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Afghanistan signs ‘$7 bn’ oil deal with China

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Afghanistan on Wednesday signed an oil deal with China which could earn the war-torn country $7 billion over 25 years.

Afghanistan’s first major oil exploration contract will see state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation develop three oil fields in the relatively peaceful north of the country along the Amu Darya river.

Under the deal, signed in Kabul by Afghan mining minister Waheedullah Shahrani and CNPC president Lu Gong Xun, Afghanistan will take 70 percent of the net profits, and the Chinese oil giant will pay 15 percent corporation tax.

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“This will have enormous benefits for Afghanistan,” Shahrani told reporters after the signing.

Energy hungry China, which is pushing into oil-rich countries to secure the resources needed to fuel the world’s second largest economy, outbid four companies for the contract.

The deposits are estimated to contain about 87 million barrels of oil, relatively small globally but significantly profitable for Afghanistan, Shahrani said.

“If there are 87 million barrels of oil and each barrel is estimated at $100, Afghanistan will make about $7 billion in the next 25 years,” the minister said.

Extraction along the Amu Darya river, which separates Afghanistan from its Central Asian neighbours, is not expected to begin until late next year, he added.

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The joint-venture is being launched with Afghan company the Watan Group.

Afghanistan currently imports its oil and gas, mostly from Central Asian countries and Iran, which on Monday signed a deal to supply its neighbour with a million tons of fuel oil, petrol and aviation fuel a year.

Lu Gong Xun, who is president of CNPC’s international branch, said his company has agreed to build a refinery and was expected to invest about $400 million in the project, which will also create hundreds of local jobs.

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He said investment will expand if more reserves are explored in the future.

Six oil deposits have been discovered in Afghanistan, including one elsewhere in the north estimated to be worth 1.8 billion barrels, as well as in Herat in the west, Helmand in the south and Paktia in the southeast.

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Afghanistan’s natural resources could theoretically generate billions of dollars in tax revenue.

But exploitation of these resources faces massive hurdles due to ongoing instability, woeful infrastructure and endemic corruption.

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Military base shooter assailed US as ‘nation of evil’

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A Saudi military student reportedly condemned America as a "nation of evil" in an online manifesto prior to opening fire Friday at a US naval base, killing three people before being shot dead by police.

The shooting, which took place in a classroom building at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, left eight others wounded, including two sheriff's deputies who responded to the attack.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the shooter was from Saudi Arabia -- the same nationality as 15 of the 19 men involved in the 9/11 attacks, some of whom attended civilian flight school in Florida.

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Elon Musk cleared of defamation over ‘pedo guy’ tweet

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Tesla co-founder Elon Musk was cleared of defamation on Friday by a jury in Los Angeles over a tweet in which he labeled a British caver "pedo guy."

The jury deliberated less than an hour before ruling in favor of Musk and clearing him of any liability in the high-profile case that pitted him against Vernon Unsworth.

Unsworth had sought $190 million in damages from the tech billionaire, arguing that his reputation had been damaged by the tweet.

Musk hugged his lawyer on hearing the verdict, telling reporters afterwards: "My faith in humanity has been restored."

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Team Trump wants to steal another election — and there’s only one way to beat them back

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When I was growing up at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, back in the early 1960s, my mother drove down to Kansas City one morning to go shopping and have lunch with an old friend of her mother’s. Ladies going out shopping and having lunch in the upscale Country Club Plaza in Kansas City was almost a formal occasion. I remember she put on a summery suit and heels and stockings, and I’m pretty sure she wore a pair of white cotton gloves.

When she returned a few hours later, she wasn’t carrying any bags from the shops, and she was seething. The woman she’d eaten lunch with was married to a man who owned a chain of downtown hotels in major cities around the country. They lived in a big Tudor house in Mission Hills, the Beverly Hills of the Midwest. She drove a Cadillac. She was rich.

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