Strong earthquake shakes Afghanistan and South Asia
A strong earthquake in northern Afghanistan was felt across much of South Asia on Monday, shaking buildings from Kabul to Delhi and cutting power and communications in some areas.
The US Geological Service put the magnitude of the earthquake at 7.7 and said its epicenter was in the far northern province of Badakhshan, which borders Tajikistan and China. USGS said it was 213 kilometers (132.3 miles) deep and 73 kilometers (45 miles) south of the Badakhshan capital, Fayzabad.
There are reports of casualties and destruction in some remote districts of Badakhshan, but detail is not known yet. Power was cut across much of the Afghan capital. Houses shook, walls cracked and cars rolled in the street. Officials in the capital could not be immediately reached as telephones appeared to be cut across the country. The quake was also felt in the Indian capital New Delhi, though no damage was immediately reported. AP
At least 5 dead after tour boat sinks in Canada
A whale watching boat carrying 27 passengers capsized Sunday afternoon off the coast of Tofino, British Columbia, with the B.C. Coroner’s Service saying at least five people died in the accident.
B.C.’s Joint Rescue Coordination Center said the vessel made a mayday call shortly before 4 p.m., and a search-and-rescue mission was immediately launched. Before the search was called off due to nightfall, 21 survivors were found, the JRCC says, while one person remains missing. The boat belongs to Jamie’s Whaling Station and Adventure Centers, which runs whale watching tours out of Tofino. CTV news
Joe Biden says he could not win
In an interview that aired Sunday on 60 Minutes, Vice President Joe Biden said he felt he made the “right decision” for his family by choosing not to run for president. “I couldn’t win,” he said.
“I’ll be very blunt, if I thought we could’ve put together the campaign that our supporters deserve and our contributors deserved, I would have gone ahead and done it.” When he announced Wednesday in the White House Rose Garden that he wasn’t running, Biden said he used his speech to make “the case that I do want to influence the Democratic Party. I want to make no bones about that. I don’t want the party walking away from what President Barack Obama and I did.” He also said he is “disappointed” by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. “I know what a showman and all that he is, but I really don’t think it’s healthy and I hope he reconsiders this sort of attack on all immigrants,” he said. “I think that is beneath the country. I don’t think it’s where the American people are. And I hope he really doesn’t believe it.” CBS news
Saudi Arabia to run out of cash in less than 5 years
If oil stays around $50 a barrel, most countries in the region will run out of cash in five years or less, warned a dire report from the International Monetary Fund this week. That includes OPEC leader Saudi Arabia as well as Oman and Bahrain.
Low oil prices will wipe out an estimated $360 billion from the region this year alone, the IMF said. Huge budget surpluses are quickly swinging to massive deficits as oil prices have crashed to around $45 currently from over $100 last year. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, needs to sell oil at around $106 to balance its budget, according to IMF estimates. The kingdom barely has enough fiscal buffers to survive five years of $50 oil, the IMF said. Low oil prices also cause Iran and Iraq under pressure but UAE, Kuwait and Qatar can suvive IMF said. CNN
Chinese company to buy Texas oil fields in $1.3 billion deal
A Chinese investment firm is shelling out $1.3 billion to buy giant oil fields in Texas, reflecting growing interest from China in U.S. energy resources.
Yantai Xinchao will acquire oil assets in the western Texas Permian Basin that are currently owned by Tall City Exploration and Plymouth Petroleum. The deal is part of a larger transaction between Yantai Xinchao and a second Chinese firm, according to a stock exchange filing on Saturday. The purchase, which includes oil fields in the state’s Howard and Borden counties, has already been approved by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment, the filing said.
Many smaller Chinese oil and gas companies are looking for deals abroad as a way to combat tough competition from giant state-owned energy firms, and tight government regulations back home. CNN
Jimmy Morales easily won the country’s top office after a corruption scandal toppled the country’s last leader and fueled voter outrage with the political establishment. With 94 percent of the polling stations reporting, Morales won 69 percent of the votes against 31 percent for former first lady Sandra Torres who also vowed to tackle corruption, but was seen by many as part of the old political order. VOA
Two Police, Seven Militants Dead in Turkey IS Raid
A raid on an Islamic State cell in southeastern Turkey left two Turkish police officers and nine militants dead Monday, as authorities press their effort to combat the extremists based across the border in Syria.
Monday’s firefight happened in the mainly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir where police raided multiple houses. Security officials said four police officers were injured and three militants were captured. Turkish authorities have blamed the Islamic State group for a double suicide bombing in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, earlier this month that killed more than 100 people.
Turkey is also hosting about half of the 4 million Syrian refugees who have registered with the United Nations after fleeing Syria. The number of Syrians in Turkey has more than doubled since this time last year, adding to the strain the Syrian conflict has placed on the country’s neighbors. VOA
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