Here is CurrentHow’s Briefing™ for the 19th of December, 2017:-
1. US: Derailed Amtrak train was doing 80 mph in 30 mph zone:-
The passenger train that derailed in Washington state was traveling 80 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone, transport investigators said late Monday.
Bella Dinh-Zarr, vice chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, told journalists “it’s too early to tell” why the train was traveling at such a fast speed, an estimate that came from preliminary information obtained from an event data recorder in the rear locomotive.
The Amtrak train — which Dinh-Zarr said was likely carrying some 80 passengers, three crew and two service personnel — was travelling on a new route for the first time before plunging off a bridge onto a busy highway, leaving at least three people dead.
Federal investigators would be on the scene for a full day Tuesday, she said, kicking off a probe into the incident that would likely last seven to 10 days.
Information obtained from the front locomotive’s data recorder, which has been more difficult to access, would potentially lend more insight into the train’s exact speed, according to Dinh-Zarr.
Pictures captured following Monday morning’s derailment showed one Amtrak train car overturned and crushed on the interstate highway and others dangling from the overpass.
Several other carriages of the 14-car train also ended up on the highway, shutting down a key section of the busy artery that connects the greater Seattle metropolitan area to Olympia. All but one car jumped the tracks.
Officials gave no reason for the derailment of southbound Amtrak train 501, the inaugural run of a new service that promised faster connections between Seattle and Portland, Oregon.
Local officials had warned only weeks ago that the track still might not be safe enough to handle trains at higher speeds.
2. The US asks Pakistan to take ‘decisive action’ against terror groups:-
US President Donald Trump has asked Pakistan to take “decisive action” against terror groups operating on its soil, as he unveiled America’s new National Security Strategy.
The US will also encourage Pakistan to continue demonstrating that it is a responsible steward of its nuclear assets, the National Security Strategy (NSS) said.
Mandated by the Congress, Trump yesterday released his first NSS, according to which the US has asked Pakistan to intensify its counterterrorism efforts.
“We have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory. And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help,” Trump said in his remarks as he announced the NSS.
Pakistan has received more than USD 33 billion from the US since the 9/11 terror attacks.
“We will press Pakistan to intensify its counterterrorism efforts, since no partnership can survive a country’s support for militants and terrorists who target a partner’s own service members and officials,” it said.
The NSS links its efforts to build trade and investment ties with Pakistan with improvement in security.
The Trump administration has been talking tough with Pakistan after it came to power but has stopped short of taking any action against it even though the Pakistani leadership has shown reluctance in taking decisive actions against terrorist groups.
On November 25, the White House asked Pakistan to immediately re-arrest and prosecute Hafiz Saeed, leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba.
“If Pakistan does not take action to lawfully detain Saeed and charge him for his crimes, its inaction will have repercussions for bilateral relations and for Pakistan?s global reputation,” the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had said.
On Afghanistan, the US will continue to partner with it to promote peace and security in the region, it said.
“We will continue to promote anti-corruption reform in Afghanistan to increase the legitimacy of its government and reduce the appeal of violent extremist organizations,” it added.
3. China slams US security strategy as ‘Cold War mentality’:-
China on Tuesday decried US President Donald Trump’s first National Security Strategy, which described Beijing as a challenge to American power, as a “Cold War mentality” that will only harm Washington.
“Any country, or any report, which distorts the facts, or maliciously slanders will only do so in vain,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing.
The two countries have been locked in an increasingly acrimonious battle over trade issues, with Washington taking unprecedented steps to investigate and add tariffs to Chinese-made goods.
Trump’s security strategy — 11 months in the making — takes a step further, pillorying China as a “revisionist power” seeking to displace the United States in Asia.
“We urge the United States to stop intentionally distorting China’s strategic intentions and to abandon outdated notions such as the Cold War mentality and zero-sum game, otherwise it will only harm itself or others,” Hua said.
Hua launched a vigorous defense of Beijing’s foreign policy.
“China will never pursue its own development at the expense of other countries’ interests.”
Hua added: “At the same time we will never give up our legitimate rights and interests.”
The security strategy contrasts with the friendly nature of Trump’s first state visit to Beijing in November when he received a lavish welcome and repeatedly praised President Xi Jinping.
4. India, US hold first meeting on designations of terrorists, groups:-
India and the US on Tuesday concluded their first dialogue on designations of terrorist groups and individuals through domestic and international mechanisms.
The establishment of the ‘India-US designations dialogue’ mechanism reflected shared Indian and American commitments to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats, the ministry of external affairs said here at the end of the two-day meet.
Joint Secretary in-charge of America’s division in the MEA Munu Mahawar and senior officials from other ministries, including the home ministry, participated in the meet. From the US side, officials from the homeland security were present.
The dialogue was held to discuss increasing bilateral cooperation on terrorism-related designations, the ministry said in a statement.
“The Indian and US delegations exchanged information on procedures for pursuing designations against terrorist groups and individuals, through domestic and international mechanisms. They also discussed best practices for effective implementation of the designations,” it said.
The statement was also released by the US.
The dialogue comes amidst China blocking the designation of Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) chief and Pathankot attack mastermind Masood Azhar as a terrorist by the UN.
In June, a joint statement issued after a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump had said the two sides were committed to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats from groups, including Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, D-Company, and their affiliates.
India had also appreciated the US designation of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist as evidence of the commitment of the US to end terror in all its forms.
The US will host the second round of the dialogue in 2018.
5. Iran says Trump cannot cause collapse of nuclear deal:-
Iran said on Tuesday US President Donald Trump cannot cause its nuclear deal with six major powers to collapse.
“The nuclear deal will not collapse… Those who hope that Trump will cause its collapse, are wrong,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on State TV.
In October, Trump declined to certify that Iran was complying with the nuclear agreement reached among Tehran, the United States and other powers in 2015. His decision triggered a 60-day window for Congress to decide whether to bring back sanctions on Iran.
Congress passed the ball back to Trump by letting the deadline on reimposing sanctions on Iran pass last week. Trump must decide in mid-January if he wants to continue to waive energy sanctions on Iran.
Under the deal, nuclear-related sanctions imposed on Iran were lifted last year, in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme.
Iran has said it will stick to the accord as long as the other signatories respect it, but will “shred” the deal if Washington pulls out.