Lifestyle

World news snapshot: Ukraine courts businesses, a factory with a car testing track on its roof and a volcano is causing concern


The Kyiv Independent, Ukraine

Companies in Ukraine are about to receive temporary tax and legal relief amid the threat of a full-scale war with Russia.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, this morning (Thursday) announced his country would be conducting military operations in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday announced a programme on “economic patriotism”, which will ease the tax burden, including possibly reducing value-added tax from current 20 per cent to eight per cent on petrol and diesel, and fewer inspections.

“Business should protect our economy, finances, and create jobs. We need to be strengthening the country together, each on its own front,” he is saying.

According to Yaroslav Zheleznyak of the 20-member Voice party, the government plans to generate funds for the programme by raising rent payments for gas producers.

However, some experts doubt the VAT reduction on diesel and petrol will be an effective tool since Ukraine imports 80 per cent of all fuel, mostly from Russia and Belarus.

According to Oleg Nivievskyi, an assistant professor at the Kyiv School of Economics, lower fuel prices will only raise demand and “worsen (energy) dependence”. “It’s better to reduce the VAT rate in all sectors of the economy, rather than for specific products,” said Mr Nivievskyi.

Meanwhile, owners of Ukraine’s top 50 businesses, including oligarchs Rinat Akhmetov and Victor Pinchuk, reportedly met yesterday (Wednesday) at the president’s office.

Mr Zelensky is said to have asked top business people to stay in Ukraine while he “does his best for peace”.

New Zealand Herald

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern was reportedly heckled while making an announcement on a low-emission transport scheme in Christchurch.

The Herald said that while making the announcement, Ms Ardern was followed outside of the Orion building by a group of four people.

While standing beside an electric truck, a woman can reportedly be heard yelling “you are a traitor,” at her.

As part of the announcement, the country’s first electric milk tanker is one of a range of new climate-friendly vehicle and technology projects to get funding from the government.

Ms Ardern and minister of energy and resources Dr Megan Woods announced the new-look Low Emission Transport Fund (LETF) yesterday (Wednesday) morning. A solar-powered bus, electric off-road farm vehicles and new high-powered EV charging stations are also among projects to receive a boost, it has been revealed.

The package will see £3.2 million in government funding go to 26 projects across vehicles and technology as well as EV charging projects.

The Brussels Times, Belgium

The newspaper reports on a part of “hidden Belgium” – a car factory with a test track on its roof. Built in 1907, the Imperia car factory still dominates the village of Nessonvaux, to the south-east of Liege.

It was reportedly built by the Belgian engineer Adrien Piedboeuf, who invented one of the first hybrid car engines as well as the electric cigarette lighter.

The factory originally tested its cars on local roads, but people started to complain. The owner then came up with the original idea of building a test track on the factory roof, a few years before Fiat built its famous rooftop track in Turin.

The factory closed in 1958, leaving an impressive main building in the style of a medieval castle. Now there are just 34 Imperia cars left in the world, including four in a small museum in Fraipont.

The former factory is currently being converted into apartments. It isn’t clear how much will survive of this historic building where the Belgian car industry was shaped.

San Francisco Chronicle

A deadly fire that broke out in a homeless encampment in yesterday (Wednesday) morning’s near-freezing temperatures under a freeway overpass in San Francisco’s Glen Park neighbourhood provoked outrage and dismay from residents and elected officials, who called the incident a tragic emblem of the city’s homelessness crisis.

The fire left one woman dead and four other people critically injured. Officials with the San Francisco Fire Department said it took an hour to reach the people trapped under the overpass.

City leaders said yesterday that the incident was yet another clarion call for action amid a rise in encampment fires. Supervisor Hillary Ronen, whose district recently experienced a fire that displaced nearly two dozen people, criticised the city’s fire department for failing to confiscate materials that can start deadly, destructive fires.

Paramedics reportedly attempted to revive the woman at the scene, but she died from her injuries. California Highway Patrol and state fire officials are investigating the cause of the blaze because the fire started on state property, it was said.

The Mainichi, Japan

The country’s weather agency has raised its volcanic alert level for Mount Aso in south-western Japan today (Thursday), warning people not to approach it due to the danger of an eruption that could cause falling rocks and pyroclastic flows.

The Japan Meteorological Agency raised the alert to level 3 out of 5, after it detected an increasing amplitude of volcanic tremors in the morning. Level 3 indicates the possibility of an eruption that could have a serious impact on places near residential areas.



Mount Aso
Japan’s weather agency has raised its volcanic alert level for Mount Aso

Falling rocks and pyroclastic flows may occur within a 2km (1.2-mile) radius from its craters, the agency said.

The warning comes after one of the craters at the mountain in Kumamoto Prefecture erupted on October 20 and the alert was raised to 3. The level was dropped to level 2 on November 18, urging people to stay away from the crater.

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