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News Wrap: Tillerson heralds easing of North Korea tensions

August 22, 2017 at 6:45 PM EDT
In our news wrap Tuesday, tensions seem to have slightly eased between the U.S. and North Korea, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson noted that Pyongyang is showing signs of restraint. Also, Navy divers found human remains in the U.S. destroyer that was damaged off the coast of Singapore when it collided with an oil tanker.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news, tensions eased just a bit in the war of wills between the U.S. and North Korea. Secretary of State Tillerson said the North is showing new signs of restraint. He pointed to the fact that the regime has not carried out any missile or nuclear tests since the U.N. adopted new sanctions, earlier this month.

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REX TILLERSON, U.S. Secretary of State: We hope that this is the beginning of this signal we’ve been looking for. That they are ready to restrain their level of tensions, they’re ready to restrain their provocative acts, and that perhaps we’re seeing our pathway to, some time in the near future, having some dialogue. We need to see more on their part but I want to acknowledge the steps they’ve taken thus far.

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JUDY WOODRUFF: At the same time, the U.S. imposed new sanctions on more than a dozen Chinese and Russian companies for supporting North Korea’s weapons programs. China called it a mistake, and warned the U.S. to correct it immediately.

The head of Iran’s nuclear program now says Tehran could ramp up uranium enrichment within five days if President Trump abrogates the 2015 nuclear deal. The president has charged Iran is violating the spirit of the deal. Ali Akbar Salehi says that the Islamic republic could quickly resume enriching uranium to the 20 percent level. From there, it could quickly be concentrated to levels used in nuclear warheads.

U.S. Navy divers today found human remains in a destroyer damaged off the coast of Singapore. They were looking for the 10 sailors who were missing after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker early Monday. As rescue crews continued their search today, officials said they are also working to determine what went wrong.

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ADM. SCOTT SWIFT, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet: From my visit in John S. McCain today, I can tell you that she has sustained significant damage through her port side aft. The flooding was halted but the extent of the damage is still being determined. We will conduct a thorough and full investigation into this collision.

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JUDY WOODRUFF: This was the second major collision this summer for the Navy’s 7th Fleet.

The Trump administration today defended a decision not to exempt coal-fired plants from environmental laws. The coal industry wanted an emergency order, but the federal Energy Department declined. The head of Murray Energy claimed that President Trump had personally promised to take action.

The White House did not respond directly, but it did say: President Trump continues to fight for miners every day.

The wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Louise Linton, has apologized for a scathing online attack. Yesterday, she had posted a picture of herself and Mnuchin getting off a government jet, and pointed out the brand names of her designer outfit. When a commenter criticized the post, Linton shot back, quote: Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes than you did.

Today, Linton said her response was highly insensitive.

Wall Street shot higher today after reports of progress toward a tax-reform package in Congress. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 196 points to close just short of 21900. The Nasdaq rose 84 points, and the S&P 500 added 24.

And, the supreme court of India has struck down a Muslim practice allowing men to instantly divorce their wives. A group of Muslim women challenged the religious law. It lets a man terminate a marriage simply by saying a single word, “talaq,” three times. The rule has already been banned in more than 20 other countries.

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