World Newsletter

FRONT PAGE NEWS
9 March 2020

OIL PLUNGES IN ASIA AS PRODUCERS START PRICE WAR

Oil fell by the most since 1991 on Monday after Saudi Arabia started a price
war with Russia by slashing its selling prices and pledging to unleash its
pent-up supply onto a market reeling from falling demand because of the
coronavirus outbreak.
Brent crude futures fell by as much as $14.25, or 31.5%, to $31.02 a barrel.
That was the biggest percentage drop since January 17, 1991, at the start of
the first Gulf War and the lowest since February 12, 2016. It was trading at
$35.75 at 0114 GMT.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell by as much as $11.28, or
27.4%, to $30 a barrel. That was also the biggest percentage drop since the
first Gulf War in January 1991 and the lowest since February 22, 2016. It
was trading at $32.61.
Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, is attempting to punish
Russia, the world's second-largest producer, for balking on Friday at
production cuts proposed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting
Countries (OPEC).
OPEC and other producers supported the cuts to stabilise falling prices
caused by the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.
Saudi Arabia plans to boost crude output above 10 million barrels per day
(bpd) in April after the current supply deal between OPEC and Russia, -
known as OPEC+ - expires at the end of March, two sources told Reuters on
Sunday.


EMPTY STREETS AND PARANOIA AS NORTHERN ITALY GOES INTO LOCKDOWN

The sun shone on deserted squares in Milan and empty gondolas in Venice on
Sunday as a quarter of Italy's population came to grips with being cut off
from the rest of the country, under new rules strictly limiting movement in
and out of the new red zone.
While some packed their bags and fled, most in northern Italy stayed to
brave a lockdown imposed by the government on some 15 million people, as it
ramps up the fight against the deadly coronavirus.
The country on Sunday recorded the second-highest coronavirus toll in the
world, after reporting a sharp jump in deaths - from 133 to 366 - and
overtaking South Korea on infections.
Italy's interior ministry said anyone flouting the lockdown risked at least
three months in jail or a 206 euro ($233) fine.
Only people with a "serious" reason that cannot be postponed, such as urgent
work or family issues, will be allowed in or out of the quarantine zones,
which cover Lombardy and 14 provinces in four other regions.
Passengers departing on flights in the lockdown areas will need to justify
themselves - apart from people who had been in the area temporarily, who are
allowed to return home. All arrivals will need to justify their travel.
Police will be setting up controls at train stations to check people's
temperatures, and stopping all cars on main roads in and out to verify the
reason for travel, the ministry said in a statement.


NORTH KOREA FIRES 3 PROJECTILES: SOUTH'S MILITARY

North Korea fired three unidentified projectiles into the sea on Monday,
Seoul's military said, the second such weapons test by Pyongyang in a week.
The three devices were fired in a northeasterly direction from the Sondok
area in South Hamgyong province, the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a
statement, without further details.
"The military is monitoring for additional launches and maintaining
readiness," it added.
A spokesman at Japan's defence ministry said North Korea launched what
appeared to be "ballistic missile(s)", adding there had been no indication
of anything coming down in Tokyo's territory or exclusive economic zone.
South Korea said that launch appeared to be two short-range ballistic
missiles -- which the nuclear-armed North is banned from testing under UN
Security Council resolutions.
Analysts say the North has been continuing to refine its weapons
capabilities during its long-stalled nuclear discussions with the U.S.,.


AFGHAN POLITICAL RIVALS TO HOLD PARALLEL SWEARING-IN EVENTS

Abdullah Abdullah, the bitter rival of Afghanistan's president-elect Ashraf
Ghani, has issued invitations to a parallel swearing-in ceremony due next
week, his spokesman said on Saturday.
"We've sent the invitation to all national and international organisations
and all necessary preparations have been taken," Fraidoon Khwazoon, Mr.
Abdullah's spokesman said on Saturday, referring to invitations to an
inauguration ceremony due to take place in Kabul on Monday morning at a
similar time to Mr. Ghani's.
A political impasse and threat of parallel governments jeopardise a nascent
peace process in the nation, as the U.S. tries to push the Afghan government
toward talks with the Taliban.
In February, Afghanistan's Electoral Commission announced Mr. Ghani as the
winner of September's presidential election, but Mr. Abdullah claimed that
he and his allies had won the polls and insisted that he would form a
government.
"The election season is over and President-elect Ghani was given the
winner's certificate by the independent Election Commission based on the
outcome of the election and country's constitution," Mr. Sediqqi said on
Saturday.
Diplomatic sources have said the U.S. and other international players in
Afghanistan are nervous of the prospect of parallel inauguration ceremonies.
The U.S. has previously asked that both parties delay them.


KIDNAP INQUIRY AGAINST DUBAI RULER SOUGHT IN UK

The lawyers for Princess Latifa, who was allegedly abducted by men working
for her father - Dubai's powerful ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al
Maktoum, said they were writing to Scotland Yard chief to launch a criminal
investigation following a London High Court finding that the royal had
kidnapped his daughters.
Last week, a judge in the Family Court division ruled that the Sheikh "On
two occasions in June 2002 and February 2018, the father ordered and
orchestrated the forcible return of his daughter Princess Latifa to the
family home in Dubai."
The ruling followed a long-drawn custody battle between the Sheikh and his
sixth and youngest wife, 45-year-old Princess Haya. Sheikh Mohammed, who did
not attend court, denies any wrongdoing. Radha Stirling, a lawyer who
represents Latifa, said she would be writing to the Metropolitan police
commissioner to raise the plight of the princess and her sister Shamsa, who
was kidnapped from a street in Cambridge in 2000.
Stirling said, "The only logical step is for Sheikh Mohammed to face an
investigation and trial. Heads of state cannot behave like criminal
kingpins."
There are also reports of Queen Elizabeth II, who has a close relationship
with the Dubai ruler for decades through their shared love of racing,
distancing herself from the Sheikh.


IRAN, PAKISTAN RESUME TRADE

Trade activities between Pakistan and Iran has resumed after a suspension of
13 days amid fears of the coronavirus outbreak that has so far infected
5,823 and killed 145 people in Iran. On Saturday, over 35 vehicles loaded
with Liquefied Petroleum Gas and other commodities were allowed to enter
Pakistan through the Taftan dry port, a senior levies official told Dawn
news.
He said the Iranian drivers and cleaners were screened after their arrival
at Taftan border. Pakistan closed its border with Iran on February 23,
following confirmation of the first two coronavirus cases in the
neighbouring country. However, the immigration process was reopened after
five days and since then more than 35,000 Pakistani pilgrims have returned
from Iran.


FLIGHT MH17: TRIAL TO START OF FOUR MEN ACCUSED OF MURDERING 298 OVER
UKRAINE

Four men go on trial in the Netherlands on Monday, in the first criminal
case over the murder of 298 people on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17,
which was shot down over Ukraine in 2014.
The Boeing 777 went down amid a conflict in eastern Ukraine, after
Russian-backed rebels seized the area.
Investigators say they have proof the Buk missile system that shot it down
came from a military base in Russia.
The four suspects are unlikely to take part in the trial.
Three of the men are Russian and one is from eastern Ukraine. Neither
country extradites its citizens but one of the Russians will have a defence
team in the courtroom and the court says it is also prepared to accept
testimony from them by video link.
Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the deadly attack on 17 July
2014. Citizens of 10 different countries died on flight MH17.


WOMEN FILL STREETS OF WORLD'S CITIES WITH CALL OF JUSTICE

Women filled the streets of the world's largest cities Sunday to protest
gender violence and inequality on International Women's Day, with the
mothers of murdered girls leading a march in Mexico City and participants in
Paris inveighing against the "virus of the patriarchy."
While many protests were peaceful celebrations others were marred by
tension, with security forces arresting demonstrators.
Pakistan
In Pakistan, however, women managed to rally in cities across the country,
despite petitions filed in court seeking to stop them. The opposition was
stirred in part by controversy over a slogan used in last year's march: "My
Body, My Choice."
Islamist protesters hurled sticks and stones at the demonstrators, causing
injuries and forcing a crowd of people to seek cover before the police
intervened.
Mexico
Tens of thousands of women filled the streets of Mexico's capital to protest
rampant femicides and impunity for the killers.
On average, more than 10 women are slain each day in Mexico, often by their
male partners.
The mothers of slain women and girls led Sunday's march.
Chile
One of the largest demonstrations occurred in Chile, where thousands flooded
the streets of the capital with dancing, music and angry demands for gender
equality and an end to violence against women.
Argentina
Many protesters demanded that a proposed new constitution strengthen rights
for women and legalize elective abortion.
England
At a school in East London, meanwhile, the duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle,
joined students in listening to speeches about women labor activists, and
urged both girls and boys to respect the contributions of women every day of
the year.
"For young men . you have your mothers, sisters, girlfriends, friends in
your life _ protect them. Make sure they are feeling valued and safe," she
told the students.
France
Tens of thousands of women also marched through Paris, inveighing against
the patriarchy.
Spain
Tens of thousands of women also marched in Madrid and other Spanish cities,
despite concern over the spread of the new coronavirus.
A massive banner reading, "With rights, without barriers. Feminists without
frontiers" in Spanish was carried at the front of the march in the capital.
Brazil
Women turned out in force in Sao Paulo and other Brazilian cities, using the
platform of International Women's Day to protest the policies of far-right
president Jair Bolsonaro.
The women on Sunday marched under banners proclaiming "He cannot continue,"
an allusion to the president's trademark machismo and frequent mockery of
women - he once told a female lawmaker he would not rape her because she was
"not worth it".

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