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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Saudi Arabia"

African Migrants in Yemen Scapegoated for Coronavirus Outbreak

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The Yemeni militiamen rumbled up to the settlement of Al Ghar in the morning, firing their machine guns at the Ethiopian migrants caught in the middle of somebody else’s war. They shouted at the migrants: Take your coronavirus and leave the country, or face death.

Fatima Mohammed’s baby, Naa’if, was screaming. She grabbed him and ran behind her husband as bullets streaked overhead.

“The sound of the bullets was like thunder that wouldn’t stop,” said Kedir Jenni, 30, an Ethiopian waiter who also fled Al Ghar, near the Saudi border in northern Yemen, on that morning in early April. “Men and women get shot next to you, you see them die and move on.”

This scene and others were recounted in phone interviews with a half dozen migrants now in Saudi prisons. Their accounts could not be independently verified, but human rights groups have corroborated similar episodes.

The Houthis, the Iran-backed militia that controls most of northern Yemen, have driven thousands of migrants out of their territory at gunpoint over the past three months, blaming them for spreading the coronavirus, and dumped them in the desert without food or water.

Others were forced to the border with Saudi Arabia, the Houthis’ primary foe, only to be shot at by Saudi border guards and detained in prisons where they were beaten, given little food and forced to sleep on the same floor that they use as a toilet, migrants said in interviews from prison. Some have returned to abusive smugglers, determined to cross the border to find jobs in oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172253799_4fe6fcaf-e102-4505-922e-cf155091277e-articleLarge African Migrants in Yemen Scapegoated for Coronavirus Outbreak Yemen smuggling Saudi Arabia Immigration and Emigration Human Rights and Human Rights Violations Ethiopia Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…Yahya Arhab/EPA, via Shutterstock

A Houthi spokesman would not immediately comment on the allegations.

Five years of war between the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition propping up Yemen’s government have ransacked the country, the poorest in the Middle East, starving and killing its people and smashing the door open to a mounting coronavirus outbreak.

Not only Yemeni civilians are caught in the crossfire. Humanitarian officials and researchers say the African migrant workers who traverse Yemen every year endure torture, rape, extortion, bombs and bullets in their desperation to get to Saudi Arabia. This spring, when the pandemic made them convenient scapegoats for Yemen’s troubles, they lost even that slender hope.

“Covid is just one tragedy inside so many other tragedies that these migrants are facing,” said Afrah Nasser, a Yemen researcher at Human Rights Watch.

More than 100,000 Ethiopians, Somalis and other East Africans board overstuffed smugglers’ boats across the Red Sea or the Gulf of Aden to Yemen every year, according to the United Nations, hoping to make their way north to support their families with jobs as domestic servants, animal herders or laborers in the wealthy Gulf countries whose economies depend on migrants.




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Westlake Legal Group 0627-for-webVIRUS-MIGRANTS-YEMENmap-335 African Migrants in Yemen Scapegoated for Coronavirus Outbreak Yemen smuggling Saudi Arabia Immigration and Emigration Human Rights and Human Rights Violations Ethiopia Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

SAUDI ARABIA

Migrant

gathering area

AL JAWF

GOVERNATE

Gulf of Aden

Addis Ababa


By The New York Times

The journey is murderous at every stage. At sea, smugglers withhold water and food and throw uncooperative passengers overboard; in Yemen, the migrants are at the mercy of traffickers who torture and sexually abuse them, demanding huge sums of money from their impoverished families to buy their freedom, according to the United Nations, Human Rights Watch and other groups, as well as interviews with migrants.

United Nations surveys show that most migrants do not know about the fighting in Yemen before they arrive, but crossfire and coalition airstrikes find them anyway. At border crossings, Saudi guards shoot and kill them, littering what the migrants call “slaughter valleys” with bodies, migrants and humanitarian officials say. Those who survive are often detained by Saudi authorities and deported.

A Saudi official, who asked not to be named, said allegations of mistreatment of migrants who cross the border illegally are not true and would be an affront to Saudi values.

Credit…Fawaz Salman/Reuters

Since borders clamped shut during the pandemic, the flow of migrants to Yemen has nearly evaporated, plummeting from 18,904 in May 2019 to 1,195 this May, according to the United Nations. But at least 14,500 remain in the country. Many arrived in years past and stayed to scrape together a living or save up before trying to go on to Saudi Arabia.

Ms. Mohammed, 23, said she left Kemise, Ethiopia, after a divorce two years ago, hoping to earn enough as a maid in Saudi Arabia to support her widowed mother and two children back home. The smuggler who brought her to Yemen beat her repeatedly, threatening to kill her unless her family sent money.

When she could not pay, Ms. Mohammed said, she was sold to another smuggler who put her to work at a shisha house in Al Ghar, where the owner forced her to have sex with her customers.

Al Ghar was where she met her current husband. They made a living selling food to other migrants from under a plastic tent. She was making breakfast there when the Houthis arrived.

Mr. Jenni, who was working at a hotel in Al Ghar, was the only one of a group of friends from his Ethiopian hometown, Harage, to have made it that far. He and about 270 others had crammed into a small boat from the Somali coast, forbidden to move, eat or drink for the two-day journey to Yemen. When two friends asked for water, he said, smugglers stabbed them and threw them overboard.

As he watched them drown, Mr. Jenni said, “I cried silently, because I knew my fate would be the same if they heard me.”

Credit…Nariman El-Mofty/Associated Press

When the Houthis stormed into town in April, Mr. Jenni said he fled in his flip-flops, shoving $1,300 — all his savings — into his underwear.

Some of the migrants who ran from Al Ghar toward Saudi Arabia on April 8 estimated that the Houthis shot and killed at least 250 migrants that day. Another migrant, Ali Mohammed, 28, who recounted being chased off a farm in nearby Al Haydan, said only 57 of the 200 Ethiopians with him survived.

Authorities on both sides of the war have long found it easy to stigmatize African migrants as carriers of disease — first cholera, now coronavirus, which is consuming what remains of Yemen’s health care system. Though rumors of sick residents had been circulating for some time, the first person the Houthis confirmed had died from coronavirus in Yemen, in early May, was a Somali man.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 24, 2020

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


“This kind of stigmatization on migrants is life-threatening,” said Mohammed Abdiker, the East and Horn of Africa director for the International Organization for Migration. Some migrants had been harassed for trying to get water or food, he added, and others blocked from getting medical care.

All spring, the Houthis have done little to curb the coronavirus, denying reports of mass deaths in their territory. Instead, humanitarian officials, local security officials and residents say, the Houthis have used it as an excuse to expel unwanted migrants, mostly Ethiopians, driving them toward the Saudi border or rounding up truckloads of people to dump outside Houthi land.

The I.O.M. estimates the northern authorities have arrested and relocated 1,500 migrants to southern Yemen over the past two months. Thousands are marooned in the southern port city of Aden, where, according to the organization, about 4,000 are living on the street, struggling to get food or water.

In April, according to local officials in Houthi territory, at least 390 were deported to Al Jawf, a governorate on the war’s front lines; from mid-April to mid-May, at least 486 were expelled south to the city of Taiz, where Houthi land meets that of Yemen’s Saudi-backed government.

Left to fend for themselves, some migrants go hungry in the open, unable to count on help from Yemenis, who now avoid Africans for fear of catching coronavirus.

Credit…Reuters

They meet just as harsh a fate at the Saudi border.

At one point in April, humanitarian officials estimate, the Houthis left more than 20,000 migrants — mostly Ethiopians, many of them women — stranded in the “slaughter valleys” along the border. About 7,000 are believed to be there now. There is little food, water or aid. The number of dead is unknown.

Ms. Mohammed, Mr. Jenni and the other Ethiopians reached the Saudi border after three hours’ running, only to be shot at by Saudi guards, they said. Ms. Mohammed took cover under a large rock until the Houthis retreated the next morning, while Mr. Jenni hid in a wooded area.

Arriving at the border from Al Haydan, Mr. Mohammed and six others managed to escape the bullets by hiding under a rock, but the remaining 50 in their group were killed.

A half-dozen migrants interviewed by phone from prisons in Saudi Arabia said Saudi police stripped the men to their underwear and took the women’s bags. They hit Mr. Jenni in the chest with the butt of a gun and forced him to hand over his money, he said: Four years of savings, gone.

Then they were driven to Saudi prisons, husbands separated from wives and children.

In phone interviews from prison this month, Ethiopians said they received nothing to eat but a few biscuits or a piece of bread and a small portion of rice each day. The bare concrete floor was both toilet and bed. They said they cleaned it as best they could before sleeping.

Imprisoned in the Saudi city of Jeddah, Ms. Mohammed could only watch her baby shrivel.

“I’m worried he’ll die in my hands one day,” she said. “We are human but poor. I want to go home and die on my soil.”

She will probably get her wish.

Saudi Arabia has deported about 300,000 Ethiopians in the last two years for being in the kingdom illegally, according to humanitarian officials. The deportations have continued during the pandemic, though the Ethiopian government has pushed back, protesting that it cannot handle thousands of returnees.

(The Saudi government, grappling with a large outbreak of its own, is screening deportees for symptoms and will treat those who have the virus for free instead of deporting them, a Saudi official said.)

But for the migrants, going home means giving up.

“I promised my six younger brothers and sisters I would go to Saudi Arabia to find a job and send them to school,” said Mr. Jenni. “But it only turned out to be a wild dream.”

Vivian Yee reported from Beirut, Lebanon, and Tiksa Negeri from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Shuaib Almosawa contributed reporting from Sana, Yemen.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Hajj Pilgrimage Is Canceled, and Grief Rocks the Muslim World

Westlake Legal Group the-hajj-pilgrimage-is-canceled-and-grief-rocks-the-muslim-world The Hajj Pilgrimage Is Canceled, and Grief Rocks the Muslim World Saudi Arabia Pilgrimages Muslims and Islam Mecca (Saudi Arabia) Deaths (Fatalities) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

BEIRUT, Lebanon — For much of his life, Abdul-Halim al-Akoum stashed away cash in hopes of one day traveling from his Lebanese mountain village to perform the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims who can are obliged to make once in their lives.

He was all set to go this year until the coronavirus pandemic forced Saudi Arabia to effectively cancel the hajj for what some scholars say may be the first time in history.

“It is the dream of every Muslim believer to visit Mecca and do the hajj,” said Mr. al-Akoum, 61, a village official. “But the pandemic came with no warning and took away that dream.”

The Saudi announcement sent shock waves of sadness and disappointment across the Muslim world, upending the plans of millions of believers to make a trip that many look forward to their whole lives and which, for many, marks a profound spiritual awakening.

A 72-year-old retired port worker in Pakistan will stay home, despite his six children having pooled their money to finance his trip. A mother in Kenya will forgo visiting sites she has long dreamed of seeing. An Egyptian school administrator named Zeinab Ibrahim burst into tears.

“It was my only wish,” Ms. Ibrahim said. “To cancel it completely is such a shame. May God relieve us of this burden.”

Performing the pilgrimage at least once for those who are physically and financially able is one of the five pillars of Islam. Making the trip is such a sacred milestone for the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims that in parts of the Arab world families of returned pilgrims paint murals on their homes to alert their neighbors to the pilgrim in their midst.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_142565523_ce5ca7be-4b4f-4a6a-956d-4e0d39d34ea9-articleLarge The Hajj Pilgrimage Is Canceled, and Grief Rocks the Muslim World Saudi Arabia Pilgrimages Muslims and Islam Mecca (Saudi Arabia) Deaths (Fatalities) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…Dar Yasin/Associated Press

Many people save up their entire lives to make the hajj and, before modern transportation, spent months getting there.

The pilgrimage conveys such religious status that many Muslims add the honorific “al-Hajj” or “Hajji” to their names on their business cards.

“The hajj is a transformative, emotional and spiritually moving experience — the spiritual pinnacle of a devout Muslim’s life,” said Yasir Qadhi, dean of the Islamic Seminary of America, who was supposed to lead a group of 250 pilgrims to Mecca this year.

Since the Saudi announcement, he added, “There’s a sense of deflation and spiritual loss, and a great sadness.”

The hajj is also big business. The hajj, a five- or six-day pilgrimage that starts this year at the end of July, and the umrah, a lesser pilgrimage that can be performed at any time of the year, earn Saudi Arabia billions of dollars each year, and Muslim communities from Texas to Tajikistan have travel agencies specializing in getting pilgrims to and from the holy sites and providing accommodation along the way.

“It is a catastrophe on all levels — economic, social and religious,” said Tariq Kalach, who runs a Beirut travel agency that was planning to take 400 pilgrims to Mecca this year.

Pilgrimage packages cost from $3,000 to $10,000, he said. He also provides services to a number of Islamic associations that pay for groups of poor Muslims to make the trip each year.

Credit…Fethi Belaid/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

He said the cancellation was devastating, but that it was the right thing to do.

“It is a very dangerous virus and it will spread like a brush fire,” he said. “May the almighty make things easy for the Muslims.”

The Saudi government, for which the hajj is a major source of prestige and tourism, announced Monday that no pilgrims from outside the kingdom could perform the hajj this year in order to prevent contagion.

On Tuesday, Saudi officials narrowed the order, saying that only about 1,000 pilgrims would be permitted this year — a tiny fraction of the 2.5 million who came last year.

The pilgrimage has been interrupted or curtailed many times because of wars and disease, but has faced no significant limits on attendance since the mid-1800s, when outbreaks of cholera and plague kept pilgrims away for a number of years.

Saudi Arabia, whose king bears the title “the custodian of the two holy mosques,” a reference to holy sites in Mecca and Medina, has never canceled the hajj since the modern kingdom was founded in 1932.

“This is the first time in the global phenomenon of the hajj that it has been canceled in such a manner,” said Dr. Qadhi, the scholar. “The dynamics have changed. Five hundred years ago you couldn’t ban it. There were no passports, no visas.”

The Mongol invasion of the Levant in the 13th century, for example, prevented pilgrims from reaching Mecca, he said, “but even then, the locals did it.”

Few criticized the decision to limit the event since Saudi Arabia is suffering from one of the largest coronavirus outbreaks in the Middle East, with 161,000 declared infections and more than 1,300 deaths. Epidemiologists have warned that mass gatherings — from concerts to sporting matches — can become so-called super-spreader events.

Khalid Almaeena, a Saudi political and media analyst who has attended the hajj many times, said that much of the pilgrimage’s importance comes from the way it mixes Muslims from different countries, races and social classes who might not otherwise cross paths.

“This is the religious, social, cultural aspect of the hajj,” he said. “It is not just the ritual, but the meeting places, the many great friendships and bonds that are established and built there year after year.”

Credit…Reuters

In Egypt, the economic hardship of recent years has turned the hajj into an elusive dream for many, which only sharpened the blow of the cancellation.

Ms. Ibrahim, the school administrator, applied four years in a row to a government lottery that offers free trips to the hajj, failing every time. But this year, she scraped together the cost from her own funds. “I wanted to go while my health is still good,” said Ms. Ibrahim, 58, who earns about $175 a month. “I didn’t care about the cost.”


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 22, 2020

    • Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?

      A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

    • I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?

      The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


In many countries, even those who can muster the expense often wait years to be included in their country’s quota of pilgrims, which are set by Saudi Arabia with the aim of equalizing the opportunity across the Muslim world.

Imam Mokhi Turk, 45, said that 15 people from his embattled farming village in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, had been waiting for their turn to do the hajj and that some of his neighbors had sold land to pay for it.

Mr. Turk and four of his relatives registered for the pilgrimage four years ago, but only he made the list this year.

“This makes me very sad, because every Muslim hopes to go to hajj once in his whole life, and when it was my turn, it was canceled,” Mr. Turk said. “I’m very upset because I’m not sure if I’ll be alive in the next few days, let alone next year.”

Credit…Amr Nabil/Associated Press

Since the first hajj in 632, Muslims have traveled to Mecca in the face of hardship, adversity and disasters, gradually transforming the pilgrimage from an elite pursuit limited to small numbers of people into one of the world’s largest Muslim gatherings.

For centuries, it was a feat just to make it to Mecca in one piece.

Under the Ottoman Empire, camel-riding pilgrims crossed the vast deserts of Arabia in giant caravans that set out from Cairo or Damascus in a journey often taking six weeks and vulnerable to attacks by Bedouin bandits.

Others came by sea, braving storms, disease outbreaks in crowded ships, and other threats. In 1502, the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, battling for control of trade routes, captured a ship filled with pilgrims as it returned from Mecca, set it on fire and killed several hundred people. In the 19th century, periodic cholera epidemics killed thousands of pilgrims.

The Suez Canal shortened the sea voyage for many after it opened in 1869, and the advent of motor vehicles eased the land voyage starting in the 1920s. Even then, numbers remained low: The hajj of 1929 registered 66,000 pilgrims.

The numbers started soaring in the 1970s, as mass air travel became more affordable, and Saudi rulers recognized that the pilgrimage brought not just religious prestige but also income. The hajj currently earns the kingdom billions of dollars a year.

Credit…Terry Fincher/Daily Express, via Getty Images

Since the 1990s, the pilgrimage has been marred by stampedes, giant tent fires and worries about outbreaks of diseases such as SARS or, more recently, MERS. The deadliest stampede occurred in 2015 when more than 2,200 people died.

Despite the periodic tragedies, the Saudi authorities never canceled it.

The cancellation weighs particularly heavily on older Muslims who have been waiting for years to go in hopes that they can fulfill their religious obligation before death.

“I have been dreaming about it for 20 years and I hoped to do it before I got this old,” said Firiyan al-Masri, 68, a woman from Beirut.

Finally this year, she got her name on the list of a Lebanese Islamic association that finances trips for those in need, only to see her chances dashed by the pandemic.

“If God wills it, I will do the pilgrimage next year,” she said. “If I am still alive.”

Ben Hubbard reported from Beirut, and Declan Walsh from Cairo. Reporting was contributed by Abdi Latif Dahir from Nairobi, Kenya; Nada Rashwan from Cairo; Nahim Rahim and Fahim Abed from Kabul, Afghanistan; Zia ur Rehman from Karachi, Pakistan; and Ismail Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

OPEC and Russia Agree to Extend Oil Production Cuts

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Westlake Legal Group 06opex-facebookJumbo OPEC and Russia Agree to Extend Oil Production Cuts Saudi Arabia Russia Production Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Iraq Coronavirus Reopenings

Many of the world’s major oil producers agreed on Saturday to extend the record oil production cuts that have helped bolster oil prices since their collapse in April in the depths of the coronavirus pandemic.

Oil ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, as well as other producers led by Russia, met by video conference on Saturday and reached an agreement to continue cutting 9.7 million barrels a day — or about 10 percent of global output in normal times — through July, two OPEC officials said.

Under the original agreement reached on April 12 by the combined producers’ group, known as OPEC Plus, production was set to increase in steps after June.

The recognition that the deep cuts need to continue for a month or perhaps longer shows that despite the recent surge in oil prices, the large producers remain worried that the oil market could fall apart again.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Saudi oil minister, noted that concern in a speech to the OPEC Plus meeting, which he headed.

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“Demand is returning as big oil-consuming countries’ economies emerge from pandemic lockdown,” he said. “But we are not out of the woods yet.”

One risk is that reviving the world economy after the worst of the pandemic passes will prove more difficult than investors are now anticipating. While production cuts and voluntary closings of oil wells have helped bring demand and supply closer to balance, there are still huge stocks of oil in tank farms and on ships that could flood the market.

“Warning flags are still flying here,” said Robert McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group, a market research firm.

Mr. McNally noted that the April price crash dramatically altered the dynamic between Saudi Arabia and Russia, which engaged in an ill-timed price war after a failed OPEC meeting in early March. The Saudis sharply boosted production in April, just as the effects of global shutdowns were hitting oil demand hardest.

That contributed to the crash in oil prices in late April, with West Texas Intermediate crude, the American standard, falling into negative territory, while Brent crude, the international benchmark, briefly dropped below $20 a barrel.

With traders anticipating a new deal, both Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate crude soared by nearly 6 percent on Friday, to $42.30 a barrel for Brent crude and $39.55 a barrel for the West Texas crude. The markets were closed on Saturday.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 5, 2020

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


The shocking price falls coupled with pressure from President Trump, who was worried about job losses in the oil industry in the United States, led Riyadh and Moscow to abruptly change their approach and resume their cooperation.

The two oil giants worked together to orchestrate the extension agreed on Saturday, and they also pressured Iraq, the second largest producer in OPEC, to state publicly that it would comply with its commitment to cut production by about 1 million barrels a day. Analysts have estimated that Iraq has been missing that target by hundreds of thousands of barrels a day.

“Despite the economic and financial circumstances that Iraq is facing, the country remains committed to the agreement,” a news release posted by OPEC on Saturday quoted Assem Jihad, a spokesman for the Iraqi oil ministry, as saying.

The Saudi minister underlined that message.

“Each of the 23 countries represented here must be on guard for any signs of backsliding from their commitments,” he said at the second meeting. And he warned that production would be closely monitored.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

OPEC and Russia Are Likely to Extend Oil Production Cuts

Oil prices have recovered spectacularly from their April plunge, but the world’s major oil exporters are wary of unleashing a surge of output that could wipe out the recent gains and put further pressure on their national budgets.

Those calculations will be on the minds of energy ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries as well as Russia and other states when they meet Saturday by video conference to discuss the markets. The meeting was announced Friday by OPEC.

On the table will be a tentative plan orchestrated by Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s de facto leader, and Russia, a major exporter, to extend, probably by a month, the agreement reached in April to trim production. The amount was a combined 9.7 million barrels a day, about 10 percent of global daily output in normal times.

The output curbs were set to ease in steps after June under the deal, which the producers wrangled while demand for their crude was in a free fall because of global lockdowns to control the coronavirus pandemic.

Riyadh and Moscow have evidently decided that opening up the spigots in July, even modestly, would be unwise. It is not clear whether the Saudis and their allies, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, will continue with the extra 1.2 million barrels a day in trims that they agreed to make for June.

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Still, the prospect that the cuts will be extended lifted oil prices on Friday. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up about 5 percent to about $42 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate, the key American oil, was up more than 4 percent to about $39 a barrel.

Those prices were a major advance from late April, when West Texas Intermediate futures plummeted into negative territory and Brent dipped below $20 a barrel. Prices remain sharply down for the year and well below the levels needed by countries like Saudi Arabia to finance ambitious development projects.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172074657_80364fa8-f937-4483-b2ac-5ee2edd87112-articleLarge OPEC and Russia Are Likely to Extend Oil Production Cuts Saudi Arabia Russia Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Analysts attribute the recent price surges at a time of global economic weakness to two main factors: Demand is increasing, and OPEC, Russia and producers like the United States and Canada have dialed back large volumes of output. As a result, the oil market, which was flooded with excess crude after air travel came to a near halt and road traffic dwindled, is coming back into balance more rapidly than expected.

IHS Markit, a research firm, estimates that 14 million barrels a day in oil output has been shut off around the world as customers like refiners drastically cut their purchases.

In addition, commodity investors have decided that economic activity is regaining momentum as lockdowns are eased. Friday’s report that U.S. employers hired an additional 2.5 million workers is likely to feed this surge of optimism.

“People want to believe in the positive, whether it is justified or not,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects, a market research firm. “Anything OPEC does to extend these cuts, of course, is going to have an impact.”

Analysts warn, though, that prospects for the oil market are likely to remain fragile, with demand difficult to forecast as the number of people infected by the coronavirus continues to grow and new waves of infection cannot be ruled out. This uncertainty is a critical reason Saudi Arabia is moving slowly to adjust production. The Saudis are likely to make moves on a month-to-month basis if not day by day, analysts say.

While demand and supply may be coming into balance, a huge gusher of crude remains in storage tanks and on ships waiting to come back onto the market. In addition, as prices rise, so will the temptation for oil producers inside and outside OPEC to open the taps on wells that they have temporarily shut off. Analysts say this process has already begun in the United States.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 5, 2020

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


“It’s a precarious perch right now,” with so much oil being held off the market, said Bhushan Bahree, senior director at IHS Markit.

In an effort to preserve discipline, Saudi Arabia, which along with Russia has absorbed the largest cuts, has been pressuring other producers, notably Iraq, to comply with their commitments. The Saudis, analysts say, especially want to bring Iraq — the second-largest producer in OPEC after Saudi Arabia — in line. Iraq agreed to cut its daily output by more than a million barrels in April but is instead trimming by an estimated 400,000 barrels, according to IHS Markit. Nigeria and Kazakhstan are also under pressure to comply with agreed cuts.

“A key concern” if Iraq is allowed to keep flouting its OPEC obligations is that “other producers will follow suit and collective compliance will further erode,” wrote analysts at RBC Capital Markets, an investment bank, in a recent note to clients.

The Saudis made holding the meeting and extending the cuts contingent on commitments from Iraq and others not in compliance to play by the rules. The Iraqis appear to have yielded, analysts say, but the temptation to produce more oil will only grow as the world economy improves.

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State Dept. Investigator Fired by Trump Had Examined Weapons Sales to Saudis and Emiratis

WASHINGTON — The State Department inspector general fired by President Trump on Friday was in the final stages of an investigation into whether the administration had unlawfully declared an “emergency” last year to allow the resumption of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for their air war in Yemen.

Employees from the office of the inspector general, Steve A. Linick, presented preliminary findings to senior State Department officials in early March, before the coronavirus forced lockdowns across the United States. But it was not clear whether that investigation, or others that Mr. Linick had underway, led to his dismissal.

Mr. Trump, speaking about the latest in his series of firings of inspectors general around the government, said on Monday of Mr. Linick: “I don’t know him. Never heard of him. But I was asked by the State Department, by Mike” to terminate Mr. Linick. He apparently was referring to a recommendation he received from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“I have the absolute right as president to terminate,” Mr. Trump added. “I said, ‘Who appointed him?’ and they say, ‘President Obama.’ I said, ‘Look I’ll terminate him.’”

Video

transcript

‘Never Heard of Him,’ Trump Says of Inspector General He Fired

President Trump said he didn’t know why Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had asked him to terminate the official, who was investigating the administration.

“So, I don’t know him. Never heard of him, but they asked me to terminate him. I have the absolute right as president to terminate. I said, ‘Who appointed him?’ And they said, ‘President Obama.’ I said, ‘Look, I’ll terminate him.’ I don’t know what’s going on other than that. But you’d have to ask Mike Pompeo. But they did ask me to do it, and I did it. I have the right to terminate the inspector generals. Now, I don’t know anything about the investigation. But you’re just telling me about walking a dog, and what’d you say, doing dishes?” “Saudi arms deals, sir. Sales to Saudi Arabia over certain arms of concern over their use in the Yemeni crisis. So the question is whether Secretary Pompeo tried to subvert the deal with actions that he may have taken.” “I don’t think so. I mean, I think that when somebody pays us a fortune for, you know, arms, we should get the deal done. I will tell you that. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Westlake Legal Group 18vid-trump-pompeo-inspector-general1-videoSixteenByNine3000 State Dept. Investigator Fired by Trump Had Examined Weapons Sales to Saudis and Emiratis Yemen United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United Arab Emirates Trump, Donald J State Department Saudi Arabia Raytheon Company Pompeo, Mike Linick, Steve A Iran Inspectors General House Committee on Foreign Affairs Foreign Aid Engel, Eliot L Defense Contracts Appointments and Executive Changes
President Trump said he didn’t know why Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had asked him to terminate the official, who was investigating the administration.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The investigation into how Mr. Pompeo moved to end a congressional hold on arms sales to the Saudis was prompted in part by demands from the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, who said on Monday that the subsequent investigation might have been “another reason” for the firing of Mr. Linick. The White House announced the firing Friday night under a provision that requires 30 days’ notice to Congress before removing an inspector general.

Democratic leaders in Congress and several Republican lawmakers said on Monday that Mr. Trump had not given sufficient justification for the firing and that they wanted answers during the 30-day review period.

The inspector general’s office conducts multiple, simultaneous investigations into the activities of the State Department and its officials.

“We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed,” Mr. Engel said of the arms sale inquiry.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment. Mr. Pompeo said in a telephone interview with The Washington Post that he had recommended to Mr. Trump that Mr. Linick be fired because Mr. Linick was “undermining” the department’s mission. Mr. Pompeo did not give details.

He also said his recommendation to fire Mr. Linick could not have been an act of retaliation to end an investigation because he had not been briefed on any inquiries.

However, top department officials had clearly received briefings from Mr. Linick’s office and been asked to comply with investigations.

Mr. Linick is widely seen as competent, though sometimes reluctant to wade into the most politically charged issues.

Nonetheless, he issued a harsh report in 2016 on the use of a private email server by Hillary Clinton, who served as Mr. Obama’s secretary of state, and played a minor role in the impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump last fall. He issued two reports last year that criticized political appointees at the State Department, some of whom work closely with Mr. Pompeo.

Mr. Trump has appointed Ambassador Stephen J. Akard, the director of the Office of Foreign Missions, for the role of acting inspector general. Mr. Akard, an associate of Vice President Mike Pence, failed to get congressional support for a top State Department job under Mr. Pompeo’s predecessor but was eventually confirmed for the lesser post at the foreign missions office.

The decision to resume lethal aid to the Saudis and Emiratis was a major initiative undertaken by Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Trump, who often discussed the importance of the weapons sales with officers of Raytheon, the Massachusetts-based defense contractor that lobbied heavily to get a 2017 suspension of sales lifted. Congress had imposed the suspension because of a political rift among Gulf Arab nations driven by the Saudis and because of discoveries that bomb fragments traced to Raytheon by investigators were linked to a series of Saudi bombings that killed civilians, including children.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172054212_974f6070-527a-4661-b3b2-1cc78fa5f5d0-articleLarge State Dept. Investigator Fired by Trump Had Examined Weapons Sales to Saudis and Emiratis Yemen United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United Arab Emirates Trump, Donald J State Department Saudi Arabia Raytheon Company Pompeo, Mike Linick, Steve A Iran Inspectors General House Committee on Foreign Affairs Foreign Aid Engel, Eliot L Defense Contracts Appointments and Executive Changes
Credit…Pool photo by Andrew Harnik

Mr. Trump had pushed to resume the sales in 2018, justifying it as a jobs issue.

“I want Boeing and I want Lockheed and I want Raytheon to take those orders and to hire lots of people to make that incredible equipment,” he said.

But the effort to restart the sales was delayed by the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi dissident, Washington Post columnist and American resident. His death, and the suspected role of the Saudi leadership in ordering the killing, led to calls for a full end to military aid to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Mr. Pompeo broke the logjam a year ago, declaring an “emergency” over Iran’s activities in the Middle East that enabled him to sidestep the congressional ban and approve restarting the sales. That started the resumption of more normal exchanges with the Saudi government, as the Trump administration tried to move past Mr. Khashoggi’s killing. Saudi Arabia and Iran are archrivals in the region.

In June, after congressional hearings with State Department officials into the rationale for declaring an emergency over Iran, Mr. Engel sent a letter to Mr. Linick asking him to open an investigation. Mr. Engel’s office then tracked the investigation sporadically once it had begun, a Democratic aide said. The office learned by early spring that Mr. Linick had conveyed preliminary findings to the State Department.

This past weekend, after Mr. Trump notified Congress of the firing of Mr. Linick, Mr. Engel’s office learned more details of the circumstances around the arms sale investigation, leading Mr. Engel to ask whether the inquiry might have contributed to the sudden move against Mr. Linick by Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Trump.

The separate inquiry into the possible misuse of a political appointee to run personal errands was still a potential factor, and there might be other motivations for the firing that remain unknown, an aide said.

Aaron David Miller, a former American official on Middle East policy who is now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that a year ago, “there was no credible emergency nor any real urgency for invoking an Iran emergency declaration for lethal arms sales to the Saudis other than the administration’s desire to please Saudi Arabia.”

He added that American officials “don’t want anyone digging around in the triangular relationship between the administration, Raytheon and Saudi because somebody crossed the line.”

Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo were aware of the sensitivities around trying to bypass the congressional hold on the arms sales. Mr. Pompeo made the announcement of the “emergency” declaration over Iran on the Friday afternoon before Memorial Day weekend last year, a common move by government officials to avoid immediate questions from Congress and extensive news coverage. The administration also announced it was sending 1,500 more troops to the Middle East.

The move was aimed at allowing American companies to sell $8.1 billion worth of munitions in 22 pending transfers mainly to Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. At the time, a person briefed on the decision said, a part of the arrangement would involve a transfer of munitions from the U.A.E. to Jordan that had nothing to do with Iran.

Mr. Pompeo had pushed aggressively for the sales, over the objections of career Foreign Service officers and lawmakers.

After the announcement of the “emergency” on May 24, lawmakers pointedly asked why, if there was such a crisis, Mr. Pompeo and Patrick Shanahan, then the acting defense secretary, had not briefed them on the situation and on the need to push through arms sales in a closed-door discussion on Iran just three days earlier.

In June, lawmakers called top State Department officials to testify about the decision. Some of their questions focused on the roles played by Charles Faulkner, a former Raytheon lobbyist who worked in the State Department’s legislative affairs bureau, and Marik String, a former deputy assistant secretary in the political-military affairs bureau who became a top department legal adviser in late May.

In a contentious hearing on June 12, lawmakers pressed R. Clarke Cooper, the assistant secretary of state in the political-military affairs bureau, on the move. Mr. Cooper argued that a continued hold on the sales would cede commercial advantages to Russia and China. One lawmaker asked whether Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and a Middle East adviser with close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, had weighed in on the decision. Mr. Cooper demurred at first, then said no.

Michael LaForgia contributed reporting.

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Karl McCartney: Come on, Dowden – it’s time to take action to protect British football

Karl McCartney MP is the recently elected Chairman of the UKPFC APPG, and the first ever Conservative Captain of the Parliamentary Football Club.

We are now faced with a true football travesty – and I say this as a Tranmere Rovers, Liverpool, and Lincoln City fan.

Newcastle United (NUFC) – the club of England football legends, such as Alan Shearer, John Barnes, Paul Gascoigne, Kevin Keegan, Sir Bobby Robson and many others – is set to have 80 per cent of its finances supplied by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

Given the country’s levels of personal prosecution, rules and regulations regarding individual freedoms, sentencing for law breakers, and the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 – whose death was allegedly ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, this news will make many people shudder.

Yet despite the legitimate concerns put forth from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Khashoggi’s fiancé, the deal seems to be going ahead.

For me, the most insidious fact about this purchase is profit. Not that profit is a bad thing – but it shouldn’t come at the expense of everything else. Yet that is the core aim of the buyers: Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the nominated Chairman, is on record as saying the most important thing for him with any investment is a double-digit return for Saudi Arabia – not English football. 

A mass investment in the club, part of our national game, akin to the likes of the Manchester City FC purchase, this is not.

Of course, Saudi Arabia, or its operatives, has for years been undermining British football by operating the now-notorious pirate broadcaster “beoutQ”. Indeed the Saudis are in the enviable position of currently not paying anything to watch world-class football – unlike every other country in the free world.  

Now, if this purchase goes through, not only will they receive their UK football on TV for free, they will also reap the rewards from legitimate rights-payers like Sky, BT and beIN Sports, who all pay huge sums for broadcast rights and whose money goes directly to grassroots British sport.

That, to me – as the Chairman of the UKPFC APPG – is mightily important and should not be overlooked.  

All the while, the rule of law – for which this country, our country, prides itself – is ridden over roughshod by the Saudis. Not for the first time, some might rightfully point out. It is an outrage. 

Two weeks ago now, my colleague, Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State, refused to be drawn on this issue when he appeared before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. Understandable, perhaps. No-one wants to confront a country which has historically been one of our biggest export markets, and so I have some limited sympathy with him. 

But frankly, the Premier League, Wimbledon, Horse Racing and Formula One are some of our country’s greatest sporting exports. And football fans across the UK, and there are many of us, deserve better from their Government than Dowden’s dodging. 

At a time when the whole country is hurting from the coronavirus crisis, early last week it emerged in another DCMS Committee inquiry session that broadcast revenues for the Premier League (totalling £3 billion) barely cover total player wages (£2.9 billion). 

Anything that undermines the value of UK football risks driving down the value of broadcast revenues, putting at risk clubs’ financial sustainability. This means that British football could struggle to attract the kind of talent we have come to expect and admire.

We know this risk is very real. beIN Media Group, one of the broadcasters most affected by Saudi piracy, has already had to shed a third of jobs and discontinued broadcasting Formula One as a direct result of beoutQ’s piracy, I am informed. That decision cost the sport seven per cent of its revenue, totalling around £30 million a year. 

Given the hit UK sport has already taken as a result of Covid-19, clubs could find themselves teetering on the brink of survival if they suffer that kind of a financial loss unilaterally.

For now, Sky, BT and beIN have said they are committed to continuing their support of the Premier League through rights purchases. But as beIN’s CEO Yousef Al-Obaidly said to the LEADERS in Sport Conference at Twickenham just last year, beoutQ represents an existential threat to the whole industry. Sky has also tried to take legal action against Saudi Arabia, to no avail. 

The BBC, one of our most cherished national institutions (if you believe the BBC and its Labour friends in and outside of the corporation), has been raising this as a grave concern with the Government and with the European Commission for years, and yet the state-sanctioned piracy continues.  

What is to be done? Last year the Government said it was committed to tackling what they recognised was an immediate threat, as a matter of urgency, yet very little has happened since. 

That is a disgrace. It’s time we took this seriously. The stakes could not be higher for UK football as an entity. It’s time to stop gambling with its future; it’s time to stop Saudi piracy. The best way to start is to block, at the very least delay, the Saudi purchase of Newcastle United – and at least impose some sanctions before allowing it to progress.

Otherwise this will lead to wage reductions (perhaps overdue), less taxes paid, and more clubs under financial pressure and vulnerable to takeover.

I believe in free markets, but I also believe in a level playing field and not trying to ‘pull a fast one’. It is time we sent them, and others around the world, a message loud and clear: hands off our football, stop stealing our national assets and play by the rules – or suffer the consequences.

For more information about the UK Parliamentary Football Club, visit www.parliamentary.soccer.

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Daniel Hannan: To help grow us out of this crisis, we need free trade more than ever

Daniel Hannan is a writer and columnist. He was a Conservative MEP from 1999 to 2020, and is now President of the Initiative for Free Trade.

There will be one overriding issue in politics when we eventually haul ourselves out of the pupa of lockdown: economic growth. We should be ready to grab at anything that will help get people back to work, cut living costs or make it easier for firms to expand.

I’m not sure we have yet woken up to the urgency of our predicament. The past month has had, for some people, a dreamlike quality: skies empty of aircraft and full of birdsong, families gathered together for meals, the finest April weather anyone can remember. It is tempting to slide into the delusion that this is just a glitch, a holiday from reality, a temporary interruption before things get back to normal.

But things won’t get back to normal. Even if (either because a cure is found, or because more of us turn out to be immune than is currently thought) social distancing measures can be swiftly relaxed, the financial debt will hang over us for a generation.

We are borrowing £300 billion this year, according to the Centre for Policy Studies – twice the annual cost of the NHS. The carcases of previously solvent businesses litter the landscape. Millions of us are out of work – meaning that the Government’s tax revenue has dried up just as spending goes through the roof. All our efforts should be devoted to getting through the slump.

That might involve measures that, in normal times, would be unthinkable, such as suspending the minimum wage. But let’s leave the more difficult issues to one side for now and start with something that ought to be uncontentious: striking trade deals.

Several countries around the world want trade agreements with Britain as soon as possible, including the United States, Australia and Japan. Negotiating these deals would, you might think, be an obvious priority. They might help a little, or they might help a lot. But they will plainly help – reducing prices and increasing opportunities for our businesses.

Yet, talking to Conservative MPs, I find a bizarre lack of enthusiasm. Some argue that doing anything that is not directly related to combating the virus is a distraction.

Others admit that, although trade talks might not actually be a distraction – it’s hardly as if our trade officials would otherwise be working on a vaccine – they would still look like a distraction, and thus play badly with the voters.

Still others fret that we shouldn’t do anything that might look too friendly to Donald Trump. A few say the current crisis shows that we need to be more self-sufficient, so we shouldn’t be liberalising trade at all.

It is worth dealing with these objections in order. Boosting economic growth is not a distraction; it is the most urgent task we face. We should pull every lever.

The argument that we should refuse to trade with unpopular regimes – Saudi Arabia, Israel, Russia, China – was always a bad one. Economic disengagement hurts the wrong people (ordinary folk in other country and in your own) while shoring up autocrats.

When the world is struggling through the coronavirus slough, inhibiting trade, even with genuinely nasty regimes, is a luxury we can’t afford. But the idea that we should not seek the closest commercial relationship with the United States, our biggest investor, chief market and strongest ally, is unconscionable.

What of the notion that we need to be more self-sufficient? This idea is always popular, because free trade is counter-intuitive. Our Stone Age genomes tell us to hoard food. Even in normal times, the idea that we import 40 per cent of our food is somehow disquieting; the heightened stress of an epidemic exacerbates that disquiet.

Think about it, though. Food security is guaranteed, not by domestic production, but by diversity of supply. A country that seeks to grow all its own food is vulnerable to local shocks – bad harvests, pests or other disruptions. One that buys from the entire world, without needing to raise barriers to placate domestic lobbies, can always source food from somewhere.

North Korea is in the former category: it has elevated self-sufficiency (“juche”) as its ruling principle and, in consequence, still experiences man-made famines. Singapore is in the latter category: it does not produce one edible ounce, and has the lowest food prices on the planet.

Far from making the argument for greater self-sufficiency, Covid-19 proves the need for diversification. The epidemic hit during Britain’s “hungry gap” – the lean April weeks when we have run out of winter vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, cabbages and turnips, but have not yet reached the early harvests. Fortunately, we were able to carry on importing what we needed, otherwise, we’d have been had to subsist on asparagus, rhubarb and nettles.

The truth is that we need secure supplies – not just of food, but of everything. The people who complain that we are overly dependent on Chinese suppliers may or may not have a point. But if they do, it makes no sense to become equally dependent on British suppliers. Security means having alternatives to fall back on.

Britain should emerge from the crisis with as much optimism and confidence as it can muster. Engaging with the entire world is an important way to signal those things. And, yes, “the whole world” includes the EU.

Reaching comprehensive trade deals with the United States and the CPTPP (the Pacific trading bloc) can only strengthen our position vis-à-vis Brussels and make a mutually beneficial treaty likelier. Deferring our discussions with the US risks the possibility that the EU will sign a deal before we do, putting us in the weakest possible position.

Yes, we should concentrate on ensuring that our healthcare system works. Yes, we should keep small businesses going. Yes, should look for inoculations. But, while all these things are happening, what is the clever and energetic Liz Truss supposed to be doing? Should she just be cooing in admiration at her Cabinet colleagues, or should she be overseeing trade discussions – by video at first – so that, when the restrictions are finally loosened, we can maximise our prosperity? You only have to put the question.

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The Oil Industry’s Glut Has a Bright Spot: Tanker Storage

Westlake Legal Group 23tankers-5-facebookJumbo The Oil Industry’s Glut Has a Bright Spot: Tanker Storage Ships and Shipping Saudi Arabia Russia Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Euronav N.V. de Stoop, Hugo Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

The price of oil has plunged, but the price of finding a place to put it has soared. And if you are in the business of providing a temporary home for the world’s glut of crude, you’ve hit the jackpot.

More and more massive tankers at sea are being used simply to hold the oil — as much as two million barrels per vessel — until it is wanted. Other vessels are busy carrying it to buyers like China, which is taking advantage of prices not seen in two decades.

Tankers are in demand, and their rates, as low as $25,000 a day in February, have ballooned to nearly $200,000 a day, even hitting almost $300,000 at one point.

“We are one of the few industries making money in this period,” said Hugo de Stoop, chief executive of Belgian-based Euronav, one of the world’s largest tanker companies. The current market for vessels, he added, “is totally and completely unusual.”

Shipping is a business of wild swings that tax a vessel operator’s patience and balance sheet, and right now tanker owners are profiting from the same forces that are causing layoffs and bankruptcies at oil companies elsewhere.

Demand for oil has plummeted by about one-third as airplanes are parked on runways and cars sit at home, stilled by lockdowns aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. At the same time, Saudi Arabia and its allies have ramped up output, as part of a price war with Russia.

The flood is filling tank farms to the brim, so traders and producers are chartering ships like Mr. de Stoop’s 70 oil tankers to hold their crude, waiting for a more advantageous moment to unload it.

The tanker industry is having its best spell in at least a decade, analysts say.

Ships owned by companies like Euronav are like taxis, waiting for fares. Most of Euronav’s ships operate at so-called spot rates, essentially whatever they negotiate with customers, which vary from day to day.

Oil companies have been chartering Euronav’s very large crude carriers, or V.L.C.C.s — tankers longer than three football fields — for $150,000 to $200,000 a day, Mr. de Stoop said, depending on where they are going. As it costs about $18,000 a day to run a ship — for expenses like paying and feeding a crew of 25 — profits at the moment are huge.

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It’s not always this way. To give an idea of the ups and downs possible in the industry, a tanker now heading from the Middle East to China will earn on average about $178,000 a day compared with $15,000 a year ago, according to Clarksons, a ship brokerage.

Indeed, Mr. de Stoop has ridden through some spectacular swings in recent months. As the new year dawned, he said, charter rates were around $120,000 a day, but they plunged to around $25,000 in February when the economy in China, the world’s largest oil importer, essentially shut down to control the virus spread.

After Saudi Arabia and Russia kicked off their price war in early March, rates soared well over $200,000 a day as the Saudis chartered as many as 18 tankers.

The tanker business is receiving an added boost from the futures market, where traders are betting that oil in the months ahead will sell for much higher prices than the depressed $20 a barrel that Brent crude, the international benchmark, fetches now. Traders figure they can make money by parking oil on ships and selling it later.

The volume of oil idling off places like Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates or near a Chevron refinery in Long Beach, Calif., has soared 40 percent since the beginning of April, to 158 million barrels, said Alexander Booth, head of market analysis at Kpler, which tracks petroleum shipments. That is more oil than the world would consume over a day and a half in normal times.

Mr. Booth also said that in the same period the total amount of crude being carried on ships — what the industry calls oil on water — increased by about 100 million barrels to 1.2 billion barrels. Tankers may have destinations booked but are encountering long delays unloading their cargoes as refineries and other customers have no use for them.

The huge increase is “a very strong signifier of how much excess oil is out there,” he said.

While Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed on April 12 to end their price war and cut 9.7 million barrels a day in production, or about 10 percent of world output, by May 1, the Saudis don’t yet seem to be backing off. Mr. Booth said Saudi Arabia had been loading an average of 10 million barrels a day onto tankers recently, about 2.5 million more than normal. He said the Saudis were maintaining these high levels despite already having sent several vessels to sea without clear destinations for their cargo.

The business of shipping oil from the Persian Gulf is still strong, and shipping is much more profitable than storage: Mr. de Stoop said storage rates of around $80,000 a day were about half what he could charge for a voyage.

Analysts say that 10 to 15 percent of the world’s very large crude carriers are now being used for storage, and that the number is growing rapidly. In the short term, this form of demand is likely to support shipping rates, Mr. de Stoop said, because each tanker used to park crude is no longer available to transport it.

He said there were about 1,500 smaller vessels that could also be used for this purpose if the supply of large ones was exhausted. Rising charter rates may eventually make this form of storage prohibitively expensive.

“I think we will run out of economic sense before we run out of ships,” he said.

As shipowners relish the moment, some analysts warn that this corner of the oil industry is unlikely to thrive for long because of depressed demand for crude.

Jonathan Chappell, a shipping analyst at Evercore ISI, a securities broker, said the tanker operators were, in effect, seeing the activity of a couple of years crammed into six months. Once normality returns, he said, the futures market will shift, and traders and companies will liquidate the inventories of oil built up at sea and on land, slashing the need for ships.

“At some point,” he said, “you are going to have to work through the hangover.”

Mr. de Stoop said he was hopeful that with conditions in the oil markets having reached such extremes as the negative prices recorded on Monday, it would take a long time for the factors benefiting the tanker trade to correct.

“In the meantime, we will enjoy this extraordinary period of time from an earnings point of view,” he said.

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Michael Fabricant: Never mind the WHO – the UN is unfit for purpose. Why we may have to look for a successor

Michael Fabricant is MP for Lichfield.

Donald Trump’s decision to halt United States funding of the World Health Organisation over its mishandling of the Coronavirus pandemic is just the latest in a long line of spats between the US and the UN and its agencies. With Trump at the helm, there is now even a possibility that America could leave the United Nations entirely.

Were this to happen – and remember the US is by far the UN’s biggest funder – where would that leave the UK?  In this eventuality, I believe we would have to make it clear to the UN that, if radical reform is not forthcoming, we would follow the Americans out of the door.

As far back as 2005, George W Bush appointed John Bolton, a fierce critic of the UN, as the US Ambassador to the United Nations.  The appointment was to prove controversial precisely because Bolton’s views on the UN were so damning.  He once famously declared “There’s no such thing as the United Nations. If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”

And in 2018, the US withdrew from the UN Human Rights council, citing bias and hypocrisy in the body. Trump himself has derided the UN as “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time”.

At present, there is nothing to indicate that the US plans to leave the UN any time soon, and the UK’s priority should absolutely be to try and reform the organisation from within, particularly as we hold one of the five permanent seats on the Security Council.  But where have we heard “we can better change it from within” before?

The corruption of the WHO by the Chinese Communist Party is merely the tip of the iceberg. The simple fact is that, despite its lofty goals, the UN repeatedly fails to live up to the values and standards it was set up to defend.

Not only did the UN shamelessly fail to stop the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, or indeed more recently the bloodbath in Syria, but it frequently cannot even bring its own institutions to condemn the governments that carry out such atrocities.

The so-called UN Human Rights Council is a perfect example of this moral myopia. Among the current members elected to its council are serial human rights abusers such as Eritrea and Bahrain, while other recent members include China, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.

Like many other UN bodies, the HRC is also biased against Israel to the point of absurdity. From 2006 to 2016, for example, the Council officially condemned that country, a modern western democracy, 68 times: more than the rest of the world combined. China, Russia, Pakistan and Zimbabwe are among the nations which received not one single condemnation during that time.

The one member, one vote system in the UN General Assembly, meanwhile, means that the despotic and authoritarian countries of the world (of which there are too many) get just as much influence as liberal democracies.

Without the US, such biases and imbalances would only be compounded. The Security Council, which is weak and ineffective at best, would tilt even more towards the dictatorships of Russia and China.

The loss of the US, which currently contributes 22 per cent of its annual budget, would make the UN more reliant on its next biggest contributor, China (12 per cent). In comparison, British contributions make up around 4.5 per cent of UN funding.

Were UN still to prove itself incapable of reform even after the Americans left, a British exit could spark an exodus of similar like-minded liberal democracies, leaving the UN as nothing more than a fig leaf for the world’s dictatorships.

In such a scenario, Britain should be at the forefront of crafting new international institutions which seek to foster global cooperation to tackle the pressing issues we face, but without the kind of wastage and moral hypocrisy so exemplified by the UN.

If there’s one thing these past few years of politics have taught us, it’s that nothing, no matter how unprecedented, can be ruled out. There may come a day when the US leaves the UN.  I would regret it.  But it may come to that.

To ensure a new institution supplants the UN in the same way the UN swept away the failed League of Nations, the UK could once again lead from the front.

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The Big Deal to Cut Oil Production May Not Be Big Enough

Westlake Legal Group 13virus-oil2-facebookJumbo The Big Deal to Cut Oil Production May Not Be Big Enough Texas Saudi Arabia Russia Production Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Politics and Government Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Layoffs and Job Reductions International Trade and World Market Economic Conditions and Trends Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

HOUSTON — The agreement by major oil producers on Sunday to reduce their daily production by 9.7 million barrels was the largest cutback in history and a feat of remarkable coordination by more than 20 nations led by Saudi Arabia and Russia with unusual mediation from the United States.

But it probably still won’t be enough.

Demand for oil has tumbled in recent weeks as the coronavirus pandemic has crippled global commerce and eliminated untold numbers of commutes, plane trips and cargo shipments. Experts estimate that demand has fallen by somewhere between 25 million barrels and 35 million barrels a day — or up to three and a half times as much as what the oil nations are promising to cut.

News of the deal briefly lifted oil prices on Monday, but those gains faded over the course of the day. The U.S. oil price benchmark ended the day at $22.41, or less than half of where it was at the start of the year. Had the group of oil-producing nations, known as OPEC Plus, not reached a deal, oil prices would have collapsed, industry experts said.

Leaders of the American oil industry, which is responsible directly and indirectly for roughly 10 million jobs, welcomed the deal and President Trump’s role in mediating a halt to a Saudi-Russian price war. But even they acknowledged that it would not end their financial difficulties.

“The problem is the demand is still not there,” said Kirk Edwards, chief executive of Latigo Petroleum, a Texas producer. “Even with these cuts there will be a tremendous amount of oversupply on the market, and that’s why you haven’t seen the oil prices dramatically increase.”

Mr. Edwards predicted that 40,000 workers would be laid off in the West Texas Permian Basin alone. “There is no reason to drill or complete any more wells this year because there is nowhere to take the production,” he added.

Dozens of small independent oil producers are on the brink of bankruptcy, and the deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies probably will not save them. A few oil company stocks, which have been sliding for months, rose on Monday, but most, including the largest American oil company, Exxon Mobil, were down.

Few American oil companies can eke out profits at current prices. Shale oil wells in Texas and North Dakota typically make money only when oil prices are above $40 a barrel, which is why the industry is rapidly decommissioning rigs and fracking equipment and laying off thousands of workers.

“Low prices will still need to do the work of forcing production cuts in many parts of the world, including the U.S. shale patch,” said Jason Bordoff, director of the Center for Global Energy Policy at Columbia University.

Eventually low prices could also spur demand, but probably not until the coronavirus epidemic has been brought under control.

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Even as the United States, Canada, Brazil and Norway — countries that were not party to the OPEC Plus deal — independently cut their production, storage facilities and tankers are filling up fast. And experts point out that even the 9.7 million barrels OPEC Plus countries agreed to cut daily won’t take effect until May 1, almost three weeks from now. By then, most European refineries will have run out of storage space.

“The demand implosion is immediate and deep, while the supply decline will likely happen in stages,” said Francisco Blanch, head of commodities and derivatives research at Bank of America. “Plenty of downside risks remain.”

One big risk is that the countries that made the deal, cutting 23 percent of their production, won’t abide by it because OPEC countries have been known to cheat. Several members of the oil cartel surpassed their production quotas as recently as last month, according to S&P Global Platts, a division of the credit ratings firm.

“History indicates large, credible cuts can be expected from Saudi, Russia, the U.A.E. and Kuwait,” said Paul Sheldon, a political analyst at S&P Global Platts, referring to the United Arab Emirates. “But compliance with 23 percent reductions elsewhere will be challenging.”

After the production cut agreement was reached on Sunday, Saudi Aramco slashed its petroleum selling prices for the second month in a row. That move did not violate the agreement, but made clear that Saudi Arabia’s national oil company would defend its market share.

Still while the agreement makes the sharpest cuts in May and June, it pledges to keep production lower through April 2022 in an acknowledgment that demand will not snap back.

The oil industry’s prospects will most likely be linked to how the pandemic evolves — something few experts can predict with certainty.

“How cyclical is Covid?” asked Paul Sankey, managing director of Mizuho Securities in New York. “Is demand for oil structurally impaired by a future world of face masks? Keep in mind that demand collapse has only really been a monthlong effect so far.”

Oil-producing countries across the Middle East, Africa and Latin America are bound to face not only economic difficulties, but possibly political turbulence as governments are forced to cut social programs and energy subsidies. Saudi Arabia’s efforts to diversify its economy, for example, could be in jeopardy because the country is earning a lot less from oil exports.

In the United States, the slump in oil demand and production could depress the economies of states like Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Alaska, especially in rural areas that depend on oil. Restaurants and hotels have already emptied in some areas that have not seen many coronavirus infections, but where drilling activity has effectively stopped.

Still, the OPEC Plus pact has helped established a floor under oil prices, at least for now, which might have saved some American oil business, said Roger Diwan, a vice president at IHS Markit, an energy research and consulting firm.

“This is critically needed relief,” he said. “The direct involvement of President Trump to forge this historical deal is the most unusual aspect of it and reflects his visible concern for U.S. shale producers.”

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