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January 7, 2015

In November, the U.S. trade deficit beat expectations to hit an 11-month low. The balance of trade is how much the country imports from other countries versus how much it exports. When the former number is higher, there's a trade deficit. In November of 2014, that gap narrowed to $39 billion — from $42.2 billion that October — beating economists' expectations it would stick around $42 billion. The last time the deficit was this small was when it reached $37.4 billion in December of 2013, though the decrease is probably not enough to stop the deficit from being a drag on the economy.

America's exports actually dropped slightly in November, but imports fell even more, thanks largely to the dropping price of oil and the boom in domestic production. But there are also larger implications: when the U.S. dollar is stronger than other currencies, the trade deficit tends to increase, since it makes American exports more expensive. A trade deficit also means negative national savings by definition, which must be reflected in debt held either by Americans or by the federal government.

The modern trade deficit didn't actually appear until the 1980s, then closed in the early 1990s, and then expanded massively up until the Great Recession. Since then, it's fallen, but only slightly. --Jeff Spross

10:16 a.m. ET

The oldest person in the world, a Japanese woman named Nabi Tajima, died Saturday at the age of 117.

Tajima had been the world's oldest person since September, and she was hospitalized beginning in January. Born on August 4, 1900, Tajima had nine children and about 160 descendants over the course of her life. She was the last person verified to have lived in the 19th century.

The oldest person in the world now is another Japanese woman, one Chiyo Miyako. She will turn 117 next month. Bonnie Kristian

10:08 a.m. ET

President Trump made a pair of posts on U.S.-North Korea nuclear negotiations on Twitter Sunday, apparently in response to his morning's viewing of cable news:

While North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did announce Saturday he would cease nuclear and missile testing and shutter a testing site, he has not agreed to denuclearize as Trump claimed.

Many experts consider denuclearization an unrealistic aim, as Pyongyang considers a nuclear arsenal its best insurance against forcible regime change. North Korean state media reports have pointed to the U.S.-orchestrated ousters of Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Libya's Moammar Gadhafi as evidence that "powerful nuclear deterrence serves as the strongest treasure sword for frustrating outsider's aggression." Bonnie Kristian

8:12 a.m. ET
Jung Yeon-je/Getty Images

While President Trump has in public enthusiastically praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's Saturday announcement that he would cease nuclear and missile testing and shutter a testing site, behind closed doors, the Trump administration is reportedly unsure of how to interpret Kim's offer.

White House aides are skeptical of the freeze proposal, The Washington Post and The New York Times both reported Saturday evening. They worry Kim's concession will create an "illusion" of cooperation without making all the changes — including total denuclearization, which many experts consider to be an unrealistic aim — the administration hopes to secure in upcoming Trump-Kim talks.

"The reality is that North Korea has nuclear weapons, and we have to deal with that reality," Toby Dalton, co-director of nuclear policy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the Post. "The gap between reality and what we're planning for is problematic," he argues, "as it creates expectations that can't be met in the summit process, and we're back to where we were." Bonnie Kristian

7:51 a.m. ET
Shah Marai/Getty Images

At least 31 people were killed and more than 50 wounded by a suicide bombing at a voter registration center in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which targeted would-be voters lining up to receive ID cards for a parliamentary election scheduled for October.

"There were women, children," said Bashir Ahmad, who was nearby when the bomb exploded. "Everyone had come to get their identity cards." This is the deadliest attack Afghanistan has suffered since January.

Afghanistan's chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, condemned the incident on Twitter. "I stand with those affected by this coward attack," he wrote. "Our resolve for fair and transparent election will continue and terrorists won't win against the will of the Afghan people." Bonnie Kristian

April 21, 2018

A neo-Nazi march is scheduled for Saturday in the small Georgia city of Newnan, about 40 miles southwest of Atlanta. Anti-fascist counter-protesters are expected as well, and a local church will hold an interfaith service to promote "peace and unity" during the rally.

To prepare for the event, local shopkeepers have removed anything that could be moved or thrown in public spaces, and many will not open for business to decrease opportunities for conflict. Many Newnan residents went shopping the night before to help make up the missing revenue.

And a community nonprofit invited children to make chalk drawings in the local park to undermine the neo-Nazis' message: "It will be hard for the hate group to take serious video footage when a rainbow-colored unicorn is in the shot." Bonnie Kristian

April 21, 2018

An estimated 1,500 mourners turned out for the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston on Saturday.

Her widower, former President George H.W. Bush, was joined by former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura; former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle; and former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary. First lady Melania Trump attended without President Trump — sitting presidents typically do not go to funerals of former first ladies — who tweeted about the funeral from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida:

Barbara Bush died Tuesday at 92 after electing not to receive further treatment for multiple ailments. Read The Week's Matthew Walther on her life here. Bonnie Kristian

April 21, 2018

Queen Elizabeth turned 92 on Saturday, marking the day with several military salutes and a concert in the evening. She is the oldest British monarch by more than a decade, easily outpacing runner-up Queen Victoria, who lived to be 81.

Though April 21 is the actual day of her birth, Elizabeth officially celebrates her birthday on June 9, a tradition that dates to King George II, who wanted to celebrate with good weather in the summer instead of his real birthday month, November. The summer birthday is marked with a large parade in London.

On Thursday, Elizabeth formally endorsed her son, Prince Charles, to be the next leader of the Commonwealth. "It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations and will decide that one day the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949," she said. Bonnie Kristian

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