Mexico says Trump’s unsurprising Nafta threats a negotiating tactic

Mexico's Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray announces the dual year 2017-2018 between Mexico and Colombia, during a news conference in Mexico City. (Photo: Reuters)

US President Donald Trump‘s threat to scrap the Nafta trade pact is little more than a negotiating tactic, aimed at his political base, that should neither scare nor surprise Mexico, the country’s foreign minister said on Wednesday as the peso weakened.

In a speech in Phoenix on Tuesday night, Trump reiterated his threats to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying the pact’s future looked bleak. Trump has long called the 1994 pact a bad deal that hurt American workers, saying it should be re-negotiated or ended.

Initial talks to re-negotiate Nafta between Mexico, the United States and Canada ended in Washington this weekend with no sign of a breakthrough and further discussions are due in Mexico City in September.

Following Trump’s remarks on Tuesday, Mexico’s peso weakened more than 1 per cent in early trading on Wednesday before paring losses, as market jitters on the future of Mexican exports to the United States continue to plague the currency.

Videgaray, speaking on local television, sought to brush off the threat, saying Trump’s comments were simply a negotiating tactic and Mexico would keep negotiating as well. The comments were not a surprise, nor would they scare Mexico, he added.


Don’t seek material or money, treat us with respect: Pak Army chief to US

Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa

Pakistan is not seeking material or financial help from the US, but Washington must trust and treat it with respect, Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday told the US envoy in Islamabad, a day after President Trump asked Islamabad to stop providing safe havens to terrorists.

While announcing America’s new Afghanistan and South Asia policy — which calls for greater US troop deployment and Indian involvement in Afghanistan — Trump had hit out at Pakistan for offering sanctuaries to “agents of chaos.”

The US Ambassador David Hale met General Bajwa at the Army’s Headquarters in Rawalpindi, where the latter was briefed on the US’s new South Asia policy announced by President Trump, according to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) — the Pakistani military’s media wing.

“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations,” the US president had said.


MP wants women-only carriages on UK trains to combat sexual offences

UK Flag

The concept of Indian-style women-only carriages on UK trains should be adopted to combat sexual offences against women which have nearly doubled recently, a British MP has said.

Labour MP for Derby North Chris Williamson believes it is “worth consulting” on the policy after such crimes nearly doubled in the past five years.

The concept, which is in force on trains in India, Japan, Brazil and Mexico, had been first raised for the UK to emulate by Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2015 but had been shot down as a move that would promote “segregation”.

“It [women-only carriages] would be worth consulting about. It was pooh-poohed (when Corbyn suggested it), but these statistics seem to indicate there is some merit in examining that,” said Williamson, who serves as the shadow fire minister in the Oppositon.

“Complemented with having more guards on trains, it would be a way of combating these attacks, which have seen a very worrying increase in the past few years. I’m not saying it has to happen, but it may create a safe space. It would be a matter of personal choice whether someone wanted to make use of it,” he said.


ECB monetary policy could temporarily ease inequality in Europe

Representative image

The European Central Bank‘s ultra-easy monetary policy may actually reduce income inequality in Europe, ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio said on Tuesday, rejecting the argument that asset buys disproportionately benefit the wealthy.

Constancio said the ECB’s stimulus measures lower unemployment and thus increase disposable income for Europe’s poorest, compressing inequality, at least in the short term.

“This result confirms that, from the distributional perspective, the main impact of expansionary monetary policies is on the reduction of unemployment with positive effects on the reduction of inequality,” Constancio said in Lisbon.

“(Monetary policy) measures can improve their welfare and contribute toward reducing income disparities, at least in the short-term.”

But he added that such steps are likely to be temporary with the “hollowing out of the middle class” and the increasing polarisation of incomes likely continuing over the longer term.


HC halts 2nd Vodafone arbitration in Rs 11,000-cr tax demand against India

A man casts a silhouette onto an electronic screen displaying a Vodafone logo, in Mumbai. Photo: Reuters

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday restrained Vodafone Group‘s arbitration proceeding against India, under a treaty with the United Kingdom, in connection with a Rs 11,000 crore tax demand raised against the company in relation to its $11 billion deal acquiring stake of Hutchinson Telecom.

Justice Manmohan restrained Vodafone or its subsidiaries from going ahead with arbitration under the India-UK Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA) as the telecom major had initiated similar proceedings on the same issue under the the India-Netherlands BIPA.

“This court is of the prima facie view that in the present case, there is duplication of the parties and the issues. In fact, the reliefs sought by the defendants under the India-UK BIPA and by the Vodafone International Holdings BV (VIHBV), the subsidiary of defendants (Vodafone group), under the India-Netherlands BIPA are virtually identical.

“This court is further of the prima facie view that there is a risk of parallel proceedings and inconsistent decisions by two separate arbitral tribunals in the present case. In the prima facie opinion of this Court, it would be inequitable, unfair and unjust to permit the defendants to prosecute the foreign arbitration,” the court said in an interim order.

Maldives Army occupies Parliament to block no-trust vote

Photo: Wikipedia

The Maldives military locked down the nations Parliament on Tuesday in what opposition lawmakers said was an attempt to block a motion to impeach the Speaker of the House.

Imthiyaz Fahmy, of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), tweeted a video of what he said were security forces in plain clothes blocking representatives from entering the chamber, the Guardian reported.

Another lawmaker from the MDP, Eva Abdulla, said MPs were eventually allowed in but said that Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed was also surrounded by soldiers.

A close ally of President Abdulla Yameen, Mohamed opened the session and then immediately closed it before MPs were able to vote on the no-confidence motion, she said.

“The session was over in five minutes,” she said by phone. Lawmakers said they raised the motion against the Speaker after he repeatedly refused parliamentary requests to scrutinise the government.


In the name of Lebanon, we begin offensive against IS: Lebanese army

In the name of Lebanon, we begin offensive against Islamic Stat: Army chief

The Lebanese army announced today the start of an offensive against the Islamic State (IS) group close to the Syrian border in the east of the country, where jihadists have been operating for several years.

“In the name of Lebanon, in the name of kidnapped Lebanese soldiers, in the name of martyrs of the army, I announce that (this) operation…. Has started,” said army chief General Joseph Aoun.


Can the police prevent another Charlottesville incident?


Even before the demonstration in Virginia began last weekend, the police there knew they weren’t going to be able to handle what was coming.

Charlottesville police officers, including Sgt Jake Via of the investigations bureau, had been contacting organisers and scanning social media to figure out how many demonstrators were headed their way and whether they would be armed.

“The number each group was saying was just building and building,” Via said. “We saw it coming. … Looking at this, I said, ‘This is going to be bad.'”

The protesters’ numbers were too large and the downtown park too small. City officials tried to get the demonstration moved to another, more spacious location, but lost in court after the rally’s organiser, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, alleged his freedom of speech was being infringed.


Rupert Murdoch son’s rebuke of Donald Trump may signal a shift

Rupert Murdoch

At 5:55 p.m. on Thursday, James Murdoch sent an email to a list of blind-copied recipients offering a striking repudiation of President Trump and a pledge to donate $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League. He addressed the note to “friends,” stating in the first line that he was writing it in a “personal capacity, as a concerned citizen and a father.”

Yet for the son of the conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who speaks regularly with Mr. Trump, it’s impossible to separate the personal, the political and the corporate.

James Murdoch’s message, which he wrote himself, was sent to a number of business associates from his company email address at 21st Century Fox, the global media conglomerate where he reigns as chief executive. And within two hours, it had been leaked to the news media, offering a window into the nuanced internal and external politics of the Murdoch media empire.


Stephen Bannon out at the White House after turbulent run

'Great manipulator' Steve Bannon quits as Trump's chief strategist

Stephen K. Bannon, the embattled chief strategist who helped President Trump win the 2016 election by embracing their shared nationalist impulses, departed the White House on Friday after a turbulent tenure shaping the fiery populism of the president’s first seven months in office.

Mr. Bannon’s exit, the latest in a string of high-profile West Wing shake-ups, came as Mr. Trump is under fire for saying that “both sides” were to blame for last week’s deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va. Critics accused the president of channeling Mr. Bannon when he equated white supremacists and neo-Nazis with the left-wing protesters who opposed them.

“White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.”