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FBI missed signals for Florida massacre due to Russia probe

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President Donald Trump took his battle with the FBI to a new level late Saturday night, when he tweeted that the bureau was too caught up in the Russia probe and failed to see the signals leading to Wednesday’s shooting massacre at a south Florida high school.

“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable,” the president tweeted. “They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion.”

Trump was referring to the FBI’s admission earlier this week that it failed to investigate a Jan. 5 tip that warned that Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old man who is accused of killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., posed a deadly threat.

The information was not passed to the bureau’s Miami field office. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a review of the FBI’s handling of the matter. Florida Gov. Rick Scott called on FBI DIrector Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee, to resign.

For his part, Wray said earlier this week: “We have spoken with victims and families, and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy.”

The FBI has 35,000 employees, including special agents and various other staffers. A representative of the bureau was not immediately available for comment.

Trump has routinely targeted the FBI for criticism as a probe into potential collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Kremlin has cast a shadow over his presidency.

In May, he fired then-FBI Director James Comey, and then told NBC’s Lester Holt that he had been thinking about the Russia probe when he decided to sack him. In January, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, whom Trump often accused of political bias, retired from the agency. McCabe also led the FBI on an interim basis before Wray was confirmed to replace Comey.

The president’s tweet Saturday night follows a slew of federal grand jury indictments Friday that stem from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to take over the probe last year after Trump fired Comey. Trump has repeatedly denied collusion and has called the investigation a “witch hunt” and a “hoax.”

Trump changed his tune somewhat Friday, acknowledging Russian efforts to interfere in U.S. affairs while claiming that the indictments had vindicated him.

“Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President,” Trump tweeted late Friday evening. “The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”

In a press conference Friday, Rosenstein said this particular indictment didn’t have any allegation of American involvement or impact on the election. The special counsel accused 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities of meddling in the 2016 election, with the intention of sowing chaos and aiding Trump’s push for the White House.



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Stocks waver as Wall Street goes for its first weekly gain of the month

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Stocks were little changed on Friday as Wall Street tried to recover from another sharp sell-off in major technology names. The market was also on pace for its first weekly gain of the month. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 31 points, or 0.1%. The S&P 500 was flat and the Nasdaq Composite climbed by 0.3%.

Friday’s moves come as a series of individual stock, ETF and index options are set to expire. This could lead to volatile trading as small and large investors alike unwind these positions ahead of the expirations. 

Shares of Facebook rose 1.4%. Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet were all higher as well. Oracle, meanwhile, slipped 0.3% after the U.S. government said it will block all TikTok and WeChat downloads in the country on Sunday. Oracle is trying to finalize a partnership deal with TikTok-parent ByteDance.

Big Tech struggled in the previous session, dragging down the broader market and adding to its steep September drop. Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple have all lost at least 10% month to date. 

Investors also remained on edge about the outlook on further coronavirus stimulus as well as the timing of a viable vaccine. Republicans and Democrats are still struggling to agree on how much aid to continue to provide in a follow-up bill to the previous $2 trillion package. President Donald Trump said Wednesday he liked “the larger numbers,” urging GOP lawmakers to go for a bigger coronavirus stimulus, but his comments left Republicans skeptical.

“The signs point to a decelerating U.S. economic recovery and increasing thematic risks,” analysts at MarketDesk Research said in a note. “It feels as if the bullish market narrative is changing in real time. Given all of the headline risks, we would error on the side of caution in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, the path to a Covid-19 vaccine, which is critical to the economic recovery, still seems unclear. Health officials said vaccinations would be in limited quantities this year and not widely distributed for six to nine months.

“A safe and transparent vaccination process is critical to encouraging widespread inoculations once effective vaccines are identified and tested.” Mark Haefele, UBS Global Wealth Management’s chief investment officer, said in a note. “In our central scenario, we expect widespread vaccine availability by 2Q21.”

Still, the major averages were set to snap two-week losing streaks despite the uncertainties surrounding the market and economic outlook. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were up about 0.5% week to date heading into Friday’s session. The Dow was up 0.85% for the week. 

“‘Buying weakness and selling strength’ has been the only trustworthy trend over the last two weeks,” said Frank Cappelleri, executive director at Instinet, in a note. This trend, Cappelleri said, has kept the S&P 500 moving in a range of about 100 points recently. 

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‘Pandemic fatigue’ leads to resurgence of coronavirus in Europe

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Coronavirus live updates: Israel locks down again ahead of High Holidays; EU strikes vaccine deal with Sanofi, GSK

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The coronavirus has infected more than 30.2 million people globally as of Friday, killing at least 946,685 people so far.

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