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OPEC+ to consider oil cut of over than 1 million barrels per day

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OPEC+ will consider an oil output cut of more than a million barrels per day (bpd) next week, OPEC sources said on Sunday.

Omar Marques | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

OPEC+ will consider an oil output cut of more than a million barrels per day (bpd) next week, OPEC sources said on Sunday, in what would be the biggest move yet since the Covid-19 pandemic to address oil market weakness.

The meeting will take place on Oct. 5 against the backdrop of falling oil prices and months of severe market volatility which prompted top OPEC+ producer, Saudi Arabia, to say the group could cut production.

OPEC+, which combines OPEC countries and allies such as Russia, has refused to raise output to lower oil prices despite pressure from major consumers, including the United States, to help the global economy.

Prices have nevertheless fallen sharply in the last month due to fears about the global economy and a rally in the U.S. dollar after the Federal Reserves raised rates.

A significant production cut is poised to anger the United States, which has been putting pressure on Saudi Arabia to continue pumping more to help oil prices soften further and reduce revenues for Russia as the West seeks to punish Moscow for sending troops to Ukraine.

The West accuses Russia of invading Ukraine, but the Kremlin calls it a special military operation.

Saudi Arabia has not condemned Moscow’s actions amid difficult relations with the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden.

Last week, a source familiar with the Russian thinking said Moscow would like to see OPEC+ cutting 1 million bpd or one percent of global supply.

That would be the biggest cut since 2020 when OPEC+ reduced output by a record 10 million bpd as demand crashed due to the Covid pandemic. The group spent the next two years unwinding those record cuts.

On Sunday, the sources said the cut could exceed 1 million bpd. One of the sources suggested cuts could also include a voluntary additional reduction of production by Saudi Arabia.

OPEC+ will meet in person in Vienna for the first time since March 2020.

Analysts and OPEC watchers such as UBS and JPMorgan have suggested in recent days a cut of around 1 million bpd was on the cards and could help arrest the price decline.

“$90 oil is non-negotiable for the OPEC+ leadership, hence they will act to safeguard this price floor,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.



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Ye and big tech gave Infowars one of its biggest days ever

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Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been banned across social media, but this week he still found a megaphone. 

Ye — the megastar formerly known as Kanye West — joined Jones’ far-right conspiracy theory outlet Thursday for an interview in which he announced his “love” for Adolf Hitler and Nazis. The unbridled antisemitism immediately captured the attention of the internet. While the content was overwhelmingly denounced, the interview — and the antisemitism expressed in it — still reached millions of people, thanks to reposted clips of the interview on mainstream social media platforms.

Now with clips of the interview being uploaded to YouTube, Google told NBC News in a statement that it is working to remove reuploads if the antisemitism in the interview isn’t denounced in the video via added commentary. Other platforms like Twitter have yet to explicitly address that type of spread.

Jones is perhaps best known for falsely claiming that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting didn’t happen. Jones and Infowars had already been banned from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Apple, YouTube, Spotify, Google Play, Vimeo, Pinterest, Mailchimp and LinkedIn. 

Jones now hosts his content on his own video platform called Banned, where broadcasts typically get anywhere from about 10,000 views to slightly more than 1 million views. 

But Ye’s interview had more than 3.1 million views as of publication. It was already Jones’ most-viewed video on his platform.

On other platforms, clips of the interview got millions more.

“Social media platforms reward the most contentious content, because people who oppose it engage with it to express their disgust, their anger, to say it’s wrong, and in doing so, platforms elevate that and give it an algorithmic boost,” Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, said.

The backlash to Ye’s comments was swift and unprecedented, with major conservative figures who had aligned with Ye days or even hours before the interview moving to denounce him. 

Late Thursday night, Ye tweeted screenshots of text messages purportedly between him and Elon Musk that showed Musk saying, “Sorry, but you have gone too far. This is not love,” immediately attracting attention to Ye’s account and his interview that day. 

Twitter suspended Ye later that night after Ye tweeted an image that contained a swastika. 

Despite the suspension, some reposts of the interview to Twitter have received more than 3 million views. 

Anti-hate groups and corporate advertisers have for years urged social media platforms to be vigilant about stopping the spread of online hate, arguing that sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube weren’t doing enough to enforce their own rules. 

“Someone saying something is disgusting and then retweeting the entire video, that does nothing besides express disgust, but it actually then amplifies it to a lot of people,” Ahmed said. 

“There is an effect where it draws people back to the Infowars platform, because they want to know where it’s coming from. It starts to normalize the notion that this sort of content is out there,” Ahmed said.

Some YouTube users were uploading full copies of the interview Friday, according to an NBC News search of the platform. And while full, unedited copies had only a few hundred views, right-wing commentators posted long clips from the interview mixing Ye’s antisemitic comments with their own reaction. One of those videos from a right-wing commentator had 307,000 views, giving Ye’s comments such as “I love Hitler” a large audience with little scrutiny. 

“This is one of the biggest problems in responding to online hate,” said Bond Benton, an associate professor of communication at Montclair State University. “There is a certain segment of people who will see it and say, ‘My hateful views have now been normalized.’ And they will be that much more comfortable expressing them individually and acting on them.”

The top search hits for Ye-related terms on YouTube were mostly videos from established news organizations giving context to the videos, but some commentators said they were torn about how much to discuss it. 

“The easy thing to do is to ignore it and not to talk about it, but I’ve got to talk about it because this is crazy,” said Greg Foreman, a conservative YouTuber in a 15-minute video with more than 80,000 views. He showed clips of Ye praising Hitler, and Foreman speculated that his channel might get a “strike” from YouTube as a result. 

“The Alex Jones Channel was terminated from YouTube in 2018, and in accordance with our circumvention policies, we’re removing third-party reuploads of his recent interview featuring Kanye West,” Jack Malon, a YouTube spokesperson, said in an email. 

“We may allow some of this content to remain on the platform, but only in cases where there is condemnation of the hateful views that would otherwise violate our Community Guidelines,” he said. 

On Facebook, some users uploaded short clips from the interview, often within the context of a news program but not always, according to an NBC News search. But the clips without context appeared to have very few views. One seven-minute video in which Ye makes antisemitic comments had only 48 views. 

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, said it was following its established policy on “dangerous individuals and organizations.” Under that policy, Meta says it will “remove content that praises, substantively supports or represents ideologies that promote hate, such as nazism and white supremacy.” 

The top post on Reddit on Thursday was a repost from the interview. Two other posts in the top 20 Reddit posts that day were also reposts, and both videos contained the Infowars logo. The videos contained the specific segments of the interview when Ye praised Hitler and Nazis, portraying them in a shocking and negative light. Responding to NBC News, Reddit pointed to its content policies, which include banning content and communities that attack marginalized and vulnerable people and groups. 

The largest social media platform where Ye still has a presence appears to be TikTok. His verified account there has 1.9 million followers, though as of Friday afternoon, his most recent TikTok video was from Oct. 13. 

One short clip of Ye’s interview without context had 82,700 views, and although searches on TikTok for Hitler’s name returned zero results, the person who posted the clip had used a slight variation of the name. The clip had more than 300 comments, including some from people who sided with Ye. 

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment and for additional information on its enforcement. 

“There is a devastating consequence to the normalization of antisemitism,” Ahmed said. “No one needs to be reminded of what that can lead to.”



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Delta pilots would get more than 30% in pay raises under new contract deal

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A pilot walks past the windows at the newly renovated Delta terminal D at LaGuardia Airport in New York March 6, 2021.

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Delta Air Lines and its pilots’ union have reached a preliminary agreement for raises topping 30% over four years, a milestone deal that could sharply drive up aviators’ pay across the industry.

Pilots’ unions and airlines across the U.S. have been in tense negotiations for months if not years, as crews seek more compensation and better schedules.

Delta pilots voted in October to authorize a strike if a deal wasn’t reached, while pilots at several airlines have picketed this year demanding contract improvements. Delta and the union were edging toward a deal in mid-November, CNBC reported.

Unions have complained about grueling schedules as travel snapped back from a pandemic slump. Delta and other U.S. carriers are profitable again, but a shortage of trained pilots has hampered carriers’ recovery and contributed to higher airfare. It also gives pilots more power in contract negotiations. Labor and fuel are airlines’ top two expenses.

The “agreement-in-principle” Delta reached with the Air Line Pilots Association is equal to $7.2 billion in cumulative value over four years, the union told members in an email late Friday. About a quarter of that is tied to quality-of-life improvements.

The agreement includes an 18% increase on the day the contract is signed, then a 5% increase one year later and two 4% raises in each of the following years. It also includes a one-time payment of 4% of 2020 and 2021 pay each, plus 14% of 2022 pay.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement in principle for a new pilot contract, one that recognizes the contributions of our pilots to Delta’s success,” a Delta spokesman said in an emailed statement.

Attempts at deals at American Airlines and United Airlines have so far failed but Delta’s agreement could push talks along.

“We will take other carriers’ ratified agreements, including United’s, into account and update our pay proposals quickly when details are known,” American’s CEO Robert Isom said in a video message to pilots in June.

The Delta agreement said pay rates will exceed United’s and American’s pay by at least 1% over the course of the agreement, which still needs union and pilot approval.



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Pentagon debuts its new stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider

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America’s newest nuclear stealth bomber made its debut Friday after years of secret development and as part of the Pentagon’s answer to rising concerns over a future conflict with China.

The B-21 Raider is the first new American bomber aircraft in more than 30 years. Almost every aspect of the program is classified.

As evening fell over the Air Force’s Plant 42 in Palmdale, the public got its first glimpse of the Raider in a tightly controlled ceremony. It started with a flyover of the three bombers still in service: the B-52 Stratofortress, the B-1 Lancer and the B-2 Spirit. Then the hangar doors slowly opened and the B-21 was towed partially out of the building.

“This isn’t just another airplane,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. “It’s the embodiment of America’s determination to defend the republic that we all love.”

The B-21 is part of the Pentagon’s efforts to modernize all three legs of its nuclear triad, which includes silo-launched nuclear ballistic missiles and submarine-launched warheads, as it shifts from the counterterrorism campaigns of recent decades to meet China’s rapid military modernization.

China is on track to have 1,500 nuclear weapons by 2035, and its gains in hypersonics, cyber warfare and space capabilities present “the most consequential and systemic challenge to U.S. national security and the free and open international system,” the Pentagon said this week in its annual China report.

“We needed a new bomber for the 21st Century that would allow us to take on much more complicated threats, like the threats that we fear we would one day face from China, Russia, ” said Deborah Lee James, the Air Force secretary when the Raider contract was announced in 2015.

While the Raider may resemble the B-2, once you get inside, the similarities stop, said Kathy Warden, chief executive of Northrop Grumman Corp., which is building the bomber.

“The way it operates internally is extremely advanced compared to the B-2, because the technology has evolved so much in terms of the computing capability that we can now embed in the software of the B-21,” Warden said.

Other changes include advanced materials used in coatings to make the bomber harder to detect, Austin said.

“Fifty years of advances in low-observable technology have gone into this aircraft,” Austin said. “Even the most sophisticated air defense systems will struggle to detect a B-21 in the sky.”

Other advances likely include new ways to control electronic emissions, so the bomber could spoof adversary radars and disguise itself as another object, and use of new propulsion technologies, several defense analysts said.

“It is incredibly low observability,” Warden said. “You’ll hear it, but you really won’t see it.”

Six Raiders are in production. The Air Force plans to build 100 that can deploy either nuclear weapons or conventional bombs and can be used with or without a human crew. Both the Air Force and Northrop also point to the Raider’s relatively quick development: The bomber went from contract award to debut in seven years. Other new fighter and ship programs have taken decades.

The cost of the bombers is unknown. The Air Force previously put the price at an average cost of $550 million each in 2010 dollars — roughly $753 million today — but it’s unclear how much is actually being spent. The total will depend on how many bombers the Pentagon buys.

“We will soon fly this aircraft, test it, and then move it into production. And we will build the bomber force in numbers suited to the strategic environment ahead,” Austin said.

The undisclosed cost troubles government watchdogs.

“It might be a big challenge for us to do our normal analysis of a major program like this,” said Dan Grazier, a senior defense policy fellow at the Project on Government Oversight. “It’s easy to say that the B-21 is still on schedule before it actually flies. Because it’s only when one of these programs goes into the actual testing phase when real problems are discovered.” That, he said, is when schedules start to slip and costs rise.

The B-2 was also envisioned to be a fleet of more than 100 aircraft, but the Air Force built only 21, due to cost overruns and a changed security environment after the Soviet Union fell. Fewer than that are ready to fly on any given day due to the significant maintenance needs of the aging bomber.

The B-21 Raider, which takes its name from the 1942 Doolittle Raid over Tokyo, will be slightly smaller than the B-2 to increase its range, Warden said. It won’t make its first flight until 2023. However, Warden said Northrop Grumman has used advanced computing to test the bomber’s performance using a digital twin, a virtual replica of the one unveiled Friday.

Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota will house the bomber’s first training program and squadron, though the bombers are also expected to be stationed at bases in Texas and Missouri.

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, a Republican of South Dakota, led the state’s bid to host the bomber program. In a statement, he called it “the most advanced weapon system ever developed by our country to defend ourselves and our allies.”

Northrop Grumman has also incorporated maintenance lessons learned from the B-2, Warden said.

In October 2001, B-2 pilots set a record when they flew 44 hours straight to drop the first bombs in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks. The B-2 often does long round-trip missions because there are few hangars globally that can accommodate its wingspan, which limits where it can land for maintenance. The hangars also must be air-conditioned because the Spirit’s windows don’t open and hot climates can cook cockpit electronics.

The new Raider will also get new hangars to accommodate its size and complexity, Warden said.

However, with the Raider’s extended range, ‘it won’t need to be based in-theater,” Austin said. “It won’t need logistical support to hold any target at risk.”

A final noticeable difference was in the debut itself. While both went public in Palmdale, the B-2 was rolled outdoors in 1988 amid much public fanfare. Given advances in surveillance satellites and cameras, the Raider was just partially exposed, keeping its sensitive propulsion systems and sensors under the hangar and protected from overhead eyes.

“The magic of the platform,” Warden said, “is what you don’t see.”



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