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Ambulances transporting injured German tourists involved in a bus accident, arrive at a German Air Force medical airplane at Cristiano Ronaldo Airport in Funchal, on the island of Madeira, Portugal April 20, 2019. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante
April 20, 2019
CANICO, Portugal (Reuters) – An air force medical plane from Germany landed on the Portuguese island of Madeira on Saturday to take home the injured survivors of a bus crash that killed 29 German tourists earlier this week.
The bus veered off a steep road in the coastal town of Canico on Wednesday. The Portuguese driver and tour guide were among the 27 people hurt in the accident, which prosecutors are investigating.
Eleven of the injured Germans have already been discharged from hospital and 12 will be flown home on the medical plane on Saturday. Another was transferred to Germany on Friday and one will stay in hospital in Funchal, Madeira’s capital, a hospital spokesman said.
The driver and tour guide will also remain under observation in hospital, the spokesman added.
Images taken by Reuters photographers on Saturday showed some of the injured being carried inside the plane on stretchers.
The company that owned the bus said it was cooperating with authorities investigating the crash, which killed 17 women and 12 men. Many of them were pensioners, German newspaper Bild reported.
Autopsies and post-mortem examinations have been concluded, Portugal’s Justice Ministry said in a statement and authorities are waiting for data including fingerprints and dental records in order to confirm the victims’ identities.
(Reporting by Rafael Marchante and Miguel Pereira in Canico and Catarina Demony in Lisbon; Editing by Helen Popper)
Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi attends the opening of the Saudi-Iraqi Business Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 18, 2019. Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/Handout via REUTERS
April 20, 2019
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq will host senior parliamentary officials from arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran on Saturday as Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi seeks to bolster his country’s nascent role as a mediator in the region.
Delegations including the heads of parliament from Turkey, Kuwait, Syria and Jordan will also attend the one-day conference in the Iraqi capital to discuss regional security, diplomacy and economic issues.
Abdul Mahdi recently returned from visits to Iran and Saudi Arabia, both oil-super-powers that have long been vying for dominance in the Middle East. It is unusual for Saudi and Iranian officials to attend the same events.
The premier has said Iraq will maintain strong ties with Iran, but also with the United States and regional neighbors, many of which, like Saudi Arabia, consider Tehran a foe.
Abdul Mahdi met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his visit to Riyadh, his first official trip to the kingdom since taking office six months ago.
Iraq and Saudi Arabia have been at loggerheads since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, but they have recently undertaken a diplomatic push to improve ties.
Abdul Mahdi’s visit to Riyadh came 10 days after he visited Iran. During his trip to Tehran, he met President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Many of Iraq’s leaders, from its Shi’ite majority, have close ties with Iran, the main Shi’ite power in the Middle East.
(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and Raya Jalabi; Writing by Raya Jalabi; Editing by Helen Popper)
Men carry injured people outside the building of Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in Kabul, Afghanistan April 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail
April 20, 2019
By Abdul Qadir Sediqi and Rupam Jain
KABUL (Reuters) – An explosion hit the center of the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday and unidentified attackers appeared to have entered a multi-storey building housing the communications ministry where they were battling security forces, officials said.
Gunfire could be clearly heard by witnesses in the city center, but the area around the site was cordoned off by security forces.
Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi confirmed there had been gunfire around the ministry of communications and information technology but provided no further details.
The attack followed several months of relative calm in Kabul, which coincided with talks between U.S. and Taliban officials aimed at opening the way for formal peace negotiations to end more than 17 years of war in Afghanistan.
One security official, who declined to be identified by name, said the initial blast appeared to have been caused by a suicide bomb at the entry to the ministry. There was no confirmation from Afghan police, and no militant group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.
A witness quoted by the Tolo News television channel said attackers appeared to be fighting security forces on the first floor of the ministry headquarters.
The explosion, in one of the main commercial areas of the city, was also close to the heavily fortified Serena Hotel, one of the very few Kabul hotels still used by foreign visitors.
The attack, just days after a planned meeting between Taliban officials and Afghan politicians and civil society representatives in Qatar was canceled, underlined the hurdles facing efforts to reach a peace settlement.
While heavy fighting has carried on across Afghanistan and Taliban militants have announced their now customary spring offensive, there had been no large-scale attacks on civilian targets in Kabul in recent weeks.
(Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi, Rupam Jain, James Mackenzie; Editing by Nick Macfie and Kenneth Maxwell)
FILE PHOTO - Mar 30, 2019; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Ashleigh Barty of Australia returns a shot back to Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic (not pictured) during the woman's finals at the Miami Open at Miami Open Tennis Complex. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
April 20, 2019
SYDNEY (Reuters) – World number nine Ashleigh Barty kept alive Australia’s hopes of advancing to their first Fed Cup final in 26 years when she beat former world number one Victoria Azarenka in the second singles of the tie against Belarus in Brisbane on Saturday.
Barty had some trouble in the first set against the two-time Australian Open champion and saved three break points at 5-5 to go on to win 7-6(2) 6-3 and level the tie at 1-1.
Aryna Sabalenka earlier gave Belarus a strong start to the tie when she beat former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur 7-5 5-7 6-3 in two hours, 47 minutes.
“I knew the first set would be key,” Barty said of her match against her current doubles partner.
“I dug myself into a hole in that 5-5 game but I went back to what I do well and got out of it.
“For me it was just about me coming out and doing every thing right. I prepared really well all week.”
World number 10 Sabalenka looked completely out of sorts in the first two sets against Stosur, with both players struggling to hold serve.
Sabalenka, however, turned up her power game in the third and after establishing a 4-1 lead blew her first match point opportunity in the eighth game on Stosur’s serve when she blasted a backhand volley wide with the court open.
She raced out to a 40-0 lead in the next game and while Stosur saved her second match point, the Australian sent a backhand long on the next point that gave Belarus a 1-0 lead.
“It was an unbelievable match,” Sabalenka said. “She played so quick, I couldn’t touch the ball on her returns. You must fight for each point.
“I’m happy to have handled her level today.”
Australia captain Alicia Molik praised Stosur’s performance but also hinted that she may change her lineup for the reverse singles on Sunday, depending on how the 35-year-old recovers.
Australia are attempting to reach their first Fed Cup final since 1993. They have not won the title since 1974.
Belarus were beaten 3-2 by the United States in their only Fed Cup final appearance in Minsk in 2017.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)
People play online games at an internet cafe in Fuyang, Anhui province, China August 20, 2018. Picture taken August 20, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
April 20, 2019
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s press and publication regulator has issued new rules on applications for publishing online games in China, signaling a possible acceleration in the handing out of formal approvals.
China stopped granting licenses to monetize online games in March 2018, hurting the industry and developers such as Tencent Holdings Ltd and NetEase Inc. It started up approvals again in December, only to ask local governments to pause on submitting applications in February.
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television released the new rules late on Friday.
Under the guidelines, games will undergo content vetting and the number of games allowed on to the market will be controlled.
Gaming market research and consulting firm Niko said the administration had explained the new rules to industry insiders earlier in the month, saying it was grinding through a backlog of applications submitted last year.
Chinese gaming publishers were being encouraged to develop titles with China’s “core social values” in mind, including games that promote traditional culture, Niko said.
Niko said the administration would take new submissions from Monday, April 22, under the new application process.
“With a new more transparent approval process set to go live soon, we have a positive outlook for China’s digital games market in 2019,” it said.
(Reporting by John Ruwitch and Li Pei; Editing by Nick Macfie)
Larry Fink, Chief Executive Officer of BlackRock, stands at the Bloomberg Global Business forum in New York, U.S., September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
April 20, 2019
BERLIN (Reuters) – There are no signs that the global economy is sliding toward a recession in the next 12 months, BlackRock Inc’s Chief Executive Larry Fink said in remarks published on Saturday.
In an interview with German business daily Handelsblatt, Fink warned, however, that the global economy was in the late stage of a long growth cycle, suggesting that downturn was becoming more likely.
“I see no signs of a global recession in the coming 12 months,” said Fink, who leads the world’s largest asset manager.
“The central banks have loosened their policy above all because of the weak fourth quarter of 2018. We will go through a phase in which things are not great but also not bad.”
He added: “But we are naturally in a late phase of the economic growth cycle.”
The International Monetary Fund cut its global economic growth forecasts for 2019 this month and said growth could slow further due to unresolved trade disputes and the risk of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.
The global lender said some major economies, including China and Germany, might need to take short-term actions to prop up growth and that a severe downturn could require coordinated stimulus measures.
German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has ruled out taking on new debt to stimulate growth in Europe’s biggest economy, saying tax cuts, higher investments and a solid labor market will continue to provide growth impetus.
(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Alison Williams)
A floating home, lived in by an American man and his Thai partner, is pictured in the Andaman Sea, off Phuket island in Thailand, April 13, 2019. Picture taken April 13, 2019. Royal Thai Navy/Handout via REUTERS
April 20, 2019
By Panu Wongcha-um
BANGKOK (Reuters) – The Thai navy on Saturday boarded the floating cabin of a fugitive U.S. bitcoin trader and his Thai girlfriend, both prominent members of the “seasteading” movement who possibly face the death sentence for setting up their offshore home.
Thai authorities have revoked the visa of American citizen Chad Elwartowski and have charged him and his partner, Supranee Thepdet, with violating Thai sovereignty by raising a small cabin on top of a weighted spar 14 nautical miles off the west-coast of Thai island of Phuket.
The cabin has been promoted as “the world’s first seastead” by the group Ocean Builders, part of a movement in tech and libertarian circles to build floating communities beyond the bounds of nations as a way to explore alternative societies and governments.
“I was free for a moment. Probably the freest person in the world,” Elwartowski posted on his Facebook on April 13, days before the Thai navy raided his floating home.
Elwartowski, 46, and Supranee, whose Facebook page describes her as a “Bitcoin expert, Trader, Chef, seastead Pioneer”, apparently fled after a surveillance plane flew over the cabin the previous day.
The Royal Thai Navy task force had planned on Saturday to seize the structure and tow it back to shore for use as evidence, but by the afternoon it was still studying how to move it without destroying it, the navy said.
In a video posted last month detailing the raising of the floating home, Elwartowski said 20 more similar houses would be up for sale to form a community.
Elwartowski and Ocean Builders say the spar was in international waters and beyond Thailand’s jurisdiction. Thai authorities say the structure is in its 200-mile exclusive economic zone and therefore a violation of its sovereignty.
A Thai navy task force was sent out on Saturday to tow in the structure which will be handed over to Phuket’s police to be kept as an exhibit for the legal action, the navy said in an official statement.
The navy said they have evidence that the floating home was built in a private boatyard in Phuket and said the couple wanted to establish a “permanent settlement at sea beyond the sovereignty of nations by using a legal loophole”.
It said the action “reveals the intention of disobeying the laws of Thailand as a littoral state and could lead to a creation of a new state within Thailand’s territorial waters… undermining Thailand’s national security as well as economic and social interests of maritime nations.”
In an email reply to Reuters, Elwartowski referred all questions to the Seasteading Institute and pointed to online statements from the Ocean Builders website.
Elwartowski and Supranee are members of Ocean Builders, which has denied allegations that they were planning to set up an independent state or “micro nation”, according to its online statement.
The group said that the pair, both active bitcoin investors, did not build, invest in or design the floating home themselves but were “volunteers excited about the prospect of living free”, documenting their lives as “pioneer seasteaders” off the coast of Phuket.
The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok told Reuters that Elwartowski had engaged a lawyer and was being provided with appropriate assistance.
According to Ocean Builders, the concept of “seasteading” has been discussed for years but the cabin Elwartowski and Supranee lived on was the first attempt at living in what it described as international waters.
Other groups, such as the Seasteading Institute, which was originally backed by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, have sought to build floating cities with the cooperation of host nations.
(Reporting by Juarawee Kittisilpa and Panu Wongcha-um. Editing by Kay Johnson and Nick Macfie)
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FILE PHOTO – Jose Munoz, chief performance officer at Nissan Motor Limited, responds to a question on the new Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance venture capital fund during roundtable with journalists at the 2018 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 9, 2018. REUTERS/Steve Marcus
April 19, 2019
By Hyunjoo Jin and Sanjana Shivdas
SEOUL (Reuters) – Hyundai Motor Co has appointed Jose Munoz as global chief operating officer and Americas chief, tapping a man formerly considered an ally and potential successor of Nissan Motor Co Ltd’s ousted Chairman Carlos Ghosn.
Munoz is the latest foreign executive to be brought in to a South Korean automaker dominated by lifelong loyalists, as heir-apparent Euisun Chung strengthens control of the conglomerate chaired by his aging father.
The appointment comes at time when plunging sales in both China and the United States, the world’s two-biggest auto markets, has prompted a major management overhaul. In the U.S., Hyundai is also the subject of a regulatory investigation into the timeliness of vehicle recalls involving defective engines.
It also comes as Munoz’s former boss at Nissan sits in a Tokyo jail awaiting trial for financial misconduct. The November arrest of Ghosn, who denies wrongdoing, prompted an internal investigation into corporate governance at the Japanese automaker in which Munoz was cited as a “person of interest”.
Munoz resigned in January, saying Nissan was involved in matters that would divert its focus and that he looked forward to continuing to assist with investigations. At the time, he was Nissan’s China head and chief performance officer – responsible for Nissan’s results and global strategies – having previously overseen operations in North America.
At his new employer, Munoz will succeed William Lee, who has led Hyundai’s North America business since June. On May 1, he will effectively assume two newly created roles: Global Chief Operating Officer and Head of Hyundai Motor Americas Region.
“(Munoz’s) focus will be to deliver profitable growth and to improve overall performance of Hyundai Motor,” the automaker said in a statement issued on Thursday in the United States.
He will be based in California and report to “top leadership” in Seoul, Hyundai said.
Since the promotion last year of Euisun Chung, the 48-year-old Hyundai Motor Group scion has in turn promoted executives brought in from Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and automakers including Germany’s BMW AG.
“Hyundai needs to change, but it is changing too fast, which could lead to internal conflicts and communication problems,” said Lee Hang-koo, a senior research fellow at the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade.
“If the Ghosn scandal is not resolved well, the appointment could adversely affect the company’s image and lead to doubts about Chung’s personnel management capability,” he said.
Munoz, 53, joined Nissan in 2004 in Europe and led its expansion in North America after the global financial crisis. Nissan raised its U.S. market share under Munoz and posted record sales, though sales have since weakened.
Hyundai, meanwhile, was an outperformer during the 2009 global economic downturn but has seen its U.S. market share slip in recent years, in part due to its delayed response to the growing popularity of sport utility vehicles.
The automaker is recovering slowly, with its U.S. sales rising 2 percent in January-March from the same period a year earlier.
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in SEOUL and Sanjana Shivdas in BENGALURU; Editing by Christopher Cushing)
Middle-aged Americans are hitting the sauce too hard and too often, a new poll shows.
It found 33% of adults aged 35-44 who have at least one drink in a typical week agreed with one or more statements that would prompt an addiction specialist to consider treatment, according to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).
Of adults from this age group, 9% said they continue to drink even though it has already harmed their career, education, and/or relationships, the online survey of nearly 2,000 people found.
Binge-drinking – four or more drinks in a two-hour period for women and five or more for men – is typical behavior for 7% of adults aged 35-44 and 10% of adults aged 45-54, according to the poll.
“We tend to believe a person is managing alcohol well if they’re not an alcoholic,” said Dr. Malissa Barbosa, an addiction medicine specialist in Orlando, Fla.
“But what many fail to recognize is the gradual impact the chemical has on the body, as well as the associated disease states,” Barbosa said in an AOA news release.
Alcohol harms vital organs, increases the risk of several cancers, and has been linked with mental health problems, memory, and thinking declines, and neurological conditions such as nerve pain and movement disorders, according to the association.
“Our culture celebrates excess,” Barbosa said. “It’s convinced many adults that alcohol is a necessary part of their lifestyle, and that several drinks a night is normal behavior.
“We worry about kids on campus who put themselves in danger, but it’s become pervasive among adults, too. It’s time for serious conversations about the impact of excessive drinking on all demographics in our society,” Barbosa said.
Nine in 10 U.S. adults who drink too much alcohol are not alcoholics or alcohol-dependent, according to a federal government study. Nearly 1 in 3 adults is an excessive drinker, and most of these drinkers binge-drink, usually on multiple occasions.
Source: NewsMax America
FILE PHOTO: The Mattel company logo is seen at the 114th North American International Toy Fair in New York City, U.S., February 21, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
April 13, 2019
(Reuters) – U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Friday that toymaker Fisher-Price has voluntarily recalled all its “Rock ‘n Play Sleeper” products after reports of more than 30 infant deaths.
The regulator said consumers should immediately stop using the product and contact Fisher-Price for a refund or voucher.
“We stand by the safety of our products. However, due to reported incidents in which the product was used contrary to the safety warnings and instructions, we have decided to conduct a voluntary recall of the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper in partnership with the Consumer Product Safety Commission,” Fisher Price-owner Mattel Inc said.
(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanue)
FILE PHOTO: Jet Airways aircrafts are seen parked at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India, April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
April 16, 2019
By Tanvi Mehta and Chandini M
MUMBAI/BENGALURU (Reuters) – The management of India’s Jet Airways Ltd has proposed temporarily suspending all operations of the struggling airline, Indian media reported on Tuesday, as the company awaits promised funds from banks in a rescue deal.
Its shares fell as much as 18.3 percent to their lowest level since August 2015 following the news, as the future of the once-dominant Indian airline appeared increasingly uncertain.
Jet Airways is likely to temporarily shut down operations, said Indian business channel CNBC TV18, citing unnamed sources. The channel said Jet’s CEO has been authorized by directors at a board meeting to engage with its lenders one last time, and halt operations late Tuesday, if no funds arrive.
Separately, ET Now reported Jet’s management has proposed to suspend all operations as one option at Tuesday’s board meeting, or alternately continue with skeletal operations with any interim funds infused by State Bank of India (SBI), which leads Jet’s consortium of lenders.
Jet Airways did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Its banks tried to calm investors and hint at a rescue of the airline that is saddled with roughly $1.2 billion in debt.
“Lenders are committed to a revival plan for Jet Airways,” Punjab National Bank’s Managing Director Sunil Mehta told media on Tuesday. “SBI is working on the emergency funding, everything is under discussion, nothing is finalised.”
Mehta’s comments come after Jet informed all employees in a letter on Monday it was extending a suspension of international flights until Thursday due to a lack of funds.
Separately, an Indian government official told media the funding for the airline was likely to come through and that the banks were not looking to take the airline to bankruptcy court.
The airline, which over and above its bank borrowings owes money to its lessors, staff and others, has been struggling for weeks after failing to receive a stop-gap loan of about $217 million from its lenders as part of a rescue deal agreed in late March.
In a bid to rescue the 25-year old carrier, Jet’s lenders are attempting to bring in a new investor to buy a stake of up to 75 percent in the airline and initial expressions of interest were submitted last week.
Local media have reported that as many as six parties have submitted expressions of interest, though it is still far from clear if an acceptable bid will materialize.
Jet currently has roughly 44 flights, and only about seven operational planes, a senior pilot with the airline and a member of the pilots’ guild told Reuters on Monday.
The airline had more than 120 aircraft operating a year ago, but competition from low-cost carriers such as IndiGo and SpiceJet Ltd, together with high oil prices, hefty fuel taxes and a weak rupee have lately piled on pressure.
Shares in Jet partially erased earlier losses and were down 9 percent in late afternoon trade in Mumbai on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Tanvi Mehta in Mumbai and Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Writing by Euan Rocha; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Muralikumar Anantharaman)
Formula One F1 – Chinese Grand Prix – Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China – April 12, 2019 Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel during practice REUTERS/Aly Song
April 12, 2019
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Sebastian Vettel went fastest for Ferrari in Friday’s opening practice session for the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix.
The German completed his best lap in one minute, 33.911 seconds, going 0.207 seconds faster than Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton on a cool and overcast day at the Shanghai International Circuit.
Charles Leclerc, who was denied a maiden win by engine trouble some 10 laps from the end at the last race in Bahrain, was third, 0.256 seconds off his Ferrari team-mate’s pace.
Hamilton and championship-leading team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who was fifth, set their fastest laps on the grippier soft tire with Vettel and Leclerc setting their best efforts on the less sticky but more durable medium compound rubber.
Max Verstappen, who botched his chances of victory in China with scrappy attempts to overtake Hamilton and Vettel last year, was fourth quickest in his Honda-powered Red Bull.
Daniel Ricciardo was sixth for Renault ahead of Frenchman Pierre Gasly in the second Red Bull and Russian Daniil Kvyat in the Toro Rosso.
Lance Stroll was ninth for Racing Point, ahead of Romain Grosjean in 10th and team-mate Kevin Magnussen in 11th.
Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix will be the 1000th Formula One world championship race.
Hamilton, who trails team-mate Bottas by one point in the standings with the Mercedes pair finishing one-two in each of the season’s two races so far, is the most successful driver around the 5.4-km circuit.
But the Briton can expect a stiff challenge in his bid for a sixth triumph with Ferrari tipped as favorites following their dominant performance in Bahrain and Red Bull, winners last year with Ricciardo, also an outside chance.
(Reporting by Abhishek Takle in Shanghai; editing by Greg Stutchbury)