World News Brief, Tuesday February 24

Obama sets first budget; Pyongyang has launched more medium-range missiles; South Korean president loses popularity; Sri Lanka rejects Tamil Tiger cease-fire request; Somali terrorists vow further attacks on peacekeepers; and more

Top of the Agenda: Obama's Budget and the U.S. Deficit

The U.S. economy will come under the spotlight this week as President Barack Obama sets his first budget. The Financial Times reports Obama's budget will show the U.S. budget deficit rising this year, due in part to new fiscal stimulus spending, but then falling to roughly half its current level by 2013. Bloomberg reports Obama's budget cuts rely heavily on reductions in military spending.

The budget release will come following a fiscal responsibility summit (AP), which Obama will preside over today in Washington. The Boston Globe reports the summit could prove a "warning" for Obama on spending, noting that budget experts have already said that long-term budget problems could prove even more challenging to Obama's presidency than short-term economic concerns.

The Wall Street Journal says Obama will follow up on the summit tomorrow with an address to Congress on his budgetary plans, before releasing a ten-year blueprint for U.S. spending on Thursday. The article says the week could prove to be the most significant thus far of Obama's presidency, notwithstanding the efforts the president has already made to press through large-scale fiscal stimulus and housing plans.

Obama's efforts at budgetary cuts won't come without frictions. The New York Times reports the president has already encountered resistance from his own party as he has worked to shore up social security spending-many Democrats, the article says, feel money would be better spent on health care and other reforms.

Background and Analysis:

- This report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office examines planned U.S. spending from 2008 to 2018 and describes some of the geopolitical implications of running large deficits.

- TIME looks at some of the lobbies in Washington that wish to prevent entitlement reform and could make it more difficult for Obama to bring about budget reductions.


PACIFIC RIM: North Korea Missiles

A white paper from South Korea's defense department says Pyongyang has deployed new medium-range missiles (Yonhap) capable of reaching more parts of Asia and the U.S. territory of Guam.

S.KOREA: The Korea Times reports South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's approval ratings have fallen sharply in the last year.

VIETNAM: TIME reports corruption has undermined stimulus spending efforts in Vietnam.

A recent Backgrounder looks at how the economic crisis has affected Vietnam.



- Sri Lanka rejects Tamil Tiger cease-fire request.
- U.S. advisers reportedly working secretly to aid military in Pakistan.
- Somali terror group vows further attacks against AU peacekeepers.


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