AUD/USD representative rate as at 4.00 pm Eastern Australian time on 02 Nov 2017
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AUD/USD representative rate as at 4.00 pm Eastern Australian time on 02 Nov 2017
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump called Wednesday for the man charged with carrying out a New York City truck rampage that killed eight people to be put to death.
“NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to the Daesh jihadist group.
The president had earlier said he would consider sending Saipov to Guantanamo Bay, the US military detention center in Cuba that has been used to indefinitely hold suspected foreign jihadists, a practice that has drawn repeated criticism from rights groups.
Investigators said Wednesday that the man who mowed down cyclists and pedestrians in New York the day before had confessed to acting in the name of IS and said that he “felt good” about the killings.
Prosecutors have filed charges against Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant, who they said began planning the attack a year ago.
The complaint against Saipov listed two counts: provision of material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and violence and destruction of motor vehicles.
It was not immediately clear if he would face further charges.
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LONDON: In an exclusive interview with Arab News, UK Conservative politician Nadhim Zahawi has hit back at criticism about his salary as part-time strategy officer at oil producer Gulf Keystone Petroleum.
Zahawi, whose heritage is Kurdish, took flak from City of London investor Justin Urquhart Stewart, cofounder of Seven Investment Management, who complained about his monthly salary of £29,643 ($39,314), disclosed in the latest British parliamentary register of MPs’ interests.
Urquhart Stewart told The National newspaper that most shareholders were “absolutely furious” about Zahawi’s pay level — equivalent to £356,000 a year — given the 99 percent collapse in the share price in five years.
But Zahawi said: “The share price was diluted following last year’s debt-for-equity swap with bondholders — but the financial reconstruction was absolutely necessary to secure the company’s future.”
His pay was signed off by Gulf Keystone’s remuneration committee and was “commensurate” with salaries paid to CEO Jon Ferrier and Chief Financial Officer Sami Zouari, he added. What many people had forgotten, said Zahawi, was that following the deal with debt-holders a year ago, the company had turned its fortunes around with debt reducing from $625 million to $100 million. There is now over $140 million of cash on the balance sheet.
Zahawi said: “I joined (the company) only after the majority of the old management had departed; most of the loss of value in the equity was under the previous management team. When I came aboard, Keystone was very close to going under because of the sheer weight of the debt.”
There was a need to credit the current team with turning round the business, he added. “Albeit the share price is where it is, but the debt was an existential threat.”
Gulf Keystone Petroleum is the operator of Kurdistan’s Shaikan field, with current production capacity of 40,000 barrels per day.
Kurdistan explorers and producers have been under the cosh after the slump in the oil price in 2014. Soft prices coincided with geopolitical difficulties in the region which delayed payments for exports due from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
But Zahawi said relations with the KRG are much improved and regular payments were coming through. He hoped the current standoff between the Kurds and Baghdad would be “resolved decently. They are both committed to resolving (the dispute) within the framework of the Iraqi constitution.”
Political tensions between Baghdad and the KRG were raised recently when Iraqi federal forces regained disputed territories including the city of Kirkuk, the oil fields around it and much of the wider region.
Current political instability was weighing on Keystone’s and other companies’ share prices, said London-based analysts.
Zahawi’s appointment to the company more than two years ago was influenced by his contacts in Kurdistan and expertise as a chemical engineer and oil industry specialist, according to a company announcement.
Keystone said at the time of his appointment in June 2015: “Zahawi is of Kurdish origin, and moved from Iraq to the UK in his childhood. He has maintained contact with the KRG throughout his extensive career.”
CEO Ferrier wrote: “With his Kurdish heritage and as a successful businessman, Nadhim brings a range of additional and critical skills to the company. I firmly believe that the breadth and depth of his regional knowledge will prove invaluable, and will help further strengthen our relationships within the Regional Government amongst other key stakeholders in the Kurdistan Region and internationally.”
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PESHAWAR/KABUL: The details of a senior Afghan official’s alleged kidnapping in Pakistan are becoming increasingly mysterious, Arab News can report.
Mohammad Nabi Ahmadi, the deputy governor of Kunar province, was registered as the victim of a kidnapping on Sunday in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where he had gone for medical treatment.
His brother Habibullah told police that Ahmadi was walking near Dabgari Gardens, an area that houses several specialist medical clinics, at around 9 p.m. on Friday when a car with tinted windows pulled up and the Afghan official was bundled inside.
However, Arab News has learned that the Pakistani police are treating Habibullah’s story as “suspicious.”
To begin with, a police official from the police checkpoint near Civil Quarters, where the kidnapping was initially registered, said Habibullah only reported his brother’s abduction until the morning after the incident took place, having stayed the night in a hotel. And when he did finally report the case, the official told Arab News that he gave no helpful information and did not mention the fact that his brother was a high-ranking Afghan official.
“We asked him about the number and color of the car in which the Afghan official had been taken,” the official said. “But he said he does not know.”
The official also said that when police requested that Habibullah come to the station to help with their inquiries, “he lied to us and said he was in Islamabad. But when we traced his number, we found he was present in Peshawar.”
He added that Habibullah was no longer cooperating with the police inquiry.
Arab News called Habibullah on the telephone number he had provided to police when reporting the incident. However, the person who answered the phone denied he was Habibullah, and refused to say anything further.
Abdul Ghani Musamim, the spokesmen for the governor of Kunar, confirmed to Arab News that Ahmadi was visiting Peshawar for medical treatment.
“His family informed authorities that he had been abducted in Peshawar by armed men on Friday. We do not know the motive behind this. No group has claimed responsibility for it. We have been in touch with our diplomatic missions in Pakistan to investigate the incident.”
An Afghan Foreign Ministry official told Arab News that the Afghan embassy and consulate had not been informed that Ahmadi would be visiting Peshawar, and confirmed that Pakistani authorities have been informed of his abduction. Like Musamim, the official said he was unaware of the reason behind Ahmadi’s reported abduction.
The Taliban have denied any involvement in Ahmadi’s kidnapping, Reuters reported.
“We heard that a deputy Afghan governor went missing in Pakistan but let me clarify that we don’t operate outside Afghanistan,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid was quoted as saying. “In Pakistan, our leadership has strictly forbidden our people from any sort of activities, as this is not our policy.”
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Federal Reserve Board announces approval of application by Southside Bancshares, Inc.
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Macedonia recorded a Government Budget deficit equal to 3.50 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2015. Government Budget in Macedonia averaged -2.32 percent of GDP from 1993 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 2.40 percent of GDP in…
SEOUL: South Korea and China have agreed to normalize all forms of cooperation and exchanges “expeditiously” following a year-long standoff over the deployment of a US anti-missile system in South Korea, the South’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“Both sides shared the view that the strengthening of exchange and cooperation between Korea and China serves their common interests and agreed to expeditiously bring exchange and cooperation in all areas back on a normal development track,” the statement said.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in will hold a summit meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of an upcoming summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries in Vietnam on Nov. 10-11, a Blue House official said in a separate briefing on Tuesday.
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SAN FRANCISCO: Internet giants were expected to tell Congress this week that Russian-backed content aimed at manipulating US politics during last year’s election was more extensive than first thought.
Facebook, Google and Twitter were slated to share what they have learned so far from digging into possible connections between Russian entities and posts, ads, and even videos shared on YouTube.
Facebook will tell Congress that some 126 million US users, a potentially large portion of the voting public here, may have seen stories, posts or other content from Russian sources, according to tech news site Recode, the Wall Street Journal and other US media.
The reach is far broader than had originally been estimated by the world’s leading social network.
Facebook did not respond to AFP requests for comment.
Google found that two accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency spent $4,700 on search and display ads during last year’s US election cycle, Google general counsel Kent Walker and director of information security Richard Salgado said in a blog post.
The ads were not targeted based on which states people lived in or their apparent political leanings, the men said.
“Like other Internet platforms, we have found some evidence of efforts to misuse our platforms during the 2016 US election by actors linked to the Internet Research Agency in Russia,” Walker and Salgado said.
“While we have found only limited activity on our services, we will continue to work to prevent all of it, because there is no amount of interference that is acceptable.”
There were 18 channels at YouTube “likely associated” with the campaign that made English language videos available that appeared to have politically-oriented clips in the mix of offerings.
A total of 1,108 such videos were uploaded, totaling 43 hours of content, and racked up 309,000 views in the 18 months leading up to the election won by US President Donald Trump.
The channels had relatively low view counts, with only about three percent of them logging more than 5,000 views. The channels identified have been suspended, according to Walker and Salgado.
There was no evident that RT, a reference to a state-run Russian television network, manipulated YouTube or violated its policies, the men said.
A source familiar with Twitter’s testimony for Congress said the one-to-many messaging service identified 36,746 accounts that “generate automated, election-related content” during the three months leading up to the election and appeared linked to a Russian account.
Those accounts generated approximately 1.4 million automated, election-related Tweets, which collectively received approximately 288 million impressions, meaning responses or other engagement by readers.
Moscow has denied any attempt to manipulate the US election.
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WASHINGTON: US special operations forces captured a militant in Libya accused of playing an instrumental role in the Benghazi attacks, officials said Monday, in a high-stakes operation designed to bring the perpetrators to justice five years after the deadly violence.
President Donald Trump identified the militant as Mustafa Al-Imam and said his capture signified that the four Americans who died “will never be forgotten.” Justice Department officials were escorting Al-Imam by military plane to the United States, where he’s expected to be tried in federal court.
“Our memory is deep and our reach is long, and we will not rest in our efforts to find and bring the perpetrators of the heinous attacks in Benghazi to justice,” Trump said.
The Navy SEAL-led raid marked the first publicly known operation since Trump took office to target those accused of involvement in Benghazi, which mushroomed into a multiyear political fracas centered on Republican allegations of a bungled Obama administration response. Those critiques shadowed Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the attacks, through her presidential campaign.
US forces captured Al-Imam just before midnight local time Sunday in Misrata, on Libya’s north coast, US officials said. He was taken to a US Navy ship at the Misrata port for transport by military plane to Washington, where he’s expected to arrive within the next two days, one of the officials said.
Once on American soil, Al-Imam will face trial in US District Court for the District of Columbia as the FBI continues to investigate, the Justice Department said. He faces three criminal charges that were filed in May 2015 but only recently unsealed: killing or conspiring to kill someone during an attack on a federal facility, providing support for terrorists, and using a firearm in connection with a violent crime.
It wasn’t immediately clear how Al-Imam was involved in the Sept. 11, 2012, violence. Local officials gave conflicting accounts about his nationality.
Trump said he had ordered the raid, and thanked the US military, intelligence agencies and prosecutors for tracking Al-Imam and enabling his capture. The US officials said the operation was coordinated with Libya’s internationally recognized government. They weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he’d spoken with the relatives of some of the Americans who died in Benghazi: US Ambassador Chris Stevens, State Department information management officer Sean Patrick Smith, and contract security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty. Tillerson said the US would “spare no effort” to ensure Al-Imam is held accountable.
Al-Imam will face court proceedings in US District Court, officials said, in an apparent departure from Trump’s previously expressed desire to send militants to the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In an interview last March with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Attorney General Jeff Sessions called Guantanamo “a very fine place for holding these kind of dangerous criminals.”
The commando raid also came amid an ongoing debate about the use of US forces to pursue insurgents in Africa and other locations outside of warzones like Iraq and Afghanistan. Four US soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger earlier this month under circumstances that have remained hazy and prompted Democrats and Republicans in Congress to express concerns.
Earlier this month, another man accused in the Benghazi attack, Abu Khattala, went on trial in federal court in Washington. Khattala, captured during President Barack Obama’s tenure, has pleaded not guilty to the 18 charges against him, including murder of an internationally protected person, providing material support to terrorists and destroying US property while causing death.
The Benghazi assault started in the evening when armed attackers scaled the wall of the diplomatic post and moved through the front gate. Stevens was rushed to a fortified “safe room” along with Smith, but were then siphoned off from security officers when attackers set the building and its furniture on fire. Libyan civilians found Stevens hours later in the wreckage, and he died of smoke inhalation in a hospital, becoming the first US ambassador killed in the line of duty in more than three decades.
A nearby CIA annex was attacked by mortar fire hours after the diplomatic complex, killing Woods and Doherty, who were defending the rooftop.
The attack became fodder for multiple congressional investigations to determine what happened and whether the Obama administration misled the public on the details of the bloody assault. Initial accounts provided by administration officials, notably Obama’s UN ambassador, Susan Rice, said the attack grew out of a protest against an anti-Muslim Internet film. Later, the administration said it was a planned terrorist attack.
A two-year investigation by a House Benghazi committee focused heavily on Clinton’s role and whether security at the compounds and the response to the attack was sufficient. It was the Benghazi probe that revealed Clinton used a private email server for government work, prompting an FBI investigation that proved to be an albatross for her presidential campaign.
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TALLINN, Estonia: She was a promising young journalist, tested in trouble spots throughout the world, reporting on a Danish inventor famed for building what was thought to be the world’s largest private submarine. The story seemed to present little danger, but it cost Kim Wall her life.
The Swedish journalist’s dismembered, naked torso was found on a southern Copenhagen coast in late August and her head, legs and clothes were later discovered in plastic bags at sea. The bags also contained a knife, and heavy metal objects designed to take them to the ocean floor. Wall’s arms are still missing.
Inventor Peter Madsen — who is in custody — has offered a shifting variety of explanations for Wall’s death.
Police revealed Monday that Madsen now admits dismembering Wall’s body and throwing the body parts into a bay southwest of Copenhagen, but steadfastly denies killing her. He previously claimed she had an accident but now says she died from carbon monoxide poisoning suffered inside Madsen’s submarine while he was out of harm’s way on the vessel’s deck.
“This explanation naturally will lead the police into gathering additional statements from the coroner and the armed forces’ submarine experts,” said Copenhagen police investigator Jens Moller Jensen.
Police on Monday expanded the charges against him to include sexual assault.
Madsen, 46, is a self-taught aerospace engineer who was one of the founders of Copenhagen Suborbitals, which is dedicated to building submarines and manned spacecraft. He generated attention in 2008 with the launch of Nautilus, which was billed as the world’s largest privately built submarine.
He denies killing the 30-year-old Wall, who had carved out a name for herself in the competitive world of freelance journalism by producing a string of stories from Sri Lanka, Uganda, Cuba, the Marshall Islands, and many other countries.
The globetrotting journalist was last seen alive on the evening of Aug. 10 on the submarine, known as the UC3 Nautilus. Police believe Madsen and Wall did not know each other before their trip.
Concerns about Wall’s safety surfaced the next day when her boyfriend reported her missing. Hours later, Madsen — a celebrated entrepreneur who dreamed of launching a manned space mission — was rescued from his sinking submarine.
Investigators believe he had sabotaged the vessel despite his assertion that it had suffered a technical fault. He told authorities he had dropped Wall off on an island several hours after their voyage began.
Later, he dropped that version and said she had died in an accident on board. He said he had buried her at sea.
Madsen claimed she had slipped and suffered a blow to the head from a heavy metal hatch on the sub — but police found no indication of a skull injury when her head was finally located. Her torso was found with multiple stab wounds.
Madsen is currently charged with murder and mutilating Wall’s body. Police said Monday that the charges have now been extended to include sexual assault without intercourse.
An examination of Wall’s torso revealed wounds to her genitals and ribcage that were believed to have been caused during her death or shortly after. “We’re taking an approach that there exists a sexual motive,” Jensen told Swedish broadcaster SVT.
Danish prosecutors said earlier they believe Madsen killed Wall as part of a sexual fantasy game.
During their investigation, police found videos on Madsen’s personal computer of women being tortured, decapitated and slain. Prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen said the videos are thought to be real.
The case has led Danish investigators to reopen a number of unsolved killings, including the 1986 death of a young Japanese tourist whose cut-up corpse was found in several plastic bags in Copenhagen harbor.
Police say the review of so-called “cold cases” is standard procedure and has not provided any immediate link to the case involving Wall and Madsen.
Wall grew up in southern Sweden, just across a strait from Copenhagen.
Her family said it was unimaginable that she could be killed “just a few miles from the childhood home” after reporting from so many dangerous places.
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