quarta-feira, 17 de março de 2010
By Stephen Howard, Press Association
A court today ordered a 60-year-old woman to leave the home of the 92-year-old mother she has not spoken to for eight years.
In what a Court of Appeal judge described as a "most unfortunate and regrettable dispute", Eileen Cook took out a possession order against her only daughter, Pauline Thomas and her husband, Wyndham, 76.
Mrs Cook had occupied the south end of Tredawdy Farm, Llangrove, near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, while the couple lived at the other end.
Lord Justice Lloyd, dismissing the couple's appeal over the possession order, said: "The parties have fallen out and have not been on speaking terms since about 2002".
He said Mrs Cook and her late husband moved to the 19-acre farm in 1959 and there was a "complete rift" between the daughter and her parents in 1990 when she married.
But there was a reconciliation in 1995 when the couple attended Mr Cook's funeral and they moved to a mobile home on the farm.
When the caravan was badly damaged in a storm, they moved into the farmhouse, took over the duties of the farm and repaired farm buildings.
Lord Justice Lloyd said the couple were claiming that on four occasions they were given to understand by Mrs Cook that they would inherit the property.
But in 2002 they fell out again and the couple then found out that they had been written out of Mrs Cook's will and the farm would go to a nature charity.
"Since that date ... they have continued to live in the house, but have not been on speaking terms".
In 2008, the couple were given six months to leave the farm which was backed by a court order a year later.
Lord Justice Lloyd said the couple had carried out some restoration work at the farm but that this was done for their own benefit and convenience.
He said he agreed with the county court judge that none of the assurances given by Mrs Cook amounted to a firm commitment that they could stay at the farm.
By BRADLEY S. KLAPPER | AP
GENEVA: A UN agency urged China on Tuesday to reject Western pressure to float its currency, defending Beijing as a leader in stimulating domestic demand and the global economy.
In a policy brief, the UN Conference on Trade and Development, or UNCTAD, starts with the iconoclastic argument that market forces have caused “currency chaos” in the world and that international control of exchange rates would be better.
Leaving currencies to irrational market forcers “will not help rebalance the global economy,” and a Chinese decision in this direction would risk an economic shock akin to the one Japan suffered in the 1990s, it said. That, in turn, could destabilize the entire world economy.
The argument counters the advice of many economists, who say that China keeps its currency artificially low against the dollar to promote exports. This line of thought blames the currency control for the large and worrisome imbalances in the economic relationship between the US and China: Americans import and borrow too much, while the Chinese export and save too much.
China recently surpassed Germany as the world's top exporter, and many lawmakers in the US and Europe want the Asian power to at least raise the peg of its tender, the yuan, to the dollar or face sanctions for being a currency manipulator.
The sentiment was reinforced Tuesday by a bipartisan group of US senators, who said they would outline a new proposal for stiff penalties on Chinese goods, if the government fails to realign its currency.
US Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican, told Fox Business Network on Tuesday that the United States should label China a currency manipulator and prepare a case for the World Trade Organization.
“I think we have waited too long,” Grassley said. “I would want the president to order our trade representative to start preparing a case for the WTO. And then I would have to start looking at some legislation, if China does not reply appropriately.” He urged Beijing to act as a responsible member of the international community.
“I am tired of China crying. We are a 400-year-old society; they are a 5,000-year-old society. They are very mature,” Grassley said. “I expect China to start acting like adults, instead of crying like children”. But China has repeatedly rejected US calls to ease currency controls, with Premier Wen Jiabao denying over the weekend that the yuan was undervalued. He said foreign pressure was unhelpful, and that Beijing planned to reform its exchange rate system, but that the currency would be kept at a “stable and balanced” level.
Critics say the yuan is undervalued by up to 40 percent, giving China's exporters an unfair price advantage.
UNCTAD said focusing on China's fixed rate ignores the larger problems that are hampering economic growth.
“Indeed, 'markets' were permitted to manipulate currencies in a way that made some sovereign governments and central banks look like penniless orphans,” said the agency, which has railed for years against US-style liberal economics.
It referred to the role of money speculation, price confusion and trade distortion in the global economic crisis, and said fluctuating exchange rates were a threat to international commerce and a likely alibi for rich-world nations ready to raise tariffs or enact other protectionist barriers to shield flagging industries from international competition.
Newfound confidence in the Brazilian real and the Hungarian forint could lead to overvaluation that hampers exports and saps growth in those countries, UNCTAD said.
And for China -- where private consumption is rising at “breakneck speed” and labor costs are surging -- dropping the yuan's peg to the dollar would mean an accelerated loss of competitiveness with dangerous consequences for the world. This would be unfair because China “has done more than any other emerging economy to stimulate domestic demand.” “Expecting that China will leave its exchange rate to the mercy of totally unreliable markets and risk a Japan-like appreciation shock ignores the importance of its domestic and external stability for the region and for the globe,” UNCTAD said.
The UN body's prescription: a world regulator of exchange rates to limit deviation and stabilize currencies.
UNCTAD acknowledged that such a system would entail “major political commitments and be fraught with technical difficulties,” an understatement considering that there is no global monetary overseer with the power to overrule national central banks and governments on key economic decisions such as interest rates, money supply and lending rules.
‘Certainly I think it's a little more sustainable now than in the past,' says Scotia Capital currency strategist Sacha Tihanyi
German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants more openness about child abuse by Catholic priests in Germany, but ruled out a specific inquiry into the Church. Meanwhile, the pope is to address Irish Catholics on similar issues
Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for more details to be made public about the sexual abuse of children within the Roman Catholic Church, but insisted that any crimes that have taken place reflect a wider problem in society.
In a speech to parliament Merkel ruled out the idea of a specific investigation into the clergy. She agreed with clerics such as the head of Germany's Catholic Church, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, that abuse should be treated as a wider issue.
"We all agree that sexual abuse against children is a despicable crime," said Merkel. "There is only one way for society to come clean and that is truth and clarity about everything that has happened.
"Even if the first cases we've heard about are from the Catholic Church, it doesn't make any sense to limit this to one group," said Merkel. "It's happened in many parts of society".
Since the beginning of the year, more than 150 cases of sexual abuse in Catholic institutions have come to light, dating as far back as the 1950s.
No complete compensation
Merkel said that the victims who have come forward could never be adequately compensated for what had happened.
"Their lives run differently than if this had not happened to them in their early years," she said. "It accompanies them throughout life".
"There never will or can be complete recompense".
Merkel added that questions about compensation and changes to the law to bring perpetrators to justice still needed to be addressed.
Under Germany's present statute of limitations, such crimes cannot be prosecuted more than 10 years after the victims turn 18.
Conference to include victims
Merkel welcomed plans for a "round table" conference next month on improving the protection of children in society as a whole. This will include victims, teachers, social service representatives and Catholic and Protestant leaders.
Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, from the Free Democrat party, also welcomed the all-encompassing talks. Previously, she had called for an additional specific forum to be set up on abuse by Catholic clergy.
Meanwhile in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI said that he would sign a pastoral letter to Roman Catholics in Ireland about a pedophile priest scandal and subsequent cover-up in that country.
Speaking at his weekly general audience on Wednesday, the pontiff voiced "deep concern" and said he would sign a letter "dealing with this painful situation" on Friday.
"I ask all of you to read it for yourselves, with an open heart and in a spirit of faith. My hope is that it will help in the process of repentance, healing and renewal," the pope said.
Editor: Susan Houlton
Nico Hines and Philippe Naughton
Gordon Brown has been forced into a humiliating retreat in his battle against the retired generals who accuse him of giving disingenuous evidence on military funding to the Iraq inquiry.
The Prime Minister told the House of Commons that he now accepted that his evidence had been wrong. He admitted that defence spending “did not rise in real terms” in every year under the Labour government and said he had written to Sir John Chilcot to clarify his mistake.
“I do accept that in one or two years defence expenditure did not rise in real terms,” Mr Brown told MPs at Prime Minister's Questions.
In fact, it fell in three separate years, according to figures compiled by the House of Commons library — four years if 1997/98 is included, although the financial year had already started when Labour came to power.
Two of those years — 2004/05 and 2006/07 — were while Britain had troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Throughout his testimony before inquiry, Mr Brown repeatedly insisted that military spending had increased in every year since 1997 and claimed that all urgent operational requests were met immediately.
His claims were greeted by incredulity amongst ex-servicemen including General Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, the former Chief of Defence Staff and Admiral Lord Boyce, the former defence chief. They accused him of giving deliberately misleading evidence to the inquiry.
Mr Brown's admission follows the publication of figures in the Commons Library that directly contradict his claims.
Mr Brown admitted that his evidence was incorrect in a response to Tony Baldry, the Conservative MP for Banbury.
“Yes. I am already writing to Sir John Chilcot about this issue,” he told the House.
David Cameron congratulated Mr Baldry for extracting an admission from Mr Brown.
"In three years of asking the Prime Minister Questions I don't think I've ever heard him making a correction or retraction,” he said. “Perhaps, on the day when he has to admit that he can't get his own figures right we shouldn't have to put up with him talking about Conservative policy".
Former military commanders had accused Mr Brown of misleading the inquiry when he appeared to blame the military for failing to equip the Armed Forces properly.
Admiral Lord Boyce said: “He’s dissembling, he’s being disingenuous. It’s just not the case that the Ministry of Defence was given everything it needed”.
As the bitter row over equipment and funding escalated, Labour backbenchers appeared to suggest that remarks by retired military officials criticising Mr Brown were motivated by party political affiliations.
Asked how Mr Brown, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer for a decade, could have got the figures wrong, his spokesman said today: “Budgets are pretty complex.
“This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, budget in the UK Government.
“One has to accept that the broad direction and the increase in defence spending has been absolutely clear and significant over the last 13 years”.
The spokesman insisted that Mr Brown had “taken the first opportunity” to tell MPs about his mistake - but repeatedly refused to say when the PM first became aware of it.
He had not done so at Prime Minister's Questions last week because he was not asked “the kind of direct question” posed today by Mr Baldry, he explained. “I don’t think the Prime Minister has ever had anything to hide on this.”
A research note prepared by the House of Commons Library in October last year showed defence expenditure had fallen in real terms in four financial years since Labour came to power in 1997: 1997/98 (-2.2 per cent); 1999/2000 (-0.4 per cent); 2004/5 (-0.7 per cent); and 2006/7 (-0.1 per cent).
The average annual increase between 1997 and 2009 was 2.7 per cent, it said, but noted that “this figure is likely to have been distorted by current operations”.
Liam Fox, the Shadow Defence Secretary, said the Prime Minister had repeatedly mislead Parliament over the issue.
“This is a humiliating climbdown for Gordon Brown as his attempt to rewrite history has failed and his fantasy figures have been exposed.
“He has made repeated and fundamentally false claims, misleading Parliament, the public and, worst of all, the armed forces and their families.
“I was pleased that Sir John Chilcot did not rule out calling Gordon Brown back in front of the Iraq Inquiry and it is now crystal clear that the Prime Minister has some serious explaining to do”.