In our News Wrap Thursday, the U.N. now says half a million Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh to escape attacks by the military in majority-Buddhist Myanmar. Also, the imminent eruption of a volcano on the island of Bali has forced more than 130,000 people to flee. Another volcano on a tiny island in the Pacific nation of Vanuatu has officials ordering all 11,000 people to leave.
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In the day’s other news: The human wave of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar has now topped half-a-million. That new estimate today from the United Nations. They have crowded into camps in Bangladesh, after escaping attacks by the military in majority-Buddhist Myanmar.
The U.N. secretary-general warned today that it could get worse yet.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General, United Nations:
The failure to address the systematic violence could result in a spillover into Central Rakhine, where an additional 250,000 Muslims could potentially face displacement. It is imperative that U.N. agencies and our nongovernmental partners be granted immediate and safe access to all affected communities.
In Washington today, more than 20 U.S. senators from both parties urged sanctions against Myanmar.
In Indonesia, a volcano on the island of Bali has now forced more than 130,000 people to flee. Amid regular tremors, officials say the eruption of Mount Agung is imminent. Tourists are catching any flight available to get off the popular travel destination.
Another volcano is rumbling on a tiny island in the Pacific nation of Vanuatu. Officials there have ordered all 11,000 people to leave.
China today ordered North Korean-owned businesses within its borders to shut down, in accordance with U.N. sanctions. The Chinese Commerce Ministry said that North Korean companies and joint ventures will have 120 days to comply. The sanctions aim to halt Pyongyang’s weapons development by isolating it from trading partners, mainly China.
The leader of the Islamic State has apparently been heard from, three months after Russian officials said that they had killed him in an airstrike in Syria. The militant group released an audio recording today said to be Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He urged followers to keep waging war in the face of military losses across Iraq and Syria.
ABU BAKR AL-BAGHDADI, Leader, Islamic State (through interpreter):
Beware of retreat or feeling defeat. Beware of negotiations or surrender. Do not lay down your arms, for Islam rises above everything, and a believer doesn’t humiliate oneself, for God has blessed them with unification and jihad.
The recording also urged ISIS militants to target what it called media centers of the infidels.
The World Health Organization is warning that nearly half of all abortions worldwide, some 25 million, are done in unsafe conditions. The U.N. health agency blames limited contraception and safe abortion services in poorer nations.
In a statement today, it says, “There are serious consequences for the health of women and their families. It also says President Trump’s renewed ban on U.S. funding for groups that provide abortions will raise the risk.
Back in this country, the governor of Illinois, Republican Bruce Rauner, signed a law permitting state health insurance and Medicaid to pay for abortions. He had changed his mind on the issue at least twice before. The new law takes effect immediately.
The majority whip in the U.S. House of Representatives, Steve Scalise, returned to work today, more than three months after he was shot and critically wounded. The Louisiana Republican entered the House chamber on crutches to thunderous applause. He said he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from both sides of the aisle.
REP. STEVE SCALISE, R-La., Majority Whip:
Some might focus on a tragic event and evil act, but, to me, all I remember are the thousands of acts of kindness and love and warmth that come out of this.
Each and every one of us, we come here and we fight for the things we believe in, and I have passionate beliefs. We are the people’s house. This is the place where these ideas are supposed to be debated, and we fight through those issues, but ultimately we come together.
Scalise was wounded in June by a gunman during a congressional baseball practice. Two Capitol Police officers shot the assailant to death and were themselves wounded.
President Trump’s health secretary, Tom Price, says that he will reimburse the federal government for his costly private travel, and change his ways. That follows reports that he’s taken at least 26 charter flights since May, costing more than $400,000. Price will pay about $52,000 for his seats on those flights.
Yesterday, Mr. Trump said that he’s not happy with Price over the flights.
And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 40 points, to close at 22381. The Nasdaq rose a fraction of a point, and the S&P 500 added three.