Russia breathed life back into OPEC – Saudi energy minister

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the partnership between Moscow and Riyadh has inspired unprecedented cooperation from 24 oil-producing states, including Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries members and non-OPEC nations.

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Saudi Arabia's King Salman walks past Russian honour guards during a welcoming ceremony upon his arrival at Vnukovo airport outside Moscow, Russia October 4, 2017 © Sergei Karpukhin

“It has breathed back life into OPEC which found itself, quite frankly, unable to swing its production as supply was persistently high in 2014 and global inventories were steadily rising ahead of demand,” he said at the Russia-Saudi investment forum in Moscow.

The minister is optimistic about the potential rebalancing of the oil market and added that prices would be determined by the market.

“Prices are ultimately for the markets to determine based on marginal cost of production and expectations of supply and demand. But as I think of fundamentals I am more optimistic than I have been in the last two or three years, demand is healthy around the world in developed and developing countries,” said the minister.

Al-Falih added that the deal reached by OPEC and non-OPEC countries in November 2016 in Vienna notably helped to stabilize oil prices. The agreement remains in force until the end of March 2018.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) in cooperation with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) is considering joint work on 25 investment projects in various areas, according to Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak.

“At the moment, RDIF and Saudi Arabia’s Investment Fund have implemented projects worth over $ 1 billion. Currently, 25 more projects in various areas of the economy are under consideration,” Novak said.

The funds will reportedly invest in the construction of a petrochemical complex and a small hydropower plant. Joint investment projects will also cover logistics companies, Pulkovo airport in St. Petersburg and others.

One of the major projects is the creation of joint scientific centers to develop and implement new technologies, according to the minister.

“In particular, we have welcomed the idea offered by the Saudis to create common research and development through cooperation between Saudi Aramco and Gazpromneft,” said Novak.

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Theresa May could be toppled by Christmas amid fresh Tory plot

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is facing a new battle for survival after a “nightmare” party conference speech that has up to 30 MPs reportedly plotting to oust her by Christmas.

May had hoped her speech would effectively re-launch her premiership and kick-start a Conservative revival with policies to cap energy prices and spend billions on new council houses.

Instead, the policies were overshadowed by a spoof P45, a coughing fit, and the Tory message literally falling down around her as letters fell off the slogan on stage.

British newspaper headlines described the speech with words like “ordeal,” “farce,” “shambles,” “chaos,” “tragic,” “crisis,” “disaster,” and “wretched” on the front pages. May is on a “final warning” after the “most shambolic conference speech in memory,” according to the Times, while the Telegraph claims her future is “hanging in the balance.”

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A member of the audience hands a P45 form (termination of employment tax form) to Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May as she addresses the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, October 4, 2017. Phil Noble © Reuters

While May’s Cabinet publicly rushed to defend her, speaking of her bravery and resilience in finishing the speech, privately they said she was “limping like a broken horse into oblivion,” and suggested that talks about her departure would have to be “accelerated.”

As many as 30 Tory MPs are preparing to sign a letter calling for May to resign, with one drawing comparisons to Labour’s “sleepwalk into defeat” under Gordon Brown, according to the Telegraph.

A senior Tory source told the newspaper: “The public are far more brutal about these things. They will see a Prime Minister who looks ill, with the stage set falling down. It will compound many of the views that they already have for her. It should be a wake-up call at the moment.

“There were some great policies in her speech, and nobody will be talking about them. We’ve not just been unlucky here, there have been some real, real failings.”

Another MP said: “Things are moving quite quickly. Conversations are being held. The plates are moving more fundamentally now. She has to decide.”

A Number 10 source told Sky that “resignation is not an issue.”

If May refuses to step aside, rebels believe they could win enough signatures to trigger a leadership ballot over the coming months.

There is growing concern, however, that a leadership contest could ultimately spark a general election in which the Tories would be ill-prepared to tackle a surge for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

Tory chairman also facing calls to resign

Conservative Party Chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin has declined to say whether he would quit after a comedian who used to work for the BBC was able to get within feet of May and hand her a fake P45 during the speech.

Many MPs were alarmed that comedian Simon Brodkin had been able to get so close to May and her senior team at the “high security” event.

Asked by reporters whether he would quit following the breach, he said: “It is being looked at. There will be an investigation into what happened. There will be an inquiry. I knew there was sufficient security around the Prime Minister.”

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‘Unacceptable!’ RT pulled from YouTube prime ad list in US without notice

The move by Google to expunge RT from its premium advertising service without any prior notice is “absolutely unacceptable” but will not have an adverse effect on the channel’s outreach or its profits, RT Deputy Editor-in-Chief Kirill Karnovich-Valua said.

RT, with millions of subscribers across its channels, has for years been ahead of the competition as the most viewed TV news network on YouTube, setting several records since it registered on the platform in 2007. Last month, the RT network hit another milestone after its multi-language videos were watched over 5 billion times.

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© Evgeny Biyatov

RT Deputy Editor-in-Chief Kirill Karnovich-Valua expressed regret over the lack of communication from Google, which failed to properly notify RT of this important update. 

“RT has been Google’s premium partner since 2010 and accredited to an official status of the most watched TV news network on YouTube. The fact that RT is no longer included in the Google Preferred advertising list in the US in itself does not affect RT distribution and monetization on the platform.

“Yet, it is absolutely unacceptable that, while there were no notifications of any policy changes sent to RT, such internal info appears to have been leaked to the US media by Google.

“This speaks to the unprecedented political pressure increasingly applied to all RT partners and relationships in a concerted effort to push our channel out of the US market entirely, and by any means possible.”

The report that Google had removed RT from its ad package was first carried by Bloomberg, which cited Alphabet Inc.’s spokeswoman as its source.

According to the publication, the move is linked to the Senate investigation into the Kremlin’s alleged role in Donald Trump’s election as president of the US.

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FILE PHOTO: A Trump supporter waits outside of the rally for Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump in New York City, New York, U.S. November 8, 2016 © Andrew Kelly

Since a declassified report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) into alleged Russian meddling was published in January, RT has been propelled to the center stage of the investigation, making it the target of a witch hunt.

In September, the US Department of Justice sent a letter to the company that supplies all services for RT America, demanding that it register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The request risks compromising the personal data of employees and “may pose a real danger” to their safety “in the witch hunt atmosphere which has been established in the US,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated last week.

Meanwhile, no proof of RT’s alleged influence on the 2016 US election has been provided.

“RT was mentioned in the report over 100 times, but not a single example of election interference was given,” Zakharova added.

In the hunt for “Russian meddling,” US lawmakers have recently shifted their focus to social media, with Google, Twitter, and Facebook called to testify before Congress.

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Al-Nusra Front leader in coma after Russian airstrike in Syria – MOD

Abu Mohammad al-Julani, leader of Al-Nusra Front, has fallen into a coma following a Russian surgical strike on the terrorist group’s top commanders in Syria’s Idlib province, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry.

Earlier, the ministry said the terrorist leader was critically injured in the strike on October 3.

The bombing, which led to Al-Julani’s injuries, caused chaos among Tahrir al-Sham members, according to the Russian military. After the field commanders of the “eastern sector” of Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Al-Nusra Front) in Idlib province gathered to work out further plans, the Su-34 precision airstrike killed 49 militants, including seven leaders.

READ MORE: Al-Nusra leader gravely injured by airstrike, 12 commanders killed – Russian MoD

The jet also destroyed the terrorist group’s “largest underground ammunition depot” near the town of Abu ad-Duhur, accommodating “over 1,000 tons of artillery shells and multiple launch rockets.”

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VIDEO captures suicide blast that killed 4 in Libyan court

A suicide blast that killed at least four people in the main court building in the Libyan city of Misrata has been caught on video obtained by Ruptly.

The attack, claimed by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists, was carried out by several assailants. A suicide bomber detonated himself inside the court building, while gunmen opened fire with assault rifles.

Four people were killed and nearly 40 wounded, Misrata officials and medics said. An anonymous local security source cited by Reuters said an explosives-packed car was also defused near the scene.

The port city of Misrata is some 190 kilometers east of the Libyan capital, Tripoli. According to the IS media outlet Amaq, its court was targeted for attack as a stronghold of the country’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).

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US House panel approves $10bn for Mexico border wall

A House panel has approved legislation to provide a total of $ 15 billion for construction of President Donald Trump’s wall along the US-Mexico border and improve ports of entry into the US.

The Border Security for America Act, proposed by Chairman of the the House Homeland Security Committee Michael McCaul (R-Texas), was approved by the committee in an 18-12 vote along party lines Wednesday.

The bill would authorize $ 10 billion for construction of the border wall, and another $ 5 billion to improve ports of entry. The bill would also add 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 5,000 Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers.

“We have been talking about border security for many years. Now that we finally have a partner in the White House who has prioritized this issue, it’s time for Congress to do its part and get the job done,” McCaul said in a statement.

In addition, the bill would authorize the federal government to reimburse states up to $ 35 million to use the National Guard in support of border security. Federal agents also would be prohibited from restricting CBP activities on federal land within 100 miles of the border. The bill would also create a Biometric Entry-Exit System at all air, land, and sea ports of entry to identify immigrants who overstay their visas.

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People attend the inauguration of an artwork by French artist JR on the US-Mexico border in Tecate, California, United States on September 6, 2017,  © Guillermo Arias / AFP

There are currently 68 Republican co-sponsors in the House and a number of law enforcement and border organizations have endorsed the bill.

The Border Trade Alliance said that the bill “wisely seeks to ensure that our international borders with Canada and Mexico have the personnel necessary to process legitimate cross-border trade and travel securely and efficiently.”

The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association said that the legislation “makes improvements to our border security through strengthening physical structures, updating administrative processing, employing state of the art technology, expanding surveillance, and adding to enforcement personnel.”

Democrats, however, strongly oppose the border wall and many see this bill as a political move by Republicans to appease President Donald Trump, who made constructing the wall a major campaign promise.

“To waste this money on basically a campaign promise is pretty disgusting,” said Rep. Nannette Barragan (D-California), a committee member, according to The Hill.

Democrats are also concerned that the bill will be attached to legislation that would turn the rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

After Republicans met with Trump at the White House on Monday, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) said that “the president was very clear” on what he wants from Congress on DACA.

Cotton said that any efforts to codify DACA “ought to include some kind of enhanced measures, whether it’s on the border or interior enforcement or what have you.”

Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), Ranking Member of the Border and Maritime Subcommittee, proposed several amendments to the bill, including withholding funds from the border wall until the Mexican government agrees to reimburse the US for the costs as well as an amendment that would prohibit the federal US government from seizing private property along the border “without truly providing just compensation to property owners.”

“Put simply, the legislation under consideration today is an offensive joke and a fiscally irresponsible mess,” Vela said in a statement. “It insults border communities, threatens private landowners, and would devastate the wildlife of the Rio Grande Valley.”

“I appreciate the gentleman’s creativity in this amendment and sense of humor, but I will oppose this amendment,” McCaul said, according to The Hill.

However, the committee did adopt amendments introduced by Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), whose district includes more than 800 miles of the US-Mexico border. The amendments would prevent construction of the wall in Big Bend National Park and other areas “where rough terrain, natural barriers, and the remoteness of a location render a wall or other structure impractical and ineffective.”

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Tobacconists protest cigarette price hike by dumping ton of carrots in Paris (VIDEOS)

French tobacconists angry at plans to raise cigarettes prices carried out an unusual carrot protest on Wednesday, during which hundreds of the root vegetables were dumped outside the Ministry of Health in Paris.

Under government plans to cut smoking, the price of a standard packet of cigarettes will rise six times from around €6.50 to €10 over the course of the next two-and-a-half years.

READ MORE: French tobacconists protest govt plan to raise cigarette prices

In September, France’s Health Minister described the price hike as “imperative” to public health.

The increase in the price of tobacco will be the strengthening of youth awareness and prevention policy,” she said.

In protest at the strategy, tobacco sellers, known as buralistes, drove vehicles slowly from Maisons-Alfort towards Health Ministry, some 17 kilometers away in the 7th arrondissement of the capital.

Many sellers fear consumers will be driven to buy products on the black market or abroad.

During the demonstration protesters dumped around one ton of raw carrots in front of the office of the health minister. A number of fireworks were also reportedly set off around the government buildings.

According to the Local France, the carrot symbolizes the traditional tobacco sign that can be found outside some shops that sell cigarettes.

In France, the signs are referred to as “carotte de tabac”.

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Charlottesville to rename street for woman killed during August protest

The city council of Charlottesville, Virginia has voted to rename a street after Heather Heyer who was killed while protesting a white supremacist rally on August 12.

On the 4th street in Charlottesville, where Heyer, 32, died there will be a sign with her name, as requested by her mother, Susan Bro.

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The statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia, US, September 16, 2017 © Joshua Roberts

“Even the thought of going there now is very challenging. I didn’t even go to the site until a week after she passed away, and that was very, very difficult,” Bro told CNN affiliate WVIR. “For me, that spot is the site of my daughter’s murder.”

Heyer was among the protesters who came to confront a white supremacist rally, which gathered to demonstrate against the planned relocation of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s statue. A driver then plowed into the crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heyer and injuring over a dozen others.

The driver, James Alex Fields Jr., 20, was charged with second-degree murder. He reportedly supported white supremacists.

Heyer’s killing and the violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters triggered a wave of Confederate monument removals across the US, which are seen by many as symbols of racism and support for slavery.

On Wednesday, a judge in Charlottesville ruled that a state law protecting war memorials could apply retroactively to the city’s statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, after its removal was challenged in court, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch.

However, the judge said he wanted more proof that the statue qualifies as a war memorial, the newspaper reported.

Some in Charlottesville suggested replacing Lee’s monument with Heyer’s, but her mother opposed the idea.

“My goal was never to replace a Confederate statue with one of Heather, and any of Heather’s family and friends who knew anything about statues said absolutely Heather would be mortified and think it was hilarious,” said Heyer’s mother, as the city was deciding how to honor her daughter’s memory.

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Russian UN envoy opens exhibition to mark Sputnik’s 60th anniversary (VIDEO)

Russia’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia has unveiled a photo exhibition in the UN headquarters in New York, dedicated to the Soviet Union’s launch of the Earth’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik-1, 60 years ago. The breakthrough achievement kicked off an era of space exploration.

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Replica of Sputnik 1 © NASA

Speaking at the opening ceremony Wednesday, Nebenzia said that by staging an exhibition the Russian mission to the UN wants to “embrace the unembraceable” and “remind of some of the milestones of Soviet unmanned space exploration.”

The importance of the pioneering mission by the Soviet Union is hard to overestimate as it “started a great era of applied space exploration” with the word “Sputnik” immediately entering all the world languages, he added.

Russia takes a special pride in that a replica of Sputnik adorns the lobby of the UN General Assembly, Nebenzia noted.

The opening ceremony was attended by UN Secretary General António Guterres and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs Director, Simonetta Di Pippo, among other dignitaries.

Taking the floor, Guterres called the Sputnik entering the low orbit on October 4, 1957 “one of most remarkable developments in the world scene.”

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FDA issues warning to bakery for including ‘love’ as an ingredient

The Food and Drug Administration issued a stern warning letter to a Massachusetts bakery for, among other things, listing “love” as an ingredient in their granola.

The FDA warned the Nashoba Brook Bakery that the labelled ingredient “love” in their Nashoba Granola “is not a common or usual name of an ingredient, and is considered to be intervening material because it is not part of the common or usual name of the ingredient”.

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© Francois Lenoir

Nashoba CEO John Gates told Bloomberg the FDA’s take on love as an ingredient “just felt so George Orwell.

I really like that we list ‘love’ in the granola,” said Gates Tuesday. “People ask us what makes it so good. It’s kind of nice that this artisan bakery can say there’s love in it and it puts a smile on people’s face. Situations like that where the government is telling you you can’t list ‘love’ as an ingredient, because it might be deceptive, just feels so silly.

The FDA reportedly said the in a later statement that the “love” ingredient was “not among the agency’s top concerns”. Granted, the establishment was also cited for several sanitary issues including flies, insects and other hygiene-related violations.

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