- Trump’s Paris Exit Leaves Him Isolated From C-Suites to Capitals
The response to President Donald Trump’s announcement he was exiting the Paris climate accord and wanted to renegotiate on his terms was immediate: The leaders of France, Germany and Italy said no.
On Wall Street, corporate executives pilloried the businessman president. Goldman Sachs’ CEO tweeted for the first time, calling the move a setback for the world. Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk and Bob Iger of Walt Disney Co. quit a White House advisory council in protest.
Even the mayor of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — a city Trump highlighted as a beneficiary of his decision to turn his back on the global pact — vowed to abide by the Paris agreement.
Trump’s decision leaves him more alienated than ever, isolated on the world stage and increasingly embattled at home.
Coming against the backdrop of sprawling probes into ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign, the backlash threatens to sap the president’s power when he needs it most to advance domestic priorities such as tax reform and a health care overhaul while confronting an increasingly bellicose North Korea.
It’s a dramatic change in fortunes for the president after just 133 days in office. Business leaders no longer seem to fear Trump’s tweets; foreign leaders have moved from attempts to find rapport to direct confrontation.
Consider that in earlier days, a tweet about Ford Motor Co. shipping U.S. jobs to Mexico prompted the automaker to announce it was abandoning plans to build a $1.6 billion plant there.
Days after his election, Trump called the top executive of United Technologies Corp. and told him not to move jobs from a Carrier factory in Indianapolis to Mexico. Carrier partially relented, agreeing to keep 1,100 jobs in the U.S. in exchange for $7 million in tax breaks and incentives from the state. (Even so, 1,300 jobs are still going to Mexico.)
And in her first visit with Trump in Washington, German Chancellor Angela Merkel gamely tried to shake Trump’s hand during a photo opportunity, offering an optimistic assessment of the meeting despite the president’s persistent criticisms of her country.
“I’ve always said it’s much, much better to talk to one another and not about one another, and I think our conversation proved this,” she said afterwards.
There is none of that fear and trembling now.
After Trump’s announcement on Paris, Ford issued a statement asserting that “we believe climate change is real and remain deeply committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Company chairman Bill Ford, the man Trump once described as “my friend,” broke with the president over his executive order on immigration. And Ford still employs more than 7,000 workers in Mexico.
Although Carrier hasn’t announced a change to its plans, other companies are moving production south. And foreign leaders now game out how to try to one-up the president.
In his first meeting with Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron squeezed Trump’s hand so hard that the American’s knuckles turned white. And when the two chatted before cameras, Macron spoke only French. (He switched to English for his remarks with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May).
After Trump’s announcement on Paris, Macron tweeted, “Make our planet great again,” and assured American scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and “responsible citizens” they could find “a second homeland” in France.
Trump’s first foreign trip as president left fellow members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization unsettled and wary, as well. Trump omitted any clear commitment to the alliance’s pledge of collective defense, leaving allies uncertain whether the U.S. would come to their aid if attacked.
Afterwards, unlike her White House visit, Merkel didn’t extol the benefits of discussion.
She told a beer-hall rally in Munich that Europe “really must take our fate into our own hands,” adding “this is what I have experienced in the last few days.”
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the combined weight of Trump’s NATO speech and his decision to leave the Paris agreement mark “the sad demise of a 70-year era of American global leadership.”
” ‘America First’ policies are threatening our strategic interests and eroding our moral standing in the world,” Panetta said in a statement.
To be sure, the Republican voters that elected Trump to the White House have not turned away from the president. Among Republicans, 87 percent say they approve of the job Trump is doing, according to Gallup’s most recent weekly poll. Trump’s job approval has fallen just slightly, from 45 percent just after his inauguration to 41 percent.
And congressional leaders upon whom Trump depends to advance his agenda endorsed his action. House Speaker Paul Ryan called the Paris agreement “a raw deal for America” and commended the decision. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from the coal-state of Kentucky, was more blunt: “I applaud President Trump and his administration for dealing yet another significant blow to the Obama administration’s assault on domestic energy production and jobs.”
The tone of Trump’s Rose Garden speech Thursday was unapologetic, evoking the inaugural address in which the president angrily lashed out at other countries playing the U.S. for a fool and vowed that “from this day forward, it’s going to be only America first.”
“The Paris agreement handicaps the United States economy in order to win praise from the very foreign capitals and global activists that have long sought to gain wealth at our country’s expense,” Trump said. “We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore.”
Trump did make an offer to renegotiate the Paris accord, but that was quickly rejected. Merkel, Macron and Italian President Sergio Mattarella issued a statement insisting that the agreement was “irreversible” and “cannot be renegotiated.”
And after the president said he was taking action to put the interests of Youngstown, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; and Pittsburgh above those of Paris, Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh’s mayor, shot back that the city needed no such help: “I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris agreement for our people, our economy and future.”
SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.
The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.
In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.
SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.
The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.
“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”
COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.
In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.
According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.
“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.
“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”
Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom
Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.
He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.
The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.
The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.
“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.
“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.
“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.
“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.
Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.
“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”
He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.
“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.
“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.
“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.
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