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Virgin Galactic stock sinks on plan to sell up to $500m in shares

Virgin Galactic filed to sell as much as $ 500m in shares after founder Richard Branson’s successful flight to suborbital space on Sunday.

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. filed to sell as much as $ 500 million in shares following a rocket-powered test flight by founder Richard Branson that won Wall Street praise as a “marketing coup.”

The success of the hour-long mission to more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) above Earth boosted Virgin Galactic’s plan to start offering tourism trips next year. But the shares tumbled the most in almost seven months after the disclosure Monday of the potential stock sale, which suggested the company’s need for additional funds as it prepares its commercial debut.

“Welcome to the dawn of a new space age,” Branson told guests Sunday at the Spaceport America complex near the town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

Branson’s achievement is a “massive marketing coup” for Virgin Galactic that will be hard for the general public to ignore, Canaccord Genuity analyst Ken Herbert said in a research note. “The challenge now will be for the company to maintain the momentum and establish a flight plan in 2022 that can demonstrate a repeatable and increasing commercial launch cadence.”

Virgin Galactic plunged 17% to $ 40.69 at the close in New York, the biggest decline since Dec. 14. The volatile shares, which have seesawed in recent weeks, doubled this year through July 9 as the company got its test-flight program back on track.

Virgin Galactic plans to begin working through a backlog of around 600 confirmed customers in early 2022. The company has said it will resume ticket sales after the summer’s test flights, with executives saying that fares will be higher than the prior price of $ 250,000 a seat.

A price of $ 300,000 should be attainable, suggested Will Whitehorn, a former president of Virgin Galactic who helped establish the company.

“Now that it works, I think they’ll be able to sell it at a premium,” he said.

Blue Origin

The suborbital journey kicks off a landmark month for the future of space tourism, with Branson demonstrating Virgin Galactic’s capabilities nine days before Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos plans to fly on a rocket made by Blue Origin, his space venture. Both companies envision businesses catering to wealthy tourists willing to pay top dollar for a short period of weightlessness and an unforgettable view of the Earth and heavens.

Virgin Galactic’s test flight demonstrated that such trips – once the stuff of science fiction – are becoming increasingly realistic.

While mostly accessible only to a tiny number of super-wealthy customers, they would add a new dimension to a burgeoning industry of private-sector space companies with plans for voyages to the International Space Station and new human outposts.

Branson and his fellow crew members experienced a few minutes of weightlessness as the Unity reached its peak altitude.

“So I looked out the window and the view is just stunning,” operations engineer Colin Bennett said afterward. “It’s very Zen; it’s very kind of peaceful up there as well.”

Branson, who founded Virgin Galactic in 2004, said the memories of seeing the Earth from space will stay with him.

“I’m never going to be able to do it justice,” he said. “It’s indescribably beautiful.”

(Updates shares in fifth paragraph)

–With assistance from Blaise Robinson, Ksenia Galouchko, Christopher Jasper, Esha Dey and Tony Robinson.

Rural India sinks deeper into debt as COVID wipes out work

Asha Devi does not remember how many meals she has skipped as she struggles to feed her family of seven in a remote corner of northern India where the novel coronavirus is compounding old problems of rural debt and poverty.

Devi, 35, had to mortgage her land for a 20,000 rupees ($ 270) loan and six months on, as the money runs out, she has stopped buying milk, halved her use of cooking oil and can afford lentils only about once every 10 days.

With her construction worker husband jobless, she is facing going deeper into debt to get by.

“Sometimes I go to sleep hungry. Last week, I think I went to bed hungry at least twice but I can’t remember,” Devi told Reuters news agency as she wiped away tears with her threadbare sari outside her mud house in her village in Uttar Pradesh state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has promised free foodgrains for the poor but the rations are limited and not enough for the family, Devi said.

The coronavirus and a lockdown aimed at stopping it last year saw millions of people thrown out of jobs in cities and towns and forced back to their villages, and ever higher levels of debt.

Interviews with 75 households in a cluster of eight villages in India’s most populous state showed household incomes have slumped nearly 75 percent on average. Almost two-thirds of the households have taken on debt.

Devi’s husband used to have a job in construction in the more prosperous state of Punjab to the northwest, which kept the family going. Now the job is gone and he is back home and struggling to find work.

Others like him who have lost jobs crowd around a brick kiln near their village every day hoping for work.

A farmer feeds iceberg lettuce to his buffalo during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to slow the spreading of coronavirus disease, at Bhuinj village in Satara district, Maharashtra [File: Rajendra Jadhav/Reuters]

Heavy debt and low income in the countryside will hold back any economic recovery the government is trying to make and also dent private savings and investment for longer than expected, economists say.

“It will have a huge impact and prolong the recovery process. Private consumption and investments both will be hurt. There is merit in finding ways to put money in the hands of the people,” said NR Bhanumurthy, economist and vice chancellor at Bengaluru-based BR Ambedkar School of Economics.

India’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell by a record 7.3 percent in the financial year that ended on March 31. The government has forecast a 10.5 percent growth for 2021-22 but a second wave of the pandemic has dented expectations and several economists have cut their forecasts.

The poor have especially been hit hard.

The Reuters investigation showed most of the 75 households in the Uttar Pradesh cluster, a combined 518 people, have taken out a total debt of 6.12 million rupees ($ 82,250), more than 80 percent of which remains unserviced, the householders said.

Borrowing has risen by three times since the pandemic hit in March 2020 and about half of that was taken out in the past six months, the survey found.

With no jobs or with bread-winners sick, the cumulative monthly income of the 75 households has dropped to about 220,000 rupees ($ 2,960) from 815,000 rupees ($ 10,960) before the pandemic.

“Almost everyone is in debt in this village … unemployment is the biggest problem,” said 55-year-old Komal Prasad, a former headman of Gauriya, a hamlet in the cluster with a population of just more than 2,000.

Only about 30 percent of the people in Gauriya had a job or were looking for work, many fewer than before, villagers said.

Juggi Lal, a 35-year-old farmhand, said she was struggling to buy medicine for her disabled husband because there was no work and she owed 60,000 rupees ($ 806) to a moneylender.

“Every morning I wake up thinking what work will I get, how will I get through the day?”

The rural unemployment rate, which used to hover around 6 percent before the pandemic, rose to 8.75 percent in June, according to the Mumbai-based Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).

Manorami Rawat, 35, works at a furnace to extract peppermint oil in Dalipur village in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh [File: Saurabh Sharma/Reuters]

The mix of lower incomes, higher debt and rising prices of staples is dampening demand in the countryside where two-thirds of Indians live.

Sales of everything from biscuits, tea and lentils to auto parts have taken a hit, vendors say. Some have shut down shops that their families have run for generations.

Gosh Mohammed, 43, used to sell up to 8,000 rupees ($ 107) of groceries before the pandemic. Now it is down to 1,000 rupees ($ 13.5) a day.

He has taken 60,000 rupees ($ 800) worth of goods from a wholesaler on credit but has not been able to pay it off for six months.

“I never used to take goods on credit because buying with cash gets us more of a discount,” Mohammed said.

“Now I think I’ll have to shut my shop as wholesalers have stopped giving me credit and I have sold the goods on credit and that money isn’t likely to come back.”

Read more here >>> Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera

What does baking soda do? 5 tips for cleaning with baking soda, from sinks to dishwashers

So how can you use baking soda? Read on for five tips for cleaning with baking soda, from sinks to dishwashers.

1. Fix blocked sinks

Blocked sinks are an inconvenience, and can often start to smell if not tackled quickly.

If you can’t shift the blockage and don’t want to shell out for a pricy chemical fix – try baking soda.

You will need

  • Baking soda – one cup
  • White vinegar – one cup
  • Boiling water in a kettle

Pour one cup of baking soda into the offending drain, letting it seep into the drain slowly.

Then pour over one cup of white vinegar – you should hear a fizzing sound as the baking soda reacts with it.

Leave to sit for five minutes – or longer if you need.

Pour a full kettle of boiling water down the sink and voila, no more blockage.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Life and Style Feed
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'You cannot be serious?!' NBA star Doncic sinks barely-believable buzzer-beating 3-pointer to leave LeBron astounded (VIDEO)

Luka Doncic wowed basketball fans, stars and pundits with a stunning buzzer-beater that went viral on Wednesday evening.

The Slovenian’s Dallas Mavericks team were trailing 113-111 away at the Memphis Grizzlies with just seconds to spare.

But Doncic was intent on snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, and let off a physics-defying lunging and leaning three pointer to finish the evening on 29 overall.

Doncic raised his arms and smiled at his feat, and the officials then reviewed the play and decided that overtime wasn’t necessary, as he had in fact shot from the correct distance to seal the win – and not just tie the game.

“Honestly, I don’t remember,” Doncic answered post-match, when asked if he’d even looked at the rim before making his throw.

“I was kind of falling down.”

“It’s kind of lucky, but we’ll take it.”

Basketball legend LeBron James was clearly impressed, and told Doncic “You ain’t serious, man” after a string of WOWs and laughing emojis.

Mavs fans dubbed Doncic a “bad man” and claimed that the game is “never over” with the number 77 on your side. 

“I will take Luka over anyone in the league right now,” said another.

“Luka Doncic be hitting shots that make you wanna take your ball home and not play with him anymore,” remarked a neutral onlooker.

But there’s always one. 

Elsewhere, a party pooper said: “Shot doesn’t count in my eyes. Lucky.”

Though he was then rather harshly told to suck it up and that his “existence doesn’t matter”.

This article originally appeared on RT Sport News

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Oil sinks as Suez Canal container ship successfully refloated

The price of crude oil slumped more than 2% on Monday following news from the Suez Canal that salvage crews have managed to move the giant container ship that has been blocking the vital global trade passage for nearly a week.

International benchmark Brent fell 2.1% to $ 63.19 a barrel while US West Texas Intermediate dropped 2.4% to $ 59.49 per barrel. 

The stranded ‘Ever Given’ ship was successfully refloated on March 29 and was being secured, a global provider of marine services, Inchcape Shipping, said on Twitter.

The breakthrough came after intensive efforts that saw 10 tugboats work to push and pull the ship as several dredgers vacuumed up the sand at spring tide. It’s still unclear when the canal will reopen for traffic now that the vessel has been dislodged, Inchcape Shipping added.

The 224,000-ton container has been stuck and clogging up the waterway since Tuesday last week after it lost the ability to steer amid massive winds and a sandstorm. The incident caused the temporary suspension of navigation in the Suez Canal, delaying hundreds of other container ships, bulk carriers and oil-laden tankers.

Oil prices have swung wildly since then as traders and investors tried to weigh the impact of the blockage of the trade transit point. According to a senior market analyst at OANDA, Jeffrey Halley, oil market volatility is set to continue.

“Given the volatility last week, Brent looks set to move to the lower end of its $ 60.00 to $ 65.00 a barrel range,” he said as quoted by Reuters. US oil is “likely to drop to the lower side of its $ 57.50 to $ 62.50 a barrel weekly range.”
Also on rt.com Why blockage of Suez Canal could have rollover effect on oil price
Analysts say that prices are getting some support from expectations that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies will maintain lower output levels when they meet this week.

“With the Suez and OPEC+ uncertainties on top of a foggy demand picture, we may see big mood swings and high intraday volatility,” Vandana Hari, founder of consultancy Vanda Insights, told Bloomberg, adding, “I don’t see how OPEC+, or the Saudis, could risk putting more oil into the market after the downward pressure on crude of the past fortnight.”

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