News from the note…
A round up of the day’s news that might be of interest to you.
Consider this an OPEN THREAD, folks. Chat about any of the stories listed, share links to stories that caught your eye today, and generally have a good time discussing whatever you want.
From The Hill
NATO’s secretary general reiterated Thursday that allies have committed to spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense without directly commenting on President Trump’s claim that allies agreed to his demand to go higher.
Jens Stoltenberg was repeatedly pressed during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Trump’s claim that allies agreed to increase their defense spending to 4 percent of their GDPs.
In 2014, NATO allies agreed to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense by 2024. Eight allies are meeting or are expected to meet the goal this year, and at least 15 allies will be there in 2024.
But on Wednesday, Trump urged allies in a closed-door meeting to increase their target to 4 percent.
Several reports Thursday indicated he also threatened to withdraw from NATO if other countries did not commit to a spending hike.
In a post-summit press conference, Trump said allies agreed to boost their spending.
Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte insists that Italy hasn’t agreed to any additional financial commitments to NATO amid pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump.
“Italy has inherited spending commitments that we haven’t changed. So there is no additional spending,” Conte told a news conference. However, he said the issue over a better distribution of contribution to the military alliance is legitimate.
However, Conte acknowledged that the issue of imbalance in NATO contributions was real.
“We must consider that NATO has evolved over time. It was born 70 years ago. Its vocation, features, organizational structure and operative strategy have changed. And rightly so, the United States says NATO is more focused on European defense and interests and it doesn’t seem proportionate to maintain this form of contribution.”
From The Hill
An English marketing agency reportedly created a crop circle with a rude message to President Trump along his helicopter path during his visit to the United Kingdom this week.
The crop circle features the phrase “F—- Trump” in Russian, a knock on Trump’s allegedly close working relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as the probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The owner of the Moat Farm in Stoke Mandeville told the local newspaper, The Bucks Herald, on Tuesday that he was approached because of his land.
The farm is situated along Trump’s helicopter route from London to Chequers, the newspaper reported.
A 92-year-old man beaten repeatedly in the face with a brick in Los Angeles on Wednesday thanked the passer-by who took video of the aftermath of the attack that may have helped lead to an arrest in the case.
Rodolfo Rodriguez was out for a walk when he was beaten the night of July 4 on a sidewalk in a tough South Los Angeles neighborhood known as Willowbrook.
Misbel Borjas, who lives in the area, captured a video of Rodriguez as he sat dazed in the grass, his face covered in blood. The video and a photo that Borjas says shows the attacker drew widespread attention in the news media and on social media in the days following.
Greece has ordered the expulsion of two Russian diplomats and barred the entry of two others for allegedly undermining national security, local media report.
The Greek government has accused the Russian officials of acting to obtain and distribute sensitive information.
Russia said on Wednesday it would mirror the move by expelling two Greek diplomats, according to reports.
It marks a rare downturn in diplomatic relations between Athens and Moscow, who have shared close ties for decades.
Greece called for the immediate expulsions amid claims that a number of Russian diplomats were involved in efforts in the country to extract material that could then be used to bribe Greek state officials, the Athens daily Kathimerini reports.
President Donald Trump’s latest steps to slap tariffs on an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods led markets to tumble on Wednesday and raised alarm among U.S. lawmakers and trading partners that an extended conflict could have wide-ranging economic consequences.
In Congress, top Republicans raised concerns over the escalating tariffs and called on Trump to sit down with Chinese President Xi Jinping to address the conflict before it hurts more farmers, consumers and businesses in the world’s two largest economies.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 200 points to end at 24,700.45 after the administration announced plans to impose 10 percent tariffs on thousands more Chinese products, drastically escalating the trade war that has been simmering for months. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index also slid 0.7 percent.
From The Hill
“Trump has done more damage to NATO in 18 months than Soviet & Russian leaders achieved in 7 decades,” McFaul said on Twitter. “Why?”
McFaul’s remarks came not long after the president took aim at Germany shortly after his arrival at the NATO summit over a pipeline deal with Russia. Trump claimed the agreement made Berlin “captive to Russia” and urged NATO to assess the situation.
House Democrats’ plans to interview Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos — the wife of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos — fell through late Wednesday over efforts to reimburse her travel expenses.
Papadopoulos told POLITICO that she had arranged to testify to members of the House Intelligence Committee on July 8 and had even selected flights only to be informed that the committee’s Republican majority was unwilling to fund her transportation from Chicago.
George Papadopoulos — a central figure in the FBI’s decision to launch an investigation of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia — has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller since pleading guilty last year to lying to the FBI about his relationship with Russia-linked professor.
From The Hill
President Trump on Thursday downplayed expected protests during his visit to the United Kingdom, saying he believes its citizens “like me a lot.”
During a press conference before departing the NATO summit for the U.K., Trump was asked how he feels about the planned protests.
“I think it’s fine. I think they like me a lot in the U.K. I think they agree with me on immigration,” Trump said.
He then said that he “at least partially won an election” based on his immigration views, adding that European countries are equally concerned about the issue.
Alexandria Detention Center releases booking photo for former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort after he was transferred to facility ahead of his trial. pic.twitter.com/CYhSCQUb0H
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 12, 2018