Thursday morning news: April 19, 2018

Top secret talks with North Korea ongoing » President Trump is optimistic that the U.S. will be able to work with North Korea to avoid a military conflict. The president struck a confident tone this week, as he confirmed that the United States is talking directly with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

TRUMP: We have had direct talks at very high levels, extremely high levels, with North Korea. And I really believe there’s a lot of good will. 

Trump heard there from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where he hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for two days of meetings, North Korea among the topics they discussed.

The Trump administration continues to lay the groundwork for a possible face-to-face meeting between Trump and Kim. The president said they’ve narrowed down possible venues for that meeting.

TRUMP: We’ve picked five sites where it’s potentially going to be. We’ll let you know fairly soon.

That meeting is tentatively slated for early June but the White House cautions that it’s not a done deal and the meet could still be called off if the two sides can’t agree on an agenda.

Meantime, lawmakers are reacting to news that CIA Director Mike Pompeo held a top secret meeting with Kim Jong Un over Easter weekend.

Republican Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says he’s fine with it.

CORKER: I’ve know for a long, long time that the backchannels that we have with North Korea have been through our intelligence agencies and the CIA in particular.

But Pompeo is also President Trump’s nominee to succeed Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and Senator Bob Menendez—that committee’s top Democrat—said Pompeo should have found a way, during last week’s confirmation hearing to tell lawmakers about his meeting with Kim.

MENENDEZ: He was less than forthcoming, because he could have said listen I have some unique insights here on North Korea. He could have said I’d love to discuss that with you in a classified setting.

NTSB investigating Southwest engine explosion » The National Transportation Safety Board says they have preliminary results in the investigation into the cause of a fatal engine explosion on board a Southwest Airlines flight this week. NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said Wednesday that investigators found “evidence of metal fatigue” and a malfunction of a fan blade.

SUMWALT: There are 24 fan blades that of course normally rotate, and they help bring air into the engine. One of the fan blades was separated and missing.

The engine blowout happened as the plane was flying at more than 30,000 feet. It sent debris flying back, shattering one of the plane’s windows and pulling a female passenger partly out of a window.

Tim McGinty was sitting near the victim. He and other passengers tried to rescue her.

MCGINTY: We couldn’t pull her in — a guy helped and we got her pulled in and they tried to resuscitate her.

The victim has been identified as Jennifer Riordan, a mother of two from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Cuba names new president » The Castro’s hand-picked successor in Cuba is set to take over the country’s next president. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Cuban government selected 57-year-old First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel as the sole candidate to succeed President Raúl Castro.

It will be the first time in nearly six decades that someone from outside the Castro family will hold the country’s highest government office. However, 86-year-old Raul Castro will remain head of the all-powerful Communist Party in Cuba, which means a Castro will remain the most powerful person in the country for now.

But even when the Castros finally relinquish power, don’t expect radical changes. Diaz-Canel is a longtime Communist bureaucrat, who has described small businesses in Cuba as enemies of the Cuban revolution.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Puerto Rico loses power » Puerto Rico suffered an island-wide blackout on Wednesday. The U.S. territory has struggled with an increasingly unstable power grid in the seven months since Hurricane Maria hit the island. Last week, nearly 900,000 customers lost electricity in a widespread outage. And more than 40,000 homes and business have not had power since the the storm struck.

Electric Power Authority spokeswoman Yohari Molina on Wednesday said crews are investigating the cause of the latest outage. Officials said it could take 24 to 36 hours to fully restore power.

Court: Ohio cannot defund Planned Parenthood » Taxpayers in Ohio must continue funding Planned Parenthood. That was the ruling from a federal appeals court on Wednesday. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg has that story.  

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: A panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling, which blocked a state law that sought to divert taxpayer dollars away from the abortion business. Republican Governor John Kasich signed the law in 2016. If it takes effect, it would prevent businesses that promote or provide abortions from receiving taxpayer funds in Ohio.  

Writing for the majority three-judge ruling, Judge Helene White said the state wrongly asserts “that because Ohio has the right to refuse to fund abortion, it necessarily has the right to refuse to provide any funds to abortion providers, regardless of how the funds are to be used.”

The state of Ohio argued, unsuccessfully that no private entity has a constitutional right to receive taxpayers dollars.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: a conversation on welfare reform with WORLD Editor in Chief Marvin Olasky. This is The World and Everything in It.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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