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Saturday, 26 December 2015

Protesters Ransack Muslim Prayer Hall On French Island

Ajaccio (France) (AFP) - Demonstrators ransacked a Muslim prayer hall and attempted to burn copies of the Koran on the French island of Corsicay, police said, following a night of violence that left two firefighters injured.
Tensions had mounted in Ajaccio on Christmas Day after two firefighters and a police officer were wounded overnight in Jardins de L'Empereur, a low-income neighbourhood of the city when they were "ambushed" by "several hooded youths", authorities said.
On Friday afternoon around 150 people had gathered in front of police headquarters in the island's capital in a show of support for the police and firefighters, officials said in a statement.
But some in that crowd broke away to join as many as 600 who headed for the housing estate where the violence took place the night before.
They shouted slogans in Corsican meaning "Arabs get out!" or "This is our home!", an AFP correspondent reported.
Nearby was a Muslim prayer room and a small group smashed the glass door and entered the place of worship, ransacking it and partially burning books including copies of the Koran, said regional official Francois Lalanne.
Police were to remain present on the housing estate overnight on Friday, with a security presence around five Muslim places of worship in Ajaccio, Lalanne told AFP."Fifty prayer books were thrown out on the street," Lalanne said, adding that some of the pages were burnt.
They would receive reinforcements in the coming days, he added.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls wrote on Twitter that the break-in was "an unacceptable desecration", while also condemning the "intolerable attack" on the wounded firefighters.
Anouar Kbibech, president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), said he had learnt of the mosque attack and the burning of "several copies of the Koran" with "distress".
He also condemned the assault on law enforcement and safety officers in Corsica, saying he hoped "the authors of the violence would be identified and arrested as soon as possible."French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the attack on the Muslim prayer hall showed signs of "racism and xenophobia".
- Far-right, nationalist gains -
Local authorities including Christophe Mirmand, the prefect or top official of Corsica, also vowed to arrest those responsible for the outbreak of violence over two days on the Mediterranean island.
The Christmas violence came amid heightened security measures for the season in France after the November 13 attacks by jihadists in Paris that killed 130 people.
Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, said he was "dismayed and saddened" by the events on Corsica in an appearance on France's BFMTV, calling for "calm and cool heads".
Around 120,000 French police, members of armed units and soldiers were mobilised on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Corsica is a department of France which held regional elections earlier this month, which had seen the far-right anti-immigrant Front National make unprecedented gains in the first round of the vote.
On Corsica the nationalists won the regional election there taking power for the first time.
Source: Yahoo News

Massive Earthquake Hits KP, Punjab, More Than 40 People Injured

According to US Geological Survey the epicenter of the quake which struck at 00:14am on Saturday was located near the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border region at the depth of 197 kilometre.

The tremor was felt in almost all cities of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, including Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Bahawalpur, Sukkur, Abbottabad, Chitral, Murree, Mardan, Mansehra, Dir, Chalas, Hangu, Skardu, Malakand, Astore, Pind Dadan Khan, Faisalabad, Jhang, Wazirabad, Narowal, Kharian, Chunian, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Daska, Gagu Mandi, Kala Bagh, Shorkot, Bhakar, Sangla Hill and Bagh.

No loss of life was reported from any part of the country due to earthquake till filing of this report. However, at least 47 people were injured in roof collapse and wall collapse incidents caused by earthquake in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

According to sources, emergency was declared at all hospitals in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as 39 injured were brought to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.

Tremors were also felt as far away as New Delhi in India and the Afghan capital Kabul, but not in neighbouring Nepal which was hit by a major quake in April.

Friday, 25 December 2015

63 People Dead in Indonesian Ferry Disaster

The death toll from a ferry disaster in central Indonesia has risen to 63 with a handful of people still missing as the search and rescue operation winds down.
Search and rescue agency chief Bambang Soelistyo today said 103 passengers aboard the ill-fated boat had been recovered – with just 40 found alive.
“If the information is correct, we are still searching for 15 other missing people,” Soelistyo said, adding that all the bodies found so far were within the search area.
The ferry operator said the boat was carrying 116 people when it ran into trouble, but Soelistyo said there were two canteen staff who were not mentioned on the manifest.
Ten vessels – including navy warships – and two aircraft are scouring the seas for any sign of the missing, while families wait anxiously for news in Siwa, the port town where the stricken vessel was heading.
Soelistyo said the search should end tomorrow but could be extended depending on a final evaluation of the operation.
The ferry sank on rough seas last Saturday with survivors describing massive waves smashing into the vessel before the engine died and the order was made to abandon ship.
The Indonesian archipelago of more than 17,000 islands is heavily dependent on ferry services.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Oil Prices May Reach $70 a barrel by 2020, Says Opec

Prices have fallen from more than $110 a barrel in the summer of 2014 to less than $37 a barrel now due to oversupply and slowing demand.
But Opec said oil prices would begin to rise next year and, longer term, would rise due to higher exploration costs.
It expects the market share of Opec producers to shrink by 2020 as rivals prove more resilient than expected.
The group currently accounts for about 30% of the world's oil production, down from 50% in the 1970s.
Part of the reason for this decline is the emergence of vast quantities of shale oil produced in the US. This has also been factor in pushing down the price of oil to 11-year lows.
In its World Oil Outlook report, Opec said it expected supply growth from US shale to slow dramatically next year, as producers struggled to cope with such low prices.
Opec's strategy this year has been to allow prices to fall by maintaining production in the hope that, eventually, US shale producers will be forced out of business.

Oil price chart

Another factor in low prices, Opec said, was weaker economic growth, particularly in developing economies. It highlighted China, where the "economy seems to be maturing and growth is decelerating faster than previously expected".

Price rebound

The report also highlighted the "huge reductions" in spending on exploration and production by the industry as a whole due to low oil prices.
These cutbacks will ultimately see supply fall, it said, putting upward pressure on prices.
Another longer-term factor pushing prices up, Opec said, was higher exploration costs, as companies are forced to look harder for oil as traditional supply sources dwindle. Deep water drilling, for example, is considerably more expensive than drilling onshore.
Finally, Opec said population and economic growth would see demand for energy rise by almost a half by 2040, increasing demand for oil.
Opec was founded in 1960 by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
These countries have since been joined by Qatar (1961), Indonesia (1962), Libya (1962), the United Arab Emirates (1967), Algeria (1969), Nigeria (1971), Ecuador (1973), Gabon (1975) and Angola (2007).
Source : BBC News

Friday, 4 December 2015

Firebomb kills 18 in Cairo nightclub

A Molotov cocktail hurled at a Cairo nightclub has killed 18 people, Egyptian security officials said on Friday.
One of the officials said the attacker was an employee who had been fired from the nightclub in the Agouza area in the centre of the Egyptian capital, Reuters news agency reported.
Other reports said the attack followed a dispute between employees of the nightclub and a group of youths.
Victims of the blast were burned to death or died from smoke inhalation in the establishment. The nightclub, which also features a restaurant, was located in a basement, offering no escape route, the officials said.
At least five people were wounded in the attack.
Armed groups have claimed a number of bombing and shooting attacks in Egypt, mostly against members of the security forces since the army toppled President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 after mass protests.
Source: Aljazeera

Two Massive Fires Broke Out in Manila

Two massive fires broke out in Manila on Friday, affecting more than 1,000 families, emergency workers said.
One fire took place on Quezon Boulevard, near Recto and Sta. Cruz, in Brgy. 310 in Manila on Friday morning. The fire was brought under control as of 12:14 p.m.
Supt. Crisfo Diaz, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) assistant director for operations, told CNN Philippines that around 1,000 families in the area were affected.

The fire started in a two-storey building, but they are still verifying what caused it.
Quezon City fire

In another incident, flames hit the Aurora Tower in Brgy. Socorro in Cubao, Quezon City.

The 31-year-old commercial building is located in Malvar Street corner Aurora Boulevard - the establishment houses the marketing office of the dome-shaped Araneta Center.

The fire was fire out at 12:38 pm. The BFP said the fire started at the 14th and 15th floors of the building - where the power room of Pizza Hut is located.

A number of office and commercial establishments were affected - including the operations of Isetann Mall. 
There were reported casualties or injuries from both incidents.
Source : Gulf News

Pakistan Cricket Board Sells Five PSL Teams for $93m

The Pakistan Cricket Board has sold all five Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchises for $93 million for a ten-year period. Karachi became the most expensive team with the ARY Group shelling out $26 million to gain ownership. There were seven bidders in the shortlist for the open bidding. Among those to miss out were Pakistan's largest telecom company Mobilink and another popular name Arif Habib Group.

The PSL will be a month-long affair, beginning on February 4 and will feature sides from Pakistan's provincial capitals - Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad. A total of 24 matches are scheduled and although finding stakeholders has taken some time, the PCB has managed to secure the interests of renowned business in Pakistan and even abroad.

The PSL's title sponsorship goes to Habib Bank Limited, while Ten Sports and PTV Sports become the official broadcasters. Global television rights have been given to Tech Front, a UAE-based media rights acquisition company. Sunset and Vine will be in charge of producing the coverage. The broadcast arrangements have been finalised for the next three years.

The top two bidders, ARY Group and Qatar Oil have not had much connection with cricket so far but they will now own the two most popular teams in the country - Karachi and Lahore, sold for $25 million.

Haier Group, a consumer electronics and home appliances company, paid $16 million for Peshawar. The franchise from the capital, Islamabad, went to Leonine Global Sports, which is an entity created specifically for the PSL by a group of Pakistani investors, for $15 million. Omar Associate, a Karachi-based building company, secured Quetta for $11 million.

"I am delighted with these positive developments and this is a major achievement in our PSL journey," Najam Sethi, chairman of the PSL Governing Council, said after the bidding was complete. "The best part is that all team owners are ardent cricket fans and their dedication will make this league a success. HBL's association with PSL is another indication of established brands partnering with the league"

At least 80 percent of the revenue from the broadcast rights will be split equally among the five PSL franchises. The remaining 20 percent will go to the PCB. Similarly at least 50 percent of the revenue from the sponsorship rights will be shared among the franchises and the PCB will utilise the other 50 percent.

The franchises will also have access to 50 percent of the ticket sales at the gate. Interestingly, tournaments like IPL, and BPL give their franchises 100% of the revenue collected at the gate. But for PSL, that chunk is only 50% because PCB is bearing the cost of the venue in UAE with Pakistan forced to play their home games away from home.

Over 100 players and 10 coaches have signed up for the PSL. The final step, which is setting up the draft process, will take place later this month.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

BlackBerry delays Pakistan shutdown as talks on govt access continue

BlackBerry Ltd (BB.TO) will delay shutting down its operations in Pakistan until Dec. 30 as negotiations continue over government demands for access to users' private data, the company and the telecoms authority said on Monday.

The state-run Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had in July demanded BlackBerry give it access to its BlackBerry Enterprise Services, which encrypt data such as emails and instant messages, or shut it down by Nov. 30.

The PTA on Monday then suggested a one-month extension to that deadline, its chairman Syed Ismail Shah said. BlackBerry also confirmed the extension in a statement on its website."The level of access is still under discussion," Shah said. "We can extend the deadline and they can continue to work until then."

Pakistan has said it needs access to maintain its security, with police saying criminals use secure communications like those provided by BlackBerry. Analysts say the government is increasing electronic surveillance to target activists, politicians and journalists.

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