“St Petersburg metro explosion kill ten”
At least 10 people have been killed in an explosion between two underground stations in St Petersburg. The head of Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee said the blast hit the train between Sennaya Ploschad and Tekhnologichesky Institut stations.
Images posted on social media showed a badly mangled carriage, with a number of casualties nearby. President Vladimir Putin said all causes, including terrorism, were being investigated.
Initial reports suggested there had been two explosions, one at each of the two stations.
At least 50 people have been reported injured, and a number of children were among those hurt.
Andrei Przhezdomsky, the head of the Russian National Anti-Terrorist Committee, said it was caused by «an unidentified explosive device» but that the exact cause had yet to be determined.
However, a spokesman for Russia’s prosecutor general said the explosion was «a terrorist act».
The entire St Petersburg underground network has now been shut down, and Moscow metro officials said they were introducing extra security measures as a result.
“BP’s sale of key North Sea pipeline is bad for UK, says union”
BP’s £200m sale of a major North Sea oil pipeline to petrochemicals company Ineos should face scrutiny by MPs, the Unite union has said, claiming the deal poses a risk to jobs and puts key infrastructure in the hands of one man. Ineos said it had agreed with BP to buy the Forties Pipeline System, which transports nearly 40% of the oil produced in the North Sea and employs 300 people. The sale gives its billionaire founder-owner Jim Ratcliffe control of a 100-mile system of pipelines, as well as the Kinneil terminal, which processes oil and gas for Ineos’s vast Grangemouth refinery. Ratcliffe said the deal would secure jobs in the long term but Unite, which has previously fought acrimonious battles with Ineos, called for MPs in Westminster and Holyrood to look into the deal. Unite’s Scottish secretary, Pat Rafferty, pointed out that both Grangemouth and the pipeline system had once been owned by a nationalised British Petroleum “with a responsibility to look at what was good for the country as a whole, not just what was good for a small group of wealthy individuals”.
The deal will still need the approval of the independent Oil and Gas Authority, which has to be satisfied that it will not conflict with the aim of extracting as much of the remaining North Sea oil as possible.
“Reforming taxes will not be easier than abolishing Obamacare”
To bring House Republicans good luck in passing their replacement for the Affordable Care Act, Representative Pete Sessions of Texas wore a brown suit to the chamber, in honour of Ronald Reagan. After the vote was pulled from the House floor, Republicans in Washington moved on to the next big thing, which is tax reform. They may be about to prove again that dressing like the Gipper is easier than governing like him. Though there has long been some bipartisan agreement that both corporate and individual income-tax rates could be cut and loopholes eliminated, Congress has not pulled off a tax reform of the type now being contemplated since 1986. And that one almost failed.
Compared with other rich countries, the most striking thing about tax in America is its complexity. Since that 1986 tax reform the number of carve-outs in the tax code has multiplied, part of a bigger change in the way Congress does business. Where once the passage of bills was smoothed by including federal money for pet projects in congressmen’s districts, tax breaks are now the preferred lubricant. The growth of the federal tax code, which has tripled in length in the past 30 years, is often cited as proof that the country is overtaxed. But its size reflects all those special tax breaks. For individuals, the exemptions turn a tax system whose headline rates are redistributive, by rich-world standards, into one which is not.
Bringing them down would require some combination of closing exemptions, increasing the deficit and borrowing. The House tax plan drawn up by Paul Ryan, the Speaker, and Kevin Brady, who chairs the Ways and Means Committee, proposes getting rid of some exemptions granted to taxpayers but leaves two of the biggest—the deductions for mortgage interest and for charitable giving—alone. It is also silent on what would be one of the hardest parts of a tax reform: the deduction for state taxes. Some states, like Florida, have no personal income tax. Floridians therefore do not receive a state income-tax deduction when they pay federal income tax. California does have a state income tax, with a top marginal rate of 13.3%. Its representatives are therefore keen on the deduction. The Ryan-Brady plan also counted on a $1trn saving from repealing Obamacare, which will not now materialise, and means more deductions would have to be eliminated.
“More than 250 dead in Colombia mudslides”
There are no more people officially missing after mudslides in Colombia that killed at least 254, the country’s president said on Twitter Sunday. Torrential rains Friday night caused three rivers surrounding the southern Colombian city of Mocoa to overflow — sending a torrent of mud and debris surging through the city. President Juan Manuel Santos said 170 victims had been identified.
He said 43 children were among the dead and 22 more had been hospitalized. A further 203 people were injured, many severely.»To all [victims], we send our prayers. We send our condolences to their families, condolences from the entire country,» Santos said in an address earlier.