Friday, November 30, 2018

George H.W. Bush dies at 94: president, family man, war hero - dallasnews.

WASHINGTON — Former President George Bush, a war hero, father of a president and founder of the modern Texas Republican Party who presided over momentous global changes, died Friday at 94. 

Bush died just after 10 p.m. Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time, spokesman Jim McGrath said.

"George H. W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for," former President George W. Bush said in a written statement. "The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41's life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens."

The senior Bush's health already fragile, the heartbreak this spring of losing his first lady and wife of 73 years hit hard. Barbara Bush died on April 17 at age 92. He was hospitalized a day after the funeral with a serious blood infection but recovered.

He was frail at the wedding of granddaughter Barbara Bush on Oct. 7, held at the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Bush was the son of a two-term U.S. senator from Connecticut. He would become only the second president, after John Adams, whose son followed him to the White House. George W. Bush of Dallas, a two-term Texas governor, became the nation’s 43rd chief executive eight years after his father’s defeat. A younger son, Jeb Bush, served as governor of Florida and ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination, an also-ran swept away by the candidacy of Donald Trump.

Bush viewed government as a “noble calling,” as former President Gerald Ford remarked at the 1997 opening of the Bush presidential library at Texas A&M University, which also houses the Bush School of Government and Public Service. 

“In George Bush's America, civility is never confused with weakness, nor are political differences mistaken for a holy war,” said Ford, who died in 2006. “In George Bush's America, there are no political enemies, merely adversaries, who may disagree with you on one day and yet be with you on the next roll call.”

“His life is a testament that public service is a noble calling,” President Barack Obama, a Democrat, said in February 2011, as he bestowed a Medal of Freedom on Bush — the nation’s highest civilian honor — at an emotional White House ceremony. Obama lauded Bush for “service and sacrifice” and spoke of his “humility and decency.”

“This is a gentleman, inspiring citizens to become points of light in service to others,” he said.

When Bush turned 85 in 2009, he jumped from a plane — tandem — landed on his own lawn in Maine, and promptly planted a kiss on his bride. He made one last jump at 90.  In later years he became known for colorful socks. He wore a pair adorned with books to Barbara's funeral, a reminder of her devotion to the cause of literacy, and his devotion to her. - Read More

George H.W. Bush dies: president, family man, war hero | Politics ...

George H.W. Bush, 41st president of the United States, dies at 94 -- Washingtonpost

George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States and the father of the 43rd, was a steadfast force on the international stage for decades, from his stint as an envoy to Beijing to his eight years as vice president and his one term as commander in chief from 1989 to 1993.

The last veteran of World War II to serve as president, he was a consummate public servant and a statesman who helped guide the nation and the world out of a four-decade Cold War that had carried the threat of nuclear annihilation.

His death, at 94 on Nov. 30 also marked the passing of an era.

Although Mr. Bush served as president three decades ago, his values and ethic seem centuries removed from today’s acrid political culture. His currency of personal connection was the handwritten letter — not the social media blast.

He had a competitive nature and considerable ambition that were not easy to discern under the sheen of his New England politesse and his earnest generosity. He was capable of running hard-edge political campaigns, and took the nation to war. But his principal achievements were produced at negotiating tables.

“When the word moderation becomes a dirty word, we have some soul searching to do,” he wrote a friend in 1964, after losing his first bid for elective office.

Despite his grace, Mr. Bush was an easy subject for caricature. He was an honors graduate of Yale University who was often at a loss for words in public, especially when it came to talking about himself. Though he was tested in combat when he was barely out of adolescence, he was branded “a wimp” by those who doubted whether he had essential convictions.

This paradox in the public image of Mr. Bush dogged him, as did domestic events. His lack of sure-footedness in the face of a faltering economy produced a nosedive in the soaring popularity he enjoyed after the triumph of the Persian Gulf War. In 1992, he lost his bid for a second term as president.

“It’s a mixed achievement,” said presidential historian Robert Dallek. “Circumstances and his ability to manage them did not stand up to what the electorate wanted.”

Mr. Bush died of SPECIFIC MEDICAL CAUSE OF DEATH, said/according to xxx. In 2012, he announced that he had vascular Parkinsonism, a condition that limited his mobility. His wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush, died on April 17. - Read More

George H.W. Bush, 41st president of the United States, dies at 94


President Donald Trump will join world leaders at the G20 summit in Argentina on Friday and Saturday, where the U.S. leader will hold a high-stakes meetingwith Chinese leader Xi Jinping. At the last minute, Trump canceled his anticipated face-to-face discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The annual summit will be held November 30 and December 1, bringing together the leaders of the largest 20 economies, including 19 nations and the European Union. In addition to the U.S. and the EU, Argentina (the hosting nation), Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the United Kingdom will be represented.

Spain is also a permanent invited guest to the summit, and Argentina, as part of its hosting rights, has also invited Chile and the Netherlands to attend.

Although Trump’s planned meetings with Putin and Xi drew the most national attention, the president had also planned high-profile bilateral meetings with Turkey and South Korea at the two-day event. But all of this suddenly changed on Thursday.

First Trump announced on Twitter that his meeting with Putin would not go forward, citing escalating tensions in Ukraine. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later revealed that the meetings with Turkish and South Korean leaders had been downgraded to informal “pull-asides” at the summit. Although there had been speculation that Trump would meet with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the president has said he will not have time do so. - More, Newsweek

G20 Summit 2018: Who Will Donald Trump Be Meeting?

Why Aren't Millennials Spending? They're Poorer Than Previous Generations, Fed Says

Since millennials first started entering the workforce, their spending habits have been blamed for killing off industries ranging from casual restaurant dining to starter houses. However, a new study by the Federal Reserve suggests it might be less about how they are spending their money and more about not having any to spend.

study published this month by Christopher Kurz, Geng Li and Daniel J. Vine found millennials are less financially well-off than members of earlier generations when they were the same ages, with "lower earnings, fewer assets and less wealth."

Their finances were compared with Generation X, baby boomers, the silent generation and the greatest generation.

The researchers examined spending, income, debt, net worth and demographic factors among the generations to determine "it primarily is the differences in average age and then differences in average income that explain a large and important portion of the consumption wedge between millennials and other cohorts."

Millennials, which the study defined as those born between 1981 and 1997, with ages ranging from 21 to 37, "paid a price" for coming of age during the Great Recession. They had to face historically weak labor demand and unusually tight credit conditions.

Dealing with those financial obstacles probably created "attitudes toward saving and spending" that might be "more permanent for millennials than for members of generations that were more established in their careers and lives at that time," the study says.

Despite millennials' much maligned, unofficial hipster status, the study indicates they're pretty mainstream.

Their spending on motor vehicles — which is sensitive to economic expansion and contraction, and accounts for about 20 percent of retail sales — shows millennial households have similar tastes and preferences to older generations, as does their spending on food and housing.

Their consumption habits are similar to their parents' and grandparents' — millennials just have less money to spend.

The researchers also examined debt between each generation. While the comparisons were "somewhat mixed," researchers said it "seems fair" to conclude that millennials have levels of debt about the same as Generation X and more debt than baby boomers.

The study also noted newer financial obstacles for millennials. Broad economic trends depict a rise in health care expenditures, as well as a rise in college tuition that has outpaced general inflation that previous generations avoided in their young adulthood. - Read More

Why Aren't Millennials Spending? They're Poorer Than Previous Generations, Fed Says

USMCA: Trump Signs New Trade Agreement With Mexico And Canada To Replace NAFTA

President Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed the new U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement — or USMCA — in Buenos Aires Friday, using the backdrop of the G-20 Summit to resolve a trade dispute between America and its closest neighbors.

"Let's go," all three leaders said as they sat alongside each other to sign multiple copies of the deal.

They then shuffled binders around in front of them, to finalize the deal that remakes one of the world's largest free trade zones. When the signing was over, they paused for a photo-op. "Might as well hold that up," Trump said, displaying the fresh signatures as the three leaders sat together.

Despite that and other prodding, Trudeau opted not to follow his peers in holding up his binder to celebrate — a sign, perhaps, of the lingering effects of the contentious process that was triggered when Trump imposed tariffs on Mexico and Canada earlier this year, which remain in place.

The signing event and the leaders' remarks were livestreamed. You can watch the event here.

In the lead-up to the signing, Canadian officials had "made it clear they didn't want to celebrate the end of a year of U.S. attempts to twist Canada's arm with the tariffs still in place," the CBC reports. But that wish ran counter to the desires of Trump and Peña Nieto, both of whom have preferred to portray the deal as a victory that helps to cement their legacies.

"This has been a battle, and battles sometimes make great friendships," Trump said at the start of the signing ceremony.

Saying all three countries will benefit from the deal, Trump said of the USMCA, "It is probably the largest trade deal ever made."

The USMCA (read the whole text here) replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement, which had created a free trade zone between the three countries back in 1994. The deal will require ratification by all three countries' legislatures before taking effect.

"The biggest change this deal makes, really, is to the automotive sector," NPR's Scott Horsley reports, "where it does put higher requirements on North American content, and in particular high-wage content, for vehicles to trade duty-free." - Read More

USMCA: Trump Signs New Trade Agreement With Mexico And Canada To Replace NAFTA

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Despite intensifying violence in Afghanistan, U.S. is ‘in a hurry’ for peace - PBS

Over the past few months, violence has intensified in Afghanistan, but so have efforts to reach a negotiated peace agreement with the Taliban. Nick Schifrin asks Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, whether he faces an imminent deadline, if the country’s presidential election will be delayed and how to convince Pakistan to help the push for peace.

After 17 years, more than a trillion dollars, and tens of thousands lives lost, the violence continues in an inconclusive and grinding war in Afghanistan.

After another week of deadly attacks, today, a massive suicide bomb rattled a foreign compound outside the Afghan capital. This year is poised to be one of the deadliest for Afghan civilians, and increased Taliban attacks have led to territorial gains for the militants.

In 2016, the Taliban controlled 9 percent of Afghanistan's territory, and contested 25 percent. By this year, the group gained control of 14 percent in red, and contests 30 percent in yellow.

That helps keep the government weak and elections in question. U.S. officials admit last month's parliamentary election went poorly, leading some to consider a delay in the presidential election planned for April. That's the stated cutoff point for peace talks with the Taliban, led by Zalmay Khalilzad, special envoy for Afghanistan and the former U.S. ambassador there. - Read More

Despite intensifying violence in Afghanistan, US is 'in a hurry' - PBS

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Trump's envoy 'tests all channels' with Afghan Taliban in bid to launch peace talks

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's envoy to Afghanistan is reaching out to many top Taliban figures as he tries to launch peace negotiations to end the war before Trump can simply pull the plugand order U.S. troops home, say foreign diplomats.

U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has moved at a rapid pace and ventured beyond the official Taliban office in Qatar to meet other members of the insurgency, two foreign diplomats and three former U.S. officials told NBC News.

His outreach included a meeting in the United Arab Emirates with a militant claiming to be an associate of Mullah Yaqub, son of late Taliban leader Mullah Omar and now one of two deputies to the current Taliban leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, two foreign diplomats said.

Khalilzad is "testing all channels," said one Western diplomat, who was not authorized to speak on the record.

Although it remained unclear if the Taliban member was indeed a representative sent by Yaqub, the meeting reflected how Khalilzad is moving with a sense of urgency and casting a wide net to try to persuade different elements of the insurgency to come to the table to talk peace, former officials said.

Keenly aware that President Trump has expressed impatience with the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan and that time is limited, Khalilzad, who was born in Afghanistan and served as U.S. ambassador to the country after the 9/11 attacks, has pressed ahead with his diplomacy at a swift tempo, former officials and foreign diplomats said.

U.S. officials are operating under the assumption that the president will pull the plug on the current American military mission in Afghanistan well before the U.S. presidential election in November 2020, current and former U.S. officials said. - More

U.S. envoy moves fast to make peace with Taliban before Trump pulls plug

Trump's envoy to Afghanistan rushes to launch Taliban peace talks ahead of possible troop pullout: report

President Trump’s envoy to Afghanistan is moving rapidly to reach out to as many top Taliban figures as possible in an attempt to start peace talks before the president orders a troop pullout without an end to the conflict, NBC News reported.

Two foreign diplomats and three former U.S. officials told NBC News that U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has moved beyond the official Taliban office in Qatar to meet other members of the militant group, including meetings in the United Arab Emirates.

Trump in recent weeks has made clear his frustration with the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan, and in a Tuesday interview with The Washington Post floated the idea of removing troops from the Middle East.

The president cited the lower price of oil as a reason to withdraw and said that he was only keeping a military presence in Afghanistan because “experts” told him that United States forces were still needed there.

“Now, are we going to stay in that part of the world? One reason to is Israel,” Trump said. “Oil is becoming less and less of a reason because we’re producing more oil now than we’ve ever produced. So, you know, all of a sudden it gets to a point where you don’t have to stay there.”

Roughly 14,000 U.S. service members are based in Afghanistan, predominantly to assist Afghan security forces against the Taliban and militants aligned with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Khalilzad, who also served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, has moved quickly in his diplomacy, as it’s assumed that Trump will pull troops out of in Afghanistan before the 2020 U.S. presidential election, current and former U.S. officials told NBC News.

The State Department would not comment on any meetings and would only tell the network that Khalilzad will continue to meet “with all interested parties.” - Read More, thehill

Trump's envoy to Afghanistan rushes to launch Taliban peace talks ...

Top diplomats at UN meeting offer support for Afghanistan - Associated Press

Top diplomats from Russia, the United States and the European Union united Wednesday in support for the Afghan president's efforts to stabilize his war-battered nation, saying progress has been made but more is needed, especially in areas of security, anti-corruption and the push to launch peace talks with the Taliban.
The statements came at a U.N.-backed conference in Geneva, where President Ashraf Ghani said he wanted to "specifically recognize the commitment in blood and treasure that the United States has shown since 2001" in Afghanistan.
Ghani called the U.S. its "key ally" and praised the Trump administration's South Asia policy as a "game changer" for Afghanistan.
The Geneva meeting aims to take stock of the Afghan government's use of billions of dollars in foreign aid for education, health care, humanitarian support and needs since 2016.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his country hoped for an "end of this fratricidal war" in Afghanistan and cited concerns about the stepped-up militant attacks by the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan.
Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign affairs chief, said the bloc was "ready to do our part as a neutral player." She welcomed Ghani's offer of peace talks with the Taliban.
"It is a unique opportunity to break the stalemate and to move the country forward," she said. "We believe it is time for concrete talks about peace to begin."
U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale urged all to seize the opportunity to move toward peace. 
"Today we reaffirm our commitment to the Afghan people," he said, noting that Ghani's initiative was among "encouraging signs."- Read More
Top diplomats at UN meeting offer support for Afghanistan - AP News

Mohammad Ashraf Ghani (Afghanistan), Opening Sesssion - Ministerial Conference, Geneva Conference on Afghanistan

Mohammad Ashraf Ghani (Afghanistan), Opening Sesssion - Ministerial Conference, Geneva Conference on Afghanistan

28 Nov 2018 -  H.E. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Welcome Remarks - Read More -- More Information

Mohammad Ashraf Ghani (Afghanistan), Opening Sesssion - Ministerial Conference,...

Mohammad Ashraf Ghani (Afghanistan) - Geneva Conference on Afghanistan

Salahuddin Rabbani (Afghanistan), Opening Sesssion - Ministerial Conference,...

Mohammad Humayon Qayoumi (Afghanistan) - Opening Sesssion - Ministerial...

Abdullah Abdullah (Afghanistan) - Opening Sesssion - Ministerial Conference,...

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Trump hints could make first visit to Afghanistan

PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump hinted on Thursday he may visit Afghanistan, scene of one of America’s longest wars but a country he has yet to visit almost two years into his presidency.

Delivering a Thanksgiving holiday message by teleconference to troops in Afghanistan, Trump told a U.S. Air Force general he would see him back in the United States, before adding: “Or maybe I’ll even see you over there. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Recent U.S. commanders-in-chief have routinely visited troops in active war zones. Trump has come under criticism for failing to do so, though Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise trip to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan last December to visit troops.

By this point in his presidency, former President Barack Obama had made a trip to Iraq and two to Afghanistan. Former President George W. Bush traveled to Afghanistan twice and Iraq four times during his two terms in office.

Trump was criticized when he scrapped a planned visit to a major U.S. military cemetery during a visit to Paris this month because his helicopter was grounded by bad weather during a trip that marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One.

Back in Washington on Veterans Day, he failed to visit Arlington National Cemetery, saying later that he was “extremely bus”” but admitting that he should have.

Asked by a reporter whether he would visit a war zone, Trump said: “At the appropriate time, we’ll be doing some very interesting things.”

He was then asked whether he knew the timing: “I do, but can’t tell you. You’re the last people I can tell,” he told reporters. Presidential trips to war zones are normally cloaked in secrecy for security reasons, revealed only when the commander in chiefs have landed, and sometimes only after they have safely left the region. - Read More

Trump hints could make first visit to Afghanistan
Trump says U.S. in 'very strong' negotiations in Afghanistan

Trump says U.S. in 'very strong' negotiations in Afghanistan

PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday the United States was “in very strong” peace negotiations in Afghanistan but he did not known whether they would be successful.

“I really think the people of Afghanistan ... are tired of fighting,” Trump told reporters after delivering a Thanksgiving holiday message to U.S. troops in Afghanistan, scene of one of America’s longest-ever wars.

“We are talking about peace and we’ll see if that happens ... We have negotiations going on. I don’t know that they are going to be successful, probably they’re not. Who knows? They might be, they might not be.”

Trump was speaking after Taliban leaders met with U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad at their political headquarters in Qatar last week for the second time in the past month.

Khalilzad said on Sunday he hoped to reach a peace deal by April 20, a deadline that coincides with the date set for presidential elections in Afghanistan.

U.S. troops invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of a campaign to topple the Taliban following the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. Some 14,000 U.S. personnel are still there. 

Trump hinted he may go to Afghanistan, a country he has yet to visit almost two years into his presidency, even though previous U.S. commanders-in-chief have routinely visited troops in active war zones.

Trump told troops in the teleconference that while they were fighting, he was taking tough action to secure the southern borders of the United States from illegal immigration. - Read More

Trump says U.S. in 'very strong' negotiations in Afghanistan

Trump calls troops on Thanksgiving, talks politics

President Donald Trump's call to U.S. troops overseas turned political when he started talking to a U.S. general in Afghanistan about the migrant caravan in Mexico, security on the U.S. southern border and legal setbacks in federal court. (Nov. 22) - Read More

Afghanistan - AP News

Opinion: The history of Thanksgiving dinner is proof of American greatness - washingtonpost

I am on principle opposed to originality in Thanksgiving menus. Call me an arch-traditionalist, if you will — in fact, please do. And having just joined The Post this year, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a stroll through the paper’s archives to see what we’d said about Thanksgiving in the good old days.

What I discovered was a capsule history of the past 140 years of this most American holiday. In the 1897 announcement that the clerks of the federal government had been given a half-holiday on the day before Thanksgiving, I thought I saw the early stirrings of the American labor movement. I saw large social shifts, too, as the paper’s Thanksgiving coverage slowly adjusted its focus. In the early decades, food was generally mentioned only glancingly, except for fairly regular features tracking the price of turkeys. It was clear that even back then, food was at least as important to the holiday as religion, but The Post either assumed women didn’t read newspapers or thought they all knew how to cook. The Thanksgiving coverage tended toward sentimental fare such as sermons from local ministers, editorials urging charity toward the poor and moderately bad sentimental poetry. (“A Thanksgiving Hymn” in 1896, dedicated to President-elect William McKinley, began: “O Lord! we thank thee for this glorious land; / United, faithful, beautiful, and grand.”)

By 1920, America was less religious and less sentimental, and newspapers had discovered something that would become a driving force in many 20th-century industries: the buying power of women. The Post seized on that market opportunity, devoting more and more column inches to helping homemakers Do Thanksgiving Right. Recipes, which in the earliest years tended to be scant and distressingly hazy on the details, became numerous, and firmed up into something the modern reader would recognize. Explicit instructions were accompanied by standard measures instead of approximations such as “butter the size of a walnut.”

Many of these recipes tracked the economy and geopolitics. In 1889, in the wake of the Russian flu pandemic, The Post reported that “Russian cookery, Russian servants, Russian clothes, and Russian what-not” had a hold on “every one and everything in the United States.” In this spirit, we offered a recipe for Russian Cream, though I suspect this was “Russian” in the same sense that “french fries” are a particularly Gallic delicacy. When World War I, followed by the Immigration Act of 1924, halted the importation of cheap domestic servants, you can see menus getting simpler, a process that accelerated in the 1930s as food budgets shrank. - Read More

The history of Thanksgiving dinner is proof of American greatness

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

رئیس جمهور غنی با هیات مجلس نمایندگان امریکا دیدار کرد

محمد اشرف غنی رئیس جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان شام امروز با هیات مجلس نمایندگان ایالات متحده امریکا به ریاست جیم بنکس، دیدار کرد. در این دیدار که در ارگ انجام شد، هر دو جانب روی گسترش همکاری‌های دو جانبه، موثریت استراتیژی امریکا در قبال آسیای جنوبی وافغانستان، پروسه صلح به رهبری و مالکیت افغان ها، انتخابات، اصلاحات، اتصال منطقوی و رشد اقتصادی بحث و تبادل  نظر نمودند.

هیات مجلس نمایندگان ایالات متحده امریکا یک بار دیگر از حمایت دوامدار آن کشور از افغانستان اطمینان داد و از دست آوردهای حکومت افغانستان در سال های اخیر قدردانی نمودند. رئیس جمهور غنی در این دیدار، از حکومت و مردم ایالات متحده امریکا بخاطر حمایت های دوامدار قدردانی کرده گفت که حمایت دوامدار ایالات متحده امریکا در عرصه های مختلف از اهمیت خاص برخوردار است. - Read More

Office of the President of Afghanistan

Trump stands by Saudi prince despite journalist Khashoggi's murder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump vowed on Tuesday to remain a “steadfast partner” of Saudi Arabia despite saying that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have known about the plan to murder dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month.

Defying intense pressure from U.S. lawmakers to impose tougher sanctions on Saudi Arabia, Trump also said he would not cancel military contracts with the kingdom. He said it would be a “foolish” move that would only benefit Russia and China, competitors of the United States in the arms market.

Trump said U.S. intelligence agencies were still studying the evidence around Khashoggi’s killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and who planned it. Since the murder, Trump has taken varying positions on how to react, including possible sanctions.

But on Tuesday, Trump stressed Saudi Arabia’s weapons purchases and its role in keeping world oil prices low as influencing his decision.

“It’s all about, for me, very simple. It’s America first,” Trump said, adding: “I’m not going to destroy the world economy and I’m not going to destroy the economy for our country by being foolish with Saudi Arabia.”

Speaking at the White House to reporters before departing for Florida, Trump said of the possibility that the Saudi crown prince had a hand in the murder: “Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t” and argued that the CIA had not made a definitive determination. - Read More

Trump stands by Saudi prince despite journalist Khashoggi's murder

Suicide bomber kills over 50 at religious event in Kabul

KABUL (Reuters) - A suicide bomber blew himself up in a banqueting hall where Islamic religious scholars had gathered in the Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday, killing more than 50 people, three government officials said.

Najib Danish, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said more than 80 other people had been injured.

“A suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside a wedding hall where Islamic religious scholars had gathered to commemorate the anniversary of the Prophet Mohammad’s birth,” Danish said.

The banquet room is in the Uranus wedding hall, a complex housing several large reception rooms near Kabul airport.

“Hundreds of Islamic scholars and their followers had gathered to recite verses from the holy Quran to observe the Eid Milad-un-Nabi festival at the private banquet hall,” said a spokesman for Kabul police.

Officials at Kabul’s Emergency Hospital said 30 ambulances had rushed to the scene and over 40 people were critically wounded.

Both the Sunni Taliban militant group and a local Islamic State affiliate have in the past attacked religious scholars aligned with the government — who have decreed that suicide attacks are forbidden by Islam.

But the Taliban said in a statement that “our men were not involved in the Kabul blast and we condemn the loss of human lives”. - Read More

Suicide bomber kills over 50 at religious event in Kabul

Dow Falls 950 Points, Or 4 Percent, In 2 Days

Stock prices took a sharp plunge Tuesday, for the second day in a row.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen a total of 950 points, or 4 percent, in the past two days. The major stock market indexes are now negative for the year.

The Dow Has Lost Its 2018 Gains

The U.S. economy has had a strong run lately, but stock market investors are starting to worry. One big problem is trade. Both China and the United States have imposed tariffs on each other and investors are wondering whether they'll be able to work out their differences. Trade tensions are hurting lots of big companies that export a lot, like Boeing and Caterpillar.

But the real bloodbath has been in tech stocks. Apple and Facebook used to single-handedly prop up stock prices. Today a lot of investors are rethinking tech. Apple in particular is down about 20 percent this month alone. Tech companies depend on foreign markets and there are signs that trade tensions are slowing growth in Europe and China.

"I think we're gradually seeing the rising trade tensions between the two economic giants, the U.S. and China, having an effect on business confidence and having an effect on supply chains across the world," said Gregory Daco, the chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates and plans to keep its foot on the pedal in the coming year. Higher rates usually lead to a slowdown in economic activity. And that's scaring markets.

"It became clear to the market that the Fed was basically going to be raising those rates almost regardless of the effect on housing, on vehicle sales, on overall consumer confidence," said Quincy Crosby of Prudential Financial.

The prospect of a slowdown in growth usually also causes oil prices to fall, and that is happening. Tuesday, oil fell to its lowest level in a year. And the big energy stocks were all down. - Read More