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Saudi Authorities Tell Al-Waleed Bin Talal He’ll Need To Pay At Least $6 BN For His Freedom

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(Via Daily Mail)

Saudi authorities want at least $6billion from jailed Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal to secure his freedom after he was arrested in a supposed anti-corruption purge.

This is the highest sum demanded so far by authorities in the Gulf state, and could involve handing over a large part of his conglomerate, Kingdom Holding Company, which has a market value of $9 billion.

Most of the princes detained at the five-star Ritz Carlton in Riyadh after being arrested in November have already paid large sums to secure their release.

Al-Waleed, 62, is the 57th-richest person in the world with an $18billion fortune, according to the Wall Street Journal, which quoted sources who said he is trying to strike a deal for his release.

Dozens of high-profile figures including princes, ministers and tycoons are still being held in the Ritz-Carlton now a makeshift luxury prison, in the biggest sweep of the kingdom’s elite in its recent history.

Some 320 people were called in for questioning and 159 people are currently being detained, many of whom have agreed to a ‘settlement’, or handing over allegedly ill-gotten gains to the Saudi state treasury, attorney general Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said.

‘The necessary arrangements are being finalised to conclude such agreements,’ Mojeb said in a statement.

The attorney general has previously said he estimates at least $100 billion has been lost in embezzlement or corruption over several decades.

His latest statement comes after Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, the former National Guard chief once seen as a contender to the throne, was released last week following a settlement reportedly exceeding $1 billion.

Some analysts saw Prince Miteb’s removal as an attempt by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also Saudi defence minister, to consolidate his control over the security services.

But Saudi authorities insist the purge was meant solely to target endemic corruption as the kingdom seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

In a recent interview to The New York Times, Prince Mohammed described as ‘ludicrous’ reports equating the crackdown to a power grab, saying that many of those detained at the opulent Ritz-Carlton had already pledged allegiance to him.

The attorney general said the bank accounts of 376 people have been frozen, all of whom are detained or linked to corruption allegations.

Saudi forces also grounded private jets at airports, possibly to prevent high-profile figures from leaving the country, an aviation source told AFP.

The purge has triggered uncertainty among businesses that could lead to capital flight or derail reforms, experts say, at a time when the kingdom is seeking to attract badly needed investments to offset a protracted oil slump.

Other high-profile targets of the crackdown include billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, dubbed the Warren Buffett of Saudi Arabia. The government has not commented on his current status.

The crackdown has exposed the kingdom’s once-untouchable elite to rare public scrutiny – Saudis on social media have quipped that the Ritz-Carlton was not the worst place to be trapped.

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Europe

Mass Migration ‘Dangerous Failure’ Says Hungary Official

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Mass migration is dangerous not only regarding terrorism, public security, culture and social security, but also the whole healthcare system, State Secretary Bence Retvari told Hungarian daily Magyar Hirlap.

According to Retvari, European epidemiological organisations have recorded a significant rise of communicable diseases, including those which had already disappeared from Europe thanks to vaccinations. Such cases have been documented in Malta, Italy and even Germany. According to the German Robert Koch Institute, since 2015 there’s a 300% rise in Hepatitis B and measles, and a 200% in malaria and syphilis cases. The frequency of diseases of unknown origin has grown from 14 to 26%.

According to Retvari, by supporting the “migrant visa” (humanitarian visa), the European Parliament “gave green light to millions of illegal and economic migrants, bringing even more dangers to Europe.”

“If we compare how much would Brussels spend on integrating one immigrant in Europe, – which is clearly a failed attempt based on the experiences of the recent decades -, and how much it costs to restore a home in a crisis zone, it’s clear that with the same amount of money we can help a lot more people in their areas than in Europe,” Retvari stressed.

He reminded that with the Hungary Helps programme the government was able to help thousands of people to restart their lives in Iraq. “So this solution is better considering effectiveness, social peace and the actually persecuted people too,” he added. According to the politician, this is the solution chosen by those who really want to help, unlike the “hypocritical Brussels elite.”

(Read Article Here)

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Military

WATCH: Israel Blows Up Hamas TV Station

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(Via Zerohedge)

The escalation in violence began when earlier in the day Monday thousands of mourners in the Gaza Strip buried seven militants killed during the Israeli commando raid and accompanying aircraft cover fire that resulted in strikes on the strip, which further led to sporadic rocket fire from Hamas.

One Israeli soldier was reported killed during the high risk operation which reportedly involved the commandos entering Gaza by civilian car in order to take out a gathering of Hamas military leaders.

During the Gaza funeral the crowd chanted “revenge” amidst masked gunmen in camouflage.

Apparently that “revenge” came in the form of a mortar shell fired from Gaza which scored a direct hit on a bus in southern Israel, severely wounding a 19-year-old Israeli. According to multiple regional reports this was followed by a barrage of over 100 rockets fired from Gaza toward Israel within only an hour’s time. Israeli sources have reported multiple injuries and extensive damage from the rockets, many of which may have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

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World

South Africa Testing “Confiscation” Of White Land To Build Affordable Housing

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The debate about land redistribution in South Africa has been a passionate one, as many South African cities face a housing crunch that has left hundreds of thousands of people living in informal settlements. Just as this debate is starting to reach a fever pitch, one South African city, Ekurhuleni, is about to embark on what mayor Mzwandile Masina calls “a test case” for the nation: the government is going to seize hundreds of acres of land, from white citizens without paying for it, to build low-cost housing.

Last month, the city voted in favor of pushing forward with “expropriation without compensation”. According to ABC News, this was cited by the African National Congress as a legal rule that is necessary in order to distribute land equitably and correct “historic injustices” that took place in the country.

The mayor of Ekurhuleni stated the same thing, saying that landowners in South Africa should not be scared. Mayor Masina told AP: “Our policy is not to take the land by force. Our policy is to make sure the land is shared amongst those that need it.” It was unclear what those whom the land is taken from thought about this policy.

The total amount of land that’s going to be expropriated amounts to about 865 acres. The land is both private and government owned, and some of it has been vacant for decades. Masina, who heads the local ANC-led coalition, did not specify which landowners will be hit be the measure.

The internationally debated land reform was approved by South Africa’s ruling party to address the historic injustices of apartheid, and distribute land among the population more equitably. According to the country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, over 77 percent of South African farms and agricultural holdings are owned by white citizens with only four percent of lands belonging to black South Africans. White citizens make up just nine percent of the country’s population, while black citizens account for 76 percent. This, to the ruling regime, is a green light to repossess land that has been owned by white citizens, in many cases for generations.

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