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Italian prosecutor seeks life sentences for U.S. students accused of killing

ROME (Reuters) - An Italian prosecutor on Saturday demanded life sentences for two young Americans being tried on murder charges after a policeman was killed following a botched drugs sale in Rome. Finnegan Lee Elder, who was 19 at the time, has admitted to stabbing Mario Cerciello Rega in the early hours of July 26, 2019, while his friend Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth, then 18, was tussling with another police officer. Under Italian law, anyone who participates even indirectly in a murder can face murder charges. The two Americans, both from California, have said they did not know that Cerc...

U.S. considering use of Virginia military base to house migrant children

By Ted Hesson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government is evaluating whether to house unaccompanied migrant children at a military base in Virginia amid a sharp rise in migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notice seen by Reuters. A Pentagon spokesman confirmed that Fort Lee, a U.S. Army facility about 30 miles (48 km) south of Richmond, was under consideration. The number of migrant children arriving at the southwestern border has increased in recent months, putting pressure on HHS-run shelters that house the children ...

U.S. agency investigates Facebook for 'systemic' racial bias in hiring and promotions

By Paresh Dave (Reuters) - A U.S. agency investigating Facebook Inc for racial bias in hiring and promotions has designated the probe as "systemic," attorneys for three job applicants and a manager who claim the company discriminated against them told Reuters on Friday. A "systemic" probe means the agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, suspects company policies may be contributing to widespread discrimination. The EEOC typically resolves disputes through mediation or allowing complainants to sue employers. But agency officials designate a few cases "systemic," enabling investiga...

Merck says study shows COVID-19 drug causes quick reduction in virus

(Reuters) - U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co Inc said on Saturday the experimental antiviral drug molnupiravir it is developing with Ridgeback Bio showed a quicker reduction in infectious virus in its phase 2a study among participants with early COVID-19. "The secondary objective findings in this study, of a quicker decrease in infectious virus among individuals with early COVID-19 treated with molnupiravir, are promising," said William Fischer, Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, in a statement from the companies. The antiviral is being currently t...

Myanmar forces fire tear gas, stun grenades on protest as U.N. envoy calls for action

(Reuters) - Myanmar security forces used tear gas and stun grenades to break up a protest in Yangon on Saturday, just hours after a United Nations special envoy called on the Security Council to take action against the ruling junta for the killings of protesters. The Southeast Asian country has been plunged into turmoil since the military overthrew and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, with daily protests and strikes that have choked business and paralysed administration. Sporadic protests were staged across Myanmar on Saturday and local media reported that police fired tear ...

Minnesota court rules judge must reconsider third-degree murder against former policeman in George Floyd case

(Reuters) - A Minnesota court of appeals ruled on Friday that the judge in the case against Derek Chauvin, who is accused of killing George Floyd, must reconsider a third-degree murder charge against the former police officer. (Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago)

Pope Francis departs Rome for risky, historic Iraq tour

By Philip Pullella and John Davison ROME (Reuters) - Pope Francis left Rome on Friday to start a four-day trip to Iraq, his most risky foreign trip since his election in 2012 and the first visit by a pontiff to the country. An Alitalia airplane carrying the 84-year-old pope, his entourage, a security detail, and about 75 journalists, left Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport for the 4-1/2-hour flight to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Iraq is deploying thousands of additional security personnel to protect Francis during the visit, which comes after a spate of rocket and suicide bomb attacks raised fea...

World no closer to answer on COVID origins despite WHO probe: expert

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Despite a high-profile visit to China by a team of international experts in January, the world is no closer to knowing the origins of COVID-19, according to one of the authors of an open letter calling for a new investigation into the pandemic. "At this point we are no further advanced than we were a year ago," said Nikolai Petrovsky, an expert in vaccines at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, and one of 26 global experts who signed the open letter, published on Thursday. In January, a team of scientists picked by the World Health Organization (WHO) visited hospit...

Bollywood, streaming giants on edge as Amazon gets flak for hurting religious beliefs in India

By Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Aditya Kalra and Euan Rocha MUMBAI (Reuters) - Controversy in India over Amazon's political drama "Tandav" has put Bollywood and global video streaming giants on edge, prompting a closer scrutiny of scripts for possible offence to religious sentiments in a key growth market. Companies like Amazon's Prime Video and Netflix are inspecting planned shows and scripts, with some even deleting scenes that could be controversial, five Bollywood directors and producers, and two industry sources said. This comes as Amazon Prime Video has become embroiled in legal cases and police...

Texas grid operator made $16 billion price error during winter storm, watchdog says

By Kanishka Singh (Reuters) - Texas' power grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) made a $16 billion pricing error in the week of the winter storm that led to power outages across the state, Potomac Economics, which monitors the state's power market, said. ERCOT kept market prices for power too high for more than a day after widespread outages ended late on Feb. 17, Potomac Economics, the independent market monitor for the Public Utility Commission of Texas, which oversees ERCOT, said in a filing. "In order to comply with the Commission Order, the pricing intervention that...

EU not interested in protecting Belfast peace agreement: Northern Ireland first minister

LONDON (Reuters) - Northern Ireland's first minister said the European Union's promise of legal action over the UK extending grace periods for trade showed its priority was protecting the trading bloc, not the Belfast peace agreement. "What they're only interested in is protecting their bloc, they're not interested, as they claim to be, in protecting the Belfast agreement," Arlene Foster told BBC radio on Friday. "If they were, they would not be taking the action that they're taking a present." The European Union said on Wednesday it would take legal action after the British government unilate...

Myanmar diplomatic revolt against junta widens after violent crackdown

(Reuters) - Myanmar's junta lost a tug of war over leadership of its U.N. mission in New York and the United States unveiled new sanctions targeting military conglomerates after the deaths of dozens of civilians protesting against last month's coup. With tussles over diplomatic loyalties overseas, pro-democracy activists held more demonstrations in Myanmar on Friday to oppose the Feb. 1 ouster of the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. A big crowd marched peacefully through the second city of Mandalay chanting: "The stone age is over, we're not scared because you threaten us." There was no...

Karl Rove fires back at Trump

By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former President Donald Trump intensified his war with the Republican establishment on Thursday by attacking Karl Rove, a longtime Republican strategist who criticized Trump's first speech since leaving office for being long on grievances but short on vision. "He’s a pompous fool with bad advice and always has an agenda," Trump complained in a statement issued by his office in Palm Beach, Florida. Rove, the architect of Republican George W. Bush's presidential victories in 2000 and 2004, wrote in an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday ...

SpaceX Starship rocket prototype nails landing... then blows up

(Reuters) - The third time appeared to be the charm for Elon Musk's Starship rocket - until it wasn't. The latest heavy-duty launch vehicle prototype from SpaceX soared flawlessly into the sky in a high-altitude test blast-off on Wednesday from Boca Chica, Texas, then flew itself back to Earth to achieve the first upright landing for a Starship model. But the triumph was short-lived. Listing slightly to one side as an automated fire-suppression system trained a stream of water on flames still burning at the base of the rocket, the spacecraft blew itself to pieces about eight minutes after touc...

Northern Irish loyalist paramilitaries withdraw support for 1998 peace deal: Belfast Telegraph

By Guy Faulconbridge LONDON (Reuters) - Northern Irish loyalist paramilitary organisations told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson they are temporarily withdrawing support for the 1998 peace agreement due to concerns over the Brexit deal, the Belfast Telegraph reported. An umbrella body representing the outlawed groups said in a letter that the unionist opposition to the Northern Irish Protocol - part of the Brexit divorce deal - should remain "peaceful and democratic". Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace deal, known as the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement, largely ended three decades of violence ...

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