Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit is letting go of almost its entire work force with the satellite launch company finding it difficult to secure funding three months after a failed mission. The company, headquartered in Long Beach, California, will cut 675 jobs, about 85% of its workforce, according to a Friday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In January, a mission by Virgin Orbit to launch the first satellites into orbit from Europe failed after a rocket’s upper stage prematurely shut down. It was a setback in the United Kingdom which had hoped that the launch from Cornwall in southwest England would mark the beginning of more commercial opportunities for the U.K. space industry
Russia has used it long-range arsenal to bombard anew several areas of Ukraine. The attacks killed at least two civilians and damaged homes. The bombardment Friday came as Ukrainians commemorated the anniversary of the liberation of Bucha. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the town near Kyiv stands as a symbol of the atrocities the Russian army has committed since its full-scale invasion began in February 2022. The Kremlin’s forces occupied Bucha weeks after they invaded Ukraine and stayed for about a month. Ukrainian troops retook the town and they found horrific scenes. Hundreds of bodies were uncovered including some of children.
Inflation in the 20 countries that use the euro currency have slowed to the lowest level in a year. Energy prices dropped in March, but food costs were still on the rise, keeping pressure on the European Central Bank to keep raising interest rates. Data released Friday by the European Union’s statistics agency shows that consumer prices rose 6.9% in March from a year earlier, down from 8.5% in February. Economists focused on so-called core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices and increased to a record 5.7%. They expect that to push the central bank to keep raising interest rates. Prices for food, alcohol and tobacco rose by a painful 15.4%, while energy prices fell 0.9%.
Several members of the crew on a Liberia-flagged tanker that that was boarded by pirates earlier this month in West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, are being held hostages. The French Navy that was patrolling the area, found the Monjasa Reformer north of where it had been attacked. The Danish owner of the tanker said Friday that “the pirates had abandoned the vessel and brought a part of the crew members with them.” It did not say how many had been kidnapped. The nationalities of the crew members have not been announced.
Conservative media figures were quick to defend former President Donald Trump after news came out that he had been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury. ‘A disgrace,’ said Fox News Channel's Jesse Watters. ‘Repulsive,’ said Fox's Sean Hannity. ‘Insane,’ said Newsmax's Eric Bolling. Many commentators dismissed the case against Trump, even though the specific charges remained under seal. Hannity had a studio audience for his live show on Fox and commentators on several programs seemed to compete for applause lines with inflammatory language. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham used a swear word to refer to the case when appearing on Hannity's show.
House Republicans have passed a sprawling energy package that would counter virtually all of President Joe Biden’s agenda to address climate change. The bill approved Thursday would sharply increase domestic production of oil, natural gas and coal, and ease permitting restrictions that delay pipelines, refineries and other projects. It would boost production of critical minerals such as lithium, nickel and cobalt that are used in electric vehicles, computers, cellphones and other products. Democrats call the bill a giveaway to big oil companies. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says the bill is “dead on arrival” in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Biden has threatened a veto.
Dominion Voting Systems has been ensnared in a web of conspiracy theories that have undermined public confidence in U.S. elections among conservative voters. The conspiracies have led to calls to ban voting machines in some places and triggered death threats against election officials. Those conspiracies are at the heart of a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit Dominion has filed against Fox News. Dominion claims Fox defamed it by repeatedly airing false claims and says it lost contracts and business opportunities. Fox argues it was reporting on newsworthy allegations and says Colorado-based Dominion overstates its value. In Arizona, Republican Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer says Dominion is “maybe one of the most demonized brands” in the world.
The U.K. has agreed to join an Asia-Pacific trade pact that includes Japan, Mexico and Australia. Britain says it's the biggest new trade deal it has struck since leaving the European Union three years ago. The British government said Friday that it had clinched an agreement after almost two years of negotiations to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP. The government says membership will reduce tariffs on British dairy products and other goods and remove red tape for U.K. services. It's estimated it will boost the U.K. economy by 1.8 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) “in the long run.” Critics say the deal is insignificant compared to Britain’s trade with its neighbors in the EU.
Weeks after the failure of two banks, President Joe Biden is calling for independent regulatory agencies to impose tighter rules on the financial system. In a fact sheet, Biden says regulators can act under current law without additional steps taken by Congress. The recommended changes outlined by the White House try to put clear blame on the Trump administration for weakening supervision of regional banks, saying Biden’s predecessor “weakened many important common-sense requirements and supervision.” Once banks hold assets of more than $100 billion, the administration is asking them to hold more capital to absorb losses and face enhanced stress testing to ensure they could withstand a possible crisis.
Banks will need to start reporting the demographics and income of small business loan applicants under new rules published by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday.It’s a move that policymakers hope will lead to less discrimination and more transparency in the small business lending market in a similar way other laws have regulated the residential mortgage market for decades.
The Vatican has formally repudiated the “Doctrine of Discovery.” That is the theory backed by 15th century papal bulls that legitimized the colonial-era seizure of Native lands and form the basis of some property law today. Indigenous groups have been demanding such a statement for decades. A Vatican statement Thursday said the papal bulls, or decrees, “did not adequately reflect the equal dignity and rights of Indigenous peoples” and have never been considered expressions of the Catholic faith. It said the documents had been “manipulated” for political purposes by colonial powers “to justify immoral acts against Indigenous peoples that were carried out, at times, without opposition from ecclesial authorities.”
Greece’s defense minister has announced he will travel to neighboring Turkey next week as part of an effort to ease tension between the two NATO members which have long-standing and often volatile disputes. The Greek defense minister told reporters in Athens on Thursday that he would visit areas devastated by earthquakes in early February with his Turkish counterpart. An outpouring of support from Greece to help its neighbor last month has led to a de-escalation in disputes centered around boundaries and drilling rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate inched down this week to its lowest level in six weeks, just as the spring buying season gets underway. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average on the benchmark 30-year rate fell for the third straight week, to 6.32% from 6.42% last week. The average rate a year ago was 4.67%. The recent decline in mortgage rates is good news for prospective homebuyers, as many have been pushed to the sidelines during the past year, partly the result of the Federal Reserve ratcheting up its main borrowing rate nine straight times.
A lawyer for onetime cryptocurrency darling Sam Bankman-Fried is signaling that he's challenging the validity of new charges contained in rewritten indictments released in recent weeks after his client was brought to the United States from the Bahamas in December. Attorney Mark Cohen told a Manhattan federal court judge on Thursday that the 31-year-old Bankman-Fried pleads not guilty to new charges lodged against him in what a prosecutor has labeled as one of the biggest frauds in American history. Although he's pleading not guilty to the charges, Cohen says Bankman-Fried is not acknowledging he can be tried on them. Among the new charges is an allegation that he directed the payment of $40 million in bribes to Chinese officials.
French President Emmanuel Macron has launched a broad plan to ensure that France has sovereignty over its water resources. Water is growing increasingly scarce because of climate change. It's challenging farmers, drying lakes and leaving some households without water running from their faucets. Macron said Thursday that the water problem is urgent. He said that climate change will deprive France of 30% to 40% of available water by 2050. The trip to the southeast gave Macron a chance to change the topic after protests triggered by his decision to revise the pension system and increase the retirement age from 62 to 64. It also was an opportunity to address a subject dear to protesting youth.
U.S. applications for jobless benefits rose last week but remain at historically low levels despite the Federal Reserve’s efforts to cool the economy and job market in its fight against inflation. Jobless claims in the U.S. for the week ending March 25 rose by 7,000 to 198,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week moving average of claims, which evens out some of the week-to-week fluctuations, rose by 2,000 to 198,250, remaining below the 200,000 threshold for the tenth straight week. Applications for unemployment benefits are broadly seen reflective of the number of layoffs in the U.S.