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Oil tops $80 a barrel on Iran deal fears

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The oil price has climbed above $80 a barrel for the first time in three-and-a-half years amid simmering global tensions over Iran.

Brent crude has been rising in recent months as supplies tighten and the decision by Donald Trump to pull out of an international nuclear deal with Tehran has added to the upward pressure.

The rising price of oil will add to motorists’ fuel bills.

But is a welcome trend for oil companies including BP and Royal Dutch Shell, two companies which are staples of UK pension funds.

Markets have been reacting to the prospect of a sharp drop in Iranian oil exports after the US decision on the deal.

French energy giant Total said on Wednesday that it might abandon a multi-billion dollar gas project in the country if it could not secure a waiver from US sanctions, adding to doubts on European-led efforts to salvage the international nuclear agreement.

Meanwhile, global inventories of oil have dropped sharply in recent months on robust demand and production cuts by top oil-exporting nations.

The Bank of England noted last week that oil prices were up by 13% this month compared to February and that this would push up petrol and diesel prices, lifting inflation over coming months.

Brent crude has not been at $80 since November 2014.

Since then it has fallen sharply, sliding below $30 at the start of 2016 on the combination of a supply glut – partly thanks to US shale oil production – and weakness in some economies lowering demand.

But an agreement between oil-producing countries to restrict supplies has helped push the price back up.

A report by the International Energy Agency on Wednesday warned that the rising price could hit demand.

However analysts at Goldman Sachs said that even with such a slowdown, and rising US shale production, supply problems would remain – pointing to production losses in Iran as well as Venezuela and Angola.

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Russian ‘Fancy Bear’ unit hit with sanctions by UK over cyber attack on German parliament | Politics News

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Britain has imposed travel bans and asset freezes on a Russian unit over a cyber attack on Germany’s parliament.

The sanctions, part of European Union action, will be enforced on two Russian GRU officers and a hacking unit – judged to be part of the GRU – known as APT28 or Fancy Bear.

Germany has found Russia responsible for the 2015 hack of its parliament, the Bundestag, which was said to have caused the theft of more than 16 gigabytes of data, including MPs’ confidential emails.

The Foreign Office announced the sanctions would come into force immediately

“The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Germany and our European partners to hold Russia to account for cyber attacks designed to undermine Western democracies,” said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

“This criminal behaviour brings the Russian government into further disrepute.”

Britain is continuing to coordinate with the EU’s sanctions regime during the Brexit transition period, after which the UK will have its own regime.

UK security chiefs have previously judged APT28 to be part of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence services.

The group have also been blamed for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers during the 2016 US election campaign, as well as the hacking of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s database in the same year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on fire emergency response in Ryazan Region, via teleconference call, at Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, on October 8, 2020. (Photo by Alexei Druzhinin / Sputnik / AFP) (Photo by ALEXEI DRUZHININ/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin said the influence of the US, Britain and France was waning

The action against the unit over the Bundestag attack came as Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Germany and China are now heading for superpower status while the influence of America, along with that of Britain and France, wanes.

Addressing a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club via video link, Mr Putin was reported to have said the era when the US and Russia decided the world’s most important questions was in the past.

If the US was not prepared to discuss global problems with Moscow, Russia stood ready to have that discussion with other nations, the Russian president was said to have added.

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Gulf Livestock 1 sunken ship: Pope Francis gives money to families of crew missing at sea | World News

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Pope Francis has gifted money to the families of the crew members who were on board a ship that sank off the Japanese coast last month, 40 of whom are still missing.

The Gulf Livestock 1 was carrying 43 men and 6,000 cattle when it capsized on 2 September in the East China Sea after suffering an engine failure during Typhoon Maysak.

Families of the crew, which included 39 Filipinos, two Australians and two New Zealanders, have raised over £93,000 for an international search effort which recently found a potential life raft and life ring from the ship.

Pope Francis
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Pope Francis has donated financial support to the families

In a statement, the Vatican confirmed it will provide financial aid to “be given personally to the families of the missing persons and the two survivors, along with a small personal gift from Pope Francis, to express his closeness and solidarity”.

“This contribution has been accompanied, since the very first days of the disaster, by spiritual, psychological and personalised support, offered to the Filipino families by a team of professionals, chaplains and religious sisters from the Stella Maris Centres of the nation,” the statement continued.

“The support, which in view of the COVID-19 restrictions has so far been implemented through the use of social media and a digital platform, will continue for several months.”

The full amount and duration of the support from the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development is not clear.

Loved ones of the 40 crew members still lost at sea remain hopeful that there are more survivors after three Filipino men were pulled from a life raft in the days following the capsizing.

One of the men died.

The two who survived told an investigation into the sinking they saw the deployment of four life rafts before the ship sunk and that everyone was wearing a life jacket.

A possible sighting of a life jacket belonging to the GUlf Livestock 1 Ship which capzised near Japan on September 2. Pic: Facebook / used with permission of missing man Will Mainprize's sister Emily Hastings
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A search crew sighted what could be a life raft canopy from the ship
A possible sighting of a life jacket belonging to the GUlf Livestock 1 Ship which capzised near Japan on September 2. Pic: Facebook / used with permission of missing man Will Mainprize's sister Emily Hastings
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A life ring potentially belonging to the vessel was also found

On 10 October, images from crew and pilots found what appeared to be a canopy from the same life raft used on the Gulf Livestock 1 on the Japanese island of Kuchinoshima – about 160 miles from the ship’s last-known location.

On the same day, a life ring and blue boot were spotted 21 miles away on another island.

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Three men have been rescued and two survived

The Viking life rafts from Gulf Livestock 1 carry enough rations to feed 20 people for 30 days.

But an Australian legal report recently concluded the prospect of more survivors remained possible while life rafts and jackets were still missing.

Missing Australian man Will Mainprize with his sister Emily Hastings. Pic: Supplied
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Missing Australian man Will Mainprize with his sister Emily Hastings. Pic: Supplied

The sister of Australian stockman and missing crew member Will Mainprize recently described her brother as a “survivalist” who led rescue and adventure missions in his home country.

“He is just so kind and compassionate,” she told Sky News.

“This beautiful, young 27-year-old man. I’m 18 months older than him and we were like twins growing up. If you spend time with him you feel like a better person.”

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Prince Andrew accuser was a ‘fantasist’ who spun ’tissue of lies’, Ghislaine Maxwell told lawyers | World News

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Ghislaine Maxwell told lawyers that Prince Andrew accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre had spun a “tissue of lies” and was an “awful fantasist”, according to newly-released documents.

The comments by the ex-girlfriend of paedophile Jeffrey Epstein appear in a 2016 interview transcript released on Thursday by a US judge.

Ms Roberts Giuffre has accused the prince of having sex with her when she was underage – claims he has strongly denied – and says Epstein kept her as a “sex slave” with Maxwell‘s assistance.

Ghislaine Maxwell will never sell out Prince Andrew, a friend of hers has said
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The transcript of Maxwell’s 2016 interview was released despite her opposition

In her deposition, the 58-year-old was questioned about an alleged encounter between the pair in London in 2001 after they are said to have gone out clubbing.

The name is redacted, but the circumstances match Ms Roberts Giuffre’s allegations about the prince.

“So did you ever introduce [redacted] to Virginia in London?” Maxwell is asked.

The former socialite – arrested in an FBI raid in July – said she had “no recollection” and also couldn’t recall if Ms Giuffre stayed at her London home, or even whether she travelled on the plane to London.

More from Ghislaine Maxwell

It’s been claimed a photo of Prince Andrew appearing to have his hand around Ms Roberts Giuffre’s body – and standing next to Ms Maxwell – was taken in the house during the March 2001 trip.

The prince has admitted he is the person in the picture but that he has no “recollection of meeting her” – and also suggested in his Newsnight interview last year that the image may have been edited.

He famously added that he couldn’t have been out clubbing on the night in question as he was in Pizza Express in Woking.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who as accused Prince Andrew of sexually assaulting her at Jeffrey Epstein's house, speaks out
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Virginia Roberts Giuffre claims she had sex with the prince on several different occasions

Ms Maxwell also says in the 400-plus pages of transcript that she has no memory of claims she took 17-year-old Ms Giuffre out shopping ahead of the alleged night out at Tramp nightclub.

She also tells lawyers she “cannot recall, as I have said, no” – when asked if she saw “[redacted] go into a room with Virginia alone in your town home”.

Ms Maxwell also denied having three-way sex with Epstein and Ms Roberts Giuffre, and claimed she never saw any “inappropriate underage activities” or “Jeffrey having sex with a minor.”

The 58-year-old faces up to 35 years in jail over allegations she recruited teenage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse in the 1990s.

Donald Trump, Melania Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, and Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, February 12, 2000
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Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell with the Trumps in 2000

The new documents relate to a 2016 civil lawsuit brought by Ms Roberts Giuffre, who sued Ms Maxwell for defamation after she called her a liar. The case was eventually settled.

Ms Maxwell’s lawyers had argued that the documents should remain sealed in part to protect her right to a fair criminal trial, in which she has pleaded not guilty.

Prince Andrew has admitted his relationship with Epstein was badly judged, but in a statement last year “emphatically denied… any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts”.

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