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AUSTRALIA/CHINA BELT AND ROAD – New law allows Australia to scrap China Belt and Road plans (Al Jazeera)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has new powers to veto or scrap agreements that state governments reach with foreign powers under laws that could stymie China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Australia and further inflame tensions between the trading partners.

The laws passed by Parliament on Tuesday will give the foreign minister the ability to stop new and previously signed agreements between overseas governments and Australia’s eight states and territories, and with bodies such as local authorities and universities.

https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2020/12/9/australia-2

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UAE/GULF CRISIS – UAE sees ‘seeds of progress’ on Gulf crisis, says envoy to US (Al Jazeera)

There were “seeds of progress” in resolving a long-running Gulf Arab dispute and a commitment to “tone things down” as the parties work for a solution to end the rift with neighbouring Qatar, according to the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to Washington.

Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba’s comments on Tuesday to a US think-tank were more cautious than those of ally Saudi Arabia, whose foreign minister last week said significant progress was made and a final agreement was within reach.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/9/uae-sees-seeds-of-progress-on-gulf-crisis-says-envoy-to-us

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DISPLACED PEOPLE – Number of displaced people globally tops 80 million in 2020: UN (Al Jazeera)

Despite calls for ceasefires and compassion amid the coronavirus pandemic, violence and persecution have continued to force people from their homes, with record numbers now displaced, says the United Nations.

By the end of 2019, 79.5 million people were living uprooted and displaced, including nearly 30 million refugees – more than one percent of the world’s population.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/9/more-than-80-million-people-displaced-a-bleak-milestone-un

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ISRAEL/IRAN – What is Israel’s secret weapon against Iran? (Hamid Dabashi, Al Jazeera)

There is much reason to believe, but obviously no hard evidence to prove, that Israel is behind the most recent assassination of yet another high-ranking Iranian scientist.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was seen by United States and Israeli intelligence services as the mastermind of a covert Iranian programme to develop nuclear weapons capability, was evidently killed on November 27 in an ambush on a highway near Tehran “with remotely controlled smart devices”.

https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2020/12/9/what-is-israels-secret-weapon-against-iran/

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UAE/USA/GULF CRISIS – UAE ambassador to US sees ‘seeds of progress’ on Gulf crisis (Al Arabiya)

UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba in Washington. (File photo: AP)
UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba in Washington. (File photo: AP)
The United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to Washington said there were “seeds of progress” in resolving a Gulf crisis that began in 2017 and a commitment to “tone things down” as the parties work for a solution to end the rift with neighboring Qatar.
https://englishbeta.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/12/09/UAE-ambassador-to-US-sees-seeds-of-progress-on-Gulf-crisis
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ABU DHABI – UAE’s ADNOC signs onshore exploration concession agreement with Occidental (Al Arabiya)

ADNOC (reuters)
ADNOC signs an exploration concession agreement with Occidental Petroleum Corp. (File photo: Reuters)
Abu Dhabi National Company (ADNOC) said on Wednesday it had signed an exploration concession agreement with Occidental Petroleum Corp for onshore block 5.
https://englishbeta.alarabiya.net/en/business/energy/2020/12/09/Oil-UAE-s-ADNOC-signs-onshore-exploration-concession-agreement-with-Occidental
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ABU DHABI – Abu Dhabi toll gate system to go live during peak traffic times from January 2 (Reem Krimly, Al Arabiya)

General view of the Abu Dhabi city is seen from observation deck of Emirates Towers in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, December 23, 2018. (Reuters)
General view of the Abu Dhabi city is seen from observation deck of Emirates Towers in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, December 23, 2018. (Reuters)
Abu Dhabi’s toll gate system ‘Darb’ will go live during peak traffic times from January 2, the Abu Dhabi Media Office (ADMO) announced on Wednesday.
https://englishbeta.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/12/09/Abu-Dhabi-toll-gate-system-to-go-live-during-peak-traffic-times-from-January-2
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PANDEMIC PUBLIC DEBT – The Pandemic Public-Debt Dilemma (Michael Spence, Danny Leipziger, Project-Syndicate)

Much of the conventional wisdom about how governments should manage the COVID-19 economic fallout is perfectly appropriate for advanced economies, but dangerous elsewhere. Even if developing and emerging economies could simply borrow and spend more to weather the storm, doing so could jeopardize their long-term economic prospects.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/pandemic-spending-debt-dilemma-by-michael-spence-and-danny-leipziger-2020-12

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EUROPE/BREXIT – The EU Must Break the Brexit Deadlock (Marcel Fratzscher, Project-Syndicate)

With the Brexit negotiations now in their final days, it is crucial that the European Union break the impasse and secure a deal. If Europe cannot even forge an agreement to establish its long-term relationship with the United Kingdom, it will have little chance of becoming a global power in its own right.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/eu-must-break-brexit-deadlock-by-marcel-fratzscher-2020-12

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