Midday Roundup: House Republicans nix military draft for women

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 5/17/16, 11:55 am

Red ink. The House Rules Committee has effectively stripped a provision from the defense authorization bill that would have required women to register for the military draft. Using its authority to edit bills before they are voted on, the committee wrote an amendment quashing the policy, which chairman Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, called reckless. “I have the utmost respect and deepest appreciation for the young women who bravely volunteer to serve our country, but I am adamantly opposed to coercing America’s daughters to sign up for the Selective Service at 18 years of age,” Sessions said in a statement. The policy was introduced by a fellow Republican, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who wanted to make a point about women in combat but didn’t expect the committee to accept the idea. The move backfired, and the House Armed Services Committee approved the bill 32-30 last month. The debate now moves to the Senate, where the Armed Services Committee included a similar draft requirement for women in its defense policy bill.

Baghdad under attack. Two suicide bombs and a car bomb exploded in Baghdad today, killing at least seven people and injuring 21. Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for one of the attacks amid escalating violence in the city. In the past week, ISIS attacks have killed at least 115 people in Baghdad. Meanwhile, ISIS continues to lose ground in northern Iraq, where U.S.-led coalition forces have reclaimed the cities of Ramadi and Tikrit and are mustering for an offensive against Mosul, the largest ISIS-held city in Iraq.

Distracted driving. The National Transportation Safety Board is finalizing its investigation into the deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia a year ago. Radio traffic about a rock-throwing incident with another train distracted the engineer just before the engine careened around a dangerous curve, investigators said. Technology that could have prevented the train from speeding too fast was not in place at the crash site. Adding to the tragedy, officials believe some of the passengers who died were ejected through emergency windows, which malfunctioned with the train derailed.

Day in the life of a spy. The National Security Agency worked to eavesdrop on a Russian crime boss, hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and provide intelligence for interrogations in Guantanamo Bay, according to leaked newsletters. An online news site released them from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s trove of documents. The newsletters offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into life working at the NSA. In an article published Dec. 22, 2003, an NSA liaison officer describes a temporary assignment in Guantanamo Bay assisting with questioning detainees. The liaison said the assignment had off-hour perks: “Learn how to operate a boat in a weekend. Become a certified open-water scuba diver within weeks. ... The local dive shop has all the gear and tips to ensure a perfect outing.”

Blazing on. The 2-week-old wildfire ravaging Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, is still burning. Officials expect it to continue for several more weeks. The fire shifted north today, prompting evacuations at some oilfield work camps. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said once the fire is no longer deemed a threat, residents must continue to wait to return to their homes until infrastructure and essential services can be restored. All 80,000 Fort McMurray residents were told to evacuate their homes. Alberta’s provincial government has released a smartphone app designed to let people see satellite images of the damage to their properties. It comes with a disclaimer, warning viewers the images may be traumatic. Despite the damage to nearly 2,500 homes in the area, firefighters were able to save about 90 percent of the city.

WORLD Radio’s Kristen Eicher and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

<p class="Body"> <em>WORLD Radio’s Kristen Eicher and The Associated Press contributed to this report.</em> </p>

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

Read more from this writer