Friday morning news: August 3, 2018

U.S. intel officials: Russia still trying to influence U.S. voters » U.S. national security officials held a rare joint news conference Thursday at the White House to highlight efforts to protect U.S. campaigns and elections from outside interference.

Director of the NSA Paul Nakasone told reporters:

NAKASONE: U.S. Cyber Command the National Security Agency are tracking a wide range of foreign cyber adversaries and are prepared to conduct operations against those actors attempting to undermine our nation’s midterm elections. 

The White House said President Trump has ordered all national security agencies to work together on a coordinated strategy to safeguard voting infrastructure and fend off influence campaigns by foreign actors.

And Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats called Russia by name.  

COATS: What we see is the Russians are looking for every opportunity, regardless of party, regardless of whether or not it applies to the election, to continue their pervasive efforts to undermine our fundamental values.

But he added, Russia does not appear to be successfully tipping the scale one way or the other.

Trump responds to Kim Jong Un letter » President Trump responded Thursday to a letter he said he received from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The president tweeted his thanks to Kim for returning the remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War, and he added—quote— “Also, thank you for your nice letter – l look forward to seeing you soon!”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders clarified Thursday that the two leaders have not yet planned a second meeting. But she said the president has sent a letter back to Kim.

SANDERS: The letters addressed their commitment from their joint statement that was made at the Singapore summit and they’re going to keep working together toward complete and total denuclearization. 

The White House has not directly addressed recents reports that North Korea may be building new long range ballistic missiles.

EPA proposes freezing mileage standards » The Trump administration on Thursday filed a proposal to freeze Obama-era mileage standards for new cars.

The standards, set in 2012, required automakers to improve fuel efficiency each year, arriving at an average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

The Environmental Protection Agency proposes freezing the standards at the planned 2020 level—an average of 37 miles per gallon. The proposal also revokes the authority of states to set tougher standards than federal regulations. That has 19 states and the District of Columbia vowing a new lawsuit against the EPA.

HEALY: This has to be absolutely one of the most harmful and dumbest actions that the EPA has taken. 

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

But the Trump administration says the Obama-era standards would make vehicles less safe and drive up the cost of new cars, forcing people into older, less efficient vehicles.

17 states already sued the Trump administration in May to keep planned fuel efficiency standards. The EPA said it will take public comment and issue a final decision this winter.

Zimbabwe update » The election commission in Zimbabwe has declared a winner in the country’s presidential election.

AUDIO: Mnangagwa Emmerson — of ZANU-PF party is therefore duly declared elected president of the Republic of Zimbabwe with effect from the third of August, 2018. 

But many remain skeptical about the fairness of the election. Opposition spokesman Morgan Komichi said his party had not verified the results…

KOMICHI: I did not sign those results. 

He called the vote count “fake.”

Many had hoped the vote would restore trust in Zimbabwe’s government after decades of rule by Robert Mugabe. But deadly rioting in the capital city of Harare this week highlighted the political divide. The death toll from street clashes Wednesday rose to six, with 14 injured. Police arrested 18 at the offices of the main opposition party amid tensions over the election results.  

Pope changes on death penalty » Pope Francis is shifting the Roman Catholic Church’s stance on the death penalty. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen reports.

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The pope in a new policy published Thursday changed the Church’s teaching on capital punishment, saying it is always “inadmissible.”

Pope Francis has called the death penalty contrary to the gospel, and has said the commandment ‘do not kill’ applies to both the innocent and the guilty.

Previously, the church made some allowances for capital punishment when needed to protect society. The updated catechism closes that loophole. It states that people don’t lose their dignity even after committing a serious crime.

The new doctrine also pledges that the church will work toward abolishing the death penalty worldwide.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.

Apple first company worth a trillion dollars » Apple has become the world’s first trillion dollar publicly traded company.

Apple’s shares rose 2.7 percent to an all-time high of $207 dollars Thursday, up 22 percent so far this year. The milestone comes 42 years after Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak co-founded the company. And just two decades after a 1997 identity crisis, when the company stock price fell to less than $1 dollar. This week’s jump came after Apple reported strong results and higher prices for iPhones.

Urban Meyer » One of the most successful coaches in college football history could soon be out of a job. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg has that story.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Ohio State has placed Urban Meyer on administrative leave while it investigates whether Meyer knew about allegations of domestic violence against an assistant coach, years before the school fired that assistant last week.

Text messages recently made public suggest Urban Meyer’s wife Shelley Meyer may have been well aware of the alleged abuse. Shelley Meyer is a registered nurse and also works at the school. Both Meyer and his wife could be in violation of Ohio State’s Title IX (nine) sexual misconduct policy on reporting allegations of domestic violence against university employees. And that could be a fireable offense.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: Culture Friday with John Stonestreet. This is The World and Everything in It.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) National Security Agency Director Gen. Paul Nakasone speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, in Washington. 

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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