Ten-year old Chilean teaches star gazing to classmates

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Ten-year old Ricardo Barriga’s backyard in Pirque, Chile is strewn with a blow-up unicorn, pool toys, a soccer ball and a $3,000 telescope that his parents mail-ordered from Germany.

The budding young astronaut can identify constellations in the austral sky, little-known features of the moon, planets and black holes. He recently started giving $4 lessons to classmates to help them do the same, with hopes of raising enough money to buy himself a space suit, he said.

Barriga counts himself lucky to have been born in Chile, a South American nation known as star-gazer’s paradise, with clear skies, a desert-dry climate and little light pollution.

The Chilean elementary school student came upon astronomy while flipping through the “A-section” of his parents’ encyclopedia and has been hooked ever since, he said.

“It was an encyclopedia with all kinds of information in it,” Barriga said. “My dream is to be an astronaut and also, to have a space suit.”

Barriga’s parents have promised him a trip to Orlando, Florida in the United States, where he hopes to visit NASA’s Kennedy Space Station in nearby Cape Canaveral.

“I thought that if I could become an astronaut I could work for NASA,” he said.

Chile is home to 70 percent of global astronomy investment, thanks to the cloudless skies above its northern Atacama desert, the driest on earth. Within five years, the South American country will host three of the world’s four next-generation, billion-dollar telescopes.

Source: Read Full Article

U.N. chief says 'high time' for U.S.- North Korea talks

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Friday pressed for denuclearization negotiations between the United States and North Korea to start again seriously, as President Donald Trump met with a North Korean envoy at the White House.

“We believe it’s high time to make sure that the negotiations between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea start again seriously, and that a road map is clearly defined for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Guterres told a news conference. 

Source: Read Full Article

White House says U.S. making progress with North Korea, sanctions to stay

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States continues to make progress in its denuclearization talks with North Korea, but will keep sanctions on the Asian nation, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters after U.S. President Donald Trump met with a North Korean envoy on Friday.

“We continue to make progress. We continue to have conversations. The United States is going to continue to keep pressure and sanctions on North Korea,” Sanders said.

Source: Read Full Article

Dutch PM to May: difficult to 'tweak' rejected Brexit deal

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday he had told his British counterpart, Theresa May, he does not see how the current deal on Britain’s exit from the European Union can be “tweaked”.

Rutte said he had conveyed that message in a phone call on Thursday, two days after the deal was resoundingly rejected by the British parliament.

“I said: ‘I don’t see how the current deal can be tweaked’,” he told journalists. “She is really expecting Brexit to go ahead on March 29.”

Rutte said that any form of Brexit, with or without a deal, will damage the Netherlands, a major British trading partner and one of the world’s top five export countries.

“It will cause disruptions and we are trying to minimize those,” he said. “We need to look at the facts and prepare for all scenarios. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”

Among measures taken by the Dutch government is the hiring of roughly 1,000 customs officials to deal with changes in border checks.

“I appeal to social organizations, companies and institutions, if they have not done so already, to inform themselves about what must be done to be prepared. Time is running out. March 29 is only 10 weeks away.”

Source: Read Full Article

At least five people killed in Kashmir avalanche

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) – At least five people were killed when an avalanche hit the truck they were traveling in Kashmir on Friday, and five more people were missing, officials said.

After the avalanche in the Ladakh area of the heavily militarized Himalayan region, the army began search and rescue operations, said Rajesh Kalia, a senior army officer.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan which both claim it in full and have fought two of their three wars over it since their separation in 1947.

Source: Read Full Article

Canada dismisses China's warning of repercussions over Huawei ban

SHERBROOKE, Quebec (Reuters) – Canada’s government on Friday dismissed China’s warning of repercussions if Ottawa banned Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] from supplying equipment to 5G networks, saying it would not compromise on security.

China’s ambassador to Canada issued the threat on Thursday as relations between the two nations continued to deteriorate after a senior Huawei executive was arrested in Vancouver last month on a U.S. extradition warrant. China has also detained two Canadians.

Canadian officials are studying the security implications of 5G networks, the latest generation of cellular mobile communications, but their report is not expected in the immediate future, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

Some Canadian allies have already imposed restrictions on using Huawei equipment, citing the risk of espionage.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, asked at a cabinet retreat about the Chinese ambassador’s remarks, said Ottawa had already made clear it would not cut corners on national security.

“We understand that those sorts of comments will be made in the process, but we will make our judgment based on what is right for Canada and not be deterred from making the right decision,” he told reporters.

“We are determined to stand our ground based on what is right for Canada … this is a tough and turbulent world.”

Goodale noted that China had made similar comments after Australia banned Huawei from supplying 5G equipment last year.

Western intelligence agencies have for years raised concerns about Huawei’s ties to China’s government and the possibility its equipment could be used for espionage.

Source: Read Full Article

Ex-mistress of 'El Chapo' says she was 'traumatized' by tunnel escape

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A former mistress of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman told jurors in his U.S. trial on Thursday she was “traumatized” after a harrowing 2014 escape from one of his safehouses with Mexican marines in hot pursuit.

Testifying for the prosecution in federal court in Brooklyn, Lucero Sanchez Lopez, a onetime local lawmaker in Guzman’s home state of Sinaloa, also gave an emotional account of her relationship with Guzman, saying she at times feared for her safety.

“I didn’t want for him to mistrust me because I thought he could also hurt me,” Lucero Sanchez Lopez, 29, testified. “I was confused about my own feelings over him. Sometimes I loved him and sometimes I didn’t.”

She said once, while the two were eating dinner in 2012, Guzman told her that anyone who betrayed him would die.

Guzman, 61, who was extradited to the United States in 2017, has been on trial since November on charges of trafficking cocaine, heroin and other drugs into the country as leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. His trial has provided a window into the operations of the cartel, one of the world’s biggest drug trafficking organizations.

The testimony by Sanchez Lopez is the first by someone with whom Guzman had a romantic relationship. Other cooperating witnesses have been business associates, primarily other drug traffickers.

Sanchez served in Sinaloa’s state congress from 2013 to 2016, when she was investigated for having shown false documents to visit Guzman in jail in 2014. She denied the accusation at the time.

Sanchez, who was nicknamed ‘Chapodiputada’ (Chapo deputy) by local media, was arrested in June 2017 on U.S. drug charges while trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. She pleaded guilty last October and is now cooperating with prosecutors.

She said her romantic relationship with Guzman began in early 2011, and that she began working for him shortly afterwards, although he never paid her. She described how he sent her to Mexico’s “Golden Triangle” – a fertile drug-producing region that includes part of Sinaloa – to buy marijuana and send it back to him on planes.

Sanchez said the relationship frayed in late 2012 but she continued to see Guzman occasionally. She said she was with him in February 2014 when a team of Mexican marines stormed his safe house in Culiacan in the middle of the night.

Guzman, she said, led her into the master bathroom, where the bathtub lifted to reveal wooden steps leading underground.

“It was very dark and I was very scared,” Sanchez said.

She said she followed Guzman, who was completely naked, through a tunnel leading away from the house, feeling water against her legs. When a prosecutor asked her how long she was there, she guessed more than an hour – “enough to traumatize me.”

Sanchez’ testimony followed an account of the same escape from the perspective of a U.S Drug Enforcement Administration agent working with the marines who stormed the safe house.

Though Guzman escaped from the house, the DEA’s Victor Vazquez told jurors that he was captured several days later in a beachfront hotel in nearby Mazatlan.

Guzman would go on to escape from a Mexican prison the following year, before being recaptured in 2016.

Vazquez said knowledge of the 2014 capture operation was restricted to the team of marines, for fear of corruption among Mexican law enforcement.

Source: Read Full Article

Factbox: U.S. eyes lasers, F-35s, 'Star Wars' tech for missile defense

(Reuters) – The U.S. Missile Defense Review, unveiled on Thursday at the Pentagon, underscored the ways the American military is studying to detect and defeat ballistic missile attacks.

Here is a look at some aspects of U.S. plans outlined in the report’s summary.

– Examining improvement of the current primary anti-ballistic missile system, known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system.

– Studying the possibility of intercepting incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) using cheaper, shorter-range missiles like the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor. It will be tested against an ICBM in 2020. The SM-3 IIA is in joint development between Raytheon Co (RTN.N) and Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T).

– Researching the possibility of temporarily or permanently converting the Lockheed Martin Corp-made (LMT.N) Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Center in Kauai, Hawaii from a test facility to an operational facility to strengthen the defense of the Pacific island state against a potential North Korean missile attack.

– Researching the development of using a laser mounted on an unmanned airborne drone to track and destroy missiles shortly after takeoff, during what is known as the boost-phase.

– Reviewing the possibility of space-based sensors and missile interceptors akin to those envisioned in the 1980s “Star Wars” program of former President Ronald Reagan.

– Looking at possible repurposing of existing technologies such as the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 fighter jet as a missile-defense sensor, as well as a vehicle to shoot down cruise missiles or missiles in their boost phase.

– Relocating other missile defense systems to combat rising threats. The report said that relocating missile defense systems such as Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), as well as the U.S. Navy’s Aegis ballistic missile defense-capable ships armed with the SM-3 Block IIA interceptors, was a possibility.

Source: Read Full Article

North Korea's top envoy arrives in Washington: South Korea's Yonhap

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea’s top envoy, Kim Yong Chol, arrived at Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport to discuss a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported on Friday.

U.S. and South Korean media previously quoted unidentified sources as saying U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol were expected to meet in the U.S. capital on Friday.

Source: Read Full Article