Trump picks Mulvaney as chief of staff – for now

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday moved to end speculation that he was having a hard time finding a new chief of staff, naming his budget chief Mick Mulvaney to the top post on a temporary basis. Mulvaney, a hard-charging conservative and former congressman, will be the third person in two years to try to bring order to what has often been a chaotic White House. Trump named him after two other prominent candidates withdrew from consideration in the space of a week. “For the record, there…

North Carolina Republican says he hired consultant at heart of fraud probe

(Reuters) – The North Carolina Republican embroiled in a vote fraud controversy said on Friday he hired the political operative at the center of a probe into possible absentee ballot irregularities in a disputed U.S. congressional election. FILE PHOTO: Mark Harris attends a debate between the four top-polling Republican candidates in North Carolina for the U.S. Senate, at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Davis Turner/File PhotoNorth Carolina’s board of election has refused to certify Republican candidate Mark Harris as the winner of the Nov. 6 vote…

Special Report: J&J knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Darlene Coker knew she was dying. She just wanted to know why. Darlene Coker is shown on a kitchen table full of many personal pictures of her family life in California, U.S. August 15, 2018. Picture taken August 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake She knew that her cancer, mesothelioma, arose in the delicate membrane surrounding her lungs and other organs. She knew it was as rare as it was deadly, a signature of exposure to asbestos. And she knew it afflicted mostly men who inhaled asbestos dust…

Wall St. tumbles on global growth worries, J&J decline

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s three major indexes tumbled on Friday and the Dow confirmed a correction as weak data from China and Europe stoked fears of a global economic slowdown, while Johnson & Johnson shares were the biggest drag after Reuters reported the company knew for decades that its Baby Powder contained asbestos. The S&P 600 .SPCY small cap index confirmed it was in a bear market after closing 20.05 percent below its Aug. 31 peak, falling 1.6 percent on the day. The Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) report, which the…

Global growth worry hits stocks, but U.S. data lifts dollar

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A gauge of global stocks tumbled on Friday after weak economic data from China and Europe intensified global growth worries as investors weighed the broader impact of the trade dispute between the United States and China. Euro zone business ended the year on a weak note, expanding at the slowest pace in over four years as new order growth all but dried up, hurt by trade tensions and violent protests in France, a survey showed. [nL8N1YJ1W5] A separate survey showed French business activity plunged unexpectedly into…

Exclusive: T-Mobile, Sprint see U.S. security approval for deal after Huawei concessions – sources

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp expect their merger to be approved by a U.S. national security panel as early as next week, after their respective parent companies said they would consider curbing their use of equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk past a Huawei shop in Beijing, China, December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File PhotoU.S. government officials have been pressuring T-Mobile’s German majority owner, Deutsche Telekom AG, to stop using Huawei equipment, the sources said, over…

Worth the sting: Cuba’s scorpion pain remedy

HAVANA (Reuters) – Once a month for the last decade, Pepe Casanas, a 78-year-old Cuban farmer, has hunted down a scorpion to sting himself with, vowing that the venom wards off his rheumatism pains. A worker extracts venom from a scorpion to produce homeopathic medicine Vidatox at LABIOFAM, the Cuban state manufacturer of medicinal and personal hygienic products, in Cienfuegos, Cuba, December 3, 2018. REUTERS/StringerHis natural remedy is no longer seen as very unusual here. Researchers in Cuba have found that the venom of the blue scorpion, whose scientific name…

Wall Street drops on global growth fears; J&J tumbles on Reuters report

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell on Friday as weak economic data from China and Europe rekindled fears of slowing global growth, with Johnson & Johnson leading the losses after Reuters reported the company knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder. Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermidThe company’s shares (JNJ.N) tumbled 11.46 percent, on pace for their biggest one-day percentage drop in 16 years. The stock was the biggest drag on the S&P…

Ousted Nissan boss’ daughter takes documents, cash from apartment

SAO PAULO/TOKYO (Reuters) – The daughter of ousted Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn early on Friday retrieved documents and cash from a corporate apartment in Rio de Janeiro, capping a legal battle over the items, which the carmaker maintains may contain evidence of wrongdoing. FILE PHOTO – Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, attends a news conference to unveil Renault’s next mid-term strategic plan in Paris, France, October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File PhotoThe midnight visit by Ghosn’s daughter Caroline, accompanied by two court officers and multiple Nissan lawyers,…

Exclusive: France plans Renault CEO hunt as board frays over Ghosn – sources

PARIS (Reuters) – The French government is seeking candidates to replace Renault’s (RENA.PA) embattled boss Carlos Ghosn, sources told Reuters, as board members began to voice doubts about keeping him in office following his indictment in Japan for suspected misconduct. FILE PHOTO: Carlos Ghosn attends the Paris Auto Show, in Paris, France, October 1, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File PhotoAt a meeting on Thursday, Renault directors were briefed on an investigation by alliance partner Nissan (7201.T) that led to Ghosn’s arrest last month. He was charged this week over the company’s failure…

U.S., South Korea can’t agree on sharing the bill after Trump’s criticism

SEOUL (Reuters) – The United States and South Korea have failed to agree on a bigger South Korean share of the cost of maintaining U.S. troops, an official said on Friday, as the U.S. military warned Korean workers they might be put on leave if no deal is reached. FILE PHOTO: U.S. army soldiers take part in a U.S.-South Korea joint river-crossing exercise near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Yeoncheon, South Korea, April 8, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File PhotoU.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that South Korea…

Apple to push software update in China as Qualcomm case threatens sales ban

SHANGHAI/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Apple Inc, facing a court ban in China on some of its iPhone models over alleged infringement of Qualcomm Inc patents, said on Friday it will push software updates to users in a bid to resolve potential issues. FILE PHOTO : An attendee uses a new iPhone X during a presentation for the media in Beijing, China October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas PeterApple will carry out the software updates at the start of next week “to address any possible concern about our compliance with the order”, the…

Asian shares jolted by grim Chinese data, growth risks

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares tumbled on Friday after China reported a set of weak data, fanning fresh worries of a slowdown in the world’s second-biggest economy and leaving investors fretting over the wider impact of a yet unresolved Sino-U.S. trade dispute. FILE PHOTO: Men look at stock quotation boards outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Issei KatoMSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.3 percent. Japan’s Nikkei, also dragged down by the country’s weak tankan sentiment index, dropped 2.0 percent. China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite…

Trump meets Christie as some advisers urge Kushner for chief of staff: sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Thursday met with former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and considered him a top contender for the job of White House chief of staff, a position some advisers urged him to give to senior aide Jared Kushner, sources said.A source familiar with Trump’s thinking said the president had a positive meeting with Christie, confirming a report by Axios.com, and considered him a top-tier candidate for the position. Christie, a brash, tough-talking politician, was a contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 but…

Nissan board unlikely to select new chairman on Monday: source

Passersby are silhouetted as a huge street monitor broadcasts news reporting ousted Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn’s indictment and re-arrest in Tokyo, Japan December 10, 2018. REUTERS/Issei KatoTOKYO (Reuters) – Nissan Motor Co’s board is unlikely to select a chairman to succeed Carlos Ghosn as had been expected on Dec. 17 after a panel tasked to choose a candidate did not agree on a nominee in a meeting held Thursday, a source said. The panel of Nissan’s three external directors agreed on Thursday that more time was needed to decide…

No free money in New Jersey: Police want spilled banknotes back

(Reuters) – Police in New Jersey on Thursday urged people who grabbed banknotes that spilled out of the back of an armored truck during rush-hour traffic to return the cash, no questions asked. East Rutherford police began receiving calls at around 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT) on Thursday that cash was blowing out of the bullet-resistant truck and multiple vehicles had crashed after several motorists abandoned their cars to chase the money. Videos posted on social media showed a Brinks armored truck with its hazard lights flashing on Route 3,…

Bitcoin bomb threats sweep U.S., Canada, but lack credibility

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A rash of bomb threats were emailed on Thursday to hundreds of businesses, public offices and schools across the United States and Canada demanding payment in cryptocurrency, but none of the threats appeared credible, law enforcement officials said. Passengers stand outside King subway station after a bomb threat was made in Toronto, Ontario, Canada December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Chris HelgrenInitial jitters sparked by the wave of awkwardly worded messages, threatening to set off explosives unless $20,000 were delivered in bitcoin, subsided within hours as some local authorities began…

Smog and a hard place: China regions caught between economic woes and pollution war

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Amid a slowing economy and a slew of mixed signals from the environment ministry, China’s embattled local governments are facing a dilemma: do they go all out to curb smog this winter, or do their best to keep factories humming? FILE PHOTO: Chinese national flags are flying near a steel factory in Wu’an, Hebei province, China, February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File PhotoChina has promised to put an end to a “growth at all costs” economic model, which has blackened its skies and contaminated large stretches of its…

Virgin Galactic completes crewed space test, more flights soon

MOJAVE, Calif. (Reuters) – A Virgin Galactic rocket plane reached space on Thursday and returned safely to the California desert, capping years of testing to become the first U.S. commercial human flight to breach Earth’s atmosphere since America’s shuttle program ended in 2011. The successful test flight presages a new era of civilian space travel that could kick off as soon as next year, with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic battling billionaire-backed ventures such as Amazon.com Inc founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, to be the first to offer suborbital flights to…

Butina admits being Russian agent, pleads guilty in U.S. to conspiracy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Russian woman pleaded guilty in a U.S. court on Thursday to a single conspiracy charge in a deal with prosecutors and admitted to working with a top Russian official to infiltrate a powerful gun rights group and make inroads with American conservative activists and the Republican Party as an agent for Moscow. Maria Butina, a former graduate student at American University in Washington who publicly advocated for gun rights, entered the plea to a charge of conspiracy to act as a foreign agent at a hearing…

Chirp perp: Finches found in luggage at NY airport

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A man was caught at New York’s JFK airport last weekend trying to smuggle dozens of South American finches into the country, a bird that Guyanese immigrants covet for chirping but officials fear could spread disease, officials said on Thursday. About 70 finches were found hidden inside a shipment of hair rollers at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday when a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialist inspected the unidentified male passenger’s luggage. Some of the birds had died enroute. The birds may have…

U.S. government posts $205 billion deficit in November

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Treasury building is seen in Washington, September 29, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Bourg WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. federal government ran a $205 billion deficit in November, according to data released on Thursday by the Treasury Department. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a $188 billion deficit for last month. Treasury said federal spending in November was $411 billion, up 18 percent from the same month in 2017, while receipts were $206 billion, down 1 percent compared to November 2017. The total deficit for the first two months…

Virgin Galactic completes manned space test, more flights soon

MOJAVE, Calif. (Reuters) – A Virgin Galactic rocket plane reached space on Thursday and returned safely to the California desert, capping years of testing to become the first U.S. commercial human flight to breach Earth’s atmosphere since America’s shuttle program ended in 2011. A view from the edge of space is seen from Virgin Galactic’s manned space tourism rocket plane SpaceShipTwo during a space test flight over Mojave, California, U.S. December 13, 2018. Virgin Galactic/Handout via REUTERSThe successful test flight presages a new era of civilian space travel that could…

Mexico will pay for wall with trade, Trump says after call with Mexican president

MEXICO CITY/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that Mexico is paying for a border wall through trade and he did not mention the subject on a call with his Mexican counterpart, as he focuses on getting the U.S. Congress to fund the project. FILE PHOTO: Mexico’s new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives for an event to unveil his plan for oil refining, in Paraiso, Tabasco state, Mexico, December 9, 2018. REUTERS/Alexandre MeneghiniOne of Trump’s key campaign promises was to build the border wall he said…

U.S. labor market tightening; inflation pressures muted

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of Americans filing applications for jobless benefits tumbled to near a 49-year low last week, which could ease concerns about a slowdown in the labor market and economy. A container ship is shown at port in Long Beach, California, U.S. July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mike BlakeOther data on Thursday showed import prices dropping by the most in more than three years in November as the cost of petroleum products tumbled and a strong dollar weighed on prices of other goods, pointing to subdued imported inflation. Tightening…

Bad bet: 70 finches seized at U.S. airport may have been bound for gambling

A live finch is seen following passenger inspection where live finches were found concealed within hair rollers at John F. Kennedy Airport in this photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in New York, U.S., on December 13, 2018. U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Handout via REUTERSNEW YORK (Reuters) – Customs agents at a New York airport have arrested a bird smuggler who had hidden 70 live finches inside multi-colored hair rollers he had brought from Guyana and may have been bound for a gambling ring, federal officials said on…

‘Benny the Beluga’ facing Christmas in the Thames far from home

A Beluga whale swims in the River Thames near Gravesend, east of London, Britain, September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Peter NichollsLONDON (Reuters) – A beluga whale that was first spotted nearly three months ago in the River Thames is still feeding healthily east of the British capital and facing a lone Christmas hundreds of miles from its normal Arctic habitat. The white cetacean, which feeds on fish, squid and crabs, was first spotted in September and surfaced near Gravesend, Kent on the southern side of the estuary. The last spotting of the…

Weakened May turns to Brussels for Brexit help, but EU cautious

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Britain’s weakened prime minister, Theresa May, said on Thursday she did not expect to secure an immediate breakthrough in Brexit talks that would provide her fractured party with the kind of reassurances needed to get her deal through parliament. The European Union’s response as she arrived in Brussels for two days of talks with fellow EU leaders at a summit was bound to disappoint May, fresh from surviving a mutiny against her leadership within the Conservative party. The other 27 national leaders were wary of giving Britain…

EU leaders arrive for two-day summit dominated by Brexit

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders arrive in Brussels for two days of talks on Brexit, the euro zone, migration and Russia, among others. Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel arrives at a European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Francois LenoirBelow are some of their comments made on arrival. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT KLAUS IOHANNIS “I think we have a good deal. My impression is that on the British side, people have not yet understood that this is a good deal.” DUTCH PRIME MINISTER MARK RUTTE “It is impossible…

France ready to take Strasbourg suspect dead or alive, says government spokesman

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) – Hundreds of police scoured eastern France on Thursday for a fugitive gunman behind a deadly Strasbourg Christmas market attack that left two people dead and six others fighting for their lives. French police posted December 12, 2018 on their Police Nationale Twitter account, a call for witnesses for Strasbourg-born Cherif Chekatt, 29, the day after a gun attack on a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France. French Police Nationale/via ReutersFrance has raised its security threat to the highest level and police issued a wanted poster for Cherif…