Friday morning news: October 18, 2019

Pence announces ceasefire in Syria » Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday announced a ceasefire in Syria. That came after hours of face-to-face meetings in Turkey with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

PENCE: It will be a pause in military operations for 120 hours while the United States facilitates the withdrawal of YPG from the affected areas in the safezone, and once that is completed, Turkey has agreed to a permanent ceasefire. 

“YPG” refers to America’s Kurdish allies in the region. 

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill say we’ll believe it when we see it. And they note that Turkey did not agree to leave Syria. 

But one of the harshest critics of the troop withdrawal in northern Syria, GOP Senator Lindsey Graham said he’ll “give it a chance.” 

GRAHAM: Whether it results in peace, I don’t know. But I think this may be a breakthrough we can build upon. 

Earlier in the day, Graham introduced a bipartisan bill with Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen to hit Turkey with additional sanctions. 

Perry stepping down as energy secretary » Energy Secretary Rick Perry has notified President Trump that he intends to leave his job soon. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Perry traveled with the president to Texas on Thursday and shared the news aboard Air Force One.

His departure had been rumored for months, though he denied reports he was planning to leave in a Wall Street Journal interview Wednesday.

Perry is under scrutiny from House Democrats for his role in the president’s dealings with Ukraine.

U.S. ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland on Thursday spoke to lawmakers leading the impeachment inquiry. He said President Trump directed him, Perry, and special envoy Kurt Volker to work with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine policy.  

Sondland said he wasn’t happy about that. He also said the president told him there would be no quid pro quo. 

And the ambassador stated firmly that it would be wrong to hold back aid to pressure a foreign government to conduct investigations to sway U.S. elections. He said he would never participate “in such undertakings.”   

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Washington mourns the loss of Rep. Elijah Cummings » Capitol flags are flying at half-staff today as Washington mourns the loss of Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings. His office said the 68-year-old Democrat died Thursday of “complications concerning longstanding health problems.” 

Cummings had been hoping to return to Congress after an unspecified medical procedure. He only expected to be away for a week. 

Maryland Senator Steny Hoyer said in a time of increasingly angry rhetoric, Cummings was a beacon of civility. 

HOYER: He would say to all of us in a loving way, we are better than this.

President Trump clashed fiercely with Cummings but tweeted his condolences on Thursday. And White House spokesman Hogan Gidley called it a “sad day for this country.” 

GIDLEY: He is an icon. He is a formidable political foe, but he has been serving this country for a long time and he is to be revered. 

Cummings chaired the powerful House Oversight Committee. It is one of the panels leading the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Cummings won election to Congress in 1996 after serving more than a decade in Maryland’s House of Delegates.

Prosecutors: Retailer broke law by selling rifle in Texas attack » Federal prosecutors says a sporting goods retailer broke the law by selling an AR-15-style rifle and large capacity magazine to the man who later used them to kill more than two dozen worshippers at a Texas church. 

The gunman in the 2017 Sutherland Springs church shooting presented a Colorado driver’s license at an Academy Sports and Outdoors store. 

Federal prosecutor Paul David Stern said “Academy was not permitted to sell” him that rifle because it “would have been illegal in Colorado.” 

The Justice Department wants to add Academy as a responsible third party in an ongoing federal lawsuit.

British prime minister pitching newly struck Brexit deal to lawmakers » British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has a tentative Bexit deal in hand after talks with EU officials. 

Leo Varadkar is Prime Minister of Ireland. It’s member of the EU. Varadkar said the agreement provides a reasonable fix for the key sticking point—managing the border between his country and the UK’s Northern Ireland. 

VARADKAR: Creates a unique solution for Northern Ireland, recognizing the unique history and geography of Northern Ireland, one which ensures there is no hard border between North and South, one which allows the all island economy to continue to develop. 

The proposal would keep Northern Ireland within the EU single market for goods and eliminate custom checks at the border with Ireland. After four years, Northern Ireland would get the chance to vote on whether to continue the arrangement.

EU leaders unanimously approved the deal, but Boris Johnson still has to sell British lawmakers on the plan. 

JOHNSON: Now is the moment for us to get Brexit done and then together to work on building our future partnership, which I think can be incredibly positive, both for the UK and for the EU. 

It’s unclear if Johnson can secure the needed votes. After he announced the deal, a chorus of British party leaders immediately said they would vote against it.

Global sting operation nets hundreds of child pornography suspects » A massive worldwide sting operation led to the arrests of hundreds of suspects tied to a child pornography website. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has that story. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The global law enforcement effort netted more than 300 suspects in numerous countries. In the process, officials rescued 23 children from their abusers in the United States, the UK, and Spain. 

The operation came to light this week after the Justice Department unsealed an indictment against a 23-year-old South Korean man. Prosecutors say Jong Woo Son operated the world’s largest child sexual exploitation market—an encrypted darknet website called “welcome to video.” 

It was among the first to sell child abuse content using the cryptocurrency bitcoin. That made tracking the transactions difficult but not impossible. Investigators seized data from the website’s servers and traced the transactions to find the website’s users. 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) In this Sept. 30, 2019 photo, Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump participate in an Armed Forces welcome ceremony. 

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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