CANADA – Government closes Tehran embassy, kicks out diplomats
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird
TORONTO | Canada shut its embassy in Tehran on Friday, severed diplomatic relations and ordered Iranian diplomats to leave [Canada], accusing the Islamic Republic of being the most significant threat to world peace.
The surprise action…comes as Iran’s talks with world powers over its nuclear program have stalled and Israel is weighing the option of a military strike to prevent it from developing atomic weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful objectives only. …
[Canada’s] Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said that the Canadian embassy in Tehran will close immediately and Iranian diplomats in Canada have been given five days to leave.
A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast, called Canada’s decision “hasty and extreme” and said that Iran would soon respond, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported.
A note in Persian posted on the door of Iran’s embassy in Ottawa read: “Because of the hostile decision by the government of Canada, the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ottawa is closed and has no choice but to stop providing any consular services for its dear citizens.”
Baird said Canada was officially designating Iran a state sponsor of terrorism and gave a long list of reasons for Canada’s decision, including Tehran’s support for Syria’s embattled President Bashar Assad in that country’s civil war.
“The Iranian regime is providing increasing military assistance to the Assad regime; it refuses to comply with U.N. resolutions pertaining to its nuclear program; it routinely threatens the existence of Israel and engages in racist anti-Semitic rhetoric and incitement to genocide,” Baird said in a statement. “It is among the world’s worst violators of human rights; and it shelters and materially supports terrorist groups.”
Baird said he was also worried about the safety of diplomats in Tehran following attacks on the British embassy there.
FRANCE – Wealthiest man applies for Belgian citizenship as taxes are raised
PARIS | France’s richest man has applied for Belgian nationality amid plans by socialist president Francois Hollande for a new 75 per cent tax rate on citizens making over $1.2 million per year.
Bernard Arnault, the CEO of LVMH, a French brand group that includes Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton, confirmed on Sunday that he had applied for dual citizenship in Belgium, where taxes for the rich are not as high.
Mr. Hollande, who once said he does not “like the rich,” has proposed a new higher tax rate of 75 per cent on earnings over €1million [$1.28 million], which is due to come into force later this year.
The president did, however, state that the tax plan could be scrapped after around two years. “Once the economy has recovered it can be dropped,” he said. Mr. Hollande also outlined another $19 to 25 billion worth of new tax rises [Saturday] night, mainly on businesses and the wealthy, as well as austerity measures that would save the country another $12.7 billion.
Mr. Arnault, who is the world’s fourth richest person with a personal wealth estimated at $40.8 billion, emigrated to the U.S. during the last socialist presidency in France in 1981, when François Mitterrand took power. He returned after the socialists switched to a more conservative economic course.
However, he denied on Sunday night that his latest move was an attempt to dodge Mr. Hollande’s measures. “I am and will remain a tax resident in France and in this regard I will, like all French people, fulfil my fiscal obligations,” he said.
“Our country must count on everyone to do their bit to face a deep economic crisis amid strict budgetary constraints,” he continued, adding that his bid for dual nationality was “linked to personal reasons” and began some months ago.
Mr. Arnault’s move was reportedly linked to a “sensitive” investment project that could be eased if he acquired Belgian nationality. …
INDIA – Vodafone Bows to India’s Text Curbs
Vodafone Group has complied with Indian government orders forcing the country’s cell phone operators to restrict text-messaging services, part of India’s effort to curb mass panic that riled parts of the country in recent weeks. [NOTE: Vodafone Group is a British multinational telecommunications company headquartered in London. It is the world’s second-largest mobile telecommunications company measured by both subscribers and 2011 revenues (in each case behind China Mobile), and had 439 million subscribers as of December 2011.]
The Indian government imposed the restrictions starting [August 20th,] after viral SMS messages contributed to a public panic in the wake of violent clashes between Muslims and predominantly-Hindu Bodo residents in the northeast state of Assam.
The messages, which emerged alongside online videos and social-networking posts, warned of a Muslim retaliation and caused thousands to flee Indian cities in fear of violence.
The result has been a government-enforced clampdown on text messaging—a reminder to Vodafone of the hazards of doing business in high-growth emerging markets and a nuisance to many Indian cellphone users, particularly for those who rely on texting.
For Vodafone, the restrictions come about a year and a half after the mobile giant complied with Egyptian government demands to shut down mobile services in the midst of a popular uprising against the Mubarak regime.
Though the restrictions in India are of a different nature, they too mark a service shutdown at the behest of government demands. …
(The news briefs above are from wire reports and staff reports posted at Chicago Sun Times on Sept. 7, London’s Daily Telegraph on Sept. 9 and WSJ.com on Aug. 25.)