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Bank of Russia Says Ready to Continue FX Purchases in January

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Russia Elvira Nabiullina sees current market conditions as fit to restart foreign currency purchases off the market in January, Vedomosti reported citing the governor’s comments made during the VTB Bank’s annual investment forum “Russia Calling.”

“If the current situation on the financial markets continues, we think it will be possible to resume the regular purchases of foreign currency after the New Year holidays, from the 15th of January,” Nabiullina said.

Earlier this year, the Bank of Russia was using the Finance Ministry’s extra oil revenues to buy currency off the open market. However, amid ruble volatility in August the monetary regulator halted currency interventions and extended the pause until the end of 2018 in September’s key interest rate policy decision.

Investors have grown increasingly concerned about the possibility it would resume the purchases as a year-end deadline for the current pause draws nearer. The central bank announced that suspension in September along with a surprise rate hike in an effort to stabilize market.

Nabiullina’s comments have caused the ruble to slide, mostly in emerging markets. The Russian currency retreated as much as 0.6 percent before eroding some of its losses later in the day. In recent months, the ruble had recovered a bit since the fears of new U.S. sanctions have faded. But the recent fall in oil prices has clouded the outlook, Bloomberg wrote. Nabiullina said that on its own wouldn’t factor into the central bank’s decision on resuming the buying of foreign currency.

She added that the regulator will choose between keeping rates on hold and raising them at its next board meeting on December 14, noting that while emerging-market instability and sanctions fears have abated somewhat, the fall in oil prices and rising inflationary expectations add to risks to price stability.

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Two Arab-Israelis Arrested for Joining Islamic State

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Two Arab-Israelis have been arrested and charged with terrorist training and conspiracy to commit murder on behalf of the Islamic State terror group, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said on Wednesday.

The two, identified as 22-year-old medical student Amin Yassin and 28-year-old Ali al-Aroush, both from the Arab-Israeli city of Tamra, had previously been arrested on suspicion of committing IS-related security offenses.

They were re-arrested in July in a joint operation by the Shin Bet and Israel Police.

The indictment, filed Wednesday, found that the two “see themselves as envoys, until the establishment of an Islamic State in Israel,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

The pair were found to have downloaded “substantial” material connected with the terror group, including instructions on weaponry and how to carry out terrorist attacks “at a suitable time for the benefit of Jihad,” the statement said.

“The Shin Bet will continue to work with the police to expose suspects operating for the Islamic State terrorist organization,” the agency stated, “and will take the necessary enforcement measures to prevent any activity that is detrimental to state security, including the dissemination of the Islamic State terrorist-organization material in Israel.”

While Israel does not have an Islamic State presence within its borders, there have been several arrests of Arab Israelis suspected of links to the terror group. There have also been several dozen Arab Israelis who have crossed the border into neighboring Syria with plans to join the group.

Earlier this month, an Arab-Israeli who joined the Islamic State in Syria but was captured by Assad forces begged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow him to return to Israel, saying he promised to be “a better, more serious human being.”

Sayyaf Sharif Daoud also said that Israel was a democratic country and, unlike the Assad regime, did not rape and kill its own citizens.

“Us Arabs live together in Israel with the Jews. There is no injustice. We are treated just like the Jews,” Daoud said.

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YouTube shuts down more than 200 channels posting about Hong Kong protests

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Google announced Thursday that it had disabled 210 YouTube channels that were uploading videos “in a coordinated manner” about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. It says the channels appeared to be part of a coordinated influence campaign against the pro-democracy protests.

The action came as Twitter and Facebook accused the Chinese government of backing a social media campaign to discredit Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and sow political discord in the city.

Google-owned service said in a blog post it discovered channels “behaved in a coordinated manner against pro-democracy protests”.

“We disabled 210 channels on YouTube when we discovered channels in this network behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong,” Shane Huntley of Google’s security threat analysis group said in a blog post.

“This discovery of the 210 YouTube channels was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter.”

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Biblical Site Where Jesus Performed a Miracle Reportedly Uncovered Near Sea of Galilee

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Archaeologists working on a dig site on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee claim that they have discovered the ruins of the legendary settlement of Bethsaida, which is mentioned in the Gospels as the place where Jesus Christ healed a blind man.

According to Christianity Today, excavations started back in 2016 under the supervision of Professor Mordechai Aviam from the Kinneret College, with a small budget and an equally small team.

Operating under the assumption that a settlement existed at el Araj for over a thousand years spanning the Roman, Byzantine, Islamic and Crusader periods, the dig team first discovered the remains of a Crusader sugar factory “that had mostly reused still-standing Byzantine walls” at the site, later unearthing a Byzantine monastery accompanied by a church.

The two probes dug by the team below the Byzantine floors yielded Roman pottery and a considerable number of coins but no Byzantine objects; the team also found a layer of silt they later traced to the Jordan River.

As the media outlet points out, the researchers now hope to learn more about Bethsaida in order to expand their knowledge about the settlement’s place in the Bible.

News of the development comes after archaeologists announced the discovery of the fabled Church of the Apostles which, according to Christian tradition, was built over the home of Peter and Andrew, the disciples of Jesus Christ, in Bethsaida.

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