In our news wrap Wednesday, Israel will have to hold an unprecedented second election in September. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition government after 42 days of trying, despite his party's making a strong showing in April's election. Meanwhile, Iran’s supreme leader has again ruled out negotiations with the U.S., amid heightened tensions between the two countries.
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And now to the day's other news, and there was some.
Hundreds of new tornado victims were left sifting wreckage from the Kansas City area all the way to Pennsylvania. Tuesday's storms made 12 straight days with at least eight confirmed twisters in the U.S. That had not happened in nearly 40 years. We have more details on all this after the news summary.
The state of Israel will have to have an unprecedented second election this year. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed in his efforts to form a coalition government by tonight's deadline. His conservative Likud Party had made a strong showing in last month's initial election, but Netanyahu could not assemble a majority in Parliament. That was partly due to his own corruption scandal.
Iran's supreme leader has again ruled out any negotiations with the United States, amid heightened tensions. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a new statement today, apparently overruling Iran's president. Earlier, Hassan Rouhani had told his Cabinet that talks might be possible, if Washington ends sanctions on Iran and complies with the 2015 nuclear accord.
Hassan Rouhani (through translator):
Whenever they stop cruelty against our nation, put aside the cruel sanctions, stand up for their commitments and return to the negotiating table, which they left themselves, the road is not closed for them. The road is open.
Meanwhile, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton blamed Iran for recent attacks on tanker ships in the Persian Gulf and on a Saudi oil pipeline. Bolton visited the United Arab Emirates, and said any further attacks will draw — quote — "a very strong response from the United States."
China's tech giant Huawei is asking a U.S. court to rule immediately on the legality of barring its sales to the U.S. military and contractors. The motion was filed late Tuesday with a federal court in Texas. Huawei argues that it is being unfairly punished. The Trump administration says that Huawei is a national security threat.
Separately, a former leader of the Tiananmen Square protests in China urged the West today to make trade privileges contingent on Beijing's human rights record. Wang Dan spoke days before the 30th anniversary of that deadly crackdown on the protests.
He said that the goal must be to end the Communist Party's unchallenged rule in China.
I know a lot of Western countries don't want to ruin their relationship with China, and they don't want to see any regime change happen in China. But I have to say, if there's no regime change, nothing can be resolved.
It is believed that Chinese troops killed hundreds, and possibly thousands, in the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square.
In Venezuela, the government has made a rare admission of just how bad things are. The nation's Central Bank reports that Venezuela's economy contracted 22 percent in the third quarter last year and inflation soared to 130,000 percent. Some three million people have fled Venezuela as their economy crashes.
Back in this country, Democrats criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for saying that the Senate would fill any Supreme Court vacancy that occurs in 2020. In 2016, McConnell blocked action on Merrick Garland nominated by President Obama, arguing that the vacancy should be filled only after that year's presidential election. His office says the difference is that the White House and the Senate were held by different parties in 2016, but not now.
The Democratic National Committee has toughened standards for its second round of 2020 presidential debates in September. Contenders will have to register at least 2 percent in four approved polls. They also have to raise funds from at least 130,000 donors across 20 states. It is an effort to winnow a field of two dozen candidates.
And on Wall Street, stocks fell again, as investors sought refuge in bonds, amid worries about slower growth. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 221 points to close at 25126. The Nasdaq fell 60 points, and the S&P 500 slipped 19.