Wednesday morning news: November 28, 2018

Republican wins Mississippi U.S. Senate runoff election » Republicans secured another seat in the U.S. Senate last night. Cindy Hyde-Smith defeated Democrat Mike Espy in Mississippi’s runoff election.

SMITH: Thank you so much! This has been an unbelievable night. This has been an unbelievable campaign. 

With 97 percent of the votes counted late last night, Smith enjoyed an 8-point lead over Espy, who told his supporters …

ESPY: While this was not the result that we were hoping for, I’m very proud of this historic campaign …

Governor Phil Bryant appointed Smith earlier this year to replace Senator Thad Cochran, who resigned in April citing health concerns. Her victory will allow her to complete the final two years of Cochran’s six-year term.

Smith overcame controversy stemming from a video in which she joked about attending a public hanging. Some corporate donors, including Walmart, requested refunds of their campaign contributions after the video surfaced.

Cindy Hyde-Smith’s win makes her the first woman ever elected to Congress from Mississippi. And it gives the GOP 53 seats in the upper chamber.

Three U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan » A roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan killed three U.S. soldiers on Tuesday. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The soldiers were killed when their vehicle drove over an IED near the provincial capital of Ghazni. The blast also wounded three other service members and one American contractor.

A Pentagon spokesman said the injured were evacuated and are receiving medical care. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said it destroyed a U.S. tank.

American forces continue to carry out counterterrorism operations in the country and provide support for Afghan forces.

In a separate incident over the weekend, 25-year-old Army Sergeant Leandro A.S. Jasso died during combat operations in the country’s southwest region.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Interior, Agriculture secretaries visit Northern California in wake of wildfire » In California, 203 names remain on the list of those unaccounted for after the Camp wildfire devastated northern parts of state. 88 people are confirmed dead from the fire.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke returned to the fire-ravaged town of Paradise on Tuesday where he said he’s never witnessed such devastation. He told reporters the cost of the fire likely will be in the billions. And he said climate change clearly played a role.

ZINKE: In my mind, no doubt the temperatures are getting hotter. The seasons are getting longer. We are in drought conditions where the moisture content is much lower. Now taking that to backdrop, it doesn’t relieve you the responsibility to do what you can to mitigate the fires. 

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue joined Zinke in California. The secretaries toured an area that had been thoroughly managed to get rid of much of the dry brush that can fuel fires. Purdue said in too many instances lawsuits are halting those kinds of fire-prevention measures.

PERDUE: I think some of the people that have litigated against good forest management techniques are now seeing that the pristine forests they imagined are no longer pristine when they’re burned. 

California lawmakers earlier this year approved $1 billion to fund forest clearing operations over the next five years.

Pompeo: Big progress in global fight against HIV/AIDS » Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday touted substantial progress in the global fight against HIV and AIDS. Pompeo said the program called the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief—or PEPFAR for short—has had a major impact since its launch in 2003. The program provides HIV-AIDS treatment and prevention measures, primarily in Africa.

POMPEO: We have saved more than 17-million lives. We’ve prevented millions of new HIV infections. And AIDS-related deaths globally have been cut in half since their peak in 2004. 

Pompeo said the HIV-AIDS “epidemic has gone from crisis towards control.” And he added that faith-based organizations have played a huge in role in that progress.

Report claims Paul Manafort met with WikiLeaks founder ahead of 2016 election. » A British newspaper is alleging that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort secretly met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange ahead of the 2016 election. WORLD Radio’s Leigh Jones has that story.

LEIGH JONES, NEWS EDITOR: British newspaper The Guardian cited unnamed sources in its report claiming Manafort met with Assange “around March 2016.” That was the same month Russian hackers launched their effort to steal emails from the Clinton campaign.

WikiLeaks responded on Twitter saying it was—quote—“willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor’s head that Manafort never met Assange.”

The Guardian published its story a day after special counsel Robert Mueller’s team said in court filings that Manafort lied to investigators in violation of his plea agreement. The filing did not say what he allegedly lied about. Prosecutors said they would release more information soon.

Manafort pleaded guilty in September to criminal charges unrelated to his tenure with the Trump campaign.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones.

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith calls on her family members to identify themselves as she celebrates her runoff win over Democrat Mike Espy in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Nov. 27, 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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