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Former Fed chiefs back bank’s independence after Trump criticism

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Four former US Federal Reserve chairs published an essay on Monday advocating for the independence of the institution, which has been the target of recent criticism by President Donald Trump.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, the four living former Fed chiefs, Paul Volcker, Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen, defended the central bank and its current chair Jerome Powell from Trump’s public criticism.

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“We are united in the conviction that the Fed and its chair must be permitted to act independently and in the best interests of the economy, free of short-term political pressures and, in particular, without the threat of removal or demotion of Fed leaders for political reasons,” they wrote.

The essay never named the president directly, despite his long history of antagonism towards both Powell and the bank.

Last December, he criticized the Fed for raising rates despite signs of a weakening global economy.

He has repeatedly berated the Fed for failing to provide additional juice to the American economy, asserting that if the central bank followed his advice, economic growth would climb substantially from its current rate of two percent, and the stock market would rise 10,000 points.

Economist have cast doubt on Trump’s claims, though many agree with the president’s contention that last year’s rate hike was the wrong move.

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Fed officials have since backtracked and the bank lowered rates on Wednesday for the first time since the Great Recession more than a decade ago.

Yet the move didn’t satisfy Trump, who on Twitter said it fell short of the “aggressive rate-cutting cycle” he wanted.

“As usual, Powell let us down,” he tweeted after the cut.

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The former Fed chiefs acknowledged in their essay that they and their institution had made mistakes, but believed “those decisions were better for being the product of nonpartisan, nonpolitical assessments based on analysis of the longer-run economic interests of US citizens.”

“The Fed’s nonpartisan status doesn’t mean it is unaccountable,” they wrote.

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Five things to watch for at the Grammys

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Music's glitterati will sparkle on the red carpet at this Sunday's Grammy awards, which honors the top hits and artists of the year.

Scandal at the Recording Academy, which puts on the show, has overwhelmed the lead-up to the glam event, but there are still plenty of musical moments to watch for.

Here is our quick guide to the event, which will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles:

- Women poised to lead -

Women dominated at last year's gala and are leading the pack this year as well, with the twerking flautist Lizzo and the teenage goth-pop phenomenon Billie Eilish expected to battle for the top awards.

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Mexican children take up arms in fight against drug gangs

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With baseball caps and scarves covering their faces, only their serious eyes are visible as a dozen children stand to attention, rifles by their side.

In the heart of the violence-plagued Mexican state of Guerrero, learning to use weapons starts at an early age.

In the village of Ayahualtempa, at the foot of a wooded hill, the basketball court serves as a training ground for these youths, aged between five and 15.

The children practice with rifles and handguns or makeshift weapons in various drill positions for a few hours every week.

"Position three!" yells instructor Bernardino Sanchez, a member of the militia responsible for the security of 16 villages in the Guerrero area, which goes by the name of Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities (CRAC-PF).

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Delta fined $50,000 for discriminating against Muslim passengers

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Delta Air Lines was Friday fined $50,000 by the US Department of Transportation to settle allegations it discriminated against three Muslim passengers who were ordered off their planes.

In its consent order, the department said it found Delta "engaged in discriminatory conduct" and violated anti-discrimination laws when it removed the three passengers.

In one incident on July 26, 2016, a Muslim couple were removed from Delta Flight 229 at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris after a passenger told a flight attendant their behavior made her "very uncomfortable and nervous".

"Mrs X" was wearing a head scarf and the passenger said "Mr X" had inserted something into his watch.

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