All posts by Dingo

Gazprom reports record profits after price surge

With gas prices soaring throughout Europe, Russian energy giant Gazprom has revealed a net profit for the first nine months of 2021 of $21 billion, a new record for the company over the first three quarters of a year.

The promising Q3 result, a record quarterly net profit of $7.8 billion, comes as the result of high natural gas prices and a 10% decrease in net debt. Last year, the same time period cost the company $3.3 billion.

Energy prices in Europe have skyrocketed, with an ever-increasing demand being met by tight supply. The cost of gas increased even further at the start of October, meaning the company is expecting to see even better results in the fourth quarter.

According to Gazprom, its average sale price to Europe in the third quarter of 2020 almost tripled, jumping from $117.2 per 1,000 cubic metres to $313.40.

When prices began to soar in late September, some Western analysts accused Moscow of keeping supplies artificially low as a means to boost the price and speed up the opening of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will send gas directly from Russia to Germany, bypassing third-party countries that demand a transit fee.

READ MORE: Russia is fulfilling ALL its contractual obligations for gas orders & is NOT to blame for soaring prices, Germany’s Merkel says

Moscow denied all accusations of foul play, and some foreign leaders, such as Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed that Russia was fulfilling all of its contracts. Frans Timmermans, the deputy head of the European Commission, also suggested that there was no reason to believe Russia was “putting pressure on the market or manipulating it.”

Source: NEWS

Hunter Biden gifted $80,000 diamond in shady Chinese deal – book

A damning new book claims US President Joe Biden’s son accepted an $80,000 diamond and $10 million a year to make introductions in Washington on behalf of a Chinese-linked energy consortium.

In her new book, ‘Laptop from Hell’, New York Post columnist Miranda Devine details Hunter Biden’s dealings with Ye Jianming, the chairman of CEFC China Energy, who had been tasked with expanding the reach of his consortium around the world.  

In excerpts published in the New York Post on Sunday, Devine claims that the Chinese business leader teamed up with Hunter Biden in late 2015, while his father, Joe Biden, was serving as vice president of the United States. The book uses a trove of data and documents retrieved from a laptop believed to be Hunter’s, which was left in a Delaware repair shop in April 2019. 

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© AFP / Olivier Douliery
Hunter Biden’s wife says infamous laptop ‘doesn’t exist’

After the meeting and discussions with intermediaries, the parties pushed forward with the creation of an investment firm to be named SinoHawk, named after the favorite animal of Hunter’s late brother, Beau.

One of those enlisted to help drive the project was Tony Bobulinski, a naval officer turned wealthy institutional investor. Bobulinski apparently did not like the fact that Hunter Biden was kicked out of the navy for cocaine use. He asked who the decision maker would be and where the start-up capital was coming from for the new business. 

Bobulinski was told it was a “new platform” and it would be best to discuss the details “face to face.”

In 2017, just weeks after his father left office, Hunter flew to Miami to meet Ye, who was there for the Miami International Boat Show, the columnist claims. 

Biden later asserted in an email that he agreed to $10 million a year, for a minimum of three years, for “introductions alone.” Devine claims the new alliance was sealed with a 3.16-carat diamond worth $80,000. Photographs of the precious stone appear on Hunter’s laptop, accompanied by a grading report. It is noted as “round brilliant” of Grade F with prime “VS2” clarity and “excellent” cut.

Hunter would later claim the meeting with Ye was for charitable purposes. 

Nine days after the meeting, $3 million in funds were wired from State Energy HK Limited, a Shanghai-based company linked to CEFC, into accounts owned by Biden family friend Rob Walker. A further $3 million was wired a few months later.

Both transactions were flagged by the Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement network in a “suspicious activity report,” Devine claims. 

The columnist says a former associate of Hunter claimed that Ye had been introduced to the now-president during a Christmas party at the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory. Devine also claims to have seen a WhatsApp message suggesting that Joe Biden would be actively involved in the deal when he left the office of the vice president. 

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Source: NEWS

EU insists it’s winning ‘hybrid war’ with Belarus

Alleged attempts by Belarus’ embattled leader Alexander Lukashenko to weaponize thousands of desperate migrants as part of an effort to put pressure on the EU have failed to divide its members, the bloc’s chief has insisted.

Speaking on Sunday during an official visit to neighboring Lithuania, which has seen a sharp rise in illegal crossings in recent months, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reassured the Baltic States, as well as Poland, that Brussels is maintaining “full solidarity” with them amid the current humanitarian situation unfolding on their borders.

According to her, EU support includes equipment to manage their frontiers effectively, and the former German defense minister pointed out that Brussels had tripled funding for the three countries to €200 million in 2021 and 2022.

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Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. © Reuters /Press Service of the President of the Republic of Belarus
Lukashenko has two demands to end EU migrant crisis, Estonia claims

“Lukashenko has failed in his bid to undermine EU unity and solidarity. We are facing down this hybrid attack all together,” von der Leyen said. The bloc’s chief also said that it is important for Brussels to work “hand-in-hand” with NATO to respond to the crisis.

Minsk’s long-time leader pointed the finger at Washington last week, accusing the US of using the humanitarian crisis to wage its own conflict with Belarus “with the hands of the Poles, the Baltic states and the Ukrainians” in Eastern Europe.

Lukashenko also blasted calls for NATO to help resolve the situation, saying such a move would be nothing more than a provocation for a full-blown assault. He claimed that America “needs this war” but added that Europe has no appetite for combat.

The broadside from von der Leyen comes amid weeks of ongoing attempts by thousands of migrants from troubled countries like Iraq and Syria to cross over from Minsk into the EU. Brussels blames Belarus for putting on flights from these states and reportedly forcing them to storm the border fences as part of a “hybrid war” against Brussels.

In an interview earlier this month, Belarus’ embattled leader acknowledged it was possible that some of his officials were helping would-be asylum seekers cross over into Poland illegally, but said that this was not worth investigating.

Lukashenko has previously insisted that Belarus’ government is unable to stop the flow of migrants attempting to pass into neighboring EU states due to the effects of economic sanctions imposed by the bloc against the former Soviet republic.

Brussels widened its embargoes against Minsk after Lukashenko declared victory in last year’s presidential election, in what the bloc has labeled as a “fraudulent vote”. The opposition and many international observers have insisted that the poll was rigged, with thousands injured or detained after taking to the streets across the country in protest.

Source: NEWS

Thirteen Omicron cases suspected at football team with South African player

The new Omicron variant is believed to be behind the spate of Covid-19 infections which forced a Portuguese football team to field just nine men in a match – with a player who had returned to South Africa linked to the outbreak.

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Depleted Belenenses struggled to field a team against Benfica © Pedro Nunes / Reuters
‘A dark chapter’: Football match abandoned after Covid forces team to play with 7 men

An announcement from the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) early on Monday has indicated that the first 13 cases of the newly-emerged strain of Covid-19 recorded in Portugal are all believed to be players from Primera Liga outfit Belenenses, who drew international headlines at the weekend after their match at home to league leaders Benfica was abandoned after half-time.

A Covid infection within the camp led to them starting the game with just nine men and emerging for the second half with seven players.

The game was called off when they went down to six players after a goalkeeper playing in an outfield position was injured while Benfica led 7-0 – scenes which were described as a “dark chapter for Portuguese football and the country itself”.

An analysis of the cases by the National Institute of Health says that the samples “associated with cases of infection of Belenenses SAD players, given that one of the positive cases will have had a recent trip to South Africa,” according to local media.

The strain, which scientists fear might be the most transmissible yet, was first discovered in southern Africa and has prompted various governments to impose travel restrictions on several countries in the region.

Belenenses’ South African defender Thibang Phete had recently returned from his home country.

According to the DGS, the initial tests makes it likely that “all 13 cases associated with Belenenses SAD players are related to the Omicron variant.”

The country’s health chiefs have subsequently announced mandatory isolation rules for anyone who may have come into even brief contact with a suspected Omicron case, regardless of a person’s vaccination status. 

Primera Liga bosses, meanwhile, have announced that they will launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the chaotic fixture between Belenenses and Benfica after both teams had petitioned league authorities to postpone the fixture.

Other teams, such as rival side Sporting Lisbon, have said that the fixture going ahead despite Belenenses being unable to field a full complement of players undermined the league system as a whole.

The DGS does not consider the Benfica players ‘risky contacts’ but intends to test them, according to the report.

An emergency league meeting about the game is also said to be scheduled for Monday, as well as urgent talks with health authorities to clarify protocols.

Source: NEWS

Government U-turns on controversial law that sparked massive rallies

India’s parliament backed the repeal of three agriculture laws on Monday, completing a government U-turn on the controversial legislation after long-running protests that led to violent clashes between farmers and police.

The three agriculture bills had been passed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in 2020, passing into law via a voice vote, but they were swiftly met with opposition from farmers who feared the legislation would cripple their industry. 

Government officials claimed the bills would deregulate the agricultural industry and open up markets, while farmers argued it would strip them of their bargaining power and leave them at the mercy of large corporations. 

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A man, from the group which raised the anti-farmers slogan, shouts as he holds a stick, at a site of the protest against farm laws at Singhu border near New Delhi, India January 29, 2021.
Fresh clashes between Indian farmers and police break out at protest site near New Delhi

Throughout 2021, tens of thousands of farmers have staged protests throughout India, with a camp being established outside New Delhi for protesters to gather and put pressure on the government to repeal the bills.

Modi had promised voters earlier this month that he would repeal the legislation ahead of elections in Uttar Pradesh state, India’s most populous region, next year.

Having secured the repeal, farmers are now hoping the government will listen to their calls for Parliament to secure prices for produce beyond currently just covering rice and wheat. As it stands, India’s government purchases rice and wheat at state-set Minimum Support Prices (MSPs), helping 6% of the country’s farm workers.

Source: NEWS

Pub guests got trapped for 3 days and liked it

Dozens of guests who were forced by Storm Arwen to spend three days stranded in Britain’s highest pub had so much fun that they are now discussing a reunion.

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Cars are stuck in snow that fell overnight from Storm Arwen in Staffordshire,  UK. © Reuters / Carl Recine
Horrific storm leaves more than 80,000 homes without power

On Friday evening, around 60 people gathered for a concert at Tan Hill Inn in the Yorkshire Dales, which sits 528 meters above sea level. The evening unexpectedly turned into a long weekend, however, when a blizzard, broken power cables, and abandoned vehicles left the pub-goers with no chance of returning home.

One of the guests, Martin Overton, posted a video showing how it looked on Friday evening.

Staff and guests alike put their worries aside and decided to make this forced get-together as enjoyable as possible. Inn manager Nicola Townsend was full of praise for the pub-goers, calling them “supportive, understanding and patient.”

Most people seemed to have fun through all three days of the unexpected break – listening to music by the Oasis tribute group, singing together, enjoying a free buffet and even Sunday lunch, and helping staff to clean up the pub.

People have been willing to share rooms, we’ve got people on sofas and on the floor,” Townsend told ITV. “It has just been like a get-together with good friends; we have discussed having a reunion next year,” she said, adding that one lady liked it so much she didn’t actually want to leave.

Several guests managed to escape on Sunday evening while others started making their way home on Monday morning.

There’s been instruments and games, and in many ways it has been a unique and enjoyable weekend, but I think we are all ready to go home now,” Overton said as quoted by the BBC.

Source: NEWS