Here are this week’s headlines, brought to you by our Student Commercial Awareness Team:
- Missing Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Declared Dead by Saudi Arabia
Reported by Anna-Mei Harvey
Jamal Khashoggi has been declared dead by Saudi Arabia. The dissident journalist has been missing since October 2nd having entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul but never resurfacing. The State initially denied that Mr Khashoggi had died, instead insisting that he had left the building after his meeting to obtain confirmation that he and his ex-wife were now divorced.
Jamal Khashoggi was a prominent Saudi journalist who has covered various major events throughout his career. He has previously been closely linked with the Saudi royal family. Last year however, Mr Khashoggi fell out of favour with top officials and exiled himself to America. He claimed not to be the only person to do so, on the contrary he and others had fled Saudi Arabia on accounts that dozens of people had been detained in an apparent crackdown on dissidents under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
It has now been alleged that not only did the Saudis know of Mr Khashoggi’s death but also that the Arab state’s crowned prince may have sent in a ‘hit squad’ specifically to target and kill him. It has previously been claimed by the State that the journalist died as a result of his resistance when attempts were made to detain him ahead of extradition by the group of men identified by Turkish authorities as the hit men.
There is mounting pressure also on Turkish authorities to launch a criminal investigation in to the disappearance and death of Jamal Khashoggi.
- Tommy Robinson Case Referred to the Attorney General
Reported by Paige Waters
Tommy Robinson, 35, the anti-Islam activist, has been held in contempt of the court for filming people in a criminal trial in Leeds and broadcasting the footage on social media. The judge has now referred the case to the Attorney General.
Robinson appeared before the judge, Nichol Hilliard, for a contempt hearing. Hilliard said the referral of the case to the attorney general would allow a adversarial hearing for the contempt charges as a lawyer could present evidence and question witnesses in order to make a case.
Within the current setting, it was was brought to the judge that lawyers would not be able to perform the appropriate cross-examination of evidence.
He proceeded to state “I think it necessary to look at quite a lot of the detail of what Mr Yaxley-Lennon said in the broadcast as to come to the overall picture as to what happened. I’m satisfied in the light of the issues as they now appear as they emerged from the statement of yesterday, that cross-examination of Mr Yaxley-Lennon is necessary for a proper and thorough examination and resolution of the case is in the the public interest”.
Following this, Robinson has been released on bail.
For more information, see The Guardian.
- Inheritance Tax Hits Highs in Guildford
Reported by Zara Smith
Inheritance tax is not paid very often in the United Kingdom. It is only paid when you pass on estate to your descendants; the amount exceeds £325,000. Anything above this amount gets taxed at 40%. Payments of inheritance tax differ depending how the estate has been passed – such as through trusts or gifts.
By transferring estate through a gift, you do not have to pay inheritance tax so long as you survive 7 years after the date of transfer to the recipient. Even if you do not reach the 7 year threshold, inheritance tax is still significantly lower – 4 to 5 years means you only pay a mere 24% compared to the usual 40%.
Direct Line Insurance requested a Freedom of Information (FOI) and Jane Morgan (a business manager at Direct Line Insurance) commented “If you are concerned about the amount of tax that may be payable on your estate when the time comes, you could seek independent advice and investigate transferring money to beneficiaries early as a gift, or placing assets into trust to reduce your liabilities”.
Guildford, Surrey has been named the inheritance tax capital of the UK. In 2015/2016 over 658 families had to pay inheritance tax in Guildford; on average they paid £231,000 each. Areas such as North West London were still high at approximately 400 families, however an area such as Western Central London was merely about 80 families paying inheritance tax.
There have been complaints that the £325,000 hasn’t been reviewed since 2009, despite the price of living going up – for example, the price of houses increasing. The Office for Tax Simplification has said to be investigating into the issue and plans to report back in the near future.
Read more here.
- Italy Fines Apple and Samsung for Deliberately Slowing Down Phones to Promote Sales
Reported by Rui Ci Lee
The Italian competition authority has fined Apple and Samsung for telling users of their older phone models to update new operating systems, slowing down phone performance and encouraging the purchase of new phones.
Both firms were fined €5m each following investigations by the country’s antitrust watchdog which was launched in January 2018. It was found that Apple told iPhone 6 owners to install an operating system designed for the iPhone 7, whereas Samsung told Galaxy Note 4 phone owners to update to Google’s Android operating system which is intended for the more recent Galaxy Note 7. Both updates have left the performance of the older phone models sluggish. The companies had failed to provide their clients with adequate information about the impact of the software updates and how the original functionality of the phones can be restored following the update.
Apart from the fines, both companies are required to put up notice on their Italian websites regarding the competition authority’s decision. Apple was also fined an additional €5m for failing to give customers clear information about “essential” characteristics of lithium batteries, including their average life expectancy, how to maintain them, and when to replace them.
Apple’s software updates have faced similar scrutiny in other countries previously such as in the US where the House of Senate had questioned the slowing of iPhones in January and the company faces numerous class-action lawsuits. On the other hand, this is the first time Samsung faces such an allegation. A Samsung spokesperson denies the intentionally slowing down phones and said that the company intends to appeal the fine as ‘Samsung has always released software updates enabling our customers to have the best experience possible’.
Read more here.
- Explosives sent to American Officials
Reported by Sarah Mullane
Numerous suspected explosive devices have been identified this week as having been anonymously sent to high-ranking democratic officials in New York, Washington and Florida. According to the FBI, a total of eight packages were intercepted this week alone, all of which had been addressed to perceived ‘critics’ of President Donald Trump.
Included in this list are Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Former President and Vice-President Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and Former CIA Director John Brennan, who had his delivered to CNN offices in New York.
In addition to the eight packages intercepted (two of which addressed to California Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters and sent to two separate addresses), all live packages were supposedly accompanied by an envelope containing ‘white powder’ – the substance is yet to be identified.
The sending of these packages comes two days after a pipe bomb was discovered at the home of George Soros, a liberal philanthropist and financier, in New York. It’s believed that the packages directed to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, which were intercepted prior to delivery, were intended to arrive at their private residences. It has been claimed that neither party was at risk of receiving the packages.
It appears that the intended recipients of the explosives so far have either been senior Democrats or CNN and its employees. These targets have been subject to frequent political attacks by President Donald Trump in the past. CNN’s New York office was evacuated early on Wednesday morning, after discovery of the package addressed to John Brennan.
It has since been revealed that a further package was sent to actor Robert De Niro’s New York restaurant, though it has not yet been determined if the explosives are related to the ongoing investigation. If these instances are linked, then it would be the ninth explosive device to have been discovered this week.
Following these incidents, the President sent a message to American citizens, urging them to unite and show that such incidents would not be tolerated. He described the incidents as “egregious conduct” which is “abhorrent to everything we hold dear and sacred as Americans.”
However, CNN Worldwide President, Jeff Zucker, has criticised POTUS, saying that “there is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media.”
President Donald Trump has stated that a major investigation is now under way to find the perpetrator of these “despicable acts”. The FBI in New York confirmed that the full weight of the government is being deployed, with their Joint Terrorism Task Force aiding in the investigation.