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Suspect In The U.S. Mail-Bomb Investigation Detained

The first in the series of explosive devices was found Monday in a mailbox outside the New York home of billionaire philanthropist George Soros

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A package containing a "live explosive device," according to police, received at the Time Warner Center which houses the CNN New York bureau, in New York City, is shown in this handout picture provided. VOA

U.S. authorities on Friday detained a person they believe is connected to at least 12 suspicious packages sent to Democratic politicians and critics of President Donald Trump, a U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman announced.

More details of the arrest are expected to be released at a news conference later today.

Earlier Friday, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation said Friday a suspicious package addressed to Democratic Senator Cory Booker was found.

The FBI said the package was similar to the crude pipe bombs that were addressed to former President Barack Obama, other high-profile Democrats and critics of of President Trump. The law enforcement agency said the package was found in Florida.

New York police said a twelfth suspicious package targeting former National Intelligence Director James Clapper was also found Friday at a post office in Manhattan.

Clapper said on CNN early Friday he was not surprised he was targeted and said the incidents were “serious.”

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A member of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad walks to the building where U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office is housed in Sunrise, Florida,. VOA

Federal investigators searched a massive U.S. mail sorting facility in Florida late Thursday, after determining that at least one of the pipe bombs was processed there.

A report in the Miami Herald says the package that ended up in the office of U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz is “likely” the package in question, according to a federal law enforcement official familiar with the case.

Before arriving in Schultz’s office, however, the mail bomb was initially sent to the office of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in Washington, but was not delivered and was sent to the return address, which was Schultz’s address. It was processed through the massive Opa-locka mail sorting facility in Florida, The Herald reports.

Investigators are expressing confidence they will identify who is responsible for sending the 10 pipe bombs.

“We will identify and arrest the person or people responsible for these acts,” New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill told reporters Thursday.

FBI laboratory

All of the “suspected explosive devices” were being taken to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s laboratory at the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia, O’Neill said.

“We are discovering things by the hour,” he added at a news conference where other officials also said tips from the public were providing leads for investigators.

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FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House. VOA

FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney, who is in charge of the bureau’s New York field office, said “the investigation is still in its early stages,” thus he would not provide specific answers to the media about possible suspects or whether the pipe bombs were properly wired to explode.

Investigators are specifically looking at the southern part of the state of Florida as a source of some of the packages, according to media reports.

U.S. President Donald Trump is largely blaming the media for the angry political atmosphere in America that critics contend has led to what is being regarded as a wide-scale assassination attempt.

Early Friday, Trump posted on twitter.

“Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, “it’s just not Presidential!”

“A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”

Trump’s tweet Thursday came as suspected explosive devices addressed to actor Robert De Niro and former Vice President Joe Biden were found Thursday.

Donald Trump, U.S.
President Donald Trump talks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, before leaving for Wheeling, W.Va. VOA

Other packages have been addressed to former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as a former U.S. attorney general, two Democratic Party members of Congress and former Central Intelligence Director John Brennan.

What police described as a live explosive device that arrived in an envelope addressed to Brennan at CNN’s New York bureau prompted the evacuation of the Time Warner Center for hours on Wednesday.

Pressed by reporters Thursday on whether there could be a link between Trump insulting political opponents and the dispatch of the bombs,White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders replied, “the president is certainly not responsible for sending suspicious packages to someone no more than (Democratic Party U.S. Senator) Bernie Sanders was responsible for a supporter of his shooting up a baseball field practice last year.”

Throughout the day on Wednesday, leaders from both the major parties called for a return to civility in the political arena.

The Secret Service says the package addressed to Clinton was discovered late Tuesday, intercepted at a mail screening facility near her home in a New York suburb where she lives with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

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Officers watch over the scene outside the Time Warner Center, Oct. 24, 2018, in New York. Law enforcement officials say a suspicious package that prompted an evacuation of CNN’s offices is believed to contain a pipe bomb. VOA

A separate package addressed to Obama, according to the Secret Service, was intercepted at a screening facility at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, a 365-hectare military facility in Washington.

Also Read: President Donald Trump Key Force In Driving The Midterms Elections

California Congresswoman Maxine Waters was sent two suspect packages, one intended for her office in the nation’s capital and the other for her home district office. The first was intercepted at a congressional mail sorting center in the state of Maryland, and the second discovered by postal inspectors at the Los Angeles Central Mail Sorting Facility.

The first in the series of explosive devices was found Monday in a mailbox outside the New York home of billionaire philanthropist George Soros, a major donor to Democratic candidates. (VOA)

Next Story

U.S. President Donald Trump Announces Military Deal With India

Trump Announces Military Deal With India, Expresses Optimism For Trade Pact

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Donald Trump, Narendra Modi
President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shake hands during a "Namaste Trump," event at Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium. VOA

By Steve Heman

President Donald Trump said Monday the United States will sign an agreement to sell $3 billion worth of U.S. helicopters and other equipment to India’s military.

The announcement came as Trump spoke at a welcome rally in the city of Ahmedabad, where a crowd of more than 100,000 people had gathered to hear from him and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Ahead of the visit, Trump had said a new major trade deal between the two countries would not be part of this trip.  But in his address he promised the two countries will be making “among the biggest ever trade deals,” and said he is optimistic that he and Modi can reach “a good, even great deal” for both sides.

Modi also struck an optimistic note about a potential trade agreement, saying ties were expanding in spheres ranging from defense, the energy sector and information technology, and that a resurgent India would present new opportunities for the U.S.

Donald Trump, Narendra Modi
President Donald Trump, with first lady Melania Trump, pause as they tour the Taj Mahal. VOA

Calling the two countries “natural partners,” Modi said they can help bring peace, progress and security not just in the Indo Pacific region, but in the entire world.

“We are inspired by a long-term vision, not just short term considerations,” Modi said.

Modi hailed President Trump’s visit saying it marks a new chapter between the two countries. “India-U.S. relations are no longer just another partnership. It is a far greater and closer relationship,” the Indian leader said.

“There is so much that we share, shared values and ideas, shared spirit of enterprise and innovation, shared opportunities and challenges, shared hopes and aspirations,” according to Modi.

Trump began his address by uttering the Indian greeting “Namaste,” and said that India “will always hold a special place in our hearts.”

“America loves India.  America respects India.  And America will always be faithful and loyal friends to the Indian people,” Trump said.

He celebrated India as a successful democracy, and said both countries are committed to working together to fight terrorism.

“Our borders will always be closed to terrorists and terrorism and all forms of extremism,” Trump said.

Trump’s visit began with a red carpet-welcome at the airport in Ahmedabad, in Modi’s home state of Gujarat.  Thousands of people then cheered along a motorcade route as Trump and Modi traveled a short distance to a stop at Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram.

Pre-trip beautification effort

Donald Trump, Narendra Modi
U.S. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrive at the new Motera cricket stadium. VOA

A small army of workers was deployed ahead of Trump’s visit to Ahmedabad to build a 400-meter-long wall along the motorcade route to block the view of where poor people live. The hurried beautification project also includes the placement of about 150,000 flowerpots.

After the stadium event in Ahmedabad and before heading to New Delhi, the president and first lady Melania Trump made a visit to the country’s most famous tourist attraction – the Taj Mahal – where they were given a tour of the site.

Indian media reported Agra will be on lockdown for the visit, although there is concern about controlling the menacing monkeys roaming the grounds of the 17th-century Mughal marble mausoleum.

“The forest department has been requested to ensure that the monkeys stay away from the Taj during Donald Trump’s visit,” Archaeological Survey of India Superintending Archaeologist Vasant Kumar Swarnkar was quoted telling India Today.

While Trump expressed his optimism for a trade deal, he said last week he was “saving the big deal for later on.”

There is mutual agreement on dozens of elements for the pact, but several contentious sectors are unresolved, including medical devices, according to sources close to the talks.

“Whether or not there will be an announcement on a trade package is, really, wholly dependent upon what the Indians are prepared to do,” a senior administration official told reporters on Friday. “That said, we have a number of significant commercial deals, which are of great significance that we’re very pleased to announce in a number of key sectors.”

Indian officials are said to be perplexed that U.S. officials halted trade negotiations just prior to the Trump visit, expressing a view that Washington pursued brinkmanship that failed in the face of a more patient India, which is the world’s fifth biggest economy.

“There’s no great hurry here” to finalize a trade pact, retired veteran senior Indian diplomat T.P. Sreenivasan in India told VOA.

“I was personally a little bit surprised that the two sides weren’t able to get this deal done,” Jeff Smith, South Asia research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said.

Donald Trump, Narendra Modi
U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave as they depart after a “Namaste Trump,” event. VOA

Bilateral talks

In India’s capital, bilateral talks are to focus on contemporary concerns.

Indian officials could raise Trump’s hard line on immigration.

“They view the immigration issue — whether it is offering visas to students or the H-1B highly skilled visas or the green card issue — as becoming worse in the last four years,” Pande told VOA.

It is uncertain whether Trump will discuss the issue of Kashmir.

Six months after Modi ended Kashmir’s special status under India’s constitution, local politicians there remain detained and internet service is restricted.

Trump “is not always very thoughtful when he talks about such issues, particularly Kashmir. So that’s a bee in his bonnet and it’s going to come up in some form,” Sreenivasan, a former Indian ambassador to the United Nations, predicted.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for Trump to help resolve the dispute between the two nuclear-armed neighbors over Kashmir, something the U.S. president has previously indicated he is willing to do. But Modi has strongly rebuffed offers from third parties to mediate.

Indian officials are apprehensive about Trump commenting on the Kashmir issue during the visit.

“He might say that ‘I’m a great deal-maker and I can resolve Kashmir.’ But let’s hope he doesn’t,” Pande, of the Hudson Institute, said.

Some members of the U.S. Congress are also expressing concern about Modi’s controversial move to give Indian citizenship to immigrants from three neighboring countries — unless they are Muslims.

Trump, during the India visit, will raise such matters, particularly the religious freedom issue, which is extremely important to this administration,” according to a senior administration official.

“Attempts to lecture, coerce, punish, intervene in India’s affairs have traditionally not been particularly effective,” Smith, of the Heritage Foundation, said.

Trump will be the fourth consecutive U.S. president to travel to India, continuing the shift in allegiance by Washington to Delhi from India’s arch-rival and neighbor.

Khan, after a recent meeting with Trump during the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, said the U.S. president also promised to visit Pakistan soon.

Also Read- Realme Unveils First 5G Smartphone in India Named “X50 Pro 5G”

If “there is no complementary visit to Pakistan or no side agreement on some other way to assuage concerns there, then I think Pakistan will take it as a slight,” said Richard Russow, senior adviser for U.S.-India policy studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (VOA)