“Queen’s Speech: Brexit bills dominate government agenda”
A host of proposed new laws designed to prepare the UK for a «smooth and orderly» departure from the EU have been announced in the Queen’s Speech.
Of 27 bills, eight relate to Brexit and its implications for key industries. As well as a bill to convert EU rules into UK law, there are measures on trade, immigration, fisheries, nuclear safety, agriculture and sanctions. But other key manifesto plans have either been axed or delayed after the Conservatives lost their majority. Proposals to axe the winter fuel allowance for well-off pensioners, scrap the triple lock on pensions, expand grammar schools and end free school lunches for all infants have been dropped, while other proposals, such as a cap on energy bills and reforms to social care funding, will be put out to consultation. Amid continuing talks with the Democratic Unionists about them supporting Theresa May’s government, a Downing Street spokesman said it was confident the Queen’s Speech could «command the confidence» of the House of Commons in a vote next week.
Also, The Queen announced the government’s legislative programme for the next two years at the State Opening of Parliament. Ministers have denied that, Brexit apart, it is a «thin» programme although large parts of the Tory manifesto have disappeared following the election result.
“Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigns following months of chaos”
Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick has resigned from his position as chief executive of the $68bn ride-hailing app following a tumultuous six months of scandal.
Kalanick stepped down in the face of pressure from five of Uber’s largest investors, according to the New York Times. Kalanick will, however, stay on the company’s board. The resignation comes just one week after Kalanick began an indefinite leave of absence amid efforts to bring about wholesale change of Uber’s corporate culture. Though Uber had long had a reputation for defying rules and regulations, the company faced a new kind of crisis in February when a former employee published a blog post describing a workplace rife with gender discrimination and sexual harassment. According to the New York Times, the leave was not enough for the group of investors, who own more than a quarter of Uber’s stock and account for about 40% of voting share. The investors – Benchmark, First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures and Fidelity Investments – demanded Kalanick’s immediate resignation in a letter delivered to him earlier on Tuesday.
Kalanick’s departure has been preceded by those of many other senior figures in the company. Most recently venture capitalist David Bonderman resigned from Uber’s board of directors last Tuesday evening after making a sexist comment at the all-staff meeting where the Holder report’s recommendations were presented.
New York Times
“US Stock Indexes Hold Steady as the Price of Oil Steadies”
U.S. stock indexes held steady in early trading Wednesday after the price of oil stabilized. Markets elsewhere around the world were mixed, while stocks in mainland China got a small boost after they got the OK to join a widely followed index of emerging-market stocks.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,439, as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average was close to flat at 21,466, and the Nasdaq composite rose 22, or 0.4 percent, to 6,210.
Benchmark U.S. crude ticked up by 6 cents to $43.57 per barrel, a day after sinking to its lowest price of the year on continued speculation that supplies will overwhelm demand. Brent crude, the international standard, dipped 5 cents to $45.97.
“Caught on Video: Russian, NATO Jets in Near Standoff after F-16 Buzzes Defense Minister’s Airplane”
A day after a Russian fighter allegedly flew within 5 feet of a US reconnaissance plane traveling over the Baltic Sea, Reuters reports that a NATO F-16 fighter jet returned the favor when it tried to improperly approach a plane carrying the Russian defense minister. The plane was traveling to the city of Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave along the Baltic coast, where Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu was scheduled to discuss security issues with defense officials on Wednesday. The NATO aircraft was warded off by a Russian Su-27 jet, according to RT.
In an accounting of the incident, Reuters notes that one of the Russian fighter jets escorting Shoigu’s plane had inserted itself between the defense minister’s plane and the NATO fighter and «tilted its wings from side to side to show the weapons it was carrying, Russian agencies said.» After that the F-16 promptly left the area.
The latest provocative maneuver represents yet another escalation of tensions between the US and Russia. On Monday, Russia suspended cooperation with the US in Syria under the «memorandum of incident prevention in Syrian skies», warning that its missile defense would intercept any aircraft traveling in Russia’s area of operation after a US fighter jet shot down a Syrian regime aircraft on Sunday. Russia slammed the US for shooting down the jet, calling the attack an “act of aggression» and claiming that the move benefited terrorists in the area. The Syrian regime says its jet was pursuing a fleeing ISIS convoy around the time it was shot down. US officials claimed they tried to contact its Russia counterparts via an established “de-confliction line,» though Russia has denied this, saying that if the US had reached out, the incident could’ve been avoided.