An imminent threat?


Wednesday, May 24, 2017
The whole world is reaching out to Manchester after the concert attack. Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door.

By Doug Criss.

1. Concert attack

The UK raised its threat level to “critical” — the top of its threat scale — and British Prime Minister Theresa May warned that another attack “may be imminent” after the bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester that killed 22. The raised threat level — which hasn’t been this high since 2007 — means armed soldiers will be deployed to key sites around the country.

Police ID’d 22-year-old Salman Abedi as the suspected suicide bomber and made a few raids and at least four arrests. ISIS claimed responsibility for the atrocity but didn’t offer any evidence.

The victims of the attack, many of them just children, were remembered at a vigil outside Manchester’s city hall, where a defiant poet reminded residents that their city is more than just the site of a terror attack.

Grande, who tweeted that the attack had left her “broken,” returned home to Florida after announcing she was postponing her current tour.

2. Russia investigation

Oh, where do we begin? Let’s start with testimony from John Brennan, the ex-CIA director, who told the House intelligence committee that the Russians brazenly interfered in our 2016 presidential election and that they actively contacted members of President Trump’s campaign. Brennan said while he wouldn’t call it the “C” word — collusion — he found it all very troubling.

Brennan wasn’t the only big name testifying. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He wouldn’t comment on reports that the President asked him to publicly deny evidence of cooperation between his 2016 campaign team and Russia. But he did say he’s told the Trump administration that politicizing intelligence was inappropriate. He also condemned all the leaks coming out of the intel community right now, saying they are jeopardizing people’s lives.

Having a hard time keeping up with all of the players in this ever-expanding drama? Don’t worry, we’ve created a who’s who for you.

3. President Trump and Pope Francis

The President and the Pontiff met up at the Vatican this morning, in the third leg of Donald Trump’s first overseas trip as commander in chief. These two men have very different views of the world — and they’ve been tweeting about it — but, publicly at least, the meeting wasn’t as awkward as some feared. They talked privately for about a half hour, then the Pope met members of Trump’s family and Cabinet before the two men exchanged gifts. Next up in the President’s itinerary: Brussels, where he’ll meet with EU officials.

4. Budget

We’ve had a closer look at President Trump’s proposed budget, and boy are there some eye-popping numbers: a nearly 30% cut for the State Department, a 31% cut for the EPA and an almost 20% cut for the Labor Department. But there are some nice increases for defense (10%), homeland security (6.8%) and veterans affairs (5.8%). Democrats pounced on all the cuts to the social safety net and environmental programs. Economists panned the budget’s assumptions that everything will be fine because the US economy under Trump will grow at a lofty 3% every year, something they say just isn’t realistic. One other thing to remember — Trump’s budget plan in its current form is pretty much DOA in Congress.

5. Venezuela

Quick, name the country that currently has the most asylum seekers to the US. Mexico? El Salvador? China? Nope. It’s Venezuela, and it’s obvious why. The South American country is struggling through food and medicine shortages that have sparked protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s government that have gone on for months. Between 2015 and 2016, asylum applications from Venezuelans to the United States have soared 160% and are on track to double again this year.
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