Monday morning news: July 9, 2018

Supreme Court nominee to be announced tonight » President Trump is set to reveal his pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy tonight.

The president had reportedly narrowed the field to three, but some Senate Republicans are mounting a push for a fourth—circuit court judge Thomas Hardiman.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham serves on the Judiciary Committee.

GRAHAM:  Republicans are holding four lottery tickets and all of them are winners. If you’re a conservative Republican, the four people named—particularly Thomas Hardiman, I’m glad he’s on the list—are all winners and every Republican should embrace these picks. 

The New York Times reports Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has informed the White House that Hardiman and fellow circuit court judge Raymond Kethledge are the best candidates to win confirmation in the closely divided Senate.

That revelation is a blow to the chances of the other two people in the final four: circuit court judges Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh.

President Trump will announce his nominee at 9 p.m. Eastern this evening.

Sec. State Pompeo brushes off criticism from North Korea » Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrapped up two days of talks in Pyongyang over the weekend. Before departing, Pompeo said the talks top North Korean officials were conducted in “good faith,” and that they’d made “a great deal of progress” in some areas.

But North Korea released a statement by an unnamed spokesman calling the talks “regrettable,” adding that the U.S. was making “one-sided and robber-like” demands on denuclearization. But the statement carefully avoided criticizing the White House saying, “We wholly maintain our trust toward President Trump.”

Pompeo traveled to Vietnam on Sunday. And, speaking to business leaders in Hanoi, he directed some of his remarks to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

POMPEO: In light of the once unimaginable prosperity and partnership we have with Vietnam today, I have a message for Chairman Kim Jong Un: President Trump believes your country can replicate this path. It’s yours if you’ll seize the moment. 

Pompeo brushed off the criticism from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, saying he remains optimistic. But he added once again that the U.S. will not lift sanctions—his words—“until fully verified denuclearization” occurs.

Fire crews make progress against Colorado wildfire » Wildfires continue to burn across the West. In Colorado recent fires have now consumed more than 200,000 acres.

But a little bit of good news on that front: The largest of those blazes, the Spring fire in the southern Colorado is now 55 percent contained. That’s up from 43 percent on Saturday.

And in California, officials say the “Holiday” fire is now 80 percent contained. But Santa Barbara County fire Captain Dave Zanboni says fire crews can’t let up.

ZANBONI: One gust of wind can bring an ember outside the fire line and start a whole new fire. 

Farther north, along the California-Oregon border, the Klamathon fire is growing. That blaze grew more than 40 percent over the weekend and has now destroyed more than 30,000 acres.

Rescue efforts underway to free trapped soccer team » 

Rescue operations are underway in northern Thailand, were 12 members of a boys soccer team and their coach have been trapped in a cave for two weeks.

Expert divers rescued four of the boys on Sunday, leading them through narrow underwater tunnels.

Rain had eased up in recent days, allowing water levels to drop inside the cave. But the rain picked up after the first four boys emerged, stalling rescue efforts.

Divers have been training the boys how to dive in recent days, and the operation went better than expected. But underwater escapes are dangerous.  

A former Thai Navy SEAL assisting with the rescue died on Friday died while placing oxygen canisters along the escape route.

Officials say they hope to resume rescue operations today.

Thailand boat tragedy latest » Meanwhile, Thailand’s government is promising justice for victims of a tour boat that sank last Thursday off the coast of Phuket. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has an update on that story.

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Officials say they will “spare no one as they investigate the tragedy that left at least 42 dead. 14 people are still missing. Police have already brought charges against the captain of the vessel, citing negligence.

Critics cite severe weather warnings as evidence the Phoenix tour boat should not have sailed. Small boats could not leave the shore at all while larger boats like the double-decker Phoenix had to pass inspection before sailing. Police are investigating whether marine officials inspected the vessel that day.

Meantime, divers continue their efforts to flip the sunken boat, and crews continue to search for the 14 passengers still missing.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.

World Cup Semifinals set » In World Cup soccer, the semifinals are set, after quarterfinals action wrapped up over the weekend. On Friday, France defeated Uruguay, 2-to-nothing and Belgium edged out Brazil, 2-to-1.

On Saturday England shut out Sweden 2-0 while Croatia advanced to the semifinals in dramatic fashion, Ivan Rakitic winning a penalty shootout against host Russia.

AUDIO: Rakitic converts! Croatia on to the World Cup semifinal!

France will face Belgium tomorrow at 2 p.m. Eastern while Croatia takes on England on Wednesday.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: New York’s attorney general wants to stop sidewalk counselors outside abortion businesses. This is The World and Everything in It.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool) U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh arrive for a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hanoi, Vietnam, Monday, July 9, 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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