Osborne Warns Clegg Off Emergency Wealth Tax
British chancellor George Osborne reacted coolly to an emergency tax on the country’s richest people, proposed yesterday by deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Speaking at an engagement in Sunderland, Osborne suggested that such a move could put the country’s recovery at risk. “I am clear that the wealthy should pay more, which is why in the recent budget I increased the tax on very expensive property. But we also have to be careful as a country we don’t drive away the wealth creators and the businesses that are going to lead our economic recovery”. The tensions created by Clegg’s proposal within the governing Conservative-Lib Dem coalition were highlighted by Bernard Jenkin, a Conservative MP, on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme. “If the politics of envy made a country rich, we’d be a very rich country. Most rich people are contributing far more in tax than other people. This is a pre-conference easy clap line.”
Syrian President Assad Says He Needs More Time To “Win The Battle”
Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, used an interview with the pro-government al-Dunya television channel to state that he needed more time to “win the battle”, acknowledging that his forces were struggling to contain the opposition movement. “Definitely, we need more time to have a decisive conclusion, but I can resume things with one phrase: we are progressing”, said Assad. He said the situation in the country was improving, but highlighted the fact that he was a fighting a battle “both regionally and internationally”. He refused to recognise that high-level desertions were damaging his administration, stating that such exits were “a self-cleaning process of the government, in the first instance, and of the country in general”. Assad also discarded a proposal by Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, to establish a United Nations-sanctioned buffer zone within Syria. The Turkish plan would shelter refugees and facilitate the distribution of aid, but the Syrian president dismissed it as a measure borne out of “the ignorance of some Turkish officials”.
“Hijack” False Alarm and WWII Bomb Scare at Amsterdam Airport
A Spanish passenger plane bound for Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport was intercepted by Dutch F-16 fighter jets amidst a hijack scare. Miscommunications between the crew of Vueling flight VY8366, flying from Spain’s Malaga-Costa del Sol airport, and the control tower at Schiphol airport led to fighter jets being scrambled from nearby Volkel airbase. The aircraft was surrounded by Dutch security forces upon landing and was searched by a SWAT team as a matter of precaution. A passenger spoke to Dutch broadcaster NOS from the plane and said that the situation was calm. “In fact nothing was going on. We had to fly in a holding pattern for a while. We are now waiting in the plane, the doors are still closed. But there is no hijack”, said Felice Roedema. Schiphol had suffered severe delays and some cancellations earlier in the morning after an unexploded World War II bomb was discovered by construction workers. The airport currently handles around 48 million passengers every year and is a major hub for European and international flights.
Isaac Pummels Louisiana and Mississippi, Thousands Without Electricity
Hurricane Isaac pummelled New Orleans with driving rain and strong gales late Tuesday evening exactly seven years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area. The city closed the floodgates installed in the aftermath of Katrina’s destruction in an attempt to prevent large-scale floodings, but sea water was reported to have breached a levee in Plaquemines Parish, to the south of the city. The Category One hurricane headed back out to sea before returning further west at Port Fourchon. Local energy utility Entergy said the hurricane had knocked out power to more than 450,000 customers across Louisiana. Power outages were also reported in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and south Florida.