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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.

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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

Economy to Overcome Other Issues in 2020, says Trump

President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger. 

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U.S. President Donald Trump attends a Keep America Great Rally at the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. VOA

“It’s the economy, stupid” has been a catchphrase of U.S. presidential politics since the 1992 campaign, when Bill Clinton unseated incumbent George H.W. Bush. Nearly three decades later, U.S. President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger.

Trump — in tweets, at political rallies and in remarks to reporters — constantly emphasizes the performance of the U.S. economy, stock market surges, low unemployment rates and his tax cuts to boast he is doing a great job as president.

Economists and political analysts are divided on whether that message will enable the incumbent to stay in office beyond January 2021.

Culture war, partisan split

Ever since Clinton, “we’ve all kind of assumed that should be true. And I think for the most part, it is,” said Ryan McMaken, senior editor and economist at the Mises Institute, a politics and economics research group in Alabama. He cautioned, though, that Trump finds himself on one side of a culture war that his predecessors did not have to confront, as well as a deep partisan divide on consumer confidence.

Walmart Supercentre
Balo Balogun labels items in preparation for a holiday sale at a Walmart Supercenter, in Las Vegas. Black Friday once again kicks off the start of the holiday shopping season. But it will be the shortest season since 2013 because of Thanksgiving falling on the fourth Thursday in November, the latest possible date it can be. VOA

Policy analyst James Pethokoukis at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, a public policy research group, also is cautious about the economy prevailing over all other issues.

“Just having a strong economy is not going to guarantee you re-election,” he said. “People often point back to the 2000 election, which occurred after a decade of tremendous economic growth any way you want to measure it — gross domestic product, jobs and wage growth. And yet, [Clinton’s vice president] Al Gore still lost that election to George W. Bush.”

McMaken questioned whether voters in key swing states — such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio — who cast ballots for Trump in 2016 were experiencing enough of the touted economic performance to vote again for the president.

Overall, however, “it’s not a bad economy to run on if you’re Donald Trump,” said Pethokoukis.

Trump, said to have concerns about the direction of the economy ahead of next November’s election, will likely push for more tax cuts, passage of a renegotiated North American trade pact and continued pressure on the country’s central banking system, the Federal Reserve, to lower interest rates.

A LB Steel LLC's employee manufactures a component
A LB Steel LLC’s employee manufactures a component for new Amtrak Acela trains built in partnership with Alstom in Harvey, Illinois, U.S. VOA

Trouble ahead?

There are rumblings of economic storm clouds on the horizon. The impact can be seen in Trump’s trade war with China, which has hurt U.S. farmers and raised prices for consumer goods. It’s also reflected in the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index, an underperforming U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index and a ballooning record national debt, in addition to the worrying level of money owed to creditors by middle-class Americans.

“We’ve actually been in a sort of a manufacturing recession, seen a shrinkage of factory jobs, the exact kinds of jobs that I’m sure that people voting for the president thought would be a lot better now,” said Pethokoukis.

So far, none of this has prompted a major stock market correction.

“There seems to be a lot of adaptations in the markets to Trump’s America. That may work to his advantage,” said the Mises Institute’s McMaken.

Analysts note a lack of emphasis on economic platforms so far by the leading Democratic U.S. presidential candidates seeking to oust Trump next year.

But such a platform is likely to be touted when the opposition party holds its convention next July in Milwaukee and picks its campaign ticket. Pethokoukis suggested the Democratic Party should devise a plan with a goal to boost American worker productivity, which has flatlined for years.

The great divide

McMaken pointed out that the widening chasm between the well-off and those struggling economically in the United States makes Trump vulnerable — something emphasized by left-leaning Democratic presidential contenders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Donald Trump says the economy isn't doing well
Tents and tarps erected by homeless people are shown along sidewalks and streets in the skid row area of downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S. VOA

“On the ground level, I would say just in general, the economy isn’t doing as well,” concluded McMaken.

ALSO READ: Greed For Power May Demolish The Democracy

Amid an impeachment drive by the Democrats, Trump is repeatedly hammering on a specific message to those questioning his suitability for office while being impressed with the performance of their pension accounts during his presidency.

“Love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me,” Trump said at a rally in New Hampshire in August, warning that Americans’ investments portfolios would go “down the tubes” if he lost next year’s election. (VOA)