In our news wrap Thursday, former President George W. Bush offered a rare public critique of the politics of President Trump -- without naming him -- in a speech in New York City, where Bush made an appeal for a stronger leadership and urged tolerance over division. Also, Russian President Vladimir Putin defended Mr. Trump at a foreign policy forum.
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In the day’s other news: Former President George W. Bush warned today of a slide toward bigotry and isolation in President Trump’s America. Mr. Bush spoke in New York City. He didn’t directly name the president, but warned that the nation is losing its identity.
George W. Bush:
Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication. We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together.
The speech echoed the words of Republican Senator John McCain earlier this week. He urged the rejection of what he called spurious nationalism.
Russian President Vladimir Putin defended President Trump today. At a foreign policy forum, Putin complained of what he called a — quote — “lack of respect” for Mr. Trump. He said it is — quote — “a deplorable element” of the U.S. political system.
Taliban fighters nearly wiped out an army base in Afghanistan today, killing at least 43 soldiers. Attacks elsewhere killed 13 more troops and police. The attack on the army camp came in Kandahar Province and began with two suicide car bombs and lasted for hours.
Gen. Dawlat Waziri:
(through interpreter) The enemies of our country attacked one of our camps in Maiwand district. In total, there were 60 personnel in that camp. All the vehicles and equipment have been destroyed. We have the corps commander in the camp to investigate the incident.
Two days ago, another wave of Taliban attacks targeted police compounds and government facilities, killing at least 74.
The government of Spain served notice today that it will move to strip Catalonia of its autonomy. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called a cabinet meeting for Saturday to trigger the process. That came after the Catalan president warned his region will formally proclaim independence, unless Madrid agrees to negotiate.
Back in this country, the U.S. Senate moved toward passing a $4 trillion budget. It paves the way for a Republican tax cut plan that’s expected to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years.
As debate proceeded, Democrats decried the approach, while most Republicans defended it.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R- S. C.:
To those of you on the Republican side who’ve been claiming we need tax cuts and a simpler tax code, this is your chance. If we don’t succeed now, we’re going to fail for the next — the entire term of President Trump. That will be the end of us as a party.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D- Ore.:
America is strongest when the middle class is prospering. What is on paper today is just an enormous gift to the top of the top, the most fortunate special interests.
The House of Representatives passed its own version of the budget last week.
It’s now estimated that damage from the wildfires in California will top $1 billion. The state insurance commissioner made that estimate today, and predicted it will rise. The spate of fires destroyed nearly 7,000 homes and other buildings.
White nationalist speaker Richard Spencer appeared today at the University of Florida, and drew hundreds of protesters. He’d spoken at the University of Virginia in August, and violence erupted that left one person dead there.
Today, hundreds demonstrated on the Gainesville campus, as hundreds of police kept watch. Inside, Spencer was repeatedly interrupted by chanting protesters.
General Motors agreed to pay $120 million in a settlement over defective ignition switches. It involves 49 states and the District of Columbia. The switches are blamed for at least 124 deaths worldwide.
And Wall Street had a quiet day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained five points to close at 23163. The Nasdaq fell 19 points and the S&P 500 added just a fraction.