Friday morning news: July 18, 2019

U.S. warship shoots down Iranian drone » A U.S. warship on Thursday shot down an Iranian drone over the Strait of Hormuz. 

Speaking at the White House on Thursday, President Trump said the drone threatened the USS Boxer.

TRUMP: The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone, which had closed into a very near distance, approximately 1,000 yards. 

The Boxer is an amphibious assault ship. Trump said its crew destroyed the drone after it ignored multiple calls to stand down. Last month, Iranian forces shot down an American drone in the Strait of Hormuz. 

The Boxer sailed through the strait loaded with thousands of Marines and helicopters just hours earlier. 

That came after Iranian state TV said Iran’s military had seized an oil tanker and 12 crew members. The vessel appeared to be a Panamanian-flagged tanker based in the United Arab Emirates.  

In his remarks at the White House, the president called on the world to “condemn Iran’s attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce.”

Also on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence unveiled new sanctions.

PENCE: Today I am announcing that the United States has placed sanctions on two leaders of Iranian backed militias. 

He said the U.S. won’t stand by while Iran spreads terror through proxies. 

U.S. cuts Turkey out of F-35 program » The U.S. government is cutting Turkey out of the F-35 fighter jet program—following the country’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system. 

LORD: The US and other F-35 partners are aligned in this decision to suspend Turkey from the program. 

Under Secretary of Defense Ellen Lord said U.S. officials are concerned about Russia having access to the advanced F-35 planes. Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile system means Russian personnel will likely have an ongoing role in Turkey.

LORD: Turkey cannot field a Russian intelligence collection platform in proximity to where the F-35 program makes repairs and houses the F-35. 

Russia has told Turkish officials it is willing to sell them its SU-35 fighter jet. 

But Turkey is a member of NATO and helps produce the F-35. It makes more than 900 components for the stealth aircraft, which is sold around the world. Ellen Lord said Turkey stands to lose $9 billion in future earnings as a parts supplier.

Epstein denied bail » A federal judge on Thursday denied bail for billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Epstein’s lawyers had asked for house arrest and offered up nearly $600 million in assets as collateral. But U.S. District Judge Richard Berman said he doubted any bail package “can overcome danger to the community.”

That means Epstein will remain in jail while awaiting trial on new charges that he abused and exploited underage girls in the early 2000s. 

Arson attack kills more than 30 people in Japan » More than 30 people are dead in Kyoto, Japan after a bizarre arson attack on a popular animation studio. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports. 

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: A man screaming “You die!” burst into the Kyoto Animation studio Thursday—doused it with a liquid accelerant—and set it on fire. 

At least 33 people died and 36 others suffered injuries, some critically. 

The blaze sent people scrambling up the stairs toward the roof in a desperate attempt to escape. Others emerged bleeding, blackened and barefoot.

A witness told Japanese media, “There was an explosion.” He then saw black smoke rising from windows on the upper floors and heard people shouting.

The suspect is identified only as a 41-year-old man who did not work for the studio. He was injured and taken to a hospital. Police are investigating the motive. 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.  

Planned Parenthood stops using Title X federal funds » Planned Parenthood announced this week that it has stopped using Title X family planning funds. That came after the Trump administration began enforcing rules that block groups that accept those funds from promoting abortion and referring women to abortion facilities.  

The abortion giant said it will not comply with what it calls a gag rule and will continue referring women to abortion providers. Officials with the group said instead of using Title X taxpayers dollars, it will tap into “emergency funds.” 

Schumer calls for investigation into popular new smartphone app » A new program called FaceApp has dominated social media platforms this week. It allows users to see what they might look like years or decades into the future. But some privacy watchdogs are sounding alarms and now Congress is too. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has details. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on the FBI and Federal Trade Commission this week to investigate the viral app over potential security issues. He cited concerns that FaceApp could be sharing user information with the Russian government. 

Officials in the UK are also looking into accusations that FaceApp is misusing personal data.

But some security analysts said this week they saw no evidence the app was stealing additional information from phones. And they pointed out that while users grant broad access to their photos while using the app, that’s true of most any tech service or platform. 

For its part, FaceApp this week clarified its privacy policy. It also said in a statement, “Even though the core R&D team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia.” 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

(Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse Monford/U.S. Navy via AP) In this May 1, 2019, photo provided by the U.S. Navy, the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) transits the San Diego Bay in San Diego, Calif. 

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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