In our news wrap Wednesday, the battle for a U.S. House seat near Atlanta leads to a runoff, in a race seen as a referendum on President Trump. In Britain, the House of Commons approved Prime Minister Theresa May’s call for an early national election. Turkey’s electoral board refused to annul Sunday’s referendum. Meanwhile, Russian long-range bombers have been reportedly spotted near Alaska.
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The battle for a U.S. House seat near Atlanta has come down to a run-off, in a race seen as a referendum on President Trump.
A Democrat easily led Tuesday's voting, but faces a run-off with a Republican, in a district that has voted Republican for years. We will have a full report later in the program.
In Britain, the House of Commons overwhelmingly approved Prime Minister Theresa May's call for an early national election. She proposed holding the vote in June, instead of waiting until 2020, while Britain is also negotiating its exit from the European Union.
Before today's vote, may urged lawmakers to give the government the strongest possible hand in the Brexit talks.
THERESA MAY, British Prime Minister:
Leaving the election to 2020 would mean that we would be coming to the most sensitive and critical part of the negotiations in the run-up to a general election, and that would be in nobody's interest.
May ruled out holding televised debates during the brief election campaign.
Turkey's national electoral board today refused to annul Sunday's referendum that greatly expanded the president's powers. The main opposition party brought the challenge, and its deputy chairman insisted the appeals process is a long way from over.
BULENT TEZCAN, Turkish Politician (through interpreter):
The internal legal process is now closed with the high electoral board decision, but we are determined to employ all legal ways. We are responsible for both ourselves and for the 49 percent of the Turkish people who voted for no. We will fulfill our responsibility.
The opposition says it will go to Turkey's constitutional court, and, if need be, to the European Court of Human Rights.
In Syria, evacuations of thousands of people resumed today from four besieged villages. It was part of an exchange deal involving two rebel-held towns near Damascus and two pro-government villages in the north. Civilians and fighters were transported by bus. The exchange was delayed after a suicide bomber attacked a convoy on Saturday, killing more than 120 evacuees.
Vice President Pence used an aircraft carrier as the backdrop today to warn North Korea yet again. He addressed some 2,500 sailors aboard the U.S. Ronald Reagan in Tokyo Bay, and he promised an overwhelming response if North Korea tries something.
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE:
The United States of America will always seek peace, but under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready.
The White House faced questions today about announcements last week that another carrier was sailing for the Koreas, at a time when it was still headed the opposite way. Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended the president's statements, and his own.
SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary:
What I was asked was, what signal did it send that it was going there? And I answered that question correctly at the time, that it signaled foreign presence, strength, and a reassurance to our allies. That's a true statement.
As of today, the USS Carl Vinson carrier group and its entire strike group were still en route to waters off the Korean Peninsula.
Two more Russian long-range bombers have been spotted off Alaska. It was widely reported today that the aircraft were detected last night, about 40 miles from the Alaskan coast. A similar flyby happened Monday.
Political discord was in the air today as President Trump hosted the Super Bowl champions New England Patriots. Several players cited opposition to him or his policies as a reason for staying away. Star quarterback Tom Brady said that he was dealing with a personal family matter.
The ceremony was overshadowed by news that former Patriots star Aaron Hernandez hanged himself overnight in his prison cell. He was serving a life sentence without parole for murder.
Newly filed reports show that the Trump inaugural committee raised a record-shattering $107 million. That nearly doubles the record that was set by President Obama, eight years ago. The biggest contributors included casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, plus Bank of America, Boeing and others.
Mr. Trump's nominee to be deputy secretary of commerce has withdrawn. Todd Ricketts, the co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, said that he is not able to resolve conflicts of interest.
And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 118 points, thanks partly to a drop in oil prices. It closed at 20404. The Nasdaq rose 13, and the S&P 500 slipped four.