Indian American chosen as OIRA head

The White House has appointed Indian American lawyer Neomi Rao to lead the office of Information and Regulatory Affairs(OIRA). The senate made this announcement, as there was a vote of 54-41 in her favour. She will now lead the White House overseeing regulations.

The OIRA reviews the requests it receives from the federal agencies to collect information from the public. The office has a total of five branches. Food, health and labor branch, information policy branch, natural resources and environment branch, statistical and science policy branch and transportation and security branch.

According to The Hindu, this decision has come at a time when the Senate is divided on party lines and the opposition Democrats have blocked several nominations. Neomi Rao has also worked under the Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas. She worked on Senator’s staff couple of years ago. Right now she is a public member of Administrative Conference of the US. Rao served in all three branches of the federal government. She has received her JD from University of Chicago ad her BA from Yale University. Rao has practiced public interest law and arbitration at Clifford Chance LLP in London.

Sources: The Hindu, India Today

122 countries adopt global treaty on nuclear ban

As many as 122 countries has adopted a global treaty on nuclear ban at the United Nations on Friday. Only NATO member- the Netherlands voted against it while Singapore abstained from the process of voting. 

Opposition rose from Britain, France and the United States that said such a decision is not a correct way to deal with reality especially when there are perpetual threats coming from North Korea.

The United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel neither did take part in the negotiations nor did they vote. 

Not even did Japan take part in the negotiations even after being victimised with atomic attacks several times.

The UN ambassadors from United States, Britain and France clearly said they do not have an intention to join the treaty.

“This treaty offers no solution to the grave threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program, nor does it address other security challenges that make nuclear deterrence necessary,” they said in a joint statement.

The three countries instead want to strengthen the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty which seeks nuclear arms to remain stationed in  US, Russia, Britain, France and China countries.

Source: TOI, AFP

Image Source: AP

North Korea claims to successfully launch test launch first ICBM missile

A defiant North Korea claims to have tested its first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)- code named Hwasong 14 which it claims has the ability to hit targets across the globe.The referred missile was claimed to cover an altitude of 2802 kms and covered a distance of  933 kms in 39 minutes before landing close to the sea of Japan during it”s testing.An ICBM missile operates within the range of 5000-10000 kilometers and has the capability to carry a nuclear warhead.Although many skeptics will doubt about the nuclear warhead, re-entry vehicle and other proofs of working guidance of the missile, the fact that North Korea has actually managed to showcase its technological ability in launching an ICBM adds credibility to the nation.
Expectedly the close neighbours along with U.S.and Russia have strongly condemned the test. While South Korea has called for action by UN Security Council, Japan has stressed for an alliance with South Korea and U.S. to put pressure on Pyongyang. Russia and China have asked North Korea to suspend its tests and also asked the alliance of U.S and South Korea to stop it’s military exercise plans.The launch which took place on 4th July, which incidentally is American Independence Day gives North Korea a chance to hit peripheral areas of U.S. Although a full front coverage of U.S is still far away the launch proves that.
North Korea had made progress despite a hard call on itself by global superpowers.
News Sources- BBC, ANI

US Supreme Court approves Trump’s travel ban on 6 Muslim Countries

The US Supreme court has passed the Trump administration’s travel ban on 6 Muslim countries including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The decision came into effect on June 29th, 2017 after a five month long struggle with various activist groups. The ban is currently temporary and the travel restrictions are 90 days for visitors and 120 days for refugees. The government has made an exception, allowing individuals from the countries mentioned above with ‘close family relationships’ or ‘formal, documented’ relationships to enter the US. People exempted from this new rule include students, journalists and workers who have either valid contracts or invitations into the country.

Various human rights organisations and activist groups have openly condemned this move because of its evident bias against Muslims. “It remains clear that President Trump’s purpose is to disparage and condemn Muslims,” said Omar Jadwat, who is the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. The Trump administration on the other hand is fiercely standing their ground as they believe the ban is necessary to ensure terrorists do no enter the country.

Trump’s travel ban first took effect in January 2017 under Executive Order 13769 which attempted to reduce the number of refugees entering the USA and simultaneously suspending the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days. What followed were widespread protests and multiple legal battles which lead to its eventual revision. The current temporary travel ban was another attempt by the government to filter the entry of individuals into the country, which the Supreme Court has agreed to.

Sources: The Hindu, The Times of India

Iran accuses US of Interventions

Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State accused by Iran on brazen plans to change the current government, violating international law and the U.N. Charter. Tillerson said “U.S. policy is only to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and encourage support on elements inside Iran, that would lead to peaceful transition of that government“. In a hearing held on 14 June, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the 2018 State Department budget.
Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Kohshroo said in an open letter that, ”Tillerson’s comments are contradicting the pledge made by United States to shun any interventions- directly or indirectly, politically and militarily, in Iran’s internal affairs.”
“The people of Iran have proven that they are capable to decide their own destiny and attempts by the U.S. will be doomed to failure,” said Kohshroo. “They have learned how to stand strong, as evident in the Islamic Revolution of 1979.”
With release of the newly declassified documents in sheer coincidence with Tillerson’s statement, clarified how U.S. agencies were after Mohammad Mossadegh’s throw. The popular and democratically elected, prime minister of Iran, 1953. On 5 June, the Senate approved a sweeping sanctions bill- a mandatory sanction on individuals who are involved in the ballistic missile program, and anyone who does business with them.
Iran ridicules any advancement from the U.S. who has tried to meddle in Iranian affairs. Qassemi, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson called the opposition “confused”. New sanctions won’t bother enforcement of the landmark nuclear deal that former president Obama and others reached with Tehran two years ago, insist Senators.

Prime Minister Modi leaves for 3-nation tour

On June 24, 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi left for a three-nation trip to the United States, Portugal and Netherlands. The four-day tour is to improve bilateral ties with the three nations, starting with Portugal.

In Portugal, the PM was received by Foreign Minister Augusto Santo Silvas and then by Prime Minister Antonio Costa at Palacio das Necessidades, as tweeted by Gopal Baglay, official spokesperson of MEA. Modi and Costa will engage in discussions of bilateral ties between the country in areas of “economic cooperation, science & technology, space collaboration and people to people ties”, as reported by the Indian Express.

After Portugal, the PM will travel to the US, between June 24, 2017 to June 26, 2017. He is the first global leader who will be hosted by President of United States, Donald Trump, in the White House. The meeting would also be significant since this would be the first meeting between the two State heads after Trump pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

After the US, Modi’s three-nation tour will conclude in Netherlands on June 27, 2017. PM Modi shared in a Facebook post that the trip to Netherlands is a day to celebrate the “70 years of the establishment of Indo-Dutch diplomatic relations this year”. He will be visiting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, along with King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima as well. Modi will also interact with Dutch businessmen to make Netherlands a larger trading partner.

Islamic State blows up historic Mosul mosque

 The Islamic state blew up the famous ‘Al-Nuri’ mosque and its leaning minaret in Mosul, Iraq on Thursday where its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a rare public appearance, declared a ‘caliphate’ in 2014. The mosque was situated in the Southern part of the Old City, the final ISIS stronghold left in Mosul. The Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi called the bombing an “official declaration of defeat” by ISIS, on the other hand, released an official statement on their news service ‘Amaq’ blaming a US airstrike for the destruction caused to the mosque but the US-led coalition denied the allegation. A spokesperson for the coalition clearly stated that they were not carrying out air strikes in the area.
The grand al-Nuri mosque, Mosul’s most famous Sunni mosque, was first built in the early 12th century and went through several renovations over the years. It was known for its leaning minaret ‘Al-Hadba’ (Hunchback) and had become a heritage site. ISIS fighters first attempted to attack the minaret in 2014 because they believed the structure was against their interpretation of Islam. But, during this time, the people of Mosul gathered in the area and formed a human chain to protect it.

“This is a crime against the people of Mosul and all of Iraq, and is an example of why this brutal organisation must be annihilated. The responsibility of this devastation is laid firmly at the doorstep of ISIS, and we continue to support our Iraqi partners as they bring these terrorists to justice,” said Major General Joseph Martin, commanding general of the US-led coalition fighting IS. The fight to reclaim Mosul from the ISIS militants began 8 months ago which led to the displacement of several people.  Many observers believe that blowing up the mosque was the militant group’s final act of defiance as they continue to lose their grip on the city of Mosul.

Sources: BBC,Reuters

Image sources: Reuters