Rio Tinto sees commodity prices subdued in short term

2015-11-26 03:17:32

SYDNEY Nov 26 Commodity prices are likely to remain subdued in the short term as markets come to terms with oversupply and slower Chinese growth, the head of global mining giant Rio Tinto's copper and coal divisions said on Thursday.Jitters about China's fiscal and monetary responses to the slowdown there had rattled markets, but Rio still expects China to grow at around 7 percent this year, Rio Tinto copper and coal chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said in Sydney. "I believe these supply-side issues, combined with certain macro-economic conditions, and the action of some industry players such as hedge funds, mean that some market distortions exist." (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Joseph Radford)

Minneapolis police arrest three in shooting of Black Lives Matter protesters

2015-11-25 11:06:36

MINNEAPOLIS Minneapolis police on Tuesday arrested three men in the shooting of five people near a police station where demonstrators have gathered for more than a week to protest the killing of an unarmed black man by police officers.A 23-year-old white man was arrested before midday in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington and two men aged 26 and 21, both white, turned themselves in and were later arrested, police said.A fourth man, whom police arrested near midday, was released after investigators determined he had not been at the scene of the shooting, which happened late Monday about a block from the protest over the shooting of Jamar Clark, police said."As I said before, we are sparing no efforts to bring any and all those responsible to justice," Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said.Authorities said they will release suspects' names if charges are filed. A spokesman said the Hennepin County Attorney's Office was waiting for a case to be presented for consideration.Police were looking for three white male suspects in the shooting late on Monday near the police station where protests have been held since Clark, 24, was fatally shot on Nov. 15, Minneapolis police said in a statement.None of the wounds in the Monday shooting of demonstrators were life-threatening, police said.Miski Noor, representing Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, said on Tuesday that four men wearing masks approached the site where demonstrators have been encamped protesting Clark's killing. When the masked men wouldn't identify themselves, Black Lives Matter protesters escorted them away, but about a half a block from there, they opened fire on the demonstrators.Kyle Loven, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Minneapolis, said on Tuesday the FBI was aware of the incident, was coordinating with Minneapolis police and would determine whether federal action was appropriate. He declined to say whether the FBI was investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime. The agency said the public release of videos and other evidence as demonstrators have sought would be detrimental to the investigation.Clark's brother, Eddie Sutton, said in a statement that in light of the shootings, his family believed the demonstrations at the police station should end "out of imminent concern for the safety of the occupiers."Hundreds of demonstrators marched to city hall in downtown Minneapolis from the station on Tuesday afternoon in a rally that stopped traffic along the way and then dispersed peacefully. DEMONSTRATORS VOW TO CONTINUEActivists said Monday's shooting has not shaken the group's resolve."We will not bow to fear or intimidation," Black Lives Matter's Noor said at a rally by the police precinct building.Pastor Danny Givens Jr. of Above Every Name Church said the demonstrators would not be scared away. "We ain't going nowhere," he said, using a bullhorn. "This is our precinct."We ain't scared of domestic terrorists," added Givens, who is the clergy liaison for Black Lives Matter. Questions have been raised whether Clark was handcuffed when he was shot, which police have denied. Protesters have demanded that authorities release videos of the Nov. 15 incident.Clark died the next day from a gunshot wound to the head. The officers involved are on leave.On Monday, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said he reviewed video footage taken from the back of an ambulance and said it does not appear to show conclusively what happened in Clark's shooting.Authorities have said there was no video of the shooting from police dashboard or body cameras, but investigators are reviewing video from business and security cameras in the area, as well as witnesses' cellphones.A police union representative has said Clark grabbed one officer's gun, although the weapon remained in its holster.Clark's shooting comes at a time of heightened debate in the United States over police use of lethal force, especially against black people. Over the past year, protests against killings of unarmed black men and women - some videotaped with phones or police cameras - have rocked a number of U.S. cities. (Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Ben Klayman in Detroit; editing by Alan Crosby and Cynthia Osterman)

In taking economic war to Islamic State, U.S. developing new tools

2015-11-24 07:45:37

WASHINGTON Since last month, U.S. warplanes have struck Islamic State's oil infrastructure in Syria in a stepped-up campaign of economic warfare that the United States estimates has cut the group's black-market earnings from oil by about a third.In finding their targets, U.S. military planners have relied in part on an unconventional source of intelligence: access to banking records that provide insight into which refineries and oil pumps are generating cash for the extremist group, current and former officials say.The intent is to choke off the Islamic State's funding by tracking its remaining ties to the global financial system. By identifying money flowing to and from the group, U.S. officials have been able to get a glimpse into how its black-market economy operates, people with knowledge of the effort have said. That in turn has influenced decisions about targeting for air strikes in an effort that began before Islamic State's Nov. 13 attacks on Paris and has intensified since, they said. While Islamic State's access to formal banking has been restricted, it retains some ties that U.S. military and financial officials can use against it, the current and former officials said."We have done a really good job of largely keeping the Islamic State out of the formal financial system," said Matthew Levitt, who served as deputy assistant secretary for intelligence at the U.S. Treasury in the George W. Bush administration. "But we haven't been entirely successful, and that may not be a bad thing."Reuters was unable to verify key aspects of the campaign, including when it started or exactly which facilities have been destroyed as a result. Two current officials who confirmed the operations in outline declined to comment on their details. It was unclear how U.S. intelligence, Treasury, and military officials working on what the government calls "counter threat finance" operations have used banking records to identify lucrative Islamic State oil-related targets in Syria and whether that involved local banks. A report this year by the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force found there were more than 20 Syrian financial institutions with operations in Islamic State territory. In Iraq, Treasury has worked with government officials to cut off bank branches in the group's territory from the Iraqi and international financial systems.Gerald Roberts, section chief of the FBI's terrorist financing operations section, said that Islamic State's recruits from outside Syria often come with financial trails that officials tracking them can "exploit.""We are seeing them using traditional banking systems," he said at a banking conference last week in Washington, adding that young, tech-savvy Islamic State members are also familiar with virtual currencies such as Bitcoin.Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS or ISIL, is sometimes forced to use commercial banks because the amounts involved are too large to move using other means, said Levitt.The U.S. Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) uses a set of "business rules" to screen the roughly 55,000 reports it receives daily from financial institutions for signs of activity involving Islamic State, a spokesman said. He declined to describe the rules, but law enforcement sources say names, IP addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers are among the data that intelligence authorities try to match. The matches allow FinCEN "to connect the dots between seemingly unrelated individuals and entities," the FinCEN spokesman said. At present, FinCEN finds about 1,200 matches suggesting possible Islamic State-linked financial activity each month, up from 800 in April, the spokesman said.Bank of America (BAC.N), JP Morgan (JPM.N) and Wells Fargo (WFC.N) declined to comment on whether they provided financial reports to the U.S. government. Such reports are supplied confidentially. Citigroup (C.N), HSBC (HSBA.L), and Standard Chartered (STAN.L) did not immediately respond to requests for comment."TIDAL WAVE II"The use of financial records linked to Islamic State is only one part of the intelligence-gathering exercise for air strikes in Syria that also includes methods such as aerial surveillance by drones, officials said. One former military official familiar with the process said that any financial intelligence collected by FinCEN would require "significant vetting" before the military acted on it.Earlier this month, U.S.-led coalition planes struck 116 fuel trucks used to smuggle Islamic State oil 45 minutes after dropping leaflets warning drivers to flee, a Pentagon spokesman said. Coalition strikes destroyed another 283 Islamic State fuel trucks on Saturday, the Pentagon said.On Nov. 8, a coalition air strike destroyed three oil refineries in Syria near the border with Turkey.U.S. defense officials estimate that Islamic State, an adversary the United States calls the wealthiest terrorist group of its kind in history, was earning about $47 million per month from oil sales prior to October.That month, the U.S. military launched an intensified effort to go after oil infrastructure, dubbed "Tidal Wave II," named after the bombing campaign targeting Romanian oil fields in World War Two.The Pentagon estimates the strikes have reduced the Islamic State's income from oil sales by about 30 percent, one U.S. defense official with knowledge of the previously unreported estimate said. Reuters was unable to confirm this. The use of financial records in helping to pick U.S. targets was first disclosed last week at the banking conference in Washington. At the conference, Kurt Gredzinski, the Counter Threat Finance Team Chief at U.S. Special Operations Command, cited the importance of information provided by banks in the war against Islamic State."That to me is the first time in my recollection that we strategically targeted based on threat finance information," he said at the conference. He declined to comment further on which strike he had been referring to. "RESILIENT FINANCIAL PORTFOLIO"U.S. officials believe that diminished funding could gradually undermine Islamic State's grip on the area it controls in Iraq and Syria, because it needs revenue to pay salaries and keep public infrastructure operating, said two former officials with knowledge of the Obama administration's thinking.Experts caution that Islamic State, which rules an area the size of Austria, has surprisingly deep pockets due to the various revenue streams it controls. It has built up what amounts to a "durable and resilient financial portfolio," funded by oil sales, extortion, and sales of antiquities, said Thomas Sanderson, an expert on terrorism at the Center for Strategic and International Studies."Money can be strapped to the backs of mules," Sanderson said. "It's easy to move things across a border during a time of deprivation and chaos."Despite some initial success, cutting off its funding will require deeper cooperation from governments from Turkey to Russia, experts say. The group has shown the ability to bounce back from previous U.S. strikes on its oil facilities.Counter-terrorism experts say that Islamic State appears to have learned from U.S. successes in cracking down on funding for al-Qaeda, which relied heavily on support from wealthy donors in the Gulf region."IS has learned that you don't want to be reliant on too many outside sources," said Sanderson. "Donors are fickle and subject to pressure and (IS) wants to be in control." (Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati in Washington and Brett Wolf of Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence. Additional reporting by Joel Schectman, Warren Strobel, and Jonathan Landay in Washington.; Editing by Kevin Krolicki and Stuart Grudgings)

Bristol-Myers signs deal with U.N. group for generic hepatitis C drug

2015-11-23 15:44:41

A United Nations-backed organization working to cut the price of HIV drugs said it had signed a deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co to allow generic versions of the company's hepatitis C drug to be sold in 112 low- and middle-income countries.The drug, Daklinza, is on the World Health Organization's list of essential medicines.Hepatitis C affects about 150 million people globally and kills around half a million each year, the World Health Organisation estimates.The Medicines Patent Pool said on Monday that Daklinza would now be available to nearly two-thirds of people affected by the disease in low- and middle-income countries. The list price in the United States for Daklinza is $63,000 for a 12-week regimen, or about $750 per day at wholesale costs, according to pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts.Other drugs used to treat hepatitis C include Gilead Sciences' Sovaldi. A single Sovaldi pill costs $1,000 in the United States, according to Express Scripts. The deal with Bristol-Myers allows drugmakers anywhere in the world to develop generic versions of Daklinza. The Medicines Patent Pool had earlier signed a deal with Bristol-Myers for generic versions of its HIV treatment Reyataz. (Reporting by Vidya L Nathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr)

UPDATE 2-No bomb found on Turkish Airlines plane diverted to Canada, resumes journey

2015-11-22 18:53:45

(Updates with no explosives being found, plane resuming flight)By Jeffrey HodgsonTORONTO Nov 22 No explosives were found on a Turkish Airlines flight diverted to Halifax, Canada, after a bomb threat and the plane was cleared to continue its journey, Canadian police and the airline said on Sunday.The flight, originally bound for Istanbul from New York, has now safely departed, Halifax Stanfield International Airport said on Twitter. Security officials have been on high alert since Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for attacks this month in Paris that killed 130 people. Russia has said the group was also responsible for the downing on Oct. 31 of a plane returning to St. Petersburg from the Sharm al-Sheikh resort in Egypt.The Turkish Airlines plane had been diverted after a threat was received at 10:50 p.m. ET on Saturday evening, the Nova Scotia branch of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said on Twitter. The plane landed safely and police said they searched it using dogs. "The investigation into the threat is ongoing," the RCMP tweeted. The incident comes after another flight leaving the United States recently was diverted to Canada following a threat.Two Air France flights bound for Paris from the United States were diverted for several hours on Tuesday following anonymous bomb threats that turned out to be false. One of the flights, which had left Washington, was diverted to Halifax, but no explosives were found.. The other, from Los Angeles, was diverted to Salt Lake City.Separately on Sunday, a WestJet Airlines Ltd flight leaving Halifax bound for Calgary was searched following another bomb threat, police said. But nothing was found and the flight was cleared for departure. (Editing by Andrew Bolton)

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