“The Pope and President: Unpredictable pair finally meet”
After meeting with Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia and visiting sacred sites in Jerusalem, President Donald Trump’s tour of world religions concluded Wednesday at the Vatican, the Catholic Church’s holy headquarters. There, at the Apostolic Palace, Trump met with Pope Francis — finally.
It’s a meeting millions have been waiting for, an encounter between two of the world’s most intriguing and complex characters: The holy man in white who preaches good news to the poor and the brash businessman in the dark suit who embodies American extravagance.
«It will be a meeting without ‘walls,'» said the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a close associate of the Pope and the editor of the Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica. Walls, of course, were the subject of their famous feud. Shortly after celebrating a large outdoor Mass at the Mexican border last year, Francis said that people who think only of building barriers instead of bridges are «not Christian.» Trump dismissed the comments as «disgraceful» and called the Pope a pawn of the Mexican government.
National security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster said Trump’s agenda includes religious freedom, cooperating with the Catholic Church in humanitarian missions and combating religious persecution and human trafficking. Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter, will also meet with the Catholic community Sant’Egidio to discuss human trafficking, according to the White House.
Francis will probably never say anything publicly about his meeting with the President, Ivereigh said, even if Trump tweets misleading statements about it. If the Pope does decide to respond, he has a pretty big pulpit — and Twitter following — of his own.
“Manchester attack: Three more arrests in bomber investigation”
Abedi’s 23-year-old brother has also been arrested. Abedi killed 22 and injured 64 when he blew himself up outside an Ariana Grande concert on Monday night. An off-duty female police officer is among the dead, the BBC understands. The UK terror threat level is now up to its highest level of «critical». This means more attacks may be imminent. Military personnel are being deployed to protect key sites. The Palace of Westminster has been closed to the public following police advice, and will not re-open until further notice, a statement on its website said.
Prime Minister Theresa May said soldiers are being placed in key public locations to support armed police in protecting the public. These include Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, embassies and the Palace of Westminster.
The victims include Nell Jones, 14, eight-year-old Saffie Roussos, Alison Howe, Lisa Lees, Jane Tweddle-Taylor, 50, Martyn Hett, 29, and Olivia Campbell, 15, Kelly Brewster, 32, John Atkinson, 28, Georgina Callander – thought to be 18 – and Marcin and Angelika Klis, a Polish couple from York, have also been named. An off-duty police officer – who has not yet been named – was also among those killed, the BBC understands. Her husband is believed to be critically ill and their two children were also injured.
The injured are being treated at eight Greater Manchester hospitals. Of those, 20 are in a critical condition, and some have lost limbs. The wounded include 12 children aged under 16.
“China downgraded by Moody’s, as Draghi hails eurozone recovery”
Big news from China this morning. Moody’s has downgraded the country’s credit rating for the first time in almost three decades. Moody’s warned that China’s financial strength is likely to deteriorate in the coming years, as its economy slows and its national debt keeps rising.
It’s a one-notch downgrade, from Aa3 (the fourth-highest rating) to A1.
In a statement, Moody’s explains that Beijing is likely to drive borrowing levels higher as it tries to transform China into a consumer-driven economy. And it fears that Beijing’s reforms will not fully offset the rise in economic and financial risk,
As Moody’s put it: The downgrade reflects Moody’s expectation that China’s financial strength will erode somewhat over the coming years, with economy-wide debt continuing to rise as potential growth slows. “While ongoing progress on reforms is likely to transform the economy and financial system over time, it is not likely to prevent a further material rise in economy-wide debt, and the consequent increase in contingent liabilities for the government.” The agency added that debt levels across the Chinese economy are likely to keep climbing: “Moody’s expects that economy-wide leverage will increase further over the coming years. The planned reform program is likely to slow, but not prevent, the rise in leverage.
The importance the authorities attach to maintaining robust growth will result in sustained policy stimulus, given the growing structural impediments to achieving current growth targets. Such stimulus will contribute to rising debt across the economy as a whole.”
The move hit shares in China, sending the Shanghai Composite Index down to its lowest level since last October.
New York Times
“Citigroup Agrees to $97.4 Million Settlement in Money Laundering Inquiry”
For years, Citigroup employees feared that millions of dollars the bank was moving to Mexico might be suspicious. Yet in many cases, the bank did not alert regulators or step up its monitoring for money laundering, federal prosecutors said Monday. Even as the Citigroup unit Banamex USA was growing to dominate remittances from the United States to Mexico, the bank did not properly safeguard its systems from being infiltrated by drug money and other illicit funds, prosecutors said.
On Monday, Citigroup agreed to pay $97.4 million in a settlement after a long federal investigation into Banamex USA. In exchange, the Justice Department will not file criminal charges against the bank in connection with inadequate oversight of Banamex USA, which is based in California. As part of the agreement, Banamex USA “admitted to criminal violations by willfully failing to maintain an effective anti-money-laundering” compliance program, the Justice Department said.
The deal represents the first such agreement between a major bank and the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
In 2015, Citigroup agreed to pay a $140 million fine to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation related to the oversight lapses at Banamex USA. Three former executives at the banking unit have paid tens of thousands of dollars in fines and have been effectively barred from the banking industry.
Citigroup has been closing Banamex USA. On Monday, Citigroup said it expected the troubled unit would cease operations by June 30.