2018-5-18 13:58




May 18, 2018

From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm Tommie McNeil reporting.

Thursday by a vote of 54-45, the U.S. Senate confirmed Gina Haspel as the Central Intelligence Agency's first female director. It ends a tumultuous nomination process in which lawmakers revisited the CIA's past interrogation practices.

AP White House correspondent Sagar Meghani has more.

Gina Haspel's confirmation process revived one of the CIA's darkest periods since she supervised a post-9/11 covert site where terror detainees were harshly interrogated. Opponents said that made her unfit to run the agency.

"The ayes are 54, the nays are 45."

The votes split both parties with six Democrats joining all but two Republicans in confirming Haspel.

John McCain was absent as he battles brain cancer at home but had said Haspel disqualified herself by refusing to say torture is immoral. She did pledge CIA under her leadership would not reinstate a torture program.

Sagar Meghani, at the White House.

U.S. President Donald Trump is making predictions about North Korea if it gives up its nuclear weapons program.

"That model would take place if we don't make a deal, most likely. But if we make a deal, I think Kim Jong Un is going to be very, very happy. I really believe he is going to be very happy."

The president's fresh remarks Thursday surmised that a change of tone this week by North Korea about the planned Trump-Kim June 12 summit in Singapore could be the result of a recent second meeting between Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

If the summit is scrapped, he says, "We go to the next thing," according to President Trump. He says planning discussions continue between U.S. and North Korean officials who are behaving "like nothing happened."

This is VOA news.

U.S. President Trump and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg met in Washington Thursday amid conflicts between the United States and its European allies in the West's key defense organization.

Mr. Trump last week rebuffed opposition from European leaders and withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 international accord curbing Iran's nuclear weapons program. Three European signatories to the pact - Britain, France and Germany - are continuing their support for the restraints on Tehran even as Mr. Trump has contended the agreement does nothing to thwart Iran's ballistic missile test or its military advances in the Middle East.

In addition, Trump has imposed tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum imports, including Europe, although he later exempted the 28-nation European Union until June 1.

As one confirmed case of Ebola virus in the city of Mbandaka not far from Bikoro, where the outbreak started, Dr. Peter Salama is World Health Organization deputy director-general for emergency preparedness. He called this latest news a "game changer."

"Certainly, this does change the way we need to respond. And it does change the priority's operation on the ground in DRC means that overnight, Mbandaka has become the number one priority for preventing this outbreak from getting out of control."

WHO say as of May 15, there have been 44 cases of Ebola. They have been reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo. More than 20 people have died there as a result.

Except for the confirmed case in Mbandaka, the other cases have been in Bikoro, a remote northwestern area that is very hard to reach.

The Ebola virus is epidemic in Congo and despite Congo's experience with the disease, the difference between this one and previous outbreaks [are] is in the location.

Birth rates in the United States have reached 30-year lows. That's according to data from the U.S. government.

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that birth rates declined for all groups. Those are teens, women in their 20s and 30s.

In total, there were about 3.8 million births last year. That's the lowest since 1987. The total for 2017 was 92,000 less than the year 2016.

Researchers say several factors could be driving the drop. One possible cause could be that millennials, who are in their prime childbearing years, are actually choosing to have fewer children later in life if they choose to have children at all.

Another factor may be changing immigration patterns where Asians, who increasingly are a larger share of net immigration to the U.S...

I'm Tommie McNeil, VOA news.

That's the latest world news from VOA.



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