Wednesday morning news: August 28, 2019

Iran says no talks with U.S. until sanctions lifted » Iran’s president back-pedaled Tuesday on possible talks with President Trump. 

ROUHANI: [Speaking in Farsi]

In a televised address, Hasan Rouhani said the U.S. must lift sanctions against Iran before the two sides can talk.  

That came one day after he expressed an openness to meet and President Trump said he had a “good feeling” about a possible meeting.

TRUMP: If the circumstances were correct or right I would certainly agree to that.

Rouhani on Monday said if he knew that an in-person meeting about reopening nuclear talks—quote—“would help my country’s development and resolve the problems of the people, I would not miss it.” He added that even if the odds of success were slim, “We should not miss opportunities.”

Rouhani’s U-turn is widely seen as a result of pressure from hard-liners in Iran who oppose taking a softer tone toward the West.

Judge halts new Missouri abortion law » A federal judge in Missouri on Tuesday temporarily blocked a law protecting unborn babies from abortion after eight weeks of gestation. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has more. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The new law was scheduled to take effect today before U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs halted the law as legal challenges play out in court. 

Missouri lawmakers expected a court challenge and included a series of protections later in pregnancy. If the courts eventually strike down the eight-week law, protections ranging from 14 to 20 weeks may survive. 

The law also includes a trigger clause, which would ban all abortions except in cases of medical emergencies if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturns Roe v. Wade.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen. 

Brazilian president demands apology before accepting wildfire aid » Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday said he might accept international aid to fight wildfires in the Amazon rainforest—on one condition: French President Emmanual Macron must apologize to him. 

Bolsonaro took offense to Macron’s recent comments as the two leaders feuded in the press. After Bolsonaro quipped about the looks of Macron’s wife on social media, the French president responded by saying he hopes Brazil will “soon have a president who is up to the job.” Bolsonaro said Macron “must retract his words” before they can talk. 

The Group of Seven—or G7—nations offered about $20 million in aid to help fight the Amazon wildfires. Canada and Britain also pledged an additional $23 million.

Satellite imagery recorded more than 1,700 active fires as of Tuesday.

Australian citizen charged with espionage in China » China has charged a Chinese Australian man with espionage after holding him for seven months. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Authorities detained Yang Hengjun in January—supposedly on suspicion of spying on the government. And Chinese officials have now formally charged him with espionage. 

Skeptics of the charge say Yang’s only crime is being an outspoken pro-democracy activist. 

The 54-year-old former diplomat is a popular political commentator and writer. He became an Australian citizen in 2002, but was living in New York as a visiting scholar at Columbia University. 

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said her government “is very concerned and disappointed.” She added that if “Yang is being held for his political beliefs, he should be released.” She said he’s been held in “harsh conditions” without access to his lawyers or family visits.

A Chinese government spokesman warned Australia not to—quote—“intervene in China’s handling of the case in any way.”

Yang’s wife, who is an Australian permanent resident, is also banned from leaving China.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Tropical Storm Dorian takes aim at Puerto Rico » Another big storm is heading for Puerto Rico. The National Hurricane Center on Tuesday issued a hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning for Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. 

That as Tropical Storm Dorian barrels through the Carribbean. Forecasters say the storm will make landfall in Puerto Rico later today. When it does, John Cangelosi at the National Hurricane Center said it’s more likely to be a tropical storm than a hurricane. 

From there, Dorian is expected to track toward the Florida coast. 

CANGELOSI: What we’ve been telling people in Florida is just, you know, there’s no reason to panic. Just watch Dorian, and I think we’ll have more clarity on what’s going to happen in the Bahamas and in Florida probably by late Wednesday when the system clears Hispaniola. 

The National Hurricane Center said by the time it nears Florida later this week, the storm could be anything from a broken tropical depression—all the way up to a hurricane.   

Exploration Films cuts ties with author Josh Harris » Exploration Films announced this week that it’s cutting ties with Josh Harris. He wrote the influential 1997 Christian bestseller I Kissed Dating Goodbye

The company is ending its role in distributing a film featuring Harris called I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

AUDIO: I need to take a journey of asking hard questions and letting the answers lead me wherever they will. 

The announcement comes weeks after Harris announced on Instagram that had “undergone a massive shift” regarding his faith in Jesus and said—quote—“I am not a Christian.” 

In a statement, Exploration Films said “Unfortunately, Josh did not tip off his film team partners of these surprising changes before his public post.”

(AP Photo/Eraldo Peres) Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro makes a signal with his hand during a military ceremony for the Day of the Soldier, at Army Headquarters in Brasilia, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 23, 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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