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 ,

[Breaking: Islamic State claims responsibility for Manchester attack, according to monitoring group SITE]

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

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After privileged childhood, London attacker became a troubled loner

What we know about the victims of the London attack

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Trump seeks $1.6 billion for border wall 'bricks and mortar' – CNN

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The Latest on the Ariana Grande Concert Bombing 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.

■ 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.

■ The police carried out a controlled explosion near the arena but later said the suspicious material was harmless. Bomb squads continued to comb through downtown Manchester.

‘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 the 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

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 the U.K. 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

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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.

Want smart analysis of the most important news in your inbox every weekday along with other global reads, interesting ideas and opinions to know? Sign up for the Today’s WorldView newsletter.

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Manchester Arena explosion: 19 dead after blast at Ariana Grande concert – CNN

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At least 19 people dead following 'terrorist incident' at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester – Washington Post

By and Peter Holley,

LONDON — An explosion described by police as a likely terrorist attack ripped through a crowd of teenagers and other concertgoers late Monday after a performance by an American pop singer in the English city of Manchester, leaving at least 19 people dead and about 50 others injured.

Initial evidence at the scene suggested the attack may have been a suicide bombing, according to two U.S. security officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. British authorities, who were meeting in emergency sessions in Manchester and London, did not immediately confirm those reports.

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 around 10:30 p.m., minutes after pop star Ariana Grande  had finished her set.

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

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.”

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.

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.”

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

Manchester police said they were working closely with national authorities to determine the cause of the explosion. Among the priorities for investigators will be to figure out whether it was part of a broader plot.

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. 

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 rushed to escape. 

The singer, who is wildly popular both in Britain and the United States, was “okay,” a spokesman for Grande’s record label told the Reuters news agency.

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 concert were teenagers venturing 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.

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 hearing 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. It was unclear whether campaigning would continue. Security has not featured as a prominent part of the debate, although that may change.

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.

Holley reported from Washington. Devlin Barrett in Washington contributed to this report. 

Read more

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Unusual Place for a President's Family on a Foreign Trip: Center Stage – New York Times

JERUSALEM — At an Israeli children’s hospital, Melania Trump handed out blue canvas backpacks filled with Dr. Seuss books and emblazoned with a picture of the White House. At a forum in Saudi Arabia on combating extremism, Ivanka Trump stood in for her father when he got tired. And in Israel, Jared Kushner stuck by his father-in-law’s side as President Trump pushed for peace in the Middle East.

The president’s first foray overseas is giving the rest of the world its first real glimpse of America’s new governing structure — a White House that has quickly become an all-in-the-family business, standard practice in Saudi Arabia, but rare in the United States.

During the president’s nine-day, multicountry trip that began on Friday, the world is learning — and Americans are being reminded of — the significant overlap between blood relations and policy advisers in the current White House. For Mr. Trump, they are almost interchangeable.

“It is extremely rare that a president would bring family members, other than a spouse, and ask them to assume a public role on a foreign trip,” said Carl Sferrazza Anthony, the historian at the National First Ladies’ Library.

Mr. Anthony said presidents often brought their children or other relatives on foreign excursions. But he added, “In terms of the Trumps assuming public roles, this is unprecedented.”

The president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Mr. Kushner, both have offices in the West Wing and are top White House advisers. The couple reportedly received a rabbinical pass to travel with the president on Air Force One on Friday, so they could be by his side. (As Orthodox Jews, they are not supposed to travel in a vehicle on the Sabbath, which begins on Friday at sundown and continues until sundown on Saturday.)

Mrs. Trump, America’s reticent and reserved first lady, has all but shunned the spotlight since her husband was elected. Overseas, though, she has been willing to play the role of global ambassador, stepping out a bit as she accompanies her husband. Wherever she goes, she draws attention.

When she arrived in Israel on Monday, a microphone caught a bit of private flattery from the prime minister’s wife. “I talk every place about her,” Sara Netanyahu told Mr. Trump after Air Force One landed.

The family-first approach has drawn mostly positive coverage overseas since the Trumps left Washington, especially in Saudi Arabia, where the country’s sprawling royal family is synonymous with its governing elite.

But not all the attention has been kind. On Monday, television cameras at the airport arrival ceremony in Tel Aviv captured what appeared to be an annoyed Mrs. Trump slapping away her husband’s hand when he tried to hold hers.

The video clip of Mrs. Trump flicking away the president’s hand quickly went viral on Twitter and was posted on the website for Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, under the headline: “Well this is embarassing.”

A spokeswoman for Mrs. Trump did not respond to an email seeking comment on the video.

In Saudi Arabia, Ivanka Trump represented her father at a round-table discussion with female entrepreneurs and Princess Reema bint Bandar, the daughter of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the long-serving Saudi ambassador to the United States.

After the session, the princess told a reporter that Ms. Trump is broadly seen in the country as a symbol of empowerment, in part because many people can easily relate to the fact that she is part of a powerful family enterprise.

On Sunday night, when the president skipped a Twitter forum on combating extremism, Ms. Trump filled in, taking to the stage to greet hundreds of young audience members and to explain the policy purposes of the event.

“Ultimately this young generation across the Arab world is a generation that can build tolerance, hope and peace,” she said. “That’s what today has been focused on.”

A White House aide later said that Mr. Trump’s schedule had run very late that day and that he was exhausted. The comment was mocked on Twitter by the president’s critics, who noted the nine-day trip had just begun two days earlier.

In Saudi Arabia, it was impossible to ignore the comparisons between Mr. Kushner, who is 36, and Mohammed bin Salman, the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia, who is 31. Both represent a younger generation in power in their countries largely because of their family ties, yet with vast portfolios.

Mr. Kushner has briefed reporters, has helped negotiate Saudi deals for weapons and business that totaled almost $400 billion, and is one of the president’s closest advisers on foreign policy and diplomacy. Over the weekend, Mr. Kushner attended almost all of Mr. Trump’s meetings with the Saudi royal family.

“The president asked us to plan a trip that would help unite the world against intolerance and terrorism and we have made great progress towards that goal in Saudi Arabia,” Mr. Kushner said in a rare, on-the-record statement just before the president departed from Riyadh for his stop in Jerusalem.

On Monday, Mr. Kushner accompanied Mr. Trump as he spent hours with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, discussing how to accelerate efforts to achieve peace. On Tuesday, Mr. Kushner will be with his father-in-law when he meets with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.

All three members of the Trump family joined Mr. Trump on Monday as he became the first sitting president to make a pilgrimage to the Western Wall, Judaism’s most holy place for prayer. Even as many cameras clicked to capture Mr. Trump’s moment of reflection, others were pointed at his wife and daughter, who were doing the same in a section reserved for women to pray.

Israeli news websites raced to feature pictures of Mrs. Trump, dressed in a white skirt suit, standing solemnly by the wall. And television cameras captured an emotional Ms. Trump, who converted to Judaism, appearing to wipe away a tear after gently touching the wall with her left palm.

Later, at the Israeli hospital, Mrs. Trump joined Mrs. Netanyahu, talking to children and passing out the backpacks with books.

“You can do a lot of projects, color and read and write letters,” Mrs. Trump told the Israeli children, as she posed with them for pictures.

It was the kind of made-for-TV moment that is traditional for first ladies and rare for Mrs. Trump, who has spent most of the last several months in New York, where the couple’s young son, Barron, has been finishing the school year. She has not taken on the higher-profile role that some first ladies have embraced. She has not, for example, organized an official state dinner at the White House yet.

As the wife of America’s new president, Mrs. Trump is a source of fascination abroad and offers a potential new route for foreign politicians looking to find ways to connect with her husband. One Israeli news organization reported that Mrs. Netanyahu spoke to Mrs. Trump about two missing Israeli soldiers and gave her a letter from the mother of one of them.

Moments after she descended from Air Force One in Riyadh on Friday, commentators in Saudi Arabia noted the flowing black pantsuit and the large gold belt that Mrs. Trump wore around her waist. One Saudi newspaper called the outfit “classy and conservative” because it looked similar to the traditional abaya, the robe that many Saudi women wear. On Twitter, Saudi women posted pictures of themselves in abayas that looked similar to Mrs. Trump’s pantsuit.

On Monday, as he walked the red carpet with Mr. Netanyahu and their wives during an arrival ceremony at the airport in Tel Aviv, Mr. Trump repeatedly bragged about Mr. Kushner and Ivanka Trump while greeting members of the Israeli cabinet.

Of one thing, he was certain, the president told one of them: “You’ll like Ivanka.”

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At least 19 dead, 50 injured in explosion at Ariana Grande concert in England – Los Angeles Times

At least 19 people were killed and 50 injured Monday night in an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in the British city of Manchester that police are treating as a possible suicide bombing.

The explosion happened near an entrance to the 21,000-seat arena just minutes after Grande’s concert ended with the song “Dangerous Woman” and the singer left the stage, witnesses said.

Many of the concert’s attendees were girls and young women, some clutching pink balloons, who had come to see one of the world’s biggest pop stars. After the explosion, many children were either separated from their parents or came unaccompanied and didn’t know where to go.

British counter-terrorism investigators think the possible terrorist attack may have been the work of a suicide bomber who entered a crowded area outside the performance space where attendees were streaming out of the concert, according to U.S. law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation.

“We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the police as an appalling terrorist attack,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement. “All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected.”

Police have focused their investigation on one man whose actions suggest he was the attacker, an official said.

The explosion appeared to occur near an entrance where fans typically pick up tickets. Cordons blocked off the entire area as a swarm of police cars and ambulances moved in and began evacuating bleeding concert patrons.

Grande was not injured. “Ariana is okay. We are further investigating what happened,” said Joseph Carozza, the artist’s publicist with Republic Records, a division of Universal Music group.

Police disclosed few details of the preliminary investigation into the incident they said was first reported at 10:33 p.m.

“We are currently treating this as a terrorist incident until we have further information,” Chief Constable Ian Hopkins told reporters. “This is clearly a very concerning time for everyone. We are doing all that we can.”

Fans from around northern England had flocked to the arena near the heart of Manchester, about 200 miles north of London, to see Grande’s “Dangerous Woman” tour. The show ended around 10:30 p.m.

Concert goer Danny Keeling, 22, said he had left shortly before the end of the concert to avoid the crowds. “Everyone was completely happy,” he recalled.

Then, at least one explosion ripped through an area near the arena’s box office, which was crowded with fans leaving the show.

“And the next thing it was complete chaos,” Keeling said. “We saw a guy being treated by paramedics, who had holes in his back from where the shrapnel had hit him and there were kids with blood on them.”

Another attendee, Charlotte, 18, from Manchester, had just left the arena when she heard the blast from the box office area. An eerie silence fell over the attendees outside, she said.

“Everyone stopped and all talking stopped,” she wrote in a direct message on Twitter. Then she saw people running out of the exits. “Everyone was running and screaming. And people was screaming evacuate.”

Lauren Sanders, 15, was near the stage when she heard an explosion that seemed to come from near the entrance of the theater, where the audience had streamed toward the exits, perhaps two minutes after Grande left the stage.

“Then everyone who was leaving started screaming and running the other way to another exit,” Sanders wrote in a direct message on Twitter. A huge Grande fan, she had come to the concert with her mother. She said there were no metal detectors and that security did not carefully check her mother’s bag.

After the explosion, “I grabbed my mum’s hand and started running, following a lot of others towards an exit,” Sanders said. Outside, police were everywhere, trying to clear the area, she said.

Alex Clare, 27, was walking his dog about half a mile away from the concert arena when he heard the explosion. As he approached the area he said he was taken aback by the scene.

“There were swarms of police cars and ambulances and I saw people with blood on their face,” Claire said. “A gentleman approached us with his daughter and started crying and said he had just seen people blown to bits.”

Gary Walker, who is from Leeds, was waiting with his wife for their two daughters to come out of the concert when the explosion happened just yards away. “We heard the last song go, and then suddenly there was a massive flash and then a bang and smoke,” he told BBC 5 live. He felt a pain in his foot and leg.

“I turned around to my wife who was standing at the side of me and she said, ‘I need to lay down.’” He said she had a stomach wound and possibly a broken leg. “I’ve got a bit of a hole in my foot where I’ve got a bit of shrapnel,” he said. “I was surprised I got away so lightly.”

Matt Ledger, 19, was with two of his friends at the concert when he heard one of the explosions. “Everyone starting sprinting and grabbing each other,” Ledger said in a phone interview. “When I got outside I saw a few people laying on the grass and their heads were bleeding.”

Ledger, who lives two hours outside of Manchester and came in for the concert, said he ran 10 minutes away to a bar, where he took shelter for two hours.

As in previous incidents in Europe, people took to social media to offer lifts, rooms for the night and tea to those in need using the hashtag #RoomForManchester. Others used the hashtag to send out anguished pleas for information about the missing. “My friend is missing in the concert haven’t heard of him please contact me #Manchester #RoomForManchester worried and sick now,” read one tweet.

“My heart goes out to families who have lost loved ones, my admiration to our brave emergency services,” Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, wrote on Twitter. “A terrible night for our great city.”

Concert goers said there were many unaccompanied youngsters in the crowd, which contributed to the panic when the explosion happened. “I was trying to offer my support to a number of girls who were there on their own who were hysterical,” the mother of a 13-year-old, who gave her name as Anne-Marie, told BBC 5 live. “They were around my daughter’s age if not younger.”

Some survivors fled to the nearby Steven Charles Snooker Club, where a bartender reported hearing a sound from the arena like “thunder.”

“We’ve got four girls here — trying to get them sorted to get picked up. There was a gentleman on the floor with his leg all bleeding and a woman with blood down one side of her face,” the bartender, who gave his name as Tyler, told the Press Association. “One girl had a panic attack and another had streaming tears, a woman had a heart attack just outside.”

After the explosion, police carried out a controlled explosion of a suspicious item near the arena but later said it was just clothing.

Some concert goers began raising questions about security at the venue. Keeling said security personnel were checking bags, but not patting anyone down. “I told my friend you could have anything on you, and you can bring in anything,” he said.

Grande was scheduled for additional performances on her Dangerous Woman Tour on May 25 and 26 at London’s O2 Arena, according to the website of the tour prompter, Live Nation UK.

Times staff writers Randy Lewis, Todd Martens and Alexandra Zavis contributed to this report.

[email protected]

@mattdpearce


UPDATES:

7:05 p.m.: The article was updated with a statement from the prime minister.

6:15 p.m.: The article was updated with additional witness accounts.

5:50 p.m.: The story was updated with information that law enforcement officials are investigating the incident as a possible suicide bombing.

5:25 p.m.: The story was updated with official casualty figures, new details on the explosion and witness accounts.

This story was originally published at 3:55 p.m.

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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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