Budget Watchdog Says No-Deal Brexit Will Spur UK Recession

The U.K. will plunge into recession if it leaves the European Union without a divorce deal, with the pound plunging in value and the economy shrinking by 2% in a year, Britain’s official economic watchdog said Thursday.

The Office for Budget Responsibility made its assessment as chances of an economically disruptive no-deal Brexit appear to be rising.  Both men vying to take over next week as Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, say they will lead the U.K. out of the bloc, with or without an agreement on terms.

They claim that Britain can withstand any resulting turbulence, but most economists predict the economic shock would be severe.

The OBR, which provides the U.K. government with independent economic forecasts, said a no-deal Brexit would see “heightened uncertainty and declining confidence deter investment, while higher trade barriers with the EU weigh on exports.”
It predicted GDP would fall by 2% by the end of 2020 in a no-deal scenario, and borrowing would be around 30 billion pounds ($37 billion) a year higher from 2020-21 than it forecast in March.

Britain is due to leave the EU on Oct. 31, but Parliament has repeatedly rejected the divorce deal truck between Prime Minister Theresa May and the bloc. Johnson and Hunt, who are vying to replace May as Conservative party leader and prime minister, both say they will leave without an agreement if the EU won’t renegotiate.

The bloc insists it won’t change the 585-page withdrawal agreement, which sets out the terms of Britain’s departure and includes a transition period of almost two years to allow both sides to adjust to their new relationship.

“This document is the only way to leave the EU in an orderly manner,” EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told the BBC in an interview broadcast Thursday.

Three years after British voters narrowly chose to leave the 28-nation EU, it remains stuck in limbo. May announced her resignation last month after failing to win Parliament’s approval for her Brexit deal.
Her successor is being chosen by members of the Conservative Party, most of whom are strongly in favor of Brexit and prepared to accept the risks of leaving without a deal. Johnson is the strong favorite to win the contest when the result is announced Tuesday.

He claims that Britain can flourish outside the EU if it has enough optimism and “mojo,” and says a no-deal Brexit will be “vanishingly inexpensive” if the country prepares properly.

Many others are less sanguine.

Treasury chief Philip Hammond, who has warned about the perils of a no-deal Brexit _ and is likely to be fired by the next prime minister _ said “I greatly fear the impact on our economy and our public finances of a no-deal Brexit.

He said the OBR forecast was based on the “most benign version” of a no-deal Brexit, and in all likelihood “the hit would be much greater, the impact would be much harder.”

Meanwhile, the relationship between the British government and the EU has been frayed by years of testy negotiations and allegations of ill-will on both sides.

EU Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans told a BBC documentary that the British lacked a plan and were “running around like idiots” during the Brexit negotiations. He cited a catchphrase from the classic British sitcom “Dads’ Army”: “Don’t panic!”

Junior U.K. Brexit minister Martin Callanan accused Timmermans of spreading “childish insults” about the British negotiating stance. Quoting another famous riposte from “Dad’s Army,” he said Timmermans was a “stupid boy.”



Тисячі клієнтів Microsoft опинилися під загрозою кібератак – корпорація

Компанія Microsoft за рік повідомила близько 10 тисяч клієнтів про загрозу кібератак за підтримки різних держав, йдеться в повідомленні корпорації.

«Активність» переважно йшла з боку Ірану, Північної Кореї і Росії.

Більше 80% атак було направлено проти компаній, близько 16% – на особисті облікові записи користувачів. Кібератаки, за даними Microsoft, були організовані іранськими групами Holmium і Mercury, північнокорейської групою Thallium і двома російськими групами Yttrium і Strontium (вона ж Fancy Bear і ATP28).

У серпні 2018 року американська компанія Microsoft повідомляла про запобігання хакерській атаці на пов’язані з Республіканською партією аналітичні центри в США. Її, імовірно, планувала здійснити угруповання Strontium, яку в компанії пов’язують з російським урядом. З цією ж групою хакерів Microsoft пов’язує і кібератаки на демократичні інститути Європи в період з вересня по грудень 2018 року.


Iranian State Television Reports Seizure of Oil Tanker

Iranian state television said Thursday forces from the country’s Revolutionary Guard seized a foreign tanker accused of smuggling oil.

The report said the vessel was intercepted Sunday in a section of the Strait of Hormuz south of Iran’s Larak Island with 12 crew members on board.

It said the tanker was involved in smuggling one million liters of fuel, but did not give details about its country of origin.

The seizure comes after the Panamanian-flagged tanker MT Riah, which is based in the United Arab Emirates, disappeared from ship tracking maps in Iranian territorial waters on July 14.

The Revolutionary Guard said it received a distress call from the vessel, which was “later seized with the order from the court as we found out that it was smuggling fuel,” a report said. It said Iranian smugglers intended to transport the fuel to foreign customers.

The seizure comes amid heightened U.S.-Iran tensions, which began to escalate when President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from a 2015 deal with Iran and world powers last year and imposed stiff sanctions on Iran, including on its oil exports.

Iran has recently exceeded uranium production and enrichment limits in violation of the agreement in an effort to pressure Europe to offer more favorable terms to allow it to sell its crude oil abroad.

The U.S. has also deployed thousands of additional troops, nuclear-capable bombers and fighter jets to the Middle East.

Veiled attacks on oil tankers and Iran’s downing of a U.S. military surveillance drone have further fueled concerns of a military conflict in the Persian Gulf region.

An unnamed U.S. defense official told Associated Press earlier this week the U.S. “has suspicions” Iran seized the tanker MT Riah when it turned off its tracker.



India Reschedules Launch of Lunar Probe for Next Week

India’s space agency says it will make a second attempt to launch an unmanned probe to the Moon’s south pole next Monday, July 22.

The launch of the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft will take place exactly one week after its first attempt was aborted less than an hour before liftoff due to a “technical snag” on the giant Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark Three rocket.

FILE – Indian Space Research Organization scientists work on various modules of lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 at ISRO Satellite Integration and Test Establishment (ISITE) in Bengaluru, India, June 12, 2019.

Chandrayaan, the Sanskrit word for “moon craft,” is designed for a soft landing on the far side of the moon and to send a rover to explore water deposits confirmed by a previous Indian space mission.  

If the $140 million mission is successful, India will become just the fourth nation to pull off a soft landing of a spacecraft on the lunar surface, after the United States — which is observing the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 mission this week — Russia and China.



Іран захопив іноземний танкер в Ормузькій протоці

Патруль Корпусу вартових ісламської революції захопив в Ормузькій протоці іноземний танкер, на борту якого було 12 людей, повідомляє  іранське державне телебачення.

За повідомленням, танкер перевозив нафту від іранських контрабандистів до іноземних замовників і був захоплений 14 липня.

При цьому іранське телебачення не повідомляє ані того, звідки танкер, ані громадянства членів команди.

Кілька днів тому нафтовий танкер Riah з ОАЕ відхилився від курсу в бік Ірану і перестав передавати свої координати, проходячи через Ормузьку протоку 13 липня, а 14 липня потрапив в іранські територіальні води.

Проте Тегеран не підтверджував, що захоплений танкер з ОАЕ.

Напередодні представник МЗС Ірану Аббас Мусаві повідомив, що Іран відбуксирував у свої територіальні води для ремонту танкер з Об’єднаних Арабських Еміратів (ОАЕ) після отримання його сигналу про допомогу.

Водночас, як заявив агенції AP чиновник із Міністерства оборони США, Вашингтон «має підозри», що Іран міг захопити танкер.

Читайте також: Британія посилить військову присутність у Перській затоці​

Інцидент стався на тлі загострення відносин між Тегераном і Вашингтоном.

Велика Британія 4 липня захопила іранський танкер біля Гібралтару через підозру, що судно перевозить нафту до Сирії.

Іран закликав Лондон звільнити танкер і пригрозив у відповідь захоплювати британські судна.



Пожежа на анімаційній студії в Японії: 23 людей вважають загиблими

Влада Японії повідомляє, що 23 людей могли загинути внаслідок пожежі в анімаційній студії в місті Кіото.

У пожежній службі країни повідомили, що смерть 13 людей підтверджена, ще щонайменше 10 – вважають загиблими.

Як повідомив представник пожежного департаменту Кіото Казухіро Хаяші, ще 36 людей поранені, дехто з них – у критичному стані.

Вогонь почав поширюватися вранці 17 липня. 41-річний підозрюваний розлив і підпалив бензин усередині будівлі. Про це він сам розповів після затримання. Його доставили в лікарню.

Про мотиви затриманого поки що не повідомляють.




Pompeo Latin American Trip to Focus on Immigration, Terrorism, Venezuela

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is heading to Latin America to meet face to face with leaders there, amid difficult negotiations with Mexico and Central American countries over how to best stem the flow of migrants to the southern U.S. border.

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus gave an overview of the full agenda for the trip that begins at the end of the week.

“From July 19th to the 21st, the secretary will visit Buenos Aires, Argentina; Ecuador, Mexico City, San Salvador, where he will expand cooperation on security issues; reinforce U.S. commitment to human rights and democracy, particularly support for the people of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, and their struggle for freedom; and to enhance economic partnerships and to expand economic opportunities for our citizens,” she said a the daily briefing.

Counterterrorism in Argentina

While in Argentina, Pompeo will participate in a counterterrorism conference with regional allies, timed to mark the 25th anniversary of the bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people, and has been linked to Hezbollah and Iran by Argentine prosecutors.

No one has ever been held accountable for the worst terrorist attack in Argentine history.

FILE – Members of the Border Patrol and U.S. military talk with migrants who illegally crossed the border between Mexico and the U.S. to request political asylum, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, July 6, 2019.

Stemming migration

Migration is likely to be a major issue at his other stops. Some experts say the U.S. must address the root causes, or “push factors” that are compelling people to flee their homes.

“You have to look at the lack of opportunity, the gang activity, the weak institutions in this region, in Central America if you are ever going to stop people from making what is a difficult and dangerous journey to the United States. These people don’t leave taking the decision lightly,” Benjamin Gedan of the Wilson Center said.

He said there is broad consensus among most U.S. lawmakers that President Donald Trump should not have cut U.S. foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, while at the same time asking them to reduce the flow of migrants.

Other experts reject criticism of Trump for cutting aid to the so-called Northern Triangle countries.

“So I think the criticism of just, ‘Oh, the president is just making things worse.’ Well, honestly, really? Because how worse can things get?” asked James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation. “People are flooding north. It is obvious that money is not achieving anything.

“So if we’re going to give them money, I think we have to come up with programs that are actually going to have impact,” he added.

Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaido speaks during a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, July 5, 2019.

Venezuelan crisis 

The ongoing crisis in Venezuela, where millions have fled to neighboring countries, is likely to be an important topic for Pompeo at every stop on his journey.

The U.S. and more than 50 other countries support opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s leader.

Guaido contends President Nicolas Maduro’s re-election last year was invalid and wants early presidential elections. Maduro accuses the opposition of fomenting violence.

Pompeo will also stop in Guayaquil, Ecuador and San Salvador, El Salvador, to deepen the U.S. relationship with those countries, according to the State Department.


US Removes Turkey From F-35 Fighter Jet Program

The United States has terminated Turkey’s participation in the F-35 joint strike fighter program. The decision announced Wednesday is in response to Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 defense system. The White House said in a statement that Turkey’s acceptance of the S-400 undermines its commitments to NATO. But officials also said that Turkey remains an important strategic partner and that security cooperation will continue. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke has more.


Protesters Arrested Trying to Stop Giant Hawaii Telescope

Police have begun arresting protesters gathered at the base of Hawaii’s tallest volcano, Mauna Kea, to stop the construction of a giant telescope on what they say is their most sacred ground.

Protest leader Kealoha Pisciotta told The Associated Press that police had arrested 30 elders, called kupuna in Hawaiian, on Wednesday.  

Some of the elders used canes and strollers to walk, while others were taken in wheelchairs to police vans. Those who could walk on their own were led away with their hands in zip ties.

The elders were among about 2,000 people blocking the road to the summit of Mauna Kea in an attempt to stop construction material and workers from reaching the top. 

The $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope is expected to be one of the world’s most advanced. 

Opponents of the the telescope say it will desecrate sacred land. According to the University of Hawaii, ancient Hawaiians considered the location kapu, or forbidden. Only the highest-ranking chiefs and priests were allowed to make the long trek to Mauna Kea’s summit above the clouds.

Supporters of the telescope, however, say it will not only make important scientific discoveries but bring educational and economic opportunities to Hawaii. 

The company behind the telescope is made up of a group of universities in California and Canada, with partners from China, India and Japan.  

Astronomers hope the telescope will help them look back 13 billion years to the time, just after the Big Bang, and answer fundamental questions about the universe.


French Prosecutors Want Air France Tried for 2009 Crash 

PARIS — French prosecutors want Air France to stand trial for manslaughter in the 2009 crash of a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris that killed all 228 people aboard, a judicial official said Wednesday.  
Prosecutors also have asked that the case against Airbus, maker of the doomed aircraft, be dropped for lack of evidence. The official wasn’t authorized to speak about the case and asked to remain anonymous. 
Air France Flight 447 left Rio de Janeiro for Paris but crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on June 1, 2009. The Accident Investigation Bureau found that external speed sensors were frozen and produced irregular readings on the aircraft, which went into an aerodynamic stall.  
A plethora of problems appear to have doomed the flight as it traveled through turbulence. The captain was on a rest break when the emergency arose, the autopilot disengaged and the co-pilots struggled to fly the aircraft manually. 
In their final summing up on Friday of the investigation, prosecutors cited negligence and insufficient training that led to chaos in the cockpit.  

Airbus had warned pilots a year earlier about possible incorrect speed readings from the plane’s external sensors, known as Pitot tubes, but changed them only after the crash.  
A report last year that was part of the judicial investigation blamed the Flight 447 pilots for failing to apply correct procedures, thus losing control of the aircraft.  
A victims group, AF 447 Victim Solidarity, contested the 2018 report, saying it freed Airbus of all responsibility in the accident.