The following are the day's top general news stories:
1. Senate May Pass Measure on China's Yuan to Close Trade Gap, Lawmakers Say 2. Schwarzenegger Seeks $7.4 Billion of Cuts to Trim California's Budget Gap 3. Russia Moves Closer to WTO Membership With EU Deal Settling `Key' Issues 4. New York City's Budget Deficit May Expand to $4.5 Billion, Official Says 5. Denver Broncos Fire Josh McDaniels as Coach After 3-9 Start to NFL Season
1. Senate May Pass Measure on China's Yuan to Close Trade Gap, Lawmakers Say
The U.S. Senate may join the House and pass a measure meant to push China to raise the value of its currency, 30 lawmakers said in a letter today to China´s Vice Premier Wang Qishan. The senators said they want China to allow "its currency to appreciate meaningfully" before President Hu Jintao visits Washington next month. The bipartisan group of lawmakers also urged Wang to deal with U.S. concerns about trade in green- energy goods, beef, protection of copyrighted items and government procurement at a meeting in Washington this month. "It is time for China to make progress on these issues so our two countries can continue to build a strong, mature economic relationship," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said today in a statement. China amassed a $201 billion trade surplus with the U.S. for the first nine months of this year, more than the U.S. deficit with the next seven-largest trading partners combined, according to Commerce Department data.
2. Schwarzenegger Seeks $7.4 Billion of Cuts to Trim California's Budget Gap
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who leaves office next month, proposed slashing state spending by an additional $7.4 billion to help ease a $25 billion deficit projected for the next 18 months. His plan would cut $886 million from the fiscal year ending June 30 and another $6.5 billion next year, including money for child-welfare programs and prisons, he said today at a press conference in Sacramento. He also would raise $937 million from various fees, including one charged to homeowner insurance policies for fire protection. The governor, who called a special budget session of the Legislature, also would divert vehicle-weight fees to pay debt service on transportation bonds to free money currently being spent on the debt and would sell advertising on state-owned highway signs. "If there is one thing we have learned over these past few years, it is that the longer we wait to tackle the problem, the larger and more difficult it is to solve," Schwarzenegger said.
3. Russia Moves Closer to WTO Membership With EU Deal Settling `Key' Issues
Russia will move a step closer to membership in the World Trade Organization today when it signs an agreement with the European Union settling "key questions" that have hampered its accession bid for years. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and EU leaders including President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Barroso will sign a memorandum of understanding that sets the terms to resolve all EU-Russia bilateral issues. Russia, the largest economy outside the WTO, applied for membership of the Geneva-based trade arbiter in June 1993. "We have finished our negotiations with Russia on those terms of Russia´s WTO accession which were not yet agreed previously and were of particular concern specifically to the EU," said John Clancy, the commission´s trade spokesman in Brussels. "These aspects will be politically endorsed with the signing of the MoU. This bilateral deal resolves a number of key questions for the EU and brings the accession moment closer." Among the bigger EU concerns that have been settled are Russia´s pricing policies for lumber exports and railway fees. Finland and the Baltic countries complained that the policies unfairly aid Russian companies by overcharging European rivals. Russia has agreed to cut the timber export duty to about 15 percent of customs value from 25 percent, though the lower levy won´t be applied until it joins the WTO.
4. New York City's Budget Deficit May Expand to $4.5 Billion, Official Says
New York City´s projected budget deficit for fiscal 2012 may widen by $2 billion, to $4.5 billion, because cuts in state aid may be greater than forecast, Budget Director Mark Page said. Mayor Michael Bloomberg´s proposal last month to cut the city workforce by 10,000 as part of plan to save $1.6 billion during the next 18 months may not be enough to close the gap, Page told the City Council´s Finance Committee today. "The reality that we´re facing is that the future could be considerably worse," Page told the council members. "This is something we are solemnly worried about." The most populous U.S. city has a $65 billion budget projected for fiscal 2012, which begins July 1. Bloomberg last month cited increased pension costs and loss of $850 million in federal school aid in proposing to reduce the city´s 300,000- worker payroll, including more than 6,000 firings. About 4,000 cuts will be accomplished by attrition.
5. Denver Broncos Fire Josh McDaniels as Coach After 3-9 Start to NFL Season
Josh McDaniels was fired as coach of the Denver Broncos after going 11-17 in less than two seasons with the National Football League team. The Broncos have a 3-9 record this season and are in last place in the American Football Conference´s four-team West Division. McDaniels, 34, was hired by the Broncos in January 2009 to replace two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan. Since starting 6-0 in McDaniels´s first season last year, the Broncos have gone 5-17. McDaniels and the Broncos were fined $50,000 each on Nov. 27 because the team´s video director filmed a practice by the San Francisco 49ers before their game in London last month, violating an NFL rule.
-0- Dec/07/2010 00:35 GMT