The Arctic Drilling Ban: Much Ado About Nothing?

Outgoing President Barack Obama is about to invoke a 1953 law in a bid to protect the Arctic and Atlantic shelf of the United States from the claws of the oil and gas industry, but below the surface it may just be theoretical. The Outer Continental Shelf Land Act, and more specifically its provision 12(a), has only been invoked a few times since the passing of the legislation and has always, until now, concerned discrete areas. This time will be the first when the provision is invoked to protect such large regions of the country’s shelf and…

Egypt rejects appeal of official who revealed scale of corruption

A court in Egypt rejected an appeal by the former anti-corruption watchdog chief against a jail sentence he received for spreading “false news” regarding the state of corruption in the country. Hisham Geneina, the former head of the Central Auditing Organisation, previously stated that corruption had cost Egypt $31.25 billion in four years. President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi subsequently fired Geneina in March and appointed a fact-checking commission that later concluded Geneina had misled the public by over-estimating the scale of corruption. Geneina has stressed that he has done nothing wrong and stated how his case was being used to discourage others from speaking out in a country which is increasingly in the grip of security agencies, according to Reuters. A […]

Ghraibah

If you love buttery cookies like shortbread then you will definitely love these. They are very simple and once you learn to make them, you’ll be making batches every week! They are that good. These cookies are usually made as Eid treats, and variations are made in the Levant and North Africa, but to me they were extra special because my grandmothers used to make them into the shape of our initials, which made us very happy kids! We loved helping out in the kitchen and this is definitely a recipe simple enough to allow kids to roll up their sleeves and help. There are only three ingredients in the dough; flour, butter and powdered sugar, and although it is […]

Iraq government bombing of Al-Qaim is ‘war crime’

An international team of Iraq experts, researchers and analysts have released a damning report that accuses the Iraqi government of being in breach of the Geneva Conventions and of having committed war crimes in an air raid on civilian targets earlier this month. The report, compiled by the Jordan-based Iraqi War Crimes Documentation Centre (IWDC) and the UK-based Iraq monitor, Foreign Relations Bureau – Iraq (FRB), described the airstrikes against Al-Qaim in Iraq’s Anbar province as “another crime in a long list of those carried out under the cover of fighting IS,” using another acronym for the Daesh militant group. The Iraqi Air Force launched three airstrikes against the Daesh-held town of Al-Qaim on 7 December but targeted the main […]

Cristiano Ronaldo sends message of hope to children of Syria

  International footballer Cristiano Ronaldo today issued a heartwarming video message in support of Syrian children. Ronaldo is an ambassador for the charity Save the Children. In the video Ronaldo says: Hello, This is for children of Syria. We know that you have been suffering a lot. I am a very famous player but you are the true heroes. Don’t lose your hope. The world is with you. We care about you. I am with you.

Libyan plane hijack ends in surrender at Maltese airport

Author: 
Agence France Presse
Fri, 2016-12-23
ID: 
1482505850610356700

VALLETTA: Hijackers claiming to have a grenade took over a Libyan plane Friday and diverted it to Malta before releasing everyone onboard and surrendering to authorities, officials said.
“Final crew members leaving aircraft with hijackers,” Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Twitter.
Minutes later he added: “Hijackers surrendered, searched and taken in custody.”
Libyan Foreign Minister Taher Siala said the two hijackers were supporters of slain dictator Muammar Qaddafi and had requested political asylum in Malta.
Siala, from Libya’s internationally backed Government of National Accord, said the hijackers have also said they want to set up a pro-Qaddafi political party.
The plane landed at 11:32 am (1032 GMT) in Malta.
After more than an hour on the tarmac, the door of the Airbus A320 opened and a first group of women and children were seen descending a mobile staircase.
Dozens more passengers were released minutes later following negotiations that Maltese government sources said were led by the head of Malta’s military.
In all there were 111 passengers, including 28 women and a baby, on board, as well as seven crew members.
Maltese government sources had earlier said only a single hijacker was believed to be on the plane.
The aircraft had been on a domestic Libyan route operated by Afriqiyah Airways from Sabha in southern Libya to the capital Tripoli but was re-routed.
“The Afriqiyah flight from Sabha to Tripoli has been diverted and has landed in Malta. Security services coordinating operations,” Muscat tweeted earlier.
Muscat later spoke to Libya’s prime minister-designate Fayez Al-Sarraj, the head of the north African country’s fledgling unity government, the Maltese prime minister’s office said.
The plane could be seen on the tarmac of a secondary runway surrounded by military vehicles.
All flights in and out of the airport were initially either delayed or diverted to destinations in Italy, though some later took off and landed.
Malta International Airport said there had been “an unlawful interference” but operations had now resumed.
An Afriqiyah Airways source said the two hijackers had threatened the pilots with an explosive device, probably a grenade, forcing them to continue to Malta instead of landing at Tripoli’s Mitiga airport.
Libya has been in a state of chaos since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi left warring militias battling for control of different parts of the country.
Forces loyal to a national unity government recently took control of the coastal city of Sirte, which had been a bastion for the Daesh group since June 2015.
Western powers have pinned their hopes of containing jihadism in the energy-rich North African state on the government but it has failed to establish its authority over all of the country.
A rival authority rules the country’s far east, backed by the forces under military strongman Marshal Khalifa Haftar who have been battling jihadists in second city Benghazi. Only local airlines — banned from European airspace — operate in Libya, with flights to Tunis, Cairo, Amman, Istanbul and Khartoum.

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UNSC to vote on end to Israeli settlements

The UN Security Council will vote today on a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements after four council members again put forward the measure a day after Egypt withdrew it under pressure from Israel and US President-elect Donald Trump. New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal, who were co-sponsors of the draft resolution, have requested the vote, which diplomats said was likely to take place at 20:00. The 15-member council had been due to vote yesterday and Western officials said the United States had intended to allow the draft resolution to be adopted, a major reversal of US practice of protecting Israel from action. New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal told Egypt yesterday night that if Cairo did not clarify […]

Oilfield Services To See Spending Surge In 2017

Quick Take: 2017 Oilfield Service and Drilling Outlook from Bloomberg Intelligence Bloomberg Intelligence (BI) analysts Andrew Cosgrove and William Foiles presented a briefing on Wednesday on the outlook for U.S. oil services and drilling. The bottom line: U.S. shale developers will lead a rebound in oilfield service activity in 2017. Oil Price and CapEx Outlook The Bloomberg analysts expect the global oil market to tighten throughout next year, with demand expected to catch up with supply and inventories being gradually drawn down. But higher…