In our news wrap Thursday, the Senate voted to block $8 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, citing the Saudi government's involvement in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi as well as its role in the war in Yemen. President Trump had approved the sales in May. Also, Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in North Korea to attempt to break an impasse with the U.S. over nuclear weapons.
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In the day's other news, the U.S. Senate voted to block $8 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. President Trump had approved the sales, citing the tensions with Iran. But a handful of Republicans joined Democrats to defy a veto threat, and halt the sales. They cited the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi role in the war in Yemen.
China's President Xi Jinping arrived in North Korea today, in a bid to break an impasse with the U.S. over nuclear weapons. The red carpet was rolled out for Xi and crowds in Pyongyang celebrated his arrival. He met later with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, for talks. Chinese state TV quoted Kim as saying that the U.S. should meet him halfway on the future of the North's nuclear arsenal.
A U.N. report today offered grim new numbers on an unprecedented outbreak of African swine fever across Asia. In Vietnam alone, 2.6 million pigs have died or been destroyed in recent months. In China, more than a million animals have died, and health experts in Hong Kong are warning that the end is nowhere in sight.
I think we won't have a vaccine for another two, three, maybe five years. And even if we have the vaccine, it would still be very difficult to push the virus back, because we have so many pigs in mainland China.
Smaller outbreaks are reported in five other countries. The virus doesn't affect humans. But pork supplies are down, and prices are up as much as 40 percent globally.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin has rejected findings that Russians shot down a Malaysian jetliner over Ukraine in 2014. The attack killed 298 people. International prosecutors charged three Russians and a Ukrainian on Wednesday, citing intercepted communications.
But in Moscow today, Putin said — quote — "There is no proof whatsoever." And he blamed Ukraine for not closing its airspace.
In San Diego today, a surprise in the court-martial of Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher. A prosecution witness claimed that he, not Gallagher, killed an Islamic State fighter in Iraq. Fellow SEAL Corey Scott testified that Gallagher stabbed the teen, but not fatally. Scott said that he then suffocated the boy, so that Iraqi forces could not torture him.
Prosecutors accused him of lying. Scott said that no one had ever asked for his whole story.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has dismissed calls to apologize for saying that the U.S. Senate was more civil and got more done even when it included old-line segregationists. Several rivals sharply attacked Biden today, but the former Delaware senator stood by his statements.
And at the U.S. Capitol today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned the dispute is a distraction in the Democratic race.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.:
And Joe Biden is authentic. He has lived his life — he considers certain things a resource, that he has worked across the aisle. That's what he was saying. That's not what this election is about.
This election is about how we connect with the American people, addressing their kitchen table needs. For us to spend time on an issue like this, which is important, but it's not central to what the election is about.
Biden and nearly all of the two dozen Democratic hopefuls will be in South Carolina this weekend at events focused on black voters.
Alabama Republican Roy Moore has announced he is running again for the U.S. Senate. He lost to Democrat Doug Jones in 2017, after being accused of sexual misconduct. Moore joins a crowded GOP primary, despite objections from President Trump and other top Republicans that he should stay out of it.
A federal appeals court ruled today that Trump administration rules restricting abortion access may take effect for now. The rules ban taxpayer-backed clinics from making abortion referrals or sharing space with abortion providers. The appeals panel in San Francisco lifted nationwide injunctions against the rules while the government appeals.
It turns out that about one in six hospital or emergency room visits are followed by a surprise medical bill. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation says millions of Americans who have health insurance still face pricey out-of-network charges. A U.S. Senate committee plans to vote next week on limiting those charges.
And on Wall Street, hopes for interest rate cuts helped the market move higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 249 points to close at 26753. The Nasdaq rose 64 points, and the S&P 500 added 27, to close at a record high, 2954.