Explosion at New York City's Port Authority

Suspect in custody following explosion at New York station

Lots of emergency responders on 8th Ave.
between 42nd and 43rd streets. 

NEW YORK - An explosion struck the Port Authority bus terminal at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue on Monday morning, the New York Police Department said in a tweet.

One male suspect is in custody following an explosion early Monday at New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal near Times Square, according to preliminary information from the New York Police Department.

New York police immediately provided a heavy response.
The suspect, whose identity has not yet been released, sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the blast, fire officials said. No other injuries have been reported, police said.

Some kind of explosive device detonated at the A/C/E Port Authority subway stop around 7:30 a.m. Monday, an NYPD spokesperson said. All subways that typically stop at the Port Authority are bypassing the station. Authorities have temporarily closed the Port Authority Bus Terminal, a major transportation hub for New York City residents and visitors near Times Square, and several train lines have been rerouted or suspended.

PRESIDENT Trump has been briefed after an explosion at the New York Port Authority station during Monday morning rush hour.

Port Authority Police watch as people evacuate after a reported
explosion at the Port Authority Bus Terminal
A law enforcement official told AP that a man had explosive device strapped on when it exploded in New York City subway around 7:30am. The person was arrested and has non-life threatening injuries.

New York police confirmed one male suspect is in custody and there are “no injuries other than the suspect at this time.” Locals are being urged to avoid the area.

A police officer near the scene said: “There was an explosion under Port Authority somewhere in the subway. That’s all we’ve got for now.”

Local media reported that a man with a “possible second device” has been detained in a subway tunnel, however, this has not yet been confirmed by police.

Commuter Diego Fernandez, who was caught up in the chaos, said: “There was a stampede up the stairs to get out...Everybody was scared and running and shouting.”

The explosion happened during rush hour
The enormous bus and train station is one of the busiest in New York and connects Manhattan to New Jersey. It’s located directly opposite the New York Times office and is just two blocks from Times Square in the heart of mid-town.

Police closed off the busy 8th avenue surrounding the station within minutes and footage from the scene showed an orderly evacuation.

Earlier, police confirmed they were investigating an explosion of “unknown origin” in

Manhattan, and that people were being evacuated from several train lines.

Police and other first responders respond to an explosion at the
Port Authority Bus Terminal.
“The NYPD is responding to reports of an explosion of unknown origin at 42nd Street and 8th Ave, #Manhattan. The A, C and E line are being evacuated at this time. Info is preliminary, more when available,” the New York police department wrote on their Twitter account.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the President had been briefed on the explosion. New York Mayor Bill De Blasio has also been briefed.

Local media reports said the explosion came from a suspected pipe bomb and battery pack, however, this has not been confirmed by police.

The event comes after eight people were killed and 11 injured after a 29-year-old man drove a white truck down a cycle lane into people on Halloween.

Sayfullo Saipov pleaded not guilty to murder and other criminal charges.

The only person injured was the suspect, Police said

Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital explained

“Today we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.”

President Trump just officially declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel, upending decades of US diplomacy and threatening to spark massive unrest across the Muslim world.

Speaking in the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room, Trump also announced his plan to eventually relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and begin the difficult logistical work of building a new diplomatic facility in the disputed city.

“Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like any other sovereign nation to determine its own capital,” Trump said. “Acknowledging this is a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.”

Trump described Jerusalem as the capital that “the Jewish people established in ancient times,” a line that may anger those in the Arab world who minimize, or deny, that Jews have had a historic connection to the city for millennia.

Still, Trump’s speech was decidedly less inflammatory than it could have been. The president said the US “would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides” - at least nominally maintaining Washington’s commitment to a cornerstone of US foreign policy for decades - and called on both sides to maintain the existing status quo in the city.

And although Trump declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital, he explicitly didn’t call it the undivided capital of Israel, leaving the door open for Israelis and Palestinians to divide the city during any final status negotiations between the two sides. In advance of the speech, White House officials repeatedly stressed that Trump’s announcement doesn’t represent a change US policy on the future borders of Jerusalem.

Here’s why that linguistic choice is so important. Both the Palestinians and the Israelis claim Jerusalem as their capital, and the city contains sites sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Though Israel’s parliament and the prime minister’s home are in Jerusalem, they sit in West Jerusalem, on the side of the city Israel has controlled since 1949. Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed that half of the city.

The international community considers East Jerusalem occupied territory. But that half of the city also contains sites holy to all three major monotheistic religions, including the Western Wall, the holiest place in the world where Jews can openly pray, and Haram al-Sharif, Arabic for “the Noble Sanctuary,” a sacred site for Muslims that Israelis refer to as the Temple Mount.

The Palestinians want to officially divide the city and make East Jerusalem the capital of a future Palestinian state. The Israelis, to put it mildly, disagree - and the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long made clear that it wouldn’t even consider making concessions over Jerusalem.

The decades-long political fight over the future of the city is what makes Trump’s new move so momentous - and so dangerous.

World leaders from France to Saudi Arabia to China had cautioned Trump against the decision. Pope Francis even weighed in, calling on world leaders to let “wisdom and prudence prevail” so as “to avoid adding new elements of tension.” The US Consulate in Jerusalem issued a security warning barring all US government employees and their families from traveling to Jerusalem’s Old City or the West Bank ahead of the announcement because “widespread demonstrations” were expected.

But even though Trump’s speech ultimately didn’t go quite as far as many had expected, it may be too late to change perceptions that the Trump administration has unequivocally aligned itself with Israel. In other words, the damage may already be done.

Trump is touching the third rail of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The status of Jerusalem has been a source of both division and contention for decades. During most of the 1990s - including during the creation of the Oslo peace accords between the Israelis and the Palestinians - negotiations over the final status of the city were left for the future to avoid derailing the rest of the talks.

In 2000, negotiations between then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat reportedly came close to dividing the city between the two peoples. The Israelis would have retained control over the Western Wall, and the Palestinians would have been given control of Haram al-Sharif, the third-holiest site in Islam.

Final negotiations reportedly broke down over questions of who would control a maze of underground tunnels that run beneath Jerusalem’s Old City.

There have been no recent negotiations over the city for a simple and grim reason: Despite the official US government line, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been largely on hold for years, with no indications that they’ll resume anytime soon.

In the meantime, Jerusalem has retained the uniquely strange status of a city without a country. Americans born in the city must put “Jerusalem” rather than “Israel” on their passports. That’s because the nationality of the entire city remains contested, which is a source of deep fury for many Israelis and American Jews.

The specific wording of Trump’s speech matters

Though Trump affirmed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, he didn’t called it the undivided capital of Israel - suggesting the US would still support potentially dividing Jerusalem between the Israelis and the Palestinians as part of future peace negotiations.

Indeed, he explicitly stated that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty and Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations of a future peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis.

“We are not taking a position of any final status issues including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders,” Trump said.

That matters. For years, official US policy has been support for a two-state solution, with the final status of Jerusalem to be decided as part of a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Had Trump chosen to go further and declare Jerusalem to be the undivided capital of Israel, it would have sent the message that the US has taken a clear position on Jerusalem’s final status.

“[N]o issue seems to put Arab leaders more on the defensive than Jerusalem,” Middle East experts David Makovsky and Dennis Ross wrote in advance of Trump’s speech. “Because the administration needs these leaders to play a role in any renewed peace effort, it should avoid any moves that look like Washington is preempting negotiations and adopting Israel's position on the city.”

The damage may already be done

Even though Trump exercised uncharacteristic caution in how he worded his speech, the damage may already be done. That’s because news of Wednesday’s announcement leaked out several days earlier, immediately sparking fury in much of the Arab world.

On Tuesday, Palestinian leaders called for three “days of rage” to protest the decision, and demonstrations had already broken out in the Gaza Strip and a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, before Trump even spoke.

“Trump's tone is at least as important as his substance,” Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, tweeted in advance of Trump’s speech. “But it may be neither will matter v[ery] much, because the framing of his statement in the region has largely already happened.”


Michael Flynn Has Been Charged With Lying During The Russian Investigation

Mike Flynn to plead guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with Russia

former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn

Former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will plead guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian government officials.

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has scheduled a plea hearing for Flynn that is set to take place at 10:30 a.m. ET. In the hearing, Flynn will plead guilty to making “materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent” statements to FBI agents this past January.

Mueller’s prosecutors have been investigating a wide range of potential charges against Flynn. The agreement to plead to one count comes amid recent signs that the former Trump advisor was now cooperating with investigators.

Specifically, Flynn falsely told the FBI that he did not tell the Russian ambassador to the United States that the country should “refrain” from escalating tensions between the two countries in the wake of new sanctions leveled against it by the outgoing Obama administration.

The Russian government did not retaliate against the Obama administration’s new sanctions late last year, and President Trump himself praised this decision as “very smart” on Twitter.

The Trump tweet was subsequently promoted by the Russian embassy of the United States’ official Twitter account.

Speculation about Flynn cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe spiked in late October when the special counsel hit former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort with an indictment that included money laundering allegations.

Flynn resigned as national security adviser this past February, less than a month into Trump’s first term, when it was revealed that he had lied about conversations he’d had with Russian officials about potential sanctions relief.

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