Tag: approves

Israeli government approves normalization deal with U.A.E.

The Israeli government unanimously approved the country’s recently signed normalization agreement with the United Arab Emirates on Monday ahead of a ratification vote by parliament.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement following his weekly cabinet meeting that he spoke over the weekend with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“We talked about co-operations that we are advancing — in investment, tourism, energy, technology and other fields,” Netanyahu told the cabinet, with Israeli and Emirati flags flanking the conference table. “We will also co-operate and are already co-operating in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.”

Sheikh Mohammed, the U.A.E.’s day-to-day ruler, separately tweeted confirmation of the call Monday, saying they discussed “prospects for peace and the need for stability, co-operation and development in the region.”

Netanyahu’s office said it was the first conversation between the two leaders since the Sept. 15 signing ceremony on the White House lawn he attended with the Emirates’ foreign minister. The Knesset is slated to vote on ratifying the deal on Thursday.

Neighbouring Gulf monarchy Bahrain also signed an agreement on Sept. 15 at the White House to normalize relations with Israel, making the U.A.E. and Bahrain the third and fourth Arab states to establish ties with Israel. Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties with Israel in 1979 and 1994, respectively.

The so-called Abraham Accords brought long-clandestine ties between Israel and several Gulf states — forged in recent years over a shared concern over regional rival Iran — into the open. The weeks since have seen a flurry of business, banking and intergovernmental agreements between the U.A.E. and Israel, though moves toward normalization have been slower in Bahrain.

The normalization agreements have outraged the Palestinians, whose leaders have called the deals a betrayal of a longtime Arab stance that recognition of Israel would come only after Palestinians obtain an independent state of their own.

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Israeli government approves normalization deal with UAE

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli government unanimously approved the country’s recently signed normalization agreement with the United Arab Emirates on Monday ahead of a ratification vote by parliament.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement following his weekly Cabinet meeting that he spoke over the weekend with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“We talked about co-operations that we are advancing — in investment, tourism, energy, technology and other fields,” Netanyahu told the Cabinet, with Israeli and Emirati flags flanking the conference table. “We will also cooperate and are already cooperating in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.”

Sheikh Mohammed, the UAE’s day-to-day ruler, separately tweeted confirmation of the call Monday, saying they discussed “prospects for peace and the need for stability, cooperation and development in the region.”

Netanyahu’s office said it was the first conversation between the two leaders since the Sept. 15 signing ceremony on the White House lawn he attended with the Emirates’ foreign minister. The Knesset is slated to vote on ratifying the deal on Thursday.

Neighboring Gulf monarchy Bahrain also signed an agreement on Sept. 15 at the White House to normalize relations with Israel, making the UAE and Bahrain the third and fourth Arab states to establish ties with Israel. Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties with Israel in 1979 and 1994, respectively.

The so-called “Abraham Accords” brought long-clandestine ties between Israel and several Gulf states — forged in recent years over a shared concern over regional rival Iran — into the open. The weeks since have seen a flurry of business, banking and intergovernmental agreements between the UAE and Israel, though moves toward normalization have been slower in Bahrain.

The normalization agreements have outraged the Palestinians, whose leaders have called the deals a betrayal of a longtime Arab stance that recognition of Israel would come only after Palestinians obtain an independent state of their own.

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Baltimore City Council approves worker recall bill over law department, hotel industry objections

The Baltimore City Council on Monday passed legislation aimed at protecting hospitality workers’ jobs, despite objections from the city’s law department and the hotel industry.

The bill would require hospitality businesses to hire laid-off workers once they reopen. Thousands of housekeepers, banquet servers and other employees have lost their jobs as the industry suffers from the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdowns.

The council also passed a second, less-contested bill that would ensure a hotel retains its staff if the business’ ownership changes hands.

The bills now head to the mayor’s desk for his consideration. Democratic Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young has not indicated whether he plans to sign them, but issued a statement via a spokesman saying he will review the legislation.

Hotel workers have rallied around the bills, saying they’re looking for some certainty that they will eventually get to go back to work.

More than 1,500 hospitality workers had lost their jobs as of mid-September at hotels, the Baltimore Convention Center, Royal Farms Arena and other event centers, according to UNITE HERE Local 7, the union that represents them.

Other cities, including Los Angeles, have taken similar steps to protect workers.

But the Young administration’s law department said the return-to-work bill was not the right way to help workers. It said legislation mandating an employer rehire a laid-off person is “an unconstitutional impairment of the employer/employee freedom of contract.”

That legal interpretation was dismissed by other attorneys who testified before the City Council, including those with the Public Justice Center.

The Maryland Hotel Lodging Association also opposed the legislation. Representatives said the bills would strip them of flexibility to recover from the economic crisis, as it would require them to hire employees back based on seniority. That may not align with their immediate needs, they said.

Workers with years of experience in the industry testified to the council in favor of the bill. William Murray, a longtime banquet server at Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, told the council he’s been laid off since March.

“The COVID-19 crisis has hit our industry hard,” he said. “We have stood by our employer and made them successful for years. We deserve the right to have some certainty that we will be able to return to our jobs.”

Also at Monday’s meeting, Democratic City Council President Brandon Scott introduced a bill to establish a program to provide some tenants with legal counsel during eviction proceedings.

Housing activists are bracing for a wave of evictions as COVID-19 continues to wreak economic turmoil. They’ve long pushed for the city to provide tenants with free lawyers when they face being kicked out of their homes.

A recent study, funded by the Abell Foundation, estimates it would cost $5.7 million to provide about 7,000 tenants with representation. By keeping people out of homelessness, the study said it would save more than six times that. It also found that 96% of landlords had representation to argue their cases in rent court, while only 1% of tenants had

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Exxon in Guyana: Government approves $9 billion oil-drilling project

  • The small South American country of Guyana is home to immense offshore oil reserves that Exxon is planning to extract.
  • The company already has two drilling projects, and on Wednesday the government approved a third, further cementing the oil giant’s role in the country’s economic future. 
  • Do you have information on Exxon in Guyana? Reach out to this reporter at [email protected] or on WhatsApp at +1-646-768-1657. 
  • For more stories like this, sign up here for our weekly energy newsletter.

Exxon, the largest oil company in the West, strengthened its grip on Guyana’s oil riches on Wednesday as it received government approval for a third oil-drilling project, set to produce crude by 2024.

The small South American country is a critical piece of the oil giant’s future as it looks to extract oil cheaply. On Thursday, the price of crude was down about 38% relative to the start of the year, following a historic price collapse this past spring wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The new development, known as Payara, is Exxon’s third offshore drilling project in Guyana, a country set to transform into an oil powerhouse over the coming decades. The company estimates that the Stabroek block — where it operates through a partnership with Hess Corp and China’s CNOOC — is home to more than 8 billion barrels of recoverable oil. 

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Headquartered in Irving, Texas, Exxon plans to invest $9 billion into Payara. One Exxon oil-drilling project in Guyana, known as Liza Phase 1, is currently producing oil, and another (Liza Phase 2) is on track to pump crude by early 2022, the company said. 

FILE PHOTO: An Exxon sign is seen at a gas station in the Chicago suburb of Norridge, Illinois, U.S., October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young/File Photo



Reuters


Exxon’s controversial role in Guyana

Since Exxon first discovered oil in Guyana, back in 2015, the company’s presence has faced controversy and political turmoil.

In February, the global advocacy group Global Witness published a detailed report that alleged Exxon is taking advantage of the small country by striking an inequitable profit-sharing deal under suspect circumstances.

Then this summer, after a months-long vote recount, a new government stepped in that had criticized the Exxon deal as too generous, according to Reuters. Guyana’s new president, Irfaan Ali, promised that there’d be a comprehensive review of Exxon’s latest project — Payara. 

On Wednesday, the government approved the project, an Exxon representative confirmed.

“ExxonMobil is committed to building on the capabilities from our Liza Phase 1 and 2 offshore oil developments as we sanction the Payara field and responsibly develop Guyana’s natural resources,” Liam Mallon, president of Exxon upstream oil and gas, said in a statement Wednesday. “We continue to prioritize high-potential prospects in close proximity to discoveries and maximize value for our partners, which includes the people of Guyana.”

Read more: A leaked memo reveals Exxon is weighing job cuts across its oil-production business because of ‘prolonged negative market impacts’

The approval comes after Exxon reported steep financial losses and deployed various tactics to cut costs in response to the oil-price downturn.

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Senate approves bill to avert government shutdown, bill goes to Trump

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The U.S. has reached 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus. Now experts are looking ahead, and the forecast for the fall and winter isn’t good.

USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – The Senate on Wednesday passed a spending measure to keep federal agencies running hours before the government was set to shut down.

The legislation will now head to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign off on the bill.

The overwhelming 84 – 10 vote marked a bipartisan push to keep the government funded in the midst of a global pandemic that has left many Americans more reliant on the federal government. 

The legislation passed just hours before the annual spending bill would expire at midnight, leaving federal agencies across the country without money to continue operating. It extends government funding levels until Dec. 11 – a month after the election.

Lawmakers added last-minute pandemic relief funding before the bill was approved in the House Sept. 22, which gave it bipartisan support. The bill includes billions for a farm bailout program pushed by Republicans as farmers continue to be affected by the Trump administration’s trade policies and the pandemic’s impact on agriculture. Democrats got more money – $8 billion – for pandemic food assistance programs for families.

More: House OKs spending bill, sending legislation to Senate days before government set to shutdown

More: White House and Congress reach informal deal to avert government shutdown at end of month

More: The battle in Congress to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg dashes hopes for a COVID-19 relief package

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The two additions marked the only pandemic-related relief in the bill. Though pressure has mounted for Congress to pass more COVID-19 relief, lawmakers have been at an impasse for months over the size and scope of an aid bill. Negotiations appeared all but dead, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have restarted talks. 

House Democrats introduced another coronavirus bill Monday with a $2 trillion price tag that is set to be approved by the chamber Wednesday evening. It is not likely to be considered by the Republican-controlled Senate. 

The last government shutdown from December 2018 to January 2019 was the longest on record, at 35 days. Stemming from a standoff between Congress and the White House over funding for a wall along the southern U.S. border, it forced about 800,000 federal government workers to take furloughs or go without pay.

Sarah Binder, professor of political science at George Washington University and a Brookings Institution senior fellow, said it would be a “catastrophic blow” to have a shutdown in the middle of the pandemic, especially if workers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health were furloughed. COVID-19 has taken more than 206,000 American lives.

“Nobody really wants to be blamed for the government shutdown,” especially so close to an election, she said. 

Contributing: Nicholas Wu

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President Donald Trump said during a campaign rally in Wisconsin

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Israel approves law to curb protests during virus lockdown

Updated


JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s parliament on Wednesday passed a law that would allow the government to curtail public protests during the country’s nationwide coronavirus lockdown, a measure that drew fierce opposition a day earlier.

The law allows the government to declare a special week-long state of emergency if the coronavirus spreads out of control. If such a state is declared, the government would be able to limit participation in assemblies, including protests, to 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from a person’s home, effectively putting a halt to large weekly demonstrations outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence.


The Knesset approved the bill 46-38 during a late-night session that stretched into the morning hours.

That measure is widely seen as a bid to squelch protests against Netanyahu, which have drawn thousands each week outside his official residence for the past several months.



They are the largest sustained demonstrations against Netanyahu in nearly a decade, and call on the longtime prime minister to resign while on trial for corruption charges and accuse him of bungling his management of the coronavirus crisis


Netanyahu has said the protests must end due to public health concerns. But protesters say he is using the crisis as a pretext to muzzle them.

Netanyahu is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three separate cases. He has denied any wrongdoing, accusing the media and law enforcement of an orchestrated “witch hunt” against him.

Earlier this month, Israel declared its second countrywide lockdown, and tightened restrictions further last week in a bid to rein in one of the world’s most severe coronavirus outbreaks. Schools, malls, restaurants and hundreds of businesses are shut.


The lockdown went into effect on Sept. 18, just before the Jewish New Year, and was initially slated

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