Thursday morning news: May 16, 2019

Alabama passes law to challenge Roe v Wade » Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill into law Wednesday that provides sweeping protections for the unborn.

The Republican governor signed the bill just one day after state lawmakers passed it.

AUDIO: 25 ayes, 6 nays, 1 abstention. House bill 314 passes.

The law will make performing an abortion a felony at any stage of pregnancy with almost no exceptions. Abortion providers could face up to 99 years or life in prison, unless the mother’s health is at serious risk.

Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union are already drafting a lawsuit. But Alabama Republicans welcome the suit. In fact, they’re counting on it.

GOP lawmakers blocked an attempt to add exceptions for rape and incest to the law. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Terri Collins explained that’s because the law was carefully written with the goal of landing in U.S. Supreme Court as a challenge to Roe v. Wade.

COLLINS: That’s why we were trying to keep it just as it was, was to address the issue the Roe vs Wade was decided on, which is is that baby in the womb a person.

Collins said lawmakers may still add other exceptions to the law down the road.

U.S. pulls diplomats out of Iraq, issues travel warning » With tensions rising between Iran and the United States the U.S. government is pulling diplomats out of Iraq and warning U.S. citizens. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The State Department on Wednesday ordered all nonessential diplomatic personnel to leave Iraq. And the administration warned U.S. citizens to avoid traveling through Iraq citing a high risk of “terrorism, kidnapping, and armed conflict.”

President Trump said Monday that Iran will “suffer greatly” if it attempts anything like an attack. The White House has deployed warships and a bomber task force to the region in response to unspecified Iranian threats.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday “We fundamentally do not seek a war with Iran.” And Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei told state media, “We don’t seek a war, nor do they. They know that it is not to their benefit.”

But he also issued a veiled threat, saying it wouldn’t be difficult for Iran to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Lawmakers grill to FAA official over Boeing Max certification » The acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration, Daniel Elwell, testified on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Lawmakers on a House panel demanded answers about how and why the FAA certified the Boeing 737 Max jets later involved in two deadly crashes.

LARSEN: Congress has an obligation to the traveling public and the victims of these accidents and their families to ensure the safety of air travel. 

The subcommittee’s Ranking Member Rick Larsen heard there.

Lawmakers raised concerns over a Wall Street Journal report, citing an FAA internal assessment. According to the report, that assessment showed the agency did not take part in or oversee safety reviews on a key flight control system. But Elwell told members…

ELWELL: I’m not aware of an internal assessment.

Elwell defended his agency’s certification process and assured members that the FAA is capable of and committed to protecting the flying public.

He said Boeing should have done more to explain the automated flight-control system at the heart of the two crashes. He also called it noteworthy that Boeing apparently never activated a particular warning light on those jets.

ELWELL: I think that’s an issue sir, and we’re going to look into it. It shouldn’t take a year for us to find out that that discovery was made.

And Elwell vowed that the now-grounded Boeing Max jets “will return to service only when the FAA’s analysis” shows that they’re completely safe.  

Kendrick Castillo memorialized as school shooting suspects are charged » Family and friends of Kendrick Castillo honored the 18-year-old student at a memorial service on Wednesday. Castillo died from a gunshot wound after rushing one of the suspects in a May 7th school shooting outside Denver.

Police said his actions and those of several other students saved lives.

Castillo’s classmates Brendan Bialy and Joshua Jones also rushed the shooter. Jones on Wednesday recalled the incident.

JONES: I pulled him to the ground. Brendan got the gun out of him. Kendrick shoved him against the wall. 

Jones survived two bullet wounds. Seven others suffered injuries in the attack.

Meantime, the two suspects accused of opening fire on their classmates faced a judge on Wednesday.

18-year-old Devon Erickson appeared in court for a morning hearing. And 16-year-old Maya McKinney, who also goes by the name Alec, appeared later in the day.

Prosecutors charged them with 48 criminal counts each. Those include first-degree murder and attempted murder charges. It’s not yet clear whether McKinney is being charged as an adult.

Fourth Brexit vote scheduled for June » British lawmakers will vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan for a fourth time. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: The Brexit vote is scheduled for June 3rd, ahead of the parliamentary recess. Parliament has already voted down May’s proposal three times.

Lawmakers rejected the deal over a so-called “backstop.” The measure would block any border controls between EU member Ireland and the UK’s Northern Ireland. Pro-Brexit lawmakers argued an open border in Ireland could keep Britain tied to the EU indefinitely.

Democratic Unionist party leader Nigel Dodds cautioned that May’s deal likely will not survive the vote unless she makes significant changes.

European leaders granted Britain an extension through the end of October to come together on a plan to leave the EU.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

(Hal Yeager/Alabama Governor’s Office via AP) This photograph released by the state shows Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signing a bill that virtually outlaws abortion in the state on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Montgomery, Ala. 

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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