Thursday morning news: April 4, 2019

Senate Republicans go ‘nuclear’ to speed Trump nominees » Senate Republicans went nuclear on Wednesday, changing the Senate rules to stop Democrats from slow-walking approval of President Trump’s nominees.

MCCONNELL: This is the day we end this completely outrageous level of interference and obstruction with this administration.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor, defending the maneuver. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blasted the move as “terribly destructive and disproportionate.”

SCHUMER: This is a sad day for the Senate.

In a series of procedural votes, Republicans indefinitely restored rules in place during the first couple years of President Obama’s second term. Those rules had lapsed, allowing any senator to force 30 hours of debate on a nominee.

The new rules limit debate on most nominees to two hours. White House selections for the Cabinet, Supreme Court and appeals courts would be exempted. 

House Judiciary panel grants subpoena power for Mueller report » Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee approved subpoenas Wednesday for special counsel Robert Mueller’s full Russia report.

Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler said the Justice Department must deliver the report to Capitol Hill without redactions and without delay.

NADLER: And if the department still refuses, then it should be up to a judge, not the president and not his political appointee, to decide whether or not it is appropriate for the committee to review the complete record. 

Attorney General William Barr has said the Justice Department will release the report by the middle of this month but must first identify the information in the report that cannot legally be released.

The committee voted along party lines, 24-17 to give Nadler permission to issue subpoenas for the final report, as well as all underlying evidence. But the chairman has not yet said if he’ll send the subpoenas.

NATO secretary general address Joint Meeting of Congress » For the first time ever, the head of NATO stood in the House chamber on Wednesday addressing a Joint Meeting of Congress. Jens Stoltenberg admitted to a rift on a several big issues like “trade, energy, climate change, and the Iran nuclear deal.”

STOLTENBERG: These are serious issues with serious disagreements. But we should remember that we have handled our disagreements also before. 

Some have complained that President Trump’s claim that some NATO members are freeloaders has weakened the bonds of the alliance. But the secretary general credited President Trump with spurring allies to spend more on defense.

He also noted that the U.S. and most NATO nations share a common concern over Russia’s behavior. NATO leaders have joined Washington in condemning Moscow’s violations of a now defunct nuclear arms treaty.  

STOLTENBERG: We do not want a new Cold War, but we must not be naive. An agreement that is only respected by one side will not keep us safe. 

New reports shed light on final moments of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 » Officials are expected to release a preliminary report on the investigation of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which crashed last month. But ahead of the publication, new details are emerging about the pilots’ struggle to save the plane. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg has more.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Pilots of the doomed 737 Max jetliner followed Boeing’s recommended emergency procedures, but could not get control of the plane. That according to The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

And a Reuters report adds more fuel to speculation that anti-stall software was at the heart of last month’s crash. It’s also implicated in another accident last year involving the same kind of jet. The report cites sources close to the investigation who say the crew switched off the anti-stall system but it reengaged repeatedly. It’s not clear if pilots intentionally turned it back on after failing to manually get control of the plane or if it kicked in on its own.  

Boeing is working on software fixes and other measures as the jets remain grounded around the globe.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

Health officials rush to halt Cholera outbreak  in Mozambique » In Mozambique, thousands of people lined up in the coastal city of Beira to get cholera vaccines. Health officials are trying to inoculate nearly a million survivors of Cyclone Idai to contain an outbreak of the deadly disease.

More than 1,400 cases of cholera have been reported in Beira since the outbreak began a week ago. At least two people have died so far from the acute diarrheal disease, which can kill within hours if not properly treated.

More than 100,000 survivors of Cyclone Idai are still living in displacement camps with little access to clean water or sanitation. The World Health Organization has warned of a—quote—”second disaster” if diseases such as cholera and malaria spread.

DOJ finds severe violations in Alabama prisons » The Justice Department issued a scathing report Wednesday on Alabama prisons saying they violate the Constitution. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has that story.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Department of Justice gave Alabama 48 days to correct “severe” violations of prisoners’ rights or face a federal lawsuit.

The DOJ report says Alabama fails to protect inmates from violence and sexual abuse. It describes a culture of violence with inmates brutally attacking each other with knives and other weapons. And it says rapes occur almost everywhere in the prisons, day and night.

The DOJ also noted Alabama’s facilities are some of the most overcrowded in the nation with staffing shortages at a “crisis level.”

Governor Kay Ivey responded yesterday, saying state officials have “identified many of the same areas of concern.”

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

(AP Photo/Cliff Owen) Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses the Atlantic Council’s “NATO Engages The Alliance at 70” conference, in Washington, Wednesday, April 3, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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