Oil price tops $60 for first time since 2015

Total already have a presence in the North Sea, operating three oil rigs off the coast of Aberdeen© Getty Total already have a presence in the North Sea, operating three oil rigs off the coast of Aberdeen

The price of a barrel of oil has topped $60 for the first time in more than two years on rising expectations of a renewed deal to cut supplies.

Brent crude reached its highest level since July 2015 amid signs that oil-producing countries will extend efforts to combat a supply glut.

Oil has been gradually recovering since the start of last year when it crashed close to $27 – a slump caused by weak global demand combined with an oversupply of the commodity.

The weakness of the price has badly hurt producers and prompted a major shake-up of the industry including the loss of thousands of jobs in the North Sea.

The latest milestone marks another step for the sector getting back on an even keel.

FTSE 100 stalwarts BP and Shell, mainstays of many UK pension funds, are key beneficiaries of a recovery. Both ended Friday’s session more than 1% higher.

But the upturn will be less welcome for motorists bracing themselves for price rises at the petrol pumps, with household finances already under pressure thanks to the weakness of the pound helping to push inflation to a five-year high.

The increase in the oil price comes after Saudi Arabia and Russia declared their support for extending a global deal to cut oil supplies for another nine months.

The Saudi-dominated Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Companies (OPEC), plus Russia and nine other producers, have cut output by about 1.8 million barrels a day to try to reduce the supply glut.

The pact runs until March 2018 and the countries are now considering extending it.

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammad bin Salman said this week he was in favour of doing so, following on from similar remarks from Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month.

Their remarks came ahead of a meeting on 30 November to be attended by oil ministers.


This is the woman who is likely to defeat the appalling Carles Puigdemont in the Catalan regional elections on December 21st.

Her name is Ines Arrimadas and she is the leader of the Ciudadanos (Citizens) Party.


Spain’s PM sacks Catalan government after independence vote

PM Mariano Rajoy takes the decision as part of emergency measures after Catalonia’s parliament votes to break away from Spain.

The Spanish Prime Minister has dissolved Catalonia’s parliament and called an election for 21 December after the region declared independence.

Mariano Rajoy invoked the emergency measures in response to Catalan MPs voting to break away from the Spanish state.

He said he would seek to declare the vote illegal.

Mr Rajoy also said Catalonia’s police chief will be sacked and central government departments will assume the powers of the Catalan administration.

:: UK ‘will not recognise’ Catalan independence

The Spanish government is shutting down Catalonia’s foreign affairs department and dismissing its delegates in Brussels and Madrid.

Regional elections will now be held in Catalonia in December.

Applause breaks out across Catalan parliament after it votes in favour of declaring independence
Image:Applause breaks out across Catalan parliament after it votes in favour of declaring independence

Mr Rajoy said it was important to call fresh elections to ensure “nobody can act outside the law”, but added “we never wanted to come to this point”.

He said the aim was to return Catalonia to “normality and legality” as soon as possible.

The move will increase tensions with separatists who celebrated in their thousands outside the Catalan government palace after the declaration was made.

They watched events inside from two giant screens as they clapped and shouted “independence” in Catalan.

A flag with the text in Catalan 'The people lead' is held up as people gather to celebrate the proclamation of a Catalan republic at the Sant Jaume square in Barcelona on October 27, 2017. Catalonia's parliament voted to declare independence from Spain and proclaim a republic, just as Madrid is poised to impose direct rule on the region to stop it in its tracks. A motion declaring independence was approved with 70 votes in favour, 10 against and two abstentions, with Catalan opposition MPs walki
Image:A flag with ‘The people lead’ is held up in Sant Jaume Square

The motion, which was boycotted by opposition parties, said Catalonia was an independent, sovereign and social democratic state, and called on other countries and institutions to recognise it.

However, after the announcement from the Catalan parliament, Mr Rajoy hinted that their celebrations would be short-lived by saying they had done “something that is not possible – declare independence”.

The supporters who had gathered in Sant Jaume Square in Barcelona to hear the Catalan declaration were told of Mr Rajoy’s decision to sack the region’s parliament.

A band took to the stage and the crowd defiantly began singing and dancing to music, shouting: “We are not moving.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of anti-separatist protesters took to the streets waving Spanish flags to demonstrate against the independence declaration.

Miquel Iceta, the leader of Catalonia’s Socialists, welcomed Mr Rajoy’s announcement of a new election.

In a tweet, he said: “In the most sad day due to a wrong and irresponsible decision by the separatists, we see a ray of light.”

Myanmar: As murder & persecution of Muslims continues, we recall the odious Aung Suu Kyi & friends


Conventional wisdon is often wrong, and seldom more so than in the case of the Burmese leader Aung Suu Kyi. Hailed as a democrat and a peacemaker upon taking office in March 2016, this rotten woman can now be seen for what she really is – the grinning face of contemporary ethinc cleansing.

Donald Trump had his Muslim travel “ban” and the world rightly went berserk. Meanwhile, Aung Suu Kyi presides over a regime that has turned a blind eye to the slaughter thousands of Muslims, and the Obamas and the Clintons of this world remain silent.

Have these people no shame?

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All Smiles – Obama & Clinton

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Error of judgement? – The former British Prime Minister, David Cameron

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Revolting – Hillary Clinton

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Rogues Gallery – Bill & Suu

Burma: Rohingya Muslim babies and children ‘being slaughtered with knives’, UN warns

Eight-month-old baby among children stabbed to death in their own homes during so-called ‘area clearance operations’ by Burmese security services, according to ‘alarming’ UN report

The Independent Online

Babies and children have been slaughtered with knives during a military campaign on Rohingya Muslims in Burma, according to a series of accounts in a disturbing UN report.

An eight-month-old, a five-year-old and a six-year-old were all reportedly stabbed to death in their own homes during so-called “area clearance operations” by Burmese security services, which are reported to have killed hundreds of people since 9 October, in a Rohingya-dominated area in northwest Rakhine State.

The chilling accounts, described by the UN as “revolting”, are outlined in a flash report from the United Nations Human Rights office. The report, which has been released early because of its alarming nature, is based on interviews with more than 200Rohingya refugees who have recently entered Bangladesh after fleeing from violence they faced in Rakhine.

One mother recounted in the report how her five-year-old daughter was trying to protect her from rape when a man “took out a long knife and killed her by slitting her throat”, while in another case an eight-month-old baby was reportedly killed while his mother was gang-raped by five security officers.

A 14-year-old girl also told of how, after being raped by soldiers, she saw her mother beaten to death and her two sisters, aged eight and 10, killed with knives.

The Burmese Government has repeatedly denied allegations of persecution against the Rohingya minority, rejecting any evidence as “propaganda” and arguing that police beatings were ordinary in many countries.

During the crackdown in Rakhine, armed members of Burma’s security services are said to have rounded up Rohingya men and taken them away in vehicles, before then going from house to house gang-raping or sexually harassing women, and sometimes killing children who cried or tried to protect their mothers.

In another case, recounted by a number of refugees in separate interviews, the army of Rakhine villagers locked an entire family, including elderly and disabled people, inside a house and set it on fire, killing them all.

Boys stand among debris after fire destroyed shelters at a camp for internally displaced Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine (Reuters)

Many witnesses and victims also described being taunted while they were being beaten, raped or rounded up, such as being told “you are Bangladeshis and you should go back” or “what can your Allah do for you? See what we can do?”

Other attacks against Rohingya Muslims by Burma’s security services include brutal beatings and disappearances. The vast majority of those interviewed said they had witnessed killings, and almost half reported having a family member who was killed, as well as family members who were missing.

More than half of the 101 women interviewed said they had been victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Linnea Arvidsson, one of the four UN workers who interviewed Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and drew up the report, told The Independent she had never encountered such a “shocking” situation.

“It’s shocking. I’ve never encountered a situation like this, where you do 204 interviews and every single person you speak with has a traumatic story, whether their house was burnt, they’ve been raped or a relative was killed or taken away,” said Ms Arvidsson.

“In many cases we were the first people, other than their close family, who these people had spoken to. They would break down. Women and even grown men would be crying.

“The women cried when they spoke of being raped, or seeing their children being killed. Men cried when they related how their houses had been burnt, and their concerns over how they would now be able to support their families.

“It’s very rare for there to be such a high prevalence of violence. And when you think we spoke to just 204 people of a total of 88,000 who have fled the area, it’s really scary to think of the total numbers.”

The attacks on Rohingya in Rakhine were triggered last October when nine police officers were killed in attacks on posts along the border with Bangladesh, and the security services launched an intense crackdown on the Rohingya population to track down the insurgents behind the incident.

But the violence follows a long-standing pattern of violations and abuses, systematic discrimination and policies of exclusion and marginalisation against the Rohingya that have been in place for decades in northern Rakhine.

Ms Arvidsson added that the violent attacks against men, women and children were more than systematic operations in the search to find the insurgents responsible for the police killings in October, inferring that ethnic discrimination was also behind the slaughter of babies.

“To say these are area clearance operations looking for insurgents who killed police officers doesn’t make any sense. To kill babies, toddlers and young children and rape women when you are trying to find insurgents doesn’t make sense,” she told The Independent.

“The testimonies we gathered pointed at two intents as the motivation of this persecution: the collective punishment following humiliation over the attacks against police officers in October, and the ethnic and racial element – the disdain for this minority.

“You don’t slaughter eight-month-old babies because a police officer was attacked. It’s because you just don’t consider the child as human.”

The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, described the “devastating cruelty” against Rohingya children as “unbearable”, saying the allegations of babies being stabbed “beg” a reaction from the international community.

“The devastating cruelty to which these Rohingya children have been subjected is unbearable – what kind of hatred could make a man stab a baby crying out for his mother’s milk,” he said.

“And for the mother to witness this murder while she is being gang-raped by the very security forces who should be protecting her – what kind of ‘clearance operation’ is this? What national security goals could possibly be served by this?

“I call on the international community, with all its strength, to join me in urging the leadership in Myanmar to bring such military operations to an end. The gravity and scale of these allegations begs the robust reaction of the international community.”

Mr al-Hussein also urged the authorities in Burma to bring an immediate end to the “grave human rights violations” against its people, saying: “The Government of Myanmar must immediately halt these grave human rights violations against its own people, instead of continuing to deny they have occurred, and accepts the responsibility to ensure that victims have access to justice, reparations and safety.”