In our news wrap Friday, a Cuban passenger plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing over 100 people on board. State media reported that three survivors were in critical condition. Also, a massive farm funding bill failed to pass the U.S. House of Representatives, as conservative Republicans seeking leverage in a separate fight over immigration withheld their votes.
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In the day's other news: A Cuban passenger plane crashed shortly after takeoff today, killing over 100 people on board. State media reported that the three survivors were in critical condition. The Boeing 737 was headed toward the eastern city of Holguin, when it plummeted into a field just outside Havana.
Cuba's president visited the scene and said officials would investigate the cause.
Back in this country, in rebuke to President Trump and to GOP leaders, a massive farm funding bill failed to pass the U.S. House of Representatives. Conservative Republicans withheld their votes while they seek to gain leverage in a separate fight with moderate Republicans over immigration. Far-right Freedom Caucus members have told GOP leaders they will not support the farm bill until they get a vote on a conservative immigration bill.
A revote could come as soon as next week.
President Trump is pushing Congress to approve bipartisan legislation aimed at reforming America's prisons. At a White House meeting today, Mr. Trump said he supports measures to reduce recidivism rates, and give former inmates — quote — "a second chance."
Topeka Sam, a former prisoner, herself, described some of the challenges incarcerated women face.
TOPEKA SAM, Founder and Executive Director, The Ladies of Hope Ministries: Women are victimized and traumatized over and over again. You know, we have experienced sexual violence and abuse, and then we have to be subjected to having male guards watch us undress, just because they want to.
Women who have children have to decide whether or not they're going to call their children at home or buy toothpaste. And how do you expect the country — how do you expect the children not to be impacted, in a way, when these things are happening?
The president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is spearheading a prison reform bill making its way through Congress. Several prominent Democrats on Capitol Hill oppose the legislation, because it leaves out what they say is critical sentencing reform. Kushner was asked about those concerns at today's meeting.
JARED KUSHNER, Senior Presidential Adviser:
My observation was that the reason why this thing was stuck was because of the sentencing reform. So, we, as an administration, said, let's focus on the prison reform. If we can start showing that we can make the prisons more purposeful and more effective at lowering the recidivism rate over time, then that may help the people who are trying to make the argument for the sentencing reform.
At the same event, President Trump announced his nominee to run the Department of Veterans Affairs, Robert Wilkie, currently its acting secretary. Wilkie took over after the president fired his predecessor, Andrew — Shulkin in March.
President Trump has also nominated Navy Admiral Harry Harris to be the ambassador to South Korea. Harris currently heads the U.S. Pacific Command.
The president's economic adviser says the U.S. and China are making progress during trade talks at the Treasury, but that there's no deal yet. Larry Kudlow said that China had agreed to increase its purchases of American products by $200 billion annually.
Earlier today, China denied that it made such an offer.
A new report says that President Trump pressured the head of the U.S. Postal Service to double shipping rates for online retail giant Amazon. According to The Washington Post, the postmaster general has so far resisted the demands. Mr. Trump has accused Amazon, and its owner, Jeff Bezos, of taking advantage of the post office and operating as a tax shelter.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization says the risk of Ebola is now very high, but not yet a global health emergency. It has rushed more than 4,000 vaccine doses to the country, and plans to begin administering them by Sunday. Officials are racing to contain the virus as three new cases were reported in a major city today; 25 people have died so far.
Thirty-four Catholic bishops from Chile offered their resignation to Pope Francis today, a mass mea culpa for the church's handling of child sex abuse allegations. It was the culmination of four days of meetings at the Vatican discussing how the church can chart a path forward after the scandal. Pope Francis has said that the Chilean church is collectively responsible for grave defects in covering up child abuse by a priest.
BISHOP JUAN IGNACIO GONZALEZ, Catholic Church (through translator):
But, most of all, we want to apologize for the pain caused to the victims and to the pope, to the people of God and to the country for our severe errors and omissions.
The pope has not said whether he will accept the resignations.
In the U.K., former Russian spy Sergei Skripal has left the hospital where he has been recovering from a nerve agent attack. Officials said that Skripal would continue recuperating in an undisclosed location. The U.K. blames Russia for the March poisoning that left the double agent and his daughter in critical condition. Moscow denies the charge.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained one point to close at 24715. The Nasdaq fell 28 points, and the S&P 500 fell seven. For the week, the Dow lost 0.5 percent. The Nasdaq fell 1 percent. And the S&P 500 dropped 0.5 percent.