Top UK business leaders back Tony Blair’s warning over possible EU exit

Business for New Europe says vote to quit could force some companies based in Britain to leave UK and delay investment due to uncertainty

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A business group backed by the bosses of some of Britain’s biggest companies has thrown its weight behind Tony Blair’s warning about the effects of a referendumon the UK’s membership of the European Union.

Business for New Europe (BNE) said a vote to quit the EU could force some companies that use Britain as a European base to leave the UK. The group warned that businesses will hold back on investment in Britain because of the uncertainty created by the prospect of the referendum.

Business leaders on BNE’s advisory council include Sir Michael Rake, the chairman of BT, Chris Gibson-Smith, the chairman of the London Stock Exchange, and Sir Philip Hampton, the chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland. BNE is non-partisan and campaigns for Britain to stay in a less bureaucratic EU.

Blair said in a speech on Tuesday that the prospect of Britain leaving the EU would cast a “pall of unpredictability” over the economy, threatening jobs and investment. He warned that a vote to quit the EU would cause the worst instability and anxiety for business since the second world war.

David Cameron has promised to call a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU by 2017 if the Conservatives form a government after next month’s election. He has pledged to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s membership before the referendum.

Read more » the guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/apr/07/british-business-leaders-back-tony-blair-warning-over-possible-eu-exit

US okays attack helicopters, hellfire missiles for Pakistan under $1 billion sale

WASHINGTON The US State Department has okayed Foreign Military Sale to Pakistan for AH-1Z Viper Attack Helicopters and AGM-114R Hellfire II Missiles as part of around one billion dollars deal.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a country vital to US foreign policy and national security goals in South Asia, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency said on Monday. The helicopters and weapon systems will provide Pakistan with military capabilities in support of its counterterrorism and counter-insurgency operations in South Asia, the defence agency noted. This proposed sale will provide Pakistan with a precision strike, enhanced survivability aircraft that it can operate at high-altitudes. By acquiring this capability, Pakistan will enhance its ability to conduct operations in North Waziristan Agency (NWA), the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and other remote and mountainous areas in all-weather, day-and-night environments. Pakistan will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces.

Islamabad had requested a possible sale of 15 AH-1Z Viper Attack Helicopters, 32 T-700 GE 401C Engines (30 installed and 2 spares), 1000 AGM-114 R Hellfire II Missiles in containers, 36 H-1 Technical Refresh Mission computers, 17 AN/AAQ-30 Target Sight Systems, 30 629F-23 Ultra High Frequency/Very High Frequency Communication Systems, 19 H-764 Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems, 32 Helmet Mounted Display/Optimised Top Owl, 17 APX-117A Identification Friend or Foe, 17 AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems, 17 AN/ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispenser Sets, 18 AN/APR-39C(V)2 Radar Warning Receivers, 15 Joint Mission Planning Systems, and 17 M197 20mm Gun Systems.

Also included are system integration and testing, software development and integration, aircraft ferry, support equipment, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, US government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The total estimated cost is $952 million. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region. The principal contractors will be Bell Helicopter, Textron in Fort Worth, Texas; General Electric in Lynn, Massachusetts; The Boeing Company in Huntsville, Alabama; and Lockheed Martin in Bethesda, Maryland.

Meanwhile, in a reference Islamabad’s close ties with major powers, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the US defence companies are engaged in a three-way tussle with Russia and China to sell weapons to Pakistan, complicated by the need to avoid upsetting neighbor India and its even larger arms’ import market.

News courtesy: Daily Times
Read more » http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/07-Apr-2015/us-okays-attack-helicopters-hellfire-missiles-for-pakistan-under-1-billion-sale

Paul Martin blasts Conservative economic plan ahead of budget

By Evan Solomon, CBC News

Dismissing the Conservative economic plan as “an absolute disgrace” and “nonsensical,” former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin has leapt into the debate over Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s newly announced April 21 budget.

In an interview on CBC Radio’s The House, Martin told host Evan Solomon Canada is facing a “very serious” economic situation and he accused the government of doing nothing about it.

“[The government] is not doing the right things now and we have not been doing the right things for the last decade,” Martin said.

Taking a cue from Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, who suddenly cut Canada’s key interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 0.75 per cent and said recently the first quarter results in Canada will be “atrocious,” Martin called on Joe Oliver to kick start a fiscal stimulus program.

“Fiscal policy and monetary policy have to work hand in hand, they cannot contradict each other,” Martin said. “If the governor of the central bank is talking about the need for monetary stimulus, he also understands there has to be changes made in the [fiscal policy] and those changes have to be investments.”

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/paul-martin-blasts-conservative-economic-plan-ahead-of-budget-1.3020162

Greek PM Tsipras to meet with Putin in Moscow.

Russia, Greece to discuss EU sanctions, economy in Moscow

(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras plan to discuss economic ties and the European Union’s sanctions against Moscow when they meet for talks next week, a Kremlin spokesman said on Friday.

Russia wants the EU to lift the sanctions imposed over Moscow’s role in the turmoil in Ukraine and hopes to get support from some EU member states, notably Hungary and Greece.

The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said it was too early to talk about any possibility of Moscow providing financial help to the cash-strapped Greece before the talks.

“Relations between Moscow and the European Union will be discussed in the light of Brussels’s policy of sanctions and Athens’ quite cold attitude to this policy,” Peskov said.

Greece’s new left-wing government has said it will not seek aid from Moscow but has so far failed to reach a deal with its EU/IMF creditors to unlock fresh funds.

Putin and Tsipras will meet in Moscow on Apr.8. It will be Tsipras’ first visit to the Russian capital after his leftist Syriza party swept to victory in a snap election in January.

Tsipras visited Moscow in May, 2014, and attended a conference on ties between Russiaand Greece, as well as being received by senior Russian state officials. Five other members of the Greek delegation now also hold senior government roles in Athens. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin)

News courtesy: Reuters
Read more » http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/03/us-ukraine-crisis-russia-greece-idUSKBN0MU0NF20150403

Iranian guards killed on Pakistan border

Eight Iranian border guards have been killed in a clash with gunmen near Pakistan
Eight Iranian border guards have been killed in a clash with gunmen near Pakistan

Eight Iranian border guards have been killed in a clash with gunmen near Pakistan, Iranian media say.

They were shot dead after the attackers crossed into Iran’s Sistan Baluchistan province, according to reports.

The gunmen then fled back across the border, Iranian official said. The identity of the attackers is not known.

Sistan Baluchistan has seen frequent clashes in recent years between Iranian security forces and drug smugglers and Sunni rebel groups.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32200996

India to Become First Country to Use Weaponized Drones for Crowd Control

Police in Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh, India, will use drones armed with pepper spray to disperse unruly mobs.

“We have purchased five drone cameras with capacity of lifting two kilogram weight. They can be used to shower pepper powder on an unruly mob in case of any trouble,” Senior Superintendent of Police Yashasvi Yadav told the Press Trust of India, adding that the drones also will assist in tracking criminals.

The small, unmanned aircraft are already used to capture images in sensitive parts of the city.

The police deployed unarmed drones for aerial surveillance last summer during riots that caused the deaths of three people and at least 12 injuries.

While Lucknow Police would be the first in the country to own drones – they previously rented the aircraft – India is not the first to consider using drones for crowd dispersal or suppression.

In 2014, drone maker Desert Wolf sent its Skunk Riot Control Copter to Turkey and South Africa to potentially be used to quell dissent.

According to Desert Wolf, the drone is equipped with four paintball barrels that each can fire up to 20 paintballs per second and 80 pepper balls per second that are capable of “stopping any crowd in its tracks.”

The drone can hold up to 4,000 balls at a time and has a high-pressure carbon fiber air system that “allows for real stopping power,” according to Desert Wolf.

American law enforcement agencies also have previously shown interest in acquiring drones capable of delivering firepower.

In 2012, a Texas sheriff’s department used a US Department of Homeland Security grant to buy a $300,000 Vanguard Shadowhawk drone. It was deployed for surveillance purposes, but the department’s chief expressed interest in using the drone’s weapons platform, which included rubber bullets, Taser and tear gas.

Two years earlier, Vanguard told an Ohio police lieutenant that it was indeed capable of mounting a “grenade launcher and/or 12-gauge shotgun” on its Shadowhawk.

News courtesy: Sputink
Read more: http://sputniknews.com/news/20150407/1020552653.html#ixzz3Wct6MOzR