Friday morning news: August 23, 2019

Russia, China call U.N. Security Council meeting over U.S. missile launch » Russia and China called a meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday—accusing the United States of making the world more dangerous.

POLYANSKY: Because of the U.S.’ geopolitical ambitions, we are all one step from an arms race that cannot be controlled or regulated in any way. 

Russian diplomat D-A Polyansky, heard there through a translator. His complaint came just days after the U.S. military tested a cruise missile that would have been banned under the now-defunct Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty—or INF. The U.S. officially exited that treaty earlier this year. 

But U.S. representative to the UN Jonathan Cohen said it was Russia that nullified the INF. 

COHEN: We are here today because the Russian Federation preferred a world in which the United States continued to fulfill its INF treaty obligations, while the Russian Federation did not. 

The United States and its NATO allies complained that Russia routinely violated the treaty. China was never a part of the treaty and has never honored its terms.

China calls on U.S. to meet “halfway” on trade » But Beijing was most concerned Thursday with the weapons of the ongoing trade war between the United States and China. The U.S. is hiking duties on more than $100 billion of Chinese goods on September 1st. 

Beijing said if that it happens it will again retaliate—but appealed to Washington yesterday to—quote—“meet each other halfway” to settle the trade rift.

The Trump administration did postpone some other planned increases to mid-December. U.S. and Chinese negotiators plan to huddle once more in Washington next month. 

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that the United States is pressing Beijing to release two Canadian citizens. 

POMPEO: President Trump mentioned it directly in his meeting with President Xi Jinping. I was there when he did it. He made unambiguous—America’s concerned about this inappropriate behavior. 

Beijing detained ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor on December 10th. That was part of an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng Wanzhou, a top executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei. Canadian officials arrested her December 1st at the request of American authorities, who want her to face fraud charges in the U.S.

British PM presses French president to reopen Brexit talks » British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday pressed French President Emanuel Macron to accept his request to reopen Brexit talks.

But France joined Germany on Thursday in challenging Johnson to show he can come up with a better alternative to the main sticking point in the Brexit talks.  

That is the question of how to handle the border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK.  Johnson said there are plenty of ways to address the challenge. 

JOHNSON: You can have trusted trade schemes. You can have electronic preclearning for goods moving across the border. I just want to repeat one crucial thing: Under no circumstances will the U.K. be putting checks at the frontier. 

Border checkpoints there were a flashpoint for sectarian violence in the past.

The Brexit deal Johnson’s predecessor hammered out with the EU includes an insurance policy known as the Irish backstop. If the two sides can’t agree on how to handle the border, the backstop would ensure a seamless border between Ireland and Northern Irland. Emmanuel Macron made clear that in his view, the backstop is essential and non-negotiable. 

But the backstop is still hard to swallow for many pro-Brexit Brits—as it would keep the UK closely tied to the EU on trade.

Brazil points fingers over Amazon fires » As fires raged in the Amazon rainforest, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro shot back at critics who say his policies are partly to blame. And he made a fiery accusation of his own. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Brazil has recorded more than 74,000 wildfires in the country as of Tuesday. That’s an 84 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

Some nongovernmental organizations and other groups blame Bolsonaro’s pro-development policies. Paulo Moutinho with the Amazon Environmental Research Institute said developers often use fires to clear land for farming or logging, but they can easily get out of control. 

European nations have threatened to withhold funds and trade deals from Brazil over its environmental policies.

Bolsonaro fired back, saying there was a—quote—”very strong” indication that some non-governmental groups could be intentionally setting blazes. He said that could be in retaliation for losing state funds under his administration. But he did not provide any evidence for the charge.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.  

Democratic delegates gather for DNC summer meeting » Hundreds of Democratic National Committee delegates have gathered in San Francisco for the DNC’s summer meeting. They’ll hear today from 13 candidates vying for the party’s presidential nomination—including Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. 

But early frontrunner Joe Biden will not attend. He’ll campaign in New Hampshire instead.  

Some Democrats point out that with the diminished role of superdelegates in the party—it’s not quite as important to rub elbows with delegates at party events. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee drops White House bid » Another candidate who will not be there today is Washington Governor Jay Inslee. That’s because he’s no longer running for president. He dropped out of the race this week and announced he will run for a third term as governor. 

Insee’s campaign never gained much traction, and he was falling short of polling requirements needed to appear in presidential debates next month. He had yet to reach 2 percent in any national poll. 

Meantime, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who dropped his presidential bid last week, is also gearing up for a new campaign. 

HICKENLOOPER: I’m not done fighting for the people of Colorado. I’m John Hickenlooper, candidate for United States Senate. 

That from an online campaign video in which he took aim at his Republican opponent, incumbent Senator Cory Gardner.

(Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies via AP) This Aug. 15, 2019 satellite image from Maxar Technologies shows closeup view of a fire southwest of Porto Velho Brazil. 

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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