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NASA’s Orion capsule makes its closest approach to moon

Dec 5 (Reuters) - The uncrewed Orion capsule of NASA's Artemis I mission sailed within 80 miles (130 km) of the lunar surface on Monday, achieving the closest approach to the moon for a spacecraft built to carry humans since Apollo 17 flew half a century ago.
By Steve Gorman
The capsule’s lunar flyby, on the return leg of its debut voyage, came a week after Orion reached its farthest point in space, nearly 270,000 miles from Earth while midway through its 25-day mission, the U.S. space agency said on its website.
Orion passed about 79 miles above the lunar surface on Monday as the spacecraft fired its thrusters for a “powered flyby burn,” designed to change the vehicle’s velocity and set it on course for its flight back to Earth.
NASA said the 3-1/2-minute burn would mark the last major spaceflight maneuver for Orion before it was due to parachute into the sea and splash down on Dec. 11.
The last time a spacecraft designed for human travel came as close to the moon as Orion was the final mission of the Apollo program, Apollo 17, which carried Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt to the lunar surface 50 years ago this month. They were the last of 12 NASA astronauts who walked on the moon during a total of six Apollo missions from 1969 to 1972.
Although Orion has no astronauts aboard – just a simulated crew of three mannequins – it flew farther than any previous “crew-class” spacecraft on the 13th day of its mission. It reached a point 268,563 miles from Earth, nearly 20,000 miles beyond the record distance set by the crew of Apollo 13 in 1970, which aborted its lunar landing and returned to Earth after a nearly catastrophic mechanical failure.
The much-delayed and highly anticipated launch of Orion last month kicked off Apollo’s successor program Artemis, aimed at returning astronauts to the lunar surface this decade and establishing a sustainable base there as a stepping stone to future human exploration of Mars.
If the mission succeeds, a crewed Artemis II flight around the moon and back could come as early as 2024, followed within a few years by the program’s first lunar landing of astronauts with Artemis III. Sending astronauts to Mars is expected to take at least another decade and a half to achieve.
“We couldn’t be more pleased about how the spacecraft has been performing really beyond all our expectations,” Debbie ...

Microsoft Is Raising Price of New Xbox Games to $70 From Next Year

(Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. is raising the price of new Xbox games to $70 from $60 starting in 2023, following other big gaming rivals from Ubisoft Entertainment SA to Sony Group Corp. and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.
The $10 bump, which was earlier reported by IGN, will affect next-generation games including Starfield, Redfall and Forza Motorsport, the company said in a statement. “This price reflects the content, scale, and technical complexity of these titles,” a spokesperson said. The games will be available as part of Microsoft’s subscription service, Game Pass, for $9.99 a month on Windows and Xbox consoles.
Many top games remained at a $60 price point for nearly two decades. In 2020, when Sony and Microsoft released their latest consoles, executives debated increasing the price in line with factors including the ballooning cost to develop games and inflation.
Microsoft said the company was holding off on the increase until after the holidays, “so families can enjoy the gift of gaming.”

Ukraine Latest: Moscow Confirms Attacks on Bases Deep in Russia

(Bloomberg) -- Moscow confirmed attacks against two airfields well inside its borders, accusing Ukraine of what could be the deepest strikes into Russian territory since the start of the war.
Ukraine didn’t claim responsibility for the attacks, which Russia said killed three people. Kyiv said its forces had shot down most of a barrage of 70 missiles targeting its energy infrastructure. Russia said it hit 17 sites.
Ukraine’s grid operator said that all the country’s regions face emergency power cuts, as utility teams work to repair damage after the Russian salvo, Ukraine’s grid operator said. A price cap and a European Union ban on seaborne imports of Russian crude oil into the bloc also came into force.
(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)
Key Developments
Blasts Hit Russia Air Bases as Kremlin Renews Ukraine Strikes
Putin Drives on Crimea Bridge Hit by Blast, Orders Full Repair
Ukraine Is Putin’s ‘Tool’ to Put Europe on its Knees, Rama Says
Russia’s European Crude Sales Collapse Ahead of Sanctions
EU Eyes Russia’s Drone Sector in Ninth Sanctions Package
On the Ground
Russian missiles hit Ukrainian energy infrastructure, according to the nation’s energy grid. “Powerful explosions” also hit the city of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine overnight, Mayor Oleksandr Vilkul said on Telegram. Ukrainian troops repelled attacks near 13 settlements in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions over the past day, Ukraine’s General Staff said on Facebook. According to its statement, Russia shelled more than 20 settlements along the right bank of the Dnipro River on the Kherson axis.
(All times CET)
All Ukraine Regions Face Power Cuts After Russian Strikes (7:25 p.m.)
Emergency power cutoffs will be introduced for all Ukrainian regions to help balance supplies after the latest Russian missile attacks on energy infrastructure, according to grid operator NPC Ukrenergo.
The integrity of Ukraine’s power system hasn’t been affected by the attacks, the eighth round of strikes since early October, and it continues to work “synchronously” with the EU network, Ukrenergo said. Engineers have begun to fix damage in several regions, including southern Odesa which is among the hardest-hit areas. the operator said. Part of Ukraine’s power production system won’t be able to work at full capacity for some time, it said.
Moscow Confirms Attacks on Airfields Deep in Russia (6:11 p.m.)
The Defense Ministry in Moscow said Ukraine attacked two airfields hundreds kilometers inside Russian territory. Kyiv used Soviet-era drones to hit the airfield in Ryazan and Saratov regions, the ministry said in a ...

Sudanese civilian parties, military sign framework deal for new political transition

KHARTOUM, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Sudan's military and political parties signed a framework deal on Monday that provides for a two-year civilian-led transition towards elections and would end a standoff triggered by a coup in October 2021.
The initial agreement would limit the military’s formal role to a security and defence council headed by a prime minister, but leaves sensitive issues including transitional justice and security sector reform for further talks.
The deal has already faced opposition from anti-military protest groups and Islamist factions loyal to the regime of former leader Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in 2019.
Protests broke out in at least two areas of the capital Khartoum before the signing ceremony at the presidential palace, an eyewitness told Reuters.
The military did not appoint a new prime minister since last year’s coup, which halted a power-sharing arrangement between the military and the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition.
The coup led to more than a year of mass protests against the military and the suspension of billions of dollars in international financial assistance, deepening an economic crisis.
(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz, Aidan Lewis, and Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Elon Musk Says Apple Is ‘Fully’ Advertising on Twitter Again

(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk said Apple Inc. has “fully resumed” advertising on Twitter Inc., further de-escalating a brewing war between two of the world’s most influential tech companies.
Musk made the comments during a Twitter Spaces conversation on Saturday, adding that Apple is the largest advertiser on the social media network. The billionaire, who didn’t elaborate further on Apple, spoke for more than two hours from his private plane during the chat, which had more than 90,000 listeners.
Apple didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment sent outside normal working hours.
Musk blasted Apple last week, saying the maker of iPhones and Mac computers had mostly stopped advertising on Twitter and had threatened to withhold the site from its App Store. In taking aim at Apple, Musk risked a war with the world’s most valuable company and a top advertiser at a time when other companies were pulling their advertising from Twitter.
Read more: Musk’s Threats Toward Apple Jeopardize Ties With Top Advertiser
Musk subsequently met with Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook and said the two had a “good conversation” and “resolved the misunderstanding about Twitter potentially being removed from the App Store.” Musk said Cook was “clear that Apple never considered doing so.”
Since Musk’s takeover, a string of companies have suspended advertising on Twitter, including General Mills Inc. and Pfizer Inc. On Saturday, Musk posted a tweet thanking advertisers for returning to Twitter.
In clarification of an earlier post, Platformer News said in a tweet on Sunday afternoon that Inc. had paused various campaigns on Twitter recently but did continue some level of advertising “throughout the recent turmoil.” Platformer News cited a source familiar with the matter it didn’t identify and also said the retailer is considering increasing its annual ad spending to $100 million. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment.
Twitter’s new approach for verifying accounts had also allowed trolls to impersonate major brands. Musk said that he hopes to revive the company’s verification program in the next week after it had been paused to deal with imposers.
–With assistance from Mark Gurman and Mark Bergen.

Ukraine presidential aide warns against Musk’s ‘magical simple solutions’

KYIV, Dec 4 (Reuters) - A top Ukrainian presidential aide criticised Twitter owner Elon Musk on Sunday for the billionaire's "magical simple solutions," citing ideas put forward by Musk on Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Twitter content moderation.
By Max Hunder
Mykhailo Podolyak listed “exchang(ing) foreign territories for an illusory peace” and “open(ing) all private accounts because freedom of speech has to be total”, as examples of such suggestions.
“(Elon Musk) prefers so-called magical ‘simple solutions’,” Podolyak wrote on Twitter, an apparent reference to self-described free speech advocate Musk’s plans to reform Twitter, which he took over on Oct. 27, as well as a tweet in which he called for Ukraine to give up the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula in exchange for peace.
Twitter representatives did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Ukraine has had a complicated relationship with Musk, the world’s richest man, since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24.
He was praised in the war’s early days for providing thousands of Starlink satellite internet devices, made by Musk’s SpaceX, to Ukraine free of charge, but the friendship ran into difficulties in October when Musk voiced support for peace conditions rejected by Kyiv.
The billionaire called for Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014, to be declared formally part of Russia, and for UN-supervised referendums on whether Russia should stay or leave to be held in other occupied territories.
The tweet drew angry rebukes from Ukrainian officials, including Podolyak. Kyiv has repeatedly dismissed the idea that it will give up land for peace.
Soon after this dispute, Musk publicly complained about the cost of providing free Starlink services to Ukraine indefinitely. He said in October that only 10,630 of 25,300 Starlinks sent to Ukraine were actually paying for service.
Kyiv has acknowledged that “some” terminals are being provided free but has not given exact figures.
In a change of tone Musk said on Oct. 15 that the company would continue to run Ukraine’s free Starlinks.
(Reporting by Max Hunder; Editing by David Holmes)

South Africa’s ANC meets over ‘Farmgate’ as Ramaphosa allies mount defence

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Officials in South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC) met on Friday to decide whether President Cyril Ramaphosa should stay on after an inquiry found evidence of misconduct, but they failed to reach a conclusion.
ANC Treasurer General Paul Mashatile said no decision would be taken on Friday by the National Executive Committee, but that it would reconvene before Dec. 6 to discuss the report.
Ramphosa’s future has been in doubt since publication on Wednesday of a report by a panel of experts that investigated revelations that he kept millions of dollars in cash at his private game farm and failed to even report it missing when the money was stolen from the property in 2020.
The existence of the cash at the Phala Phala game farm and his failure to report the theft to police only surfaced in June.
Ramaphosa has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime. The president has said the money was much less than the $4 million to $8 million reported, and that it was the proceeds of game sales at the farm.
The media has dubbed the affair “Farmgate”.
By Kopano Gumbi and Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo
(Additional reporting by Tim Cocks, Alexander Winning and Rachel Savage in Johannesburg and Wendell Roelf in Cape Town; editing by James Macharia Chege and Mark Heinrich)

Australia ‘Teacher’s Pet’ podcast subject gets 24-year sentence for 1982 murder

SYDNEY, Dec 2 (Reuters) - An Australian former high school teacher, who was the subject of the hit podcast "The Teacher's Pet", was sentenced on Friday to 24 years in jail for murdering his wife 40 years ago, in a case that has gripped the nation.
The cold case against Christopher Dawson was reopened after the 2018 podcast put pressure on the police to revisit their investigation.
A 2003 inquest had recommended charging Dawson with his wife Lynette’s murder but prosecutors declined, citing a lack of evidence.
“Dawson has enjoyed until his arrest 36 years in the community, unimpeded by the taint of a conviction for killing his wife, or by any punishment for doing so,” New South Wales Supreme Court Judge Ian Harrison said during the sentencing.
“In a practical sense, his denial of responsibility for that crime has benefited him in obvious ways.”
Dawson’s lawyer, Greg Walsh, said he planned to appeal the sentence.
“Our system of justice and our democracy is based upon the presumption of innocence,” he told media on Friday. “He maintains his innocence.”
Lynette Dawson’s brother, Greg Simms, said the family welcomed the sentence.
“We respect and thank Judge Harrison for his sentence, and hope Chris Dawson lives a long life in order to serve that sentence,” he told media.
Dawson will be eligible for parole in 2040, when he will be 92 years old.
Dan Doherty, a homicide detective involved in bringing the charge, said while the sentence would bring comfort to the family, the case remained open as the victim’s body had still not been located.
In August the Supreme Court found Dawson deliberately killed his wife in January 1982 to pursue a relationship with a teenage student he was having an affair with, and who had babysat and lived in his Sydney home.
Dawson, now 74, claimed his wife had left him – a defence that Harrison said was fanciful.
Lawyers for Dawson, who was tried without a jury due to the publicity surrounding the case, argued that the podcast, produced by News Corp’s the Australian newspaper, denied him a fair trial because of the way he was depicted.
Harrison had agreed the podcast – a number-one hit that the newspaper says has been downloaded more than 50 million times – had cast Dawson in a negative light, but had not factored into the verdict.
By Alasdair Pal
(Reporting by Alasdair Pal in Sydney; Editing by William Mallard)

Trump Loses Special Master Review in Mar-a-Lago Files Case

The Justice Department’s criminal investigation into Donald Trump’s handling of White House documents got a major boost Thursday, as a federal appeals court ruled a judge was wrong to interfere with the probe by appointing a special master to review material seized from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home.
The decision marks the latest setback for Trump in a months-long legal fight that government lawyers say has stymied their work. Prosecutors are exploring whether Trump or anyone else mishandled government records — including material classified at the highest level of secrecy — or engaged in obstruction.
In its order Thursday, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision of a federal judge in September to appoint a special master and block the Justice Department from using the bulk of the documents while the review was being conducted. The panel featured three judges appointed by Republican presidents, including two nominated by Trump.
“The law is clear. We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant,” the appeals court said. “Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so. Either approach would be a radical reordering of our caselaw limiting the federal courts’ involvement in criminal investigations.”
Whether the latest order permanently halts the special master’s work wasn’t immediately clear. Trump could petition the full 11th Circuit to reconsider the the ruling by the three-judge panel, or he could ask the US Supreme Court to intervene.
Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung sent a statement describing the appeals court opinion as “purely procedural” and claiming the “decision does not address the merits that clearly demonstrate the impropriety of the unprecedented, illegal, and unwarranted raid on Mar-a-Lago.” The statement didn’t indicate whether Trump would continue to press the case in court.
During arguments before the 11th Circuit last week, one of the judges said there’d been no showing that the search was unlawful. In response, a lawyer for Trump said his team was in the process of trying to establish that.
Justice Department spokesperson Myron Marlin declined to comment.
The appellate panel concluded that Trump had failed to meet the high bar necessary for courts to intervene in a pending criminal investigation and that US District Judge Aileen Cannon in Florida had lacked jurisdiction to step in to the Mar-a-Lago probe. The court agreed that it was “extraordinary” for a search warrant to ...

EU tentatively agrees $60 price cap on Russian seaborne oil -document

BRUSSELS, Dec 1 (Reuters) - European Union governments tentatively agreed on Thursday on a $60 a barrel price cap on Russian seaborne oil - an idea of the Group of Seven (G7) nations - with an adjustment mechanism to keep the cap at 5% below the market price, a document seen by Reuters showed.
By Jan Strupczewski and Kate Abnett\
The agreement still needs to be approved by all EU governments in a written procedure by Friday. EU countries have wrangled for days over the details – with Poland pushing for the cap to be as low as possible to slash Russia’s income from selling the fossil fuel.
The initial G7 proposal last week was for a price cap of $65-$70 per barrel with no adjustment mechanism.
Since Russian Urals crude URL-E already traded lower, Poland, Lithuania and Estonia rejected that level as not achieving the main objective of reducing Moscow’s ability to finance its war in Ukraine.
“The price cap is set at $60 with a provision to keep it 5% below market price for Russian crude, based on IEA figures,” an EU diplomat said.
An EU document seen by Reuters showed the price cap would be reviewed in mid-January and every two months after that, to assess how the scheme is functioning and respond to possible “turbulences” in the oil market that occur as a result.
The document said a 45-day “transitional period” would apply to vessels carrying Russian-origin crude oil that was loaded before Dec. 5 and unloaded at its final destination by Jan. 19, 2023.
Russian Urals crude URL-E had traded at around $70 a barrel on Thursday afternoon.
The G7 price cap on Russian seaborne crude oil is to kick in on Dec. 5, replacing the harsher EU outright ban on buying Russian seaborne crude, as a way to safeguard global oil supply because Russia produces 10% of the world’s oil.
The idea to enforce the G7 cap is to prohibit shipping, insurance and re-insurance companies from handling cargoes of Russian crude around the globe, unless it is sold for less than the price set by the G7 and its allies.
Because the world’s key shipping and insurance firms are based in G7 countries, the price cap would make it very difficult for Moscow to sell its oil for a higher price.
(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski and Kate AbnettEditing by David Goodman, Nick Macfie and Lisa Shumaker)

Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter Christine McVie has died -BBC

LONDON, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Singer-songwriter Christine McVie, a member of British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac, has died aged 79, BBC reported on Wednesday, citing a statement from her family.
LONDON, Nov 30 (Reuters) – Singer-songwriter Christine McVie, a member of British-American band Fleetwood Mac, died on Wednesday aged 79, her family said in a statement posted on her official Facebook page.
Fleetwood Mac, whose name was inspired by the surnames of its founders – bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood – formed in 1967 but had many members come and go over the years.
Born Christine Perfect in northwest England on July 12, 1943, she joined the band as a singer and pianist in 1970 after marrying John following a courtship of two weeks. She ultimately left him to live with a lighting technician.
The band’s 1977 album “Rumours”, which sold more than 40 million copies and is one of the best-selling albums of all time, was recorded as the couple were divorcing.
McVie‘s family said she died peacefully in hospital on Wednesday after a short illness.
“We would like everyone to keep Christine in their hearts and remember the life of an incredible human being, and revered musician who was loved universally,” the statement said.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Fleetwood Mac said she was “truly one-of-a-kind, special and talented beyond measure”.
“She was the best musician anyone could have in their band and the best friend anyone could have in their life. We were so lucky to have a life with her,” the band said. “She will be so very missed.”
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Chris Reese and Rosalba O’Brien)

Banks Are Devising Ways to ID Mass Shooters Before They Strike

(Bloomberg) -- Banks are developing technology to identify potential mass shooters, according to a CEO backing the push to get credit-card companies to more closely track gun purchases.
“Detection scenarios” are in the works that, if triggered, would prompt banks to file a Suspicious Activity Report to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Amalgamated Bank Chief Executive Officer Priscilla Sims Brown said at the New York Times DealBook conference Wednesday.
“We’re at the very early stages of this — this particular code just got approved in October, so those detection scenarios are still being brought together,” Brown said. “But as this is implemented, those scenarios will be used.”
The strategy would mirror ways banks try to identify and stop fraudsters from using customers’ funds.
The International Organization for Standardization approved a new merchant category code earlier this year that banks will use when processing transactions for gun and ammunition stores after Amalgamated submitted an application on the matter. Gun-control advocates were quick to celebrate the move, arguing it would help banks flag suspicious activity at these retailers.
While major payment networks have said they would adopt the new code, some have argued it won’t have its intended effect. Visa Inc., for example, has said it doesn’t have access to data showing the products consumers are actually buying. That means the network and its banking partners would have no idea if a gun-store customer is purchasing an automatic rifle or safety equipment.
Banks, too, have faced pressure from Congress over what they plan to do with the new codes. Some conservative policymakers have said they’re concerned lenders will use the data to create an unofficial list of firearm owners in the US, which certain government agencies are prohibited from doing.
Banks already file thousands of suspicious activity reports every year as they detect a litany of potential misdeeds by customers. The new codes should mean they treat the issue of tracking gun purchases no differently, Brown said.
“What I’m hearing from other banks is that they have been honoring this process and this system, filing Suspicious Activity Reports across a myriad of industries to stop a myriad of crimes — or at least alert authorizes of them,” she said. “And I have every confidence that banks are going to do the same thing here.”

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