Over 3,000 Ukrainian inmates seek to join military

Over 3,000 Ukrainian inmates seek to join military
Ukrainian servicemen patrol an area heavily damaged by Russian military strikes in the town of Orikhiv in Zaporizhzhia region on May 20, 2024. (Reuters)
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Updated 21 May 2024
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Over 3,000 Ukrainian inmates seek to join military

Over 3,000 Ukrainian inmates seek to join military
  • Ukraine is suffering critical ammunition and manpower shortages on the battlefield
  • “We predicted this before the adoption of this law,” Deputy Minister of Justice Olena Vysotska said

KYIV: Thousands of Ukrainian inmates are seeking to join the military, Kyiv said Tuesday, following a decision by lawmakers enabling some categories of prisoners to join the armed forces.
The move echoes a policy in Russia, where tens of thousands of prisoners have been sent to Ukraine with the promise of amnesty and were killed in gruelling battles that produced few gains.
Ukraine is suffering critical ammunition and manpower shortages on the battlefield that have allowed Russian forces to advance on the eastern and northern front lines.
“This is more than 3,000 people. We predicted this before the adoption of this law,” Deputy Minister of Justice Olena Vysotska said, referring to the number of prisoners who have submitted applications to join the military.
She said authorities had identified 20,000 eligible prisoners and that of them, 4,500 had “expressed interest” in joining. She added that the figure was likely to fluctuate.
Only prisoners with fewer than three years left on their sentence can apply. Mobilized prisoners are granted parole rather than a pardon.
Among those not eligible to serve include those found guilty of sexual violence, killing two or more people, serious corruption and former high-ranking officials.
Russia has recruited prisoners to serve on the front lines since the first days of its invasion, initially offering presidential pardons for six months’ service.


State of ‘catastrophe’ as downpours hit Chile

State of ‘catastrophe’ as downpours hit Chile
Updated 5 sec ago
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State of ‘catastrophe’ as downpours hit Chile

State of ‘catastrophe’ as downpours hit Chile

SANTIAGO: Heavy rains battered south and central Chile on Thursday, killing one person and causing damage to hundreds of homes as authorities declared a state of catastrophe in five regions of the South American country.

A person died in the southern city of Linares when a street lamp post fell after hours-long downpours and strong winds, the Senapred disaster response service said.

Chile’s weather service issued the highest level of alarm, covering some 14 million of the 20 million people living in six of the country’s 16 regions, but this was later lifted as authorities said 80 percent of the storm had passed, and was headed for neighboring Argentina.

Prior to the arrival of the flood waters, Chile’s central region had battled severe drought for 15 years.

“We need boats to get people out,” a resident in one of the affected towns, Curanilahue, told national television.

Curanilahue, some 600 kilometers (372 miles) south of the capital Santiago, has been hard hit as the Curanilahue and Las Ranas rivers overflowed after the area received 350 millimeters (13.7 inches) of rain in just hours — more than in 2023 as a whole.

Some 2,000 houses in the area were damaged.

President Gabriel Boric, in a message from Sweden where he was on an official visit, warned that the rains “will continue very strongly,” as he announced the first death.

Interior Minister Carolina Toha, before boarding a plane to visit the affected areas, said a state of “catastrophe” had been declared in five regions to expedite the deployment of resources.

Senapred said the downpours have affected some 3,300 people, down from an initial estimate of 4,300.

In the capital Santiago, which also saw heavy rains, schools were closed for the day and authorities urged people to limit their movements.

In the city of Vina del Mar, experts worked to save a 12-story apartment building at risk of collapse after the rains caused a massive sinkhole underneath it.

The weather service said a cold front over the country was accompanied by something called an “atmospheric river” — a strip of air carrying huge amounts of moisture.


Elon Musk wins back his huge $44.9 billion Tesla pay package in shareholder vote

Elon Musk wins back his huge $44.9 billion Tesla pay package in shareholder vote
Updated 9 min 48 sec ago
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Elon Musk wins back his huge $44.9 billion Tesla pay package in shareholder vote

Elon Musk wins back his huge $44.9 billion Tesla pay package in shareholder vote

DETROIT: Tesla shareholders on Thursday voted to restore CEO Elon Musk’s record $44.9 billion pay package that was thrown out by a Delaware judge earlier this year.
Vote totals were not immediately announced. The favorable vote doesn’t mean CEO Musk will get the all-stock compensation anytime soon. The package is likely to remain tied up in the Delaware Chancery Court for months as Tesla appeals the rejection.
The court ruled in January that Musk essentially controlled the Tesla board when it approved the package in 2018, and that it failed to fully inform shareholders who approved it the same year.
Tesla has said it would appeal, but asked shareholders to reapprove the package at Thursday’s the company’s annual meeting in Austin, Texas.
Tesla shareholders are charting the future of the electric vehicle company Thursday as they wrapped up voting on the massive pay package.
Shares of the company rose Thursday after Tesla said in a regulatory filing that stockholders are voting to approve Musk’s pay, valued around $44.9 billion, by a wide margin.
In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, Tesla published Musk’s own posts late Wednesday on X, the social media platform he owns, with charts that appeared to show that shareholders were in favor of his compensation package, as well a measure to move Tesla’s legal home from Delaware to Texas.
The company sought the votes after a Delaware judge threw out the pay package in January. Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick determined that Tesla deceived shareholders when the all stock compensation was approved in 2018, so Musk is not entitled to the landmark package, which was worth nearly $56 billion before a stock slide this year.
Legal experts say that releasing vote totals while balloting is in progress could present problems for Tesla, and that may be why the company made the filing with the SEC, which is likely to look into the matter.
Shareholders can still cast votes online Thursday and in person Thursday afternoon at Tesla’s annual shareholders meeting in Austin, Texas. They also can change previously cast votes.
“Anytime you tell people you’re winning, you’re encouraging others to join you and those who oppose you to pull back,” said Charles Elson, a retired professor and founder of the corporate governance center at the University of Delaware.
Erik Gordon, a law and business professor at the University of Michigan, said Musk’s posts could draw legal scrutiny. “His post had better be accurate or else anyone who bought stock relying on it will have a securities law case against him,” Gordon said in an email.
The SEC declined comment Thursday, and a message was left seeking comment from Tesla.
Elson said posting corporate proxy vote totals before the balloting ends is “highly unusual.”
Social media posts by Musk have drawn scrutiny from the SEC before. He and Tesla were fined a total of $40 million for statements about funding to make Tesla a private company that Musk made on X’s predecessor, Twitter, before he bought the social media platform.
Shares of Tesla closed Thursday up just under 3 percent at $182.47. The stock is down about 25 percent this year.
If the pay package is approved, it would almost guarantee that Musk would remain at the company he grew to be the world leader in electric vehicles, shifting to AI and robotics including autonomous vehicles, which Musk says is Tesla’s future.
But if shareholders were to vote against his pay, the CEO could deliver on threats to take artificial intelligence research to one of his other companies. Or he could even walk away from Tesla.
Even with approval, there would be uncertainty. Musk has threatened on X to develop AI elsewhere if he doesn’t get a 25 percent stake in Tesla (He owns about 13 percent now). Musk’s xAI recently received $6 billion in funding to develop artificial intelligence.
According to Musk, early indications suggest that shareholders also back a move to relocate Tesla’s legal home to Texas, and out of Delaware.
The move is designed to escape from the Delaware court’s oversight and possibly from McCormick’s ruling. In a January opinion on a shareholder lawsuit, the judge determined that Musk controlled the Tesla board and is not entitled to the landmark pay package.
Multiple institutional investors have come out against that sizeable payout, some citing falling vehicle sales, price cuts and the tumbling Tesla stock price. But Tesla’s top five institutional shareholders, Vanguard, BlackRock, State Street, Geode Capital, and Capital Research either said they don’t announce their votes or wouldn’t comment. They control about 17 percent of the votes.
One institutional investor who came out against the package is California’s State Teachers Retirement System. The large pension fund said Tuesday that it would vote against Musk’s pay “based on its sheer magnitude, and because the award would be extremely dilutive to shareholders. We also have concerns with the lack of focus on profitability for the company.”
In May, two big shareholder advisory firms, ISS and Glass Lewis, recommended voting against the package.
But Tesla and Musk have unleashed a furious lobbying effort to get the package approved, in posts on X, television appearances and in proxy filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Tesla Chairwoman Robyn Denholm, in a letter to shareholders, wrote that the package was approved by 73 percent of the vote six years ago. “Because the Delaware Court second-guessed your decision, Elon has not been paid for any of his work for Tesla for the past six years that has helped to generate significant growth and stockholder value. That strikes us — and the many stockholders from whom we already have heard — as fundamentally unfair, and inconsistent with the will of the stockholders who voted for it,” she wrote.
Tesla has said the 2018 award incentivized Musk to create over $735 billion in value for shareholders in the six years since it was approved.
If Tesla finalizes the vote on moving the company’s legal home to Texas before the vote on Musk’s pay package, and it manages to file the paperwork in Austin and get approval of the move, then the effect of the Delaware court ruling could be in doubt. Reapproval of the pay package would then be done as a Texas corporation and could fall under the purview of Texas courts.
Anticipating a quick move by Tesla, lawyers for the shareholder who filed the lawsuit seeking to block Musk’s pay deal, Richard Tornetta, filed motions in Delaware last month seeking an order stopping Tesla from trying to move the case. Tesla responded in letters to the judge that there is no cause for such concerns because they won’t seek a move. Besides, Tesla would still be a Delaware corporation at the time of this week’s shareholder vote, they wrote.
In an order denying Tornetta’s motions, Chancellor McCormick wrote that she interprets Tesla’s letters to mean it has no intention of relocating the case to Texas. “The defendants’ statements give me great comfort,” she wrote.
Eric Talley, a Columbia University law professor, said he expects Tesla to follow through with appealing McCormick’s ruling to the Delaware Supreme Court.


Biden pledges not to pardon son or commute sentence

Biden pledges not to pardon son or commute sentence
Updated 22 min 34 sec ago
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Biden pledges not to pardon son or commute sentence

Biden pledges not to pardon son or commute sentence
  • “I said I’d abide by the jury decision. I will do that. I will not pardon him,” the president told reporters at a G7 summit press conference in Italy
  • The verdict came as Biden faces a tough re-election battle against Donald Trump, who himself recently became the first former president to become a convicted felon

SAVELLETRI, Italy: US President Joe Biden said Thursday that he would not pardon his son Hunter or commute any sentence following Hunter’s conviction on charges of lying about his drug addiction while buying a handgun.

“No,” Biden replied when reporters at a G7 summit press conference in Italy asked if he would commute any sentence that 54-year-old Hunter faces.
“I’m extremely proud of my son Hunter. He has overcome an addiction, he’s one of the brightest, most decent men I know,” Biden said.
“I said I’d abide by the jury decision. I will do that. I will not pardon him,” he said.
In the historic first criminal prosecution of a sitting US president’s child, a jury on Tuesday found Hunter Biden guilty on three felony counts stemming from his 2018 purchase of a handgun while addicted to crack cocaine.

Hunter Biden (C) walks with his son and wife a Delaware airport after meeting with his father, US President Joe Biden, on June 11, 2024, just aftera jury found the younger Biden guilty on Tuesday of federal gun charges. (AFP)

He could face up to 25 years in prison, though as a first-time offender jail time is unlikely. A date was not set for sentencing but it is expected to take place in the next few months.
Biden said in a statement after the verdict that he loved his sole surviving son — his eldest son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015 — and would respect the jury’s conclusion.
But his comments in Italy on Thursday were his first public statement on the verdict.
The day before his Italy trip, Biden, 81, changed his schedule to fly to Wilmington, Delaware, the family hometown where the trial was held.
Hunter Biden was waiting on the tarmac when Marine One landed and was given a warm hug by his father before they left in a motorcade.
The verdict came as Biden faces a tough re-election battle against Donald Trump, who himself recently became the first former president to become a convicted felon.
Trump was found guilty by a New York jury of breaching election law by lying about hush money payments to a porn star.
 


Argentine monthly inflation lowest in 2.5 years

Argentine monthly inflation lowest in 2.5 years
Updated 30 min 26 sec ago
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Argentine monthly inflation lowest in 2.5 years

Argentine monthly inflation lowest in 2.5 years

BUENOS AIRES: Monthly inflation in economically troubled Argentina came in at 4.2 percent in May, the lowest in two-and-a-half years, mainly due to a drop in consumption, the INDEC statistics agency said Thursday.

For the first five months of 2024, the rate came in at 71.9 percent, and year-on-year at 276.4 percent — down from 289.4 percent registered in April but still at record high levels.

The rate fell for the fifth successive month in May.

In December, when budget-slashing President Javier Milei took office, inflation leapt by 25.5 percent, provoked by his devaluation of the peso by more than 50 percent.

Self-declared “anarcho-capitalist” Milei has vowed to halt Argentina’s economic decline and reduce the budget deficit to zero.

He has slashed public spending, cut the cabinet in half, done away with 50,000 public jobs, suspended new public works contracts and ripped away fuel and transport subsidies.

In April, Milei hailed the South American country’s first quarterly budget surplus since 2008.

Economy Minister Luis Caputo on Thursday celebrated the May data as indicating a “deepening of the ongoing disinflation process.”

Critics say Milei’s few wins have come at the cost of the poor and working classes, and were unlikely to last.

Economist Hernan Letcher of the CEPA economics think tank told AFP the inflation drop was explained, in large part, by a “significant fall in consumption.”

“We consultants expect that the process of reducing the rate of inflation will not continue in June,” he said.

“The market expectation survey shows that a level in the order of five percent will be maintained until the end of the year.”

Consumer consumption, manufacturing and construction have slumped under Milei’s peso devaluation and budget cuts, with a 5.3 percent contraction in economic activity in the first quarter.

The International Monetary Fund expects the Argentine economy to contract by 2.8 percent this year, after a 1.6-percent decline in 2023.

The government this week reported a 16-percent increase in real wages in the private sector in April and a recovery of purchasing power that is the “most significant since 2009.”

It is a relative figure, however, in a country where informal employment accounted for more than 45 percent of the work force even before the impact of Milei’s austerity measures started hitting home.

Poverty in the South American country now stands at 55.5 percent, according to the Pontifical Catholic University’s Social Debt Monitor.

Last month, Argentina introduced a 10,000-peso banknote, worth the equivalent of about $11 — five times the face value of the previous biggest 2,000-peso bill.

Thursday’s inflation data came hours after a first victory for Milei in the Senate, which approved a modified version of his economic liberalization package.

Milei’s bill, which makes provision for privatization of state-owned companies and weakens labor protections, have raised the ire of workers and leftists, who fought running battles with police outside Congress on Wednesday.

The draft legislation must still be given a final green light by the lower house Chamber of Deputies.


‘Alarm bells ringing’: Dembele calls on France stars to vote in key elections

‘Alarm bells ringing’: Dembele calls on France stars to vote in key elections
Updated 13 June 2024
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‘Alarm bells ringing’: Dembele calls on France stars to vote in key elections

‘Alarm bells ringing’: Dembele calls on France stars to vote in key elections
  • Ousmane Dembele: ‘We need to mobilize to get out and vote’
  • FFF planning player proxy vote if still involved in Euro 2024

PADERBORN, Germany: France star Ousmane Dembele admitted on Thursday the political situation in the country had “set alarm bells ringing” and said he and his teammates intended to vote in upcoming legislative elections even if they are still involved at Euro 2024 in Germany.
“We need to mobilize to get out and vote,” Dembele told reporters at the French team’s training base in western Germany where they are preparing for their opening European Championship game against Austria on Monday.
“I think the situation in France has set alarm bells ringing. Everyone needs to rally round and come together to vote.”
President Emmanuel Macron has called elections for the lower house National Assembly with the first round set for June 30 and the second round on July 7.
He announced the snap poll last Sunday in response to the results of the EU elections, in which far-right parties — including the top-scoring National Rally (RN) — managed to take almost 40 percent of the vote in France.
“I was watching the news not long ago and I saw that one in every two people in France doesn’t vote, so everyone needs to vote in the legislative elections,” added Dembele, the former Barcelona winger now playing back in France for Paris Saint-Germain.
The French squad will still be in Germany at the time of the election, provided they make it beyond the group stage.
The first round of the election is set to take place the same weekend as the last 16 of Euro 2024, while the second round comes just after the quarter-finals.
However, Dembele said the French Football Federation was planning to help players set up a proxy vote if they remained in Germany at the time.