Thursday morning news: August 1, 2019

Democrats gather for second night of two-day presidential debate » Ten more Democrats took the stage last night for the second half of another two-day presidential debate in Detroit.

Former Vice President Joe Biden stood centerstage as the early frontrunner in the race. And his presidential rivals had clearly seen the poll numbers working throughout the night to keep Biden on his heels. 

CASTRO: I agree with Senator Booker that a lot of what vice president helped author in ‘94 was a mistake. And he has flip flopped on these things. 

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro heard there hitting Biden on criminal justice reform.  

Washington Governor Jay Inslee went after the frontrunner on climate change. 

INSLEE: Middle ground solutions like the vice president has proposed or sort of middling, average sized things are not going to save us. 

As in Tuesday night’s debate, Democrats disagreed on a so-called “Medicare for all” government healthcare plan. And the candidates clashed on decriminalizing illegal border crossings—something Biden said he does not support. 

BIDEN: If you cross the border illegally, you should be able to be sent back. It’s a crime. 

But New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said it shouldn’t be. 

GILLIBRAND: I believe that we should have a civil violation. 

But candidates were united in their condemnation of President Trump, both on big issues as well as the Russia investigation and in their calls for Congress to impeach him. 

The next major debate will take place on September 12th in Houston, Texas. 

Senate confirms U.S. ambassador to United Nations » The Senate has confirmed Kelly Craft as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Craft is a longtime GOP activist from Kentucky, who currently serves as U.S. ambassador to Canada. Lawmakers approved her confirmation on a vote of 56 to 34. The position has been vacant for more than seven months since Ambassador Nikki Haley stepped down. 

Federal Reserve cuts key interest rate » The Federal Reserve cut its key interest rate Wednesday for the first time in a decade. The move counters uncertainties caused by trade wars and a slowing global economy. 

The central bank reduced its benchmark rate to a range of 2 percent to 2-and-a-quarter percent. analyst Mark Hamrick said borrowers should welcome the news. 

HAMRICK: Borrowers are getting a bit of a break for things like credit cards and home equity lines of credit. The bad news is that we never really got to the promised land with respect to higher savings rates. And now some of those savings rates are heading lower. 

It’s the first rate cut since December 2008 during the Great Recession. That’s when the Fed slashed its rate to a record low near zero and kept it there until 2015. 

Trump administration to legalize drug imports from Canada » The Trump administration said Wednesday it’s creating a way for Americans to legally import prescription drugs from Canada for the first time. 

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told reporters on Wednesday…

AZAR: It provides for importation of drugs that were originally intended for sale in foreign countries when it can be done in a way that addresses safety concerns and does not put patients or the U.S. drug supply chain at risk. 

He said allowing lower-cost imports will drive down medication costs for Americans. The move reverses years of opposition from federal health authorities amid a public outcry over high prices for life-sustaining medications.

It’s unclear how soon consumers will see the benefits. The plan still has to go through time-consuming regulatory approval and could later face court challenges from drugmakers.

Roadside bomb kills at least 32 people in Afghanistan » A roadside bomb ripped through a bus in the western Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing at least 32 people. No group immediately claimed responsibility. But the Taliban operate in the region and frequently use roadside bombs to target government officials and security forces.

Pentagon identifies U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan » Meantime, the Pentagon has identified two U.S. soldiers killed in southern Afghanistan. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: They are 20-year-old Private First Class Brandon Jay Kreischer and 24-year-old Specialist Michael Isaiah Nance. 

They died on Monday from wounds sustained in a—quote—“combat related incident.” Both men were assigned to the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. 

Their deaths bring the total number of American troops killed this year in Afghanistan to 12. 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Broadway giant Harold Prince dies » Broadway director and producer Harold Prince has died.

He helped create some of Broadway’s biggest musical hits, first as a producer of shows like “West Side Story” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” 

MUSIC: [Fiddler on the Roof]

He later became a director, overseeing musicals including ”Sweeney Todd,” ”Evita” and “The Phantom of the Opera.”

Prince  won a staggering 21 Tony Awards throughout his career. He died Wednesday in Iceland after a brief illness. Harold Prince was 91.

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya) Former Vice President Joe Biden gestures to Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. 

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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