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Top story: ‘France is not naive when it comes to Iran’

Hello, it’s Wednesday and I’m Warren Murray helping you stay neck and neck with the news at the halfway mark.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, is pressing Donald Trump to stay in the Iran nuclear limitation deal and seek a separate, parallel agreement to address his concerns. In what would be a diplomatic coup for Macron, the US president has strongly hinted they are close to an understanding on the future of the deal – known as the JCPOA – which Trump has previously threatened to sabotage.

At a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House, Macron said the side deal might include a permanent check on nuclear activities, while also limiting Tehran’s development of ballistic missiles and its military operations in places like Syria. “France is not naive when it comes to Iran,” said Macron. “We also have a lot of respect for the Iranian people … but we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

Macron is on the first state visit to take place during Trump’s presidency. The pair have put on a display of personal chemistry – though things took an awkward turn when Trump brushed at the president’s jacket and declared: “I’ll get that little piece of dandruff off. We have to make him perfect – he is perfect.”

Gordon: What’s with all this touchy-touchy with Macron. Not so much the French poodle, more the Rothschild little weasel.

French President Emmanuel Macron kisses the hand of first lady Melania Trump during a State Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcome French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron during an arrival ceremony at the White House in Washington

US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron shake hands during a joint press conference at the White House in Washington, DC Trump and Macron walk hand in hand under the colonnades of the White House

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and French President Emmanuel Macron walk through the cross hall of the White House as they depart following their joint news conference in Washington Macron holds Trump’s arm

Macron and Trump shake hands as they walk with their wives during the traditional Bastille Day military parade Steve Bell 25.04.2018

Anyway:


Quick catch-up – Let’s look at where things stand in some of the week’s developing stories.

> The Windrush scandal is spreading to Commonwealth-born citizens from countries such as India, Kenya, Cyprus and Canada. Albert Thompson, whose plight has become symbolic of the debacle, has been given a date for his cancer treatment.

> Top UN officials are warning of a “new Aleppo” in Syria’s Idlib province. Refugees from other besieged areas have poured in and humanitarian agencies fear for their safety if the Assad regime and Russia attack rebels who partly control the province.

> Shortly before the Toronto van incident, the suspect Alek Minassian posted online in support of the “incel” movement of sexually frustrated men. Incel stands for “involuntary celibate”. Ten people were killed and another 15 injured in the attack.

> No Wednesday catch-up is complete without Brexit. Four thousand EU nurses and midwives have quit Britain’s understaffed NHS over the past year, with only 800 arriving. On the “divorce bill”, the National Audit Office has contradicted Theresa May by saying Britain will have to pay whether or not it gets a trade deal. And if you’re an EU citizen wanting to stay in Britain, hope you don’t have an iPhone.


‘Take bold action’ – Theresa May is facing calls to act on childhood obesity by cracking down on junk foods. “If we don’t act now, the current generation of young children could well live shorter lives than their parents,” says a letter from Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon and other party heads. The letter, organised by (who else but) Jamie Oliver, calls for a ban on junk-food Bogofs, a ban on adverts before 9pm and online, an end to their endorsement by children’s characters and celebrities, tax changes to favour the purchase of healthy foods, and limits on sugar, calories, salt and fat. The government says it has some of the measures already in train as part of its anti-obesity drive.


‘Dirty and unwanted industry’ – Britain would need to frack one new well a day for 15 years – a total of 6,000 wells on 13 square miles of land – to replace even half its natural gas imports, according to a study carried out for Friends of the Earth. FoE calls it “an industrialisation of our countryside at a rate that nobody has yet fully appreciated”. Frackers’ trade body UK Onshore Oil and Gas says the study inflates the numbers by using outdated figures. Meanwhile Boris Johnson’s department has cut 25% of its staff dedicated to climate change. At a time of pressing need for climate diplomacy, Johnson has not mentioned the need for action in any official speech since becoming foreign minister, and in 2015 wrote that “the whole global warming theory is unsound, to say the least”.


Rules for sharing – You can’t put a visible anus or “fully nude close-ups of buttocks” on Facebook unless they are “photoshopped on a public figure”. The Briefing can only hope someone thought hard to come up with this and other rules in Facebook’s guide for its moderators. A version released publicly covers serious territory such as terrorist content, illicit drug use, slander against victims of violent incidents, and racist abuse. But it also sets out the boundaries for images that include the “presence of byproducts of sexual activity” (such as what – children?). The release draws attention to the job Facebook’s 7,500 moderators, many of them subcontractors, have got on their hands in policing billions of pieces of content.


Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – Marvel’s latest superhero epic has hit cinemas and if you click the link to Peter Bradshaw’s review then don’t blame your Briefing writer for any spoilers because I am going to see it tonight and haven’t read it.

Lunchtime read: Flipping the Bird

First, the scourge of the abandoned dockless share bike. Next, the blight of electric scooters zooming around and getting dumped all over the place. In Santa Monica, California, you can take a rechargeable Bird battery scooter for a burn at a base fee of $1, plus 15 cents a minute. Our LA correspondent Rory Carroll tried it for a week, and rated it a positive experience.

A Bird scooter rider looks at his phone while riding in Santa Monica, California.

Proponents say it gets people out of cars by solving the “last mile problem” of a distance too far to walk and too short to drive. But there is a backlash: pedestrians rail against “dickheads zigzagging across the sidewalk”, and the scooters have been tossed into bins or lakes. Bird had to pay $300,000 in fines after the city of Santa Monica filed a criminal complaint about the scooters’ sudden, legally unsanctioned appearance. No prizes for guessing that some of the executives involved in these scooter schemes came from Uber and Lyft – bringing with them what one critic called an attitude of “we know better and will ram it down your throat until you understand”.

Sport

Mo Salah has scored twice in Liverpool’s 5-2 Champions League drubbing of Roma, leaving the Italians needing a miracle to prevent his side reaching their eighth final in the competition. Charlotte Edwards has led the MCC out on to Lord’s on a special day in the history of women’s cricket.

Paul Townend has inexplicably taken the wrong course aboard Al Boum Photo in the Champion Novice Chase, victory having seemed in his grasp. Unbeaten world middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders says only a ring death will jolt boxing into a proper crackdown on fighters using performance-enhancing drugs. Finally, Alistair Cook has admitted to being suspicious that the Australian team was ball-tampering during the Ashes series.

Business

The board of FTSE100 company Shire has decided to recommend a £46bn takeover bid by the Japanese drugmaker Takeda to its shareholders. Shire, which is based in Dublin but began life above a shop in Basingstoke, said last night the deal would go ahead pending final negotiations.

Asian markets fell overnight in line with a rough Tuesday session on Wall Street. The FTSE will follow suit at the open with a projected 0.5% fall. The pound is down at $1.398 and €1.143.

The papers

“Totally Shambolic Bank” is what the Mail’s front page calls TSB after it locked up to two million customers out of their online accounts for days on end. The Times goes with that Jamie Oliver-led plea to Theresa May over junk food. The Guardian covers how the Grenfell disaster exposed Britain’s “utterly inadequate” fire tests for cladding.

Guardian front page, Wednesday 25 April 2018

The Mirror continues a commendable campaign on organ donation with the story of Jay, aged seven, who got five in one go. “Abuse of elderly must be hate crime,” says the Express, paraphrasing Dame Esther Rantzen who is campaigning against it. “Boris calls for illegal immigrant amnesty,” says the Telegraph — Boris Johnson wants to go easy on those who remain in Britain for 10 years without a criminal record. The FT says Britain might go for its own satnav system after “Brussels snub over Galileo” – the network being created by the EU. And finally, the comics: “Thick tock,” says the Sun on its front page, as it reports schools are scrapping dial clocks because pupils can only read digital.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/25/wednesday-briefing-macron-and-trump-in-iran-arms-wrestle