Furious Calais port boss savages ‘disrespectful’ Tory Chris Grayling over Brexit

The boss of the Port of Calais has launched a blistering attack on top Tory Chris Grayling, saying his "disrespectful" behaviour left him "shocked".

Jean-Marc Puissesseau savaged the Transport Secretary for spending £100million on ferries to prepare for no deal Brexit – including on a firm that doesn’t yet own any ferries.

Seaborne Freight was handed a contract worth almost £14million to set up a route from Ramsgate, Kent, to Ostend in Belgium to boost capacity if there is no deal.

Meanwhile the M20 motorway and disused Manston airfield are being lined up as lorry parks if extra checks spark delays at the Port of Dover.

But despite previously warning of 30-mile tailbacks, port President Mr Puissesseau claimed his port was perfectly able to handle the freight and implied the no deal spending was insulting.

"We have been preparing for no deal for one year in Calais and on 29 March we will be ready", he claimed.

And he angrily hit out at the government for allegedly trying to take business from his port by setting up a new service to Ostend in Belgium.

He told the BBC Calais will not impose extra delays, other than the migrant checks running now.

His officials will only ask for customs declarations, he claimed.

"We will not stop and ask more than we are doing today," he told BBC Radio 4’s Today.

"I am very shocked.

"I consider it disrespectful to Calais and to Dover what has been decided by the Mr Grayling of the British government."

Mr Puissesseau made his bold claim of no delays despite research for the government warning it would take just 70 seconds of checks per truck to cause six-day tailbacks in Kent.

He said the money was helping "three ferry companies, among them one company which has no ferry, which is not working today, helping from Ostend to Ramsgate.

"It is a complete shock for us."

He claimed the "only positive point" is "the migrants will leave Calais I hope to go to Oostend."

The row illustrates the delicate negotiations over Brexit between the UK, EU and private firms.

The UK government has insisted it is sensible to prepare for every eventuality, including ferry capacity.

A Department for Transport spokesman said of Seaborne: "This contract was awarded in the full knowledge that Seaborne Freight is a new shipping provider, and that the extra capacity and vessels would be provided as part of its first services.

"As with all contracts, we carefully vetted the company’s commercial, technical and financial position in detail before making the award."

Read More

Latest Brexit news

  • May loses historic vote – but presses on
  • Brexit vote set for January 15
  • ‘Disgraceful’ Brexit abuse of MPs
  • ‘Advice’ from right-wing pressure groups
  • Brexit lorry test a ‘farce’
  • Recap of the last episode
  • Summary of the deal and sticking points
  • What will No Deal really mean?

Source: Read Full Article

Christmas decorations kill NZ birds

Dozens of birds have been found dead or injured in New Zealand with Christmas decorations tied around their necks and wings.

Sparrows and pigeons have been reported with “decorative trinkets” tied to them in Wellington.

Some of them died of starvation as they are unable to fly and find food, according to the SPCA.

Although there have been similar incidents since 2015, there has been a spike in sightings in recent weeks.

Authorities believe the birds are being deliberately “decorated” as the tinsel and bows are tightly and carefully attached, the New Zealand Herald reported.

“Many try to pry the foreign objects off their bodies with their beaks and feet, becoming further entangled and preventing them from eating, drinking and flying. With others, the decorations are wrapped so tightly it completely cuts off their blood circulation.

“Those that do survive and arrive at our centre are always in a very bad state, and are so malnourished and distressed that we have had to humanely euthanise them,” SPCA spokesperson Paige Janssen said in an email to the BBC.

According to Ms Janssen, there have been several reported cases of “decorated” birds since 2015. However the number of sightings has increased over the Christmas and New Year period.

“We received around 30 calls alone just over this period. They were multiple sightings of a dozen birds that are still mobile and flying around the Kilbirnie area that we are unable to reach,” she said.

SPCA Wellington is looking for the suspect behind this “case of cruelty” and last week put out a plea to the public to come forward with any information.

In a breakthrough on Tuesday, the group rescued seven “decorated” pigeons from a property in the eastern suburb of Kilbirnie in Wellington. But SPCA is continuing their investigation and is still encouraging members of the public to come forward with any information.

The pigeons were found to have been in a “distressed but healthy condition”.

Some of the rescued pigeons were also painted the same colour as the tinsel tied around them.

“One pigeon had quite bright red Christmas tinsel wrapped around its wings and then the top of its head had been painted with red paint as well as its wings had been tipped with red paint,” the New Zealand Herald quoted SPCA regional manager for the central region Ros Alsford as saying.

Source: Read Full Article

Go-Jek's expansion hits roadblock as Philippines rejects ride-hailing application

MANILA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s Go-Jek suffered a setback to its expansion plans on Wednesday after the transport regulator in the Philippines rejected its application to launch a ride-hailing service, saying its domestic unit did not meet local ownership criteria.

However, the setback may only be temporary as the firm, whose backers include Alphabet Inc’s Google, could appeal the decision or team up with Filipino investors.

“Go-Jek can get a local partner that will own at least 60 percent of the ride-hailing entity to comply with the law,” said January Sabale, head of communications at the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

The decision comes as Go-Jek seeks to expand in Southeast Asia, having evolved from a ride-hailing service founded in 2011 to providing a one-stop app through which users can order food and services such as massages and make payments online.

The firm has raised billions of dollars from investors such as Tencent Holdings Ltd, JD.com Inc and Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd [TEM.UL] to challenge market leader Grab.

Since March 2017, several Philippine ride-hailing firms have started operations in the capital Manila and in major provinces but have had limited success in wresting domestic market share away from Singapore-based Grab, which stands at over 90 percent.

“Homegrown firms are not making a dent on early-player Grab, because the cars they can enrol now have to go thru the LTFRB’s filtering hurdles,” said Rene Santiago, transportation expert and president of Bellwether Advisory in Manila.

Go-Jek applied for a license to operate in Manila in August through wholly owned subsidiary Velox Technology Philippines Inc. Later the same month, ride-hailing was added to a list of industries where foreign ownership is limited to 40 percent.

Velox “did not meet the citizenship requirement and the application was not verified in accordance with our rules,” regulator chairman Martin Delgra told Reuters.

A Go-Jek spokesman said, “We continue to engage positively with the LTFRB and other government agencies, as we seek to provide a much-needed transport solution for the people of the Philippines.”

There are around 37,000 registered ride-hailing vehicles across eight accredited firms, Delgra told Reuters. The Department of Transportation has capped the total at 65,000.

Source: Read Full Article

U.S. oil exports to Asia set to rise in second-quarter as freight costs fall

SINGAPORE/NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. crude oil exports to Asia are set to rise in the second quarter as sellers cut prices following sharp drops in freight rates and expected weaker demand in the United States, trading and shipping sources said.

Offers for U.S. crude arriving in Asia in the second-half of March or April are about 50 cents a barrel lower than a month earlier, they said, making it more competitive against oil from the Middle East.

U.S. crude grades popular with Asian buyers include light oils such as West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Midland and Eagle Ford, as well as Mars and Southern Green Canyon among heavier grades.

The United States has boosted crude sales to Asia, helped by a steep discount for U.S. oil to the global benchmark Brent.

“There is the potential for Q2 U.S. crude exports to Asia to be higher year-on-year if the WTI/Brent spread remains in the range it has in recent months and with the lower freight rates,” said David Arno, oil analyst at analytics firm Genscape.

“There are a few variables, though, with the ongoing U.S-China trade war and the potential for the waivers for Iranian crude exports to Asian countries to not be extended.”

A U.S. decision not to extend waivers allowing some Asian countries to import Iranian oil despite sanctions would boost demand from South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, China, and India.

FREIGHT RATES FALL

The rate for chartering a Very Large Crude Carrier, to ship 2 million barrels of oil from the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) in Houston to Singapore has fallen more than 40 percent from late-October to about $5 million, data on Refinitiv’s Eikon shows.

VLCC prices spiked late last year during the winter season and as buyers boosted imports ahead of renewed Iran sanctions.

Enquiries for ships to send oil from the U.S. Gulf coast or South America to Asia have picked up, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) at Houston – also known as MEH – and Mars are seeing strong demand from Asia, U.S.-based trade sources said.

Companies looking for ships include P66, Mercuria, Reliance and Vitol [VITOLV.UL] while Royal Dutch Shell has a VLCC on the way to Asia, said one source.

More U.S. crude could also be freed up for exports as U.S. refineries prepare to shut for seasonal maintenance from February before ramping up for the summer driving season, the sources said.

In Asia, offers of WTI Midland crude for delivery to North Asia have fallen by 50 cents a barrel to about a $2.50 a barrel premium to the Dubai benchmark, while Eagle Ford crude can be delivered to Asia at about $3 a barrel premium, the sources said. U.S. Mars crude has become cheaper than Oman on delivery, they said.

The U.S. price cuts have also depressed spot prices for Middle East grades such as Murban and Oman, the sources said.

CHINA UNCERTAINTY

While demand from big U.S. oil importers – South Korea and Taiwan – is expected to remain strong, Chinese buyers are likely to stay cautious amid trade talks with the United States.

“Right now, we see one cargo headed for China, which set sail on Dec. 31 and is set to land in mid-February. It marked the first U.S. crude export to China since late September, and only the second one since late July,” Genscape’s Arno said.

Two VLCCs that loaded U.S. crude in December had been scheduled to head to China, shipping data on Refinitiv Eikon showed. But VLCC Nasiriyah is now heading to Rotterdam and VLCC Manifa is set for Singapore, Refinitiv analyst Emma Li said.

Source: Read Full Article

In Pictures: Inside Nord Anglia – Ireland's most expensive school with fees up to €24k

Ireland’s most expensive school has opened its doors and is determined to “shake up” the country’s educational offering.

The Nord Anglia International School in Dublin, which opened in Leopardstown this September, charges up to €24,000 per annum for day pupils.

It has an open enrolment all year long and is aimed at children of mobile international executives, but it also hopes to attract Irish families seeking a “premium education”.

The “world-class” school offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme which allows “flexible learning” of core subjects as well as extra-curricular activities.

The Nord Anglia school, which was previously Microsoft’s old headquarters, is decked out with state-of-the-art classrooms as well as recording studios, a dance hall, theatre, library, music pods as well as high-end metal and woodwork suites.

The school, which opened three weeks ago, currently has 30 part-time and full-time teachers and aims to keep the student-to-teacher ratio below 9:1.

While the school declined to comment on the exact number of students currently enrolled, the secondary year groups have up to 15 children, while there are up to six children in the Early Years Programme (ages 3 to 5).

Lisa Cannell, Head of Primary and the Early Years Programme told Independent.ie that the south Dublin facility is determined to shake up Ireland’s educational offering.

“Our world is changing, and it’s changing very quickly. We need to prepare our students and I don’t think state schools are currently doing that.

“We want to make sure learning is engaging and relevant. We want to teach our students life skills that they can actually apply.”

The primary school students study the core subjects of English, Maths, Arts, Languages (French, Irish, Spanish, Mandarin), PE, Geography, History, Culture Studies, Science and IT.

As the school’s motto is ‘come to the edge’, Ms Cannell said that students are also taught skills such as critical and independent thinking.

“The students are asked to look at someone who inspires them and then lead their own project in the school. It’s important that they have a voice and that we listen to them and their ideas. We hope they will inspire others with their leadership projects.”

Ms Cannell, who is originally from the UK but has taught in international schools across the world, said that the Early Years Programme for children aged between three and five focuses on the children’s interests.

“It’s very similar to montessori-style teaching where we let the children lead.”

For older children in the secondary programme, the curriculum is equally demanding.

Rita Bateson, who is originally from Blanchardstown in Dublin, is the Head of Secondary and Mathematics at Nord Anglia, and wrote five books of which the curriculum is based.

The students in the first four grades are taught eight subjects including Science, Design (Technology and Engineering), Arts, Maths, PHE (Physical and Health Education), Individuals and Societies (History, Geography, Finance, Religion, Ethics). They also have to do two languages (Irish, German, French, Spanish and Mandarin) – unless the student requires additional English support.

In grade 10 and 11, the students complete their Diploma – which is the equivalent of the Leaving Cert. The students choose six subjects – three honour level subjects and three at standard level.

Ms Bateson, who taught in schools around the world, said that while the students are expected to learn theorems, they are taught how they relate to a global context, rather than just memorising them.

“Everything has to be relevant and life-worthy. There is nothing that kids wont use in the future and if there is we have to justify it. We can’t just keep cramming facts into students that they’ll never learn again. We can all Google facts now, students have to be able to understand them.”

For example, Ms Bateson said that when teaching the students about statistics, the students learn much more than the mean, mode and median.

“We look at how statistics can be misleading in the press and fake news. We look at how results are analysed and how they can be skewed depending on how it is manipulated.”

One thing that makes the school different to Irish state schools is its impressive Performing Arts programme, which includes a collaboration with Juilliard in New York.

Hannah Picasso, the school’s Head of Performing Arts told Independent.ie that Nord Anglia stresses the importance that the arts are for everyone, not just for those who have had previous training.

“All of our students have music, dance and drama as part of their curriculum. Our motto is all about coming to the edge and seeing how far we can go.”

Ms Picasso, who is a conservatory-trained violinist, said that the students are given the opportunity to learn new instruments, as well as music composition.

“Our programme is centered on actively making music. They students are asked to be singers, to move, to create the entire time. They learn how to match pitch and have a sense of pulse. The music classes are very active, especially with the younger students.

“In secondary level, the students learn what makes a song, form and structure, and they are asked to compose. They will spend time in our keyboard lab composing. The IB programme is all about inquiry-driven learning and asking students to go deeper. I want them to be articulate and competent artists and make something that allows them to express themselves.”

The school is also preparing to launch a private lesson programme, where students can learn how to play new instruments from local musicians.

As well as a keyboard lab, the school has five music pods and a recording studio where students can take time to practise their instruments.

“Some students are in here at 7am to practise their instruments. I always tell my students they can fill their days with as much music as they want.”

Source: Read Full Article

Australia PM sorry for using Fatman Scoop

Australian PM Scott Morrison has apologised for posting a video online after discovering its soundtrack – a famous hip-hop song – contained lyrics that were “just not OK”.

The 11-second video showed government MPs raising their hands in parliament. In the caption, Mr Morrison praised his colleagues as being “on fire today”.

But social media users widely expressed puzzlement over its accompanying song – Be Faithful, by US artist Fatman Scoop.

The song has several explicit lyrics.

The section posted on Mr Morrison’s social media accounts was not explicit: “You got a hundred dollar bill, get your hands up! You got a 50 dollar bill, put your hands up!”

But the post was ridiculed as “bizarre” by people online. Many pointed out that the song, released in 1999, had explicit language and sexual references.

Some political observers said the post raised questions about whether Mr Morrison, who became prime minister three weeks ago, and his team were fully equipped for the top job.

But others dismissed such criticism as overblown, or saw a fun side.

The tweet was deleted about four hours after it was posted, and Mr Morrison apologised.

Source: Read Full Article

Najib files application to disqualify Gopal Sri Ram as 1MDB lead prosecutor

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has filed a legal application to remove Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram as the lead prosecutor in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) trial.

Najib’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Wednesday (Jan 9) that the defence had filed an application for leave to support its application to disqualify Mr Sri Ram’s appointment.

High Court judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah scheduled Feb 8 to hear Najib’s application, news portal Malaysiakini reported.

On Aug 31, Attorney General Tommy Thomas announced the appointment of Mr Sri Ram, a retired former federal court judge, as the lead prosecutor in the prosecution against Najib’s 1MDB and its related cases.

The case before Justice Sequerah on Wednesday pertains to 21 counts of money laundering and four counts of abuse of power against Najib last September in relation to more than US$681 million (S$924 million) that went into his personal account.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2015 that the money was transferred to the then Prime Minister in 2013.

The sum, which amounted to RM2.6 billion at the time, is believed to be from 1MDB, which suffered debts of more than RM50 billion (S$16.5 billion) at its peak.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing, saying the funds were a donation from the Saudi royal family.

After Pakatan Harapan’s shocking win in the May 9 General Election, the authorities began investigating, conducting home searches and bringing charges against Najib.

Besides Najib, the Malaysian government has also charged his wife, Rosmah Mansor, with corruption and money laundering.

National news agency Bernama reported on Wednesday that Rosmah’s application to transfer her case from the Sessions Court to the High Court was set on Jan 24.

She pleaded not guilty last November to one count each of soliciting and accepting bribes over a solar hybrid project for rural schools in Sarawak.

Related Stories: 

Source: Read Full Article

Oil rises by over 1 percent on U.S., China trade talk optimism

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose by around 1 percent on Wednesday, extending gains from the previous session on hopes that Washington and Beijing may soon resolve trade disputes that have cast a dark shadow over the global economy.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures CLc1 were at $50.42 per barrel at 0752 GMT, up 64 cents, or 1.3 percent, from their last settlement. That marked the first time this year that WTI has topped $50 a barrel.

International Brent crude futures LCOc1 were up 69 cents, or 1.2 percent, at $59.41 per barrel.

Both crude price benchmarks had already gained more than 2 percent in the previous session.

“Crude continues to extend gains as early reports from Beijing regarding trade negotiations are fueling optimism around successful trade talks between the U.S. and China,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.

“After a dreadful December for risk markets, crude oil continues to catch a positive vibe,” Innes said.

The oil price jumps were in line with Asian stock markets, which climbed to 3-1/2 week highs on Wednesday.

Trade talks in Beijing between the world’s two biggest economies entered a third day on Wednesday, amid signs of progress on issues including purchases of U.S. farm and energy commodities and increased U.S. access to China’s markets.

State newspaper China Daily said on Wednesday that Beijing is keen to put an end to its trade dispute with the United States, but that it will not make any “unreasonable concessions” and that any agreement must involve compromise on both sides.

If no deal is reached by March 2, Trump has said he will proceed with raising tariffs to 25 percent from 10 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports at a time when China’s economy is slowing significantly.

Citing the trade tensions, the World Bank expects global economic growth to slow to 2.9 percent in 2019 from 3 percent in 2018.

“At the beginning of 2018 the global economy was firing on all cylinders, but it lost speed during the year and the ride could get even bumpier in the year ahead,” World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva said in a semi-annual report released late on Tuesday.

More fundamentally, however, oil prices have been receiving support from supply cuts started at the end of 2018 by a group of producers around the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as well as non-OPEC member Russia.

The OPEC-led cuts are aimed at reining in an emerging supply overhang, in part because U.S. crude oil output C-OUT-T-EIA surged by around 2 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018, to a record 11.7 million bpd.

Official U.S. fuel storage data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) is due at 1800 GMT on Wednesday.

Source: Read Full Article

Police Collect DNA From Nursing Home Workers After Sexual Assault of Patient

The police collected the DNA of male employees of a private nursing home in Arizona on Tuesday as they continued to investigate allegations that a woman in a vegetative state there who gave birth to a child last month had been sexually assaulted, the nursing home’s parent company said.

The move represented an escalation in the case, just one day after the longtime chief executive of the company resigned. The police in Phoenix announced Friday that they had opened the investigation into the alleged assault.

In a statement, the company that manages the nursing home — Hacienda HealthCare — said police investigators had served a search warrant to obtain the DNA. A spokesman for the company, David Leibowitz, emphasized that Hacienda HealthCare welcomed the action by the police, noting that the company itself had sought to conduct voluntary genetic testing of its staff, but that the company’s lawyers had concluded that doing so would be illegal.

“Hacienda stands committed to doing everything in our power to bring this police investigation to a quick conclusion,” the company statement said. “We will continue to cooperate with Phoenix Police and all other investigative agencies to uncover the facts in this deeply disturbing” situation.

It was not clear how many male employees were tested. Sgt. Tommy Thompson of the Phoenix Police Department declined to comment on the case Tuesday night other than to say, “We still have an ongoing investigation.”

In a separate development, the San Carlos Apache Tribe said in a statement obtained Tuesday by 12 News, a local television station, that the woman at the center of the case is a 29-year-old “enrolled member” who “has been in a persistent vegetative state and coma for over a decade.”

A lawyer for the woman’s family, John A. Micheaels, said in a statement obtained by The New York Times that the baby was a boy who “has been born into a loving family and will be well cared for.”

“The family obviously is outraged, traumatized and in shock by the abuse and neglect of their daughter at Hacienda Healthcare,” Mr. Micheaels said, adding that they did not wish to make a public statement.

Speaking on behalf of the tribe, its chairman, Terry Rambler, said he was “deeply shocked and horrified.” Attempts to reach Alex Ritchie, the attorney general for the San Carlos Apache Tribe, were not immediately successful.

“When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers,” Mr. Rambler said. “It is my hope that justice will be served.”

Hacienda HealthCare has been under intense scrutiny since the police announced the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the conception of the baby boy. The woman has not been publicly identified by the police.

The Arizona Department of Health Services has said it was aware of the allegations and would conduct an inspection of the center, which is about seven miles south of downtown Phoenix. It specializes in the care of people with intellectual disabilities and has at least 74 patient beds, according to federal records. Records posted to the Medicare website indicate that the nursing home received a “below average” rating from health inspectors in 2017. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rated its quality of resident care as “much below average.”

Episodes in which incapacitated patients are raped and become pregnant are not unprecedented, though they are rare.

In 1996, a woman from Rochester, who had been in a coma for a decade after a car accident gave birth to a two-pound baby boy. When her belly began swelling, workers at the care facility in Brighton, N.Y., tested her for intestinal blockages, but they later determined through DNA testing that she had been assaulted by a nursing assistant, who was found guilty of rape and imprisoned.

Experts at the time said that was the country’s first recorded episode of a woman in a chronic vegetative state giving birth. The case drew additional attention because the woman, whose name was Kathy, was Catholic, and her parents chose to allow the pregnancy to continue and eventually adopted the child. Kathy died before the boy’s first birthday.

New York State subsequently passed “Kathy’s Law” in 1998, which imposed stiffer penalties for health care workers found guilty of abusing patients in nursing homes. That same year, a woman in a coma at a home in Massachusetts gave birth to a baby girl prematurely and with severe brain damage. According to a report by The Associated Press at the time, after the police asked for blood samples from male employees, a registered nurse’s aide was convicted of rape and sent to prison.

Source: Read Full Article

Drum Rolls for Trump’s Speech? More Like Eye Rolls in Mexico

TIJUANA, Mexico — With the bullhorn of a nationally televised address and the prestige of the White House around him, President Trump delivered a dark, if familiar, message to the American people on Tuesday night: The United States needs a border wall to stanch the flow of drugs and criminals, and it has no more room for migrants.

In Mexico — the supposed origin and pipeline of these menaces — leaders and citizens reacted with a weary shrug.

In the Mexican border city of Tijuana, where thousands of migrants have gathered seeking entry to the United States, most of the televisions in a downtown restaurant showed soccer matches and basketball games. Mr. Trump’s voice, nearly drowned out by music, emerged faintly from a screen in the back.

Almost no one seemed to care, or even listen to what the American president had to say.

Luis Arce, a 32-year-old lawyer, was among the few who took a moment to reflect on Mr. Trump’s speech. He said he was not surprised by Mr. Trump’s insistence on building a wall, nor by anything else in the remarks.

“It’s a tantrum,” Mr. Arce said. “We all know he is temperamental and will never back down on this whim of his, especially since he promised it since his campaign and seems like he can’t take it back.”

“A wall will clearly not solve drug addiction, the drug trade, weapons smuggling or illegal immigration,” he added. “Those are problems that have to be addressed and solved by policymaking.”

The situation at Mexico’s northern border would seem to demand urgent policymaking, as the migrants gathering at cities like Tijuana have become a humanitarian and political crisis for Mexico.

The demands of trying to shelter migrants and improve squalid, crowded conditions have overwhelmed local officials, and the arrival of the migrants has strained relations with the United States. Last week, Mexico called for an investigation into American officers’ repeated use of tear gas across the border.

Yet the reaction to Mr. Trump’s speech on Tuesday night was muted.

Although only several weeks into his term, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has gone out of his way not to antagonize his American counterpart. After Mr. Trump’s address, he appeared to weigh his words carefully.

In a long interview with a Mexican news program, Mr. López Obrador said Mexico would always pursue “a relationship of cooperation, of friendship.” His government, he said, will confront migration “with development, with employment.”

After the interview, reporters asked Mr. López Obrador about Mr. Trump’s speech and his insistence on the wall.

“I don’t even want to mention the word,” Mr. Lopez Obrador said. “It’s an issue that’s not even on our agenda. I don’t think about it.”

Instead, the president said, he would try to bring Mr. Trump around to his way of thinking.

“We will persuade him, convince him that we need cooperation for development,” he said. “This is the best way to face the phenomenon of migration.”

Vicente Fox, the vocal former president of Mexico, has berated Mr. Trump in the past, and on Tuesday he appeared to see no reason to let up, dismissing the American leader on Twitter: “L’enfant terrible. The enemy of all! Even himself.”

Mr. Fox urged Mr. Trump, “Don’t be so stubborn,” saying that Mexico would never pay for the wall and that “as far as I understand the American people will not either.”

From the day he announced his candidacy for office in 2015, Mr. Trump has made the reduction of immigration — and the construction of a wall — a central issue of his campaign and presidency, sometimes promising that Mexico would pay for the wall. He has since claimed a revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada would pay for the wall, an idea rejected on Tuesday by Kenneth Smith Ramos, the chief Mexican negotiator for the deal.

“That’s a chapter you will NOT find in the new Agreement, simply because it does NOT exist,” he wrote on Twitter.

In a series of fact-checking tweets about the speech, Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico’s former ambassador to the United States, rejected many of Mr. Trump’s claims. “Saying there is a national security crisis on the border does a huge disservice to how the US and Mexico have worked together since 9/11 to ensure our border is not used by terrorists to undermine our common security,” he wrote.

On Monday, Mexico’s interior minister, Olga Sánchez Cordero, staked out a position that was in implicit contrast to Mr. Trump’s.

“Migrants are not criminals, much less do they constitute a threat to the security of Mexico or the United States,” she said. “They are human beings who seek to escape the reality of insecurity and poverty in their countries of origin, who seek the most elemental thing: the possibility of remaining alive and finding a job that will allow them to advance with dignity.”

But although she said Mexico was open and willing to work with the United States, the two sides are still far apart on the nature of the problem itself.

Mexicans in Tijuana noted as much on Tuesday, when Mr. Trump spoke.

Daniel Gómez, the manager of the bar airing the speech, called it “bad news” that would discourage tourism and hurt the Mexican economy.

“It is so frustrating to listen to him say the same things, which are nothing more than excuses to justify the massive problems that exists in the U.S. and blame it all on the foreigner, the Mexican, the other,” he said.

“It’s infuriating because we can’t do absolutely anything about it,” he said. “All we can do is what we are doing right now, which is to sit down and watch it from afar.”

Follow Elisabeth Malkin and Paulina Villegas on Twitter: @ElisabethMalkin and @Paulina_VV.

Source: Read Full Article