Thursday morning news: August 8, 2019

President visits Dayton, El Paso in wake of mass shootings » President Trump visited Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday—four days after two deadly mass shootings in those cities. 

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said the president heard from victims, their families, and first responders during the visit there. 

WHALEY: We reiterated to the president the importance of action around these issues and guns and that the people of Dayton are waiting on action from Washington DC. 

Trump then flew directly to El Paso. Protesters lined up in both cities—some calling for tighter gun laws, others blaming the president for a rise in racial and political tensions. 

Ahead of his arrival in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott vowed to take action to prevent future attacks. 

ABBOTT: Our job is to keep Texans safe. We take that job seriously. We will act swiftly and aggressively to achieve it. 

Abbott said he will hold a new series of roundtable discussions with local and state leaders on both sides of the aisle to consider new laws and measures to prevent mass shootings. 

He also said information he’s seen thus far suggests there were “no red flags” with the El Paso gunman. That would stand in contrast to the reported warnings signs surrounding the Dayton shooter. 

New P.R. governor sworn in after Supreme Court ousts Pierluisi » Puerto Rico has a new governor—again. It’s the island’s third governor in week. 

Just last Friday, Governor Ricardo Rosselló swore in Pedro Pierluisi to replace him. But last night Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez replaced him

She took the oath of office just hours after Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court ruled that Pierluisi had not been constitutionally confirmed. The territory’s constitution states that if a governor resigns, the secretary of state takes over. Rosselló swore in Pierluisi as secretary of state last week without Senate confirmation, citing recess appointment laws. 

The court ruled unanimously that the move was unconstitutional. 

Cyntoia Brown released from prison » Cyntoia Brown walked out of prison on Wednesday a free woman after her clemency made national headlines earlier this year. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: As a 16-year-old trafficked runaway, Cyntoia Brown received a life-sentence for killing a 43-year-old man who had picked her up for sex in 2006. She said she feared for her life when she shot him. 

Today she is a free woman at the age of 31—though she’ll remain on parole for 10 years.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam granted her clemency in January. He said her sentence was too harsh—quote—“especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life.” 

As an inmate, Brown earned her GED and has nearly completed her bachelor’s degree. She also wrote a book, Free Cyntoia, scheduled for release in October. 

In a statement this week, Brown said “I thank Governor and First Lady Haslam for their vote of confidence in me and with the Lord’s help I will make them as well as the rest of my supporters proud.” 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

China vows to counter U.S. arms deployment in Asia » China warned this week that it—quote—”will not stand idly by” and will take countermeasures if the United States deploys missiles in the Asia-Pacific region.  

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said the Pentagon wants to deploy non-nuclear, intermediate-range missiles in the region “sooner, rather than later.” 

But he said Wednesday that it’s a process that could take months or years and no one should see it as a sign of aggression. 

ESPER: We’d have to figure out in discussions, dialogue with our partners, where is the best place to deploy these systems. And we’re talking again about mobile, ground-based conventional systems to deter conflict. 

Talk of a new missile deployment follows the Trump administration’s official exit from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty—or INF for short. That pact might have barred some of the deployments the Pentagon is now planning. 

The Trump administration pulled the plug on the treaty with Russia after the U.S. and NATO allies said Moscow routinely violated it.  

China criticized America’s withdrawal from the INF. But President Trump said one of his concerns about the treaty was that China was never a part of it.  

U.S. hopes for renewed North Korea nuclear talks » Meantime, the U.S. is still hoping to hold another round of nuclear talks with North Korea soon—despite recent missile tests in that country. 

Kim Jong Un supervised recent short-range ballistic missile tests. And according to North Korean state media, Kim said launches would send a warning to the United States and South Korea over their joint military exercises.

But the Trump administration has thus far downplayed the launches. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday…

POMPEO: We are mindful that when we came in there was nuclear testing taking place. That has not occurred. There aren’t long-range missiles being fired. Those are both good things. Now the task is for us to deliver on what the two leaders agreed to back in June of last year. 

Pompeo told reporters that—quoting here—”We are planning for negotiations in a couple of weeks and we anticipate the two teams getting back together.”

Taliban attack kills at least 14 in Kabul » Days after the Taliban and the United States both said they made progress in peace talks, the extremist group carried out a major suicide attack in Kabul. 

A car bomb exploded outside police headquarters, killing at least 14 people and wounding nearly 150 others. One witness described the blast…

AUDIO: I was having breakfast in a restaurant when the explosion happened. The glass poured over us, and we rushed into the street. 

The attack was aimed at Afghan security forces, but most of the casualties were women, children, and other civilians. 

On Monday, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said the two sides had made “excellent progress” in talks in Qatar. The Taliban said it would cut ties with other extremist groups in exchange for the United States withdrawing troops. 

But the Taliban has continued attacks almost on a daily basis.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he visits the El Paso Regional Communications Center after meeting with people affected by the El Paso mass shooting, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. 

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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