MILES O’BRIEN: President Trump turned his focus to the hurricane victims today. He’d talked a lot about the recovery effort and the federal response during his visit to Texas yesterday.
Today, he was in Springfield, Missouri. The subject was tax reform, but he made a point of circling back to the ravages of Harvey.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: To those Americans who have lost loved ones, all of America is grieving with you, and our hearts are joined with yours forever.
MILES O’BRIEN: Mr. Trump plans to return to Texas and possibly Louisiana on Saturday.
In other news: The president and his secretary of defense gave out mixed signals after North Korea fired a missile over Japan on Tuesday. Mr. Trump appeared to dismiss diplomatic efforts, with a tweet that said, “Talking is not the answer.”
But Secretary of Defense James Mattis said just the opposite a short time later, as he met with his South Korean counterpart at the Pentagon.
JAMES MATTIS, Secretary of Defense: No, we’re never out of diplomatic solutions. We continue to work together. And the minister and I share a responsibility to provide for the protection of our nations, our populations and our interests, which is what we are here to discuss today.
MILES O’BRIEN: Meanwhile, the Pentagon released footage of a missile defense test today off Hawaii. It said the U.S. Navy successfully shot down a medium-range ballistic missile.
The Pentagon is calling in a panel of experts to study the issue of transgender troops. Secretary Mattis says he wants recommendations on whether those already serving should be allowed to remain in the ranks. President Trump has left their fate to Mattis to decide, but he’s ordered a ban on recruiting any new transgender troops.
The U.N.’s human rights chief warned the president today to stop attacking journalists. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein spoke in Geneva. He said it’s dangerous for Mr. Trump to brand news organizations fake and single out individual reporters.
ZEID RA’AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN, UN Human Rights High Commissioner: Is this not an incitement for others to attack journalists? And let’s assume a journalist is harmed from one of these organizations. Does the president then not bear responsibility for this, for having fanned this?
MILES O’BRIEN: Al-Hussein also called on Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro to stop violating human rights and crushing dissent. He said the country’s democracy is only barely alive.
The Russian government confirms that it received an e-mail from President Trump’s personal lawyer during the 2016 campaign about a business deal. Michael Cohen was pushing for plans for a Trump Tower property in Moscow. A Kremlin spokesman said today that Moscow didn’t reply to the e-mail.
In Myanmar, some 18,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh in the last week. The U.N.’s International Security Organization for Migration reported today they’re fleeing attacks by government troops. It’s the latest conflict between the minority Rohingya and the country’s Buddhist majority.
RAFIKA BEGUM, Rohingya Refugee (through interpreter): In Myanmar, they are killing us. They burn our houses, killing Muslims. Because of that, we have come here. They rounded us up with helicopters, looted our belongings, chased and killing our men. They killed many people, so we came here.
MILES O’BRIEN: In response, hundreds of Buddhist nationalists called for a crackdown at a rally in the capital city of Yangon today. They say Rohingya militants started the trouble.
More than one-and-three-quarter million Muslims began the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, today. They came from around the world to circle the Kaaba, tracing the footsteps of the Prophet Mohammed. It’s the start of five days of rituals. The Saudi government has a security force of 100,000 in place to guard against violence or a deadly stampede, like the one that killed thousands in 2015.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first gene therapy for use in the U.S. against childhood leukemia. It was developed by Novartis and the University of Pennsylvania, and alters a patient’s own white blood cells to identify, modify and kill cancer cells. Novartis says the treatment will cost $475,000.
In economic news, the Trump White House has blocked a rule that employers report payroll data by gender and race. It would have taken effect next March. Business groups lobbied for rescinding the mandate. They said it would do little to address wage gaps.
On Wall Street, stocks moved higher on news that second-quarter growth was the best in two years. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 27 points to close at 21892. The Nasdaq rose 66 points, and the S&P 500 added 11.
And they painted the town red today in Bunol, Spain, literally. More than 20,000 revelers hurled 160 tons of tomatoes at each other, in one of the world’s epic food fights. The famed Tomatina festival is what it’s called. Afterward, crews hosed down the streets. The event began in 1945, when the first tomato fight broke out among local children.
And that’s your “ketchup” on the news.