Tuesday morning news: November 19, 2019

Trump says he’ll “strongly consider” giving written testimony in impeachment inquiry » President Trump said Monday that he might be willing to provide written testimony to lawmakers in the House impeachment inquiry. 

On Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CBS’s Face the Nation

PELOSI: The president could come right before the committee and talk—speak all the truth that he wants if he wants to—if he wants to take the oath of office, or he could do it in writing. 

The president responded on Twitter, saying that even though he doesn’t like—quote—“giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!”

Meantime, four more witnesses will testify publicly today. Appearing this morning, foreign service aide Jennifer Williams and Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman. He’s the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council. Both were on the line during President Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s president. Vindman later reported his concerns about a push to have Ukraine launch corruption probes.

This afternoon, former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and former National Security Council aide Tim Morrison will testify. Morrison told lawmakers in closed-door testimony that he did not believe the president did anything wrong.  

Pompeo announces U.S. shift on Israeli settlements in West Bank » Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a major shift in U.S. policy on Iraeli settlements in the West Bank. 

He said Monday that declaring the civilian settlements are inconsistent with international law hasn’t worked.

POMPEO: The hard truth is there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace. 

Pompeo said the U.S. government is expressing no view on the legality of any settlement. He said legal questions about settlements should be resolved by Israeli courts on a case-by-case basis. And he added that broadly denouncing the settlements distracts from larger efforts to negotiate peace.

Israeli leaders welcomed the decision. But Palestinians and other nations warned that Pompeo has it exactly wrong and said the move will undercut any chance of a broader peace deal.

Trump admin delays vaping restrictions » The Trump administration is delaying a ban on most flavored e-cigarettes to further consider the impact the move would have on businesses. 

President Trump announced the proposed ban in September, saying he wanted parents to be aware of what a problem vaping had become among teens. 

TRUMP: We can’t allow people to get sick, and we can’t have our youth be so affected. 

But on Monday he said he’s agreed to meet with proponents of vaping along with medical professionals who want tighter controls. No date has been set for a meeting.

The delay comes amid reports that the president has faced heavy pressure to back down on the vaping restrictions. The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press, citing White House and campaign officials say lobbyists and GOP lawmakers have warned the president that the move could alienate some voters.

Report: Chinese president ordered “no mercy” in Muslim crackdown » A new report reveals that Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered officials to show —quote—“absolutely no mercy” in cracking down on Muslims. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: China has repeatedly denied that it imprisoned about 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in so-called reeducation camps.

But The New York Times published hundreds of leaked documents contradicting that claim. 

One of the documents includes a script for officials talking to family members of those sent to the camps. Officials were instructed to assure them their relatives were not criminals but were held for their “unhealthy thoughts.” It said—quote—“It’s very hard to totally eradicate viruses in thinking in just a short time.” 

A member of the Chinese Communist Party leaked the documents, hinting at a growing divide over the crackdown.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Bolivian cities suffer food, fuel shortages amid protests » In Bolivia, several cities are suffering from food and gasoline shortages because of protests by supporters of ousted President Evo Morales.

AUDIO: [Sound of protest]

The South American country’s interim government said Monday that demonstrators have cut off some transport routes. Officials say fruit and vegetables are rotting on trucks that have been unable to reach markets.

And Bolivia’s Interim Interior Minister Arturo Murillo says “a criminal group” planned an attack on Interim President Jeannine Añez.

He said drug traffickers with ties to Cuba, Venezuela, and Columbia were behind the plot. He said they want to turn Bolivia into a terrorist and drug-trafficking country.

Boy Scouts mortgage their ‘crown jewel’ » The Boy Scouts of America has reportedly mortgaged one of its largest and most valuable properties. It could be the latest symptom of a cash crunch caused by declining membership. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has that story. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: According to documents obtained by MinistryWatch.com, the group took out a mortgage earlier this year on its Philmont Scout Ranch property. Some have called it the “crown jewel” of Scouting. The ranch covers about 220 square miles of northern New Mexico and more than 1 million Scouts and leaders have visited since its founding. 

The Boy Scouts have faced financial and legal problems for the past several years. Many objected to big changes during that time, contributing to a drop in attendance. Those changes include allowing gay adult leaders in 2015 and accepting transgender youth in 2017.

MinistryWatch reviewed BSA’s annual reports from 2012 to 2017, the last year available. They show that membership fell 16 percent during that time. The Scouts recently hiked membership fees by 80 percent. It cited the rising cost of liability insurance in the wake of sexual abuse cases.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.

(AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) A backer of former President Evo Morales scuffles with police in La Paz, Bolivia, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 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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