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Malaysia's First Islamic-Compliant Airline Takes Off

Malaysia's first Islamic-compliant airline Rayani Air began operations Sunday with its maiden flight taking off from the capital to the resort island of Langkawi, local media reported.

In-flight meals served on board its flights are completely halal, with alcohol consumption strictly prohibited.

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New Dawn or Wild West? 'Sharing Economy' Goes Global

It's a new dawn for transport, lodging -- and pretty much every service under the sun -- and it's all about "sharing."

The so-called sharing economy gained traction across the globe in 2015 as Uber upended the taxi business, Airbnb disrupted the hotel sector and a host of online and mobile startups let people moonlight as chefs or handymen.

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Bitcoin's 'Blockchain' Tech May Transform Banking

The technology that drives the shadowy crypto-currency bitcoin is drawing interest from the established banking industry, which sees a potential to revolutionize the sector.

Although bitcoin and related virtual currencies are limited to a small set of transactions and are often associated with the underground economy, the so-called blockchain technology is gaining currency in the financial world.

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Isis Pharma Changes Name To Avoid unwanted association

Isis Pharmaceuticals is changing its name to avoid any unwanted association with the Islamic State extremist group, the California company said Friday.

It will now be called Ionis Pharmaceuticals, setting it clearly apart from the jihadists, whose acronyms include ISIS, IS and ISIL.

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Argentina Gets 'Macri-Economic' Shock Treatment

In just a week as Argentina's president, conservative Mauricio Macri has passed drastic economic reforms, drawing praise from foreign investors but angry protests from citizens afraid for their salaries.

The so-called "Macri-economic" shock treatment in Latin America's third-biggest economy saw the peso currency plunge by a third after he scrapped his leftist predecessor's dollar exchange controls.

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Emerging Powers Rise in IMF as U.S. Unblocks Reforms

China, India and Russia will soon speak with a louder voice at the International Monetary Fund.

After years of opposition, the U.S. Congress has dismantled the final barrier to reforms that will give the emerging-market powers more say in the affairs of the 188-nation global crisis lender.

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Italy Leads Charge against Germany over Russian Pipeline

A group of EU member states led by Italy excoriated a German pipeline project with Russia on Friday, tasking the European Commission with probing whether it met Europe's energy rules.

Formally known as Nordstream 2, the pipeline under the Baltic Sea has angered EU diplomats who accuse Germany of selfishly seeking a reliable energy supply route with Vladimir Putin's Russia all while pressuring other countries to back economic sanctions against Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine.

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U.S. House Passes 2016 Spending Bill Averting Govt. Shutdown

The U.S. House of Representatives Friday approved a $1.1 trillion spending package for 2016 which if passed by the Senate as expected would avert a government shutdown before year-end holidays.

The sprawling bipartisan compromise, which also tightens visa requirements, proposes reforms to the International Monetary Fund and lifts a longstanding ban on U.S. crude oil exports, passed easily by a vote of 316 to 113. 

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Ukraine Halts Payment on $3bn Debt to Russia

Ukraine announced on Friday it would not make payment on its $3 billion debt to Russia due this weekend, deepening a row with Moscow which said it would take Kiev to court.

"The Ukranian government is imposing a moratorium on repaying the so-called Russian debt," Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told a government meeting. 

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Global Disaster Costs Fall in 2015

The economic cost of disasters across the world dropped in 2015 to around $85 billion (78 billion euros) from $113 million last year, reinsurance company Swiss Re said on Friday.

Insurance companies covered $32 billion of the total, it said in its Sigma study.

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