World

27th February

Facebook signs letter of intent with three Australian media firms

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Facebook Inc on Friday said it had signed letters of intent with three Australian media firms, a day after the country’s Parliament passed a law forcing it to pay media companies for...

Biden talks to Saudi king, stresses human rights and rule of law – White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Thursday, stressing the importance of human rights and vowing to make the relationship between the two countries stronger and more transparent, the White House said. Biden “affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of...

FDA allows storage, transport of Pfizer vaccine at higher temperatures

(Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved storage and transportation of COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE at standard freezer temperatures for up to two weeks instead of ultra-cold conditions. Last week, the companies had asked the U.S. health regulator to relax requirements for their COVID-19...

Texas lawmakers look to lay blame for deadly power blackout

(Reuters) – Texas state lawmakers on Thursday dug into the causes and cast blame for deadly power blackouts that left millions shivering in the dark as frigid temperatures caught its grid operator and utilities ill-prepared for skyrocketing power demand. Dual hearings in the state House and Senate are highlighting shortcomings by grid planners, electric utilities,...

Giant Andean condors released in Bolivian wilds, with GPS attached

LA PAZ (Reuters) – Two giant Andean condors have been released back to the Bolivia wilds – with GPS trackers attached – after they were found ill with signs of poisoning and nursed back to health. Bolivian rangers set free the birds, which can grow as long as 4 feet (1.22 m) with a wingspan...

Supporters of Myanmar military coup rampage in Yangon

(Reuters) – Supporters of Myanmar’s military, some armed with knives and clubs, others firing catapults and throwing stones, attacked opponents of the Feb. 1 coup on Thursday, as protests against the new junta continued in the country’s largest city. Myanmar has been in turmoil since the army seized power and detained civilian government leader Aung...

26th February

Blue Origin delays New Glenn rocket launch to 2022

(Reuters) – Billionaire Jeff Bezos-backed space venture Blue Origin said on Thursday that it has delayed the launch of its heavy-lift New Glenn rocket to the fourth quarter of next year. The rocket was earlier expected to launch later this year. The postponement comes after Space Force did not select New Glenn for the National...

World Bank halts payment requests on Myanmar projects made after February 1 coup

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The World Bank has halted payments to projects in Myanmar on withdrawal requests that were made after a Feb. 1 coup by the country’s military, the bank said in a letter to Myanmar’s finance ministry seen by Reuters on Thursday. A World Bank spokesman verified the letter, from World Bank Myanmar country...

Thousands rally behind Armenia’s PM after he accuses army of coup attempt

YEREVAN (Reuters) – Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan condemned what he said was an attempted coup after the army demanded he quit on Thursday, and told a rally of thousands of supporters that only the people could decide his future. The army’s demand, in a written statement, plunged the impoverished former Soviet republic of less...

Moderna expects $18.4 billion in COVID-19 vaccine sales in 2021

(Reuters) – Moderna Inc said on Thursday it was expecting sales of $18.4 billion from its coronavirus vaccine this year, putting it on the path to post a profit for the first time since its formation in 2010. Moderna and Pfizer Inc are the only drugmakers whose vaccines have been cleared for emergency use against...

Morocco set to legalise cannabis production for medical use

RABAT (Reuters) – Morocco plans to allow the farming, export and domestic sale of cannabis for medical and industrial use, the government said on Thursday, a move it hopes will help impoverished farmers in the Rif mountains amid a growing legal global market for the drug. Past attempts to legalise cannabis farming in Morocco have...

Malaysian man wins landmark challenge against Muslim gay sex ban

KUALA LUMPUR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A Malaysian man on Thursday won a landmark court challenge against an Islamic ban on sex “against the order of nature”, raising hopes for greater acceptance of gay rights in the mostly Muslim country. The Muslim man in his 30s – whose name has been withheld by his lawyer...

Facebook bans Myanmar military from its platforms with immediate effect

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Facebook on Thursday said it had banned the Myanmar military from using its Facebook and Instagram platforms with immediate effect, as weeks of mass demonstrations continue in the Southeast Asian country after the military seized power. “Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have precipitated a need for this ban,”...

African Union backs call to waive intellectual property rights on COVID-19 drugs

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The African Union is backing calls for drugmakers to waive some intellectual property rights on COVID-19 medicines and vaccines to speed up their rollout to poor countries, the head of its disease control body said on Thursday. South Africa and India, which both manufacture drugs and vaccines, made the proposal at the...

Carbon offsets gird for lift-off as big money gets close to nature

LONDON (Reuters) – An expected dash by big corporations for offsets to meet their climate targets has prompted financial exchanges to launch carbon futures contracts to capitalise on what could be a multi-billion dollar market. It’s a step change. Carbon offsets, generated by emissions reduction projects, such as tree planting or shifts to less polluting...

Papua New Guinea’s Michael Somare, ‘father of the nation’, dies

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Papua New Guinea’s first prime minister, Michael Somare, has died aged 84, his daughter said on Friday. Known as the “father of the nation”, Somare led the Pacific archipelago to independence from Australia in 1975 and served four times as prime minister. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in early February,...

Health authorities call for common approach to COVID-19 treatments: EU

(Reuters) – International cooperation over COVID-19 vaccines and treatments is required to respond to emerging variants of the virus, improve access for pregnant women and build confidence in vaccines, Europe’s drugs regulator said on Thursday. Health authorities from across the world including, Europe, the United States, Britain and Australia, met during the first few weeks...

Japan government to end state of emergency in five prefectures at end of month: Kyodo News

TOKYO (Reuters) – The Japanese government will end a state of emergency in five prefectures west of Tokyo at the end of this month, a week earlier than scheduled, Kyodo news agency reported on Thursday. Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Aichi and Gifu prefectures will all have their emergency coronavirus pandemic measures lifted, Kyodo cited government sources...

Italy’s Mount Etna lights up night skies

ROME (Reuters) – Europe’s tallest active volcano, Italy’s Mount Etna, has been lighting up the night sky with explosions, lava fountains and ash plumes, dazzling onlookers and viewers on social media. “We are observing stronger than ordinary activity, with more magma rising from the pipes and richer in gas,” Stefano Branca, head of the National...

Pandemic or not, the Golden Globes show must go on

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The Golden Globes kicks off a pandemic-era Hollywood awards season on Sunday after a year that upended the entertainment industry and saw celebrities on red carpets replaced with webcams on sofas. Yet somehow the show is going on, albeit without the chummy gala dinners, hordes of photographers, and designer gowns associated...

Fraudsters offer 400 million ‘ghost’ COVID vaccines in EU: officials

BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Fraudsters have offered 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines worth some 3 billion euros to European Union countries, two officials, showing how criminals seek to capitalise on a botched inoculation campaign weighing on the bloc’s economic recovery. EU leaders will discuss by videoconference on Thursday how to protect their 450 million citizens...

Laos issues new decree on dams aimed at minimising harm

BANGKOK (Reuters) – The government of Laos issued new guidelines for managing hydropower dams aimed at minimising water shortages and flooding, state media reported on Thursday, amid debate on how its hydropower boom has altered the vital Mekong River. The new decree effective March 4 requires all hydropower operators to notify authorities whenever dam reservoirs...

Facebook bans Myanmar military from its platforms with immediate effect

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Facebook on Thursday said it had banned the Myanmar military from using its Facebook and Instagram platforms with immediate effect, as pro-democracy demonstrators continued to stage rallies to protest the military seizing power. “Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have precipitated a need for this ban,” Facebook said in...

Facebook to invest $1 billion in news industry after Australia row

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc on Wednesday pledged to invest at least $1 billion in the news industry over the next three years, days after a high-profile stand-off with the Australian government over paying news outlets for content. The social network’s commitment to the news industry follows Google’s $1 billion investment last year, as technology giants...

Greek police clash with supporters of jailed guerrilla assassin

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek police fired tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon to disperse dozens of protesters who rallied in central Athens on Wednesday in solidarity with a hunger striking convicted assassin from the disbanded leftist November 17 militant group. Dimitris Koufodinas is serving multiple life terms for several crimes, including 13 murders, out...

Alaska thunderstorms could triple if climate trends continue, scientists warn

ANCHORAGE (Reuters) – Alaska may need to brace for more thunderstorms — along with the landslides, floods and wildfires they can bring — if current climate trends continue, a team of scientists warns. Two studies suggest the rapidly warming U.S. state could see triple the number of thunderstorms by the end of this century. As...

Canadian river wins legal rights in global push to protect nature

TORONTO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A river has won legal rights for the first time in Canadian history, in a move hailed by environmentalists as a new way to protect nature from humans. The Magpie River in northern Quebec, which runs nearly 300 km (186 miles), was granted the rights this week by the local...

White House to roll out Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses next week, pending authorization

(Reuters) – The United States expects to roll out three to four million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine next week, pending authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients said on Wednesday. A Johnson & Johnson executive on Tuesday said the company expected to ship nearly 4...

Britain’s GCHQ cyber spies embrace the AI revolution

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s cyber spies at the GCHQ eavesdropping agency say they have fully embraced artificial intelligence (AI) to uncover patterns in vast amounts of global data to counter hostile disinformation and snare child abusers. AI, which traces its history back to British mathematician Alan Turing’s work in the 1930s, allows modern computers to...

Drunken driving charge dropped against Springsteen; $500 fine for drinking at beach

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bruce Springsteen was fined $500 on Wednesday after the rock ‘n’ roll legend pleaded guilty to a charge of consuming alcohol at a federally run New Jersey beach in November, and prosecutors dropped drunken driving and reckless driving charges. Springsteen, 71, whose songs have chronicled life in his home state of...

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