Thursday morning news: May 17, 2018

North Korea » North Korea is once again threatening to pull the plug on next month’s planned summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump, objecting to U.S. demands that Pyongyang completely rid itself of nuclear weapons. The president’s reaction…

TRUMP: We’ll see what happens. We’ll see. Time will tell. 

Trump maintains that he will insist on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea’s vice-foreign minister said Wednesday—quote—“We are no longer interested in a negotiation that will be all about driving us into a corner and making a one-sided demand for us to give up our nukes and this would force us to reconsider whether we would accept the North Korea-U.S. summit meeting.”

The remarks came one day after Pyongyang called off a high-level meeting with South Korea, complaining about joint military exercises between the South and the U.S. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters:

SANDERS: We’re still hopeful that the meeting will take place, and we’ll continue down that path, but at the same time we’ve been prepared that these could be tough negotiations. The president is ready if the meeting takes place, and if it doesn’t, we’ll continue the maximum pressure campaign that’s been ongoing.

Many analysts believe North Korea’s tough rhetoric is a negotiating tactic and that it has no real intention of calling off the meeting, which is still slated for June 12th in Singapore.

Haspel » President Trump’s pick to head the CIA appears increasingly likely to win approval from the Senate.

The Intelligence Committee voted 10-to-5 on Wednesday to recommend the confirmation of Gina Haspel. Five Democrats in the Senate have said they would vote in favor of Haspel and nearly all Republicans will vote “yes,” including South Dakota’s John Thune.

THUNE: Clearly this is someone who has just tremendous experience and background, skill. She’s been involved, of course, in leadership positions at the CIA. She’s been in the field. 

But Republican John McCain and many Democrats object to Haspel’s confirmation. They’ve sounded alarms over her involvement in the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogations of terror suspects, using tactics like waterboarding.

Haspel said that with the benefit of hindsight and her experience as a senior agency leader, she feels the CIA should not have used those tactics and will not under her command.

Trump Jr statements » A Senate panel has released transcripts of Donald Trump Jr.’s interview with lawmakers regarding the Russia investigation. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg has more.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Donald Trump Jr. told the Judiciary Committee last year that he couldn’t remember whether he had discussed the Russia probe with his father. That was one of the details revealed in the more than 1,800 pages of transcripts released Wednesday.

He also said he didn’t think there was anything wrong with meeting a Russian lawyer before the 2016 election.

The White House initially said the meeting concerned a Russian adoption program, but Trump Jr. later released emails showing he was promised political dirt on Hillary Clinton. The emails also show he agreed to the meeting despite it being described as part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s campaign. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s probe into Russian election meddling is still ongoing.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

CA suicide law » A California judge this week threw out the state’s assisted suicide law on a technicality. The state legislature passed the law during a special session devoted to other business, which made it unconstitutional. That was the ruling of Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia. The law, which went into effect in June 2016, allows adults to get prescriptions for life-ending drugs if a doctor rules they have less than six months to live. State health officials reported 111 terminally ill people committed assisted suicide in the first six months the law was in effect. Ottolia gave the state five days to file an emergency appeal. And California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he intends to do that.

Michigan State Univ. reaches settlement with Nassar victims » Michigan State University has reached a half billion dollar settlement with sex-abuse victims in the Larry Nassar scandal. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has that story.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Michigan State has announced it will pay $425 million to more than 300 women and girls sexually assaulted by Nassar, a sports doctor at the school. And it will set aside another $75 million for future lawsuits brought by victims.

Larry Nassar pleaded guilty to molesting girls under the guise of treatment at his Michigan State office while working with USA Gymnastics. He now faces more than 100 years in prison.  

University President Lou Anna Simon and athletic director Mark Hollis resigned in January in the wake of the scandal.

Lawsuits are still pending against USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: Bail reform. Plus, a rare move in Congress to give protection to dreamers. This is The World and Everything in It.

(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) People watch a TV screen showing file footage of U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 16, 2018. 

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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