Trump in Europe, says Putin ‘eas­i­est’ of his meet­ings


BRUS­SELS — With Europe’s wary eyes upon him, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump launched a week­long trip there on Tues­day with harsh crit­i­cism for NATO al­lies and pre­dicted the “eas­i­est” leg of his jour­ney would be his sched­uled sit­down with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

As he de­parted the White House for a four-na­tion Euro­pean tour, Trump did lit­tle to re­as­sure al­lies fret­ting over the risk of dam­age he could do to the 69-year-old trans-At­lantic mu­tual de­fense pact and his po­ten­tial em­brace of Putin dur­ing a sum­mit in Helsinki.

Trump said Tues­day he “can’t say right now” if Putin is a friend or foe, but called him a “com­peti­tor.” The U.S. intelligence com­mu­nity has con­cluded that Rus­sia in­ter­fered in the 2016 elec­tion to boost Trump’s can­di­dacy, and warns of fur­ther at­tempts at in­ter­fer­ence both in the 2018 midterms and in Euro­pean elec­tions.

Trump ar­rived in Brus­sels on the eve of the NATO sum­mit af­ter re­peated at­tacks on the pact. He told re­porters in Wash­ing­ton be­fore leav­ing that “Frankly it helps them a lot more than it helps us” and then later tweeted from Air Force One that he may de­mand re­im­burse­ments from the Euro­pean mem­ber nations.

Trump has been press­ing NATO coun­tries to ful­fill their goal of spend­ing that 2 per­cent of their gross do­mes­tic prod­ucts on de­fense by 2024. Dur­ing his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, he sug­gested he might only come to the de­fense of NATO nations that ful­filled their obli­ga­tion. And a year ago, dur­ing his first visit to its Bel­gium head­quar­ters, Trump ini­tially de­clined to ex­plic­itly sup­port the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s de­fense agree­ment.

Trump will later head to Lon­don, where Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s gov­ern­ment is in tur­moil over her plans for ex­it­ing the Euro­pean Union.

Euro­pean Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk said on Tues­day in a mes­sage to Trump that “it is al­ways worth know­ing who is your strate­gic friend and who is your strate­gic prob­lem.” Tusk re­called that the Euro­peans are spend­ing more than Rus­sia and as much as China on de­fense. NATO es­ti­mates that 15 mem­bers, or just over half, will meet the benchmark by 2024 based on cur­rent trends.

“Get­ting ready to leave for Europe. First meet­ing — NATO. The U.S. is spend­ing many times more than any other coun­try in or­der to pro­tect them,” Trump tweeted Tues­day morn­ing, ad­ding: “Not fair to the U.S. tax­payer. On top of that we lose $151 Bil­lion on Trade with the Euro­pean Union. Charge us big Tar­iffs (& Bar­ri­ers)!”

On Mon­day he’d tweeted the sit­u­a­tion was “not fair, nor is it ac­cept­able,” and in­sisted that NATO ben­e­fits Europe “far more than it does the U.S.”

He added: “NATO coun­tries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS. Very Un­fair!”

Trump, who has com­pared the sen­ti­ment that un­der­pinned the Brexit vote to leave the EU to his own elec­tion, will be mak­ing his maiden pres­i­den­tial trip to Bri­tain at a fraught time for May. For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son and Brexit Sec­re­tary David Davis re­signed within hours of each other in protest of her plan.

Trump’s visit is ex­pected to at­tract large protests in Lon­don and else­where in Bri­tain.

Trump’s week­long trip to Europe will con­tinue with a stop in Scot­land be­fore end­ing with a sit-down in Helsinki with Putin.

He said that of the high­stakes meet­ings of his trip, “Putin may be the eas­i­est of them all.”

WASH­ING­TON — The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is ready­ing tar­iffs on an­other $200 bil­lion in Chi­nese im­ports, rang­ing from bur­glar alarms to mack­erel, es­ca­lat­ing a trade war be­tween the world’s two big­gest economies.

The Of­fice of the U.S. Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive pro­posed 10 per­cent tar­iffs Tues­day on a list of 6,031 Chi­nese prod­uct lines.

The of­fice will ac­cept pub­lic com­ments and hold hear­ings on the plan Aug. 20-23 be­fore reach­ing a de­ci­sion af­ter Aug. 31, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial who briefed re­porters on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Last Fri­day, the U.S. im­posed 25 per­cent tar­iffs on $34 bil­lion in Chi­nese prod­ucts, and Bei­jing re­sponded by hit­ting the same amount of U.S. im­ports.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion said the new levies are a re­sponse to China’s de­ci­sion to re­tal­i­ate against the first round of U.S. tar­iffs.

Baby killed, dozens hurt when tor­nado hits North Dakota city

WAT­FORD CITY, N.D. — A new­born baby was killed and more than two dozen peo­ple were in­jured when a tor­nado whipped through a North Dakota oil patch city overnight, over­turn­ing recre­ational ve­hi­cles and de­mol­ish­ing more than 100 struc­tures, of­fi­cials said Tues­day.

The storm moved through Wat­ford City, in the north­west­ern part of the state, shortly af­ter mid­night, hit­ting an RV park the hard­est, ac­cord­ing to sher­iff’s of­fi­cials. About 20 of the re­ported 28 in­jured were stay­ing at the Prairie View RV Park where high winds over­turned some campers and dam­aged mo­bile homes.

McKen­zie County Sher­iff Gary Schwartzen­berger told The Bis­marck Tri­bune late Tues­day that a one­week-old boy died from in­juries sus­tained when the fam­ily’s trailer home flipped in the storm.

Na­tional Weather Ser­vice me­te­o­rol­o­gist John Paul Martin clas­si­fied the tor­nado as an EF2, which is de­fined by winds speeds be­tween 111 and 135 mph.

Video shows mo­ment of Clooney crash, ac­tor thrown in air

OL­BIA, Sar­dinia — Ac­tor Ge­orge Clooney slammed his mo­tor­bike into an on­com­ing car that turned sud­denly into his lane Tues­day and was thrown sev­eral me­ters (yards) in the air on the Ital­ian is­land of Sar­dinia, ac­cord­ing to video of the crash.

“He is re­cov­er­ing at his home and will be fine,” Clooney spokesman Stan Rosen­field said.

Sur­veil­lance video of the crash, ap­par­ently taken by a fixed se­cu­rity video, was ob­tained late Tues­day by the news­pa­per Cor­riere della Sera. It shows a blue Mercedes veer­ing into on­com­ing traf­fic ap­par­ently to

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