In 2003, Russia arrested the country's richest man, seized his main asset, Yukos Oil, broke it up and sold it. More than a decade later, a three-judge arbitration panel in The Hague ordered Moscow to pay the shareholders of the now defunct oil giant more than $50 billion.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said Yukos was "the object of a series of politically-motivated attacks by the Russian authorities that eventually led to its destruction." The July 18 order called the company's seizure "devious and calculated."
The amount is one of the biggest-ever compensation awards in an arbitration case, but shareholders had sought twice that figure. They had based their claim on Yukos' $100 billion valuation.
The court ordered Russia to pay the judgment within 180 days or begin paying interest. If Moscow fails to comply, shareholders can attempt to seize its assets overseas. But that may be easier said than done. As The Wall Street Journal notes, "[P]laintiffs in similar cases in the past have had mixed results attempting to seize Russian assets overseas."
Russia's Finance Ministry said the ruling was "politically biased," and said it will appeal.
"The ruling adds to tensions between Russia and the international community at a time when relations are at their lowest ebb since the end of the Cold War. Following the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, the U.S. and European Union are debating further economic sanctions against Moscow because of its support for rebels suspected of launching the attack."
Late last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the oligarch who controlled Yukos. Khodorkovsky was convicted of tax evasion in 2005 and found guilty of embezzlement in 2010. But critics of the Kremlin saw his treatment as punishment for daring to challenge the Kremlin.
The AP adds: "The Yukos takeover was the beginning of a process under which Russia, under President Vladimir Putin, re-took control of the country's energy industry. Yukos' main assets were sold at auction to a shell company. Just days later that company was bought up by state-owned Rosneft, making it the largest oil producer in Russia."
The case was brought by subsidiaries of GML Ltd., the former Menatep through which Khodorkovsky and his partners controlled Yukos.
With Dollar Tree's agreement to purchase Family Dollar on Monday, two of the United States' biggest discount stores are coming together in a deal estimated at $8.5 billion in cash and stock.
"The deal comes amid pressure on Family Dollar by the activist investor Carl C. Icahn, who urged the company last month toexplore a sale of itself. But Family Dollar said in a statement that it had been exploring strategic options since the winter.
"Under the terms of Monday's deal, Dollar Tree will pay $74.50 for each share of Family Dollar. The bid is made up of $59.60 a share in cash and Dollar Tree stock worth about $14.90. Including debt, the deal values the target company at about $9.2 billion.
"The bid represents a premium of nearly 23 percent to Family Dollar's closing price on Friday."
The Wall Street Journal reports the deal has been approved by the boards of both companies. Dollar Tree, the Journal reports, will continue to operate Family Dollar as a separate brand and keep Family Dollar CEO Howard Levine.
The paper adds some background:
"Family Dollar, with more than 8,100 stores across the country, has been at a crossroads in its retail strategy. Early this year, Mr. Levine said the chain was shelving a strategy that used price cuts on some items, while keeping others elevated, and instead would emulate the everyday low price model favored by rivals Dollar General and Wal-Mart.
"In April, Family Dollar said it would close about 370 stores and lower prices on nearly 1,000 basic items in an effort to remain competitive. Earlier this month, it reported its fiscal third-quarter earnings slid 33% as higher costs offset a slight increase in revenue.
"Meanwhile, activist investors—like Mr. Icahn—have been flexing their muscles this year, pushing for everything from sales to boardroom shake-ups."
NPR One is our new digital listening app that blends NPR and Member Station news reporting into a rich, localized, on-demand experience. We have been working on this new audio news app for iOS and Android for some time, and now it's your turn to download it and experience public radio made personal.
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Um Ahmed Ahmed almost ignored Eid this year.
The Muslim holiday, which began Monday, marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. This year, it also marks three weeks since the current war in Gaza started.
"My plans were to have no plans for Eid," Ahmed says, pausing in the Firaz market area on a main street in Gaza City. "But my son kept bugging me, 'Mom, aren't you going to buy me something for Eid?'"
Eid al-Fitr is a religious holiday and a family celebration. Relatives offer each other gifts of cash and chocolate. Kids look forward to special cookies and new clothes.
Ahmed's 9-year-old son Mahmoud shyly opens up a plastic bag to show off his brand-new Eid outfit: tan pants and a matching shirt. Shoes are next — bright sandals and trendy sports shoes line the window of the shop they're entering.
"The kids are suffering so much," Ahmed says, adding that her brother gave her money for Eid shopping because neither she nor her husband works. "They hear the planes. They don't sleep all night. I just wanted to make a little difference for him."
But on the first day of what is traditionally a three-day holiday, Israeli jets continued their offensive in Gaza and Hamas militants continued to launch rockets into Israel — despite a call by the United Nations for both Israel and Hamas to implement a humanitarian cease-fire for "the Eid period and beyond."
As a result, Gazans like Ahmed say they're not expecting to go visiting during Eid. Ahmed's home is crowded with relatives who have fled fighting in their own neighborhoods. With nearby explosions puncturing the air, she acknowledges it might be a risk to shop.
Indeed, few shops were open in Gaza on Sunday, the day before Eid this year — perhaps half as many as usual in the Firaz market section of town. But up and down streets in Gaza, most stores remained closed with tall, metal shutters.
"There is a big difference between Eid this year and last year," says Ali Rajeh, also out buying clothes for his children. "Last year we could enjoy it at least somewhat. This year, as adults, we can't at all. Many of my cousins were injured. I know some people who died. One of my close friends is in the hospital. He'll be there for Eid."
Tens of thousands of other Gazans will spend this Eid in overcrowded classrooms. The United Nations daily headcount shows 9 percent of Gaza's population has taken refuge from the war in agency-run schools. U.N. officials say they aren't distributing any special Eid treats. They're barely keeping up with basic demands.
"It's just the scale," says Scott Anderson, deputy director of UNRWA, the major U.N. agency operating in Gaza. "One-hundred and seventy thousand people take 200 metric tons of food a day."
Much of that food is brought in through Israel, via the sole commercial crossing. Unfortunately for U.N. logistics, Kerem Shalom is near the border with Israel and has been closed periodically due to fighting around it.
By special agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the crossing will be open on Eid, Anderson says.
"The government of Israel has done a lot to try to keep it open," he says. "But I prefer to have redundancy."
Merit Heitanen, who coordinates water deliveries to schools, worries about Eid. Many adults fast all day during the preceding month, not even sipping water.
"After Ramadan finishes, how much more will people be drinking?" she wonders. Already some schools have run out of water after two deliveries a day.
During a 12-hour cease-fire on Saturday, thousands of people who had left their homes for safety rushed back to pick up mattresses, clothing and cooking pots. Their focus was on survival rather than celebration. Hamas rejected a cease-fire extension proposed by Israel early Sunday — but then suggested a cease-fire itself the same afternoon, in part citing Eid.
"Based on a U.N. request and because of the circumstances our people face and the holiday of Eid, the resistance factions have agreed to a humanitarian cease-fire for 24 hours," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri in a statement.
Despite clashes Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on all parties "to prolong the suspension of the fighting for an additional extendable period of 24 hours to allow vital humanitarian efforts to continue." He reiterated his demand for "a durable cease-fire that could set the ground for the start of comprehensive negotiations."
Ali Rajeh, the father buying his children clothes Sunday, hasn't been following cease-fire politics. He says he told his children to just expect the worst during this war.
"I'm expecting the worst," he says. "I'm telling my kids we might get bombarded in our house, even before reaching Eid. Security or safety are like canceled concepts for them because of what is going on."
Cinematic sweep is hardwired into Band of Horses' sound: Ben Bridwell's voice always seems to be echoing through some canyon or other, whether the guitars are chiming to the rafters or drifting along drowsily. The group's most recent records, Infinite Arms and Mirage Rock, have tended toward the latter half of that equation, but Band of Horses remains versatile in tone, especially onstage.
Open-air festivals often bring out the group's anthemic energy — whether in plugged-in workouts or in an acoustic configuration like the one heard in Band of Horses' recent live album, Acoustic at the Ryman. Hear the band perform as part of the 2014 Newport Folk Festival, recorded live on Friday, July 25 in Newport, R.I.
- "St. Augustine"
- "Part One"
- "Weed Party"
- "Everything's Gonna Be Undone"
- "The Great Salt Lake"
- "Is There A Ghost"
- "No One's Gonna Love You"
- "Islands On The Coast"
- "The General Specific"
- "Ode To LRC"
- "The Funeral"
- "Am I A Good Man?"