Tag Archives: International

Brown snubbed over tax

From

Jonathan Oliver and Bojan Pancevski

GORDON BROWN’S carefully laid plans for a G20 deal on worldwide tax cuts have been scuppered by an eve-of-summit ambush by European leaders. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, last night led the assault on the prime minister’s “global new deal” for a $2 trillion-plus fiscal stimulus to end the recession. “I will not let anyone tell me that we must spend more money,” she said. The Spanish finance minister, Pedro Solbes, also dismissed new cash being pledged at Thursday’s London summit.

“In these conditions I and the rest of my colleagues from the eurozone believe there is no room for new fiscal stimulus plans,” he said.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, has insisted that “radical reform” of capitalism is more important than tax cutting.

The attacks on Brown’s ambitions for the G20 to inject more money into the world economy come at the end of a week where the prime minister has travelled to three continents to build support for his proposals.

The likely deadlock at this week’s meeting will kill any remaining hope that Alistair Darling’s April 22 budget will offer significant tax cuts.

The assault by European Union leaders also represents a defeat for President Barack Obama, who is desperate for other big economies to copy his $800 billion stimulus plan.

“There will be a very long communiqué, but there won’t be much in it,” said a Washington economist.

Adding to the disarray, a draft of the agreement Brown hopes to secure was leaked to a German news magazine, prompting suggestions of “dirty tricks” by Berlin.

The draft stated that Britain wanted a “$2 trillion” global fiscal stimulus. However, the figure appeared only in brackets, indicating agreement on the package had yet to be reached.

The stimulus would boost world growth by 2% and employment by 19m, the draft said. The rest of the document was mainly general pledges.

“We believe that an open world economy, based on the principles of the market, effective regulation and strong global institutions, can ensure sustainable globalisation with rising well-being for all,” it said.

A No 10 source expressed “disappointment” at the leak and insisted the $2 trillion figure was not new money but an expression of the total tax and spending packages already pledged by G20 members.

Privately, government officials admit that no further fiscal stimulus will be announced this week, although there will be a $250 billion package for the International Monetary Fund to help rescue struggling poor nations.

Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, said he sympathised with the concerns of demonstrators planning to disrupt the London summit. “There is understandable frustration and some anger. The global economic systems has stalled and what we have got to do is get it started.”

George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, yesterday warned Brown against further tax cuts in the budget. “When it comes to your plans for a second fiscal stimulus, I say this Gordon Brown: enough is enough,” he said in a speech. “We will not let you play roulette with the public finances yet again.”

UK officials have not given up on the idea there could be agreement on a fresh boost for the world economy later in the year. “It is likely that there will be another heads of government meeting probably in Asia in the autumn,” said an official.

“This will be the forum where the next round of stimulus will be discussed.”

Brown still hopes to establish the IMF as an informal referee for international tax cuts. The plan is that the Washington-based body could advise on the timing of any future cuts.

Merkel’s criticism drew an angry response from Labour MPs. Denis MacShane, the former Europe minister, said: “Who does Mrs Merkel think is going to buy Mercedes and BMWs if she . . . says putting demand into the economy is a bad thing?” Another Labour MP said: “One has to ask who had something to gain from the leak of the communiqué. This feels like a dirty trick.”

There are growing fears that protests at the summit venue, the ExCeL centre in London’s Docklands could be marred by violence. Scotland Yard will be deploying specialist officers trained to use 50,000-volt Taser stun guns.

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North Korean rocket could reach Hawaii: US admiral

America’s top military officer said on Friday that a rocket North Korea plans to launch next month has a range that could possibly reach Hawaii.Asked if the North Korean rocket could reach the US states of Hawaii or Alaska, Admiral Mike Mullen told CNN: “In some cases, yes, they could probably get down to Hawaii.”

International concern has been mounting about North Korea’s announcement it would launch a communications satellite between April 4 and 8.

The United States, Japan and other allies believe Pyongyang is using the launch to test a ballistic missile that could, in theory, cross the Pacific to reach North America.

The launch, combined with North Korea’s atomic weapons, were cause for serious concern, the admiral said.

Mullen added the regime’s missiles did not yet have a range that could strike the western coast of the US mainland.

Arms experts say North Korea has yet to demonstrate it has the ability to construct and fit a nuclear warhead onto a missile.

The launch, even if it is for a satellite as announced by North Korea, would help the regime in developing a long-range missile threat, said Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“What concerns me is the guidance, the engineering, the engines, those are all identical to the kinds of capabilities you’d put on a ballistic missile,” he said.

Japan gave its military the green light on Friday to shoot down any incoming North Korean rocket. And Japanese and US warships have already deployed ahead of the April 4-8 window.

North Korea has said shooting down its rocket would be treated as act of war.

The last time North Korea launched a long-range Taepo-dong 2, on July 4, 2006, the missile failed seconds after launch.

Mullen declined to comment on any possible US military response to a rocket launch.

Other US commanders have said they have confidence the US military had the ability to shoot down any missile threatening the United States using sea-based or land-based missile defense weaponry.

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Bachmann Bill: Don’t Replace The Dollar

A member of Congress is warning the Obama administration to keep its hands off the U.S. dollar’s status as the world’s international currency,

 U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., has introduced a resolution that would bar the U.S. from recognizing any other currency than the dollar as its reserve currency.

Her action comes in response to suggestions from China,Russia and the United Nations that another currency be explored. Even U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has admitted he would be open to the idea, although he quickly backtracked when the stock market plunged on his announcement.

 “During a Financial Services Committee hearing, I asked Secretary Geithner if he would denounce efforts to move towards a global currency and he answered unequivocally that he would,” Bachmann said. “And President Obama gave the nation the same assurances. But just a day later, Secretary Geithner has left the option on the table. I want to know which it is. The American people deserve to know.”

Although Title 31, Sec. 5103 USC prohibits foreign currency from being recognized in the U.S., the president has the power to engage foreign governments in treaties, and the president is principally responsible for the interpretations and implementation of those treaties according to the Constitution, according to the congresswoman.

As a result, legislation prohibiting the president and Treasury Department from issuing or agreeing that the U.S. will adopt an international currency would need to come in the form of a Constitutional Amendment differentiating a treaty used to implement an international currency in the U.S. from other types of treaty agreements, she said.

“If we give up the dollar as our standard, and co-mingle the value of the dollar with the value of coinage in Zimbabwe, that dilutes our money supply. We lose control over our economy. And economic liberty is inextricably entwined with political liberty. Once you lose your economic freedom, you lose your political freedom,” Bachmann told the Glenn Beck program on the Fox News Channel today.

Her proposal, H.J.R. 41, isn’t complicated:

It is titled: “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to prohibit the president from entering into a treaty or other international agreement that would provide for the United States to adopt as legal tender in the United States a currency issued by an entity other than the United States ”

Already with several dozen sponsors, it states:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:”

It would add to the Constitution:

The president may not enter into a treaty or other international agreement that would provide for the United States to adopt as legal tender in the United States a currency issued by an entity other than the United States.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the latest voice to endorse an “alternative” to the dollar was the head of a U.N. expert panel discussing solutions to the financial crisis.

Officials from both Russia and China have spoken out on the idea of a new global currency standard, and a U.N. panel published a report that said a new global reserve system would add to the world’s “economic stability and equity.”

 According to a report in the Financial Times, the subject could be on the table at the coming G20 summit of leading and emerging nations in London.

Specifically, the U.N. said a new system could “counteract the risk of a rapid fall in the value of the major reserve currency, gutting hard-earned reserve funds.”

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U.K. MEP Daniel Hannan: Transcript of His Attack on Gordon Brown

Prime Minister, I see you’ve already mastered the essential craft of the European politician, namely the ability to say one thing in this chamber and a very different thing to your home electorate. You’ve spoken here about free trade, and amen to that. Who would have guessed, listening to you just now, that you were the author of the phrase ‘British jobs for British workers’ and that you have subsidised, where you have not nationalised outright, swathes of our economy, including the car industry and many of the banks? Perhaps you would have more moral authority in this house if your actions matched your words? Perhaps you would have more legitimacy in the councils of the world if the United Kingdom were not going into this recession in the worst condition of any G20 country?

The truth, Prime Minister, is that you have run out of our money. The country as a whole is now in negative equity. Every British child is born owing around £20,000. Servicing the interest on that debt is going to cost more than educating the child. Now, once again today you try to spread the blame around; you spoke about an international recession, international crisis. Well, it is true that we are all sailing together into the squalls. But not every vessel in the convoy is in the same dilapidated condition. Other ships used the good years to caulk their hulls and clear their rigging; in other words – to pay off debt. But you used the good years to raise borrowing yet further. As a consequence, under your captaincy, our hull is pressed deep into the water line under the accumulated weight of your debt We are now running a deficit that touches 10% of GDP, an almost unbelievable figure. More than Pakistan, more than Hungary; countries where the IMF have already been called in. Now, it’s not that you’re not apologising; like everyone else I have long accepted that you’re pathologically incapable of accepting responsibility for these things. It’s that you’re carrying on, wilfully worsening our situation, wantonly spending what little we have left. Last year – in the last twelve months – a hundred thousand private sector jobs have been lost and yet you created thirty thousand public sector jobs.

Prime Minister, you cannot carry on for ever squeezing the productive bit of the economy in order to fund an unprecedented engorgement of the unproductive bit. You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt. And when you repeat, in that wooden and perfunctory way, that our situation is better than others, that we’re ‘well-placed to weather the storm’, I have to tell you that you sound like a Brezhnev-era apparatchik giving the party line. You know, and we know, and you know that we know that it’s nonsense! Everyone knows that Britain is worse off than any other country as we go into these hard times. The IMF has said so; the European Commission has said so; the markets have said so – which is why our currency has devalued by thirty percent. And soon the voters too will get their chance to say so. They can see what the markets have already seen: that you are the devalued Prime Minister of a devalued government.

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deploys warships as North Korea prepares to launch missile

Telegraph.co.uk

By Peter Foster in Beijing
Last Updated: 3:56PM GMT 26 Mar 2009

The deployment comes as America, Japan and South Korea threaten North Korea with ‘serious consequences’ if it proceeds with plans to conduct the missile test in defiance of a 2006 UN resolution.

North Korea, which has informed international agencies of its plan to fire the missile between April 4 and 8, says the launch is a “satellite test” which it is entitled to make under international law.

Recent satellite imagery has shown that the North Korea has now assembled two stages of the three-stage Taepodong-2 missile on a launch pad in the country’s northeast. Experts estimate that missile could be ready to fire within four days.

Japan has threatened to shoot down the missile if it crosses over Japanese territory, a move which Pyongyang has already said it would consider an “act of war”.

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, has warned any launch would threaten to end the six-party talks over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme. The talks have been stalled since December in a dispute over how to verify its disarmament.

“This provocative action, in violation of the United Nations mandate, will not go unnoticed and there will be consequences,” she said while on a visit to Mexico, warning that the US would put the issue before the UN Security Council for additional sanctions.

It is unclear if China, Pyongyang’s only major ally which has held talks with senior figures from both North and South Korea in the last week, would support a US move to deepen sanctions.

North Korea also continues to hold two Korean-American journalists who it arrested over a week ago after they strayed across North Korea’s border with China while on a reporting assignment.

The US Navy spokesman said the two destroyers – the USS McCain and USS Chafee – equipped with Aegis technology capable of tracking and destroying missiles had left Sasebo port in southwestern Japan. “I would say we are ready for any contingencies,” he added.

The approach launch is typical of the brinkmanship of North Korean diplomacy, analysts say, however relations on the Korean Peninsular now said to be at their lowest ebb for a decade.

A successful satellite launch would be both a blow to South Korea, which hopes to launch its own satellite later this year, and a huge fillip for Kim Jong-il, the North’s ailing dictator who was reported to have a had a stroke last year.

“A successful launch, coupled with international recognition of its nuclear capabilities, would also help secure the survival of the regime,” added Koh Yu-hwan, Dongguk University professor of North Korea studies in Seoul.

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