Wednesday morning news: July 11, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh heads to Capitol Hill » Newly nominated Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh is making the rounds on Capitol Hill—the first step in a lengthy confirmation process.

Vice President Mike Pence made courtesy calls with Kavanaugh on Tuesday, telling lawmakers he’s the right man for the job.

PENCE: We’re very confident that members of the Senate and the American people they represent will see that Judge Brett Kavanaugh is quite simply the most qualified and the most deserving nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Former Republican Senator Jon Kyl joined them on the Hill. GOP leaders have tapped Kyl to help steer Kavanaugh through the confirmation process.

As expected, there’s already a deep partisan divide over the nominee in the Senate. On Tuesday, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said his confirmation could spell doom for, among other things, legalized abortion.  

SCHUMER: I’m gonna fight this nomination with everything I’ve got. We must defeat Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the bench to save women’s reproductive freedom, to save healthcare protections for millions. That is what is at stake in this fight.

But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s optimistic that not all Senate Democrats will see it that way.

MCCONNELL: We got a few Democrats on Justice Gorsuch and we’re hopeful that we’ll have a few of them on this nomination as well.

Republican leaders hope to have Kavanaugh confirmed and seated sometime in October, before November’s midterm elections.

President Trump  in Europe for NATO Summit » President Trump is in Europe today, the start of a seven-day trip that will conclude with a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

First on the agenda is a two-day NATO summit in Brussels. At last year’s summit, Trump rebuked allies for leaving the U.S. to cover the majority of NATO’s defense costs.

As he prepared to board his Marine One helicopter at the White House Tuesday, Trump once again called out the EU and other NATO allies saying they’re taking advantage of the United States.

TRUMP: We lost $151 billion last year on trade. And on top of that, we spend at least 70 percent for NATO, and frankly, it helps them a lot more than it helps us.

After the summit, Trump will stop briefly in the U.K. to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II. He’ll spend much of his time there in the British countryside, away from planned protests in London.

From there, Trump will attend a two-day summit in Helsinki, Finland, followed by the much-anticipated meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Trump pardons Oregon ranchers » President Trump has pardoned two ranchers whose sentences sparked the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in 2016. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG: Oregon ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond were convicted in 20-12 of setting fires on public lands. They initially received a light sentence, but a judge gave them the mandatory minimum of five years on appeal.

The decision led Ammon Bundy and others to take over Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near the Hammond ranch to protest what they described as federal government overreach.

The occupation lasted from January 2 to February 11, 20-16, when police arrested Bundy during a traffic stop.

The White House called the decision to resentence the Hammonds “unjust.” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders added—quote—“the Hammonds are devoted family men, respected contributors to their local community, and have widespread support from their neighbors, local law enforcement, and farmers and ranchers across the West.”

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.  

All boys freed from Thai cave » The cave rescue operation in northern Thailand ended Tuesday when expert divers led the remaining four boys and their 25-year-old soccer coach to safety. The final mission of the days-long rescue involved 19 divers.

A medic and three Thai navy SEAL divers who stayed with the trapped boys also left the cave.

One local volunteer said the entire country is celebrating the successful rescue.

AUDIO: I feel like all Thais will feel now, after going through the roller coaster of emotions, all the way after 2 weeks passed, everybody will feel relieved, jubilant.

The boys remain isolated in a hospital while doctors run tests to rule out infectious diseases. They reportedly are in good condition and are expected to return home soon.

Rainfall trapped the boys and their coach in the cave on June 23rd, when they went exploring after a practice game.

Liu Xia freed » After keeping her for years under house arrest, China has released the widow of a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has more.

ANNA JOHANSEN: Liu Xia walked free Tuesday for the first time in eight years. She boarded a flight for Berlin and landed around midday.

Chinese authorities placed her under house arrest after her late husband, Liu Xiaobo, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 20-10. The government jailed Liu Xiaobo for openly criticizing the country’s one-party communist rule. He died of lung cancer last year while still in prison.

The government always maintained that Liu Xia was not under arrest. But guards stood watch outside her door and would not allow anyone in or out.  

Activists had been pressuring China to release her noting that she suffered from depression and needed medical help.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johanson.

World Cup semifinals » In World Cup soccer action, France’s defense made the difference—on both sides of the field Tuesday against Belgium, as one of the team’s defenders scored from a corner.

AUDIO: Samuel Umtiti! Is that the goal that puts France in a World Cup Final?

It was indeed. Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris kept out the shots as France shut out Belgium 1-0.

England and Croatia will battle at 2 p.m. Eastern today. The winner of that match will square off with France in Sunday’s World Cup final.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead, we’ll dive into the background and record of President Trump’s Supreme Court pick. Plus, the next in our series: What Do People Do All Day? This is The World and Everything in It.

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, right, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, second from right, share a laugh as they pose for a photo on Capitol Hill.

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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