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Milley feared Trump might order China strike; Newsom survives GOP-led recall; remembering Norm Macdonald

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Tropical Depression Nicholas slows to a crawl over Louisiana, impacting the same areas devastated by Hurricane Ida. CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has the latest.

Today is Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. Let’s get caught up.

Here are today’s top stories, celebrity birthdays and a look back at this date in history:

TOP STORIES

FILE – In this Sept. 1, 2021, file photo Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley speaks during a briefing with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon in Washington. 

Book: Top US officer feared Trump could order China strike

WASHINGTON — Fearful of Donald Trump’s actions in his final weeks as president, the United States’ top military officer twice called his Chinese counterpart to assure him that the two nations would not suddenly go to war, a senior defense official said after the conversations were described in excerpts from a forthcoming book.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley told Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army that the United States would not strike. One call took place on Oct. 30, 2020, four days before the election that defeated Trump. The second call was on Jan. 8, 2021, just two days after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of the outgoing chief executive.

Trump said Milley should be tried for treason if the report was true.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom addresses reporters after beating back the recall attempt that aimed to remove him from office, at the John L. Burton California Democratic Party headquarters in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom beats back GOP-led recall

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday emphatically defeated a recall aimed at kicking him out of office early, a contest the Democrat framed as part of a national battle for his party’s values in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and continued threats from “Trumpism.”

Newsom bolted to a quick victory boosted by healthy turnout in the overwhelmingly Democratic state. He cast it as a win for science, women’s rights and other liberal issues, and it ensures the nation’s most populous state will remain in Democratic control as a laboratory for progressive policies.

“‘No’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” Newsom said. “I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state: We said yes to science, we said yes to vaccines, we said yes to ending this pandemic.”

FILE – Norm Macdonald hosts the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on March 13, 2016. Macdonald, a comedian and former cast member on “Saturday Night Live,” died Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, after a nine-year battle with cancer that he kept private. 

Norm Macdonald remembered as hilarious and unique

NEW YORK — Reactions to the death of Norm Macdonald, who died of cancer Tuesday at age 61.

“I am absolutely devastated about Norm Macdonald. Norm had the most unique comedic voice I have ever encountered and he was so relentlessly and uncompromisingly funny. I will never laugh that hard again. I’m so sad for all of us today.” — Conan O’Brien on Twitter.

“Every one of us loved Norm. Some of the hardest laughs of my life with this man. Most fearless funny original guy we knew. An incredible dad. A great friend. A legend. Love u pal.” — Adam Sandler on Instagram.

Click on the links below for full version of today’s top stories. Keep scrolling for a look back at this day in history and today’s celebrity birthdays:

Top headlines this morning: Sept. 15

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fearful of Donald Trump’s actions in his final weeks as president, the United States’ top military officer twice called his Chinese counterpart to assure him that the two nations would not suddenly go to war, a senior defense official said after the conversations were described in excerpts from a forthcoming book.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday emphatically defeated a recall aimed at kicking him out of office early, a c…

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A defiant Larry Elder conceded his fight to become California’s next governor but indicated his first campaign might not be his last. “Stay tuned,” the Republican talk radio host told supporters.

SURFSIDE BEACH, Texas (AP) — Tropical Storm Nicholas continued weakening Tuesday night after being downgraded to a tropical depression and slowing to a crawl over southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana, drenching both states with flooding rains.

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats began the serious work of trying to implement President Joe Biden’s expansive spending plan, but getting there will require remarkable legislative nimbleness, since Biden has said the revenue to pay for it must come only from Americans who earn more than $400,000 a year.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North and South Korea tested ballistic missiles hours apart Wednesday in a display of military might that is sure to exacerbate tensions between the rivals at a time when talks aimed at stripping the North of its nuclear program are stalled.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department has asked a federal court in Texas to stop the enforcement of a new state law that bans most abortions in the state while it decides the case.

NEW YORK (AP) — Reactions to the death of Norm Macdonald, who died of cancer Tuesday at age 61.

NEW YORK (AP) — Theater royalty — in the form of Kristin Chenoweth, Julie Taymor and Lin-Manuel Miranda — welcomed back boisterous audiences to “Wicked,” “The Lion King” and “Hamilton” for the first time since the start of the pandemic, marking Tuesday as the unofficial return of Broadway.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Dodgers are chasing the San Francisco Giants in the NL West. They caught their rival in one big way by becoming the second team in the majors to clinch a postseason berth.

IMAGE OF THE DAY

An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man of the Kiryat Sanz Hassidic sect prays on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea as they participate in a Tashlich ceremony, in Netanya, Israel, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. Tashlich, which means “to cast away” in Hebrew, is the practice in which Jews go to a large flowing body of water and symbolically “throw away” their sins by throwing a piece of bread, or similar food, into the water before the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which starts at sundown on Wednesday. 

TODAY IN HISTORY

In 1963, four Black girls were killed when a bomb went off during Sunday services at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, an…

In 1978, Muhammad Ali becomes the first three-time heavyweight champion with a unanimous 15-round decision over Leon Spinks. See more sports m…

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