Research: In a Warming Climate, the Poor Get Poorer

Climate change will have an impact, not just on the temperature, but on the economy, according to a new analysis. A group of researchers has just released a study focused on the future economic effects of climate change in the U.S. Using six different economic variables, the team is predicting, with county by county accuracy, how a warming climate will rapidly change American society over the next century. VOA’s Kevin Enochs reports.

Court: US Can Seize New York Tower Linked to Iran

A New York jury ruled Thursday in federal court that a skyscraper with apparent ties to the Iranian government can be seized by the U.S. government, in what prosecutors are calling the single largest terrorism-related civil forfeiture case in American history.

The jury found that the Alavi Foundation, which owns about 60 percent of the 36-floor building, funneled money to the Assa Corporation, a shell company for Iran’s state-controlled bank that owned the remaining 40 percent of the building.

The defense argued that the Alavi Foundation, founded as a charity by the shah of Iran in the 1970s, had been tricked into believing that Assa had been sold to private investors after the 1995 implementation of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

“It’s really difficult to understand why you can be held accountable for the knowledge that you were trying to get, but you were lied to about,” defense attorney John Gleeson said during closing arguments, according to The New York Times.

Prosecutors asserted that officials from the Alavi Foundation lied, hiding and shredding documents in an attempt to erase guilt.

“The owners of 650 Fifth Avenue gave the Iranian government a critical foothold in the very heart of Manhattan through which Iran successfully circumvented U.S. economic sanctions,” Joon H. Kim, a lawyer from the prosecutor’s office, told French news agency AFP.

Situated on New York City’s posh Fifth Avenue, the building is valued at between $500 million and $1 billion. The court has decided to distribute the proceeds from its sale to the victims of Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks.

In particular, victims of the 1983 Beirut Marine barracks attack and of the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia will receive benefits. Tehran has consistently denied involvement in either of the attacks.

In 2013, a lower court decided the case in the U.S. government’s favor, but the decision was stayed on appeal.

ГПУ передала до суду обвинувальний акт щодо 2 «тітушок» у справі «Автомайдану»

Генеральна прокуратура України повідомляє, що її Департамент спеціальних розслідувань завершив розслідування і направив до суду обвинувальний акт у кримінальному провадженні стосовно двох так званих «тітушок», які є фігурантами справи про побиття активістів «Автомайдану» у січні 2014 року.

За повідомленням, один із обвинувачених був організатором і координатором «тітушок». Підозрюваним інкримінують «вчинення пособництва та сприяння правоохоронцям у спланованій провокації, перевищенні влади і незаконному затриманні активістів громадського руху «Автомайдан», застосування до них насильства, заподіяння їм тілесних ушкоджень різного ступеню тяжкості та умисне пошкодження їх автомобілів у січні 2014 року в Києві».

У червні минулого року Генпрокуратура направила до суду обвинувальний акт щодо п’яти колишніх працівників спецпідрозділу «Беркут», які у січні 2014 року затримали і побили активістів «Автомайдану».

Під час подій Революції гідності Міністерство внутрішніх справ мотивувало затримання «Беркутом» активістів «Автомайдану» їхніми хуліганськими діями, зокрема і щодо правоохоронців. Затриманих тоді навіть судили, але зі зміною влади після Революції гідності судові процеси проти «автомайданівців» припинилися.

Thailand, China to Sign $5 Billion Rail Infrastructure Agreement

In a major boost to Thailand’s transportation infrastructure, the military government is set to sign a more than $5 billion agreement with China for a high-speed rail network.

The first stage of the rail, the 252 kilometers from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima, is a key step in a line that, once complete, will stretch more than 1,260 kilometers to Kunming, in China’s Yunnan province. The next stages will reach the Thai border with Laos. 

Analysts see the rail line as an extension of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, expanding regional trade and investment. The project also highlights China’s growing regional influence.

The agreement, expected to be signed in July, follows almost two years of delays in negotiations, with final details of the contract still to be made public.

The deal has also raised widespread criticism of the government’s use of powerful clauses in an interim charter.

Economic boost for Thailand

Economists say investment in Thailand’s rail infrastructure needs to be a priority.

Pavida Pananond, an associate professor of business studies at Thammasat University, said general improvements to Thailand’s transportation network are welcome.

Several other countries, including Japan and South Korea, have put forward transportation plans and proposals for rail systems in recent years.

“It’s good for Thailand and it’s good for Thai business. I would say a clear ‘yes’ because Thailand is in dire need of better infrastructure, especially with regard to transport,” Pavida said.

Thailand, she said, faces high transportation logistics costs due to a reliance on roads.

Talks surrounding the Sino-Thai rail agreement have been bogged down for over two years due to disputes over land access to China, debate over interest charges on loans from Chinese banks, and the eligibility of Chinese engineers and architects to work on the project.

Professor of economics Somphob Manarangsan said the rail project offers the region significant economic potential and a boost in Chinese foreign direct investment.

He said Thailand is also looking to China to invest in the government-backed Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) that is targeting regional foreign investment.

“Thailand wants them [China] to move their regional supply chain outside of China to the mainland of ASEAN [Association of South East Asian Nations] area, which has Thailand at the hub, connecting to CLMV [Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam],” he told VOA.

The rail network includes a 410-kilometer section through Laos, in which China is contributing 70 percent of the total $5.8 billion cost. Laos sees the rail line as vital to enable it to export goods to the Thai seaport of Laem Chabang, near Bangkok.

Special powers raise concern

But the project has come under increasing criticism in Thailand after the military government, in power since May 2014, insisted on using powers under Section 44 of the interim charter that give the government absolute authority in policy application.

The government claims the use of the special power was to ensure Chinese investment, expertise, technology and equipment.

Former army chief and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told local media the use of the charter powers was to clear legal hurdles in the Thai-Sino rail project, “not a special favor to China but to Thailand’s benefit.”

But the use of the laws was challenged by organizations of Thai professional engineers and architects who said Chinese engineers were not registered to work in Thailand.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, in a commentary, said Thailand should press for open bidding on the project to ensure the country ended up with the “best bid with the best value.”

“Instead, opting for the Chinese plan is poised to violate a slew of Thai laws and undermine the government’s own good governance agenda,” Thitinan said.

Besides exemptions to Chinese engineers and architects working on the project, the charter articles also exempt state procurement laws and environmental regulations covering forest reserves, which will be set aside for the line’s construction.

Thammasat University’s Pavida said other concerns include levels of transparency on the agreement.

“People don’t know the details. People haven’t seen much information on the potential benefit, and partly, this is because the feasibility study has been done by the Chinese,” she said.

“So, if you look at that and the Chinese try to sell their technology and then we let them do the feasibility study, so they would say, ‘yes, it is feasible.’ So that’s one of the reasons why people do not have trust in the rush into this,” she said.

Analysts said the government’s push to sign an agreement comes as Thai’s Prayut is due to visit China in September to attend meetings of the BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — forum in Xiamen.

У Дніпрі суд скасував рішення про перейменування проспекту Калініна на Нігояна

У Дніпрі апеляційний адміністративний суд скасував рішення міської ради про перейменування проспекту Калініна на проспект Сергія Нігояна, одного із героїв Небесної сотні. Про це 30 червня повідомили жителі проспекту, які були проти перейменування і звернулись із позовом до суду.

За ухвалою суду, рішення міськради визнане «протиправним».

За словами позивача – жительки проспекту Елеонори Кузнецової, розгляд справи в судах тривав понад два роки від часу перейменування, суди першої інстанції відмовляли.

Як зазначила Елеонора Кузнецова, обурення жителів викликала не нова назва проспекту, а недотримання процедури під час перейменування: воно, зокрема, відбулось без попередніх громадських слухань.

«Ми нічого не маємо проти особистості Сергія Нігояна. Але ми живемо в правовій державі, і ми маємо діяти в правовому полі. Були порушені права мешканців на свободу думки, на свободу волевиявлення, на участь в обговоренні рішень органів місцевого самоврядування», – сказала Елеонора Кузнецова.

У Дніпровській міськраді визнали, що під час перейменування проспекту відповідна процедура була не дотримана. Як зазначив керівник юридичного управління міськради Артем Павлов, тепер процедуру перейменування належить пройти заново, на 17 серпня вже призначені громадські слухання. Водночас він не виключив, що міськрада спробує оскаржити рішення апеляційного суду, подавши до касаційну скаргу.

У січні 2015 року в Дніпрі проспект Калініна став проспектом героя Небесної сотні Сергія Нігояна. Відповідне рішення ухвалила Дніпровська міськрада на черговій сесії. Проект рішення підтримали 80 з 92 депутатів. Це було друге голосування за це питання, попереднє, 29 грудня 2014 року, було провалене. 

Уродженець села Березнуватівка на Дніпропетровщині Сергій Нігоян загинув від вогнепального поранення в Києві в ніч на 22 січня 2014 року під час Революції Гідності. Він був першим із протестувальників, що загинув у столиці України під час Майдану.

Понад 82 тисячі гривень зарплати отримала суддя, що розглядала справу Луценка – #Точно

Суддя Вищого спеціалізованого суду України з розгляду цивільних і кримінальних справ Тетяна Широян в червні отримала заробітну плату в розмірі 82 816 гривень. Така інформація міститься у Єдиному державному реєстрі декларацій осіб, уповноважених на виконання функцій держави або місцевого самоврядування, повідомляє #Точно, проект Радіо Свобода.

У 2013 році на Тетяну Широян «розписали» касацію у справі Юрія Луценка, який нині обіймає посаду генерального прокурора України. Як тоді писала «Українська правда», у той час Широян отримала службову квартиру, вартість якої становила близько 800 000 гривень.

Згодом – під час створення нового Верховного суду – суддя Широян претендувала на посаду судді у новій інституції. Відповідно до висновку Громадської ради доброчесності, що діє згідно із законом України «Про судоустрій і статус суддів», Тетяна Широян не відповідала критеріям доброчесності й професійної етики. Основними причинами такого висновку у ГРД назвали ухвалення свавільних судових рішень і внесення неправдивої інформації до декларації доброчесності.


India to Rollout Momentous Tax Reform, But Many Fear Rocky Transition

India is set to rollout a momentous tax reform at midnight Friday that will transform the country of 1.3 billion people into a single market.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) will replace an entanglement of more than a dozen confusing levies with a single tax and bring down barriers between states.

But the transition is bringing upheaval. The new tax has sparked strikes, protests and concerns it could disrupt many businesses unprepared for a leap into the digital economy.

In markets across the country, confusion and chaos prevail among millions of small shopkeepers and traders, who have for decades maintained records in dusty ledgers and issued paper receipts to customers. Some are hurriedly investing in computers as new rules require all but the smallest businesses to submit online taxes every month.

Calculator to computer

Suresh Kumar, who runs a family owned store in a bustling neighborhood market in New Delhi, has never operated a computer and does not have an Internet connection in his shop. His customers mostly pay in cash and a calculator on his counter is the only modern gadget he has used since he opened this shop 47 years ago.

“How will I pay the salary of an accountant? I can barely cover the costs of these three men who help me,” Kumar said, pointing out that stores like his run on wafer-thin profit margins to stay in business.

The archaic accounting systems that were the method of operation of thousands of shops and traders also kept them out of the formal economy.

But as GST draws them into the tax net, government revenues are expected to get a huge boost in a country where tax compliance has been very low.

​Growing pains

The government agrees there will be growing pains due to the scale of the task ahead but points to long-term advantages. Over time, the new tax is expected to add about 2 percent to gross domestic output and vastly improve business efficiencies in the world’s fastest growing economy.

Economists say the GST will be a benefit for manufacturers, because it will free up domestic trade by cutting through a gigantic bureaucracy that involved a myriad of tax inspectors and checkpoints at state borders.

At the moment, trucks transporting goods lose an estimated 60 percent of transit time as they wait at state borders. Paying bribes was a fact of life accepted by businesses.

The tax will also make India’s $2 trillion economy more attractive to investors as it makes the economy more transparent.

More time needed

But in recent weeks many businesses have called for a postponement of the July 1 rollout, saying they did not get enough time to prepare.

K.E. Raghunathan, president of the All India Manufacturers Organization, said businesses need more time to adjust.

“The way it is being implemented, it is bound to create lots of chaotic conditions,” he said.

Underlining concerns of millions of small and medium manufacturers, he said, “they neither have the wherewithal to understand the sudden implementation and if they approach chartered accountants or consultants, it costs lots of money.”

A big concern is that the GST being rolled out by India is far more complex than that introduced by other countries where a single rate prevails. There will be four layers of taxation with rates of 5, 12, 18 and 28 percent.

Manufacturers and traders complain the different levels are creating confusion.

More than 50,000 textile traders went on strike this week. Thousands of other traders shut businesses Friday.

Many big and small retailers worried about the switchover have been offering massive discount sales across the country to get rid of their inventories.

Government pushes ahead

But the government has brushed aside concerns about businesses not being prepared for the switchover. 

“If he is still not ready, then I am afraid he does not want to be ready,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently as he rejected calls for a delay of the rollout.

Businesses say the tax rollout is the second disruption they have faced, coming months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s radical move to scrap 86 percent of the country’s currency, which slowed the economy.

As customers pour into his shop to buy stationery and other items, New Delhi shopkeeper Vimal Jain wonders whether he will handle customers or enter transactions in a computer starting Saturday. 

“Now this is another headache,” he said. “We had barely begun to recover from demonetization and now this sword hangs over our head.”

The tax will be ushered in at a grand midnight ceremony in parliament, but even that has become contentious. Calling it a “publicity stunt,” the main opposition Congress Party and several other parties have said they will boycott the special session.

Назаренко: на Херсонщині затримали 2 прикордонників ФСБ Росії

Раніше, 27 червня, стало відомо про те, що російський військовий Віктор Агеєв потрапив у полон під Луганськом

про уродов и людей