In our news wrap Thursday, Iran threatened an “all-out war” if attacked by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia. From the United Arab Emirates, Sec. of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped for a “peaceful resolution” of the tense situation. Also, a Taliban truck bomb in southern Afghanistan’s Zabul province killed 20 people and wounded nearly 100, while a U.S. drone misfired and killed 30 civilians in the east.
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President Trump is insisting he has not made any improper promises to any foreign leader. That followed reports of a whistle-blower questioning actions by Mr. Trump, including communications with a foreign leader.
The intelligence community's inspector general called it an urgent concern, but the administration has refused to share it with Congress.
We will discuss all of this after the news summary.
Iran today threatened an all-out war if attacked by the U.S. or Saudi Arabia. Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif issued that warning, after rising tensions over a drone-and-missile attack on Saudi oil facilities. U.S. and Saudi officials have dismissed Iran's denial of responsibility.
And, yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the attack an act of war. Today, Pompeo was in the United Arab Emirates for talks with Gulf leaders, and he responded to Zarif.
I was here in an act of diplomacy, while the foreign minister of Iran is threatening all-out war, to fight to the last American. We're here to build out a coalition aimed at achieving peace and a peaceful resolution to this. That's my mission set. That's what President Trump certainly wants me to work to achieve.
Pompeo left the region today to return to Washington. United Nation inspectors, meanwhile, arrived in Saudi Arabia to investigate the attacks.
Also today, Iran announced that President Hassan Rouhani and foreign Minister Zarif have now received U.S. visas to attend the U.N. General Assembly in New York next week.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban have struck again, this time in the southern province of Zabul. A truck bomb killed 20 people outside a hospital. Ambulances rushed through the chaos, and doctors tended to nearly 100 wounded, including children.
Separately, officials in Eastern Afghanistan said a U.S. drone attack, aimed at Islamic State fighters, misfired and killed 30 civilians.
A court in Japan today cleared three former utility executives of negligence in the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. In March of 2011, an earthquake triggered a tsunami that all but destroyed the plant, sending radiation spewing across the countryside. Thousands of people were left homeless, and some protested today outside the court.
Keiko Sasaki (through translator):
How could they rule this way? We cannot understand and cannot accept it. For the past 8.5 years, there are many people who were forced to evacuate from their home and hometown, and are still looking for a place to live.
The court ruled today that, at the time of the tsunami, the Japanese government didn't require nuclear plant executives to ensure absolute safety. This was the only criminal trial related to Fukushima.
Back in this country, remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda have led to heavy rains and flooding in the Houston, Texas, area. Officials today reported more than 1,000 people rescued or evacuated so far. Forecasters said some places could end up getting four 40 in rain.
Hurricane Humberto, meanwhile, brushed past Bermuda with winds of 125 miles an hour. There were reports of some damage on the island, but no deaths.
The White House today withdrew the nomination of Jeffrey Byard to lead FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The nomination was pulled over what the administration called an unspecified personal issue. FEMA has not had a full-time administrator since Brock Long resigned last February over questions about his use of government vehicles.
On Capitol Hill, Eugene Scalia, the nominee for secretary of labor, defended his pro-business record today. Scalia has spent most of his career representing corporate interests on employment issues. Democrats argued that makes him the wrong choice to defend American workers. Scalia said he has acted as any good lawyer should.
I am not necessarily my clients. I will seek to defend them, to vindicate their rights, but that doesn't mean that I necessarily think what they did was proper.
Scalia is the son of Antonin Scalia, the conservative Supreme Court justice who died in 2016.
The U.S. House has passed a stopgap spending bill to prevent a government shutdown at month's end. It sailed through today, and went to the Senate, which is also expected to approve it. The bill funds federal operations through November 21.
President Trump won a round in federal court today on keeping his tax returns private. A federal judge blocked a California law that says presidential candidates must release their returns to qualify for the state's presidential primary ballot next march. The president also filed a federal lawsuit today to block a subpoena for his tax returns, that one from prosecutors in New York.
And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 52 points to close at 27094. The Nasdaq rose five points, and the S&P 500 was virtually unchanged.
And there is word that bird numbers in North America have plunged by nearly three billion since 1970. That's a 29 percent decrease, according to a study based at Cornell University. It was published today in the journal "Science." Now, the study estimates the U.S. and Canada now have about 7.2 billion birds. It says the common house sparrow and eastern meadowlarks have suffered some of the biggest losses.
And the Washington Monument reopened to visitors today, for the first time in three years. The stone obelisk had been closed to replace its aging elevator and to enhance security systems. First lady Melania Trump attended today's ribbon-cutting, as students looked on.
The monument is the tallest building in Washington, at 555 feet, and officially opened in 1888.