For many people in government and the auto industry, the main concern is whether there will be enough lithium to meet soaring demand for electric vehicles.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed in August, has raised the stakes for the auto industry. To qualify for several incentives and subsidies in the law, which go to car buyers and automakers and are worth a total of $10,000 or more per electric vehicle, battery makers must use raw materials from North America or a country with which the United States has a trade agreement.

rising fast.

California and other states move to ban internal combustion engines. “It’s going to take everything we can do and our competitors can do over the next five years to keep up,” Mr. Norris said.

One of the first things that Sayona had to do when it took over the La Corne mine was pump out water that had filled the pit, exposing terraced walls of dark and pale stone from previous excavations. Lighter rock contains lithium.

After being blasted loose and crushed, the rock is processed in several stages to remove waste material. A short drive from the mine, inside a large building with walls of corrugated blue metal, a laser scanner uses jets of compressed air to separate light-colored lithium ore. The ore is then refined in vats filled with detergent and water, where the lithium floats to the surface and is skimmed away.

The end product looks like fine white sand but it is still only about 6 percent lithium. The rest includes aluminum, silicon and other substances. The material is sent to refineries, most of them in China, to be further purified.

Yves Desrosiers, an engineer and a senior adviser at Sayona, began working at the La Corne mine in 2012. During a tour, he expressed satisfaction at what he said were improvements made by Sayona and Piedmont. Those include better control of dust, and a plan to restore the site once the lithium runs out in a few decades.

“The productivity will be a lot better because we are correcting everything,” Mr. Desrosiers said. In a few years, the company plans to upgrade the facility to produce lithium carbonate, which contains a much higher concentration of lithium than the raw metal extracted from the ground.

The operation will get its electricity from Quebec’s abundant hydropower plants, and will use only recycled water in the separation process, Mr. Desrosiers said. Still, environmental activists are watching the project warily.

Mining is a pillar of the Quebec economy, and the area around La Corne is populated with people whose livelihoods depend on extraction of iron, nickel, copper, zinc and other metals. There is an active gold mine near the largest city in the area, Val-d’Or, or Valley of Gold.

Mining “is our life,” said Sébastien D’Astous, a metallurgist turned politician who is the mayor of Amos, a small city north of La Corne. “Everybody knows, or has in the near family, people who work in mining or for contractors.”

Most people support the lithium mine, but a significant minority oppose it, Mr. D’Astous said. Opponents fear that another lithium mine being developed by Sayona in nearby La Motte, Quebec, could contaminate an underground river.

Rodrigue Turgeon, a local lawyer and program co-leader for MiningWatch Canada, a watchdog group, has pushed to make sure the Sayona mines undergo rigorous environmental reviews. Long Point First Nation, an Indigenous group that says the mines are on its ancestral territory, wants to conduct its own environmental impact study.

Sébastien Lemire, who represents the region around La Corne in the Canadian Parliament, said he wanted to make sure that the wealth created by lithium mining flowed to the people of Quebec rather than to outside investors.

Mr. Lemire praised activists for being “vigilant” about environmental standards, but he favors the mine and drives an electric car, a Chevrolet Bolt.

“If we don’t do it,” he said at a cafe in La Corne, “we’re missing the opportunity of the electrification of transport.”

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Stocks subdued by outsized rate risks, yen fragile

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  • Fed looms over broader markets, dollar rises
  • Oil tumbles on demand concerns, U.S. rail strike averted
  • Treasury yields climb while oil gold tumbles

NEW YORK, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Wall Street indexes were firmly in the red after a choppy start to Thursday’s session while bond yields rose as investors digested economic data that provided the Federal Reserve little reason to ease its aggressive interest rate hiking cycle.

Oil futures tumbled more than 3% on demand concerns and after a tentative agreement that would avert a U.S. rail strike, as well as continued U.S. dollar strength with expectations for a large U.S. rate increase. read more

Economic data showed U.S. retail sales unexpectedly rebounded in August as Americans ramped up purchases of motor vehicles and dined out more while taking advantage of lower gasoline prices. But data for July was revised downward to show retail sales declining instead of flat as previously reported.

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Separately the Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell for the week ended Sept. 10 to the lowest level since the end of May. read more

Investors are widely expecting an aggressive rate hike after the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting next week, but nervously awaiting hints from Fed Chair Jerome Powell about future policy moves, said Quincy Krosby, chief global strategist at LPL Financial.

“The market remains choppy knowing that there’s a Fed meeting next week. Even though participants agree that it’ll be a 75 basis points rate hike, it’s what the statement adds to previous commentary and what Chairman Powell says in his press conference” that have them worried, Krosby said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) fell 173.07 points, or 0.56%, to 30,962.02; the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 44.69 points, or 1.13%, to 3,901.32 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dropped 167.32 points, or 1.43%, to 11,552.36.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe (.MIWD00000PUS) shed 0.96% while emerging market stocks (.MSCIEF) lost 0.57%.

Stocks, bonds and currencies on Thursday were showing a market “increasingly understanding the Fed is going to hike more aggressively next week,” said Scott Ladner, chief investment officer at Horizon Investments in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Referring particularly to the still strong labor market, Ladner said “economic numbers released today are tying a bow on the situation.”

Treasury yields rose with the two-year hitting fresh 15-year highs, after data on retail sales and jobless claims showed a resilient economy that gives the Fed ample room to aggressively hike interest rates.

Also already signaling a recession warning the inverted yield curve – the gap between 2-year and 10-year treasury yields – widened further to -41.4 basis points, compared with -13.0 bps a week ago.

Benchmark 10-year notes were up 4.5 basis points to 3.457%, from 3.412% late on Wednesday. The 30-year bond last fell 5/32 in price to yield 3.4779%, from 3.469%. The 2-year note last fell 5/32 in price to yield 3.8646%, from 3.782%.

“In this vicious cycle where the data continues to remain resilient, that would imply a Fed that would likely stay the course and continue to tighten policy,” said Subadra Rajappa, head of U.S. rates strategy at Societe Generale in New York.

Also clouding investors’ moods on Thursday was the World Bank’s assessment that the world may be edging toward a global recession as central banks across the world simultaneously hike interest rates to combat persistent inflation. read more

In currencies the dollar was slightly higher against the yen while the Swiss franc hit its strongest level against the euro since 2015. read more

The dollar index , which measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies, rose 0.091%, with the euro up 0.18% to $0.9995.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.19% versus the greenback at 143.44 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.1469, down 0.57% on the day.

Before the tentative labor agreement, fears of a U.S. railroad worker strike had supported oil prices due to supply concerns on Wednesday. In addition, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said this week that oil demand growth would grind to a halt in the fourth quarter.

U.S. crude settled down 3.82% at $85.10 per barrel while Brent finished at $90.84, down 3.46% on the day.

Gold dropped to its lowest level since April 2021, hurt by elevated U.S. Treasury yields and a firm dollar, as bets of another hefty Fed rate hike eroded bullion’s appeal.

Spot gold dropped 1.9% to $1,664.46 an ounce. U.S. gold futures fell 2.02% to $1,662.30 an ounce.

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Additional reporting by Herbert Lash in New York, Marc Jones in London, Stefano Rebaudo in Milan, Tom Westbrook in Singapore and Wayne Cole in Sydney; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Jonathan Oatis

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House Passes Bill Protecting Same-Sex Marriage Rights

The House introduced a bill named The Respect for Marriage Act that aims to protect same-sex marriages for LGBTQIA couples.

Andrew Morrison is concerned about marriage rights.

“How long will my marriage be protected?,” Morrison said. 

With the constitutional right to an abortion now gone, many worry same-sex marriage could be next. 

“My main thought was my sister and my female friends who, you know, this is impacting them in an immediate sense. But it wasn’t long before I started thinking, again, what precedent does this set?,” he continued. 

The Supreme Court watchers zeroed in on a comment made by Justice Clarence Thomas in his concurring opinion on the ruling. 

He said the Supreme Court should, quote, “reconsider all of this court’s substantive due process precedents” including Obergefell, adding that it’s up to the nation’s highest court to, quote, “correct the error.” 

It read in part: “[i]n future cases, we should reconsider all of this court’s substantive due process precedents because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous’. We have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents,” Thomas said. 

These include Obergefell v. Hodges, which barred states from banning same-sex marriage; and Loving v. Virgina, which overturned laws prohibiting interracial marriage. 

Democratic leaders quickly vowed to respond with legislation to codify same-sex marriage and other rights. 

“I absolutely do worry about same-sex marriage. I worry about the policing of all sex acts in general,” said Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

One of those bills is the Respect for Marriage Act. 

It would officially repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act signed by President Bill Clinton, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. 

Supreme Court decisions in 2013 and 2015 ruled it was unconstitutional. 

But the law is technically still on the books, even if it can’t be enforced, and Democrats want to repeal it and for all. They also want to take steps to ensure that all same sex and interracial marriages are recognized between states.    

“The MAGA Republicans that are taking over the Republican party have made it abundantly clear they’re not satisfied with repealing Roe. As many have openly said, they’ve now turned their attention now on the Obergefell decision and marriage equality. We need to pause and think about how unhinged, unhinged this idea is,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.  

Some congressional Republicans are taking the opposite stance. 

“In Obergefell, the court said, ‘no, we know better than you guys do, and now every state must, must sanction and permit gay marriage.’ I think that decision was clearly wrong when it was decided. It was the court overreaching,” said Senator Ted Cruz.  

As this legislation begins its journey through Congress, the LGBTQIA community is bracing for impact.  

“People who are married and who are gay are now looking to reinforce their marital situation with their spouses and the privileges that go along with marriage. And they are trying to shore up their rights by wills and powers of attorney and advanced health care directives,” attorney Sydney Duncan said.  

But many are rallying with a message of hope and a promise to fight. 

Tiffany Freisberg is the president of St. Pete Pride. 

“It’s a threat, it’s a threat. But there’s a lot of people who don’t want to see us going backwards. And we’re going to do what we can to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Friesberg said. 

Source: newsy.com

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Russia joins G20 meeting overshadowed by Ukraine conflict

  • Lavrov attending gathering of Russia’s most vocal opponents
  • Talks to include global food and energy security
  • Britain’s Truss to cut short trip – BBC
  • G7 countries not present at Bali reception
  • ‘Everyone has to feel comfortable’ – Indonesia minister

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, July 7 (Reuters) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will have his first close encounter with the fiercest critics of his country’s invasion of Ukraine at a G20 gathering in Indonesia that was getting under way on Thursday with the war all but certain to dominate discussions.

A closed-door foreign minister’s meeting on Friday will be the first time Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat Lavrov will come face-to-face with the most vocal opponents of the invasion of Ukraine in February, which Moscow has called a “special military operation”.

Lavrov planned to meet some of his counterparts on the sidelines of the summit, Russian news agency TASS reported, but ministers including Germany’s Annalena Baerbock and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken have ruled out separate meetings with him.

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Underlining tensions in the buildup to the meeting, Retno Marsudi, Indonesia’s foreign minister, said G7 counterparts had informed her they could not attend Thursday’s reception ceremony, decisions that the host nation understood and respected. It was not immediately clear if Lavrov attended.

“We’re talking about trying to create a comfortable situation for all,” Retno told reporters.

“I understand your position. Because once again, everyone has to feel comfortable to attend.”

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said her country and like-minded nations would use the G20 meeting to highlight the impact of the war.

“We will be making very clear collectively our views about Russia’s position and Russia’s behaviour,” she said.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, however, may leave early: the BBC reported she planned to return to London amid the political drama around Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation.

A British Foreign Office official declined to comment.

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS

Energy and food security are on the Bali meeting agenda, with Western nations accusing Russia of stoking a global food crisis and worsening inflation by blockading shipments of Ukrainian grain. Russia has said it is ready to facilitate unhindered exports of grain.

The Group of 20 includes Western countries that have accused Moscow of war crimes in Ukraine – which it denies – and have imposed sanctions, but also countries like China, Indonesia, India and South Africa that have been more muted in their response.

Speaking after meeting his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, Lavrov emphasised the importance of Russia-China ties in shaping a more “just and democratic world based on the principles of international law”.

He also lashed out at what he said was an “openly aggressive” West “which seeks to maintain its privileged position and dominance in international affairs”.

Some U.S. and European officials have stressed the gathering will not be “business as a usual”. A spokesperson for the German foreign minister said G7 countries would coordinate their response to Lavrov.

In 2014, the G7 excluded Russia from what had become the G8, over its annexation of Crimea.

Top officials from Britain, Canada and the United States walked out on Russian representatives during a G20 finance meeting in Washington in April. However despite early talk of boycotting subsequent G20 meetings, some analysts say Western nations may have decided this would be counterproductive.

A senior U.S. State Department official said on Thursday it was important to maintain a focus on what Indonesia had set out for its G20 presidency and “not let there be any disruptions or interruptions to that”.

“We also want to make sure that there’s nothing that in any way, shape or form lends any conceivable legitimacy to what Russia is doing in brutalising Ukraine,” the official said.

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Reporting by Stanley Widianto and Yuddy Chaya Budiman in Nusa Dua, Kirsty Needham in Sydney and David Brunnstrom in Tokyo; Writing by Kate Lamb
Editing by Ed Davies, Frances Kerry, Martin Petty, William Maclean

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Pilot strike grounds more SAS flights as first Chapter 11 court date nears

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SAS airplanes are parked at the Oslo Airport Gardermoen, as Scandinavian airlines (SAS) pilots go on strike, Norway July 4, 2022. Beate Oma Dahle/NTB via REUTERS

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  • Data shows 63% of SAS flights cancelled on Wednesday
  • Pilot strike grounding flights as SAS files for Chapter 11
  • U.S. court proceedings set to begin on Thursday

STOCKHOLM, July 6 (Reuters) – Airline SAS (SAS.ST) headed into the third day of a crippling pilot strike which sent new bookings tumbling and prompted the cancellation of well over half its flights on Wednesday.

The carrier, whose biggest owners are the Swedish and the Danish states, geared up for the first court date in its bankruptcy proceedings later in the week after it filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States on Tuesday to help cut debt. read more .

Talks between SAS and pilots over a new collective bargaining agreement collapsed on Monday, triggering a strike that adds to travel chaos across Europe and sparked heated trading of blame between management and unions in a region long praised for strong labour market models.

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There have been no negotiations with the Scandinavian airline since the strike broke out, a spokesperson for the Swedish Pilot Union told Reuters.

“We are in principle still sitting and waiting for them at the table,” SAS Chief Operating Officer Simon Pauck Hansen told Reuters.

He said SAS had not been able to agree to a deal yet because the pilots had only met about half of the demands set out in the airline’s comprehensive cost-cutting plan, which it says is crucial to its survival.

“We must get the compensation level down so it matches other companies,” Hansen said adding that SAS’ pilots are about 30% more expensive if you measure what is being paid per day they fly compared to peers at other airlines in Denmark.

The pilots have said they are not asking for increased wages and would accept cuts but won’t accept SAS’ decision to hire new pilots through two new subsidiaries – Connect and Link – under what unions say are worse terms.

They insist the airline should instead first re-hire 450 former employees dismissed during the pandemic, when almost half of the airline’s pilots were let go.

SOLIDARITY

Asked about the fact many say the strike increases the risk SAS won’t make it, Swedish SAS pilot Joakim Oberg – who was on the picket line at Arlanda Airport on Monday and Tuesday – said: “We are aware of that but I am prepared to risk my job for this cause. If not I will not have a job anyway down the line.”

Oberg, who usually flies from Oslo, said job security and solidarity with colleagues let go during the pandemic were the main reasons he was striking.

SAS has said the strike will cost it $10 million to $13 million per day and the company’s ticket sales for future flights will also take a hit.

“The (booking) activity is very low and that is very harmful for the company,” SAS’ Hansen said.

Data from flight tracking website FlightAware showed 196 SAS flights grounded on Wednesday, a cancellation rate of 63%. The airline has said the strike will affect about half its flights on a daily basis.

At Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport, normally buzzing with SAS flights, ground-handling staff were doing their best to cope with the situation, said Martin Johansson, chairman of the local branch of the white-collar Unionen labour union.

“They are worried,” he said. “Ground handling are the ones taking the first hit – we are always the first ones that the travellers meet here.”

“There is little they can do but to send people home.”

The airline has said the move to seek bankruptcy protection was aimed at accelerating a restructuring plan announced in February. The first hearing in the proceedings had been scheduled for Thursday in New York city, a court filing showed.

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Reporting by Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm, Jamie Freed in Sydney and Stine Jacobsen in Copenhagen, writing by Niklas Pollard;
Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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In London, a Long-Awaited High-Speed Train Is Ready to Roll

LONDON — When Andy Byford ran New York City’s dilapidated subway system, fed-up New Yorkers hailed his crusade to make the trains run with fewer delays and lamented his premature exit after clashes with the governor at the time, Andrew M. Cuomo. He was a familiar, unfailingly cheerful presence on its often-restive platforms. Straphangers even took to calling him “Train Daddy.”

Nobody calls Mr. Byford Train Daddy in London, where he resurfaced in May 2020 as the commissioner of the city’s transit authority, Transport for London. But on May 24, when he opens the Elizabeth line — the long-delayed, $22 billion-plus high-speed railway that uncoils from west and east underneath central London — he might find himself again worthy of a cheeky nickname.

“That was fun in New York,” said Mr. Byford, 56, a gregarious public transport evangelist who grew up in Plymouth, England, began his career as a tube-station manager in London, and has also run transit systems in Toronto and Sydney, Australia. “But I’m really enjoying almost complete anonymity in London.”

Second Avenue subway or the extension of the No. 7 line, which are tiny projects by comparison.”

Mr. Cuomo resigned last year, his successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul, put a proposed $2.1 billion AirTrain project to LaGuardia airport on ice. That leaves the newly renovated airport without a rail link to Manhattan, to the enduring frustration of many New Yorkers.

Heathrow Airport has had a subway link for decades. When the Elizabeth line’s next phase is opened in the fall, passengers will be able to travel from Heathrow to the banks at Canary Wharf in East London in 40 minutes; that is a prime selling point for a city desperate to hold on to its status as financial mecca after Brexit. All told, the line has 10 entirely new stations, 42 miles of tunnels and crosses under the Thames three times.

“We’re jealous, it’s fair to say,” said Danny Pearlstein, the policy director for Riders Alliance, a transportation advocacy group in New York. “Imagining a new, full-length underground line here is not something anyone is doing. The Second Avenue subway, which people have been talking about for 100 years, has three stations.”

To be fair, Transport for London is not without its problems. It has shelved plans to build a north-south counterpart to the Elizabeth line, not to mention an extension to the Bakerloo tube line, because of a lack of funding. Still reeling from a near-total loss of riders during pandemic lockdowns, the system faces many of the same financial woes as New York’s subway.

Though ridership has recovered from a nadir of 5 percent, it is still at only 70 percent of prepandemic levels. Transport for London is also heavily dependent on ticket fares to cover its costs, more so than the New York subway, which gets state subsidies, as well as funds from bridge and tunnel tolls.

“My other obsession is sorting out the finances,” Mr. Byford said. “One way is to wean us away from dependence on fares.”

He is somewhat vague about how to do that, and it is clear that Transport for London will depend on additional government handouts to get back on sound financial footing. That is why the opening of the Elizabeth line is so important to London: It makes a powerful case for public transportation at a time when people are questioning how many workers will ever return to their offices.

Mr. Byford lays out the case with the practiced cadence of a stump speech. The new line will increase the capacity of the system by 10 percent. Its spacious coaches are well suited to a world in which people are used to social distancing. It will revitalize economically blighted towns east of the city, while making central London accessible to people who live in far-flung towns to the east and west.

While Mr. Byford does not expect ridership ever to return completely, he thinks 90 percent is attainable. If office buildings remain underpopulated, London could develop like Paris, with more residential neighborhoods downtown. (The Elizabeth line bears a distinct resemblance to the high-speed RER system in Paris.) The line, he says, is an insurance policy against the “siren voices of doom” about Brexit.

At times, Mr. Byford slips perilously close to a real estate agent’s patter. “These super-high-tech stations simply ooze quality,” he said. But emerging from Liverpool Street, with its spectacular, rippling, pinstriped ceiling, it is hard to argue with his basic assertion: “This is a game changer.”

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East Timor’s Ramos-Horta makes pitch for stability ahead of election, article with image

DILI, March 18 (Reuters) – The frontrunner in East Timor’s presidential election, independence figure and Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, has said he hopes to restore political stability to Asia’s youngest democracy, as the nation prepares to head to the polls.

East Timor will hold its fifth presidential election on Saturday since gaining independence, after a campaign also focused on economic security and jobs.

In a streamed address to the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia late on Thursday, the 72-year-old former prime minister and president said he felt compelled to run to safeguard the constitutional integrity of East Timor.

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“What happened in the past few years is that the president exceeded his powers,” said Ramos-Horta, referring to prolonged political tensions that have hampered efforts to cut poverty, tackle corruption and develop rich energy resources.

In 2018, incumbent president and former resistance fighter Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres refused to swear in seven ministers from the National Congress of the Reconstruction of East Timor (CNRT), a political party led by the country’s first president and former resistance leader Xanana Gusmao.

Guterres said his actions were justified given judicial inquiries into alleged misconduct, but the move entrenched party divisions and led to a prolonged political impasse.

Patricio da Silva, a supporter of the president, said during a recent campaign rally he still had “high hopes” that Guterres would be able to win another term in office.

Ramos-Horta, Guterres and a former army commander are the top contenders in the election, according to a poll by the National University in East Timor.

The survey showed Ramos-Horta, who is backed by Xanana’s CNRT party, in the lead with 39%.

If none of the 16 candidates wins a majority, a second-round runoff will be held between the top two candidates on April 19.

Approaching 20 years of independence after a brutal occupation by Indonesia, the role of young voters has been in focus with an estimated 20% of the electorate first-time voters in the country of 1.3 million.

“The big issue in a society with a median age of 18 is that it has to produce a lot more jobs and educational opportunities,” said Michael Leach, an academic from Australia’s Swinburne University, who also cites the urgency for East Timor to reduce its dependence on oil and gas revenues.

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Reporting and Writing by Kate Lamb in Sydney;
Additional reporting by Francisco Ismenio in Dili.
Editing by Ed Davies

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