Friday morning news: February 22, 2019


Trump administration prepping for second North Korea summit » The Trump administration is making last minute preparations for the second summit next week between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday cited progress, noted North Korea hasn’t tested nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles in more than a year.

POMPEO: So that’s better than the place we found it when the Trump administration came into office. But as the president said yesterday and this administration has said repeatedly, this is a long a difficult task. 

That from NBC’s Today Show. Intelligence officials believe Pyongyang is still advancing its nuclear program. But Pompeo says he remains hopeful. And he added that the mission remains complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.


Trump administration says U.S.-born ISIS bride cannot return » Pompeo also reaffirmed the administration’s stance on an Alabama woman, who left the U.S. four years ago to join ISIS. 24-year-old Hoda Muthana said she made a big mistake and wants to return to the U.S. with her now 18-month-old son. Muthana said she was brainwashed through online propaganda.

President Trump’s answer on Wednesday: “no.” And Pompeo said the administration’s stance is simple:

POMPEO: She is a terrorist. She is not a U-S citizen. She ought not return to this country.

Muthana was born in the U.S., but the administration says she didn’t qualify for citizenship at birth because her father was a Yemeni diplomat. But her attorney, Hassan Shibly, said Muthana’s father did not have diplomatic status at the time of her birth and that she had a valid U.S. passport before she joined ISIS. Shibly added that she’s willing to “pay whatever debts” she owes to society.

SHILBY: She’s even willing to spend years behind bars if that’s the debt she owes. And she wants to speak out to ensure that other young women are not brainwashed and manipulated into committing the same horrible mistakes.

Muthana was 19 years old when she left Alabama to marry an ISIS fighter in Syria.


Coast Guard Lt. accused of domestic terror plot appears in court » An officer in the U.S. Coast Guard appeared in handcuffs in federal court Thursday after authorities arrested him last week over an alleged domestic terror plot.

49-year-old Lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson allegedly made a list of prominent Democrats he wanted to attack, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

And prosecutors say in 2017, Hasson drafted an email in which he said he was—quote—“dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth” and talked about using chemical and biological weapons.

U.S. attorney Robert Hur said federal agents who raided Hasson’s apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland, found 15 firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

HUR: The sheer number and force of the weapons that were recovered from Mr. Hasson’s residence in this case, coupled with the disturbing nature of his writings, appear to reflect a very significant threat. 

Judge Charles Day ordered Hasson to remain behind bars without bail for at least two weeks as prosecutors build their case.


N.C. elections board orders new election in 9th District » Voters in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District will soon head back to the polls after election officials found evidence of ballot-tampering in the November contest. WORLD Radio’s Leigh Jones reports.

LEIGH JONES, NEWS EDITOR: The Board of Elections voted 5-to-nothing in favor of a do-over in the House race but did not immediately set a date.

GOP candidate Mark Harris appeared to pull out a slim victory over Democrat Dan McCready in November. But officials say operatives connected to the Harris campaign violated election laws and may have tampered with absentee ballots.

Harris this week dropped his bid to be declared the winner and instead said he believes a new election should be held. He added that neither he nor any of his campaign leaders—quote—“were aware of or condoned the improper activities” that officials described.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones.


Police arrest actor Jussie Smollett, say attack was a hoax » Chicago police say a violent racist attack on actor Jussie Smollett that grabbed national headlines never happened. Prosecutors now say Smollett staged the assault.  

Police on Thursday arrested the 36-year-old actor, known for his role on the Fox TV series Empire. Smollett, who is black and homosexual, told police two masked men beat him, hurled racist and homophobic slurs, and put a noose around his neck.  

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said he was personally offended that Smollett used a noose in his alleged hoax.

JOHNSON: How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile. 

Authorities say Smollett hired two brothers, both aspiring actors, to help stage the assault.

He is charged with felony disorderly conduct, and could face up to three years in prison. He may also face federal charges for allegedly sending a racist death threat to himself in the mail. Smollett denies the allegations.


Catholic leaders gather for Vatican summit on preventing abuse » Catholic leaders gathered Thursday for the first-ever Vatican summit on preventing abuse within the church. The day began with disturbing and heartbreaking stories from victims, including that of an African woman. She said her priest raped her repeatedly and forced her to have three abortions, starting at age 15.

American Catholic activist Johana Barrygan said hearing from victims at the summit is a step in the right direction, but long overdue.

BARRYGAN: We are asking for more, and we believe that Pope Francis is trying. I do want to say, though, that the summit is many years too late. 

Manilla Archbishop, Cardinal Louis Antonio Tagle, addressed the gathering, telling leaders…  

TAGLE: Our lack of response to the suffering of victims, even to the point of rejecting them, and covering up the scandal to protect perpetrators and the institution, has injured our people. 

Pope Francis offered leaders 21 proposals to consider going forward, some of them obvious and easy to adopt, others requiring new policies. He stressed that the problem is not confined to the Catholic church in the U.S. or Ireland and is very much a global crisis.


(Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File) In this May 20, 2016 file photo, actor and singer Jussie Smollett attends the “Empire” FYC Event in Los Angeles. 

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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