In our news wrap Wednesday, tensions between the U.S. and Iran have prompted new diplomatic and military moves. The State Department ordered non-essential government staff out of neighboring Iraq, where Germany and the Netherlands also halted military training missions. Meanwhile, San Francisco became the first city in the U.S. to ban police from using facial recognition software.
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Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have prompted new diplomatic and military moves today. They follow Washington's warnings of unspecified threats by Iran.
Today, the State Department ordered nonessential government staff out of neighboring Iraq. Germany and the Netherlands also stopped military training missions in Iraq. But, in Berlin, German officials issued a veiled warning about intensifying U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Heiko Maas (through translator):
Because maximum pressure always carries the risk of an unintended escalation. And we certainly do not need one thing at the moment, an additional fuse. That is why we will do everything we can to ensure that this doesn't happen.
In Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also warned against any miscalculation. House Democrats quoted her as saying the U.S. has to avoid a war. And New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez said the White House must not take military action without approval from Congress.
President Trump has stepped up the pressure on China in the midst of a trade war. He declared a national emergency today to protect the U.S. telecommunications system. It refers to — quote — "foreign adversaries," without mentioning any by name. The president already banned Chinese company Huawei from U.S. government contracts. This new order authorizes action to block other telecom transactions.
Two teenagers accused of opening fire at their Colorado school were formally charged today with murder and attempted murder. One student, Kendrick Castillo, was killed in the attack on May 7, after he tackled one of the shooters. A large crowd attended his memorial service today in suburban Denver. And hundreds of Jeep owners joined in honoring Castillo, who was fond of off-roading in his own Jeep.
California fire authorities have concluded that electrical transmission lines sparked last year's deadly Camp Fire. Today's finding blamed lines owned by Pacific Gas and Electric. The utility has already filed for federal bankruptcy protection. The Camp Fire killed 85 people and destroyed nearly 15,000 homes.
San Francisco is now the first city in the country to ban police from using facial recognition software. The Board of Supervisors approved the ban on Tuesday. The measure also says city departments must receive approval to buy or use any surveillance system.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin and others argued facial recognition technology threatens civil liberties and privacy.
It's psychologically unhealthy when people know they're being watched in every aspect of the public realm, on the streets, in parks. That's not the kind of city I want to live in.
Opponents of the ban said the technology makes it cheaper and faster for police to find suspects and identify missing people.
There's more fallout in the opioid scandal. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announced today it will take no more money from the billionaire Sackler family. The Sacklers allegedly racked up huge profits from OxyContin, made by the family-owned Purdue Pharma, and they now face multiple lawsuits. Several other museums have taken similar actions.
The number of babies born in the United States has reached a 32-year low. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there were just under 3.8 million births last year. And birth rates for women in their teens and 20s reached record lows. U.S. births peaked in 2007, at 4.3 million, but have been dropping since then, partly as women choose to have children later in life.
And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 116 points to close at 25648. The Nasdaq rose 87 points, and the S&P 500 added 16.
And at the Vatican today, eight migrant children from Syria, Nigeria and Congo took a ride in the Popemobile. They waved as the vehicle made its way around St. Peter's Square at Pope Francis' weekly general audience. Some even took selfies with him. The pope has clashed with the Italian government over its strict curbs on accepting migrants.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": the White House announces a new immigration plan, with the aim of unifying Republicans; the Alabama state Senate votes to enact the nation's most restrictive abortion law; how some activists are using art to motivate their fellow citizens to fight climate change; and much more.