Iran Says It Will Resist Oil Output Limits As Part Of Global Pact

ANKARA/ DUBAI( Reuters) – Iran said on Wednesday it would defy any plan to restrain its oil output as fellow OPEC pastors tried to persuade the country to join the first global oil pact in 15 years.

Talks in Tehran between Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh and his counterparts from Iraq, Qatar and Venezuela lasted for nearly three hours. Visiting pastors left without making remark. Zanganeh was due to induce televised remarks at around 1500 GMT( 1000 ET ).

Iran is the major obstacle to the first joint OPEC and non-OPEC deal since 2001, having pledged to increase output sharply to regain market share lost during years of sanctions.

The meeting in the Iranian capital followed a deal to reach agreement on Tuesday by OPEC power Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC Russia, the world’s top two producers and exporters, to freeze production at January levels if other big oil nations agree to join.

OPEC Gulf producers – Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE – as well as Venezuela said they would join the pact, aimed at tackling a growing oversupply and helping costs recover from their lowest in over a decade.

Vahid Salemi/ ASSOCIATED PRESS Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh spoke with his international counterparts for almost three hours.Iran is the major obstacle to the first joint OPEC and non-OPEC deal since 2001.

“Asking Iran to freeze its oil production level is illogical … when Iran was under sanctions, some countries raised their output and they caused the drop in oil prices.” Iran‘s OPEC envoy, Mehdi Asali, was quoted as saying by the Shargh daily newspaper on Wednesday.

“How can they expect Iran to cooperate now and pay the price? ” he told. “We are systematically said that Iran will increase its crude output until reaching the pre-sanctions production level.”

The freeze plan has so far failed to push up oil prices, due to concerns Iran would not participate and that a deal would do little to ease the global glut as it would still allow Russia and Saudi Arabia to keep pumping at near record levels.

Venezuelan Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino, Iraqi Oil Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi and Qatari Energy Minister Mohammad bin Saleh al-Sada sat down with Zanganeh at 3 p. m.( 1130 GMT ).

The sanctions, imposed over Iran‘s nuclear program, were lifted last month after an agreement with world powers, allowing Tehran to resume selling petroleum freely in international markets.

Iran exported around 2.5 million barrels a day( bpd) of crude before 2012, but sanctions cut that to around 1.1 million bpd. Tehran has pledged to raise render by around 1 million bpd in the next 6-12 months.

This would only add to the global glut, which has been fueled by U.S. shale output and a decision by Saudi Arabia to pump at full capability to drive higher-cost producers out of the market.

The world is already rendering more than 1 million bpd than it consumes, with oil stockpiles at record levels.

As a outcome, costs fell below $30 per barrel in January from as high as $115 in mid-2 014, hammering the finances of Russia, Saudi Arabia and other producers.

Brent oil futures rose 3 percent on Wednesday after losing as much as 4 percent the day before.

“A freeze is not the same as a cut, and somewhat disingenuously, keeping crude production at January levels actually implies higher-than-expected annual output … and so is also difficult to tackle the current marketplace oversupply, ” JBC Energy said in a note.

Vahid Salemi/ ASSOCIATED PRESS A employee cycles through an oil refinery in Tehran.The world already creates over 1 million barrels more per day than it eats. Prices fell below $30 per barrel in January, having hit a $115 high in mid-2 014.

Two non-Iranian sources close to the OPEC deliberations told Reuters on Tuesday that Iran might be offered special terms as part of an output freeze bargain. “Iran is returning to the market and needs to be given a special chance, but it also needs to stimulate some computations, ” said one source.

The sources did not elaborate on the special words, which could be anything from defining limited production increases to linking future output rises to a recovery in oil prices.

Olivier Jakob from Petromatrix consultancy said that if Saudi Arabia was set to freeze output at January levels, the kingdom would need to cut exportations by 0.5 million bpd in the summer months, when it burns more oil for power generation at home.

“The production freeze can therefore be seen as an un-official route for Saudi Arabia to make some room for the restart of the Iranian exports, ” he said.

The last global handled in 2001 saw Saudi Arabia persuade Mexico, Norway and Russia to contribute to production cuts, although Moscow did not follow through and raised exports instead.

( Writing by Andrew Torchia and Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by David Holmes, Pravin Char, Janet McBride)

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Responses To Iran Deal

Responses To Iran Deal

Trump Administration A No-Show At Hearings On Human Rights

WASHINGTON The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights heard from civil rights and other advocacy groups on Tuesday about their concerns with the Trump administrations immigration policies.

Commissioners said they hoped to hear from the government, too. But they couldnt the federal government skipped the hearings, which officials said was because of ongoing litigation.

Advocates and observers said the move was highly unusual and sent a concerning message about the new administrations respect for international bodies such as the Organization of American States, of which the commission, or IACHR, is a part. Multiple experts said the U.S. almost always attends and hasnt skipped a hearing in at least eight years.

Todays no-show is a new low, Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Unions Human Rights Program, said at one of the hearings, calling it an unprecedented show of disrespect to the international community that will alienate democratic allies.

This is another worrying sign that the Trump administration is not only launching an assault on human rights at home but is also trying to undermine international bodies charged with holding abusive governments accountable, he added.

The governments absence was noted multiple times by commissioners, who said they werent sure why it happened. IACHR President Francisco Jos Eguiguren Praeli told reporters that U.S. government officials informed the commission on Monday that they would not be in attendance at the hearings, one dealing with President Donald Trumps executive orders on travel and immigration enforcement, the other on treatment of asylum-seekers.

Suffice it to say that it is a pity that this is the situation, IACHR Vice President Margarette May Macaulay said during one of the hearings, while noting the government had declined to attend and answer questions.

Commissioner Paulo Vannuchi, speaking in Spanish at the other hearing, said he regretted the absence, which is what would have made it possible for there to be a democratic exchange of opposing views being aired.

We fear this is a further reflection of their disregard for the human rights of migrants. Sarah Paoletti, director of the University of Pennsylvanias Transnational Legal Clinic

The State Department, which has a permanent mission to the Organization of American States, said the government did not attend because it is not appropriate for the United States to participate in these hearings while litigation on these matters is ongoing in U.S. courts, acting spokesman Mark Toner said.

The United States has tremendous respect for the role performed by the IACHR in safeguarding human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the hemisphere, including in the United States, he said in a statement.

The State Department did not provide examples of other instances in which the government has declined to attend hearings last year, officials were present for a separate hearing that dealt with asylum-seekers or exact litigation. The presidents temporary ban on entry to the country for refugees and certain foreign nationals is subject to pending litigation. Another State Department spokesperson, who declined to comment with their name, said participants at both thematic hearings included parties to such ongoing litigation.

The spokesperson said the departments decision not to participate does not have any bearing on current or future U.S. engagement with the Commission.

Neither the Justice Department nor the Department of Homeland Security, which were also expected by the ACLU to attend one or more of the hearings, responded to requests for comment.

Experts said it was far from normal for the government to skip a hearing. Ariel Dulitzky, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law and former assistant executive secretary of the IACHR, said in an email that it is highly unusual for States not to participate and that under former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, the U.S. attended hearings.

Marselha Gonalves Margerin, advocacy director at Amnesty International USA, said it is the first time in the past eight years that the U.S. did not attend an IACHR hearing. She has litigated before the commission and been a close observer for about 16 years, she said.

Countries that skip hearings generally do so to send a message, she said, noting that Cuba, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic have declined to attend at times when they did not want to talk about accusations of human rights violations.

Does America first mean disengagement of its human rights obligations? asked Gonalves Margerin, who was not at the hearings.

Sarah Paoletti, director of the University of Pennsylvanias Transnational Legal Clinic, said during the asylum-seeker hearing that those present were extremely disappointed to not hear from the government.

We fear this is a further reflection of their disregard for the human rights of migrants, she said, and hope that they will fully engage in future hearings and prove us wrong.

Because the U.S. government wasnt there, no one presented counter-arguments to a dire picture put forward by advocates, who argued the presidents executive orders on immigration were discriminatory, dangerous and presented a potential for abuse by Customs and Border Protection agents.

At the asylum-seeker hearing, advocates who criticized Obama on treatment of vulnerable people apprehended at the border as well said they were concerned things would get even worse under Trump. Commissioners seemed sympathetic Macaulay said they agree that detention of families, asylum-seekers and children is completely contrary to international norms and standards.

In no way can the commission accept these acts of violations which are occurring and which seem to be multiplying and becoming more and more serious as each day progresses, she said.

Read more: www.huffingtonpost.com

Simple Actions To Adopt To Get The Right Legal professional

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MLB Pitcher Describes Fighting Zika Virus, And It Sounds Brutal

Detroit Tigers pitcher Francisco Rodriguez revealed this week that he contracted Zika virus during the offseason, sparking renewed fears among Olympic athletes ahead of this summer’s Rio Games.

Rodriguez told ESPN on Tuesday that he caught the virus after spending time with family in and around his home city of Caracas, Venezuela. The 34-year-old said sweating through the mosquito-borne virus was much worse than a cold.

“A cold, you have a sneeze, have a headache, take a couple Tylenol and you’re done,” he told ESPN. “You don’t have a cold for two weeks, you don’t have a bodyache for two weeks, you don’t have headaches, throwing up, weaknesses for two weeks.”

Rodriguez said he was infected for about two weeks, but that his symptoms lasted for two months. Zika symptoms usually last for about a week and are similar to dengue fever.

With the Olympics only two months out, Rodriguez urged athletes to do their research before they decide whether to participate, especially if they plan on having a child. Zika can lead to birth defects, as happened to a baby delivered on Tuesday in New Jersey, who was born with Zika-linked microcephaly. There is no vaccine against it.

Other athletes, including tennis star Serena Williams and Chicago Bulls’ Pau Gasol, have aired concerns over traveling to Rio de Janeiro, where 600,000 people are expected to gather. There’s an inherent risk for infection among large crowds.

Some health experts have even called for Olympics officials to delay the Games or move locations. That seems unlikely, and the World Health Organization said on Saturday that moving the Olympics wouldn’t “significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus.”

Zika has been detected in over 58 countries or terrorities, including many in Central and South America.

Read more: www.huffingtonpost.com

Legal professional Up! Methods For Deciding On The Best Atto

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Fidel Castro’s shrinking guest list and other controversial funerals

The list of western leaders not attending the Cuban leaders send-off is looking more notable than those who will. But his is not the only ceremony to spark controversy

Obama and Theresa May have swerved it. Justin Trudeau and Boris Johnson will be no-shows and Jeremy Corbyn is sending Emily Thornberry. All in all, the list of western leaders who wont be attending Fidel Castros funeral is looking more notable than those who will.

As with the tributes that poured in after the death of one of the worlds longest serving leaders, politicians across the world are split between praising Castro for his revolutionary zeal and excoriating his human rights record. Franois Hollande is sending Sgolne Royal, but Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras will be there, as will Gerry Adams, South African President Jacob Zuma and Venezuelan president Nicols Maduro. Putin, is apparently busy working on his end-of-year statement for Russian lawmakers the diplomatic equivalent of washing his hair. But Castro is far from the only world statesman to have a tricky guest list at his funeral

Hugo Chvez

Venezuelan
The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez. Photograph: Juan Barreto/EPA

The Cuban leaders most ardent supporter had a funeral that was no less controversial. Despite often railing against the US, Obama chose to send a delegation while actor Sean Penn and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson attended in a private capacity. Irans former leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the prize for most enthusiastic attendee landing himself in hot water with conservative clerics in the Islamic Republic for his overly effusive eulogy in which he suggested Chavez would return alongside Jesus Christ on resurrection day, and for being pictured clasping the hands of Chvezs grieving mother.

Shimon Peres

The
The late Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres. Photograph: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

World leaders heaped praise on the three-time Israeli leader ahead of his funeral last year, with two American presidents Obama and Bill Clinton as well as Prince Charles and leaders of France, Mexico, Germany and Canada, among the attendees. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, Arab states were less keen on attending.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, despite being a close Israeli ally, did not attend nor did Peres friend, Jordans King Abdullah. Moroccos king, Mohammed VI, sent his personal adviser Andr Azulai, who is Jewish. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoan also gave it a miss, offering a deputy foreign minister to represent Turkey at the funeral. Perhaps most surprisingly, the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas attended shaking hands with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and sparking anger among some politicians.

Josip Broz Tito

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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‘Listening to our anthem was really emotional’: the World Cup for unrecognized states

A diverse mix of teams are contesting the Conifa World Football Cup in the breakaway post-Soviet republic of Abkhazia. This is no ordinary football tournament

Nestled at the base of the lofty Caucasus mountain range, with the Black Sea only meters away, the Daur Akhvlediani Stadium is a picturesque location for a football match. The small venue in the resort town of Gagra offers an exotic setting for a highly unusual game: Somaliland v Sapmi.

This encounter will not be found on a Fifa fixture list, nor will it be broadcast by international media conglomerates. The Somaliland team represents an independent region of northern Somalia unrecognized by the international community, while Sapmis players are ethnic Laplanders from the Arctic north of Sweden, Norway and Finland. A world away from the Uefa Champions League final, which clashed with the tournaments opening ceremony, Somaliland and Sapmi are contesting the 2016 World Football Cup.

Organised by the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (Conifa), the competition is being held in the breakaway state of Abkhazia, near south-west Russia. Conifa claims to represent international football teams from nations, de-facto nations, regions, minority peoples and sports isolated territories, and the diversity of its membership is evident in the motley mix of participant teams.

Abkhazia and Somaliland are joined by two other secessionist entities (Kurdistan and Northern Cyprus), while Sapmi is one of several minority ethnic/cultural communities (Raetia, United Koreans in Japan and Western Armenia). Three distinct regional groups (Padania, Panjab and Szkely Land) are also present, alongside the stateless people of the Chagos Islands.

Traveling to Abkhazia from across the globe, these 12 teams have surmounted logistical obstacles, financial pressures and political controversy to face off at the World Football Cup. With issues of statehood, nationalism and geopolitics at play, this is no ordinary football tournament.

*****

Abkhazias clash with the Chagos Islands is another unlikely sporting fixture. The hosts have enjoyed de facto independence since a secessionist conflict with Georgia in the early 1990s, and are presently recognised by only Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru. The Chagos Islands, meanwhile, were dispossessed of their Indian Ocean atolls in 1967 when the British government sold the islands for American military use. Despite a long-running legal campaign, the Chagossians remain stranded in England and Mauritius.

It is very important for our team to be here and represent the Chagos Islands community, explains coach Serge Jean-Louis. Some of the teams say the tournament is political, others say it is only about football. For me, its both. This is a great opportunity to raise awareness about the Chagossian struggle through sport.

Lacking broad recognition or support, neither Abkhazia nor the Chagos Islands are likely to feature in a Fifa-sanctioned tournament in the near future. Yet when a Kurdish referee commences game four of the World Football Cup with his whistle, the scene closely resembles a regular international football match.

Dinamo Stadium in Abkhazias capital Sukhum/i is small but well-appointed, and the contest is being streamed live around the world courtesy of a recently installed fibre optic cable. Abkhazian flags are waved enthusiastically by the home crowd, and both teams sing their national anthems prior to kick-off. Forget the subtropical climate and it takes only a minor leap of imagination to envision the game occurring at the forthcoming Uefa European Championship in France.

Chagos start well against their fancied opponents, but soon lose a defender following a last-man foul in the penalty area. Abkhazia convert the ensuing spot-kick and it is not long before the flood gates open, with the game ultimately finishing 9-0. In a touching gesture highlighting the friendly spirit of the competition, home fans chant in support of the Chagossian visitors throughout the game.

Local organising committee chief Dimitri Pagava is buoyant after witnessing Abkhazias emphatic win in front of a capacity crowd. A fantastic result, exclaims the exhausted but smiling businessman. It is great for our people to watch their team perform tonight.

*****

While the tournament in Abkhazia may seem novel, the competition is actually Conifas third major event. Established in 2013 following internal discord at a similar body, the organisation hosted the first World Football Cup in stersund, Sweden only a year later. French-based County of Nice lifted the trophy after defeating the Isle of Man, while Arameans Suryoye triumphed over breakaway South Ossetia in the third-place playoff.

A European Football Cup followed in 2015, with Hungary hosting a six-team regional competition. County of Nice missed an opportunity to become dual Conifa World and European champions, losing 4-1 to Padania in the final.

Conifa continues to grow, and in May welcomed the Pacific nation of Kiribati and semi-autonomous Greenland to its 36-strong membership list. While neither is likely to court controversy (Kiribati, as a United Nations member state, even has a strong claim to joining Fifa), the presence of Tibet, the Luhansk Peoples Republic and Tamil Eelam risks embroiling Conifa in broader political debates. Although General Secretary Sascha Derkop insists that his organisation is 100% neutral, the fraught politics of statehood and secession are never far from the surface.

United
United Koreans of Japan v Kurdistan. Photograph: Beslan Lagulaa-Conifa

Tempting as it might be to dismiss the tournament as a political contrivance engineered by an isolated Abkhazian government, the players pride in representing their nation is palpable and the quality of football is impressive. In particular, Sapmi has a strong squad drawn from across the Scandinavian first and second divisions, coached by former Troms stalwart Morten Pedersen, while the Kurdish roster boasts several Iraq-capped players. Despite each side being among the pre-tournament favorites, neither progressed beyond the quarter-finals suggesting that the talent at this unorthodox competition runs deep.

Pedersen emphatically denies that he or his players are interested in the World Football Cups political aspect: It is all about the football. This tournament is about bringing people together. Matteo Prandelli, a striker for Padania, echoes this sentiment. We do not think about the political problems, he says. We just focus on the opponents we have to beat on the pitch.

Politics aside, Pedersens team also faced a very human challenge in their ultimately failed attempt to lift the trophy: language. Different members of the squad speak Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian, and the manager is not fluent in Sami the indigenous language. While Pedersen predominantly delivers his pre-match wisdom in English, defender Jarkko Lahdenmki offers a familiar platitude: Football is the most important language that we all speak.

*****

The tournament in Abkhazia is being held at an apt moment, coming less than a month after Uefa and Fifa voted to accept a membership application from Kosovo. The Eastern European nation had been in a protracted tussle against former parent state Serbia on several sporting fronts, but with a forthcoming appearance at the Rio 2016 Olympics and likely participation in 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, Kosovo seems to have scored a decisive goal.

The Kosovo Precedent was widely cited by other breakaway states in support of their legal position following the 2008 Kosovar Declaration of Independence, albeit to little avail. Asked whether he was disheartened by Kosovos recent successful membership application while Abkhazia remains stuck with non-Fifa teams in Conifa, local football federation chairman Ruslan Ajinjal does not hesitate with his response.

Quite the contrary, says Ajinjal, who retired from Russian Premier League side FC Krasnodar in 2015. It shows that there is the possibility for change. It is disappointing that Abkhazia has not yet been accepted, but we hope that in the future there will be a chance for us.

While Abkhazia and its secessionist companions may see the World Football Cup as an instrument in the ongoing fight for recognition, on and off the pitch, other participants have less politically-charged motivations. The Sapmi team provides a focal point for a culture at risk of decline, while the United Koreans of Japan offers a sporting outlet for the substantial Zainichi Korean population in Japan.

The future of Conifa might well depend on how it balances these competing member priorities. The organization is by its own admission a broad church, much as Fifas membership ranges from world champions to minnows. Yet while the vast bulk of Fifa members have a seat at the United Nations, there is a qualitative difference between statehood-professing Abkhazia and cultural-identity sustaining Sapmi. Prior to the tournaments commencement, organizing committee executive Astamur Adleyba even wondered aloud about the separatist credentials of other competitors: I bet some of them dont even have ambitions to be their own country.

Says Conifa General Secretary Derkop: We have a diverse membership base, but they share a common thread: they all feel excluded by the international sporting community. While Derkop accepts that the operational goals of teams will differ, he argues that the collective aim is simply to play football.

The likelihood of a third World Football Cup whether in Somaliland, South Ossetia, Szkely Land or elsewhere is also dependent on increased revenue generation by Conifa. The organization is a non-profit and its staff are all volunteers. In a striking contrast to oft-heard tales of Fifa executives and their lavish lifestyles, even the Conifa President and General Secretary are unpaid. Events of this kind are expensive, and while the Abkhazian government is underwriting the tournament, Conifa hopes that online streaming payments might provide some additional operating revenue.

The
The Daur Akhvlediani Stadium, Gagra. Photograph: Kieran Pender

To expand further and host more events for our members we need to grow our revenue streams, explains Conifa President Per-Anders Blind, a Swedish businessman. Holding such a high-level and professionally organized event in Abkhazia, and streaming it around the world to fans in every continent, are big steps in the right direction.

*****

The tournament has proven a hit with locals, visiting teams and the 100-strong foreign media contingent to descend on Sukhum/i. All three Abkhazia games were watched by capacity crowds, while even the most obscure games have been reasonably attended.

Away fans are few and far between. The logistical and financial challenges of getting to this scenic slice of the Caucasus are considerable, while most Western governments advise against all travel to the region. Despite such warnings, one intrepid fan who did make the journey was impressed.

Our time here has been amazing, exclaims Kevin ODonovan, a driver from Cambridge, England who regularly travels around the world with a friend watching football. Abkhazia is a fantastic place with really nice people, and the footballs not bad either which is a bonus!

On the pitch, the quarter-finals produced several surprise results. Padania upset heavyweights Kurdistan, while Panjab withstood a late Western Armenia come-back. The hosts outplayed Sapmi, and Northern Cyprus were lucky to scrape past the United Koreans of Japan in a penalty shoot-out. The semi-finals take place this Saturday, before a champion is crowned on Sunday.

*****

Returning to the Daur Akhvedeliani Stadium in Gagra, Somalilands first appearance on the international footballing stage proved anticlimactic. A 5-0 defeat at the hands of Sapmi, exacerbated by an injury to the teams goalkeeper, saw a slightly dejected Somaliland centre back attend the post-match press conference.

It is very disappointing to lose our first game, says 25-year-old Guiled Aden. But we are loving the country and the people, and having a great time. Listening to our national anthem [before the game] was really emotional, one of the best moments of our lives.

Somaliland enjoyed five days of independence from Britain in 1960, before forming Somalia in a union with Italian Somaliland. It then broke away following a vicious civil war in the early 1990s, and has built a stable government with economic and democratic credentials despite a lack of international recognition.

This is a very exciting moment for all of Somaliland, the defender continues. Playing at a football tournament is not something Somaliland has done before. To take such a step is one of our nations greatest achievements since we declared independence in 1991.

While this unusual international competition offers a platform for competing teams to pursue varied sporting and political goals, for most the ultimate aspiration is far loftier.

Aden concludes: Hopefully one day Somaliland, Abkhazia and everyone will be recognized, and we can all take part in the Fifa World Cup!

Kieran Pender is embedded with Conifas media team at the World Football Cup.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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