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…

Strasbourg shooting death toll rises to three

A tribute message which reads « You do not grieve alone » is seen on the « Pont de l’Europe » Bridge at the Franco-German border after a shooting in Strasbourg, France, December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Christian HartmannPARIS (Reuters) – The death toll from the gun attack on Strasbourg’s Christmas market rose to three on Thursday after a wounded victim died, the Paris prosecutor’s office said. Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Editing by Richard Lough and Robin PomeroyOur Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. Source: Reuters

U.S. solar takes hit from Trump tariffs but is cheaper than ever: report

(Reuters) – U.S. solar installations fell 15 percent in the third quarter as the Trump administration’s tariffs on overseas-made panels forced developers to put off large projects, according to a report commissioned by the industry’s primary trade group. FILE PHOTO: Solar panels are pictured at the BP America Gasosaurus Gas Unit well site in Lufkin, Texas, U.S., June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan BachmanCurrent weakness in the utility-scale market, however, will be offset by larger volumes of projects than had been expected over the next five years because solar energy is now…

OPEC exit frees Qatar from U.S. legal concerns

DUBAI/DOHA (Reuters) – Even before taking over Qatar’s energy policy in a government reshuffle last month, Qatar Petroleum (QP) CEO Saad al-Kaabi had long wanted the Gulf state to leave OPEC. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Qatar Petroleum is seen at its headquarters in Doha, Qatar, July 8, 2017. REUTERS/StringerKaabi was concerned OPEC membership could be a stumbling block for QP’s ambitions in the United States, where it has one of the world’s biggest LNG terminals, and a distraction as Doha doubles down on gas production, three industry sources said.…

Defying Trump, U.S. Senate advances measure to end support for Saudis in Yemen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a rare break with President Donald Trump, the Senate voted on Wednesday to move ahead with a resolution to end U.S. military support for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition in the war in Yemen and lawmakers vowed to push for sanctions against the kingdom in the new year. Eleven of Trump’s fellow Republicans joined Democrats to provide the 60 votes needed to advance the war powers resolution in the Republican-led chamber. The vote paved the way for debate and a vote on U.S. involvement in a conflict…

Asian shares surge as US-China trade thaw seen, sterling wobbles

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Asian equity markets surged on Thursday on signs of easing Sino-U.S. trade tensions and expectations that China will step up efforts soon to support its cooling economy. FILE PHOTO: An investor sits in front of a board showing stock information at a brokerage office in Beijing, China, December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas PeterAfter a quiet start, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up more than 1 percent by midday, building on early gains made after British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a no-confidence vote. Regional…

Canada warns U.S. not to politicize extradition cases

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday warned the United States not to politicize extradition cases, a day after President Donald Trump said he could intervene in the affair of a Chinese executive detained in Canada at Washington’s request. Freeland also told reporters that a second Canadian citizen could be in trouble in China. Authorities in China are already holding former diplomat Michael Kovrig, who was detained on Monday. Officials say China had so far not linked Kovrig’s detention to the arrest in Vancouver on Dec. 1…

Chinese state media urges Canada to defy U.S., free Huawei executive

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Canada should distance itself from U.S. “hegemonism” and grant unconditional freedom to Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese executive detained in Vancouver on Washington’s request, the state-owned tabloid Global Times said in a Thursday editorial. Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s chief financial officer (CFO), is seen in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters December 6, 2018. Huawei/Handout via REUTERS Meng, the chief financial officer of China’s Huawei Technologies HWT.UL, has been accused by U.S. prosecutors of misleading banks about transactions linked to Iran, putting the banks at…

Wall Street closes up, investors optimistic on China trade

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks closed up on Wednesday afternoon, though well below their session highs as investors pulled back in the last few minutes of trading despite optimism about U.S.-China trade relations and some reassuring signs in British politics. U.S. President Donald Trump, in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, said trade talks were under way with China. Traders said China made the first major purchase of U.S. soybeans since Washington and Beijing agreed to a temporary trade truce this month. Also, Trump said he would intervene in…

British PM May survives party confidence vote but 117 dissent

LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May survived a confidence vote from her Conservative party on Wednesday, but more than a third of her lawmakers said she was no longer the right leader to implement Britain’s exit from the European Union. Britain’s March 29 exit has been plunged into crisis by parliamentary opposition to the divorce deal she struck with the EU last month, which has opened up possibilities including a delay to Brexit or even another referendum on membership. May on Monday canceled a parliamentary vote on her Brexit…

Pope removes two cardinals hit by sex scandals from group of close advisers

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis has removed from his group of close advisers two cardinals hit by sexual abuse scandals, including his economy minister, Australian George Pell, the Vatican said on Wednesday. Pell has taken an indefinite leave of absence from his job as head of the Secretariat for the Economy, one of the most powerful posts in the Vatican, to defend himself from prosecution for historical child sexual offences in Australia. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said: “The Holy See has the utmost respect for Australian judiciary. We are…

Deal lets tabloid avoid U.S. charges over hush money in 2016 election

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The publisher of the National Inquirer tabloid newspaper has reached a deal with U.S. prosecutors in New York to avoid charges over its role in paying hush money to a woman before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, prosecutors said on Wednesday. Former Playboy model Karen McDougal has said she had a months-long affair with U.S. President Donald Trump years before he took office, and that she sold her story for $150,000 to American Media Inc [AMRCM.UL] but it was never published. The incident involved a practice known…

To neighbors, suspect in French market killings seemed just a local boy

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) – The fugitive Strasbourg man suspected of shooting and knifing people as he shouted “Allahu Akbar” at the French city’s Christmas market is a criminal who turned radical Islamist in jail, officials say. A security officer directs shoppers at the traditional Christmas market on the boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris, France, December 12, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit TessierNeighbors remember Cherif Chekatt as an ordinary local guy, but to security agencies the 29-year-old had represented a potential threat for some time, his beliefs hardened behind bars. Chekatt grew up in the…

China’s Tencent Music jumps 11 percent in U.S. debut

(Reuters) – Shares of China-based music streaming company Tencent Music Entertainment (TME.N) rose about 11 percent in their U.S. debut on Wednesday, as investors shrugged off volatile markets to grab a piece of the fast-growing music streaming industry. Cussion Kar Shun Pang, CEO of Tencent Music Entertainment with the company’s leadership team rings a ceremonial bell to celebrate company’s IPO on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 12, 2018. REUTERS/Bryan R SmithThe company’s shares opened at $14.15, 8.8 percent above their initial…

Will Conservative lawmakers ditch UK PM May?

LONDON (Reuters) – Lawmakers in British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party on Wednesday triggered a confidence vote in her leadership, plunging the country’s planned divorce from the European Union into deeper uncertainty. Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May addresses the media outside 10 Downing Street after it was announced that the Conservative Party will hold a vote of no confidence in her leadership, in London, Britain, December 12, 2018. REUTERS/Toby MelvilleReaction: Prime Minister Theresa May “I will contest that vote with everything I’ve got.” “A change of leadership in the…

UK leader May fights leadership revolt, warns Brexit in peril

LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to fight for her job in a leadership challenge on Wednesday triggered by Conservative lawmakers, saying a change could jeopardize Britain’s divorce from the European Union. Less than four months before the United Kingdom is due to leave on March 29, Brexit is in chaos with options ranging from a potentially disorderly no-deal departure to another referendum that could reverse it. Speaking outside her Downing Street residence hours before the vote of confidence on her leadership, May said she would battle for…

Conservative lawmakers trigger no confidence vote in UK PM May’s leadership

British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Annegret HilseLONDON (Reuters) – Lawmakers in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party triggered a vote of no confidence in her leadership on Wednesday as Britain’s planned divorce from the European Union was plunged into chaos. Graham Brady, chairman of the party’s so-called 1922 committee, said the threshold for a vote had been exceeded. A ballot will be held between 1800 and 2000 on Wednesday in the House of…

Statement on vote of confidence in British Prime Minister May

FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street, London, Britain, December 4, 2018. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File PhotoLONDON (Reuters) – Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservative Party’s 1922 committee, released the following statement on Wednesday: “The threshold of 15 percent of the parliamentary party seeking a vote of confidence in the leader of the Conservative Party has been exceeded. “In accordance with the rules, a ballot will be held between 1800 and 2000 on Wednesday 12th December in committee room 14 of the House of Commons. The votes will…

Stocks cheered by Trump trade talk; sterling plagued by politics

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian stock markets rallied on Wednesday as U.S. President Donald trump sounded upbeat about a trade deal with China, while sterling struggled with the risk of an imminent party coup against British Prime Minister Theresa May. Men look at stock quotation boards outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, December 5, 2018. REUTERS/Issei KatoIn an interview with Reuters, Trump said talks were taking place with Beijing by phone and he would not raise tariffs on Chinese imports until he was sure about a deal. Trump also said he…

Curry signals willingness to meet with NASA over Moon landing doubts

(Reuters) – Three-time NBA champion Stephen Curry on Tuesday signaled that he is willing to take NASA up on its offer to tour its lunar lab in Houston after his pronouncement this week that he does not believe humans ever walked on the Moon. December 10, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates after making a three-point basket against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY SportsDuring the “Winging It” podcast released on Monday, the Golden State…

Canada frees CFO of China’s Huawei on bail; Trump might intervene

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – A top executive of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd was granted bail by a Canadian court on Tuesday, 10 days after her arrest in Vancouver at the request of U.S. authorities sparked a diplomatic dispute. Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of its founder, faces U.S. claims that she misled multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting the banks at risk of violating U.S. sanctions. In a court hearing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Justice William Ehrcke granted C$10 million ($7.5 million) bail to…

U.S. weighs China travel warning over Huawei case: sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is considering issuing a new warning to U.S. citizens, including business executives, traveling to China after Canada arrested a senior Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] executive at Washington’s request, two sources said on Tuesday. A man uses his phone as he sits in front of a Huawei shop in Beijing, China, December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas PeterSuch an advisory from the State Department would warn U.S. nationals of the risk that China could retaliate against them for the detention of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng…

S&P 500, Dow edge lower as U.S. shutdown threat, China trade in focus

New York (Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Dow closed marginally lower after volatile trading on Tuesday as investors swiveled their focus between China-U.S. trade talks, President Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the U.S. government and political uncertainty in Britain. Wall Street’s three major indexes oscillated between positive and negative territory during the day before falling sharply in the last half hour of trading. Late in the session, the BBC reported that enough letters were submitted by Conservative lawmakers to trigger a vote of no confidence in the…