Tuesday morning news: September 24, 2019

Trump to address U.N. General Assembly » President Trump will take the podium at the UN General Assembly today. An administration official said he will “underscore that America is a positive alternative to authoritarianism.” 

On Monday, many world leaders huddled at UN headquarters for a climate change summit. The president dropped in briefly, but largely focused instead on religious liberty. 

TRUMP: Approximately 80 percent of the world’s population live in countries where religious liberty is threatened, restricted or even banned. And when I heard that number I said please go back and check it because it can’t possibly be correct, and sadly, it was. 

He delivered the keynote address at an event called the Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom. Trump urged other nations to “increase the prosecution and punishment of crimes against religious communities.” 

The president also spent much of the day meeting world leaders on the sidelines. During those meetings he announced that the Pentagon will deploy more troops to Poland as part of a new agreement. 

Britain, France, Germany blame Iran for Saudi oil attacks » Britain, France and Germany joined the United States on Monday in blaming Iran for drone attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. 

Iran continues to deny it. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said—quote—”If Iran were behind this attack, nothing would have been left of this refinery.”

But leaders of the UK, France, and Germany said in a statement that “there is no other plausible explanation” than that “Iran bears responsibility for this attack.”

U.S. soldier arrested in bomb plot » Federal authorities have arrested a U.S. Army soldier, who they say shared bomb-making instructions online and discussed bombing multiple targets. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: A criminal complaint names Jarrett William Smith—a 24-year-old private first class stationed at Fort Riley near Topeka, Kansas. 

He allegedly chatted with an undercover FBI agent about a plan to kill left-wing “antifa” activists. He also described how to build a bomb that could be triggered by cellphone. 

Authorities say Smith told the agent exactly how to build a—quote— “Middle East style bomb” that if big enough can destroy U.S. military vehicles. 

Smith also allegedly talked about targeting a major news network and presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. 

He’s charged with distributing information relating to weapons of mass destruction. If convicted, Smith could face up to 20 years in prison.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Pelosi may have hinted at impeachment over Trump call with Ukrainian president » After months of tamping down talk of impeaching the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may be changing her tune.

Democratic leaders continue to sound alarms over a July phone call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine. Someone inside the White House filed a complaint with the U.S. intelligence inspector general—reportedly about that phone call. And Democratic leaders are demanding to see that complaint. 

Pelosi told NPR over the weekend… 

PELOSI: The law says the director of national intelligence shall convey the whistleblower information to the intelligence committees in the Congress. And right now, they are breaking the law. 

During his conversation with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump discussed the business dealings of Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden in Ukraine. Democrats believe the president improperly used his office to go after a political rival. 

And in a letter this week to members of the House, Pelosi may have alluded to broader impeachment hearings. She said “If the administration persists” in withholding the complaint from Congress—quoting here—“they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation.”

Democrats are also pressing the White House to release a transcript of the phone call with Zelensky. But Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said that would set a bad precedent, as foreign leaders need to feel confident that their conversations are private.

Thomas Cook travel co. collapses stranding thousands of travelers » Hundreds of thousands of travelers were stranded across the world Monday, after British tour company Thomas Cook collapsed. The company suddenly halted almost all its flights and hotel services and laid off all its employees.

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority Policy Director Tim Johnson said it’s now up to the government to bring those stranded British travelers home. 

JOHNSON: Our sole focus is on the repatriation, the largest peacetime repatriation – bringing that 150-thousand people back to the U.K. over the next two weeks. 

Overall, about 600,000 people were traveling with the company as of Sunday.

Thomas Cook was a 178-year-old company that helped create the package tour industry. Many analysts say with more people making their own travel plans online—the company’s business model no longer held up.

CEO Peter Fankhauser announced the shutdown on Monday… 

FANKHAUSER: Despite huge efforts over a number of months and further intense negotiations in recent days, we have not been able to secure a deal to save our business. 

And with that, Thomas Cook’s 21,000 employees in 16 countries are now out of a job. 

School collapses in Kenya killing at least 7 students » A school collapsed in Kenya’s capital on Monday killing at least seven children. 

Parents wailed over the remains of The Precious Talent Top School in Nairobi …

AUDIO: [Sound from Kenya]

Hundreds of people gathered as emergency workers picked through debris. Government spokesman Cyrus Oguna said dozens were injured. 

OGUNA: There have been 57 students that have been taken to hospital for treatment. 

At least two of those children were listed in critical condition.

The building was made of corrugated metal and wood. It’s not clear why it collapsed, but construction is poorly regulated in some fast-growing Kenyan communities.

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) President Donald Trump in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 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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