Wednesday morning news: October 23, 2019

House Democrats question diplomat in impeachment probe » House Democrats say former U.S. Ambassador William Taylor in closed-door testimony Tuesday contradicted key White House claims about dealings with Ukraine. 

Lawmakers said Taylor drew a “direct line” to the quid pro quo at the center of the impeachment inquiry.  

In an opening statement, Taylor reportedly said President Trump wanted to tie military aid for Ukraine to a public vow that Ukraine would investigate the Bidena’ actions in that country along with other matters. 

House Democrats previously released excerpts of text messages from Taylor in which he wrote, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy again blasted the process and Democrats’ ongoing closed-door questioning of witnesses.

MCCARTHY: They won’t let you read the transcripts. They want to leak certain items. They don’t want to have it in Judiciary Committee where the American public can see it like we’ve done it before. They don’t want to have you vote on an inquiry. 

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper will appear on Capitol Hill today. 

On Tuesday, President Trump once again said he did nothing wrong in dealings with Ukraine and he compared the impeachment inquiry to “a lynching.” 

Criteria for U.S. no-fly list upheld by appeals court » The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the largely secret criteria for the government’s no-fly list. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The American Civil Liberties Union represented four people who sued the government after being barred from flying. An attorney with the ACLU said “Our clients have been unable to visit family, pursue job opportunities or fulfill religious obligations for over nine years based on vague criteria” and secret evidence. 

But a three-judge panel unanimously sided with the government. The judges said the government has gone as far as the law requires in explaining why each plaintiff is on the list without breaching national security.

Judge Raymond Fisher wrote that “The government has taken reasonable measures to ensure basic fairness to the plaintiffs.” He added that freedom to travel is important but “it must be balanced against the government’s urgent interest in combating terrorism.”

The no-fly list has kept tens of thousands of people from boarding commercial aircraft flying to, from or over the United States since 2001.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen. 

Jimmy Carter suffers fall » Former President Jimmy Carter has had another fall at his home in Georgia. This time he fractured his pelvis. 

In a statement Tuesday a spokeswoman said the 95-year-old suffered a minor fracture and was taken to an area hospital. Carter is reportedly in good spirits and is looking forward to recovering at home.

This is the third time Carter has fallen in recent months. In May he broke his hip on his way to go turkey hunting. Earlier this month he fell and required 14 stitches. But the next day traveled to Nashville to help build a home with Habitat for Humanity. 

More blackouts possible in California » More than half a million people in northern California are facing more blackouts this week. The state’s largest utility warned Tuesday it may cut power again to reduce the risk of wildfires.

Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to 2 million people earlier this month when high winds and dry conditions made fires more likely.

Somona County First District Supervisor Susan Gorin said intentional blackouts wouldn’t be necessary if PG&E had taken steps to reduce risk years ago.

GORIN: They should have been on this from decades ago. Undergrounding lines. Segmenting the transmission grid as they have been doing in Southern California. Where have they been?

Investigators blame PG&E equipment for starting the deadly Camp Fire last year. It killed 85 people and burned more than 240 square miles.

This week’s outages could cover parts of 16 counties. 

British lawmakers approve Brexit deal but reject timetable » British Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a big vote in Parliament Tuesday, but lost another.  

The good news for the prime minister was that lawmakers—for the first time—voted for a Brexit plan. They approved the framework of his renegotiated divorce deal with the EU.

AUDIO: They ayes to the right, 329—the nos to the left 299, so the ayes have it. They ayes have it. 

But minutes later, they rejected Johnson’s push to fast-track the bill. 

That vote made it highly unlikely that the UK will exit the European Union ahead of the October 31st deadline. 

With that, the prime minister said he would “pause” the legislation until the EU decides whether to agree to delay Britain’s departure. 

Johnson was forced to grudgingly ask the EU for a three-month delay on Saturday. Parliament had passed a law ordering the government to seek a postponement if a deal wasn’t already ratified. 

Johnson said his government’s policy remains that the UK should not delay again. But he said it’s now up to the EU whether it will grant another extension. 

JOHNSON: I will report back to the House. And one way or another, we will leave the EU with this deal to which this House has just given its assent. 

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted Tuesday that because of the votes he would recommend that the other 27 EU nations grant another Brexit delay.

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File) In this Nov. 26, 2018, file photo, a Pacific Gas & Electric lineman works to repair a power line in fire-ravaged Paradise, Calif. 

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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