Texas lawmakers have approved an abortion bill Senate Bill 8 (SB 8) that makes abortions past the 6 week mark illegal. The bill includes cases of impregnation by rape and incest, the only exception being medical emergencies. The bill also grants the right for private citizens to sue abortion clinics or anyone aiding in providing the abortion of a fetus whose heartbeat has been detected. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday and will face immediate legal challenges by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. National Nurses United have blasted new CDC guidelines that allow retail stores like Costco, Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Publix, and Starbucks to no longer require fully vaccinated customers to wear masks, stating that this puts the people around them at risk for the transmission of COVID-19 and undermines all of the efforts of frontline workers. The family of Andre Hill has reached a $10 million dollar settlement with the city of Columbus, Ohio. Hill was of African American descent and was fatally shot on December 22nd by a white police officer as he walked out from a garage with a cellphone in his hand. The officer responsible for Hill’s death, Adam Coy, has been charged with murder after pleading not guilty. Karissa Hill, Hill’s daughter stated in a press conference, that the settlement is “one step but it’s not full justice.” and that “It doesn’t take the scar off our hearts that we still have from my dad not being here”.
CNN has reported that Eritrean troops disguised as Ethiopian soldiers are blocking necessary aid from reaching the conflict-torn Tigray region. Eritrean forces have not indicated any sign of leaving the border region anytime soon. President Biden sent Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) to convey his concerns over the humanitarian crisis and “risk of broader instability”. The Biden Administration has announced an additional $52 million and the UN has released $65 million for humanitarian aid earlier this month. India was struck by both its highest COVID-19 death toll in a single day at more than 4,300 deaths and by the most powerful tropical cyclone to hit western India. Cyclone Tauktae left at least 21 dead and about 100 missing. Vaccination sites have been forced to close due to cyclone-related damages. COVID-19 deaths in the US have fallen to their lowest in 14 months. As vaccine supplies exceed demand, Biden has announced that an additional 20 million vaccines will be sent abroad by the end of June.
As Brazil struggles to get a lid on their Covid crisis, it seems as though better days are on the horizon. Brazil’s health minister has announced that they have been in talks with Moderna to receive vaccines. Former President Donald Trump has expressed his frustrations with the New York Attorney General’s office’s probe into his finances. In a statement, he said, “there is nothing more corrupt than an investigation that is in desperate search of a crime.” Despite the lack of media coverage surrounding the border crisis and the separated families, these issues are still at large. CNN reports “Attorneys are still trying to reach the parents of 391 migrant children who had been separated at the US-Mexico border under the Trump administration, down from 445 last month, according to a federal court filing Wednesday.”
41-year-old Quentin Jones was executed in Texas by lethal injection. This was the state’s first execution in ten months. Jones was black and was convicted of killing his great aunt in 1999. Jones’ victim’s family publicly opposed his execution and signed a petition for clemency. Shockingly, there were no media witnesses present at Jones’ execution, a spokesperson stating that new staff members failed to notify reporters. A massive sheet of ice has broken off an Arctic ice shelf, forming the largest iceberg in the world. The iceberg, named A-76, is larger than the state of Rhode Island. Scientists warn about the worrying accelerations in ice shelf retreats and collapses as a result of climate change. McDonald’s employees all over the country participated in strikes, demanding a $15 minimum wage. Strikers were joined virtually by Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The states of Texas, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Minnesota all reported zero COVID-19 related deaths while various other states reported record low cases. Meanwhile Alabama, Colorado, and Michigan have the highest case numbers per capita. Various international human rights groups have called for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics over human rights abuses against the Uyghurs, Tibetans, and other minority groups in the Xinjiang province. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also called for a “diplomatic boycott” of the Games. Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire, bringing an end to Israel’s bombing of the Gaza strip that has left at least 243 Palestinians dead. Israel has lifted emergency restrictions within its borders and allowed for the temporary opening of a crossing into Gaza. Both Israel and Hamas have claimed victory.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has released a draft of The Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021. This bipartisan bill is set to focus on highways, roads, bridges, and has a $303.8 billion dollar price tag. New Covid-19 cases in America have plummeted to lows we have not seen since 11 months ago. “As the seven-day average for new cases dropped below 30,000 per day this week, Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pointed out cases have not been this low since June 18, 2020. The average number of deaths over the last seven days also dropped to 552 — a rate not seen since July last year.” Through FEMA, the Biden administration is making $1 billion available to “states, territories, rural communities and tribes to prepare for hurricanes and other extreme weather events, events the administration believes are linked to climate change.” Mount Nyiragongo erupted in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The affected areas mainly included Goma and Buhene district. At least 15 are dead, and many children are missing.
A mass shooting occurred in a Minneapolis nightclub with at least 2 dead and 8 injured. Suspect Jowan Contrail Carroll, 24, was arrested and there is question of a second suspect and motive. The US Supreme Court declined to take up a case dealing with qualified immunity which protects police officers from civil litigation. Even though the jury found, Matthew Rhodes; the officer in question, to have used excessive force, no justice has been made for Luke Stewart, the 23-year-old victim who was fatally shot by Matthew Rhodes. Officials are still searching for survivors of the volcano eruption in the Congo’s Mount Nyiragongo leaving at least 250 individuals dead and more than 100,000 without homes. The volcano is to be said as not properly monitored even though it’s one of the world’s most active volcanoes and erupted in January.