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News Wrap: Esper criticizes Turkey for purchase of Russian-made air defenses

In our news wrap Tuesday, Army Sec. Mark Esper criticized Turkey’s purchase of Russian-made air defenses during his Senate confirmation hearing for defense secretary. Esper called the NATO ally’s decision “very disappointing.” Also, federally funded family planning clinics can no longer refer women for abortions. Courts ruled the administration’s referral ban could proceed amid legal challenges.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And in the day's other news: A white police officer in New York who put a black man, Eric Garner, in a fatal choke hold in 2014 will not face federal charges.

    Garner could be heard gasping "I can't breathe" as officer Daniel Pantaleo gripped him during an arrest. A state grand jury already declined to indict Pantaleo, and, today, federal prosecutors said they could not prove that he willfully violated Garner's civil rights.

    Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, called the finding an outrage, and demanded that Pantaleo be fired.

  • Gwen Carr:

    Five years ago, my son said "I can't breathe" 11 times. And, today, we can't breathe, because they have let us down.

    Officer Pantaleo and all the officers who was involved in my son's death that day need to be off the force. The streets of New York City is not safe with them walking around.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    A senior U.S. Justice Department official said that Attorney General William Barr himself made the decision, overruling officials who wanted to charge Pantaleo. We will delve into the decision-making after the news summary.

    As of today, federally funded family planning clinics had to stop referring women for abortions. Federal courts allowed the Trump administration to begin enforcing the referral ban until legal challenges are decided. The move is seen as a blow to Planned Parenthood, but the group said it would forgo the funds for now and continue making abortion referrals.

    The nominee for U.S. secretary of defense today criticized Turkey's purchase of Russian-made air defenses. The U.S. strongly opposed the move by the NATO ally. Mark Esper, who is currently the secretary of the Army, told his Senate confirmation hearing that Turkey's decision was the wrong one.

  • Mark Esper:

    Very disappointing. Turkey has been a longstanding NATO ally, a very capable one, I think they were one of the original allies, if I think back to when the alliance formed. And so it is very disheartening to see how they have drifted over the past several years.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Later, President Trump confirmed that Turkey's purchase from Russia means that the U.S. will not sell advanced fighter jets to the Turks. He claimed the Obama administration created the problem by failing to sell an American missile defense system to Turkey in the first place.

    North Korea suggested today that it may lift a 20-month moratorium on nuclear and missile tests. That came as talks have stalled on ending the North's nuclear program. But President Trump said again there is no hurry about reaching an agreement.

    For the first time, the European Commission will have a woman as president. The outgoing German defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, was confirmed today. She won a bare majority of votes in the European Parliament, in an outcome that was met with applause after weeks of deadlock. The new leader promised to focus on climate change and gender equality.

    Back in this country, the head of Facebook's new digital currency, Libra, faced criticism from senators in both parties. They branded the social media giant dangerous for failing to protect users' personal data. In turn, Facebook's David Marcus said the company is working to earn back people's trust, and he insisted digital transactions will safeguard consumers.

  • David Marcus:

    We will take the time to get this right. We expect the review of Libra to be among the most extensive ever. We are fully committed to working with regulators, here and around the world.

    And let me be clear and unambiguous. Facebook will not offer the Libra digital currency until we have fully addressed regulators' concerns and received appropriate approvals.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Facebook says it hopes to launch its Libra cryptocurrency in 2020.

    On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 23 points to close at 27335. The Nasdaq fell 35 points, and the S&P 500 slipped 10.

    And NASA kicked off celebrations today for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, when men first landed on the moon. Crew member Michael Collins, who is now 88, was on hand this morning at Cape Canaveral for the exact moment when he, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong blasted off on July 16, 1969. Five days later, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon. He passed away in 2012.

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