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Reports of gunfire, explosions as fire envelops Saudi Aramco facility (VIDEOS) — RT World News



Footage has surfaced online of a huge blaze ravaging what is reported to be oil giant Saudi Aramco’s facility in the country’s east. Sounds of gunfire and explosions have been reported by witnesses.

A fire broke out at Saudi Aramco’s facility in the city of Abqaiq in the oil-rich kingdom’s Eastern Province on Saturday morning. Multiple videos have emerged on social media showing the compound being engulfed in flames and thick black smoke billowing from the site.

Several loud bangs resembling the sound of explosions can be heard in the background. There have been unconfirmed reports on social media of over a dozen blasts rocking the facility.

Distinct gunfire sounds can be heard on a video allegedly filmed at a parking lot across the street from the site.

It is unclear what triggered the fire, with Riyadh reportedly placing a gag order on any information about the incident pending an official statement.

On Twitter, Saudi royal court adviser Turki Alalshikh urged netizens to not fuel speculations, denouncing social media reports as “lies and rumours.”“Praise to God, safe and secure… Abqaiq is well,” the official tweeted.

Dubai-based Al-Arabiya, meanwhile, reported that the fire had been contained and that Saudi authorities are expected to come up with a statement soon.

Abqaiq is home to the world’s largest oil processing plant.

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US-Taliban Reduction in Violence to Start Friday Ahead of Broader Deal – NBC Chicago



A seven-day reduction in violence between Afghan, Taliban and American forces will begin Friday in Afghanistan, a senior state department official confirmed. If that agreement holds, it would lead to the signing of a long-awaited, broader U.S.-Taliban agreement that could see U.S. troops withdraw from the country after 18 years of conflict, NBC News reports.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed in a statement that the U.S. was “preparing for the signing to take place on February 29.”

The reduction in violence is seen as a test of the Taliban’s resolve to end the conflict in Afghanistan, which is America’s longest war. If properly implemented, a Taliban representative and U.S. Special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad will sign the U.S.-Taliban agreement in Doha later this month, a senior state department official said.

The militants had previously rejected the idea of a full-blown cease-fire with Afghan forces, leading U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad to pursue a deal to “reduce” violence.

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Bullied boy who ‘wanted to die’ has ‘best day ever’ as Disney fund hits £150,000 – World News



The mum of a bullied schoolboy filmed saying he wanted to die has enjoyed the “best day of his life” after an astonishing worldwide reaction.

Nine-year-old Quaden Bayles, who has dwarfism, was the target of cruel jibes and heartbreaking footage of him crying hysterically was widely shared onlne after his mum posted it on Facebook.

Since then he’s been inundated with messages of support, including one from Hollywood actor and fellow Australian Hugh Jackman, and a fund to send Quaden to Disneyland has raised more than £150,000.

His mum Yarraka Bayle said he was overwhelmed by the goodwill shown.

She told 7News: “He said it was going from the worst day of his life to the best day of his life. I think that sums it up perfectly.”

The heartbreaking video Yarraka shared showed the impact bullies had on her son

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After learning about Quaden’s ordeal, Australian actor Jackman said in a video posted on Twitter: “Quaden, you are stronger than you know mate, and no matter what, you’ve got a friend in me.

“So, everyone lets please be kind to each other – bullying is not OK.”

The X-Men star then urged bullies to be kinder, saying: “Life is hard enough, so let’s remember, every person in front of us is facing some kind of battle, so let’s just be kind.”

Quaden’s mum Yarraka said she was overwhelmed by the response

Brad Williams, who set up a GoFundMe page to raise cash for the schoolboy, described him as “a wonderful human being who deserves joy”.

He said he wants to fly Quaden and his mum to the US, get them a nice hotel, and bring them to Disneyland.

His appeal stated: “Let’s show Quaden and others, that there is good in the world and they are worthy of it.”

Donations have flooded in from around the world.

Yarraka with her son, who has been targeted by cruel bullies

The emotional clip which sparked the appeal showed Quaden in tears as he make comments including ‘what’s the point’ and ‘I just want to die right now’.

Yarraka, from Brisbane, says: “I’ve just picked up my son from school, witnessed a bullying episode, rang the principal and I want people to know – parents, educators, teachers – this is the effects that bullying has.

“This is what bullying does, so can you please educate your children, your families, your friends.

“This is the impact bullying has on a nine-year-old kid that just wants to go to school, get an education and have fun but every single freaking day, something happens.

Donations have flooded in from around the world

Actor Hugh Jackman has shared a message of support

“Another episode, another bullying, another taunt, another name calling.”

As her son pulls at his neck, Yarraka breaks down herself, saying: “I want people to know how much it is hurting us as a family. I want people to educate their children.”

Quade buries his head in the car seat and Yarraka explains that this reality is the side she usually chooses to keep private but ‘we can’t do it anymore’.

She says the bullying has driven her child to suicide attempts after people point out his differences in public wherever they go.

The parent adds that the constant battle makes her feel as though she is ‘failing as a parent’.

“It’s every single f***ing day and we’re sick of it,” she says.

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“Your child could be the bully that pushes a kid over the edge and, God forbid, we lose another child to suicide because of the bullying.

“I used to tell him ‘just ignore it’. Well no, f***ing ignoring it doesn’t solve the problem, how does that address the problem if you choose to ignore it? It needs to be addressed straight away and that’s exactly what I’m doing now.”

The video was posted to Facebook with the caption: “This is the serious impacts of bullying! I seriously don’t know what else to do.”

* Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at


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Rate cut expectations will fade as coronavirus fear eases



Markets expecting an interest rate cut are reacting to the coronavirus scare and likely will reverse once the fear starts to fade, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said Friday.

Central bank officials have indicated that they are content to keep policy on hold as they watch economic developments play out.

However, traders in the fed funds futures market are indicating about a 54% chance of a rate cut by June and a 58% probability of a second move lower by the end of the year, according to the CME’s FedWatch tracking tool.

In an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Bullard pushed back on the likelihood of a cut, saying current policy seems right considering the pace of the record-breaking U.S. expansion.

“There’s a high probability that the coronavirus will blow over as other viruses have, be a temporary shock and everything will come back. But there’s a low probability that this could get much worse,” he said. “Markets have to price that in, and that drags down the center of gravity a little bit. But if this all goes away, I expect that pricing will come back out of the market and we’ll be back to the on-hold scenario.”

Bullard spoke the day after Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida jolted markets when he told CNBC that he pays less attention to market pricing and more to economist forecasts, which don’t see the Fed cutting. The statement helped exacerbate a selloff that came amid heightened fear that the coronavirus spread could be even worse than thought.

Aside from the virus worries, Fed officials have been generally optimistic about the outlook, saying the strong U.S. labor market and signs of a pickup in global growth are indications that rates are probably appropriate.

The Fed cut rates three times in 2019 but has held the line at the last two meetings.

“If you think that this virus is going to dissipate and we’re going to have temporary shocks and then everything’s going to go back to normal, then I think the Fed’s in great shape and we don’t have to lower rates in that scenario,” Bullard said. “A lot of the news on the U.S. economy has been good in the last couple of months. I’ve been arguing we’re in good shape for a soft landing in the U.S. economy.”


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