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Friday, November 29, 2013

Cameron Says ‘Nasty UK’ Comments ‘Unacceptable’

British Prime Minister David Cameron has hit back at EU Employment Commissioner Láslzó Andor, who said the government’s plan to restrict benefits to EU migrants was risking making the UK look like a “nasty country”. Speaking during a EU summit in Lithuania, Cameron branded Andor’s comments “completely unacceptable”. “Britain is one of the most open, generous tolerant countries anywhere in the world, and to suggest otherwise is quite wrong. But what’s important is that our generosity and tolerance shouldn’t be abused. Commissioner Andor shouldn’t say that, his salary is paid in part by British taxpayers and I expect better behaviour in the future”, said the prime minister. Cameron said other European countries had given their backing to his plans to restrict benefits “who all face these similar pressures and want to put in place proper and sensible measures”, but Bulgarian Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin said the restrictions were “discriminatory”.

China Scrambles Jets to Monitor Foreign Planes

China scrambled fighter jets on Friday to response to the incursion of Japanese and South Korean fighter jets and surveillance planes into its newly-declared air defence zone. The jets were scrambled for “effective monitoring”, said Shen Jinke, a spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, without going into further details, insisting that they were “in line with international common practices”. “China’s air force is on high alert and will take measures to deal with diverse air threats to firmly protect the security of the country’s airspace”, he added. Japanese officials said China’s posture would not change their plans. “While we will have to be more cautious than before, I do not believe we have to limit our activities”, said Vice Admiral Yasushi Matsushita, commander of the country’s Self Defence Fleet.

Thai Prime Minister Rules Out New Elections

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has ruled out early elections in order to quell the protests that have laid siege to Bangkok for the past week. She told the BBC’s Jonah Fisher that the situation in the country was not calm enough for elections, but also that she would not authorise the use of force against protesters breaking into government offices. “I love this country. I devote myself to this country. I need only one thing for the country: we need to protect democracy”, she said. Despite surviving a no-confidence vote in parliament, her government seems to have lost popular support. Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a former opposition leader, said that he would “not let them work anymore”. The protesters say PM Shinawatra’s government is controlled by her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted from power in 2006.

UK Ministers Deny Asking Energy Companies to Freeze Prices

Government minister have denied asking the country’s big six energy companies to freeze their prices for 20 months, despite the sources at the companies saying that they had been asked by the government to make such a commitment. Calling the report “utterly misleading”, Downing Street spokesman Jean-Christophe Gray said that “people should wait for the Autumn Statement when we will spell out our plans to roll back the impact of levies on people’s energy bills”. He was referring to the semi-annual statement by the Treasury, to be delivered by Chancellor George Osborne in early December. Speaking at the EU summit in Lithuania, Prime Minister David Cameron said that “the only way you can do that is by increasing competition and rolling back the costs of some of the levies on people’s bills. I said that’s what we were going to do; that is what we’re going to do, and I think that’s a very positive step forward.”

Weekend Read: Decoding the Summer of Snowden

“This summer, Americans got the most comprehensive look at the government’s massive surveillance machinery since the Church Committee, by way of leaked documents provided to the press by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. Together, they reveal a surveillance machine vastly more powerful than anything Hoover could have dreamed of.” In the Cato Policy Report.

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