been released, as they investigated an attack that Smollett said occurred on Jan. 29, when two men shouted…

Amazon will abandon plans to build HQ2 in New York

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France, August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc said Thursday it will not move forward with plans to build a headquarters in New York after rising opposition from local politicians. The company said it will not reopen the search process “at this time. We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and…

Wall St skids as bleak retail sales data clouds trade optimism

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, led by declines in consumer and bank shares, after bleak retail data fanned concerns about retailer earnings and led to increased bets of interest rate cuts, with losses capped by optimism over Sino-U.S. trade talks. Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermidRetail sales tumbled 1.2 percent in December, the commerce department said, the largest drop since September 2009 when the economy was emerging from a recession. Economists polled by…

Actress Charlotte Rampling gets lifetime achievement award at Berlin fest

Actress Charlotte Rampling, honored with the Honorary Golden Bear award, attends a news conference at the 69th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany, February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio BenschBERLIN (Reuters) – British actress Charlotte Rampling said on Thursday she was moved to be awarded the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear for lifetime achievement. The 73-year-old, who started her career as a model, is famed for starring in arthouse films. She is best known for playing a concentration camp survivor in Liliana Cavani’s “The Night Porter” (1974). Rampling has starred in…

Grief, and some joy, in a decades-spanning Chinese saga

BERLIN (Reuters) – “So Long My Son”, a decades-spanning Chinese saga that opens in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution, was born of a need to re-assess a generation that had no time for introspection as it built modern China, its director Wang Xiaoshuai said. Actor Wang Yuan arrives for the screening of the movie « Di jiu tian chang » (So Long, My Son) at the 69th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany, February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Fabrizio BenschFour years in the making, Wang’s three-hour epic, which premieres at…

Net-zero energy homes have arrived — and are shaking up the US housing market

In 2013 De Young Properties built a single-family house in central California that defied nearly three generations worth of homes the family business had constructed. It was a net-zero energy building — it had the potential to produce as much energy as it would consume in a year. De Young didn’t build another one for four years, but within that period the company refined its designs to be more energy-efficient and technology-focused and drove down costs. div > div.group > p:first-child »> « Energy bills tend to be pretty high…

Stock futures pare gains after retail sales data

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures pared gains on Thursday, after retail sales recorded their biggest drop in more than nine years in December, suggesting a sharp slowdown in economic activity at the end of 2018. At 8:37 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 39 points, or 0.15 percent. S&P 500 e-minis were up 2.5 points, or 0.09 percent, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 13 points, or 0.19 percent.…

Laptop ‘for him’, vacuum ‘for her’? HSBC draws ire with Valentine offer

LONDON (Reuters) – A Valentine’s day special deal for HSBC staff in Hong Kong offering discounted laptops ‘for him’ but vacuum cleaners and kitchen appliances ‘for her’ has angered staff over the sexist implications of the campaign. FILE PHOTO: HSBC headquarters is seen at the financial Central district in Hong Kong, China September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File PhotoThe offer has drawn criticism from HSBC staff both in Hong Kong and in London, where it was posted in an internal chatroom, according to a source who shared images of it with…

Brie Larson makes superhero debut in female-led ‘Captain Marvel’

FILE PHOTO: Cast member Brie Larson poses at the premiere of « Free Fire » in Los Angeles, California U.S., April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Mario AnzuoniSINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oscar winner Brie Larson gets embroiled in galactic conflict in Marvel Studios’ first female-led superhero movie “Captain Marvel”, a role she said pushed her beyond her comfort zone during training. The actress, who won the best actress Academy Award for “Room”, plays former U.S. fighter pilot Carol Danvers in the highly anticipated film, set in the 1990s and which follows her path to…

Innovative wave technology could be used to provide homes with low cost energy

Engineers have developed wave energy technology that could help to produce low-cost electricity for thousands of households. In an announcement Wednesday, the University of Edinburgh said that the device could convert wave power into electricity and had been designed « to be incorporated into existing ocean energy systems. » Experiments in an ocean simulator have shown that one full-size device was able to produce the equivalent of 500 kilowatts, the university added. This represents enough electricity for roughly 100 houses. The device, called a Dielectric Elastomer Generator, uses flexible rubber…

Climate disasters cost $650 billion over 3 years — Americans are bearing the brunt: Morgan Stanley

Climate-related disasters have cost the world $650 billion over the last three years, and North America is shouldering most of the burden, according to a new report from Morgan Stanley. div > div.group > p:first-child »> While both governments and corporations are taking steps to mitigate the impacts of climate change, Morgan Stanley says companies need to strongly consider preparing for a world gripped by more frequent and intense weather events, rising sea levels, changes to agriculture and the spread of infectious disease. Those outcomes will have a lopsided effect…

Britain’s Prince Philip, 97, will not be prosecuted over car crash

FILE PHOTO: Debris is seen at the scene where Britain’s Prince Philip was involved in a traffic accident, near the Sandringham estate in eastern England, Britain, January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Radburn/File PhotoLONDON (Reuters) – Queen Elizabeth’s 97-year-old husband Prince Philip will not face prosecution after a car crash last month that injured two women, Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said on Thursday. Philip, who escaped without injury on Jan. 17 when the Land Rover he was driving flipped in a collision with a car close to the royals’ Sandringham residence in…

Brexit ‘monster’ urges Dutch to prepare

The Dutch government sees Brexit not as the elephant in the room but as a giant Muppet-style monster lying on a desk. That is the picture tweeted by Foreign Minister Stef Blok, with the warning: « make sure Brexit doesn’t sit – or lie – in your way ». There is a link to an official website where Dutch firms can see the potential impact of Brexit on their business. The Netherlands is among the UK’s top trading partners, and Dutch officials say Brexit could deliver a major blow. There…