July 23, 2018 / 11:58 AM / a month ago

Monday Morning Briefing

From the unexpected driving force behind America’s economic boom to alleged Russian agent Butina’s high-level meetings, catch up on the latest news.

FILE PHOTO: Accused Russian agent Maria Butina speaks to camera at 2015 FreedomFest conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., July 11, 2015 in this still image taken from a social media video obtained July 19, 2018. FreedomFest/via REUTERS

Highlights

By almost every measure, the U.S. economy is booming. But a look behind the headlines of roaring job growth and consumer spending reveals how the boom continues in large part by the poorer half of Americans fleecing their savings and piling up debt. As many of the most vulnerable workers sink deeper into the red, the nearly decade-long economic expansion may be more vulnerable to a further spike in gasoline prices or an escalation of trade conflicts.

Exclusive: Maria Butina, accused in the United States of spying for Russia, had wider high-level contacts in Washington than previously known, taking part in 2015 meetings between a visiting Russian official and two senior U.S. officials.

Commentary

Congress has many tools to limit the damage of Trump's approach to Russia, writes Julia Frifield, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state, and David Eckels Wade, former chief of staff to the U.S. State Department. "Congress need not just be a spectator, cheering or heckling from the stands... Whether through investigations, appropriations, legislation, resolutions, hearings or official travel, Congress members have a strong hand to play."

America First means America Withdrawn, writes John Lloyd. While Trump cannot be the leader of the free world, "he could have been the dealer of the free world, taking his 1987 book “The Art of the Deal” and applying to international affairs its precepts on how to get the better of any negotiation." Instead, his performance next to a triumphant Vladimir Putin after their July 16 Helsinki meeting "shamed all (small "d") democrats" and put more than the American republic "at enormous risk."

World

A migrant, intercepted aboard a dinghy off the coast in the Strait of Gibraltar, gestures next to a Spanish flag on a rescue boat after arriving at the port of Algeciras, southern Spain July 22, 2018. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

French President Emmanuel Macron ordered a shake-up of his office after after acknowledging failings in the way the presidency handled a scandal over his top bodyguard who was filmed beating a protester on May Day, a source close to the Elysee said.

The Syrian government condemned the evacuation of hundreds of Syrian White Helmet rescue workers who fled the country with help from Israel into Jordan, calling it a “criminal operation” undertaken by “Israel and its tools”.

Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador sent Trump a letter urging a swift end to NAFTA negotiations and suggesting the leaders could work well together due to their shared anti-establishment style, Mexican officials said.

Pakistani cleric Hafiz Saeed is one of the United States’ most-wanted terrorist suspects, accused over the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. At home, his charities are banned, as is a new Islamist political party launched by his followers. None of that has stopped Saeed from hitting the campaign trail for Pakistan’s July 25 general election, whipping up support for the more than 200 candidates he backs.

Business

The world’s largest oil companies are pumping more natural gas than ever before, helping to spur a rise in profits while sating rising global demand for fuels that can mitigate global greenhouse gas emissions.

New Fiat Chrysler boss Mike Manley faces the task of executing his predecessor’s plan to boost production of SUVs and catch up on electric cars to keep the world’s seventh-largest carmaker competitive in the absence of a merger.

China said the value of its currency is driven by market forces and that it has no intention to devalue the yuan to help exports, after Washington said it was monitoring the currency’s weakness amid the escalating bilateral trade row.

Reuters TV

At least 9 people, including a child, have been shot in a busy neighbourhood in Toronto, Canada. Police say the shooter is dead.

Multiple victims reported in Toronto shooting
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