A NASA satellite lifted off early Saturday with the hope it will transmit data that will help the world do a better job of preparing for floods and droughts. The Delta 2 rocket carrying the Soil Moisture Active Passive â€” or SMAP â€” satellite launched shortly before sunrise from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's central coast. Scientists hope data collected by the satellite, the latest to join NASA's Earth-orbiting fleet, will improve flood forecasts and drought monitoring. "This data will benefit not only scientists seeking a better understanding of our planet, climate and environment ... it's a boon for emergency planners and policy makers," said Geoffery Yoder, NASA's deputy associate administrator for programs.
By Maria Kiselyova MOSCOW (Reuters) - McDonald's Corp. will open fewer new restaurants in Russia this year than last because a fall in the rouble has increased expansion costs and is hurting consumers, its Russian chief executive Khamzat Khasbulatov told Reuters. The rouble, hit by a drop in oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine, has fallen more than 50 percent since early 2014, fuelling inflation. Russia now faces its first recession since 2009. McDonald's will open at least 50 new restaurants in Russia compared to 73 last year, having earmarked 6 billion rubles ($87 million) for capital expenditures, the same amount as in 2014, Khasbulatov said in an interview.
Two pilots in a helium-filled balloon landed safely off the coast of Mexico early Saturday after an audacious, nearly 7,000-mile-long trip across the Pacific Ocean that shattered two long-standing records for ballooning. Mission control in Albuquerque was packed with balloon team members and the pilots' families as it descended, with all eyes focused on a giant screen showing a map of the coast and the balloon's location. "We're really pleased with the distance numbers we have here and very pleased with the duration numbers," said Steve Shope, mission control director. Troy Bradley of Albuquerque and Leonid Tiukhtyaev of Russia lifted off from Japan Sunday morning, and by Friday, they beat what's considered the "holy grail" of ballooning achievements, the 137-hour duration record set in 1978 by the Double Eagle crew of Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson and Larry Newman in the first balloon flight across the Atlantic.
By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co, the largest U.S. bank, agreed to pay $99.5 million to settle its portion of an antitrust lawsuit in which investors accuse 12 major banks of rigging prices in the $5.3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market. Made public on Friday night, the settlement is the first in the nationwide litigation and resolved claims over JPMorgan's role in alleged collusion among banks since January 2003 to manipulate the WM/Reuters Closing Spot Rates, known as the Fix. ...
Former German President Richard von Weizsaecker, who declared Germany's World War II surrender a "day of liberation" for his country as he urged it to confront the Nazi past, and promoted reconciliation during a tenure spanning the reunification of west and east, has died. Weizsaecker, a patrician and eloquent figure who was president from 1984 to 1994, raised the profile of the largely ceremonial presidency and established himself as a moral conscience for the nation. Weizsaecker's May 1985 speech marking the 40th anniversary of Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II cemented his reputation. We are all affected by its consequences and liable for it," said Weizsaecker, who served as a regular soldier in Adolf Hitler's army.
Sheriff's deputies said he hit and killed a man with his pickup truck, injured another and then fled. The incident was the latest in a long line of brushes with death and the law for the 49-year-old founder of Death Row Records, one of the genre's leading labels. Knight started the label that helped solidify West Coast rap with Dr. Dre, who had been a member of the legendary group N.W.A. The label also launched the career of Snoop Dogg and had Tupac Shakur in the last months of his life.
German carmaker BMW and car supplier Bosch [ROBG.UL] said on Saturday they would join Deutsche Bahn [DBN.UL] in two claims for about 2.1 billion euros ($2.4 billion) in damages from air freight carriers who were involved in a cartel. The air cargo cartel, which included Europe's biggest airline Lufthansa and British Airways, was first discovered seven years ago and triggered fines in the European Union and in the United States. Confirming a report in German magazine WirtschaftsWoche, spokespeople for BMW and Bosch said the companies had joined the lawsuits, announced by Deutsche Bahn in December.
By Norihiko Shirouzu BEIJING (Reuters) - General Motors and Chinese partner SAIC Motor Corp will soon announce a joint push into Indonesia, using their no-frills Wuling brand to establish a beachhead in Southeast Asiaâ€™s biggest market and from there tackle other markets in the region. They have already made moves to purchase a property in an industrial district on the outskirts of Jakarta, according to two people familiar with the matter, and are expected to detail within days what GM China chief Matt Tsien called an important joint venture in a country of 240 million people. In a report late Friday, officials from Indonesia's industry ministry told state Antara news agency that GM and SAIC would invest a total of $700 million in Indonesia to set up operations to manufacture and market Wuling vehicles in the country.
Controversial imam Hamza Chaoui will be denied a permit to establish his Islamic community centre inÂ Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, a borough in Montreal's east end. Borough mayor RÃ©al MÃ©nard, who spoke at Montreal City Hall along with Mayor Denis Coderre on Saturday morning, said Chaoui was never given a certificate of occupation to begin holding meetings at his community centre.
The incident was the latest in a long line of brushes with death and the law for the 49-year-old founder of Death Row Records, one of the genre's leading labels. Knight started the label that helped solidify West Coast rap with Dr. Dre, who had been a member of the legendary group N.W.A. The label also launched the career of Snoop Dogg and had Tupac Shakur in the last months of his life. Knight then struck the man and a friend with his vehicle and fled, said sheriff's Lt. John Corina. Corina said Knight backed up his pickup truck and knocked Sloan down.
Oscar-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch has joined others in calling for the British government to pardon gay and bisexual men convicted in the past under the defunct "gross indecency" law. Turing, who played a vital role in breaking the German wartime code, was praised by Winston Churchill as having made "the single biggest contribution" to the Allied victory in World War II. Turing was pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II at the recommendation of the government, but the letter points out that 49,000 other men convicted under the same law also merit pardons. "The UK's homophobic laws made the lives of generations of gay and bisexual men intolerable," the letter said.
SANDUSKY, Ohio - Bill Cosby's stand-up tour has stopped in northern Ohio, where it drew several protesters before the show. The comedian himself received standing ovations before and after his performance.
Images or mentions of knives, ransom or blood â€” or anything else that can be seen alluding to the hostage crisis involving two Japanese in Syria â€” have been omitted. The fates of a Japanese journalist and Jordanian military pilot were still unknown Saturday after the latest purported deadline for a possible prisoner swap lapsed with no further messages from the Islamic State group holding them captive. Another Japanese hostage has purportedly been killed. The restraint by broadcasters and other media has spilled over into politics as opposition lawmakers, mindful of the crisis, toned down their criticism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his team.