Wednesday morning news: May 16, 2018

U.N. Blames Israel for deaths in Gaza » A UN spokesman is blaming Israel for the deaths of more than 60 Palestinian protesters after clashes with Israeli security forces turned violent Monday.

COLVILLE: We condemn the appalling deadly violence in Gaza yesterday. 

Rupert Colville speaking to reporters on Tuesday. He’s a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. He said as Palestinians protested the U.S. embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem, Israeli security forces were too quick to respond with deadly force.

COLVILLE: Some tried to damage the fence that separates Gaza with Israel. Others burned tires.  Israeli forces responded with tear gas, plastic bullets and various types of live ammunition, some causing horrific wounds and lifelong disabilities.

Colville’s remarks came as the UN Security Council gathered for an emergency meeting Tuesday to address the violence. But Israel says critics ignore the violence directed at Israeli troops at the border and that live ammunition was used as a last resort.

The Palestinian ambassador to the UN called Israel guilty of war crimes for its response to the protesters, but U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley came to Israel’s defense.

HALEY: No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has. In fact, the records of several countries here today suggest they would be much less restrained.

Both Israel and the White House say Hamas deliberately instigated violent clashes on Monday and is solely responsible for the bloodshed.

North Korea threatens to call off U.S. meeting » North Korea is reportedly threatening to cancel a historic summit with the United States next month over joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea. The exercises that began Friday included about 100 warplanes.

North Korea backed out of a planned meeting with South Korean officials on Wednesday and a short time later the North Korean state news agency reported—quote—“The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea–U.S. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities.”

But State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said it’s received no official complaints from Pyongyang.

NAUERT: We have no information on that whatsoever. What we have to go on is what Kim Jong Un had said before, that he understands and appreciates the importances to the United States of having these joint exercises. 

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are scheduled to meet June 12th in Singapore.

Europe and Iran meet on nuclear deal » European leaders continue their push to save the Iran nuclear deal. WORLD Radio’s Paul Butler has that story.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Foreign ministers from Britain, France, and Germany met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday in Brussels. The leaders are resuming negotiations without the United States, after President Trump officially withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear pact last week.

The 2015 agreement, which also included China and Russia gave Iran relief from sanctions in exchange for curbing its nuclear program. The United States is reimposing many of those sanctions.

But British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called on the U.S. not to do anything that could make it harder for the remaining parties to the agreement to keep the deal alive.

Following the meeting, Zarif said Iran and the three European powers are on the right path toward ensuring the nuclear agreement will remain in the best interest of his country.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Paul Butler.

Tony Perkins to USCIRF » Tony Perkins has been appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom—or USCIRF. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recommended Perkins, who has served as president of the Family Research Council since 2003. The FRC says he will remain in that role as he serves on the commission.

And the White House announced Tuesday that President Trump will appoint several more members to USCIRF. They are Gary Bauer, former head of the Family Research Council as well as religious freedom activists Nadine Maenza and Johnnie Moore, a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory group.

Charges dropped against Greitens » Prosecutors this week dropped a felony charge against Missouri Governor Eric Greitens. The 44-year-old was charged in February with felony invasion of privacy for allegedly taking and transmitting a partially nude photo of his mistress in 2015. Greitens celebrated the news… 

GREITENS: The prosecutor has dropped the false charges against me. This is a great victory, and it has been a long time coming. This experience has been humbling, and I have emerged from it a changed man.  

But the governor has not entirely emerged from it. The St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office said it still plans to pursue the case, either through a special prosecutor or an appointed assistant. And Greitens remains charged with a second felony for allegedly disclosing the donor list of a charity he founded to his political fundraiser without the charity’s permission.

The state legislature is set to launch a month-long special session on Friday to consider whether to impeach the governor.

Tom Wolfe dies » Author and journalist Tom Wolfe has died. Wolfe began his journalism career in 1957. He reported for The Washington Post, the New York Herald-Tribune, and Esquire magazine. He also wrote several acclaimed novels, some of which were turned into movies, including The Right Stuff and Bonfire of the Vanities, starring Tom Hanks.

AUDIO: Now let’s say you want to build a road or a hospital and you need a lot of money, well what you do is you issue a bond. Do you build roads? Well, no no no, I don’t actually build them.

Wolfe was known for his trademark white suit and over-the-top writing style, full of exclamation points, italics, and rule-breaking words. He is survived by his wife, Sheila Berger, and their two children. Wolfe was 88 years old.

I’m Jim Henry. Straight ahead: Washington Wednesday. What does the U.S. Embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem mean for Mideast peace? Plus, growing food indoors instead of outside. This is The World and Everything in It.

(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra) Palestinian protesters carry an injured man who was shot by Israeli troops during a deadly protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Monday, May 14, 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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