BRAUNSCHWEIG, Germany, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Four former employees of carmaker Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) went on trial on Thursday over the Dieselgate scandal in which illegal software was used to cheat emission tests.
The trial, being held in the city of Braunschweig, close to Volkswagen's headquarters in Wolfsburg, started without former CEO Martin Winterkorn, whose separate trial will take place at a later date.
The four employees, who are accused of fraud, had been aware of the illegal software but failed to raise the issue, instead seeking to maximise profits for the carmaker and, as a result, their performance bonuses, Braunschweig prosecutors said.
LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) - From the dog with the longest ears to the world's tallest teenager, Guinness World Records reveals its latest record breakers in the 2022 edition of the popular book.
The annual publication, out on Thursday, features an array of records and feats, including the fastest walking on hands and the most skips over a person's own hair in 30 seconds.
Briton Bethany Lodge, a gymnast since a young age, scored the titles of fastest 100 metre forward rolls – in 42.64 seconds - and the most backwards somersault burpees by a female in 30 seconds - five.
"It feels incredible to achieve a Guinness World Record title. It's something that I never even considered doing. I always used to get the books when I was little and used to read through them and just look at all the incredible things that people could do," Lodge said.
"So it's kind of surreal to then know that I have got a record title and to see that in the book."
LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) - British businesses have reported a sharp rise in recruitment difficulties within the space of just a few weeks - partly as a result of a continued lack of European Union workers, official figures showed on Thursday.
Some 41% of companies with 10 or more staff reported greater than usual recruitment challenges in the two weeks to Sept. 5, up from 32% in early August, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Around a quarter of businesses with recruitment difficulties named a reduced number of EU applicants as a factor, rising to almost half in the transport and storage sector, where a lack of truck drivers has led to widespread delivery bottlenecks.
Labour shortages were most widespread in hospitality, followed by water utilities, healthcare and construction.
Britain introduced new immigration rules on Jan. 1 which require most EU workers not already living in Britain to get work visas, something that can be...
Sept 16 (Reuters) - Facebook (FB.O) is taking a more aggressive approach to shut down coordinated groups of real-user accounts engaging in certain harmful activities on its platform, using the same strategy its security teams take against campaigns using fake accounts, the company told Reuters.
The new approach, reported here for the first time, uses the tactics usually taken by Facebook's security teams for wholesale shutdowns of networks engaged in influence operations that use false accounts to manipulate public debate, such as Russian troll farms.
It could have major implications for how the social media giant handles political and other coordinated movements breaking its rules, at a time when Facebook's approach to abuses on its platforms is under heavy scrutiny from global lawmakers and civil society groups.
Facebook said it now plans to take this same network-level approach with groups of coordinated real accounts that systemically break its rules,...
Sept 16 (Reuters) - Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly made a lucrative offer last March that Sportradar Group AG (SRAD.O) founder and CEO Carsten Koerl could not pass up.
He proposed a merger with his special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Horizon Acquisition Corp II that would have valued Sportradar at $10 billion. That was 110 times the adjusted cash flow of the Swiss sports gambling data company in 2020 of 76.9 million euros ($90.4 million). Most of its peers were valued at less than half that multiple.
Yet Wall Street's mood was about to sour toward SPAC deals, then its hottest dealmaking trend. Sportradar instead went public this week through a traditional initial public offering (IPO) that valued the company at just $8 billion.
This account of the deal deliberations is based on interviews with four people familiar with the matter and on a Reuters analysis of Sportradar's financials. Spokespeople for Sportradar, CPPIB and Horizon did not...
KAKINADA, India, Sept 16 (Reuters) - India could account for as much as 45% of global rice exports in 2021 as expanded port-handling capacity allows the world's second largest rice grower after China to ship record volumes to buyers across Africa and Asia.
The world's top exporter could ship as much as 22 million tonnes of rice this year, or more than the combined exports of the next three largest exporters Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan, said Nitin Gupta, vice president of Olam India's rice business.
"Along with traditional buyers, this year China, Vietnam and Bangladesh are also making purchases from India," he said.
India's exports in 2020 jumped 49% from the year before to a record 14.7 million tonnes, as shipments of non-basmati rice spiked 77% to a record 9.7 million tonnes.
ST. LOUIS, Sept 16 (Reuters) - When night fell, a clerk at a bustling 24-hour MotoMart flipped a switch from behind the counter.
Electromagnetic locks sealed the doorway. A window sign, now illuminated in red, warned “facial recognition technology in use” and directed customers to “look up at the camera.”
On this recent weeknight, a woman who wanted cigarettes was locked out. Confused at first, she quickly realized that she needed to remove her medical mask. After her unobstructed facial image was scanned into a store computer, then screened against the company’s photo archives of previous customers convicted of store-related crimes, the doors clicked open.
Just a few miles away, across the Missouri state line in Illinois, such screening is against the law under the toughest privacy laws in the country. Private companies must obtain written consent before stockpiling facial images or any biometric identifier – fingerprints, palms, eyes and voice.
BEIJING, Sept 16 (Reuters) - China will extend tariff exemptions for 81 products imported from the United States by seven months, the finance ministry said in a statement published on Thursday.
China has routinely made such extensions as part of an initial agreement to end a bruising trade war between the world's two biggest economies.
The items had received exemptions from retaliatory tariffs imposed by China on U.S. goods as countermeasures to U.S. Section 301 action, the ministry said.
The exemptions for items including some shrimp and electric vehicle batteries had been due to expire on Thursday but had now been extended until April 16, 2022, it added.
The tit-for-tat trade war erupted during former U.S. President Donald Trump's term in office and saw tariffs slapped on billions of dollars worth of goods.
A Phase 1 interim trade deal agreed in January 2020 called for China to boost purchases of U.S. exports by $200 billion over two years. It...
LANGKAWI, Malaysia, Sept 16 (Reuters) - The first plane carrying tourists in more than four months touched down on the Malaysian island of Langkawi on Thursday and was greeted by a twin water cannon "salute", in the launch of a programme to revive a travel sector frozen by the pandemic.
The first batch of 159 travellers from the capital, Kuala Lumpur, arrived eager for a vacation after a monthslong, nationwide lockdown imposed to address one of Asia's highest per-capital coronavirus infection rates.
Known for its beaches, geoparks, bird life and impressive rock formations, Langkawi, a group of 99 islands, is the test case in a drive to allow vaccinated domestic travellers to take part in holiday activities under agreed health protocols. read more
"My last holiday was last year ... countless months already, I felt like I'll go mental also soon," said Beverly Tiew, 42, from Kuala Lumpur. "So I'm excited and super, super happy and I'm thankful that the...
LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Piers Morgan, the outspoken British journalist and broadcaster, has joined Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (NWSA.O) and Fox News Media in a global deal, including launching a new TV show in early 2022, the company said on Thursday.
He will also join Murdoch's tabloids The Sun and the New York Post as a columnist, and the group's HarperCollins UK has signed the world rights for his next book, the company said.
Morgan, who previously edited Murdoch's defunct News of the World and hosted a show on CNN, resigned from British broadcaster ITV's breakfast show after he said in March he did not believe comments made by Prince Harry's wife Meghan in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Morgan said he was thrilled to be returning to News Corp, where he began his media career more than 30 years ago.
"Rupert Murdoch has been a constant and fearless champion of free speech and we are going to be building something new and very exciting together,"...
MOSCOW, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he would have to spend "a few days" in self-isolation after dozens of people in his entourage fell ill with COVID-19, the TASS news agency reported.
Putin was speaking via a video link at a summit of a Russia-led security bloc being held in Tajikistan which he had initially planned to attend in person.
It was previously unclear how big the outbreak was and how long Putin would remain isolated.
"This is not just one person or two people, there are dozens of people," he said. "And now I have to remain in self-isolation for a few days."
Putin, 68, has had two shots of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine. He said this week he was now personally testing its efficiency.
The Kremlin said Putin was healthy. His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Thursday the president's self-isolation could last at least a week and added that he was unaware of anyone being gravely ill in the...
LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) - A boom in corporate dealmaking, surging input costs and a focus on short-term cash flows in the pandemic have sent companies rushing to hedge their currency exposures this year, giving a boost to banks that sell foreign exchange products.
Corporate treasurers say the pandemic, which sent revenues tanking in 2020 before this year's sharp rebound, has encouraged many to hedge currency risks more frequently.
Relentless supply chain pressures, and a sharp rise in raw material and other input costs that are mostly denominated in U.S. dollars, are reasons for companies to lock in prices too.
And a surge in mergers and acquisitions as the recovery takes hold is also lifting corporate demand for foreign currencies. Global dealmaking is running at a record high this year, with $3.9 trillion of deals already transacted by early September, according to Refinitiv data.
Multinational firms are among those to have increased their foreign...
LOS ANGELES, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Lady Gaga on Wednesday led a list of People magazine's best-dressed celebrities that included "Euphoria" star Zendaya and Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis.
Gaga was dubbed "The Icon" in People's best dressed of the year issue, despite never having set foot on a red carpet. Instead, the magazine praised her high fashion street looks that ranged from "a sculptural seersucker number to a black lace corseted gown."
Zendaya, Davis, Leslie Odom Jr., Anya Taylor-Joy, Mindy Kaling, Cynthia Erivo, Dan Levy, Regina Hall and musician H.E.R. also made the Top 10 list for swapping "cozy sweats for chic couture" this year.
VICTORIA, Canada, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Docked at a Canadian port, crew members returned from a test run of the Ocean Cleanup's system to rid the Pacific of plastic trash were thrilled by the meager results — even as marine scientists and other ocean experts doubted the effort could succeed.
The non-profit, launched in 2013 amid buoyant media coverage, hopes to clear 90% of floating plastic from the world's oceans by 2040. But the group's own best-case scenario — still likely years away — envisions removing 20,000 tonnes a year from the North Pacific, a small fraction of the roughly 11 million tonnes of plastic flowing annually into the oceans.
And that amount entering the ocean is expected to nearly triple to 29 million tonnes annually by 2040, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The Ocean Cleanup, funded by cash donations and corporations including Coca-Cola (KO.N), as well as in-kind donors like A.P. Moller-Maersk (MAERSKb.CO), had fixed assets over $51...
ZURICH, Sept 16 (Reuters) - The pace of climate change has not been slowed by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the world remains behind in its battle to cut carbon emissions, the United Nations said on Thursday.
The virus-related economic downturn caused only a temporary downturn in CO2 emissions last year and it was not enough to reverse rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said.
"There was some thinking that the COVID lockdowns would have had a positive impact on the (…) atmosphere, which is not the case," WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said at a news briefing.
The world in 2021 was missing the mark of building back sustainably from the COVID-19 crisis and "not going in the right direction," Taalas said.
Reduction targets for emissions are not being met and there is a rising likelihood the world will miss its Paris Agreement aim of reducing global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above...
Sept 16 (Reuters) - Biofuel producers are seeking last-minute changes to a proposal to boost production of sustainable aviation fuel tucked in the Democrat's $3.5 trillion spending plan that they say will allow the nation's farmers to join the emerging multi-billion market.
The changes center on how the carbon-saving benefits of producing the fuel are measured, and could force the White House to choose between environmental groups who believe using land and food supply for fuel squanders earth's resources, and farm and agribusiness groups hoping to benefit from the push to stop climate change.
The White House said last week it wants to cut aircraft greenhouse-gas emissions by 20% by decade's end by significantly boosting the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Currently, less than 1% of the roughly 21.5 billion gallons of jet fuel burned each year in the United States is SAF, but the White House set a target of 3 billion gallons by 2030.
It has backed a...
PASCHIM BARDHAMAN, (INDIA),Sept 16 (Reuters) - In a small tribal village on the eastern tip of India, an enterprising teacher has turned walls into blackboards and roads into classrooms, trying to close the gap in learning brought on by prolonged school shutdowns in the country.
Deep Narayan Nayak, 34, a teacher in the tribal village of Joba Attpara in Paschim Bardhaman district of the eastern state of West Bengal, has painted blackboards on the walls of houses and taught children on the streets for the past year. The local school shut down after strict COVID-19 restrictions were imposed across the country in March 2020.
On a recent morning, children wrote on one such wall with chalk and peered into a microscope as Nayak watched over them.
"The education of our children stopped ever since the lockdown was imposed. The children used to just loiter around. The teacher came and started teaching them," Kiran Turi, whose child learns with Nayak, told Reuters.
MEXICO CITY, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel will on Thursday attend Mexico's 200th anniversary of independence, ahead of a summit of Latin American heads of state that will gather recently elected members of a new "pink wave" of leftist leaders.
The presidents from Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and elsewhere will on Saturday meet at the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), a regional body that Venezuela's late leader Hugo Chavez helped set up in 2011.
Diaz-Canel's trip to Mexico is the Cuban leader's first foreign visit since a huge protests swept the island in July, shaking the communist government at a time it was struggling to contain the pandemic and shortages of food, fuel and medicine.
During the anti-government demonstrations, Mexico threw a lifeline to Havana by sending ships loaded with fuel, food and oxygen tanks. Mexico's leftist president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also sharply criticized the...
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Sept 15 (Reuters) - A billionaire e-commerce executive and three less-wealthy private citizens chosen to join him blasted off from Florida on Wednesday aboard a SpaceX rocket ship and soared into orbit, the first all-civilian crew ever to circle the Earth from space.
The quartet of amateur astronauts, led by the American founder and chief executive of financial services firm Shift4 Payments Inc (FOUR.N), Jared Isaacman, lifted off just before sunset from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.
A SpaceX webcast of the launch showed Isaacman, 38, and his crewmates - Sian Proctor, 51, Hayley Arceneaux, 29, and Chris Sembroski, 42 - strapped into the pressurized cabin of their gleaming white SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, dubbed Resilience, wearing their helmeted black-and-white flight suits.
Thumbs-up were on display as the capsule streaked into the dark sky, perched atop one of SpaceX's reusable two-stage Falcon 9 rockets. The Crew Dragon,...
BRUSSELS, Sept 16 (Reuters) - A new U.S. security pact with Australia and Britain shows that the European Union must develop its own defence and security strategies, particularly in the Indo-Pacific, the EU's top diplomat said on Thursday.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he was not consulted on Wednesday's agreement for Washington to help Canberra build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, cancelling a deal with France to design diesel-electric submarines.
"We must survive on our own, as others do," Borrell said as he presented a new EU strategy for the Indo-Pacific region, talking of the "strategic autonomy" that French President Emmanuel Macron has championed. "I understand the extent to which the French government must be disappointed."
ROME, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Italy is poised to become the first country in Europe to make it obligatory for all workers to have a COVID-19 "Green Pass", with the cabinet due to approve the measure at a meeting later on Thursday, officials said.
The pass is a digital or paper certificate showing someone has received at least one vaccine dose, tested negative or recently recovered from the disease.
It was originally conceived to ease travel among European Union states, but Prime Minister Mario Draghi's broad, unity government has rapidly extended its use in an effort to persuade more people to be inoculated and blunt the spread of the virus.
While some European countries have ordered their health workers to get vaccines, none have made the Green Pass mandatory for all employees, making Italy a test case for the continent.
There have been sporadic protests in recent weeks against the growing pressure to get a jab, but most political parties as well as the...
SYDNEY, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Australia will build eight nuclear-powered submarines under an Indo-Pacific security partnership with the United States and Britain that analysts say will likely rile China, which denounced the creation of blocs intent on harming others.
Australia will be only the second country after Britain in 1958 to be given access to U.S. nuclear technology to build nuclear-powered submarines.
Sept 16 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) plans to build a biofuels facility in the Netherlands to help achieve its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, it said on Thursday.
The facility in Rotterdam will be able to produce 820,000 tonnes of renewable fuel per year when it starts production in 2024 and is expected to be one of Europe's largest such facilities, the energy giant said.
The plan follows Shell's pledge in February to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2050, raising its ambition from previous targets in the face of growing investor pressure to battle climate change. read more
Sustainable aviation fuel could make up more than half of the Rotterdam plant's capacity, with the rest for renewable diesel, depending on customer demand.
The facility will produce the fuels from waste in the form of used cooking oil, animal fat and other residual products.
Sustainable vegetable oils like rapeseed will supplement the waste feedstocks...
A patchwork of laws govern corporate use of biometric screening in the U.S., with a smattering of cities and states requiring some form of public disclosure or consent and many others allowing nearly unrestricted use. Read more: https://reut.rs/3tI8jnG
WASHINGTON, Sept 16 (Reuters) - U.S. retail sales unexpectedly increased in August, likely boosted by back-to-school shopping and child tax credit payments from the government, which could temper expectations for a sharp slowdown in economic growth in the third quarter.
Retail sales rose 0.7% last month, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. Data for July was revised down to show retail sales declining 1.8% instead of 1.1% as previously reported.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales dropping 0.8%.
Retail sales rebounded despite an ongoing global shortage of microchips, which is forcing automakers to cut production, leading to a scarcity of inventory at showrooms.
The semiconductor crunch, which has been worsened by the latest wave of infections driven by the Delta variant of the coronavirus, primarily in Southeast Asia, is also causing shortages of some electronic goods. Congestion at ports in China is also adding to the supply...
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