Friday morning news: January 4, 2019

Democrats assume control of the House as 116th Congress convenes » On the first day of the new Congress, President Trump made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room Thursday and told reporters, he’s optimistic the divided government can cooperate. 

TRUMP: Hopefully we’ll have a lot of things we can get done together, and I think it’s actually going to work out. I think it’ll be a little bit different than a lot of people are thinking. So I congratulate Nancy. Tremendous, tremendous achievement. 

The president referring there to Nancy Pelosi and the achievement once again being elected speaker of the house, after serving the last eight years as minority leader.

AUDIO: … that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office of which you’re about to enter, so help you God? I do. Congratulations Madam Speaker! 

Just before taking the oath of office, Pelosi vowed to make climate change the leading cause of the Democratic House.

The new House is certain to be a thorn in the president’s side. Democrats have vowed to launch investigations of the Trump administration on multiple fronts.

Democrats now enjoy a 235-seat majority in the House. We mistakenly reported that number Thursday as 236. Republicans now hold 199 seats in the lower chamber, with one seat vacant.

Top lawmakers from both parties are expected to meet once again today with President Trump to discuss taking steps toward ending the partial government shutdown.

Several Khashoggi murder suspects could face death penalty » Saudi Arabia announced on Thursday it will seek the death penalty against five suspects in the slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Saudi prosecutors said 11 suspects in Khashoggi’s killing attended their first court hearing with lawyers this week. But a statement from prosecutors did not name those in court.

Prosecutors did not explain why they’re seeking the death penalty against some of the suspects but not the others. Nor did they explain why seven other suspects in the murder did not immediately face formal charges. The kingdom previously announced it had 18 suspects in custody.

Turkey has demanded Saudi Arabia extradite all of them to be tried there.

Turkey and numerous Western intelligence agencies remain skeptical of the Saudis’ shifting explanations about Khashoggi’s death. Many remain convinced that those now standing trial for the murder were acting under orders from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Saudi government insists he was not involved.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

North Korean diplomat may have defected » The top North Korean diplomat in Italy and his wife went into hiding in November and may have defected. That according to a South Korean member of Parliament on Thursday.

South Korean intelligence officials briefed Parliament on the possible defection of North Korean acting Ambassador to Italy Jo Song Gil.

A South Korean newspaper reported that the couple applied for asylum in a Western country and remain protected by the Italian government.

North Korea has not commented on the case. If confirmed, Jo’s defection would be the latest high-profile exit from the communist country. The last senior diplomat known to have defected was the former minister at the North Korean Embassy in London, who fled to South Korea in 2016.

China lands rover on dark side of the moon » China has just done something in space never before accomplished. WORLD Radio’s Leigh Jones has that story.

LEIGH JONES, NEWS EDITOR: A Chinese spacecraft on Thursday became the first to land on the far side of the moon. The China National Space Administration said the successful landing of a robotic lunar explorer “opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration.”

The probe is expected to explore the structure and mineral composition of the terrain. The dark side of the moon faces away from Earth and has remained unexplored by any lander, largely because there’s no way for a lander to communicate with ground control from the moon’s far side. China solved the problem by positioning a satellite to relay communications.

China’s pioneering move highlights its ambition to become a leading space power.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones.

Pope urges U.S. bishops to heal divisions, repair trust » Pope Francis is encouraging U.S. bishops meeting for a weeklong retreat near Chicago to unify as the Roman Catholic church deals with a—quote—”crisis of credibility.”

In an eight-page letter addressed to the bishops Thursday, Francis said church leaders must reckon with parishioners’ pain, heal divisions, and devise specific approaches that go beyond “creating new committees or improving flow charts.”

Bishops from across the globe will meet next month to forge a comprehensive response to the crisis engulfing the church.

Apple sales down globally » Wall Street is feeling jittery once again, after news that sales of Apple products fell in the fourth quarter of 2018—well below expectations. CEO Tim Cook said Thursday that demand in China for Apple products, such as iPhones, has dropped lately.

COOK: It’s clear that the economy began to slow there for the second half. And what I believe to be the case is the trade tensions between the United States and China put additional pressure on their economy. 

Other global companies like the Ford Motor Company also saw declines in Chinese sales.

The trade war between China and the United States, as well as tumbling auto and real estate sales, have undermined consumer confidence in the communist country, which has been one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

Apple is also competing with Chinese smartphone companies that produce cheaper devices. The iPhone maker has dropped behind Huawei and South Korea’s Samsung in global markets.

Southwest Airlines co-founder dies at 87 » The eccentric co-founder of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher, died Thursday.

Not many CEOs dress up as Elvis, settle a business dispute with an arm-wrestling contest, or appear on TV wearing a paper bag over their head. Kelleher did all of those things. And along the way, he practically invented the low-fare airline sector.

Kelleher became Southwest’s chairman in 1978 and CEO in 1982. He led the company through its period of greatest growth. He stepped down as chief executive in 2001 and retired as chairman seven years later.

Southwest Airlines confirmed his death on Thursday but did not indicate the cause. He’s survived by his wife, Joan, and three of their four children. Herb Kelleher was 87.

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, speaks from the dais at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019.

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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One comment on “Friday morning news: January 4, 2019

  1. Paul Blattner says:

    Please be accurate in science issues. There is no “dark side of the moon”. The far side of the moon faces away from earth so we never see it BUT it gets as much sunlight as the side we see.

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