Wednesday morning news: May 8, 2019

House panel to vote on holding Barr in contempt of Congress » Members of the House Judiciary Committee are scheduled to vote today on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress.

That after the Justice Department did not comply with the committee’s Monday deadline to hand over the full unredacted Muller report and reams of underlying evidence from the investigation.

Republicans blasted the vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday declared “case closed” on the Russia investigation.

MCCONNELL: It’s over. I can understand why our friends on the other side are disappointed. They’ve been trying to look for some way to overturn the 2016 election for two long years. 

But Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Republicans are afraid.

SCHUMER: What we have here is a concerted effort to circle the wagons, to protect the president from accountability. 

The Department of Justice on Tuesday proposed a compromise to House Democrats on the Judiciary panel offering more access to a less-redacted version of the Mueller report.

Only 12 lawmakers are currently allowed to view the lifted redactions and the DOJ reportedly is not offering to let more members see them. But the proposal would give more congressional staffers access while allowing a small group of lawmakers to take handwritten notes. That according to Politico. But it may not be enough to sway Democrats, who want the Justice Department to turn over everything.

8 hurt, 2 in custody after school shooting outside Denver » Two students opened fire Tuesday inside a charter school near Denver, wounding eight students—at least one of them fatally.

Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said the pair walked into the STEM School Highlands Ranch, Colorado and began shooting students in two classrooms.

Within minutes, deputies at a nearby sheriff’s department substation ran into the school and arrested the two suspects after a struggle.

SPURLOCK: I’m not releasing their names at this point. We’re verifying their age. I believe we have one adult male and one juvenile male.

Spurlock said he believes the deputies’ quick response helped save lives.

The shooting comes nearly three weeks after neighboring Littleton marked the grim 20th anniversary of the Columbine school massacre that killed 13 people.

Georgia governor signs heartbeat bill into law » AUDIO: [Applause]

Pro-life leaders celebrating in Atlanta on Tuesday as Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed a heartbeat bill into law.

KEMP: The Life Act is very simple, but also very powerful—a declaration that all life has value; that all life matters and that all life is worthy of protection.

The law will protect unborn babies from abortion once they have a detectable heartbeat. That’s usually around six weeks gestation. It includes exemptions for cases of rape, incest, and threats to the mother’s life. It also offers an exemption if a doctor determines the baby could not live outside the womb due to medical problems. The law is set to take effect January 1st.

Catherine Davis is the founder of The Restoration Project, an African-American pro-life organization. She called Tuesday a “historic day for Georgia.”

DAVIS: This is a day that many of us that have been in the pro-life fight for years and years and years didn’t really think could be possible in light of the politics of the issue. 

Georgia lawmakers faced heavy pressure from Hollywood to abandon the bill. The state has a thriving TV and film production industry. Some in show business have threatened to boycott Georgia over the law.

Abortion rights activists say they will sue to block the new protections. A judge halted a similar law in Kentucky after Gov. Matt Bevin signed it in March.

President Trump pardons U.S. soldier » President Trump has pardoned a former U.S. soldier convicted in 2009 of killing an Iraqi prisoner. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg has more.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: The president signed an executive grant of clemency—a full pardon—for former Army 1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna.

He was convicted of murder in a combat zone after killing a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist in Iraq. Behenna claimed he acted in self-defense. But he did acknowledge that instead of taking the prisoner home as he was ordered, he took the man to a railroad culvert. He then questioned him at gunpoint about a roadside bombing that had killed two members of Behenna’s platoon.

A military court had sentenced Behenna to 25 years in prison. But the Army’s highest appellate court had concerns about how the trial court handled the case. He was paroled in 2014 and had been scheduled to remain on parole for another five years.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

Journalists freed from jail in Myanmar » Meantime, Myanmar’s president pardoned two Reuters journalists on Tuesday as part of a larger amnesty after they spent more than a year in jail.

Journalist Wa Lone thanked everyone who fought for his freedom.

LONE: I’m really happy and excited to see my family and my colleagues. And I can’t wait to go to my newsroom. 

Government officials arrested the men last year for reporting on the military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in the county. A Myanmar court sentenced the men to seven years in prison for violating the Official Secrets Act by collecting confidential documents from two policemen.

Ravina Shamdasani is a spokeswoman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. She applauded the pardons but said she still has grave concerns.

SHAMDASANI: Our office, you may recall, had put out a report in September of last year right after their sentences were first confirmed. And that report detailed the very dire situation for freedom of expression in Myanmar, and this has not changed.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo’s coverage of the crackdown recently received the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., placed a prop chicken on the witness desk for Attorney General William Barr after he does not appear before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 2, 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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