MOSCOW — A note of glee crept into Russian commentary and news coverage on Friday about the current turmoil in Washington around national security, with President Vladimir V. Putin seemingly checking off one item after another that he might have written on his wish list for Santa. First, President Trump blindsided his aides and the rest of the world by deciding to pull the full contingent of some 2,000 American troops out of Syria, helping the Kremlin to confirm Mr. Putin’s gamble that intervening in Syria would revive Russian influence in the Middle East. Mr. Trump followed that up by declaring that the United States would pull half its forces out of Afghanistan; the combined withdrawals prompted the resignation of Jim Mattis, the respected general who leads the Pentagon. All that followed Mr. Trump’s already substantial effort to undermine NATO and the European Union by weakening the American commitment to its traditional alliances. “Trump is God’s … [Read more...] about Glee in Russia Over Trump’s Foreign Policy Largess
New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended indefinitely by the N.F.L. on Thursday for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. The suspension happened just hours after Gordon announced he was taking a break from football to focus on his mental health. “Effective today, Josh Gordon has been returned to the Reserve/Commissioner Suspended list indefinitely for violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement under the Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse,” the league said in a statement. Gordon, who has been suspended multiple times for substance abuse, released a statement early Thursday saying that his departure from the Patriots was voluntary. “I take my mental health very seriously,” he said. “At this point, to ensure I remain able to perform at the highest level. I have recently felt like I could have a better grasp on things mentally. With that said, I will be stepping away from the football field for a … [Read more...] about Patriots’ Josh Gordon Suspended Again for Violating N.F.L. Substance Abuse Policy
WASHINGTON — With Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke departing at the end of the year, the agency will likely be run, at least for a time, by its deputy secretary, David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist who has played a central role in enacting President Trump’s agenda of rolling back conservation measures and opening up public lands to drilling and mining. Mr. Bernhardt’s supporters and detractors say that while Mr. Zinke has been the public face of some of the most significant reversals of public land protections in the nation’s history, behind the scenes it has been Mr. Bernhardt pulling the policy levers to enact Mr. Trump’s aggressive energy agenda. “ It was Mr. Bernhardt, for example, who oversaw a controversial revision of a program to protect tens of millions of acres of habitat of the imperiled sage grouse, a puffy-chested, chicken-like bird that roams over 10 oil-rich Western states. Mr. Bernhardt’s proposal to change that plan, released … [Read more...] about Zinke’s Likely Successor Is a Former Oil Lobbyist Who Has Influenced Trump’s Energy Policy
The nativity scene at Fellowship Congregational Church in Tulsa, Okla., looks a little different this year: There is a chain-link fence surrounding Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. The display has been up since the beginning of December, but it drew news coverage this week after the church changed the message on its marquee to read, “The holy family was a migrant family,” and posted photos of the nativity on Facebook. The scene is both an acknowledgment that the Christmas story is a migration story, and also a response to the Trump administration’s efforts to discourage people from seeking refuge in the United States, the Rev. Chris Moore, the church’s lead pastor, said in an interview on Thursday. Various religious texts, including the Gospel of St. Matthew, describe how the holy family sought asylum in Egypt after Jesus was born. “An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, ‘Arise, take the young child and his mother, flee to … [Read more...] about Oklahoma Church Erects Fence Around Nativity Scene to Protest Trump Border Policies
The news conference Jerome Powell gave on Wednesday, his fourth as chairman of the Federal Reserve, was his most consequential to date, coming amid market turbulence and signs of an economic slowdown in the year ahead. But his message — or at least the part of it that matters most for the direction of the economy and markets — wasn’t a simple one. It boils down to this: The Fed still believes that the economy is basically sound, and that growth will continue in 2019 and beyond, albeit at a slower rate than in 2018. There were no signs that Mr. Powell and his colleagues are hitting the recession panic button presumably hidden somewhere in the Marriner S. Eccles Building. That being the case, there was no reason not to follow through with the interest rate increase that had already been telegraphed. But the choppy global economy and sell-off in stock and certain corporate debt markets has gotten Fed officials’ attention, and they’re open to the … [Read more...] about Jerome Powell Tries a Nuanced Fed Policy. Markets Don’t Like It.