Monday morning news: June 17, 2019

Hong Kong leader apologizes for extradition bill » AUDIO: [Sound of protests]

Protesters filled the streets of Hong Kong over the weekend to demand the city’s top leader step down. Chief Executive Carrie Lam apologized late Sunday for supporting a deeply unpopular extradition bill that sparked a week of protests. It would allow criminal defendants to be sent to mainland China for trial.

A day earlier Lam suspended debate on the legislation, effectively putting the bill on hold.

LAM: I now announce that the government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise, restart our communication with all sectors of society, do more explanation work, and listen to different views of society.

But civil rights activist Bonnie Leung said that’s not good enough.

LEUNG: Hong Kong people have been lied to so many times that we have learned that the government cannot be trusted. So we believe that Hong Kong people will not accept that.

Human rights activists say authorities could use the bill to target opponents of China’s efforts to gain more control over Hong Kong.

Beijing backed the bill but also voiced support for Lam’s decision to suspend legislative efforts.

NYT report on U.S. cyber attack » The New York Times reports the U.S. is preparing for a possible cyber attack against the Russian power grid. The newspaper claimed the campaign is part of wider efforts to deter interference in the 2020 election.

President Trump blasted the story as false and accused The Times of a “virtual act of treason” for publishing it.

But in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise seemed to confirm the report.

SCALISE: If the Russians try to take some action against our elections, or any other country, we are already ready to go after them. And it should have happened in 2016. I’m glad that the president’s being aggressive against any foreign country that’s going to try to meddle with our elections.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff also had no trouble believing the story. In an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation, he used it to once again tie the president to Russia.

SCHIFF: Security officials with the administration felt they couldn’t tell this to the president because he might compromise that information in a conversation with the Russians, or he might countermand their orders, their military decisions because of the president’s obsequious attitude toward Russia.

Defense and intelligence officials have warned Russia will likely try again to influence a major U.S. election. The Times says U.S. Cyber Command has considered the possibility that Russia might try to cause blackouts in key states to disrupt 2020 voting.

Pompeo tries to rally allies against Iran » Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is trying to rally U.S. allies against Iran. During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Pompeo said the world needs to unite.

POMPEO: President Trump has done everything he can to avoid war. We don’t want war. We’ve done what we can to deter this. The Iranians should understand very clearly that we will continue to take actions that deter Iran from engaging in this type of behavior.

The Trump administration blames Iran for attacks on ships in the Strait of Hormuz. That’s a vital shipping lane for tankers carrying oil from the Middle East. Iran denies involvement, but Pompeo claims the U.S. has ample evidence.

POMPEO: There’s no doubt. The intelligence community has lots of data, lots of evidence. The world will come to see much of it. But the American people should rest assured we have high confidence with respect to who conducted these attacks as well as half a dozen attacks throughout the world over the past 40 days.

Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the U.K. agree with Pompeo’s analysis. But U.S. allies Japan and Germany have questioned the evidence against Iran.

Boeing CEO admits mistake in 737 Max case » Boeing’s CEO admitted the company mishandled a faulty cockpit warning system suspected of causing two crashes. Dennis Muilenburg spoke to reporters Sunday ahead of the Paris Air Show.

He said Boeing’s communication with regulators, customers, and the public was not consistent. And he called that “unacceptable.”

The Federal Aviation Administration has said Boeing didn’t tell regulators that a safety indicator wasn’t working as intended. Investigators blame the faulty system for downing passenger jets in Indonesia and Ethiopia. Nearly 350 people died.

All Boeing 737 Max jets are grounded while the company works on a fix for the problem. The FAA has not set a timeframe for testing the system fix.

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to members of the media at the State Department, Monday, June 10, 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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