Trump's Budget Cuts Deeply Into Medicaid and Anti-Poverty Efforts – New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump plans to unveil on Tuesday a $4.1 trillion budget for 2018 that would cut deeply into programs for the poor, from health care and food stamps to student loans and disability payments, laying out an austere vision for reordering the nation’s priorities.

The document, grandly titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” encapsulates much of the “America first” message that powered Mr. Trump’s campaign. It calls for an increase in military spending of 10 percent and spending more than $2.6 billion for border security — including $1.6 billion to begin work on a wall on the border with Mexico — as well as huge tax reductions and an improbable promise of 3 percent economic growth.

The wildly optimistic projections balance Mr. Trump’s budget, at least on paper, even though the proposal makes no changes to Social Security’s retirement program or Medicare, the two largest drivers of the nation’s debt.

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To compensate, the package contains deep cuts in entitlement programs that would hit hardest many of the economically strained voters who propelled the president into office. Over the next decade, it calls for slashing more than $800 billion from Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor, while slicing $192 billion from nutritional assistance and $272 billion over all from welfare programs. And domestic programs outside of military and homeland security whose budgets are determined annually by Congress would also take a hit, their funding falling by $57 billion, or 10.6 percent.

The plan would cut by more than $72 billion the disability benefits upon which millions of Americans rely. It would eliminate loan programs that subsidize college education for the poor and those who take jobs in government or nonprofit organizations.

Mr. Trump’s advisers portrayed the steep reductions as necessary to balance the nation’s budget while sparing taxpayers from shouldering the burden of programs that do not work well.

“This is, I think, the first time in a long time that an administration has written a budget through the eyes of the people who are actually paying the taxes,” said Mick Mulvaney, Mr. Trump’s budget director.

“We’re not going to measure our success by how much money we spend, but by how many people we actually help,” Mr. Mulvaney said as he outlined the proposal at the White House on Monday before its formal presentation on Tuesday to Congress.

Among its innovations: Mr. Trump proposes saving $40 billion over a decade by barring undocumented immigrants from collecting the child care tax credit or the earned-income tax credit, a subsidy for low- and middle-income families, particularly those with children. He has also requested $19 billion over 10 years for a new program, spearheaded by his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump, to provide six weeks of paid leave to new parents. The budget also includes a broad prohibition against money for entities that provide abortions, including Planned Parenthood, blocking them from receiving any federal health funding

The release of the document, an annual ritual in Washington that usually constitutes a marquee event for a new president working to promote his vision, unfolded under unusual circumstances. Mr. Trump is out of the country for his first foreign trip, and his administration is enduring a near-daily drumbeat of revelations about the investigation into his campaign’s possible links with Russia.

The president’s absence, which his aides dismissed as a mere coincidence of the calendar, seemed to highlight the haphazard way in which his White House has approached its dealings with Congress. It is just as much a sign of Mr. Trump’s lack of enthusiasm for the policy detail and message discipline that is required to marshal support to enact politically challenging changes.

“If the president is distancing himself from the budget, why on earth would Republicans rally around tough choices that would have to be made?” said Robert L. Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan organization that promotes deficit reduction. “If you want to make the political case for the budget — and the budget is ultimately a political document — you really need the president to do it. So, it does seem bizarre that the president is out of the country.”

The president’s annual budget — more a message document than a practical set of marching orders even in the best of times — routinely faces challenges on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers jealously guard their prerogative to control federal spending and shape government programs. But Mr. Trump’s wish list, in particular, faces long odds, with Democrats uniformly opposed and Republicans already showing themselves to be squeamish about some of the president’s plans.

“It probably is the most conservative budget that we’ve had under Republican or Democrat administrations in decades,” said Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

But in a signal that some proposed cuts to domestic programs are likely to face resistance even from conservatives, Mr. Meadows said he could not stomach the idea of doing away with food assistance for older Americans.

“Meals on Wheels, even for some of us who are considered to be fiscal hawks, may be a bridge too far,” Mr. Meadows said.

Republicans balked at Mr. Trump’s demand for money for the border wall in negotiations over a spending package enacted last month. Many were deeply conflicted over voting for a health care overhaul measure that included the Medicaid cuts contained in the budget to be presented on Tuesday. Now the president is proposing still deeper reductions to the federal health program for the poor, as well as drastically scaling back a broad array of social safety net programs that are certain to be unpopular with lawmakers.

“The politics of this make no sense to me whatsoever, in the sense that the population that brought them to the dance are the populists out there in the Midwest and South who rely on these programs that he’s talking about reducing,” said G. William Hoagland, a former senior Republican congressional budget aide. Referring to Representative Paul D. Ryan, he said: “I don’t see how Speaker Ryan gets anywhere close to 218 votes in the House of Representatives if this is the model. It’s an exercise in futility.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said Monday that the Medicaid cuts would “carry a staggering human cost” and violate Mr. Trump’s campaign promise to address the opioid epidemic.

“Based on what we know about this budget, the good news — the only good news — is that it was likely to be roundly rejected by members of both parties here in the Senate, just as the last budget was,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor.

The budget itself avoids some of the tough choices that would be required to enact Mr. Trump’s fiscal vision. The huge tax cut was presented but without any detail about its elements or cost. Mr. Mulvaney said the tax plan would not add to the deficit, implying that its cost would be made up with other changes, such as eliminating deductions.

To balance the budget, Mr. Trump’s budget relies on growth he argues will be generated from the as-yet-unformed tax cut.

The blueprint also steers clear of changing Social Security or Medicare, steps that Mr. Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congressman who has backed entitlement cuts, said he had tried to persuade Mr. Trump to consider.

“He said, ‘I promised people on the campaign trail I would not touch their retirement and I would not touch Medicare,’ and we don’t do it,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “I honestly was surprised that we could balance the budget without changing those programs, but we managed to do that.”

But budget experts argued that was little more than fiction, and the plan could never deliver the results it claims to.

“The central inconsistency is promoting a massive tax cut and spending increases in some areas and leaving the major entitlement programs alone,” Mr. Bixby said. “You don’t have to be an economist to know that that doesn’t add up, and that’s why there’s a great deal of concern about the negative fiscal impact that this budget will have.”

While past presidents have often launched a road show with stops around the country to promote the components of their inaugural budgets, Mr. Trump is spending the rest of the week overseas, leaving his staff to explain his plan while Republicans prepare their own response.

“This budget is dead before arrival, so he might as well be out of town,” said David A. Stockman, a former budget director under President Ronald Reagan.

Mr. Stockman said both political parties had grown comfortable with running large annual budget deficits. “There’s not a snowball’s chance that most of this deep deficit reduction will even be considered in a serious way.”

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Palestinians welcome Trump's talk of peace but offer lessons in two-state demands – Washington Post

By , and ,

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — President Trump traveled to this West Bank city Tuesday to say he would do “everything I can” to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, even as he confronted seemingly irreconcilable bottom line demands on both sides.

President Trump brought his hope for peace efforts to the Palestinians on Tuesday, saying he would do “everything I can” to help broker talks with Israelis but also confronted Arab demands for a state that includes part of Jerusalem.

Speaking in the aftermath of a deadly bombing attack in Britain, Trump made a brief mention of the “losers” who perpetrate such actions. “Our society can have no tolerance for this continuation of bloodshed,” he said. “We cannot stand a moment longer for the slaughter of innocent people.”

Trump spoke beside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, after the two held a private meeting to discuss the now-stalled peace process and Trump’s vision for broad counterterrorism cooperation among the United States, Israel and the Muslim world.

Trump met Monday in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after spending the weekend with Muslim and Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia.

Abbas said he welcomed Trump’s efforts, which had “given all the nations across the region so much hope and optimism of the possibility of making a dream come true.”

“Our commitment is to cooperate with you in order to make peace and forge a historic peace deal with the Israelis,” Abbas added.

[In Israel, Trump urges new attitudes but faces old suspicions]

But while Trump spoke in generalities about the goal, Abbas laid out the specifics of Palestinian demands — which all have been supported by the Arabs and rejected by Israel through decades of unsuccessful peace negotiations shepherded by American presidents.

“We reassert to you our positions of a two-state solution along the borders of 1967, a state of Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem, living alongside of Israel,” he said, referring to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank following a war against three Arab armies.

Israel claims Jerusalem as its capital, but Palestinians insist that the city’s mostly Arab eastern part be the capital of any future state. During the presidential campaign, Trump pledged to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but the plan has been shelved at least temporarily.

Abbas said that he had also drawn Trump’s attention to more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners who have been on a hunger strike for more than a month, led by Marwan Barghouthi, whom supporters call the Palestinian Nelson Mandela.

Barghouthi was convicted in Israeli courts of masterminding the murder of Israeli civilians and sentenced to multiple life terms. The prisoners are an assortment of those convicted of serious terrorist crimes, as well as those picked up in ongoing West Bank skirmishes with Palestinian youth.

[Trump’s peace talk met by shrugs and cynicism on streets]

The hunger strikers seek more family visits, access to telephones, medical care, the freedom to study, and cessation of isolation as a punishment. Abbas delivered to Trump a letter from prisoner families that quoted Barghouti, “the last day of the occupation will be the first day of peace.” A few blocks from where Trump and Abbas spoke, a rally was being held in support of the hunger strike.

Pro-Israeli lawmakers in the United States have objected to American aid to the Palestinians, claiming the money is used to make payments to the families of prisoners — who are considered “freedom fighters” among many Palestinians. Trump did not mention the aid or the payments in his public remarks.

Abbas also spoke of Palestinian insistence that all “final status issues” be resolved “based on international law” and United Nations resolutions, as well as the Arab Peace Initiative first offered more than a decade ago. It promised Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state.

“Our Palestinian people’s attainment of their freedom and independence is key to peace and stability in the world,” Abbas said.

Abbas referred to Trump’s “historic” visit Monday to “occupied East Jerusalem,” where Trump visited some of the sites holiest to Jews and Christians. In a statement with Trump last night, Netanyahu hailed the same visit, while speaking of a “united Jerusalem” as Israel’s capital.

Previous U.S. presidents have declined to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem as it would provide a powerful symbolic rejection of Palestinian — and Arab — aspirations for their own capital inside a separate state.

In 1995, Congress passed a law mandating the move, but successive presidents have issued waivers every six months declining to take action based on national security needs. Trump has until June 1 to decide whether to continue the practice.

Escorted by Israeli police and helicopters, Trump and his delegation sped down the Hebron Road and found themselves, just minutes from their Jerusalem hotel, at the gates of Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The closeness of Bethlehem — the physical proximity between Israel and the Palestinian territory — surprised most first-time visitors in the entourage.

Trump and the convoy passed through the 26-foot-tall concrete wall with watch towers that is Israel’s separation barrier, and past “Checkpoint 300,” where thousands of Palestinian workers cross into Israel each morning to reach their jobs on Israeli construction sites.

Trump has cited the Israeli barrier as an example of the kind of wall he wants to build between the United States and Mexico, but many Palestinians view it as a symbol of oppression.

Bethlehem is lively and crowded, home to Palestinian Muslims and Christians, and the Church of the Nativity, the Byzantine-era sacred site built over the grotto where the faithful believe Jesus was born.

The city is also surrounded by hilltop Jewish settlements on three sides, built both in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, communities that most of the world considers illegal, though Israel disputes this.

“The president assures me he’s ready to work toward [peace] in good faith,” Trump said of Abbas, whom he hosted in the White House earlier this month, “and Prime Minister Netanyahu has promised the same.”

In Saudi Arabia, Trump said he had called on Arab leaders “to join in a partnership to drive terror from their midst once and for all.” He described the Riyadh meeting as “epic” and “deeply productive,” saying “people have said there really has never been anything even close in history.”

Abbas, who also attended the Riyadh meeting, said that Trump had brought “broad horizons, prospects to recover our economy [and] continue building our nations based on the rule of law and non-violence … building bridges instead of walls inside our land.”

Ending in English after delivering the bulk of his remarks in Arabic, Abbas said he hoped his guest “will go in history, the President Donald Trump, who was the American president who achieved peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.”

DeYoung and Booth reported from Jerusalem.

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The Latest: May says bombing 'a callous terrorist attack.' – Washington Post

By and ,

MANCHESTER, England — A lone attacker blew himself up at a pop concert filled with teenagers killing 22 in an apparent effort to harm as many young people as possible, Manchester police said Tuesday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “now beyond doubt” that it was a “callous, terrorist attack.”

“This attack stands out for its appalling, sickening cowardice deliberately targeting innocent defenceless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives,” she said, speaking outside of Downing Street, where flags are flying at half mast.

She called it among the worst terrorist incidents in Britain and “the worst ever to hit the north of England.”

Authorities believe they know the identity of the assailant, she added, “but at this stage of their investigations, we cannot confirm his name.”

In a statement, the Greater Manchester Police said that they arrested a 23-year-old man in south Manchester in connection with the attack as hundreds of police swarmed through the city in the aftermath of the blast.

Authorities are trying to determine if the suicide bomber acted alone or was part of a larger network. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, which injured 59 others.

“We believe at this stage the attack last night was conducted by one man,” said Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins at a televised news conference. “We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated, causing this atrocity.”

[The Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared]

Messages of support poured in from around the world, including from President Trump.

“We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom,” he said at a news conference in Bethlehem, and called those responsible “evil losers in life.”

The bombing appeared intended to inflict the maximum possible damage on young concert­goers — many of them in their early teens — who were making their way out of the Manchester Arena. Police said the blast occurred about 10:30 p.m., minutes after pop star Ariana Grande had finished her set.

 The explosion set off a panicked reaction as fans struggled to flee and parents and teens searched for one another amid the carnage. Well into Tuesday morning, fathers and mothers who had lost contact with their children posted desperate pleas for information on social media using the hashtag #ManchesterMissing.

Charlotte Campbell told the BBC on Tuesday morning that she’s “phoning everybody,” including hospitals and centers trying to locate her 15-year-old daughter Olivia. She last spoke to her daughter on Monday night at the concert.

“She’d just seen the support act and said she was having an amazing time, and thanking me for letting her go,” she said in an emotional interview.

[In the midst of Manchester’s terror, strangers reach out — through Twitter]

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, called it an “evil act” but praised the “spirit of Manchester that will prevail and hold us together.”

He said that Manchester is “grieving today, but we are strong.”

It is the worst terrorist strike on British soil since 2005, when Islamist extremists bombed the London subway and a bus, killing 54 people

.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said late Monday that there was “no information to indicate a specific credible threat involving music venues in the United States,” but added that Americans may see “increased security in and around public places and events as officials take additional precautions.”

[Trump decries the ‘losers’ who wage terrorism]

In France, the scene of several terrorist attacks over the past year, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe called on people to be vigilant in the face of “a threat which is more present than ever before.”

Britain has been on high alert for a major attack for several years, with authorities saying that a mass-casualty attack was likely. 

Grande, who is wildly popular both in Britain and the United States, was not injured in the attack. She expressed her sorrow in a tweet hours after the explosion, saying she was “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so sorry. i don’t have words.” 

Cellphone video showed chaotic scenes of people screaming and running in the aftermath of the blast. Concertgoers said that they saw nuts and bolts littering the ground near the blast scene and that the smell of explosives hung  in the air.

The local hospital, Wythenshawe, said it was dealing with “mass casualties.” Eight other hospitals across the region were activated to treat the injured, and emergency supplies of blood were rushed in.

Fans of Grande had come from across northern England to see the concert. On Twitter, people offered a place to stay for those stranded in the city, using the hash­tag #RoomForManchester.

A father told the BBC that he was leaving the arena with his wife and daughter when the blast blew him through a set of doors. Afterward, the man, identified as Andy, said he saw about 30 people “scattered everywhere. Some of them looked dead.” 

Separated from his wife and daughter, he said, he “looked at some of the bodies trying to find my family.” 

He later found them, uninjured.

Karen Ford, a witness, told the BBC that “there were kids outside, crying on the phone, trying to find their parents.” 

The arena is one of the largest indoor venues in Europe and has a capacity of 21,000. Manchester transport police said the explosion occurred in the arena’s foyer, where people were congregating to buy concert merchandise. Manchester Arena said the attack took place just outside the facility, in a public space.

The scenes of bloodied, panicked concertgoers running for safety brought to mind similar images at the Bataclan theater in Paris in November 2015. 

The concert hall became the scene of extreme carnage after multiple gunmen burst in during a show by the American rock band Eagles of Death Metal and began shooting. The attack — for which the Islamic State later asserted responsibility — killed 89 people and injured hundreds more, becoming the deadliest event on French soil since World War II.

Britain has had fewer terrorist attacks in recent years than several of its European neighbors. Monday night’s blast came two months after a speeding driver left four people dead on London’s Westminster Bridge, then stabbed to death a police officer at the gates of Parliament.

Monday was the fourth anniversary of the killing of Lee Rigby, a British soldier who was attacked with a machete on the streets of southeast London. The two assailants, who were convicted of murder, said they were acting to avenge the killing of Muslims by British soldiers.

Monday’s blast comes with just over two weeks to go before Britain holds a national election. Campaigning was suspended Tuesday, and perhaps beyond. Security has not featured as a prominent part of the debate, although that may change when campaigning resumes.

Peter Holley and Devlin Barret contributed from Washington.  

Read more

Four killed, 40 injured in vehicle and knife assault near Parliament

After privileged childhood, London attacker became a troubled loner

What we know about the victims of the London attack

Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

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Trump's budget proposal slashes spending by $3.6 trillion over 10 years – Washington Post

By Damian Paletta and ,

President Trump on Tuesday will propose cutting federal spending by $3.6 trillion over 10 years, a historic budget contraction that would severely ratchet back spending across dozens of programs and could completely reshape government assistance to the poor.

The White House’s $4.094 trillion budget request for fiscal 2018 calls for cuts that hit Medicaid, food assistance and other anti-poverty programs. It would cut funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides benefits to the poor, by roughly 20 percent next year.

All told, the budget would ­reduce spending on safety-net programs by more than $1 trillion over 10 years.

Details of the budget circulating in Washington on Monday drew outrage from Democrats and a mix of anxiety and praise from Republicans, illustrating the political minefield that policymakers face as they debate whether to turn the proposals into law.

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the spending plan, titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” is focused on protecting taxpayer money and cutting spending on programs that are ineffective or encourage people not to work.

He singled out the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the modern version of food stamps, which grew rapidly after the financial crisis and had 44 million beneficiaries in 2016.

“We need people to go to work,” Mulvaney said. “If you are on food stamps and you are able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you are on disability insurance and you are not supposed to be, you are not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work. We need everybody pulling in the same direction.”

Democrats and anti-poverty advocates decried the changes, saying that Trump is seeking to strip support for the most vulnerable Americans while cutting taxes for the wealthiest.

“This would pull the rug out from so many Americans who need help: those suffering from opioid and heroin addiction, people in nursing homes and their families who care for them, the elderly, the disabled and children,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

The proposed budget refocuses decades of U.S. spending — both foreign and domestic — to reflect Trump’s belief that too much taxpayer money is simply given away.

For example, the president will propose changing foreign aid programs in a way that no longer delivers much of the money as grants and instead extends loans to foreign governments that must be repaid, Mulvaney said. Special exemptions would be made for Israel and Egypt.

The budget would also impose a 2 percent cut to all spending that must be approved by Congress each year for the next decade, excluding military programs. Spending for these programs tends to increase each year under Democrats and Republicans. Separately, the budget would eliminate all federal support for Planned Parenthood, the health-care provider that conservatives often attack.

In writing the budget, White House officials were forced to walk a tightrope.

Trump insisted that they could not cut retirement benefits for Social Security or health benefits for Medicare, two of the most expensive parts of the federal budget. White House officials also were committed to protecting military spending.

To preserve those items and eliminate the budget deficit over 10 years, officials had to deliver major cuts across the rest of the budget. The budget also relies heavily on assumptions that economic growth will soar under tax cuts and regulatory reductions that Trump has promised to deliver.

“You have to understand that for Trump, growth is populism, so he doesn’t see this as a budget of cuts but a budget for growth,” said Sam Nunberg, a longtime Trump associate who worked on his campaign in 2015. “What he’s trying to do is work with Congress, where a lot of these ideas started, and put something together.”

The budget, in its deeply conservative framework, risks alarming some of the president’s supporters.

“I’m not sure the White House understands who their base is,” Patrick H. Caddell, a veteran strategist who works with Breitbart News, said. He cited Democrats and working-class independents as key parts of Trump’s political coalition. “Where’s the outreach to them?” he asked.

But a White House official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said Trump saw the shrinking of the “welfare state” as a necessary component of his nationalist, working-class appeal and part of his pledge to “drain the swamp.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s critics in the GOP shrugged at the president’s overture to the budget-
cutting wing of the party.

“I don’t take it as a sign he’s more ideological,” said Peter Wehner, a veteran Republican policy hand. “He’s like a needle spinning around a broken compass, and we’re not sure where he’ll land. This week he’s more ideological, next week he could be less ideological.”

One of the biggest surprises in the budget is that defense spending remains relatively flat, after months of promises from Trump that he would completely rebuild the military.

The plan proposes a $43 billion increase in defense spending next year, but in subsequent years the budget is almost identical to what it would be without any changes. A White House official said that is because the military is still planning spending priorities for those years and that the budget would eventually change.

For anti-poverty programs, the White House proposes shifting some of the financial costs to states, giving them a financial stake in deciding whether to permit people to receive benefits.

On Medicaid, Trump wants states to choose between agreeing to a cap based on how many people are enrolled or a “block grant” structure that delivers funds to states and gives them more flexibility in how it is spent.

A number of key Republicans have expressed concern about the approach.

Even some congressional conservatives warned that there is such a thing as too many cuts. “There will be some concerns if we go too deep in some of these areas,” said Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, referring to the cuts to the children’s health care program.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, said he was encouraged by early reports of new curbs on SNAP and other spending, but said he drew the line on cuts to Meals on Wheels — a charity that Mulvaney suggested was ineffective earlier this year.

“I’ve delivered meals to a lot of people that perhaps it’s their only hot meal of the day,” Meadows said. “And so I’m sure there’s going to be some give and take, but to throw out the entire budget just because you disagree with some of the principles would be inappropriate.”

On Medicaid, Trump wants to transform the way the program’s funding works, moving away from its half-century history of giving each state a certain share of the program’s cost, no matter how many are on the rolls. Instead, the administration is proposing to give states a choice between a financial cap based on how many people are enrolled or a “block grant” that would allow more latitude over how the money were spent. Three health-policy experts said Monday night that the block grants envisioned in the budget would go beyond those that would be allowed under the American Health Care Act, which narrowly passed the House last month.

The administration wants to allow a state to move everyone on Medicaid into a block-grant system, while the House bill would not permit that for elderly or disabled people, who tend to have the highest Medicaid expenses

For SNAP, the White House is proposing changes that would force states to pay a portion of the benefits, which could put more pressure on them to prevent people from enrolling.

On CHIP, the White House would propose eliminating a 23 percentage point increase in federal contributions and would cap other assistance to the program to limit federal payments to children from families with incomes of no higher than 250 percent of the federal poverty level. The White House contends that would make sure the program helps only the neediest children.

However, Diane Rowland, executive vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, pointed out that 18 states, plus the District of Columbia allow the children of families with incomes of more than 300 percent of the poverty line into their programs. For such states, Rowland said, “this is a big hit.”

“We are no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs,” Mulvaney said. “We are going to measure compassion and success by the number of people we help get off of those programs and get back in charge of their own lives.”

But Jared Bernstein, who served as a top economic adviser to former vice president Joe Biden, called the scale of Trump’s cuts “otherworldly.” He said that even if Senate Republicans are able to scale back the cuts, they could still have a major impact on government programs.

“At the end of the day, they may settle for something that’s huge and egregious but less than the cosmic number they are throwing around” in the budget proposal, he said.

Many of the programs targeted by Trump’s budget provide health, housing or other assistance to millions of Americans, including a large number of Trump voters.

There are 74.6 million Americans who receive Medicaid or CHIP, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Almost 11 million receive Social Security Disability Insurance payments, and 8.3 million receive Supplemental Security Income, a small cash benefit for the poor and those with disabilities.

Many of these programs have rigorous screening mechanisms, and it is very difficult for people who are unemployed, childless and able to work to collect benefits for long. But Trump administration officials believe the rules should be even stricter, with the goal of pushing more people back into the workforce so that the economy can strengthen and create more growth.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who engaged in numerous budget battles during the Clinton administration, said that Trump must steel himself against attacks and emphasize his insistence on how much he “values work.”

“If the Trump people sell it as genuine reform that’s getting rid of people who should be at work or are cheating, getting rid of redundancy and making the bureaucracy dramatically leaner, then it will be successful,” Gingrich said. “People actually resent neighbors who are getting goodies they haven’t worked for. It’s going to be a huge fight. How this plays out will depend on how he handles it.”

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Trump condemns 'evil losers' behind the Manchester attack – Los Angeles Times

Here’s our look at the Trump administration and the rest of Washington:

May 23, 2017, 1:34 a.m.

reporting from BETHLEHEM, West Bank

Trump condemns ‘evil losers’ behind the Manchester attack

Associated Press

President Donald Trump is expressing solidarity with the United Kingdom in the wake of a deadly explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, condemning the “evil losers” behind the blast.

Trump spoke Tuesday after a meeting in Bethlehem with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Manchester police say an apparent suicide bomber set off an improvised explosive device at the end of the concert. Police raised the death toll to 22 early Tuesday, and dozens more have been reported injured.

Trump says the attack preyed on “innocent children.” He says this “wicked ideology must be obliterated. And I mean completely obliterated.”

Trump says “civilized nations must join together to protect human life.”

Latest updates

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

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Lone attacker blew self up at Manchester concert killing 22, including children, say police – Washington Post

By and ,

LONDON — A lone attacker blew himself up and killed 22 people, including children at a concert hall in the English city of Manchester said police Tuesday, adding it is being treated as a terrorist attack.

Police said that they were still trying to piece together what happened when the explosion ripped through a crowd of teenagers and other concert­goers late Monday after a performance by an American pop singer. At least 59 people were injured.

“We have been treating this as a terrorist incident,” said Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins at a televised press conference. “We believe at this stage the attack last night was conducted by one man.”

He said that the the priority was to establish whether he was working alone or as part of a network. More than 400 police officers have been deployed in the wake of the attack.

“The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena,” he said. “We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated, causing this atrocity.”

Messages of support poured in from around the world, including from President Trump.

“We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom,” he said at a press conference in Bethlehem, and called those responsible “evil losers in life.”

The bombing appeared intended to inflict the maximum possible damage on young concert­goers — many of them in their early teens — who were making their way out of the Manchester Arena. Police said the blast occurred about 10:30 p.m., minutes after pop star Ariana Grande had finished her set.

 The explosion set off a panicked reaction as fans struggled to flee and parents and teens searched for one another amid the carnage. Well into Tuesday morning, fathers and mothers who had lost contact with their children posted desperate pleas for information on social media using the hashtag #ManchesterMissing.

Charlotte Campbell told the BBC on Tuesday morning that she’s “phoning everybody,” including hospitals and centers trying to locate her 15-year-old daughter Olivia. She last spoke to her daughter on Monday night at the concert.

“She’d just seen the support act and said she was having an amazing time, and thanking me for letting her go,” she said in an emotional interview.

[In the midst of Manchester’s terror, strangers reach out — through Twitter]

British Prime Minister Theresa May issued a statement in the early hours of Tuesday saying that authorities were “working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack.”

BBC reported that flags at the prime minister’s residence on Downing Street were at half mast.

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, called it an “evil act” but praised the “spirit of Manchester that will prevail and hold us together.”

He said that Manchester is “grieving today, but we are strong.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, and police did not speculate about possible motives.

If confirmed as a terrorist attack, it would be the worst strike on British soil since 2005, when Islamist extremists bombed the London subway and a bus, killing 54 people

.

[A terror attack in London and the all-too-familiar response]

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said late Monday that there was “no information to indicate a specific credible threat involving music venues in the United States,” but added that Americans may see “increased security in and around public places and events as officials take additional precautions.”

In France, the scene of several terrorist attacks over the past year, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe called on people to be vigilant in the face of “a threat which is more present than ever before.”

Britain has been on high alert for a major attack for several years, with authorities saying that a mass-casualty attack was likely. 

Among the priorities for investigators will be to figure out whether it was part of a broader plot.

Grande, who is wildly popular both in Britain and the United States, was not injured in the attack. She expressed her sorrow in a tweet hours after the explosion, saying she was “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so sorry. i don’t have words.” 

Cellphone video showed chaotic scenes of people screaming and running in the aftermath of the blast. The arena was packed with attendees and pink balloons that had fallen from the ceiling during the 
final song. Initially, concert­goers said they thought popping balloons had set off a panic, or that the screams were those of fans who had caught a glimpse of Grande. 

But witnesses later reported seeing the prone bodies of those who had been wounded and killed, as well as others who were streaked with blood and were staggering away from the scene. Some were injured in the rush to get out, with people being trampled as thousands sought to ­escape.

In video of the moment that the explosion detonated, a concussive boom breaks through the chatter of fans heading for the exits. “Oh my god, what just happened?” a female voice can be heard asking. “What’s going on?”

Later video showed people diving over railings. Concertgoers said that they saw nuts and bolts littering the ground near the blast scene and that the smell of explosives hung  in the air.

The local hospital, Wythenshawe, said it was dealing with “mass casualties.” Five other hospitals across the city were activated to treat the injured, and emergency supplies of blood were rushed in.

Heavily armed police and emergency services swarmed the arena, with ambulances — their blue lights flashing — rushing to the scene. The local emergency-
response service advised the public to call only “for life-threatening emergencies.”

Many of those attending the event were teenagers going  to  their first concert. Witnesses reported that outside the arena, parents were frantically attempting to locate their children. Many parents and teens later gathered at a nearby Holiday Inn that was established as a meeting point.

Fans of Grande had come from across northern England to see the concert. On Twitter, people offered a place to stay for those stranded in the city, using the hash­tag #RoomForManchester.

Parents  posted pictures of missing children on social media, pleading for information. Police set up a hotline for those looking to connect with missing relatives.

A father told the BBC that he was leaving the arena with his wife and daughter when the blast blew him through a set of doors. Afterward, the man, identified as Andy, said he saw about 30 people “scattered everywhere. Some of them looked dead.” 

Separated from his wife and daughter, he said, he “looked at some of the bodies trying to find my family.” 

He later found them, uninjured.

Other witnesses described a loud bang, followed by terrified shouts. “It was really scary,” Michelle Sullivan, who was attending the concert with her 12- and 15-year-old daughters, told the BBC. “Just as the lights have gone down, we heard a really loud explosion. . . . Everybody screamed.”

“When we got out, they just said, ‘Keep on running, keep on running.’ ”

Karen Ford, a witness, told the BBC that “there were kids outside, crying on the phone, trying to find their parents.” 

About 1:30 a.m., police announced that there would be a controlled explosion after a suspicious object was found. A loud bang was heard minutes later. Police later said the item that had been found was discarded clothing, not an explosive device.

The arena is one of the largest indoor venues in Europe and has a capacity of 21,000. Manchester transport police said the explosion occurred in the arena’s foyer, where people were congregating to buy concert merchandise. Manchester Arena said the attack took place just outside the facility, in a public space.

Although nobody immediately asserted responsibility for Monday’s violence, scenes of bloodied, panicked concertgoers running for safety brought to mind similar images at the Bataclan theater in Paris in November 2015. 

The concert hall became the scene of extreme carnage after multiple gunmen burst in during a show by the American rock band Eagles of Death Metal and began shooting. The attack — for which the Islamic State later asserted responsibility — killed 89 people and injured hundreds more, becoming the deadliest event on French soil since World War II.

Britain has had fewer terrorist attacks in recent years than several of its European neighbors. Monday night’s blast came two months after a speeding driver left four people dead on London’s Westminster Bridge, then stabbed to death a police officer at the gates of Parliament.

Monday was the fourth anniversary of the killing of Lee Rigby, a British soldier who was attacked with a machete on the streets of southeast London. The two assailants, who were convicted of murder, said they were acting to avenge the killing of Muslims by British soldiers.

Monday’s blast comes with just over two weeks to go before Britain holds a national election. Campaigning was suspended Tuesday, and perhaps beyond. Security has not featured as a prominent part of the debate, although that may change when campaigning resumes.

Grande is a 23-year-old pop singer and actress who has been in the public spotlight since 2010, when she began appearing on the Nickelodeon television show “Victorious.” More recently, the former teen idol has been touring to promote her third studio album, “Dangerous Woman.” She has sold more than 1.7 million albums in recent years.

The singer has more than 45 million followers on Twitter. Grande is also one of the most popular people on Instagram, with 105 million followers — more than even Beyoncé, Taylor Swift or Kim Kardashian. She was scheduled to play two shows in London later this week before traveling to Belgium, according to her tour dates.

Peter Holley and Devlin Barret contributed from Washington.  

Read more

Four killed, 40 injured in vehicle and knife assault near Parliament

After privileged childhood, London attacker became a troubled loner

What we know about the victims of the London attack

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Trump's budget proposal slashes spending by $3.6 trillion over 10 years – Washington Post

By Damian Paletta and ,

President Trump on Tuesday will propose cutting federal spending by $3.6 trillion over 10 years, a historic budget contraction that would severely ratchet back spending across dozens of programs and could completely reshape government assistance to the poor.

The White House’s $4.094 trillion budget request for fiscal 2018 calls for cuts that hit Medicaid, food assistance and other anti-poverty programs. It would cut funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides benefits to the poor, by roughly 20 percent next year.

All told, the budget would ­reduce spending on safety-net programs by more than $1 trillion over 10 years.

Details of the budget circulating in Washington on Monday drew outrage from Democrats and a mix of anxiety and praise from Republicans, illustrating the political minefield that policymakers face as they debate whether to turn the proposals into law.

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the spending plan, titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” is focused on protecting taxpayer money and cutting spending on programs that are ineffective or encourage people not to work.

He singled out the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the modern version of food stamps, which grew rapidly after the financial crisis and had 44 million beneficiaries in 2016.

“We need people to go to work,” Mulvaney said. “If you are on food stamps and you are able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you are on disability insurance and you are not supposed to be, you are not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work. We need everybody pulling in the same direction.”

Democrats and anti-poverty advocates decried the changes, saying that Trump is seeking to strip support for the most vulnerable Americans while cutting taxes for the wealthiest.

“This would pull the rug out from so many Americans who need help: those suffering from opioid and heroin addiction, people in nursing homes and their families who care for them, the elderly, the disabled and children,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

The proposed budget refocuses decades of U.S. spending — both foreign and domestic — to reflect Trump’s belief that too much taxpayer money is simply given away.

For example, the president will propose changing foreign aid programs in a way that no longer delivers much of the money as grants and instead extends loans to foreign governments that must be repaid, Mulvaney said. Special exemptions would be made for Israel and Egypt.

The budget would also impose a 2 percent cut to all spending that must be approved by Congress each year for the next decade, excluding military programs. Spending for these programs tends to increase each year under Democrats and Republicans. Separately, the budget would eliminate all federal support for Planned Parenthood, the health-care provider that conservatives often attack.

In writing the budget, White House officials were forced to walk a tightrope.

Trump insisted that they could not cut retirement benefits for Social Security or health benefits for Medicare, two of the most expensive parts of the federal budget. White House officials also were committed to protecting military spending.

To preserve those items and eliminate the budget deficit over 10 years, officials had to deliver major cuts across the rest of the budget. The budget also relies heavily on assumptions that economic growth will soar under tax cuts and regulatory reductions that Trump has promised to deliver.

“You have to understand that for Trump, growth is populism, so he doesn’t see this as a budget of cuts but a budget for growth,” said Sam Nunberg, a longtime Trump associate who worked on his campaign in 2015. “What he’s trying to do is work with Congress, where a lot of these ideas started, and put something together.”

The budget, in its deeply conservative framework, risks alarming some of the president’s supporters.

“I’m not sure the White House understands who their base is,” Patrick H. Caddell, a veteran strategist who works with Breitbart News, said. He cited Democrats and working-class independents as key parts of Trump’s political coalition. “Where’s the outreach to them?” he asked.

But a White House official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said Trump saw the shrinking of the “welfare state” as a necessary component of his nationalist, working-class appeal and part of his pledge to “drain the swamp.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s critics in the GOP shrugged at the president’s overture to the budget-
cutting wing of the party.

“I don’t take it as a sign he’s more ideological,” said Peter Wehner, a veteran Republican policy hand. “He’s like a needle spinning around a broken compass, and we’re not sure where he’ll land. This week he’s more ideological, next week he could be less ideological.”

One of the biggest surprises in the budget is that defense spending remains relatively flat, after months of promises from Trump that he would completely rebuild the military.

The plan proposes a $43 billion increase in defense spending next year, but in subsequent years the budget is almost identical to what it would be without any changes. A White House official said that is because the military is still planning spending priorities for those years and that the budget would eventually change.

For anti-poverty programs, the White House proposes shifting some of the financial costs to states, giving them a financial stake in deciding whether to permit people to receive benefits.

On Medicaid, Trump wants states to choose between agreeing to a cap based on how many people are enrolled or a “block grant” structure that delivers funds to states and gives them more flexibility in how it is spent.

A number of key Republicans have expressed concern about the approach.

Even some congressional conservatives warned that there is such a thing as too many cuts. “There will be some concerns if we go too deep in some of these areas,” said Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, referring to the cuts to the children’s health care program.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, said he was encouraged by early reports of new curbs on SNAP and other spending, but said he drew the line on cuts to Meals on Wheels — a charity that Mulvaney suggested was ineffective earlier this year.

“I’ve delivered meals to a lot of people that perhaps it’s their only hot meal of the day,” Meadows said. “And so I’m sure there’s going to be some give and take, but to throw out the entire budget just because you disagree with some of the principles would be inappropriate.”

On Medicaid, Trump wants to transform the way the program’s funding works, moving away from its half-century history of giving each state a certain share of the program’s cost, no matter how many are on the rolls. Instead, the administration is proposing to give states a choice between a financial cap based on how many people are enrolled or a “block grant” that would allow more latitude over how the money were spent. Three health-policy experts said Monday night that the block grants envisioned in the budget would go beyond those that would be allowed under the American Health Care Act, which narrowly passed the House last month.

The administration wants to allow a state to move everyone on Medicaid into a block-grant system, while the House bill would not permit that for elderly or disabled people, who tend to have the highest Medicaid expenses

For SNAP, the White House is proposing changes that would force states to pay a portion of the benefits, which could put more pressure on them to prevent people from enrolling.

On CHIP, the White House would propose eliminating a 23 percentage point increase in federal contributions and would cap other assistance to the program to limit federal payments to children from families with incomes of no higher than 250 percent of the federal poverty level. The White House contends that would make sure the program helps only the neediest children.

However, Diane Rowland, executive vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, pointed out that 18 states, plus the District of Columbia allow the children of families with incomes of more than 300 percent of the poverty line into their programs. For such states, Rowland said, “this is a big hit.”

“We are no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs,” Mulvaney said. “We are going to measure compassion and success by the number of people we help get off of those programs and get back in charge of their own lives.”

But Jared Bernstein, who served as a top economic adviser to former vice president Joe Biden, called the scale of Trump’s cuts “otherworldly.” He said that even if Senate Republicans are able to scale back the cuts, they could still have a major impact on government programs.

“At the end of the day, they may settle for something that’s huge and egregious but less than the cosmic number they are throwing around” in the budget proposal, he said.

Many of the programs targeted by Trump’s budget provide health, housing or other assistance to millions of Americans, including a large number of Trump voters.

There are 74.6 million Americans who receive Medicaid or CHIP, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Almost 11 million receive Social Security Disability Insurance payments, and 8.3 million receive Supplemental Security Income, a small cash benefit for the poor and those with disabilities.

Many of these programs have rigorous screening mechanisms, and it is very difficult for people who are unemployed, childless and able to work to collect benefits for long. But Trump administration officials believe the rules should be even stricter, with the goal of pushing more people back into the workforce so that the economy can strengthen and create more growth.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who engaged in numerous budget battles during the Clinton administration, said that Trump must steel himself against attacks and emphasize his insistence on how much he “values work.”

“If the Trump people sell it as genuine reform that’s getting rid of people who should be at work or are cheating, getting rid of redundancy and making the bureaucracy dramatically leaner, then it will be successful,” Gingrich said. “People actually resent neighbors who are getting goodies they haven’t worked for. It’s going to be a huge fight. How this plays out will depend on how he handles it.”

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Ariana Grande Manchester Concert Ends in Explosion, Panic and Death – New York Times

MANCHESTER, England — An explosion that appeared to be a suicide bombing killed at least 22 people on Monday night and wounded 59 others at an Ariana Grande concert filled with adoring adolescent fans, in what the police were treating as a terrorist attack.

Panic and mayhem seized the crowd at the Manchester Arena as the blast reverberated through the building, just as the show was ending and pink balloons were dropping from the rafters in a signature flourish by Ms. Grande, a 23-year-old American pop star on an international tour.

Traumatized concertgoers, including children separated from parents, screamed and fled in what appeared to be the deadliest episode of terrorism in Britain since the 2005 London transit bombings.

Speaking to reporters early Tuesday, Manchester’s chief constable, Ian Hopkins, said the police learned of the explosion around 10:33 p.m. Children were among those killed, he added, and the wounded were taken to six hospitals.

Chief Constable Hopkins said that a man detonated “an improvised explosive device” and was killed in the blast. He said the police believed the man acted alone in the attack but were trying to determine whether he was part of a wider network. Other officials said the police were investigating reports that the device used nuts and bolts as shrapnel.

The scene in downtown Manchester immediately evoked the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, which included a deadly assault inside the Bataclan concert hall, where the Eagles of Death Metal had been playing. But unlike the Bataclan show, the Manchester concert was filled with young teenagers.

“This is currently being treated as a terrorist incident until the police know otherwise,” the Manchester police said in a Twitter post.

Prime Minister Theresa May said her thoughts were with the victims and their families in “what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack.” She was scheduled to lead a meeting of the government’s crisis response committee on Tuesday morning.

At least one explosion went off in the foyer of the arena, according to the British Transport Police, the force that protects the Manchester Victoria train station next to the arena. The terminal was evacuated.

Early Tuesday morning, Sky News reported that a bomb disposal team had arrived on the scene as part of the investigation and that the security cordon around the arena had been widened.

Gary Walker, who was at the show with his wife and two daughters, said he “heard a massive bang and saw a flash” just as the concert concluded. He turned and realized that his wife had been hurt. Mr. Walker, who is from the northern city of Leeds, said she had a stomach wound and possibly a broken leg. He said he lay down on the floor beside her and saw “metal nuts on the floor.”

Ms. Walker was taken to a hospital, Mr. Walker said while standing with his daughters at Deansgate, the main shopping street in Manchester.

Another concertgoer, Sasina Akhtar, told The Manchester Evening News that there had been an explosion at the back of the arena after the last song. “We saw young girls with blood on them,” she said. “Everyone was screaming, and people were running.”

Ms. Grande, a singer with a big voice who started her career as a star on a Nickelodeon TV series, is on an international tour supporting her 2016 album, “Dangerous Woman.” Two additional acts, Victoria Monét and Bia, performed as openers on Monday. The tour was scheduled to continue on Thursday at the O2 Arena in London.

Ms. Grande was not hurt. TMZ, the entertainment news website, reported that she was “in hysterics” over the deadly blast.

Her manager, Scooter Braun, said on Twitter, “We mourn the lives of children and loved ones taken by this cowardly act.”

Parents separated from their children during the mayhem were told to go to a Holiday Inn, where many youngsters had taken refuge. A number of hotels, including the Holiday Inn and a Travelodge, opened their doors to concertgoers trapped inside the police cordon, providing them with drinks and phone chargers to enable them to contact family members. Residents also offered stranded concertgoers places to stay in their homes.

The confusion and fear in the hours afterward were reflected on social media. One Twitter post asked: “Did anybody see my girlfriend? I lost her in the chaos.”

SMG, the Pennsylvania-based company that manages the Manchester Arena, and Wes Westley, the company’s president and chief executive, described the precautions at the site.

“It is obviously as tight security as anywhere in the States,” he said in an interview. “Backpacks are not allowed. Drinks are taken away from people. You have to go through very strict security to enter the arena.”

The BBC interviewed a man who was waiting outside the arena to pick up his wife and daughter. He recounted that the “whole building shook,” that there was “carnage everywhere,” and that the explosion appeared to come from near the stadium’s ticket area.

Videos posted on Twitter showed concertgoers running and screaming. Hannah Dane, who attended the performance, told The Guardian that she had heard “quite a loud explosion.”

“It shook,” she said. “Then everyone screamed and tried to get out.”

The Manchester Arena opened in 1995 and can hold up to 21,000 spectators; it was not clear how many people were in the crowd for the concert.

Karen Ford told the BBC that she had been leaving the show when the blast occurred. “Everyone was just getting out of their seats and walking toward the stairs when all of a sudden a huge sound, which sounded like an explosion, went off,” she said.

“Everyone tried to push people up the stairs,” Ms. Ford recalled, adding that in the chaos, people tried to push past a woman in a wheelchair as children screamed.

She said there was no smoke, just one very loud bang. “It was very, very loud,” she said, adding that her husband thought he had heard a second explosion. “There were shoes on the floor” left behind by people who had fled, she recalled.

“Just chaos,” she added. “I was trying to tell people to calm down.” She said the masses of people trying to flee created a perilous situation: “We were being crushed.”

Outside, Ms. Ford said, parents awaited children who had attended the concert, checking their smartphones in a panic. “Everyone was trying to find each other,” she said.

While the country and the world reacted to the news of the explosion and deaths with dismay, anger and grief, the British authorities, who have foiled numerous terrorist plots, were probably not surprised.

The terrorist threat level set by MI5, the domestic intelligence service, has been at “severe,” the second-highest level, for months now, meaning officials considered an attack “highly likely.”

While disenchanted young people can be radicalized through extremist websites, officials are particularly worried about the return of hundreds of battle-trained fighters who left Britain and other European countries to join jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq.

Ms. May’s governing Conservative Party announced that it would refrain from campaigning on Tuesday in the June 8 general election, out of respect for the victims. Opposition politicians — Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party, Tim Farron of the Liberal Democrats and Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party — joined Mrs. May in expressing their grief and condolences.

But with the election approaching, Manchester seems bound to become part of the political discourse.

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The Latest on the Ariana Grande Concert Blast in Manchester – New York Times

■ Nineteen people were killed and 59 others were injured in an explosion about 10:35 p.m. on Monday in the foyer outside the main hall of the Manchester Arena.

■ Prime Minister Theresa May said the police were treating the incident as “an appalling terrorist attack.”

■ The authorities suspect the blast came from either an abandoned backpack or a suicide bomber, a senior American intelligence official said. British officials said they were investigating reports that a suicide bomber detonated an improvised device containing nuts and bolts as shrapnel.

■ The explosion occurred just as a concert by the American pop star Ariana Grande was ending. Traumatized fans, including children, screamed and ran. Ms. Grande was not injured.

■ Britain’s leading parties agreed to suspend campaigning for the June 8 general election out of respect for the victims of the attack.

■ Parents who were separated from their children during the mayhem were told to go to nearby hotels, where many had taken refuge. Other children were being kept in the arena.

‘Everyone Started Crying and Screaming’

Laura Bruce, 18, was with her sister Amy, 25, in one of the arena’s upper tiers when they heard the explosion. “Everyone below us just turned and ran,” she said. “Because we were higher up, we could not get out for five minutes. When we came out, a man walked past us just covered in blood.”

Sophie Tedd, 25, had traveled from Darlington to attend the concert with her friend, Jessica Holmes. At the end of the concert, they heard a loud bang and initially wondered whether “a speaker had blown.”

“Then everyone started crying and screaming,” she said. “Everyone ran out. People were pushing each other out of the way. It took a couple of minutes to get out. The police were outside telling us to keep running, to run away from Victoria station.”

Video from inside the arena showed the surreal scene of people scrambling for the exits amid pink balloons. The balloons were part of choreographed staging for Ms. Grande’s tour, after a segment with projections and lasers.

— Rory Smith and Ben Sisario

The Terrorism Threat in Britain

The Manchester police are working on the assumption that the deadly explosion at the concert was an act of terrorism. If so, it would be the worst act of terrorism in Britain since the 2005 bombings of London’s buses and subway killed 52 people.

But the British authorities, who have foiled numerous terrorist plots, will hardly be surprised. The threat level set by MI5, the domestic intelligence service, has been set at “severe,” the second-highest level, for months, meaning that an attack was considered “highly likely.” And counterterrorism officials have been warning that as the Islamic State comes under more military pressure in Iraq and Syria, it will try to strike abroad.

— Steven Erlanger

Leading Parties Suspend Campaigning

Britain’s leading political parties said they would suspend campaigning for the June 8 general election out of respect for the victims in Monday’s attack.

“I have spoken with the prime minister, and we have agreed that all national campaigning in the general election will be suspended until further notice,” said Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party.

“I am horrified by the horrendous events in Manchester last night,” he added. “My thoughts are with families and friends of those who have died and been injured.”

— Stephen Castle

Desperate Search for Friends and Relatives

Friends and relatives appealed for help locating loved ones who attended the concert.

Charlotte Campbell told CNN that she last spoke to her 15-year-old daughter, Olivia, about 8:30 p.m. “She was enjoying herself, and we’ve not heard anything from her since. We’ve phoned hospitals. We’ve phoned everywhere we can think. We’ve posted on every social network, and there’s nothing,” she said.

She said her daughter was attending the concert as part of a birthday present for a friend who was also missing. “They’re normal teenage children who were going to see their favorite artist, and it’s ended in absolute carnage,” she said.

“It’s the most horrible feeling ever to know your daughter is there and you can’t find her, and you don’t know if she’s dead or alive,” Ms. Campbell said, her voice breaking. “I don’t know how people can do this to innocent children.”

— Philip Pan

Ariana Grande: ‘I Am So So Sorry. I Don’t Have Words.’

Anxious Relatives Gather at Hospital

At one of the hospitals, the Manchester Royal Infirmary, anxious relatives, many in tears, showed up to check on their loved ones. Outside the pediatric emergency department, a van carrying blood supplies pulled in behind an ambulance.

The injured were being treated at six hospitals, said Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of the Greater Manchester Police. The police set up an emergency number — 0161 856 9400 — “for those who are concerned about loved ones or anyone who may have been in the area,” the chief constable said.

— Sewell Chan

Witnesses Describe Possible Nail Bomb

Witnesses said that the explosion appeared to involve the use of a nail bomb. Nail bombs are used to magnify the destructive power of explosives, as the shrapnel increases the bomb’s ability to wound its victims. A nail bomb was believed to have been used Monday in an attack at a military hospital in Bangkok that wounded two dozen people.

Nail bombs use shrapnel like steel balls, razors, screws and other pieces of metal to enhance their destructive capacity. They were used in Britain by the Irish Republican Army in its campaign against the British government, including in a 1981 attack in central London that killed one women and injured 50 others.

— Gerry Mullany

Controlled Explosion Afterward

Speculation that there might be another explosive device rose hours after the blast at the arena when the Manchester police said that they had carried out a “precautionary controlled explosion in Cathedral Garden.” It turned out to have been abandoned clothing, the police said, “not a suspicious item.”

— John Harney

Blast Came After ISIS Plea

Last week, the Islamic State released a 44-minute video featuring fighters of different nationalities, enjoining their supporters back home to carry out acts of violence. Among them was a man identified as a British national, according to a translation of the video provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute, which tracks jihadi propaganda.

Besides the threat last week, ISIS has repeatedly targeted Britain in its propaganda, though with little effect until earlier this year.

Rukmini Callimachi

Who Is Ariana Grande?

Ms. Grande, 23, began her career as an actress on the children’s television network Nickelodeon. She played the character Cat Valentine — whom she once described as “simple” — on the hit shows “Victorious” and “Sam & Cat.”

“Victorious,” a show about an aspiring teenage singer at a Hollywood high school, ran from 2010 to 2013 and was named favorite TV show at Nickelodeon’s 2012 Kids’ Choice Awards.

“Sam & Cat,” a spinoff of “Victorious,” began in 2013 and chronicled the adventures of two roommates who open an after-school babysitting service. Ms. Grande’s performance won her the favorite TV actress honor at the 2014 Kids’ Choice Awards.

The show was canceled that year after one season. Ms. Grande wrote in a Facebook post at the time that playing Cat Valentine had helped her transition “from teenager to adult.”

“I know a lot of people will think this is a lot for some ‘dumb’ kids’ show character,” she wrote, “but to me she is actually a lot smarter, stronger and braver than all the rest of us.”

A year earlier, Ms. Grande had released “The Way,” a debut single that would propel her nascent music career. The New York Times music critic Jon Caramanica later wrote that she transitioned from teen actress to pop diva through a “combination of exceptional voice, exceptional pluck and an exceptional sense of which hole in the marketplace she could exploit.”

When Monday night’s blast took place outside her concert, Ms. Grande was on a tour to support her 2016 album, “Dangerous Woman.” Reviewing the tour’s February stop at Madison Square Garden, the New York Times music critic Jon Pareles called Ms. Grande’s performance “a show of confidence, prowess and aplomb.”

— Mike Ives

U.S. Intelligence Is Briefed

Intelligence officials in the United States were briefed on the Manchester explosion late Monday and were told it appeared to be a terrorist attack, said one senior official who was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The authorities believed the blast came either from an abandoned backpack at the arena or a suicide bomber, said a senior United States intelligence official who was briefed on the attack.

British intelligence and counterterrorism officials said late Monday that they were “treating the incident as terrorism,” while investigating reports of a possible suicide bomber detonating an improvised explosive containing shrapnel.

The Department of Homeland Security said that it was monitoring the situation and that it had “no information to indicate a specific credible threat involving music venues in the United States” while warning Americans in Manchester to be vigilant.

— Adam Goldman and Eric Schmitt

Reaction From Other Music Stars

Arena Largest Such Venue in Britain

The Manchester Arena is the largest indoor venue in Britain, with a capacity of 21,000, or 18,000 for concerts. It was constructed as part of Manchester’s bid to host the Olympic Games in 1996 and 2000, and is connected to the Manchester Victoria Station, which was closed because of the attack.

The arena opened in 1995 and has hosted some of the world’s leading musical acts, including The Rolling Stones, U2, Madonna and Luciano Pavarotti. It also hosted the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

— Gerry Mullany

Rail Service at Busy Hub to Remain Suspended

Rail service at Manchester Victoria, a major transportation hub in the city, was suspended late Monday night and will remain closed on Tuesday. Manchester’s light rail service, Metrolink, has also been suspended at the station.

Manchester Victoria, which was used by more than 7 million passengers in 2015-16, is one of the busiest rail stations in England.

Matthew Haag

Company Describes Security at Arena

The Pennsylvania-based company SMG manages the Manchester Arena, and Wes Westley, the president and CEO of the company, described the precautions at the venue.

“It is obviously as tight security as anywhere in the states,” he said in an interview. “Backpacks are not allowed. Drinks are taken away from people. You have to go through very strict security to enter the arena.”

He explained that attendees arrive through a large public foyer, which is where the explosion occurred. The area, which connects to the Manchester Victoria rail station, is where parents often wait for their children after concerts.

The incident “occurred in a public space outside of Manchester Arena,” the company said.

— Ben Sisario

For more breaking news and in-depth reporting, follow @nytimesworld on Twitter.

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Why Trump is on track to disappoint Israel's Netanyahu – Washington Post

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Even by their standards, the bromance between President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed particularly deep in Jerusalem on Monday. Netanyahu, relaxed and beaming, welcomed the American president to the “united capital of the Jewish state,” the second stop on Trump’s overseas tour.

“I think we quote each other,” said Netanyahu, with Trump grinning at his side. “We understand each other and so much of the things that we wish to accomplish for both our countries.”

It was a marked change in atmosphere from meetings with Trump’s predecessor. Netanyahu and former president Barack Obama clashed over the American role in brokering a nuclear deal with Iran, which Netanyahu actively lobbied against — including during a 2015 speech to Congress. The American refusal to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements in the waning weeks of the Obama presidency led to howls of fury from the Israeli government. Now all is sunny again.


President Trump and first lady Melania Trump with Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu. (Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

But no matter the comparatively good vibes surrounding Trump’s trip to Israel, Netanyahu may grow disappointed in the coming months and years.

Trump’s election lifted hopes among Israeli right-wingers and ultranationalists that Washington would shelve talk about the two-state solution and look the other way as vast settlement expansion took place in the West Bank. But, just a few months later, Trump seems genuinely eager to strike a peace accord and has slow-pedaled his promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, a gesture that would enrage Palestinians and infuriate the Arab statesmen Trump hopes to enlist in his peace efforts. That has some on the Israeli right grumbling already.

There’s also no indication so far that the president is moving to scrap the nuclear deal, which Netanyahu and his allies hoped would be jettisoned soon after Trump took office.

Sure, Trump did offer up the sort of harsh language on Iran — Israel’s regional foe — that Netanyahu wanted to hear. The United States would work with Israel to roll back “the threat of an Iranian regime that is threatening the region and causing so much violence and suffering,” Trump said. He also took the unprecedented step of visiting the Western Wall, something no sitting American president has ever done because of the sensitivities around the site and Jerusalem’s disputed status. Netanyahu celebrated the act, telling Trump that the “people of Israel applaud you for it” — but Trump pointedly did not bring any Israeli politicians along on his visit.

“The bottom line is that not only does Trump have no intention of jeopardizing his relations with Sunni Arab leaders by moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, he won’t even make the tiniest gesture in that direction by allowing Netanyahu to join him for a few minutes in the Old City,” wrote Haaretz journalist Anshel Pfeffer.

Instead of breaking from the past, Trump seems to be taking the equivocating posture of his predecessors.

“The early perceptions that Trump would reverse all of Obama’s policy decisions and never challenge Israel very quickly proved inaccurate,” wrote Daniel Shapiro, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel under Obama. “So far, his administration has embarked on a much more traditional approach of seeking to restrain Israeli settlements, curtail Palestinian violence and incitement, and revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations toward a two-state solution, with the support of key Arab states.”

On Tuesday, Trump will travel to Bethlehem to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a politician who is increasingly unpopular at home but still championed by foreign leaders as a key interlocutor for Mideast peace.

Trump “has built up Abbas by treating him with respect. And his envoy is pressing the Israelis to take meaningful steps to allow the Palestinians to grow their economy,” said Martin Indyk, a former U.S. envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, in an interview with the Atlantic. “It’s almost exactly what Bill Clinton did when he was president.”


Anti-Trump demonstrators protest near the American Consulate in Jerusalem. (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

The big question is whether Trump will follow through on his stated zeal to fix the problem, especially when the status quo seems to serve his friend Netanyahu’s interests.

“Both the Israelis and Palestinians are aware that even a more traditional American president is unlikely to have the political will to do what is necessary to broker a just peace agreement,” wrote Yousef Munayyer, a scholar at the Middle East Institute. “With Trump, they know the chances are even more remote. At the same time, neither can afford to alienate Washington. So they must carefully play along as Trump engages the issues, and they will likely seek opportunities to get whatever they can from him in the process.”

Ilan Goldenberg, a Middle East expert at the Center for a New American Security, suggested Netanyahu is now “freaked out because Trump seems serious about peace.” That means he “will have to produce” at the risk of antagonizing key right-wing allies — and likely losing votes to their parties.

“With Obama, Israelis may not always have gotten everything they wanted,” wrote Shapiro. “But they always got consistency.” With Trump, it appears, Netanyahu may get neither.

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