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Global oil prices have surged after a tentative deal was reportedly cut to ease production and tackle a fresh supply glut.

US crude and Brent crude prices entered bear market territory last month – only weeks after hitting their highest level for four years – as growing supplies of US shale oil combined with fears around a slowing global economy.

On Friday, following a tough round of talks in Vienna, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) signalled output would fall next year – and by a greater margin than some market experts had predicted.

The headquarters of the OPEC cartel is in Vienna
The headquarters of the OPEC cartel is in Vienna

It was understood that a combined cut of 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) was agreed by OPEC with Russia, which is not a member, also joining the effort.

However, the Reuters news agency said Russia’s output figure was yet to be fully nailed down.

:: Oil bear market shows US shale has teeth

A major sticking point had proved to be a demand by sanctions-hit Iran that it be exempt from some of the reduction restrictions, though Tehran later indicated it was happy with the outcome.

BNP Paribas strategist Harry Tchilinguirian told the Reuters Global Oil Forum: “(A cut of) 1.2 million bpd, if implemented promptly and fully, should be enough to largely attenuate, but not eliminate, expected implied global inventory builds in the first half of next year.”

Competition to Brent from US shale output has weighed on prices at a time when financial markets are worried about the health of the global economy and the fallout of the US-China trade war.

Production from the US, Russia and OPEC nations grew by more than three million bpd in 2018 – the majority of the gain a result of US output growth.

The outcome of the OPEC meeting will disappoint Donald Trump.

The US president had urged OPEC not to put economic growth at risk by cutting output and raising prices.

US light crude was trading up 4% at $53 a barrel on Friday afternoon while Brent was 5% higher at $63.

The shift higher is unlikely to have a big effect on petrol prices over the Christmas holiday period for UK motorists as pump costs have been slow to come down since the dramatic fall in oil prices began in October.

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Who is the ex-Fox News presenter set to be Trump’s UN ambassador?



Donald Trump has nominated a former Fox News presenter to be his ambassador at the United Nations.

The president described Heather Nauert as “very talented, very smart, very quick”, adding: “I think she’s going to be respected by all.”

If confirmed by the Senate, she will take over from Nikki Haley, who announced in October that she would be stepping down at the end of the year.

But the nomination has been met with concern, considering comments Ms Nauert has made in the past and her relative inexperience.

She has been in her current role as spokeswoman for the US State Department since April 2017.

Spokesperson Heather Nauert (L) listens while US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks with reporters
Heather Nauert (L) listens while US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks with reporters

From March until October this year, the 48-year-old, from Rockford, Illinois, worked as acting undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs.

Before that, from 2012 until she was appointed to government by Mr Trump, she was a presenter on Fox and Friends, the news channel’s flagship show that often featured the mogul as a political pundit before he ran for office.

But the most high profile criticism of Ms Nauert came after she gave the example of the D-Day landings as evidence of a longstanding relationship between Germany and Washington.

She told a reporter: “When you talk about Germany, we have a very strong relationship with the government of Germany.

“Tomorrow is the anniversary of the D-Day invasion. We obviously have a very long history with the government of Germany, and we have a strong relationship with the government.”

Heather Nauert introduces Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during  the official release of a report
Heather Nauert introduces Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the release of a report

She also shocked journalists when being quizzed about what the Trump administration was doing to help end the civil war in Syria by saying: “I don’t know what some of you expect us to do.”

Her appointment comes amid rumours of an impending reshuffle, as Mr Trump looks to clear out those who are less than loyal to his agenda.

Jonathan Swan, a reporter for US political website Axios, said earlier this year that Ms Nauert is one of the few in her department whose loyalty has never been questioned.

A White House insider told him: “With all the stink attached to the State Department, she’s one person who all the Trump people know is a Trump person.”

She is said to get on particularly well with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, with whom she has visited multiple countries, in addition to those she went to with Mr Pompeo’s predecessor Rex Tillerson.

Her tweets since her appointment to the State Department nearly two years ago show obvious support for the administration’s policies, but she has also retweeted investigative journalism carried out by news organisations Mr Trump has accused of failing or reporting “fake news”.

She has also remained a strong supporter of her former employer Fox News.

Ex-US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, criticised the choice, saying her job as spokeswoman at the State Department is “to read talking points and explain policy.”

He said the job of UN ambassador was very different and usually requires foreign policy or diplomatic expertise or both.

She is likely to have to undergo an intense interview by the Senate as part of her confirmation process, but analysts say she is likely to be approved as the ratio of Republicans to Democrats is now 53-47.

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Egypt investigates explicit video and photos at top of Great Pyramid



Authorities in Egypt are investigating after a Danish photographer climbed the Great Pyramid and took explicit pictures at the top.

Images of Andreas Hvid and an unidentified woman are posted on his website and were included in a YouTube video he shot while climbing the monument.

The video is no longer posted on his YouTube page but others have reposted it, and the footage shows the Dane and the woman reaching the 455ft top and looking out over the view of Cairo below.

An explicit still picture which is inserted into the video and posted on his website shows Mr Hvid on top of the woman who is lying on the summit of the 4,500-year-old pyramid. Neither are wearing clothes.

Another clip in the video shows the woman taking off her top.

The website of Andreas Hvid, featuring an image of two people naked at the top of the Great Pyramid
The website of Andreas Hvid, featuring an image of two people naked at the top of the Great Pyramid

The Egypt Today website says Mr Hvid wrote in the description for the video before it was apparently taken down: “In late November 2018, a friend and I climbed the Great Pyramid of Giza (a.k.a. Pyramid of Khufu, Pyramid of Cheops).

“Fearing to be spotted by the many guards, I did not film the several hours of sneaking around at the Giza Plateau, which lead up to the climb.”

State news agency Ahram Online said on Friday that the minister of antiquities Khaled el Anany had referred the case to the prosecutor general for investigation.

He said the action was a violation of public morality and the incident and video would be investigated by the attorney general.

The Great Pyramid is only 0.067 degrees counter-clockwise from perfect cardinal alignment
Access to the Great Pyramid is forbidden and the area nearby is patrolled by police

Climbing the Pyramids of Giza beyond a certain level is forbidden and the whole site is out of bounds after 5pm, after which it is patrolled by police officers.

The mostly-Muslim country regards the pyramids as among its most important monuments.

The site’s archaeological director, Ashraf Mohi, had previously said he believed the video was fake because of an unexplained “illumination” near the horizon.

The pictures and video are said to have been shared hundreds of times on social media, with an angry reaction from many of those who commented.

One of the latest posters, Martin Eiler, who commented on Facebook after the image had been removed from that site, said: “Andreas; think about and remove your pyramid (picture) from your website. It’s not legal, but what’s worse is that it’s not okay at all…”

Mr Hvid describes himself in his YouTube profile as an “urban explorer” and many of the images on his Instagram, Flickr and other social media feeds feature him at the top of buildings in places around the world.

Others pictures on his photography website, most of which feature women in unusual places, are labelled “nude”.

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Six people dead and more than 100 injured in stampede at Italian nightclub



Six people have died and more than 100 have been injured in a stampede at a nightclub in Italy, firefighters have said.

Officials said concertgoers at the venue in the town of Corinaldo ran for the exits after someone sprayed a noxious substance.

More follows…

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