Wednesday morning news: February 20, 2019

President Trump signs order to create Space Force » President Trump signed a directive Tuesday aimed at creating what he hopes will one day be a new branch of the U.S. military.

TRUMP: I am thrilled to sign a new order taking the next step to create the United States Space Force. 

The Space Force would not be the co-equal military branch he originally proposed… at least not yet. Instead it would begin as part of the Air Force but could become a separate department in the future. Creating another branch of the military requires approval from Congress.

Some lawmakers have expressed concern about the need and potential cost of a new Space Force. But President Trump said the U.S. needs the new division to maintain an edge over China and Russia in space.

TRUMP: My administration has recognized space as a warfighting domain and made the creation of the Space Force a national security priority. 

The White House will provide details about the cost of the new division in its 2020 budget proposal next month.

Sen. Sanders announces presidential campaign » Senator Bernie Sanders is making another run at the White House. The self-described socialist from Vermont announced his campaign in a video Tuesday morning. He’ll once again run as a Democrat on a platform of reshaping America.  

SANDERS: Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice. 

The 77-year-old lawmaker was the other political surprise of 2016. He came close to defeating Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. In this race he’ll face a much more crowded field, including other Democrats who have staked out a position on the party’s left flank.

After announcing his White House bid, Sanders’ campaign reportedly raised more than a million dollars before noon on Tuesday.

SBC leader proposes reforms to address sexual abuse » The leader of the Southern Baptist Convention is responding to an investigative report published last week, finding widespread sexual abuse in its churches. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: During a two-day meeting of the SBC’s executive committee, President J.D. Greear on Monday told leaders, “This is not a fabricated story made up by people with a secular agenda. We’ve not taken reports of abuse in our churches as seriously as our gospel demands, and sometimes even worse, outright ignored or silenced victims. It’s time we back up our words with actions that demonstrate our concern about this.”

Greear called for numerous changes. Among them, running background checks on leaders and staff, and providing more resources for churches to deal with sexual abuse.

He also announced that six Southern Baptist seminaries have agreed to mandatory training on preventing abuse and said the SBC is considering creating a registry of those convicted or credibly accused.

Greear also provided a list of 10 churches he said SBC officials should investigate and consider removing from the denomination.  

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

WV teachers go on strike » West Virginia teachers launched their second strike in a year on Tuesday. They walked out in protest of new legislation that, among other things, would create the state’s first charter schools. The unions say “outside interests” swayed lawmakers in the state Senate which passed the legislation without input from educators.

WHITE: People from out of West Virginia comes into the Senate and with the leadership and they control. It’s enough of outside interests. WVSBA, our service personnel, don’t start those busses tomorrow. 

Joe White heard there. He’s executive director of the West Virginia Service Personnel.

The bill in question appeared to die last night. After it passed in the Senate, the state’s Republican-led House voted to table the bill. But educators aren’t returning to class just yet.

Union leaders say they don’t trust lawmakers and will remain on strike at least one more day to make sure the bill is dead.

All but one of the state’s 55 counties closed its schools Tuesday.

Dueling concerts set amid Venezuelan crisis » While many fear the ongoing power struggle in Venezuela could turn violent, the weapon of choice this week: music festivals. WORLD Radio’s Paul Butler has that story.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Billionaire Richard Branson announced a Friday concert in neighboring Columbia called “Venezuelan Aid Live,” featuring several Spanish language recording artists. The event will raise money for the country’s humanitarian crisis.

But a short time later, the government of embattled President Nicolas Maduro announced a rival concert.

Maduro claims opposition leader Juan Guaido and the U.S. have manufactured a crisis in an effort to oust him from power. He has blocked aid from the United States and other nations. But he is tying his concert, called “Hands Off Venezuela” to 300 tons of supplies from Russia.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Paul Butler.

(AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) President Donald Trump hands a pen to Air Force Gen. Paul Selva after signing “Space Policy Directive 4” in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, 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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