Briefing :-28/3/17

Here is CurrentHow’s Briefing™ for the 28th of March, 2017 :-

1. US, UK, India among several countries decide not to attend UN talks on nuclear weapons ban treaty :-

US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks while French Deputy Ambassador to the UN Alexis Lamek and British Ambassador to the United Nations Matthew Rycroft listen outside the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York City.

More than 100 countries launched the first UN talks aimed at achieving a legally binding ban on nuclear weapons even as the Trump administration is leading an international boycott of the process it deems unrealistic.

India will not be participating in the first UN conference in more than 20 years on global nuclear weapons ban.

The United States, Britain and France are among almost 40 countries that will not join talks on a nuclear weapons ban treaty starting at the United Nations.

Britain, France, Israel, Russia and the US voted no, while China, India and Pakistan abstained from voting on the resolution in October. In its Explanation of Vote (EoV) given for its abstention on the resolution in October, India had said that it was “not convinced” that the proposed conference could address the longstanding expectation of the international community for a comprehensive instrument on nuclear disarmament.

India also maintained that the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (CD) is the single multilateral disarmament negotiation forum.

Britain’s UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said: “The UK is not attending the negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons because we do not believe that those negotiations will lead to effective progress on global nuclear disarmament.”

Deputy French UN, Ambassador Alexis Lamek said “the security conditions were not right” for a nuclear weapons ban treaty. “In the current perilous context, considering in particular the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, our countries continue to rely on nuclear deterrence for security and stability,” Lamek said.

The US’ envoy to the UN Nikki Haley said the Assembly “suddenly” wants to have a hearing to ban nuclear weapons and while as a mother and daughter, she wants a world with no nuclear weapons, one also has to be “realistic”.

She said given the current times “bad actors” cannot be allowed to keep their nuclear weapons while other nations try to maintain peace and safety.

“We would love to have a ban on nuclear weapons but in this day and time we cannot honestly say that we can protect our people by allowing the bad actors to have them (nuclear weapons) and those of us who are good trying to keep the peace and safety not to have them,” Haley told reporters.

The push for a ban was announced in October by 123 UN members who say the threat of atomic disaster is growing thanks to tensions fanned by North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and an unpredictable new administration in Washington.

Leaders of the effort include Austria, Ireland, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa and Sweden, supported by hundreds of non-profit organizations. In 2009, then-president Barack Obama announced a drive to reduce the role of nuclear weapons and eventually eliminate them.

But his administration strongly encouraged NATO allies to vote against this year’s UN negotiations, saying a ban would obstruct cooperation to respond to nuclear threats from adversaries.

2. White House under lockdown after suspicious package found, US Secret Service detains one person :-

White House under lockdown after suspicious package found, US Secret Service detains one person
The White House has been locked down

A suspicious package near the White House grounds has put the building on lockdown, reports say.

Secret Service has detained a man with a package outside the White House, an official told AFP.

According to reports, the package was found near the White House and the north lawn has been closed. Roads around the White House have also been closed.

The US Secret Service in a tweet said it was investigating the incident.

3. Trump may bypass hardline conservatives on tax : White House :-

Trump may bypass hardline conservatives on tax: White House
President Trump talks to journalists at the Oval Office of the White House after the AHCA health care bill was pulled before vote in Washington.

Fresh off a defeat on US healthcare legislation, the White House warned rebellious conservative lawmakers that they should get behind President Donald Trump’s agenda or he may opt to bypass them on future legislative fights, including tax reform.

Both Trump and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus scolded hardline conservatives who rejected legislation backed by the White House to overhaul Obamacare.

Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Priebus held out the possibility of working with moderate Democrats as well as Republicans to pass other aspects of Trump’s agenda, such as his proposed budget, the revamp of the tax code and a renewed effort at healthcare reform.

“If we can come up with a bill that accomplishes the goals of the president with Republicans alone, we’ll take and we’ll move forward with it,” Priebus said.

But he added: “I think it’s more or less a warning shot that we’re willing to talk to anyone. We always have been and I think more so now than ever.”

In an embarrassment for Trump, who had campaigned for the White House on what he said were his skills as a dealmaker, the healthcare bill was pulled on Friday from the floor of the House of Representatives because it failed to draw enough support from within Trump’s own Republican Party.

Objections from members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and from moderate Republicans left leaders short of the votes needed for passage, with Democrats unified in opposition.

Trump failed to win over the Freedom Caucus lawmakers despite courting them intensively.

Adding fuel to the conservative revolt against the healthcare bill were outside conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America. In a tweet on Sunday morning, Trump lashed out at both the Freedom Caucus and the conservative groups, saying their actions had left “Democrats smiling in D.C.”

Priebus also rebuked the conservative lawmakers. “The fact that some of these members took that (bill) and decided not to move forward with it, I think is a real shame,” Priebus said. “And I think the president is disappointed in the number of people he thought were loyal to him that weren’t,” he said.

Trump has said that now that the healthcare bill has failed, he will move on to other priorities, namely tax reform. Priebus said Trump was not backing off his view that the tax reform bill needed a border tax. He also said that the measure would include a middle class tax cut that he said might help to attract votes from moderate Democrats.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer criticized Trump over his handling of the healthcare bill and said Republicans would face the same conservative revolt on other issues. “They’re going to repeat the same mistake they made on Trumpcare with tax reform,” Schumer told ABC.

He urged Trump to go a different path: reject the Freedom Caucus and work with Democrats.  “If he changes, he could have a different presidency,” Schumer said. “He’s going to have to tell them he can’t work with them and we’ll certainly look at his proposals. But it’s going to be guided on our values.”

US Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, said on Sunday he was optimistic on tax reform. “I fully expect that what we’re going to see is not only real tax reform, but other measures that come along,” he told ABC.

Meadows, a fiscal conservative, also said his group could support a tax plan that is not revenue neutral. “So, tax reform and lowering taxes, you know, will create and generate more income,” Meadows said. “And so we’re looking at those, where the fine balance is. But does it have to be fully offset? My personal response is no.”

4. ‘Fearless Girl’ extends face-off with Wall Street’s ‘Charging Bull’ :-

'Fearless Girl' extends face-off with Wall Street's 'Charging Bull'
A statue of a girl facing the Wall St. Bull is seen, as part of a campaign by US fund manager State Street to push companies to put women on their boards, in financial distrct in New York, US, March 7, 2017.

The “Fearless Girl” statue in New York City, whose face-off with Wall Street’s “Charging Bull” won her legions of fans in just three weeks, will hold her ground for at least another 11 months.

The 50-inch (127 centimetre) bronze statue of a defiant girl with fists on hips was installed to mark International Women’s Day on March 8 under a lease due to end April 2. The two statues stand on a patch of cobble stone in the financial district near Bowling Green.

After at least two petitions, generous press attention and ebullient interest on social media, the attraction for tourists and locals will keep its place at least through the end of February 2018.

“She has clearly struck a nerve,” said US Rep. Carolyn Maloney on Monday as she stood on the steps of City Hall with other women politicians to announce the statue’s extended stay.

Maloney, a New York Democrat, said the bronze girl was a testament to the power of art in society. It was created by artist Kristen Visbal and commissioned by asset manager State Street Global Advisors as part of a campaign to increase gender diversity in business.

“She has really, really become a meaningful part of the community of New York,” Maloney said. “Everyone sees their own dreams and aspirations in the strength of this little girl.”

Supporters now aim to convince New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to let “Fearless Girl” permanently stare down “Charging Bull,” which its creator said was meant to show US economic strength but also symbolises all things Wall Street and all things male.

“The importance of empowering women is not temporary, and it’s not something that can last for 11 months,” New York City Public Advocate Letitia James said. “It something that needs to be made permanent.”

But “Fearless Girl” has opponents, among them Arturo Di Modica, who sculpted “Charging Bull” and dropped it in front of the New York Stock Exchange in the middle of the night in December 1989.

“That is not a symbol! That’s an advertising trick,” he told the financial news website MarketWatch last week.

The gender diversity campaign by State Street Global Advisors, a subsidiary of State Street Corp, aims to highlight the need for more women on corporate boards. Twenty-five per cent of the largest 3,000 US companies have no female directors, the company noted on its website.

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