Mexico president cancels Trump talks in US wall row

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto. (AFP/PRESIDENCIA DE MEXICO)
Updated 27 January 2017
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Mexico president cancels Trump talks in US wall row

MEXICO CITY: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday called off a meeting with Donald Trump as tensions over the US leader’s vow to make Mexico fund a new wall on the neighbors’ border boiled over.
Trump had been scheduled to receive Pena Nieto at the White House next week, for their first meeting since the inauguration. Instead, the Republican president is facing a foreign policy spat during his first week in the Oval Office.
But their escalating war of words over who would fund the proposed border wall — a central pledge made by Trump during his successful presidential campaign — escalated to the breaking point on Thursday.
“If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting,” Trump said on Twitter in the morning.
The bareknuckle early-morning tweet — already a signature Trump move — shocked diplomats, but was in keeping with the mogul’s hardball approach to negotiations and is likely to delight his supporters. Pena Nieto didn’t take long to rise to the challenge.
“We informed the White House this morning that I will not attend the working meeting scheduled for next Tuesday” with Trump in Washington, the Mexican leader responded on Twitter.
“Mexico reiterates its willingness to work with the United States to reach agreements in both nations’ interests.”
White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters that the “lines of communications” would remain open and Washington hoped to “schedule something in the future.”
The first salvos between the two presidents came Wednesday, when Trump ordered officials to begin to “plan, design and construct a physical wall” along the 3,200km US-Mexico border.
Stemming immigration was a central plank of Trump’s election campaign, but he has struggled to articulate how the wall will be paid for, beyond saying “Mexico will pay.”
Republican leaders announced Thursday they would try to carve out $12-15 billion worth of US taxpayers’ money for the project.
Trump’s order had put Pena Nieto under fierce domestic pressure to hit back, and hit back the Mexican leader did in a video message to the nation late Wednesday.
“I regret and condemn the decision of the United States to continue construction of a wall that, for years, has divided us instead of uniting us,” Pena Nieto said.
“I have said it time and again: Mexico will not pay for any wall,” he added.
Around two in three Mexicans have a favorable opinion of the US, according to Pew surveys, but anti-American and anti-Trump sentiment is not uncommon.
Pena Nieto saw his own approval rating slide late last year, after he hosted Trump — then still a White House candidate — in Mexico City.


Trump also took to Twitter on Thursday to gripe about the trade gap between Mexico and the United States.
“The US has a 60 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA with massive numbers of jobs and companies lost,” he said.
That deficit for the trade in goods is slightly higher than the overall trade deficit -- including services -- of $49 billion in 2015.
Trump has vowed to renegotiate the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement between Mexico the United States and Canada.
That renegotiation could provide one way for Trump to claim victory, through increased tariffs on Mexican goods or higher border transit costs.
But it could also risk retaliatory tariffs or blowback from US firms who export $267 billion a year south of the border.
Trump has also ordered officials to scour US government departments and agencies in search of “direct and indirect” aid or assistance to the Mexican government and report back within 30 days.
The United States is expected to provide about $134 million worth of assistance to Mexico this year, with much of the spending wrapped up in the “Merida Initiative” to combat drug cartels.
Trump was in Philadelphia on Thursday for a Republican congressional retreat, where he will have to calm some jitters.
While Trump has pursued a solidly conservative governing agenda, his outbursts over inauguration crowd size, his war of words with the media, and revival of his claim of massive voter fraud has led to concerns within his own party.
The Philadelphia meeting will feature another high-profile guest: British Prime Minister Theresa May, who will become the first foreign leader to meet Trump since his inauguration.
May, who addresses the Republican retreat shortly after Trump, will almost certainly discuss the prospects of a key post-Brexit trade deal with the United States.
The two leaders will meet in Washington on Friday and hold a joint news conference, the White House said.
US authorities lack resources to process Haitians quickly enough, leading Mexican authorities to create a ticketing system that leaves them waiting in Tijuana for weeks. Migrant shelters are full, forcing many to sleep on the streets.
Fences and other barriers already blanket about 700 miles of border, much of it in California and Arizona. In San Diego, they helped to virtually shut down what was the busiest corridor for illegal crossings in the 1990s. It’s now one of the most fortified stretches of landscape on the 2,000-mile divide between the two countries.
Border Patrol sector chiefs were asked in November to identify areas where the fence could be expanded, though Trump and his advisers have yet to detail their next steps. Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council and a member of Trump’s transition team, supports building a wall in strategic locations and reinforcing existing barriers in certain areas but not where there are natural obstacles, like the Rio Grande river in Texas.
“We do not need a Great Wall of China from California to Texas,” Judd said in an interview last week.
Away from the border, Trump drew support from his base. Tammy Allen, a 52-year-old supporter from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, applauded Trump’s interest in curbing the number of refugees coming to the US and building a wall.
“A lot of countries do. Why not us? Something has got to be done,” she said.


Media urged to deny Christchurch shooting accused the publicity he seeks

Updated 21 March 2019
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Media urged to deny Christchurch shooting accused the publicity he seeks

  • “We’re just going to be very careful we don’t become a platform for any kind of extremist agenda,” say Radio New Zealand chief
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier urged the public not to speak the gunman's name to deny the infamy he wants

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: The media has been urged to stop naming the man charged with the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch last week that left 50 people dead.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday that she would never speak his name. In a speech to parliament, she urged the public to follow suit and deny the gunman the infamy he wants.
“I implore you, speak the names of those who were lost, rather than the name of the man who took them,” she added. “He may have sought notoriety but we in New Zealand will give him nothing, not even his name.”
Arden said the media can “play a strong role” in limiting coverage of extreme views such as his.
“Of course, people will want to know what is happening with the trial,” she said. “But I would hope there are ways that it could be covered without adding to the notoriety that this individual seeks.
“But the one thing I can assure you – you won’t hear me speak his name.”
The man accused of the mass shootings has so far been charged with one count of murder, but New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush has said further charges will be brought against him. The man said in a manifesto posted online shortly before the attacks that he intended to survive so that he could continue to spread his ideals, and that he intends to plead not guilty. He has said he plans to represent himself in court, although a judge can order a lawyer to assist him.
There have been calls for the media to refuse to report anything he says during the trial. Paul Thompson, the chief executive of Radio New Zealand, said his station will exercise caution and asked editors at all media outlets to take part in a discussion about covering the case.
“We’re just going to be very careful we don’t become a platform for any kind of extremist agenda,” he said, explaining that the station does not want to inflame the situation or become a party to the accused killer’s agenda.
Thompson described the case as “uncharted territory” but said he remains confident that his reporters will do their jobs professionally.
Dr Philip Cass, a senior lecturer in journalism at Auckland’s Unitec Institute of Technology, said the media will have to make “a very fine judgment” about what is reported if the accused killer uses the court as “a forum for the expression of his opinion.” He was wary, however, of calls to completely avoid reporting what is said in court.
“If you do that then we are moving into an area of censorship,” he said, adding that it is the media’s responsibility to provide a record of what is said and done.
Dr Catherine Strong, a journalism lecturer at Massey University, said she is confident that the media in New Zealand media will act responsibly. There is no legal or ethical imperative for journalists to report everything the accused says in court, she pointed out. The country’s media has already shown maturity by not using the name of the accused in headlines and by focusing on covering the shootings from the perspective of the victims, Strong added.

Hal Crawford, the chief news officer at MediaWorks, which owns TV3 and RadioLive in New Zealand, said, "Newshub is open to an industry-wide set of guidelines for reporting on Tarrant's trial, and we are in discussions with other newsrooms. Our aims are to minimise publicity of damaging ideology while reporting the workings of justice objectively." 

The man, who has not yet entered a plea, is due to appear in court again on April 5.