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News Wrap: No changes to transgender policy for now, says military commander

July 27, 2017 at 6:45 PM EDT
In the our news wrap Thursday, the U.S. military’s top commander said there won’t be any changes for transgender troops for now. That came a day after President Trump tweeted he’s reinstating the ban on transgender service members. Also, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham had sharp words for Mr. Trump over his public criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The U.S. military’s top commander said there will not be any changes regarding transgender troops for now. President Trump tweeted yesterday that he’s reinstating the ban on transgender service members.

Today, in an internal memo, Marine General and Joint Chiefs Chairman Joe Dunford said that pending actual direction — quote — “We will continue to treat all our personnel with respect.”

The Army’s chief of staff, General Mark Milley, echoed that in a Washington appearance.

GEN. MARK MILLEY, U.S. Army Chief of Staff: We grow up and learn to obey the chain of command. And my chain of command is the secretary of the Army and the secretary of defense, right, and the president. So we will work through the implementation guidance when we get it, and then we will move from there.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has been on vacation, and has made no public comment on reinstating the ban.

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved $1.6 billion for President Trump’s proposed wall on the Mexican border. That’s the amount he formally asked for in May. The vote today attached the money to a much larger bill that includes a major increase in defense spending. That now goes to the Senate.

A top Senate Republican had sharp words for the president today over Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Mr. Trump has repeatedly attacked Sessions for recusing himself in the Russia investigation.

But Senator Lindsey Graham, who we have been hearing about, warned that there will be — quote — “holy hell” to pay if Sessions is fired. He also warned against getting rid of special counsel Bob Mueller.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency, unless Mueller did something wrong. Right now, I have no reason to believe that Mueller is compromised. If you got reason to believe he is compromised and shouldn’t be serving as special counsel, let me know.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan also said that Mueller should stay where he is and continue doing his job. Attorney General Sessions was traveling in El Salvador today. He said again he will serve as long as the president wants him to, but he acknowledged it hasn’t been — quote — “the best week.”

The U.S. State Department is condemning Iran’s claim that it launched an advanced rocket into space. The announcement today said it happened at a site east of Tehran. State TV said the rocket could carry a satellite weighing about 550 pounds. The U.S. says it could lead to long-range missiles, and violates the spirit of the Iran nuclear accord.

Clashes erupted today between Palestinians and Israeli police near a Jerusalem mosque. Thousands rushed to pray there after Israel finished removing security devices that had triggered a boycott. Palestinians threw stones and Israeli police fired back with tear gas and stun grenades. The Red Crescent said that 37 people were hurt. Each side blamed the other for the trouble.

Back in this country, investigators are asking why a ride at the Ohio State Fair broke apart Wednesday evening and killed a teenager. Two others were critically hurt. This cell phone video, slowed down, captured part of the Fire Ball ride giving way, just before it hurled people to the ground.

The fair opened as scheduled today, but all rides were shut down. Governor John Kasich promised complete inspections.

GOV. JOHN KASICH, R-Ohio: I think about those people that were hit by debris. I think about that moment when some were thrown from that carriage. That’s a nightmare. It’s a terrible situation. But all we can do is what is humanly possible to make sure that we provide the safety and the inspections.

JUDY WOODRUFF: State inspectors had checked the ride before it began operating. Now officials in several other states are saying they have shut down these Fire Ball rides as well.

Kansas’ embattled Governor Sam Brownback is set to become U.S. ambassador-at-large for religious freedom. The White House announced the appointment last night. The Republican’s popularity has plummeted over steep tax cuts that led to severe budget problems in Kansas. But conservative religious groups pushed Brownback’s nomination, for his opposition to abortion and to same-sex marriage.

A court in China has handed a first-of-its-kind victory to that country’s LGBT community. The verdict today sided with a man who said that he was fired from his job for being transgender. The court ruled that workers cannot be discriminated against for ethnicity, race, gender or religion.

The head of the Boy Scouts of America apologized today for President Trump’s speech this week at the Scouts’ national jamboree. Michael Surbaugh said, in an open letter — quote — “We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the scouting program.”

The president appeared Monday night before thousands of Scouts, visitors and staff convened in West Virginia. He laced his speech with a series of partisan attacks.

And today on Wall Street, tech stocks slumped, but the blue chips set a new record. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 85 points to close at 21796. The Nasdaq fell 40 points, and the S&P 500 slipped two.

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