Thursday in our news wrap, President Trump tweeted his decision to cancel a scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the upcoming G-20 summit, citing Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian ships. Also, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, called for NATO to send more warships to the Crimea region. The Kremlin argued that Poroshenko's request was intended to provoke new trouble.
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In the day's other news, President Trump canceled a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the upcoming G20 summit.
He tweeted his decision after departing for Argentina. In it, he cited Russia's seizure of three Ukrainian ships and 24 sailors near occupied Crimea. The president said he decided that — quote — "It would be best for all parties concerned to cancel."
Now, that came less than an hour after he said he was still open to meeting with Putin.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called today for NATO to send more warships to the Crimean region. But a NATO spokesperson said that the alliance already has a strong presence there. The Kremlin complained that Poroshenko is trying provoke new trouble.
President Trump is giving out mixed signals about trade tensions with China ahead of meeting with China's president at the G20. It comes as The Wall Street Journal reports that Washington might be willing to suspend further punitive tariffs, in exchange for economic reforms by China.
Leaving the White House for Buenos Aires today, the president suggested he could go either way.
President Donald Trump:
I think we're very close to doing something with China, but I don't know that I want to do it, because what we have right now is billions and billions of dollars coming into the United States in the form of tariffs or taxes. So, I really don't know.
But I will tell you that I think China wants to make a deal. I'm open to making a deal. But, frankly, I like the deal we have right now.
Meanwhile, Beijing today criticized the U.S. for sailing two Navy warships through the Taiwan Strait. A destroyer and a cruiser passed through on Monday. China claims Taiwan and the surrounding waters as its territory.
There's word, separately, that China is tracking electric cars within its borders, raising new concerns about sweeping surveillance. The Associated Press reports that more than 200 companies, including Tesla, Ford and General Motors, transmit the data to monitoring centers, in accordance with Chinese laws. Chinese officials say that the data is used to improve public safety.
Beijing also moved today to stop a medical team's work on gene-edited babies. That's after a Chinese researcher claimed that he created twins with altered DNA to resist the AIDS virus. China's vice minister of science and technology said today that his agency has ordered that the work be halted.
Xu Nanping (through translator):
The gene-edited babies reported by the media obviously violates China's relevant laws and regulations. It also crossed the line of morality and ethics adhered to by the academic community, which is shocking and unacceptable. We are firmly against this.
The researcher's claims have not been independently confirmed. But he said today that he will cooperate fully with any investigation and make his data available for outside review.
Back in this country, a hotly contested nomination for a federal judgeship in North Carolina may have gone down to defeat. Attorney Thomas Farr had been criticized for defending state laws that were biased against black citizens.
Late today, South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott announced that he will vote no. That ensures that Farr cannot gain a majority if no other votes change.
Flash flooding hit parts of Northern California today, as a new rainstorm drenched areas burned bare by wildfire. Rescue teams deployed to aid people trapped in cars. Meanwhile, crews continued clearing debris and restoring electrical power on the outskirts of Paradise. The town was largely destroyed by fire this month.
Deaths in the United States hit a record high last year, 2.8 million, driven not just by the elderly, but by younger and middle ages as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention blamed drug overdoses and the most suicides in 50 years. It says, as a result, life expectancy decreased for the second time in three years.
A baby born in 2017 is now expected to live an average 78 years and seven months.
U.S. officials now say that 42 migrants arrested in a border clash near Tijuana will not be charged with illegal entry into the U.S. They managed to cross during Sunday's melee between migrants who threw rocks and border agents who fired tear gas. The ultimate fate of the 42 is still unclear.
And on Wall Street, stocks slipped a little after Wednesday's big rally. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 27 points to close at 25338. The Nasdaq fell 18, and the S&P 500 was down six.